We ended up in Malta by accident. We knew when we got back to Europe after being in the US, we wanted to spend a longer amount of time in one place before we headed to meet up with friends later on in September. By looking around the warmer areas of Europe for an affordable hotel on points, we decided to spend nine nights in St. Julian, Malta. The hotel we stayed at was a Hyatt Regency and it had recently been redone, so it was very comfortable to stay in the entire time we were there.
We arrived from Munich in the late afternoon on Thursday, September 15. We explored the hotel, walked around the area and found a place to get dinner, then headed to bed.
First thing on Friday morning, we booked a food tour in Valletta, which is the capital of Malta. It started off with pastizzi, a pastry filled with ricotta or curried peas. Our favorite was the ricotta and we had many of them while we were in Malta.
The tour combined walking around the capital city with food stops. We were surprised by how much the city looks like Italy and the Middle East, as well as North Africa. These areas have all influenced Maltese life and architecture.
I was very excited to see the Grand Harbor-this is where they filmed the latest season of Below Deck Med! Lots of movies and tv shows have been filmed in Malta because the architecture and landscape is believable for so many areas.
The church below is St. John's Co-cathedral. We wanted to go in, but never made it there. The clock tower is very unique, since it tells the time, day of the week, and date.
We weren't expecting to see a dinosaur on our tour! Part of Jurassic World Dominion was filmed in Malta, so this prop from the movie was set up to market the movie. It was certainly surprising to turn the corner and see this guy waiting for us!
On Saturday, we got up and went to the very north end of the main island of Malta to get on a boat tour with snorkeling. The car ride to the marina was winding and made me a little nauseous, so I was happy to have the breeze when we left land.
Our guides took us to an area and let us snorkel for about an hour. Brennan and I were able to swim into the cave pictured below and sit on the shore for awhile before heading back to the boat. The water was so clear and the brightest shades of blue I had ever seen.
We went to a second stop and were able to get in the water to swim, jump off the boat into the water, and hang out on the island. This was definitely the party island, as you can see below. It was so crowded! It was really sad to see the amount of trash in the water and on all the paths around the island. Thankfully, our boat was able to anchor in a way that we were still able to swim and enjoy the time we had, despite the trash.
We were supposed to go cliff jumping, but the waves became too rough before we got to that part of the tour. Instead, our guides took us to a "spa beach". We sat in the sand and he brought us mud that he had pulled out of the rocks to spread all over our bodies, like a mud bath. It was surprisingly relaxing and made our skin so soft! We were also able to do more snorkeling at this last anchorage.
The final part of our excursion went through the caves and cliffs. This area really reminded me of the Algarve in Portugal. It was amazing to see how blue the water was, even in the caves.
This area is called "Elephant Rock"-do you see it?
We spent the next couple days mostly hanging out around our hotel, trying to let our skin heal after getting very sunburnt on the boat excursion. I was still adjusting to being back on the road and we spent time going to the pool (sitting in the shade!). Brennan went for a walk one day near the hotel and saw these tide pools, where the salt had been deposited after the sea water had evaporated.
On Tuesday, we explored an ancient site in Malta. The island has a collection of prehistoric fossils and bones that are displayed in the Victorian style. This is quite unique compared to the other museums we have visited, but it was interesting to see so many examples together.
This site also has a cave that you can walk in where the prehistoric fossils were found. We enjoyed the break from the sun's heat inside the cave. It was a quick walk through, but I'm glad we saw it.
After exploring the cave, we Ubered to Valletta and explored the areas we didn't get to on the food tour. The city has a lot of colors that I really like, especially the green and blue you see below.
One night, we walked to the marina near the hotel and had THE BEST GREEK FOOD OF MY LIFE. It was so good. We had a view of the water, there was a breeze, and the food was excellent.
I took this picture to explain to my parents what the area around our hotel was like-think stereotypical Miami Beach. It was definitely built for partying and drinking. Not really our style or crowd, but our hotel was very nice, even if it wasn't our preferred area. If we went back to Malta, I would want to stay in Valletta or Mdina.
Also, we decided that selling shots for this price is absurd....I don't even want to know what that bar looks like after a few of those rounds have been purchased.
On Thursday, we did an evening tour of Mdina and Rabat. Mdina is in the middle of the island and is the ancient walled capital city. Our tour guide, Joanne, walked with us through the city, pointing out different architectural interest points, explaining what was significant about the churches, and sharing about the people who historically lived in the area. She said this area is very busy during the day, but we were there in the evening so we had a lot of space to explore with few people around.
All around Mdina were beautifully colored window shutters and doors!
This is the lookout from inside the city. You can see all the way to the water on either side of the city-this island is tiny!
After stopping to get pastizzi for a snack, we walked around Rabat. This is the area where it is believed that the apostle Paul was when he was shipwrecked in Malta. The area was very beautiful lit up at night and we would never have seen this section of the island if we had not gone on the tour.
On our last night, Brennan really wanted to get steak at a restaurant we had walked by several times. This was the view as we walked to dinner-it was very nice to sit outside and enjoy dinner before heading to the airport the next day!
Am I glad we went to Malta? Yes. Would I go again? Maybe...
This was not my favorite place we have been on our travels so far. However, I think a lot of this had to do my attitude more than Malta itself. However, the island is small and I feel like we saw a lot during our time there. I'm not sure if we'll ever go back, but if we do, I know I will eat a lot of ricotta pastizzi and enjoy the blue water and warm breeze!
We're Brennan & Megan
Since June 2022, we have been traveling to learn more about ourselves and the world around us.