Malta is a tiny, but picturesque island packed with historic ruins, medieval towns, breathtaking landscapes and cobalt waters. It fulfils the traveller’s heart with its wonders and provides unforgettable memories. Spending the weekend in Malta is a perfect choice, although it’s almost impossible to experience everything this small Mediterranean island has to offer in such a short time.
In today’s article, I will be sharing with you our weekend in Malta and our travel itinerary, detailing things to be prepared for and how to spend weekend in Malta to the fullest.
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1. When to visit Malta
If you’ve already read a few of my articles, you’ll know that for city breaks I prefer the off-peak season. Meaning, kids are still at school and places aren’t packed with tourists. Although Malta is a popular summer destination, because of its location within the Mediterranean Sea, the weather is bearable all year-round. We spent the weekend Malta in November and for the entire weekend we had the sun shining above our heads and it was pleasantly warm. Much better than staying in England!
Before our trip to Malta, we were unsure of what kind of transport to use. Both of us have a driving licence, but we have read plenty of reviews about how bad Maltese people drive (no offence). We took all this information under consideration and did our research to find the best possible option to see the whole island in our 48-hours weekend in Malta.
Tip 1:Don’t rent a car in Malta. Rentals in Malta are cheap for one reason – Maltese drivers don’t always obey the rules or speed limits. It results in very expensive excess and deposits. 1400€ minimum.
After reading all the fine print in almost every rental company online, we decided not to risk it. We’ve driven all over the world, but the excess and deposit in Malta, if the worst were to happen, would be a killer. So, we decided that on the second day of our weekend in Malta, we will simply hire a chauffeur to take us to all the places we planned to see.
Our chauffeur for the day was Frank Said. I found his contact details via TripAdvisor and on his personal website, and after a few emails, we agreed on an hourly rate of 20€. I know, it’s a little more expensive than renting a car for the day, but we cannot recommend Frank enough. Before our weekend in Malta, we discussed all the possible routes and places we wished to see and made adequate arrangements. Frank was very professional, holds the door for ladies, drives wherever you ask him too and tells you about all the history of each place. Plus, we felt very safe with his driving, although even he struggled with some of the other maniacs on the road! He was so professional, that we asked him to pick us up the next day and takes us to the airport.
We only used the bus once and that was when we needed a transfer from the airport to Sliema, where we were staying on our first night. I heard that although Malta has got public transport in place and there are plenty of bus routes, but they can run late or not even show up at all. I would say, plan accordingly and always have a plan B (maybe have Frank’s phone number saved just in case). There are six bus routes via Malta International Airport. https://www.publictransport.com.mt/en/airport-services
Ferry between Sliema and Valletta
A cheap and exciting way to get around Sliema and Valletta on any day, pretty much any time as well. We jumped on this ferry on Saturday morning on our way to Valletta. It was really easy to find, as the stops near the harbour are perfectly marked so you can’t miss it. Because we spent the weekend in Malta during November, we were actually the first on board without any waiting whatsoever. The ferry costs about 1.50€ for an adult/single and 1.75€ at a night. It literally took only 10 minutes and it’s a super convenient way to get around. Plus, you will get to see all the gorgeous views of not only Valletta off in distance but also of Fort Manoel. Check out the time schedule: http://www.vallettaferryservices.com/fares.html
3. Where to stay during your weekend in Malta
I know many people recommend staying in Valletta and so I do, although on our first night in Malta we stayed in Sliema. We only had the weekend in Malta and we didn’t plan to stay in Valletta overnight, but if you are visiting for longer than just two nights, I do suggest you stay in the capital. I’ve booked two different locations for one simple reason – to experience Malta to its fullness in such a short period. The first night we stayed at the 115 The Strand Hotel & Suites in a room overlooking the many docked sleeping boats and the majestic Fort St. Manoel. I found Sliema very energetic and vivid on a Friday night, so maybe if you are looking for some nightlife – Sliema is for you. I personally didn’t experience Vallettas’ nightlife, so I cannot compare the two. Anyway, I can really recommend The 115 Strand Hotel in Sliema, it is a nice, cheap hotel with gorgeous views and a super convenient location. We enjoyed the balcony with a basic seating area and dived into the sunset with a glass of traditional Maltese wine.
Tip 2:If you are coming to Malta for more than just a weekend, try to stay in Valletta for at least two night and after that plan your accommodation elsewhere to truly take in everything this tiny island has to give
For the second night of our weekend in Malta, we experienced a totally different side of Malta. Sat on our bean bags next to a bonfire overlooking the hills and ocean with a crazy dog, who loves attention. We stayed in the middle of nowhere, literally, no walking distance to civilisation, neither store or restaurant. Secco’s Seaview Accommodation gets you for its astonishing views and peaceful surroundings.
Gorgeous sunset in Malta from Secco’s Seaview Accommodation
Book your perfect stay in Malta now!
4. Things to do
When you search ‘things to do in Malta’, Valletta always pops up first. Not only because it is Malta’s capital city, but also for its views, history, gorgeous old narrow streets and plenty of other things to see and do which made Valletta part of UNESCO. We arrived in Valletta early Saturday morning, due to having our driver booked for midday, meaning we had a few hours to explore this famous place.
National War Museum – Fort St. Elmo
With our morning strolling around the streets, enjoying the views of the cobalt waters and distant Sliema, without any planning, we made it to the National War Museum just as they opened. I am not going to lie, I am not a big fan of museums, especially war museums, but because Carl is fascinated by it, and as it is set within a real Fort, I agreed to visit this one. In the National War Museum, you can find out all about Malta’s military history from the 1800s under the British colonial rule and also its importance during World War II. It is a large museum with plenty of exhibits taking you from the very beginning of Malta’s military existence until after World War II. For more information and tickets, visit the official website: https://heritagemalta.org/
Upper Barrakka Gardens
After strolling around St George’s Square, Valletta City Gate and Triton Fountain, we ended up at the Upper Barraka Gardens, which was also our last stop in Valletta before our pick up. I loved those Gardens, the views were breathtaking overlooking Valletta’s Grand harbour! The weather was pleasantly warm, we stopped by a cafe in the Gardens and enjoyed a pint of cold Cisk and Aperol Spritz for the lady! Upper Barrakka Gardens are public gardens, open all year-round with free entrance and in the past, they were used by knights of the ‘Italian langue of the Order of Saint John’ to find relaxation and peace.
Our first stop from Valletta was the famous small fishing village Marsaxlokk. It is a tiny, really cute village, but even on our weekend in Malta in November, it was rammed with tourists and buses everywhere, so we didn’t spend too much time strolling around.
Partly because of the little time we had in Malta, but mainly because of the strong winds, we were unable to take the Blue Grotto tour. Frank still took us to the nearest parking spot atop the hill to enjoy the views of the strong waves and glorious mixture of cobalt and azure waters. I was fascinated and wish to come back during the summer when the weather is breezeless and waters are calm.
St Peters Pool
Off the beaten path, and full of massive potholes, outside of Delimara you will find this hidden spot (hidden for tourists, but very famous for locals). Perfect for summer sunbathing and relishing the cool Maltese waters.
Mdina – King’s Landing
Mdina, also known as the Silent City or if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then King’s Landing. I loved Mdina and its history, even though it was packed with tourists (be prepared to queue if you want to take pictures of the famous Mdina’s Gate and other Game of Thrones spots). Behind the famous gate, there is a collection of old, narrow streets taking you back nearly 4000 years. Even though Mdina was busy, I am still highly recommending this place because it’s truly an experience which chronologically takes you to antiquity.
As a child, I loved Popeye. He made me love spinach because I wanted to grow strong! So how is Popeye connected to Malta? There is a film set from the 1980’s musical Popeye and is now a famous spot which attracts thousands of tourist every year. It’s now turned into some ‘Theme Park village’ where you can find boat rides alongside food places to keep you going.
It’s obvious, that a weekend in Malta is just not enough time to explore the entire island and witness all it has to offer. We know now, for sure, that when we come back, it will be during the summertime, so Carl can scuba dive as Malta is a very popular spot among divers. And me? I would secure Frank again and visit places I didn’t have a chance too, like Gozo, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and many, many more! Full list of other attractions and historic places in Malta can be found on Lonely’s Planet website.
Tip 3: Before booking your tour to the caves of Blue Grotto, always check the weather forecast ahead to avoid disappointment.
5. Where to eat during your weekend in Malta
Paparazzi 29 – Sliema
We stopped at the Paparazzi 29 on our evening walk, craving some exquisite tapas and wine.
If you have sweet tooth, you have to stop by the Yummy Gelato when staying in Sliema. Choose from a variety of delicious chocolate cakes, fruit tarts or refreshing ice creams full of amazing flavours!
Upper Barrakka Kiosk
The perfect sunny day stop, for a coffee or a cold pint with the sitting area overlooking Valletta’s Grand Harbour.
Castille Hotel is a hotel with a rooftop restaurant (opens from 12pm) near the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The rooftop restaurant is also the highest point in the city. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it after 12pm to take pictures but I can imagine the views must be incredible. Instead, we enjoyed the lighter choice of lunch from the bistro downstairs.
If you’re renting an apartment, there are plenty of markets and local shops.
Return Flights with Ryanair from Birmingham: £107 total (with one carry on bag each)
I totally recommend spending the weekend in Malta. It is such a beautiful island with a rich choice of activities and tourists spots to keep you impressed for the entire time you there. Of course, planning your trips and things you want to see is necessary. Our weekend in Malta was incredible. From our balcony watching the sunset in our hotel room in Sliema; sipping Aperol Spritz at the Upper Barrakka Gardens; strolling around the old streets of Mdina to enjoying a bonfire in the middle of nowhere.
Until next time, Malta.
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