Malta – tips for visiting the islands

In October I decided to check out the three Maltese islands (Malta, Gozo and Comino) for a long weekend break. This country is an absolute gem and I really did not expect I would like it that much! So much history, well-preserved sights, such a relaxed atmosphere and friendly people..wish I could spend at least a month there!

With Wizzair offering pretty inexpensive flights to the island from most major European cities, I must say – put the country in your must visit list. And, do not listen to people on forums telling you that ‘within 3 days you should have seen pretty much everything on the island’. 3 days are totally insufficient, so stay as long as you can 🙂

I’ll be sharing within a few posts what we managed to see within hectic 3.5 days. However, I will dedicate this post to tips on organizing your stay, so you don’t spend too much time on it.

Visit outside the high season

Malta is considered to have one of the best climate in the world, with mild winters and warm to hot summers. It’s also said to be the only capital in Europe where vegetation stays always green.
Property in Malta

So, considering it’s above 10 degrees even in the cold winter, you can enjoy it anytime. However, with more and more tourists visiting the island, better stay away in the high season. Malta is a small country, roads are tiny and some of the best places (like the Blue Lagoon on Comino island, which is an absolute must-see but has a very limited beach area) get really stuffed with people. So, I would recommend visiting in October, like we did, since the crowds are fairly less, the sea is very warm (24-25 degrees) and the weather is perfect.

Marsaxlokk, Malta - an amazing fishing village with a famous Sunday market

The bay of Marsaxlokk – an amazing fishing village with a famous Sunday market

Rent a place in the coastal area

When searching for accommodation I was really surprised to see low ratings and bad reviews for most hotels, even expensive ones. Hence I booked a private accommodation via airbnb and was very much pleased! (get $25 off your first trip). Visiting the resorts where most hotels were, I can confirm that indeed, they don’t look very attractive, most are like huge apartment residences with pretty small rooms.

This is what San Julian (a popular place with many hotels) looks like, so don’t expect anything fancy or luxury. But, there’s the city beach just in front 🙂

However, the view is simply amazing, they are built right on the coast, most have a small beach just in front so – it might be worth sacrificing your convenience for the breathtaking view!
Note: accommodation in Malta is fairly inexpensive.


Malta Bus

The colorful Malta bus is mostly a tourist attraction

Use the public transport

Malta public transport is one of the best I’ve used and definitely the cheapest one. For 6 EUR/week you can ride unlimited all buses plus there are night buses too (night buses paid extra, also the buses on Gozo island are paid extra). The bus lines are many and very punctual and take you everywhere around the island, including to/from the airport. The only disadvantage is, because they aim at covering every single hotel, they stop like every 50 it might get you an hour to cover a 30-km distance.On the other hand, I can’t imagine driving on the left-side or looking for a parking spot. Malta is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and this is very visible in the high-traffic central cities.

Plan time for all those sandy beaches!

Malta has lovely sandy beaches and you can find small strips of them even in major resorts. So, put your bathing suit while strolling – you never know when you’d see a great chance to dip in the sandy bottom water.
Tip: When visiting the famous and crowded Blue Lagoon on Comino island, take a waterproof cover for your backpack so you can swim with it to the neighboring and way more peaceful white sandy beaches.

The Blue Lagoon on Comino island is awesome but absolutely crowded. So, waterproof your luggage and swim to the sandy and more peaceful beach just across.

Bring comfortable shoes

Honestly, I had expected that Malta would be mostly beaches. But, it has tons of well-preserved historical sights and pedestrian areas in cities. Plus, distances between cities are short and you are perfectly fine walking from one city to the other in an evening stroll, rather than using the bus.

The city walls of the fortified Mdina – the old capital of Malta.

Plan enough time for visiting Gozo island

Most tourists, including us, stay on the main Malta island and take the ferry for a day tour to Gozo. I consider this a mistake though as Gozo has too much to offer for a single day. I’d spend at least one night there, so within two days you can visit all historical temples, relax at the beaches, stroll the capital of Gozo Victoria, with the impressive Citadel at the top (which takes at least 4-5 hours to enjoy) and then also visit the very famous lagoon in the neighboring Comino island.

View to Gozo's capital - Victoria - from the Citadel

View to Gozo’s capital – Victoria – from the Citadel

Take your kids

Even though Malta can get busy even outside the high season, I think it’s peaceful enough to take your kids with you. The ability to walk rather than drive or ride the public transport, the attractive fortresses and spectacular beach areas, most with pretty sandy and shallow bottoms, the lovely beach-side alleys, the huge parks and the really attractive museums are definitely something kids would enjoy.

Mdina, Malta, the Knights museum

The knights museum in Mdina is a must-see for kids

Talk with the locals

Malta was under British rule until 1964, so everyone, even the elderly locals, speak decent english (hence, there are a lot of students here on ‘practice your english’ vacations). So, take the chance to speak to the people on the street, in the cab or cafe. Maltese people are generally very friendly and when given the chance, they tell a lot about their country, economical issues following the crisis, the immigrants.. The country is facing a lot of challenges but I was impressed how determined the people are to make a good living and work towards this rather than complain.
And above all – relax! In Malta I felt as if the time had stopped. It was beautiful, peaceful, no stress or hurry anywhere (so, don’t get annoyed in the coffee shop, waiting for 5 minutes before someone actually paid you attention :), just people enjoying their life to the full. It’s not a perfect or luxury life, but it felt great to me, the 3.5-day visitor.

So, now that you know the practicalities of visiting Malta, next I’ll give the details of what you may see once there. Coming soon!


4 Responses to Malta – tips for visiting the islands

  1. Frank says:

    Informative post, Malta is a place we’d like to go. And totally agree with off-season, sometimes just gets to hot on Mediterranean in the summer anyway. I remember just dying on the Greek islands in August…in fact we’re going to Croatia in just over a month and looking forward to coolish April weather for hiking and few tourists.
    Nice to know not expensive 🙂
    Love the 2nd photo with colourful boats!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  2. Svetla says:

    Croatia in April sounds great! It was pretty full last August, so I’m also looking forward to seeing it a bit off-season..where do you plan to go in Croatia? Absolutely agree about Greece in August.

  3. Carah says:

    Thank you fo sharing so much useful information. Marsaxlokk is one of my favorite spots on the island. 🙂

  4. Vanessa says:

    Lovely post. By any chance can you share what airbnb did you stay?
    Thank you

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