Malta and Gozo
Oh Malta, what a beautiful country. A mix of the Middle East and Italy with a touch of island life. Situated in between North Africa and Sicily surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean sea, the Maltese have their own unique flair. Crystal clear water, arid rocky landscape, busy cities, winding cobblestone streets, and unbelievable French architecture.
The islands of Malta are dominated by limestone formations and it’s coastlines are predominantly made up of vertical cliffs. Tourists spend their time visiting the countless bays, inlets, and coves in between restaurant and bar hopping in the town centers that are sprinkled along the coast.
Before visiting Malta, I never actually knew it was it’s own country. Truth be told, I had never actually heard of it. The only thing I could think of when my friend mentioned we visit this country was Maltese dogs, which for your information actually do come from Malta. The Maltese locals also have their own language along with English. The Maltese language is 70 percent Arabic with a little Sicilian dialect. I truly never thought I’d visit, but I’m so glad I did.
There is really nothing better than being reunited with two of your best friends after being away from everything familiar for multiple months and a near death experience. Seeing both Michele and Ali was a dream come true after the Philippines. We started our Maltese adventure in Sliema, one of the main tourist destinations when visiting Malta. We reserved a wonderful Airbnb just up from the main street and spent our days wandering through the streets finding delicious seaside restaurants, sipping on wine and eating delicious meals. After eight months through Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, salad and salmon were the only two things I ordered at every meal. Consistency is key and honestly I couldn’t get enough. We visited the rocky crowded beaches offering great amounts of people watching before hitting the town and sipping espresso martinis at night.
One day we took a boat cruise to Comino’s Blue Lagoon. It was all you can drink for $25 with lunch included. I will say the “all you can drink” is small little dixie cups and with over 400 people on the boat you end up standing in line for almost the whole cruise, so be sure you grab as many cup fulls as possible every time you reach the bartender. Also be ready to get used to the Maltese tuna sandwich consisting of tuna, marinara sauce and green olives…. very peculiar, but it gets the job done. The Blue Lagoon was spectacular. Very crowded, but beautiful especially along the out skirts.
One day we managed to get a ride from a local friend to Golden Bay. Golden Bay was one of those beaches you see online that looks completely serene, but in reality it’s packed with tourists. I would recommend going to the cove next to Golden Bay if you want a more relaxing stay and have your own beach supplies. We needed umbrellas and refreshments so we stuck with Golden Bay. There were two Italian men who were having the time of their lives in front of us. They managed to smash a twelve pack of Corona in a matter of two hours bumping their reggaetone and breaking out in fist pumps and other eradic dance moves every once in a while. After the beach we hit up our usual restaurant Tiffany’s for dinner where Armando, our server, became a fast friend. He was happy to see us again and even came out with us to Black Sheep before dancing the night away at Funky Monkey the following evening. We stumbled home around 3am stopping by a delicious pizza spot before curling up in bed.
Restaurants to try:
Tiffany’s- We ate here almost every day. Delicious salads and salmon!
Giorgione- Great place for breakfast and brunch! Fantastic coffee and salmon eggs benedict.
Hungarian Restaurant- Fantastic food and cheap! Unreal food at a beautiful price!
Bars to visit:
Funky monkey- We spent one night at Funky Monkey a massive bar with two outside areas and dance floors inside! We closed the place down into the wee hours of the morning. Cheapest drinks known to man kind!
Black sheep- Fantastic atmosphere for drinks and food!
Places to visit:
Blue Lagoon- You have to go see this place. Mornings and afternoons are much less crowded, but the booze cruises are fun. If we had done our research we would have noticed that the Blue Lagoon is right next to Gozo and trips from Gozo are a fraction of the time compared to coming from Malta, but we enjoyed the booze cruise nonetheless.
The beautiful rocky beach to the left of the main Sliema strip of restaurants.
Golden Bay- Crowded, but beautiful.
Blue Grotto- Stunning spot to explore by motorbike.
Marsaxlokk- Fishing Village to visit. Go on Sundays when the freshest fish is being served up!
We stayed in St. Julian’s for a couple nights towards the end of our Maltese adventure. Hostel Malti offered a lovely atmosphere with a cool roof and comfortable beds. They organize pub crawls with the other hostels, however we didn’t make it out with the youngins those nights, we were too pooped from spending all day at the pub and driving around Gozo the few days prior.
St. Julian’s is poppin’ late at night and from what I could tell there was a variety of places to choose from. They have waterfront bars and restaurants, alley ways clogged with even more bars and restaurants and cool little rock coves you could spend your days in the sun! We spent a full day at the beach before hitting the Irish Pub for the World Cup and topped it off at Naar for a bit of drinks and hookah. It was a perfect end to the week of fun! Naar was a lush bar/restaurant, their food was delicious and the vibe was perfect for a night out.
Where to stay:
Hostel Malti- $23 per night
Where to eat/drink:
Naar- Fantastic waterfront bar and restaurant with delicious food, dancing and hookah!
Crust- Lovely restaurant for brunch, lunch and dinner.
Mint- Vegan/vegetarian friendly breakfast and lunch spot. Unreal almond milk lattes and salads.
Pukah Bar/Reggae bar- Great place to hang out! With swings out front and great vibes inside. Hang on the steps and enjoy drinks with the locals. These two Scandinavians walked by with these bucket hats on and naturally Ali and I asked to take a photo with them while sipping our espresso martinis.
St Paul’s Bay
Michele and I spent our last night in St. Paul’s Bay in a lovely AirBnb. It was a nice spot to relax for the end of our Maltese adventure. We spent the majority of our night at O’Reilly’s watching the World Cup, but moved on to a pub down the road with live music and a bit more breathing room. At O’Reilly’s we ordered a martini that could serve ten people and Michele ordered three different entrees solidifying the “treat yourself” motto while on vacation. There were so many french fries that the waiter asked if there was going to be someone else joining us. Fun fact: Popeye Village is worth a gander if you’re in the area along with the bay itself.
Renting a motorbike is a must when visiting Malta. It gives you the freedom to hop from spot to spot while taking in all the beautiful landscape! Valetta was one of those areas where I felt like a giddy school girl starring in a film featuring an American girl on her first European adventure. I was smiling from ear to ear on the back of that motorbike taking in all of the architecture and liveliness of the city. Valetta’s streets were hilly and entangled with alleyways full of little restaurants and bars. We found ourselves a nice spot on the steps at a restaurant to enjoy the World Cup and a couple brews. I even taught the bartender how to make an espresso martini, WINNING!
We rented a car for a couple days to explore the island of Gozo, Malta’s sister island. We drove to the port in Malta and boarded the ferry in our mint green Fiat before arriving on the small island of Gozo. Gozo is quiet and quaint compared to Malta, but it’s beauty is undeniable. They have bays, beaches and beautiful rock formations.
We stayed in an AirBnb that was extremely subpar, but in a nice area on the island, Marsalforn. It was the first time an AirBnb host tried to double the price and take a deposit when we arrived. My response was nothing short of a polite ABSOLUTELY NOT! Thankfully AirBnb handled it and fully refunded us for our stay. Immediately after arrival we visited the blue hole and the nearby cliffs. The blue hole is known for scuba diving, but since I was out of commission in that regard there was no swimming for me…. Plus the water was beyond freezing to what I was used to in the Philippines. Make sure to be weary of the many jelly fish as you walk along the rocks.
The cliffs of Sannat are a must when exploring Gozo. While we were driving there Michele gunned it over a speed bump and Ali went flying into the roof concussing herself. In lieu of her headache, we managed to hike to the cliffs and enjoy the unreal hundreds of meters of limestone that separated us from the blue waters of the Mediterranean. This was one of those places that made the butterflies go off in your stomach near the edge reminding you how small of a space you actually occupy in this world.
The whole rest of the day was spent in Hoqden, a cool little bay/beach just across the channel from the Blue Lagoon. We shared a couple bottles of wine while jumping off the walls into the crystal clear waters of Gozo. There is a cafe nearby where you can grab food or rent a little boat to get you and your friends over to Blue Lagoon.
We decided to drive to the other side of the island to watch the sunset at Ramla Bay and on the way we stopped at a little convenience store ran by an elderly man. He smiled with his eyes and tried teaching us all he could about Maltese wine. He was happy as a clam to have customers and made sure we felt appreciated, giving us supplies for a sunset with wine. By the time we got to the bay the winds were so strong we had to sit behind a bluff making friends with some locals who were partying on the beach as the sun went down.
What to do:
Cliffs of Sannat
Natural Pool near Azure window
San Blas Bay
Where to eat:
Otters in Malsaforn- Fantastic place for lunch. Although we spent close to three hours here for lunch it was worth it!
Napoli’s pizza- We closed down L'Oro Da Napoli one evening with a few bottles of red wine, a couple delicious pizzas (mine with salmon of course) and a lovely waiter. He even let us stay outside while they closed up the restaurant and went home for the night. Delicious pizza!
I had the best time in Malta with two of my favorite people on this planet. There is no one else I’d rather play “what are the odds” with! forgot how lovely it is to travel to a new destination with two people you already know, there’s no surface level conversations or awkward moments of questioning yourself. It’s safe and comforting to have a person you know so well around.