As I told you before, our three days in Malta were shortened to two due to one hell of a storm (with a thunderstorm that, if I was afraid of them, would have made me hide under the bed).
And from those two days, an afternoon was spent watching the brilliant Pembroke-Floriana (for those who aren't aware, we are talking about the Maltese Premier League), that classic of European football.
We then ended up with one morning, one late afternoon and one full day to enjoy Malta. The first point to address: what do we want to see? The country is known for its spectacular natural and coastal landscapes, with marvelous waters and fantastic caves. But despite the good weather (20-something degrees Celsius, 68 Fahrenheit), we are in November and no one is keen to show some skin. Also, we tend to favor a more urban approach to travel.
We decided that the lost day meant we had to cut Gozo from the itinerary: the bus trip, plus the ferry, plus another bus trip, plus an equal way back, was going to take us a full day. So we decided to explore the cities: Valletta, next to our AirBnB, was the introductory spot and the ideal place to spend the afternoon. Marsaxlokk was visited on Sunday morning, the Victor Tedesco (stadium) was the destination of the afternoon. On Monday we set plans to Mdina and Birgu (Città Vittoriosa), where we enjoyed the opportunity to see the sunset over the bay.
If you have little time to visit Malta, you can not be better situated than in Valletta, or in neighboring Floriana (literally at the gates of the capital), from where all buses leave on the island. Besides, the city is ... spectacular.
Good shoes are fundamental, and, if it is not much to ask, muscled legs, because it goes up and down a lot through the hills, but it's worth it. The narrow alleys, with their bulging red-painted windows and statues that surprise us at every corner, make the atmosphere charming and are the ideal place to stroll at any time of the day. The view of the Three Cities (to the east) is brilliant, and the mini-city turned out to be a recurring destination for us.
Enjoy the small kiosks with crepes, wraps, and sandwiches and you will have excellent meals for a bargain. Or stay on a terrace, more or less touristy, and eat good Italian food.
Marsaxlokk is an ever-present destination in guides and itineraries for Malta, which speak of the "Sunday fish market" as if it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Tip: it is not. It's cute, yes. But it does not compensate the queue of 80 people to enter the bus (of these, only 40 will be able to enter and the bus won't reopen its doors until arriving at the terminal station), the pushes of the old Britons and the lack of civism that you'll put up to until the arrival.
The normal market, without the fish part, works every day and it might compensate if you choose another day to visit, therefore avoiding the risk of being trampled to get there - because yes, it pays off to go see the bay, the traditional colorful boats, the environment.
Enjoy a morning or afternoon stroll, sit on a terrace eating anything (forget about Costa Coffee and its UK prices, please) and do the best thing possible when you are on vacation - people watch.
Mdina, or the Silent City, is a fortified medieval town that served as the capital of Malta. Today, it is a magnet for tourists who get lost in its cobbled streets and explore the churches and museums of the area. From the walls of the city, you can see the whole island and distinguish the different settlements that dot the island with Italian-style churches in the middle of Arab or North African style dwellings.
When we visited, the dome of the Cathedral was undergoing refurbishment (and full of scaffolding), but it wasn't problematic. The charm of the city is in its yellowish and serene tone, which seems to chase us through the streets. On a Monday morning, it is possible to walk for some time without encountering hordes of visitors and one can see why it is nicknamed "Silent City".
The area of the Three Cities (Birgu, or Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua) was probably the less touristy, and more "local", we visited - exception made to the Victor Tedesco Stadium (go figure...).
Seen from Valletta, they look like a cluster of fortifications interspersed by domes of reddish color that reminds us of Italy. Curiosity was stronger and, after a short ferry ride, we reached Birgu and started our biggest climb.
When disembarking from the Valletta ferry, there are two options: follow along with the water line or climb the city, towards the War Museum. For some reason, we thought the best view of Malta would be up there (thinking about it, it makes sense, right?) and decided to go up. We could have looked at the map and realized that the tip of the city, where lays the Fort of St. Angelo, has only access by a road, and is not up there.
Eventually, and after a walk through the streets of Birgu (which are well worth exploring, because they have the charm of Valletta but with the added interest of having, in fact, residents), we have reached our destination. Cheap as we are, we decided to put aside the entrance to the fort itself and follow a precarious path around the wall. We were rewarded with a natural "observation deck" that allowed us to overlook Valletta and enjoy a marvelous sunset.
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