Malta, a Ravishing Island With Mixed African and Italian Influences

Malta, you stole my heart. With its charming streets, tropical islands and romantic architecture, Mediterranean Malta really is a stunning island. Their mixed influences, as an ex-British colony and located between Italy and Africa, resolve in an original and unique style throughout the whole island. 

First day – Wandering In Valletta

What I recommend you to do – if you ever go to Valletta – is to book a stay in the centre, get up early, and just walk. Wander. Explore. Get lost. Throw away that map, Google Maps, whatever. This city is made to explore impulsively.

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I had no idea where I was going. I walked through small alleys, managed to survive very steep streets and took time-outs to enjoy peaceful ocean views. Their beautiful architectural style can be described as Baroque with an Italian touch and British influences – the Maltese Baroque style, one of its kind.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

The most stunning place was the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Because it is built on a high point in Valletta, it offers a lookout over the whole city. You can even see the The Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Bormla), which are three medieval, fortified cities, located next to each other.

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Lower Barrakka Gardens

Afterwards, I stumbled onto the Lower Barrakka Gardens – this is comparable to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, expect for the views and the location – as the name suggests, these gardens are located more lower than the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Again, these natural gardens with an influence of old Greek architecture had many feasts for the eye.

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At night, I stumbled upon a huge building, and when I entered, I found food heaven. This place was featuring the best restaurants in Malta, each representing a different culture and offering fresh food. A Maltese friend told me that this used to be an old market and that they recently turned it into a modern “market”. It’s called Is-Suq tal-Belt, remember this name, fellow foodies!

Talking about food: when in Malta, you should definitely try pastizzi -inspired by the Greek (thero)pita – and ftira – inspired by the Italian focaccia.

There is also a museum of armoury, so filled with soldiers costumes and weapons, very interesting. And also, talking about soldiers: you can witness the soldiers’ salute every day.

Second day – City life in St Julian’s

St Julian’s is not far away from Valletta, but this city is very different from the capital town. St Julian’s offers beautiful harbour views, a lot of restaurants clubs and beach bays where you can chill out. It’s called the Vegas of Malta for a reason. You will notice a big change in social life and the population- St Julians has a lot more younger people, bars and parties in the city than Valletta.

What you can do best in St Julians, is walk at the coastline all the way to Sliema. This way, you’ve seen all the best spots at seaside.

Tips for St Julians are eating in The Avenue (mediterranean food), Vecchia Napoli (Italian food) and Gululu (Maltese food).

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Third day – listening to the sound of silence in Mdina, The Silent City

Mdina is a small village where time (and noise) are unknown. Walking around in Mdina is like walking around in a fairytale; it’s so calm, so silent and so unreal. The buildings are so cute and of beautiful architecture.

When in Mdina, try the chocolate cake at La Fontanella – you won’t regret it. Also, there are two palaces in Mdina open for the public. Here, you can go upstairs and enjoy the views.

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Fourth day – Views from the Blue Grotto 

My trip was going as planned, everything was going perfectly. I fell in love with Valletta, experienced the nightlife in St Julians and sought out silence in Mdina.

In my case, that means something has to go wrong. That’s just how my life works: yin and yang. Gotta stay in balance, you know.

Full of energy and positivity, I hopped on a bus to take me to the Blue Grotto the next day. The trip to the Blue Grotto, which is in the south of the island, was my furthest trip.

When I finally arrived after a bus ride of two and a half hours, I enjoyed the views from the cliffs before heading down to do some diving, a boat tour through the Blue Grotto, etc.

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Once I succeeded to walk down to the coast, I was eager to find out which boat would take me on a tour and how this diving thing works. But all I saw was one paper with “CLOSED- call this number for support”. Turns out they were closed – unforeseen – because of the windy weather.

Well, now at least my life has come back to a healthy balance now.

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Fifth day – Mini-island life in Gozo

Close to Malta, you can find Gozo. Gozo is a small paradise with only a few hotels and attractions. 

The trip to the ferry station is long, but easy. There is a direct bus ride from Valletta to Cirkewwa ferry station that lasts almost two hours.

Once you have arrived at the ferry station,  you just get on board for free. When returning from Gozo, you have to buy your ticket for €4,60. Ridiculously cheap for two boat trips of half an hour.

When I arrived at Gozo, I saw everybody walking to the buses for hop-on hop-off tours, but honestly, never in my life have I done such a tour and never will I ever do. Why sit all day in a bus and drive past everything when you can experience it completely different?

So, as usual, I walked in the opposite direction of the other tourists and wandered through the island. It was a wonderful experience. Although, again, the transport was a bit of a bummer. In Gozo, you have beautiful spots at the other side of the island. The harbour and the village itself were so calm and beautiful.

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Sixth day – The Three Cities

My next and final stay was in Senglea, one of “The Three Cities”. I stayed at the loveliest guesthouse and really felt like a local.

I’ll be honest with you guys: it seemed that there was no sign of life anywhere in Senglea. The weather wasn’t very nice, but there was literally no one outside and everything was closed, even though it was Carnaval and it was a Monday.

I explored Senglea and despite these circumstances, I didn’t regret visiting Senglea at all. It’s a small part of land and crossing the village only takes a ten minute-walk. In other words: you have sea side and charming  harbour views everywhere.

Just say “garden” and I’ll be there

Besides the Barakka Gardens in Valletta, another must-visit are the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea. It’s is much smaller than the Barrakka gardens, but equally beautiful.

The other two cities are like Senglea: charming, small and full of beautiful Maltese buildings. I do recommend you to visit these three cities in one day, because my two-night stay in Senglea was a bit long, especially because of the lack of life in town.

Seventh day – Valletta Carnival 

The second last day of my stay, I decided to visit Valletta once again. Today was the fourth day of carnival, and the Maltese people were still going strong. I’m not really a fan of carnaval and my attempts to avoid it succeeded very well until this day. The main streets in Valletta were blocked because of the carnaval parade and there was way too loud music, but the atmosphere was nice.

Maltese people really celebrate carnaval.

I left the city centre. It was time for some Valletta- wandering. I discovered new hidden gems in Valletta, unfortunately I cannot tell you where exactly of how I got there. When in Valletta, take a day or two to wander in the city, walk in streets nobody else walks in, and explore hidden places.

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I left a piece of my heart in Malta. I’ll definitely visit this island again. I really felt the vibe, it was amazing. The locals were welcoming, warm and really friendly. As you have read, I also had typical ups-and-downs moments, but that’s part of travel (and life), right? Yin and yang.

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Ana Seas The Day is a project founded by Anaïs Skoutariotis, a former flight attendant and graduate in Communications Management - Public Relations. Born with mixed Greek and Italian roots, ever since she was a child her parents took her to the most beautiful Mediterranean places. Her love for travelling and discovering the best destinations has grown ever since. On Ana Seas The Day, she shares her travel stories, advice and inspiration for all the adventurous souls out there.

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