It was a whistle-stop trip, Sunday-Wednesday for our friends wedding and it was exactly what we needed. Hot (36 degrees and climbing), chilled and full of gin, what else do you need? Lots of mosquito repellent apparently and a good taxi driver to tell you the best places to go. Well, where to go for amazing cake. Sold! That and all the other little places we discovered in 72 hours are just a few reasons why Malta is definitely worth, at the least, a long weekend.
We spent the majority of our time around St Paul’s Bay. It’s where our hotel was and seemed to be at the centre of a busy nightlife. Not nightclub-busy but late night family jaunts and midnight dips in the ocean-busy. Although the beaches are a little rough around the edges (and not in a romantic, rustic way), the small harbours and walled walkways are perfect for an after-dinner stroll. From school trips to hushed couples, local fishermen to the odd loner trying his luck on a line, the neon lights and tourist hotspots dissolved into local life.
Whenever we go away, we tend to shy away from busy areas and try to immerse ourselves into living like a local. We go to the markets, the dodgy looking restaurants with amazing food and explore quieter streets to discover hidden gems. St Paul’s is perfect for this as it leads you straight to neighbouring towns. We didn’t hire a car but it’s definitely worth it if you want to mull around the historic sites on your own time and not rely on taxi’s. The fares are, well, fair and we never paid more than €25 for a 30-45 minute trip but there’s something freeing about having your own car.
DAY ONE – VALETTA
Our first night was a blur thanks to the 3am flight, a shock in climate change and a total disregard for time. We headed to Valetta, the capital of Malta for a meal at Rampila’s, a beautiful restaurant built into the side of the city wall. Although not child-friendly (as we soon discovered) it was still pretty damn dreamy, with twinkling candles, white parasols and spontaneous olive trees surrounding tables on the terrace. One sleeping baby and five tipsy adults later, Toff and I found ourselves strolling through deserted streets and across historic bridges into the early hours before hopping into a passing taxi back to the hotel.
DAY TWO – CAFE DEL MAR
Ok, so far so relaxing but day one seemed to take it out of us by the time day two arrived so a lazy day was definitely on the agenda. We packed our swimwear and a stash of glossy mags (again, me not Toff) before braving the mid morning sun for a stroll down the bay to Cafe Del Mar. If you haven’t been to one before, it’s definitely worth the €25 for a sun lounger purely for the view, music and chilled atmosphere. I’ve always been in two minds about beach clubs – if the beaches are beautiful, I’ll always favour a dip in the ocean than a pool. But, when there’s a group of you and the temperatures are reaching low forties, a guaranteed parasol and ice on tap can’t be argued with.
If you’re travelling with kids to Malta and the thought of a beach club sounds out of the question, there’s a designated child section with shallow pool to keep the nippers entertained.
DAY THREE – MDINA
With the wedding kicking off at 5pm we had just enough time to catch a taxi to Mdina in the morning for a quick walk around the walled town. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan this is for you – think mysterious convents, pretty alleyways, quaint tea rooms and historic doorways. There was something so hauntingly beautiful around each corner that we couldn’t help but imagine who lived there and the lives they might have had. Taking the advice of our very sweet and knowledgable taxi driver, we stopped off at Fontanella, a casual restaurant overlooking the valley that served the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!
As we packed up our hand luggage and got ready to go home, I couldn’t believe how attached I had become to Malta in just 72 hours. Its curious history, beauty and never ending sights, we had barely scratched the surface. But I hope you get a sense of what it was like and may even be tempted to take a trip yourself – maybe we’ll see you there!
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