So You're Going To Malta: What Should You Know?
So Malta is very small
A quick Google asking what size Malta is will tell you that it is 122 mi². That sounds quite big, but when you realise that London is 607 mi², it does pale in comparison.
With a population of just over 423,000 according to the The World Bank, it also has a small island population, but is known for being one of the most important spots in European history (more on that later).
It's home to some amazing wines, food, culture, unspoilt beaches and "has to be seen to be believed" blue waters. The island is home to many UK ex-pats and is starting to become something of a holiday hub thanks to an influx of festivals and concerts in the summertime.
So let's explore Malta a little better in this Hub.
Malta Looks Quite PrettyClick thumbnail to view full-size
Malta is really old & has a fascinating history
Obviously the island itself is millions of years old, but because it's quite small, it's been relatively easy for archaeologists to figure out how long people have tried to make it their home.
Artefacts dating back to 5200BC show that someone stopped by one day and decided it was too good to pass up on. Many signs point towards these early inhabitants being people who were living in Sicily and didn't care much for Italian life, so hopped on a boat and got as far away as they comfortably could.
After the Greeks, Romans, Normans and the Muslim–Byzantine Wars all made their way through the island through the centuries, a very notable period that really turned Malta in to a country occurred. A group called the Knights Hospitaller fought for the island on several occasions throughout the 16th Century and took a vested interest in claiming everything for themselves. This led them to build forts and watchtowers at strategic points around the coast, some of which are still there today.
Historians note that the knights stayed in Malta for nearly 270 years as it meant that much to them. After that period, the French got involved and pesky Napoleon captured Malta in 1798. After which the British got jealous and made sure Malta became part of the British Empire in 1814.
It took 150 years but Malta successfully managed to gain their own independence in 1964 and ever since has managed to make itself a unique little country in the heart of the sea, having joined the EU in 2004.
One of the best historic attractions on the island is St.John's Cathedral. I could go in to detail all about it, but I've found this great hub right here all about it.
The Knights Of Malta
Maltese People Love A Party
Much of the cultural aspects of Malta are focussed along the east coast. To the north you have the ferry terminal and small beaches dotted along from St Pauls Bay all the way down to the capital city of Valletta.
Snuggled nicely north of the capital is the town of St Julians. A lot of the big hotels and resorts are situated near here as it is known as the party town on the island. It was originally a fishing town, but I'm guessing the fishermen got a bit bored of spending all day out in the water and all decided to open small cafes and bars instead.
Locals say that every night out in the town is unlike any other as every new bar will make sure you have a night like no other. If you're a foodie, get yourself down to Spinola Bay; known for serving a mix of high end seafood and cheap eats for those holidaying on a budget.
If you like to stay up to the wee hours dancing the night away, hit up a club in Paceville. It's home to a few different types depending on whether you prefer hip-hop, rock or dance music when out. It's also where you can get a good late night eat.
And of course, if you prefer a more cultured evening, stick to either side of the town as both Sliema and Valletta are where you can enjoy a long meal, classical music and an all-together formal affair.
Where People Party
This town is the party capital of the island and the place to be at night. Every type of bar imaginable (Irish, English, Spanish etc.) is packed in.
What would you do in Malta?
The Water Really Is That Blue
The Water Isn't That Drinkable
Now officially the water is safe to drink. The problem with a glass from the tap though is that it doesn't taste nice.
Without any rivers or streams flowing through towns, all water is pumped in from the sea and desalinated. This can give a mixed level of neutrality in the water, which is a bad thing if you forget and have a glass.
For cleaning and cooking it's all good (in fact their water concentration is perfect for boiling pasta without adding any more salt) but make sure to drink bottled water when given the chance, or have your own special filter bottle, otherwise you'll be making some unwanted trips to the toilet during your holiday.
The Airport Descent is Picturesque
The Airport is SUPER Convenient
You'll arguably be hard pressed to find a better airport in terms of quickness than Malta International.
It lies just south-westerly of the capital and has very reliable transport links to everywhere and anywhere. For anyone travelling to popular resort towns, I recommend taking the bus as dedicated routes are frequent and incredibly cheap.
For anyone staying in neighbouring Gozo, a taxi or hire car is your best bet. Driving from one end of Malta to the other from North to South takes only 45 minutes, so any journey is never too long.
Malta also has one of the highest levels of car ownership per capita in Europe, as locals find it's just easier to get from town to town if they can do it themselves. Car hire rates from the airport are quite competitive, so travellers can get a good rate.
Top Destinations In Malta (By Distance from Airport)
Best Method of Transport
St Julians Bay
Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal
AMP Lost & Found FestivalClick thumbnail to view full-size
"Welcome To The Weekend"
If you listen to BBC Radio 1, you'll no doubt know that famous phrase uttered by Pete Tong every week. The station's most famous DJ, Annie Mac, seems to like Malta a lot. So much so in fact that she throws a festival here every year now.
The Lost & Found festival takes place around Easter/ the start of April and for the past two years has seen some of the best names in Dance all descend on the island and turn it in to one big rave.
Average Prices in Malta
Life in Malta can be quite cheap for someone on holiday. The prices are just about as ladi back as the people living there.
The island relies a lot on tourism and this means that everyday commodities are quite cheap for guests.
Average prices (according to Numbeo) are:
- McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal) €7.50
- Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) €2.50
- Imported Beer (0.33 liter bottle) €2.00
- Cappuccino (regular) €1.67
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 liter bottle) €1.35
- Water (0.33 liter bottle) €0.95
What Malta Looks Like
What to say in Malta....in Maltese
Phrase in English
Phrase in Maltese
Hello (in slang like Hi)
How are you?
How much is this?
Important Malta Links
- Piazza Teatrurjal
If you want to know what life in Malta is all about, spend an afternoon in the Piazza Teatrurjal. It's nothing but small cafe tables and locals sipping on coffee and wine. It's also a great spot for taking selfies.
- Malta Airport Transfers
It's easy to get to any part of Malta from the airport. This handy little site is a hub of information for how to get from A to B and how much it will cost to get a taxi (fares are paid in advance and fixed so travellers aren't cheated on)
- Chevron Holidays
A UK based travel agency which provides package holidays to Malta for all budgets.
- Malta International Organ Festival
If you love the hum of a good organ, you'll be happy to know Malta has its own special organ festival every year, where leading organ players from across the globe get a chance to play in the historic churches.