Visiting Malta for a long weekend or even a week’s holiday is delightful at any time of year but it makes for a great escape from the long, cold winter months. With highs of 21˚ well into November and then only dropping to around 16˚ in the depths of winter, it will give you that much needed sunshine.
On arrival in Malta airport, it was just a short 15-minute taxi ride to Sliema where we spent four nights. I was lucky enough to stay with my sister who was working out there but if I return, I would love to stay at the 4* Victoria Hotel. This is a favourite of mine when recommending accommodation to clients as it is in an exceptional location for exploring Sliema and nearby Valletta. It also has the perfect balance of modern style and traditional Victorian elegance. The rooftop pool has stunning views over the town and the indoor pool with spa and gym facilities is much appreciated when the days are cooler. Definitely worth treating yourself especially when rates drop for the winter. Sliema has a buzzing atmosphere with plenty of restaurants and bars. In the evenings, we loved wandering along the promenade and admiring the illuminated architecture of Valletta just across the water.
On our first day we couldn’t wait to head over to Valletta to explore. As we travelled by ferry across the water, the views of golden, glowing stone, church spires and domes enclosed by bastion walls were stunning. Built on a peninsular, there has been little opportunity to become a sprawling city so it has retained its high concentration of historic buildings and gained UNESCO World Heritage status. We enjoyed strolling through the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Created in the late 16th century as a haven for the Knights from the nearby Auberge d’Italie, you can look out across the magnificent Grand Harbour. Once used to salute visiting naval vessels, the Saluting Battery with its cannons which are fired at noon and 4pm were fun to visit too.
For dinner, we headed to Vittoriosa which is around 30 minutes by taxi from Sliema. With a strong Italian influence in Malta, we enjoyed some delicious pasta whilst admiring the impressive yachts on the waterfront. Vittoriosa (Birgu) is the oldest of an area in Malta referred to as The Three Cities (which also includes Senglea and Cospicua). These were built in very close proximity to each other around the Grand Harbour right across the water from Valletta and are equally beautiful.
As we were there for a short break we decided to purchase tickets for the hop on hop off bus. This allowed us to visit numerous sights in a short space of time. We particularly enjoyed the stop in beautiful Mdina. This incredible Arabic fortification is a must see and its maze of alleyways with stunning architectural detail are great to wander round. Stopping for a morning coffee and a slice of cake at Fontanella tea room was a lovely treat, especially if you can get a table on the balcony looking out for miles across the island. In search of a couple of hours to feel the sand on our toes, we hopped off the bus at Golden Bay. As the name suggests, this is a horseshoe bay of golden sand ideal for a relaxing break from sightseeing.
On the last day, we headed to Marsaxlokk. The pretty harbour is famous for its brightly coloured boats painted with eyes. An old Phoenician tradition whereby the eyes of the god Orisis, will protect fishermen at sea. Offering some of the best fish restaurants on the island, it is a perfect lunch stop.