What do you do when your company is bought out, you know you’ll be out of work for a month or so, and your new job starts at the end of November? Plan a trip to Malta. That’s what.
In the summer of 2018, Chris and I began planning a European excursion for November but hadn’t yet decided on a location. I happened on “10 of the Best Things to do in Malta and Gozo” on Pinterest and it inspired part of our travel itinerary.
The palm trees and sunshine would be a welcome sight in November while exploring the Republic of Malta. Read on to discover five impressive sites in Malta and Gozo.
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1 ~ Upper Barrakka Gardens
While in our taxi from the airport to our hotel, Chris chatted with the driver who suggested that our first stop of the evening should be the Upper Barrakka Gardens next to the Castille Palace.
After checking in, we dropped off our luggage[affiliate], and grabbed a taxi to Valletta—the capital city—a 20-minute taxi ride away.
Our driver was friendly, sharing helpful information as we drove. He dropped us off at the Gardens.
Valletta was a cruise ship terminal, so we had mobs of cruise ship passengers to work around. There wasn’t many instances of waiting patiently for the perfect photograph[affiliate] as so many others were trying to capture the scenery as well.
Sunset in November was early, as it was in Colorado, and limited our time for looking around during daylight hours.
Instead of returning to our hotel by taxi, however, we noted a ferry traveling back and forth across the bay from Valletta to Sliema and were pleasantly pleased with €1,50 ticket price. We did have about a half an hour walk back to our hotel once arriving at Sliema, but after three long flights, we were happy to be out and about.
2 ~ Gozo
The next morning, I woke up at 7:30 am on the dot. Knowing that our schedule started early, Chris and I both rolled out of bed. I think we could have slept at least a couple of hours more, but we needed to catch a bus to Cirkewwa and then the ferry to Mgarr, Gozo.
The stop for bus 222 wasn’t too far from the hotel; we were glad to snag seats for the one-hour ride to the ferry. The ferry was then another 25 minutes to Gozo. Such reasonable prices. €1,50 for the bus and €4,35 round trip for the ferry.
We hadn’t done as much research on the island of Gozo as we might normally undertake, but we should have. We said no to the taxis and the Hop On Hop Off tours and just took off walking. It wasn’t too far to the church in Ghanjsielem.
I found the people on the island to be friendly in returning my smiles. And a first for any European country—a lady actually said hi to me first!
We waited at the bus stop for a ride in to Victoria only to find that the bus was coming from the ferry terminal and was completely full. It just drove right on by us. The next bus wouldn’t come for almost an hour. So we set off to walk some more.
The one bus we could have ridden arrived at the bus stop early and we were still too far away. We watched as it arrived at its designated stop five minutes early and then moved on. So, we walked a couple of miles more until finally reaching Victoria.
My advice? Take a tour, get a bus, or hire a taxi at the ferry terminal. You’ll be glad you did.
Once we finally made it to Victoria, we were famished. We hadn’t had much breakfast and we were ready for a rest. We stopped at the first cafe we found—Hog.
Rejuvenated by our lunch, we toured the Cittadella (Citadel) in Victoria. It was made of limestone and had served as a fortress for the residents of the island until it was breached and the people were all carried away to be slaves in foreign countries. Some of the fortress was in ruins, some of it had been reinforced. Many of the walls still stood.
3 ~ Blue Hole at Dwejra
We then took a bus from Victoria to Dwejra to see the Blue Hole.
Gelato first and then water. Those were our purchases.
Chris and I sat on the rocks to eat and enjoy the view. The rocks had been worn and weathered by the tide over the years. We definitely had to watch our steps as we made our way to the cliffs and water’s edge.
4 ~ Marsaxlokk
On our last full day in Malta, the sun was shining but the air was still a little cool.
We had a lovely breakfast in the hotel restaurant and enjoyed the outdoor seating and excellent buffet. Good thing I don’t eat that much food most mornings.
We opted for a taxi directly to Marsaxlokk (pronounced Marsaschlock) instead of an hour bus to Valletta and then a change to another bus to Marsaxlokk. (It reminded me a lot of the village of Cassis in France.) Our driver got us there in no time, offering to take us around the rest of the island for $35/hour. We thought that was excessive and declined his offer.
I loved the boats in the harbor and took pictures while Chris soaked up some sun.
The tourism office was on the far side of the harbor and we made our way there to ask questions about the Hop On Hop Off bus. There were two companies running buses, but only one would allow you to change from the South tour to the North tour without extra cost.
We sat on top of the bus for the view, but it was definitely chilly as we drove at higher speeds between cities.
5 ~ Mdina
During our bus tour, we wanted to get off at Mdina (Im-dina) as Sharon, our waitress from the previous night, mentioned that it was a beautiful fortress city set up on a hill.
I LOVED Mdina.
It was one of the most impressive sites in Malta during our stay. It reminded me of some of the French and Italian cities we have toured, with stone walls and walkways, beautiful doors and windows, impeccably clean streets, horse and buggy rides…and people actually lived within the walls of the fortress.
It was getting dark and much colder shortly after we left Mdina. The tour was winding down, but we still had quite a ways to go before returning to our hotel. The bus driver came to find out everyone’s stops and then proceeded to drop people off along the way.
Chris and I finally left the outdoor seating on the top of the bus for the warmer, restricted views inside the bus. It was almost dark though, so it was time to warm up.
Final Thoughts on Impressive Sites in Malta and Gozo
Following our first trip to Malta, Chris and I headed to France. Read about our 5 Spectacular Days in the South of France. While Malta and Gozo and never been on our travel radar before, it was a delightful visit and relatively affordable.