5 Unexpected Things You Don’t Know About Malta
I knew very little about Malta before I headed there for a week long holiday. I jumped on a girls trip with my best mates, we booked a killer penthouse apartment and planned to hire a car. None of us knew much about it, except that it’s a small island south of Italy, and has some stunning Mediterranean beaches, smaller islands and coves. I was just stoked to be getting some sun and sea for a week, so, unusually, let myself be totally clueless about the place I was travelling to.
1. It’s Not Actually So Small
The first thing we realised about Malta, is that it’s much bigger than we thought. Someone had told my friend it was 20 mins across the whole island – and this is far from true, it also has a very high road density. This means that there’s a lot of driving to do in Malta, and a hell of a lot of roads.The first thing we realised about Malta, is that it's much bigger than we thought. Someone had told my friend it was 20 mins across the whole island – and this is far from true. Click To Tweet
Now I come from Sydney, so I’m no stranger to silly roads and idiot drivers, but I even found myself at a loss sometimes with the roads on the island. They’re either massive motorways with confusing exits and designs, or they’re the tiny one lane dirt roads you’d expect from a very small island. These roads I like the most. A stunning way to see the way Malta probably used to be, before all these big roads were put in – and you can also expect a lot of road works and construction while you’re there.
You’re gonna want to get a small car and have a good driver who’s not going to balk at people jumping out at you or driving down very narrow roads, that are walled off with rocks or brushes or riddled with potholes. And if you want my advice, don’t drive into the city centre of Valletta, the tight buildings and cobble roads are beautiful; but much better appreciated on foot.
The public transport in Malta is supposed to be great, but it’s usually crowded and it’s a bloody hot place, very dry and arid, so if you’re waiting around for buses and planning which beach to go to because of its accessibility by public transport, you’re not going to be able to experience everything Malta has to offer.
2. Expect to Get Lost and Turned Around By Your GPS
Because of the massive road works and new infrastructure, none of our maps had correct information, the roads are just too new. I’m sure this won’t be a problem for long, but it’s something to be aware of. Getting lost, however, led us to the most beautiful little cove I’ve every seen, and gave us the opportunity to dive on some crazy steep and small roads, with views to die for.
Our navigational error led us to a dead end road, with space for 3 small cars to stop. From here it’s a steep and slippery scramble down to the clearest blue bay, that I’m not sure even has a name. The town of Mellieha is a popular tourist bay, with water sports, umbrellas and sun loungers for hire. Food kiosks and hotels everywhere, so a hidden spot like this just around the corner was a miracle find, and well worth the wee trek it takes to get there and back.
3. It’s a Popular Tourist Destination
Lots of Europeans spend their holidays in Malta, so it can become pretty crowded on the main beaches and promenades. It doesn’t take much to beat the rush however, with most places not getting busy till after 10 or 11 am. Sticking around for the sunsets is also well worth it, with many of their beaches and cliffs offering perfect views for the sunset, as the loud families, golden oldies and people with nasty sunburns start to trickle away, the calm sets in again as the sky puts on a show. Places like St. George’s pool and Riviera Beach are musts-visit places, and less crowded than the main spots like St. Julian’s or Golden Bay, but are still widely sought out places, unless you’re hiking to a secret beach, don’t expect to be alone at many places.
4. It’s Got a Long History with Europe and War
Aside from the stunning beaches and lovely scenery, Malta also boasts a rich history, beautiful architecture and grand cathedrals all over the island. On both Malta and Gozo, sandstone buildings are churches are a must see, fitting in perfectly with the desert landscapes. The Mosta dome is a perfect example of this, and also allows visitors insights into Malta’s war history, as it was a very important area at this time, but was not without its devastation as well. It has been taken over and fought for many times, and has its own long history that dates back thousands of years.
5. You’ll Need More Than a WeekendThe Archipelago of Malta has a lot to offer, there are new areas to explore every day; even in a week we didn’t see everything. You'll need more than a weekend! Click To Tweet
The Archipelago of Malta has a lot to offer, there are new areas to explore every day; even in a week we didn’t see everything. Ferries run to Gozo and Comino (home of the famous Blue Lagoon) frequently, and it’s definitely worthwhile beach hopping and going to every possible cove or town or cave or cliff you can, even if it seems hard to reach. Every place we went to had its own unique feel, whether it be the smallest cove or the bustling capital city of Valletta, and we were entranced by it all. The relaxed vibe of Malta was enhanced by the perfect weather and clear blue waters, each small town of the island has its own charm, making for an idyllic holiday destination.