Malta in a nutshell
Malta is a unique, small island. Although it is a lowland country, it is cut by numerous hills, which gives the illusion that the distances seem larger. The highest peak is Ta’Dmejrek, which is only 253 meters high. The island’s charms are primarily the beautiful architecture of old towns and villages, as well as natural karst carvings and terrain, which in places resembles a lunar landscape. The coast is varied with numerous cliffs and grottos, which makes the island even more interesting. For lovers of history and architecture, Malta would definitely be an interesting place.
La Valetta City Break
A city that can not be missed. There is a main bus node, from which it is easy to get to every corner of the island. A characteristic place is the Triton fountain – a meeting place and a landmark. It is worth to start sightseeing in that place. Heading towards the main promenade Trq Ir-Repubblika, along which there are many brand stores and restaurants, it is worth going to the right and go to the Upper Barakka Gardens – a place with a beautiful view of Birgu. Passing the fountain you can reach the arcades with the panorama of the fort Sant ‘Angla. I must admit that the place is extremely charming and atmospheric.
Looking at the map of the capital, I see that all streets intersect at a right angle. The street design was developed by Michael Angelo’s student and many of them are steep stairs. I decide to get lost in the streets of this beautiful city. Unfortunately, it’s not possible. All streets lead me to the quays. Walking through the streets of La Valetta, I admire traditional houses with very characteristic balconies that can be seen in other towns on the island.
History enthusiasts should go to the La Sacra Infermeria – the former Saint Hospital, with the longest hospital ward in the world. Built in 1574, it served for many years as a hospital for monks from Malta, the continent and pilgrims to the Holy Land. It was famous for the longest hospital ward with a length of 155 meters, the so-called Long Hall. Currently, there is a conference center and a museum with a cinema room. It is worth going there to watch a film showing 7,000 years of turbulent and rich history of Malta.
Together with a friend who decided to fly to Malta for a few days, we decide to visit the La Sacra Infermeria. A few days earlier, during a few-hour trip from the Institute, I had the opportunity to watch a film at a conference center. I think that this is an important point when visiting Malta on your own. The museum is partly located in the basement. There are wax figures and mock-ups depicting images and stories from the hospital from ancient times. Next to them there are information plaques in English.
Seeing the mock-up of the former patient ward, I wonder if the tour includes a visit to the Long Hall. It turns out that it does not. After leaving the museum, I decide to go to the museum office and ask if there is a possibility of going inside. The office worker turns his nose, informing us that basically tourists are not allowed in, but he makes an exception for us and lets us into the room. You can see that renovation works are carried out there. In order to take a good photo, Kornel decides to tidy up the ward, moving paint palettes and containers to a different place. It’s good that a museum employee can not see it. Sure he would have quickly asked us to leave the room.
We head back towards the Triton Fountain, where we get on bus number 74 and go to Zurrieq. We get off at the last stop in a tiny village. There is a marina, from which boats lead to the famous Blue Grotto and sea caves. Although there are a lot of tourists, purchasing tickets at the marina ticket office goes quickly and smoothly. It’s the same with waiting for a boat. Every now and then a group comes and an exchange takes place.
In order to be able to admire the beautiful, turquoise-colored cobalt water and reflections reflected on the walls of the grottos, it is worth to go there on a sunny day between 9:00 and 13:00. In the overcast sky, you can forget about the effects of phosphorescence, which is the result of the presence of many minerals on the surface of the rocks. Although the cruise on a small nine-seater boat lasts only twenty minutes, I recommend a trip to this place.
After visiting the caves and visiting the very nice Alka restaurant, I say goodbye to Kornel, who has to go straight to the airport and again get on the same bus that we came from Valetta.
So on the way back I decide to visit one more interesting place – Hagar Qim. It is an archaeological site, included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I get off at the Hagar stop just after the viewpoint so-called Panorama, from which yesterday I admired Blue Grotto and sea caves. The place is beautiful, but the boat ride provides more excitement and visual experience.
At the ticket office I buy a ticket for 10 euros. Before visiting the complex, a nice surprise I did not expect – a cinema room. After watching a short film screening in 5D technology, you can visit the temple complex Hagar Qim and the megalithic temple Mnajdra located 300 meters away. During the spring and autumn solstice, people gather here at dawn to see an interesting phenomenon. The ray of the rising sun illuminates the whole temple with a straight line.
In Hagar Qim there is a three-meter menhir with a width of six meters. Temples always impress me. Excited, I send pictures to Kornel, after which he sends me a message asking if what I sent him is a kitchen and what is actually interesting in the “pile of stones”. Well, personally, I have a huge fondness for old stones, especially those older than Stonehenge. Seeing the comment, I shrug. After all, not everyone has to be delighted with them.
However, if someone is not particularly interested in “piles of stones”, it is worth taking a walk along the marked paths around the temples. Tempted by the view of the Filfla islet and the rocky slopes sloping gently into the sea, I decide, despite the dark clouds hanging over the Hagar Qim, stay there for the second hour and take a walk.
If it were not for the fact that the bus runs more or less once an hour, I would gladly stay there longer. I head towards the exit. Quickly passing through the museum gift shop, a small replica catches my eye. The complex is famous for the fact that many figurines have been found here, and the most important one is the Maltese Venus. I must admit that it is a beautiful and favorite decoration of my travel collection.
Malta Jeep Safari
With not much free time in Malta, I decide to devote one day of the weekend to explore the island. An interesting option is a day trip organized by a travel agency known in Malta. The tour includes the most important places on the island, transfer and dinner.
Is it worth it? People who like unhurried sightseeing just like me can be a bit disappointed, because most of the tour stops are skimmed through. With fifteen to twenty minutes to take a few photos, there is no way to enjoy the views that are really beautiful. Driving jeeps, however, provides a lot of positive emotions, because the routes are often off the beaten track. I invite you to watch the gallery from Malta Jeep Safari.
Most important information (August 2018)
- Blue Grotto 8 Euro (adult)
- La Sacra Infirmeria Museum 5 Euro (it is worth being in the morning at nine, then there are few tourists and a chance to see the former hospital ward of the Long Hall)
- Hagar Qim – archaeological site, museum and film screening 5D 10 Euro
- Malta Jeep Safari 50 Euro (transfer, lunch, jeep)
- Talinja Unlimited Bus Ticket (weekly ticket for all buses on Malta and Gozo) 20 Euro
- the temple complex of Mnjandra is located at the highest cliff in Malta and is considered the oldest calendar in the world
- the phenomenon of lighting the Mnjandra temple by the rising sun rays can be observed on September 23 and March 21