It would be a shame to miss out on a night stroll in Valletta or the Three Cities – once everything turned a mysterious dark, colorful lights illuminate hidden spots of the city, bringing new features to life.
The Three Cities lie opposite of the capital of Malta, divided by the Grand Harbour, hence offering a perfect view of the city. The naming of the Three Cities can be quite confusing: The Three Cities together can also be called Cottonera, and each of the individual cities has two names it can go by: Il-Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea (L-Isla) and Cospicua (Bormla) in between.
Go there for the amazing view of Valletta, go to Senglea for the best views from La Guardiola, for balconies galore and sandstone churches, go to Birgu for Fort St. Angelo and the yacht harbour, for good traditional food and religious decorations, go to Cospicua for exploring markets and peaceful promenades.
Due to its position as a trading post in the Mediterranean and its long history of being conquered by foreign nations (or in the case of the Order of St. John – multinational organizations), Maltese cuisine has been heavily influenced by foreign cuisines. Most foods and ingredients have to be imported anyways. As a result, a happy melange of Italian (Sicilian), Middle Eastern and English and many other dishes can be found at the Maltese Islands. Rabbit plays an important role as a local meat ingredient as well as a special type of sausage and cheese from Gozo.
Marsaxlokk is famous for its fish market on sundays and the many luzzu (boats) in their distinctive color. Restaurants along the promenade offer the catch of the day – a perfect spot to try the freshest fish and seafood. To burn off the calories, Peter’s pool is a short hike away, a secluded spot that offers interesting rock formations (a bit like this geopark).
South Malta has a lot to offer – the rugged coast has a wild beauty that is hard to miss. Walking on top of Dingli Cliffs is a very rewarding pastime. The famous Blue Grotto can only be reached via boat from Wied iż-Żurrieq, a small harbour and one of the few places in South Malta suitable for sea access. The bus stop on top of the hill offers a stunning view from above overlooking the grotto.
The Maltese Islands actually consist of multiple islands – Gozo being one of them. From Valletta, it takes quite some time to get there by public transport – the bus ride to the harbour of Ċirkewwa takes one and a half hours, the ferry then goes to Gozo every 45 minutes with another bus waiting at the Gozo harbour to take you further to the desired destination. Prepare for full busses and windy roads. So unfortunately, there is only so much that can be seen on a day trip. The Ġgantija megalithic temples are part of the Unesco World Heritage sites and the Cittadella of Victoria is also worth a visit. It is also possible to do boat rides to the Blue Lagoon or to visit the Azur Window (the GOT filming site that crashed into the sea).
The megalithic temples of Malta are some of the oldest free-standing structures on earth that survived till today and part of the Unesco World Heritage sites. Most of the artefacts found at the temples were removed to be displayed in museums.
The Mdina Gate is famous for being used as a filming location for Game of Thrones, but more importantly, it stands between the two cities of Mdina and Rabat (arabic: suburb as it was outside the old capital Mdina). Here, it can be seen how differently life inside and outside the city gates was. The St. Paul’s Cathedral is located in Mdina while St. Paul’s Catacombs – burial grounds – are located in Rabat.
The construction of the magnificent Saint John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta is deeply intertwined with Malta’s past and influence by the Order of St. John. Compared to an oyster because the plain exterior hides the lush interior baroque decorations, it tells the story of Malta’s religious history. Every one of the eight langues (sections) of the order is represented in a chapel, rich with its native symbolism and characteristics.
So is Valletta the monochrome city? The predominant color seems to be sandstone on which the city has been built. But looking closer, splashes of color seep through the cracks and crevasses of the architecture, infiltrating the built of the city – the greyish blue of the sky, the deep blue of the water surrounding it, the aquas and greens of the balconies, the reds of crosses and cars, the multicolored boats…