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Sera in Malta: Discovering the « Rock »

Welcome to Malta!

It was long time that I wanted to spend some months in the stunning island of Malta. Why? Because Malta is a all-year round destination: the weather is great (360 sunny days per year), the sea is beautiful, the beaches are very nice, the story of Malta and its culture are rich. Malta offers a lot of possibilities even outside off the high season, when you can enjoy a variety of sport, outdoor and leisure activities and discover cultural and historical sites to learn more about Malta’s past and present whilst enjoying the country’s mild winter weather. More over, the Maltese are renowned for they hospitality, friendliness and generosity; I can testify that they generally do their best to make guests feel like at home. Being a small island, Malta is also a safe place both for youth and adults (children use to play until late in the night without any risk) and you don’t need to travel a lot to get to see interesting places or nice beaches. Distances are short in Malta: one need less than an hour to get from one side of the island to the other.

The small islands of the Maltese archipelago are located in a strategic position, at the crossroads of maritime routes of the Mediterranean. Malta has a long story: every Mediterranean civilization has left its marks on the island. Mid-Arab, mid latin in the past, Malta has today a well-established European culture of the East coupled with the Anglo-Saxon rigor heritage of nearly 150 years of British Empire.
The charm of the past and the appeal of modernity, an incomparable light, the color vividness, one of the most beautiful seas of the Mediterranean area…With its discreet charm, Malta has everything you enjoy.
Even if the « Rock » attracts more and more visitors from over the world, the small European state has managed to preserve the anarchic development of tourism infrastructure, and preserve intact the beauty of its landscapes, which are scattered human edifices oldest in the world. Its cities reveal, at the turn of their narrow cobbled streets, a number of Norman cathedrals and Baroque palaces.
Lovers of all ages come to Malta to visit Valletta -the Capital- and Mdina, exciting cities of art so well preserved, where every monument bears the mark of chivalry. Small roads lead to the oldest megalithic temples of the Mediterranean world. In each village, you can seat in a small bar to have a drink whilst  enjoying local bands playing.
There are little sandy beaches in Malta, and several coves where to take refuge or to enjoy diving through many clubs scattered all over the island. The Western side of Malta and Gozo are ideal for hiking.
Gozo is smaller than Malta (14 km by 7 km), but don’t think you can visit it in only one day! You have to take time to really enjoy the leisurely pace of Gozo, to go around its villages and enjoy its sights. Because I think this small island is a gem, I would suggest to spend in Gozo 5 days at least.
It is worth planning your culinary route well because eating in one of the great restaurants on the island is a must for food lovers.
I only have good memories of Malta and Gozo, and the desire to return again and again. Here I will share with you my best Maltese shots.

SOME ‘MUST DO’ IN MALTA AND GOZO

  • Swimming with the Tunas (Gozo)

The Tuna Park is a massive holding nets with hundreds of Bluefish Tuna inside. This is surely one of the most interesting and unique places to snorkel anywhere in the Mediterranean.

At the Mediterraneao Marine Park you can spend a fantastic and unforgettable day with dolphins, sea lions, exotic birds, reptiles and more.

  • Visiting the Malta Classic Car Museum, which has over 100 classic car and motorbikes on display.
  • Hearing the roar of a lion and see other wild animals as tigers, pumas, monkeys and birds at the Discover the life of Wild animals at the Wildlife Park Malta
  • Visiting the « Popeye Village » (Anchor Bay) and discovering the set of the popular movie
  • Discovering Malta with cars that talk! They are called With Rolling Geeks and they get you knowledge of a tour guide, but with the freedom to park up, get out, and explore whenever you want to.
  • Flying around Malta in tandem with a qualified pilot
  • Taking a water taxi (Malta’s traditional boats)
  • Enjoying an Historical and Cultural Tourist Train Tour (Rabat, Mdina, Mtarfa)
  • Enjoying and Relax at the Café del Mar in St Paul’s Bay
  • Enjoying the Village Fireworks
  • Enjoying the Paintball
  • Visiting the Bird Park
  • Just having a rest on the beach: some of Malta’s best beaches are located along the Northern and Western shorelines of the island; my favorites sand beaches are Mellieha Bay (the island’s largest beach), Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha.

 

WHAT TO VISIT

A small museum of the Domvs Romana, built around the remains of a rich, aristocratic roman town house (domvs)

The museum is housed in a cluster of medieval houses in Bernardo DeOpuo Street in the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo. It hosts a wide range of exhibits illustrating the local domestic, rural and traditional ways of life

Għar Dalam’s relevance as a prehistoric site was discovered in the latter half of the 19th Century with a series of excavations unearthing animal bones as well as human remains and artifacts. The Cave is a highly important site for its Palaeontology, archaeology and ecology.

The Gozo Museum of Archaeology illustrates the cultural history of Gozo from prehistoric times to the early modern period. It relies on themes like burial, religion, art, food and daily life, making use of material from various archaeological sites in Gozo.

The Gozo Nature Museum focuses mainly on Gozo’s natural resources and their use by the island’s inhabitants.

The temple of Ħaġar Qim stands on a hilltop overlooking the sea and the islet of Fifla, not more than 2km south-west of the village of Qrendi. At the bottom of the hill, only 500m away, lies another remarkable temple site, Mnajdra found above the Southern cliffs.

The Inquisitor’s Palace, situated in the heart of Vittoriosa, is one of the very few surviving palaces of its kind which, in the early modern period could be found all over Europe and South America.

Inquisitor’s Palace – Birgu

Housed within the Old Naval bakery, the Malta Maritime Museum charts Malta’s maritime history and lore within a Mediterranean context. It also illustrates the global nature of seafaring and its impact on Malta’s society. The museum houses numerous artefacts highlighting the different epochs of Malta’s history that is inadvertently tied to the sea.

Maritime Museum – Birgu

Mnajdra is found in an isolated position on a rugged stretch of Malta’s southern coast overlooking the isle of Fifla. It is some 500m away from Ħaġar Qim Temples. It consists of three buildings facing a common oval forecourt. The first and oldest structure dates to the Ġgantija phase (3600 – 3200 BC). The second structure to be built was the South Temple, constructed in the early Tarxien phase (3150 – 2500 BC). The Central Temple, inserted between the other two, was the last to be built. Remains to the north-east and south of these buildings indicate that these three structures are only the best preserved of a larger complex.

The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Provence, in Republic Street, Valletta. The building, an example of fine Baroque architecture, was built in 1571 and followed a plan by local architect Ġilormu Cassar. The Auberge de Provence was house to the Knights of the Order of St John originating from Provence, France and displays beautiful architectural features.

The National Museum of Fine Arts is located at the lower end of South Street (Valletta) within an area including other fine historical palaces dating from the time of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

The Malta National Museum of Natural History is located in the old capital, Mdina, within the eighteenth century Magisterial Palace of Justice. The museum was officially opened in 1973 and until then it served as offices for the local government and as a temporary hospital. The museum is a national repository of biological specimens mainly relating to Malta. 

The Palace Armoury is one of the world’s largest collections of arms and armour that is still housed in its original building.

The State Rooms are the show piece of the Presidential Palace sited at the heart of Malta’s World Heritage capital city of Valletta. The Palace itself was one of the first buildings in the new city of Valletta founded by Grand Master Jean de Valette in 1566 a few months after the successful outcome of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.

St.Paul’s Catacombs are a typical complex of interconnected, underground Roman cemeteries that were in use up to the 4th century AD. They are located on the outskirts of the old Roman capital Melite (today’s Mdina), since Roman law prohibited burials within the city. St Paul’s Catacombs represent the earliest and largest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.

Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xagħra, Gozo, is one of the few surviving windmills on the Maltese Islands dating back to the Knights’ Period. Its origins go back to 1725 during the magistracy of Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena (1722-36).

The Tarxien Temples site consists of a complex of four megalithic structures built between 3600 and 2500 BC and re-used between 2400 and 1500 BC.

Situated in the Citadel in Victoria, Gozo the Old Prison lies adjacent to the Courts of Justice to which it was originally connected. In its present form, the prison complex is divided into two sections: the entrance hall which served as a common cell in the 19th century and now hosts a permanent exhibition on fortifications and a free-standing block with six individual cells.

This small privately owned museum in Xagħra Gozo was originally set up by Susan Lowe in Devon, England in the 1970’s. It started with one doll and today it boasts toys from all around the world.

Located in one of Malta’s most picturesque promenades, the Malta National Aquarium is home to over a hundred different species of fish including sharks, rays, seahorses and eels.

The San Anton Gardens is located in Attard and is one of the most beautiful gardens in Malta with a large variety of beautiful flowers and plants.

The crafts village in Ta’ Qali is located in the former RAF wartime air-field and is a very popular tourist attraction in Malta. Here, different kinds of crafts and beautiful artefacts are sold created by local experts.

The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady, commonly known as the Rotunda of Mosta or Rotunda of St Marija Assunta (sometimes shortened to as The Mosta Dome) is a Roman Catholic church in Mosta, Malta. It is the third largest unsupported dome in the world and the third largest in Europe

Mdina also known by its titles Città Vecchia or Città Notabile, is a fortified city in the Northern Region of Malta, which served as the island’s capital from antiquity to the medieval period. The city is still confined within its walls, and has a population of just under 300.

The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground prehistoric burial site. Earliest remains at the site date back to about 4000BC, and the complex was used over a span of many centuries, up to c. 2500 BC.

A collective description of the three fortified cities of Cospicua (Kalkara), Vittoriosa (Birgu) and Senglea (Isla).

The Three Cities offer an intriguing insight into Malta and its history. Left largely unvisited, these cities are a slice of authentic life as well as a glimpse into Malta’s maritime fortunes.

The Three Cities can rightly claim to be the cradle of Maltese history, as Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua have provided a home and fortress to almost every people who settled on the Islands.

 

Cospicua / Kalkara’s  Marina
A very popular attraction for tourists and locals. A unique place where you can buy fresh fish and seafood caught during the same morning.
Marsaxlokk
 

The Blue Grotto is located on the southern coast of Malta, west of Wied iz-Zurrieq facing the little deserted islet of Filfla. The site got its name from a British soldier who thought that since the area looks like the Grotta Azzurra in Capri, it deserves the same name, and in fact Blue Grotto is the equivalent for Grotta Azzurra in English. The site is extremely popular, attracting some 100,000 tourists per year, also for diving purposes. The site also features in the film Troy (2004) starring Brad Pitt. The location of this fascinating natural grotto combines with sunlight and the surrounding chain of caves to reflect the phosphorescent colours of the submerged flora and the deep dark shade of blue of the sea.

Blue Grotto
Rinella Battery (Maltese: Batterija ta’ Rinella) is a Victorian battery in Kalkara, Malta. It is commonly referred to as Fort Rinella (Maltese: Forti Rinella), although it was never classified as a fort while in use.[2] It contains one of two surviving Armstrong 100-ton guns.
Fort Rinella

SmartCity is a technology park under development in Kalkara, Malta. The plan is to transform the Ricasoli Industrial Estate into a state-of-the-art information technology and media city on the models of Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City.The view on the Laguna Walk and its wonderful musical fountain are a ‘must see’ in Malta.

Smart City
Palazzo Parisio is a 18thCentury Palace located in the hearth of the picturesque Naxxar. On your visit you will discover the intricate nuances of Malta’s historic nobility and their enchanting way of life. Touring this stately home offers great insight and sparks the imagination – whether you find yourself seeking inspiration from the grand Ballroom, the detailed Family Chapel or the fabulous walled Gardens and Orangery, you’ll find it.
 
Palazzo Parisio
Dingli cliffs are located off the village of Dingli, on Malta’s Western coast. They stage the highest point of the Maltese Islands at around 253 metres above sea-level. Going there means enjoing of the most breathtaking view in the island, especially at sunset time.
Amazing sunset at Dingli
  • Playmobil Fun Park and Factory
  • St Peter’s Pool
St Peter’s Pool

GOING TO VALLETTA

Valletta is the Malta’s Capital City, built during the rule of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. The city is essentially baroque in character with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern Architecture. The Bastions, curtains and ravelins along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches, led the ruling houses of Europe to give he city its nickname Superbissima – Most Proud

 

Valletta – The Malta’s Capital City

 

Named the Upper Barrakka and the Lower Barrakka, both gardens offer a stunning view of the Grand Harbour. The Upper Barrakka garden, especially, is a must. Built on top of a demi-bastion, both locals and foreigners relish spending hours taking in the sights.

To go to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, I recommend to take the Upper Barrakka Lift. The lift is 58 metres high and can carry twenty-one people at a time, for a total of 800 per hour. The journey takes around twenty-five seconds, making it the quickest way into the city from the Valletta Waterfront.

and it’s Malta’s Finest Treasures, included two important works by the world renowned artist Michelangelo Merisi (1571-1610), known as Caravaggio

The Triton Fountain (Maltese: Funtana tat-Tritoni) is a fountain just outside the City Gate of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The square in which the fountain is located is also part of Malta’s central bus terminus. The fountain was sculpted by local sculptor Vincent Apap in 1959.

Malta Valletta Triton fountain

A total of five city gates have served as the main entrance to Valletta, Malta‘s capital city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first gate was originally known as Porta San Giorgio, and it was later renamed Porta Reale, a name which was retained by the successive gates, and which was corrupted into Putirjal in Maltese. Since the 1960s, the entrance has been known as City Gate, or Bieb il-Belt (City Door) in Maltese. The current City Gate was built between 2011 and 2014 to a design of Renzo Piano.

Pjazza Teatru Rjal is an open theatre on the ruins of the former Opera House in Valletta. The theatre is the second stage of the designs for City Gate by architect Renzo Piano.

Hosted by Fort St Elmo, the National War Museum houses a superb collection of items which takes us back to prehistoric times. Artefacts are displayed in chronological order, commencing from the early phases of the Bronze Age around 2,500 B.C.

  • The « Malta Experience » movie, the best way to discover the Malta’s story

 

DISCOVERING GOZO (Malta’s sister Island)

The Ġgantija Temples in Xagħra, Gozo, are one of the most important archaeological sites in the Maltese Islands and are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site consists of two temples dating back to between 3600 and 3200 B.C.

Megalithic temples, dated back 5500 years ago, they are the oldest free-standing stones structures in the world, event older than Stonehenge the Pyramids. They have been designated as world heritage sites by UNESCO

Calypso Cave is located in a cliff just off Xaghra; overlooking Gozo’s most sought-after sandy beach, Ramla Bay. Thesite is thought to be the same cave Homer mentioned in `The Odyssey‘ where Calypso, the beautiful nymph, kept Odysseus as a `prisoner of love’ for seven years.

  • Victoria – the Capital City

 

Ta’ Pinu Santuary

 

The crafts village in Gozo is located in the oldest village of the island, in Gharb on the west close to the famous Ta’ Pinu Basilica. This craft village is very well laid out with individual shops scattered around the site.

When visiting the Ta’ Dbiegi Craft Village in Gozo you can see hand-made pottery, Gozo lace, glass blowing and leather items all being made in the crafts village.

In Maria’s lace shop you can see a fascinating demonstration on how lace is done, something that should not to be missed.

Located on the West coast of Gozo, Dwejra is perhaps the most spectacular natural monument in Malta. Geology, time, the elements and human intervention worked together to produce a fascinating area that features the Azure Window, an Inland sea, Fungus Rock, Dwejra bay, the Blue Hole, a watch tower and cart ruts.

Malta Gozo

Gozo Malta

The Azure window is a natural arch that looks like a table over the sea. Two almost perpendicular vertical rocks hold a huge horizontal mass over them; a result of extensive fault-ins, as well as the wind and wave action on the rocks. It attracts a huge number of visitors and inspires many artists who paint the magical site on canvas.

Gozo Azure Windows

It also featured in the movies “The Clash of the Titans” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”. The arch of the window is eroding with the actions of the wind and water; pieces of rock fall every now and then. It is expected that the arch will collapse sooner or later, so it is advisable not to walk on it.

  • The Azure Window

 

 

Situated between Malta and Gozo, the smaller island of Comino is, with its tranquil, crystal, turquoise waters, a paradise for snorkelers, divers, windsurfers and ramblers.

Only 3.5 square kilometers, Comino is car-free and apart from one hotel, is virtually uninhabited. The island’s main attraction is the Blue Lagoon. In summer, this sheltered inlet of shimmering aquamarine water over white sand is very popular with day-trippers.

Comino is also worth a visit in winter, and is ideal for walkers and photographers. With no urban areas or cars on the island, one can easily smell the scent of wild thyme and other herbs.

 

The Blue Lagoon – Comino

ATTRACTIONS

Bird Park Malta
Gozo 360
Malta 5D
Malta Falconry Centre
Malta National Aquarium
Mediterraneo Marine Park
Popeye Village
The Knights of Malta
The Limestone Heritage
The Malta Experience
The Mdina Experience
Valletta Living History
The Malta Splash & Fun water park

BEACHES

Golden Bay
Ramla Bay (Gozo)
Marsalforn Bay (Gozo)
Xlendy Bay (Gozo)
Dwejra (Gozo)
Paradise Bay
Ghajn Tuffieha (the best ever)

THE MALTESE NIGHT LIFE

Paceville
St Julians
Sliema

THE FOOD

In Valletta you can enjoy the best Slow Food restaurants in Malta.
Sliema and St Julians offer a great choice of restaurants and lively places.
Mġarr ix-Xini Tasting at the water’s edge, a freshly caught fish is a must experience.
Gozo proudly offers a large choice of home made Liquors, jams and local honey.
Fresh fish at the local markets: Join the Malteses at the market (the most famous is in Marsaxlokk) to buy your fish at the tide.

THE MALTESE CUISINE

The Maltese cuisine mixes foreign influences, among which distinguishes Italian flavors, French, British and Arabs. The most obvious inspiration is that of neighboring Italy. Pasta and pizza are served very often, sometimes with a small Maltese touch. Excellent restaurants offer a Maltese cuisine prepared from local ingredients. Restaurants seafood, international and fusion are not lacking either.

TO NOT MISS in Malta

Gozitan Cheese
Bigilla
Fried Rabbit
Seafood
Lampukis
Bragioli
Ftira
Pastizzi
Rizzi

MY FAVORITES RESTAURANTS in Malta

I tested a number of restaurants around Malta and Gozo. Here are my favorites:
  • The Cliffs  (Dingli) for its great view, for the quality of its food (local products) and for its innovative recipes such as their incredible Ravioli Borage
  • Caviar & Bull (St. Julians). The restaurant is beautiful, the service is top quality, the view from the terrace is very nice, the gastronomic menu is mouthwatering and the dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients. It is the only place in Malta where I found the molecular cuisine.
  • Tate café (Birgu/Vittoriosa) for the variety of their menu offering international inspirations
  • La Capanna (Marsaxlokk) for the quality of its seafood and its genuine Maltese athmosphere.
  • 06 (Valletta) – an authentic ‘Trattoria Romana’ in Malta! The pastas are fabulous.
  • Il Girna (Sannat- Gozo) for its delicious seafood
  • Sottovento (Birgu/Vittoriosa) for their pizza and their seafood.
If you want to see more about Malta, this video is the best way to discover the island in few minutes!
Are you planning to visit Malta and you may are wondering what is the ideal period to enjoy the archipelago? I would say that the best period is between April and June. In that period the weather in Malta is less wet and not too hot. Going off season you can also enjoy lower prices for flights and accommodation. In September and in October, the sea is warmer than in Spring.

DID YOU KNOW?  (the Maltese isles in numbers)

 The current population of the Maltese islands is 423,282 (4 of whom are permanent Comino residents)
300 days of sunshine per year
44 C° is the hottest temperature ever recorded
There are 10 national holidays in Malta each year
98°C is the temperature milk needs to be heated to make a traditional Gbejna (Cheeselet)
There are 5 Km of distance between Malta and Gozo, 90 Km between Malta and Sicily and 200 Km between Malta and Tunisia
There are 359 churches in Malta and Gozo
15 minutes is the average driving time between one destination and another in Malta (in there is no traffic)
316 Km2 is the total area of the Maltese archipelago

GENERAL INFORMATION

The official languages in Malta are Maltese and English. Most Malteses speak also Italian.
The basics of Maltese language one must know are the following:
Good Morning
> L-Ghodwa t-tajba (or just « Bongu »)
Good evening
> Wara nofs inhere it-tajjeb
Good night!
> Il-lejl it-tajjeb!
Welcome!
> Merhba
How are you?
> Kif int?
I’m fine, thanks!
> Tajjeb, grazzi!
Thank you (very much)!
> Grazzi (hafna)
You’re welcome!
> Ta’ xejn
What’s new?
> X’emm gdid?
Goodbye!
> Caw!
Excuse-me!
> Skuzi!
Mr…/ Mrs…/ Miss…
> Sur… / Sinjura…/ Sinjorina…
Nice to meet you!
> Ghandi pjacir!
You’re very kind!
> Int gentili!
I like Maltese
> Inhobb il-Malti
Happy new year!
> Is-sena t-tajba
Merry Christmas!
> Il-Milied it-tajjeb
Congratulations!
> Prosit!
Enjoy!
> Gawdi!
Bless you (when sneezing)
> Evviva
Don’t worry!
> Tinkwietax
No problem!
> Mhux problema
Good/Bad/So-so
> Tajjeb/Hazin/Imsomma
Today /Now
> Illum/Issa
Big/Small
> Kbir/Zghir
Yes / No
> Iva/Le
Really!
> Vera!
Look!
> Ara!
The local currency in Malta is the Euro.
Malta is in Schengen area, European and Switzerland citizens don’t need a Visa. Canadians can stay up to 90 days in Malta without any Visa.

If you are looking for a flight:

If you are looking for an hotel, you can visits the following webistes:

 

Moving in Malta by public transports

By Ferry: http://www.vallettaferryservices.com/index.html

By Bus: https://www.publictransport.com.mt/

 

You can also contact directly the Companies you are willing to work for.

 

To launch your own business in Malta, go to the Maltese Chamber of Commerce.

 

Looking for a home or a flat? The most known real estate agents in Malta are Remax Malta , Engel et Voelkers Sara GrechDahlia , Simon MamoFrank Salt.

On Maltapark , izejd  and  Free ads you can also find some useful advertisements, as well as on the local newspaper Times of Malta .

 

 

 

 

Did you enjoy this article? Follow me in New Zealand!

This post and its translations into French and Italian are in progress and will be posted soon.

Feel free to contact me if you need some more information about Malta.

 

 

 

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