My husband and I, of course, have a travel bucket list. But some of the things on that list are places only he wants to go to, and some of them are places I really want to go to, and he's kind of like "meh" about. So, since Tyler works away from home a lot, I try to go to his "meh" places when he's gone, so we can do the places we're both most excited about when he's back. But then last year he had to be away for a few months and my mom and grandma came to visit and we booked a trip to Malta, and apparently that was not a "meh" place. Apparently that was a place Tyler really wanted to go to? Um, whoops! I swear I don't remember this conversation. Let's just say someone had quite a bit of FOMO that week, and it wasn't me.
But, my grandma, mom and I still had an amazing girls' trip to Malta, no matter how jealous Tyler was. I had seen folks posting their amazing Instagrams from the Blue Lagoon, with those gorgeous blue waters, and I knew basically nothing about Malta except that it was warm and that there was water and I wanted to go to there. So off we went!
WHERE TO STAY IN MALTA + GUIDE TO NEIGHBORHOODS:
But boy, did I have a hard time getting a feel for the island before we went! It's a small island, but it changes so much from coast to coast and city to city — there's beaches, but then there's dessert, and there's a lot of European influence, but a lot of northern African influence, too. Here are my impressions from our short trip there:
We know what you're here for, and it's Comino, which is where the Blue Lagoon is. There are no houses on the island, so you can't stay there, but you can take a boat there easily.
We stayed in Gzira, right next to St. Julian's Bay. I liked the St. Julian's Bay area — there's a nice promenade and also a ton of restaurants and shops. In addition to Gzira, Sliema is very close to St. Julian's also and is very walkable, but a bit more quiet if you want to stay just out of that tourist-y zone, which St. Julian's Bay can be (but also newly renovated). It's the area where most of the day trips, excursions and cruises leave from, so it's a good location if you want to spend a lot of your time in Comino or out and about.
Valletta is the capital of Malta and is an old city, and there's a beautiful port there. We took a ferry there from St. Julian's and also hopped off there at the main bus terminal. The city is really interesting, with really unique northern African and British influences. We didn't spend much time there, though, but had a short walk through the city before hopping back on our bus.
There were a ton of resorts north of St. Julian's, like St. Paul's Bay. We only drove through this area, but it's more all-inclusive-y, so if you don't want to go it on your own and have pre-planned trips, that may be where to go.
There are three main islands that make up Malta — the main island, Comino, and Gozo, which is north of the island. I had a friend that stayed there when she went to Malta and loved it. I think it's a more quiet, authentic (aka less-touristy) experience, but I do remember her saying that they had to make their way to St. Julian's to do some things. If I went again with my husband, I'd probably stay in Gozo, but I was traveling with my mother and grandmother, so I wanted things to be more seamless and easy for them, so we stayed in St. Julian's.
THINGS WE DID:
- Took a booze cruise to the Blue Lagoon: This was 100% the highlight of our trip and the reason we came to Malta in the first place. We booked an excursion out of St. Julian's Bay that was basically an all-day sailing trip to the Blue Lagoon, with a few stops here and there to swim. Yes, it included lunch, and most important, booze. It was a great way to spend the day and just be ferried around. I honestly wish we had had more time at the Blue Lagoon – I think we stopped there for about 2 hours, which after trying to grab something to eat and getting on and off the boat, really wasn't much. If I went back, I'd get a direct route to the Blue Lagoon and stay there most of the day.
- Visited Duck's Village in Gzira: I was wandering outside of our apartment, spending some time by the water, when I spotted this super weird petting-zoo type thing. It was a collection of small houses painted to look like Popeye's Village in Malta, and it was home to dozens of ducks, birds, cats and rabbits! I was totally intrigued and thought it was the cutest, funniest thing ever. Apparently, it was built by a local man, named Joe, who built it as a habitat for small animals to live in harmony. I saw plenty of moms with their kids, or even older men, stop by to watch the animals hop around, and it seemed to make everyone happy.
- Forgot our British travel adapters!: Did not realize this until we got there, but Malta is a former British colony, and as such, they drive on the opposite side of the road, and their plugs are shaped like the Brits'! Definitely try to pack one or two travel adapters in your luggage for the trip.
- Looked out the bay windows in our Airbnb in Gzira: Our Airbnb in Malta was one of my favorite that I've ever stayed in. It was excellently located, and we could've sat in the living room and looked out those giant windows out at the bay for hours — and sometimes did!
- Visited Golden Bay in Mellieha: We regrettably did the Hop On Hop Off bus in Malta (something I never do, but thought it would be easier with my grandmother), because we thought it would make it easy for us to get around. But we honestly saw a lot of stuff we didn't care to see and the driver drove like a maniac! We did stop off at Golden Bay, though, which is supposed to have some of the nicest sand beaches in Malta, but I was a bit underwhelmed compared to the Blue Lagoon, and thought the beach wasn't so nice and was difficult to get to. Skip it and just do a second trip out to those blue waters.
Photos and text copyright © Katie Currid, 2016. All rights reserved.