Malta?! Walking?! Isn’t that where stag-do’s and scuba divers go??? Isn’t it full of ex-pats?
Malta, a tiny beautiful island bobbing about in the Mediterranean is steeped in history, gorgeous coastlines, markets, amazing pasta and some rather incredible pastries called pastizzis.
It was also brilliant place for a pretty cheap walking holiday… I went for two weeks with my best friend and housemate Harriet (of Dogeyed band fame). We travelled in September and the places we visited weren’t particularly busy. It appeared that the vast majority of the tourists stayed confined in the area of St Julians.
There are some green fields growing a large array of veggies but the island is pretty built-up. However the biggest attraction to Malta are the friendliest people I have ever met… anywhere in the world! Everyone was so kind, generous and helpful. Some Maltese locals were quite confused about us walking and
would pull over and offer us lifts to the nearest town! We had to explain we actually quite liked walking!!
Catholicism is strong in Malta, visits to churches and historic religious places are possible. However, some charged quite a lot of money to go inside. Native Maltese language is a combination of Arabic, French and Italian. Their food also resonates with this too, alongside pastizzis the food feels like a smorgasbord of all the best bits!
How much did the holiday cost?
Harry and I air bnb’d rooms every night. Our first stay with Jo and Tony on the air bnb small farm in Xghajra on the East side of Malta. They had seven (yes, really!) rescue dogs, goats, donkeys and made us feel right at home. It was a brilliant stay. We spent one night in Sliema and then finally 5 nights up in Gozo on the north coast. Our rooms were approx €50 for two, we had access to kitchens and generally had our own bathroom too. You could stay in cheaper dorm rooms, however these were hard to find outside of the Valletta / St Julians / Sliema area.
We cooked for ourselves a lot with foraged greens! - so much wild rocket!! Cooking ourselves saved a lot of money and the local produce was very tasty!! We treated ourselves to meals out that would tend to be about €30. Our wine consumption always pushed the price up! Our favourite on-the-go snack was the bean dips, small round cheeses and pastizzis (I cant mention them enough!). Food highlights were Pastaus in Valletta - the pasta was amazing and Il-Panzier a Sicilian restaurant in Victoria, Gozo. At Il-Panzier I tried Pistachio pasta… WOW!!! (Can you tell what I ate a lot of yet?!…) PASTA!
Small tins of beer were about €0.50, wine €15 a bottle, but there were carafs for much cheaper!
What did we do in Malta?
Sights and tours:
As keen walkers we enjoyed exploring the coastline so much that spending €10-20 to enter old buildings wasn’t what we were really up for. If we were to go back I am sure we would go to some of the old ancient caves. However, finding our secret coves and hill top views felt special enough for us!
We did wander around the Mdina in Malta and the Old Prison in Victoria, Gozo. The architecture was stunning and the prison was amazing - the carvings done by prisoners counting down the days was spooky!
In Gozo we walked to visit the infamous collapsed Azure Window and the Gateway to the Sea but this was full of coach loads of people! My favourite beach area was down in the South near Marsaxlokk. The blue fishing boats reminded me of being back in Egypt - their catches were fairly impressive too!
St Peters Pool was an interesting dip, although it had rained when we got there - surprisingly, Malta has no rivers or lakes, the countries whole water supply is through de-salination plants. When it rains the run off is insane! The clear waters we were promised turned murky and brown. It was a fun swim but Harry was a bit apprehensive about jelly fish in the murk!
Some of my favourite time was spent in Xghajra, where we snorkeled and chilled on the rocks. There was small cafe / restaurant near by which served us the most enormous pasta dishes!
Where did we walk?
Xghajra - Marsaxlokk, with a stop at St Peters Pool
Xghajra - Valetta
Dingli Cliffs - Blue Grotto - Luqa
Marsalforn - Azure Window
San Blas Beach - Victoria
Final top tips…
Malta was a brilliant holiday. I discovered the Maltese are big fans of bird shooting whilst on some cliff walks yet I also have never felt more welcome in a place (despite the guns). We went on some beautiful walks exploring the Maltese countryside and confused many people by being on two legs rather than in a car. The food was great and the wine was nice too. It fills all the criteria for a sunny, not too busy, easy holiday with a short flight from the UK. Now I just want to go back!!! Where pasta, pastries, bread and beer is life… but walkers are a little more confusing!
P.S. Thanks Jo and Tony for being so amazing!!!!