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Malta, Comino, & Gozo

Transportation and Accommodations

Getting There

  • Airport – Malta has one main airport (MLA) located in the north east part of the island. The airport was larger than expected and there seemed to be a fair amount of flights from mainland Europe to the island
  • Malta is technically its own country, made up of 3 islands: Malta, Comino and Gozo. You can travel to Gozo and Comino by ferry from Malta’s northwest coast
      • To Gozo – Channel line ferry from Cirkewwa on Malta to Mgarr Harbour on Gozo (takes about 30 minutes). Ferries run about every 45 minutes (for pedestrians and cars)
      • To Comino – regular ferry service from Cirkewwa (northern tip of Malta) or from Mgarr Harbour on Gozo. Note that the last ferry leaves Comino around 5:00 pm and it takes about 20 minutes to get to Comino from Malta.

Getting Around

  • In Malta, they drive on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side and there are a lot of one way streets. The drivers were a bit aggressive and I was glad not to be behind the wheel. It’s good to note that there is a lot of traffic for what seems like no good reason around some of the larger towns and busier areas so you should bake some extra time into your expected travel time.
  • White Cabs – these cabs are typically sitting at cab stands in the cities or populated areas. They are more expensive than eCabs but provide the convenience of not having to wait for the ride. It was especially helpful when coming back late at night after meals or bars.
  • ECabs – this is Malta’s version of Uber or Lyft, but the app does not work nearly as well. We noticed it tended to be about 20% cheaper to take Ecabs than White cabs. However, sometimes we would opt for the ease of a white cab if we did not want to wait 15 – 20 minutes from an ECab. The app sometimes disconnects from the driver and it can be difficult to track the driver’s location. Overall, we did have some success with the app and used it about half the time.
  • Renting a car – We opted not to rent a car or scooter and just used cabs instead. It would have been helpful to have a car to see different pieces of the island as you do need to use some type of transportation to see different parts of the island.
  • Bus – There’s a public system that helps you get around to different areas of the island, just need to plan for it to take longer due to the stops and traffic
  • Ferries – can use ferries to get between a few of the cities and islands
    • Valletta to/from Sliema
    • Comino to/from Malta
    • Comino to/from Gozo
    • Malta to/from Gozo

Accommodations

  • We split up our time between an airbnb in St. Julian’s and the Westin Dragonara Hotel. Both worked very well! The hotel was beyond beautiful and had much more than we needed, but was a nice luxurious experience. I would gladly stay there again.
  • St. Julian’s is an okay area, nothing much to it. We stayed there mainly because it was close to the notable lively nightlife (Paceville). I would stay here if you want to be near a lot of centralized busy bars, but if that is not important to you, definitely opt for somewhere like Valletta or perhaps Sliema. All three are located close to each other and good “hub” spots on the island

Things to do and see

  • St. Peter’s Pool – good swimming spot (about a 10-minute drive from Marsaxlokk)
    • Not easily accessible other than by car so we took a taxi there and then walked down to the swimming cove
    • You can jump off a few different cliff spots and can see right into the water so it is easy to tell where it is safe / deep enough
    • There are areas to the left and right of St. Peter’s Pool to swim, walk around on the rocks, or just explore. We swam for a bit at St. Peter’s Pool, but also walked around to find some cool views and different, less crowded areas
    • One of the highlights of our trip, so would definitely recommend hitting this up on a nice day
  • Marsaxlokk – traditional fishing village with colorful boats in the bay (on Sundays there is an open-air fish market selling the morning catch)
  • Valletta – the capital city of Malta (fortified)
    • Great area to wander around in with nice stone buildings
    • Upper Barrakka Gardens – area that provides a nice view of the Ground Harbor (you can see the three little cities across the harbor)
    • Valletta Waterfront
    • Lots of good restaurants and bars tucked away in the little streets
  • Comino – one of the three islands
    • Blue Lagoon is over here (“aquamarine colored sea”). People are swimming in the water and on boats in the area
    • Island is small and desolate, but filled with LOTS of tourists during the day in the Blue Lagoon area. If we had gone earlier or on an even nicer day, it would have been absolutely packed. Definitely worth seeing, but not somewhere we wanted to spend much time. We walked around and explored the corner of the island where the Blue Lagoon is and took in the beautiful views of the water and surrounding large rocks
    • Note – the last ferry leaves the island at 5 pm so you want to make sure you go earlier in the day. We were lucky to get a late ferry over, checkout the area, and then go back to Malta
    • Getting there: we took a ferry from the Cirkewwa harbor to Comino’s drop-off point in the Blue Lagoon
  • Spinola Bay – located in St. Julian’s with a nice area to walk around and grab a bite
  • Mdina – old capital city (“Silent City”)
  • Blue Grotto
    • A bunch of sea caves on the southeast side of the island
    • There’s a good view from above
    • Can also do a boat tour (~20 min) that takes you through the caves and departs from the Zurrieq harbor
    • If you go earlier in the day, the sun hits the water through the caves in a way that illuminates the water color
    • Located about 2 km from Zurrieq town
  • Dingli Cliffs –highest point in Malta
    • North of Blue Grotto
    • Supposedly nice sunsets here
  • Gozo – one of the three islands (much larger than Comino, but smaller than Malta)
    • 20 to 30 minute ferry from Malta and ferries should run 24/7 (just less frequent at night)
    • Dwejra Region
      • Azure window remains (the arch of the window fell somewhat recently after the wear from the ocean)
      • Fungus Rock
      • Inland Sea
      • Deep Blue Hold
    • Dwejra Bay
    • Ta’Cenc Cliffs – 130m high cliffs (scenic view)
    • Mrasalforn – popular beach town
    • Victoria (Rabat) – main city
    • Ramla Bay Beach – biggest sand beach in Gozo (Red sand beach)
    • Wine tasting at Ta’Mena
    • Xewejni salt pans
    • Xlendi – fishing village
  • Meridiana Winery
  • Sliema – busier city but calmer than St. Julian’s
    • Can take ferry from here to Valletta (or vice versa) for nice view of Valletta
  • Julians – busier and area with most nightlife but a bit run down and lots of construction
  • Three Cities – all built around the Grand Harbour
    • Senglea (smallest of the 3)
    • Cospicua
      • Can take a water taxi here from Valletta to Cospicua giving great views of St. Angelo fort
      • Panoramic lift located in Upper Barrakka Garden down to the pier level and take a shuttle boat over to the 3 cities
    • Birgu
      • Fort St Angelo
      • Nice streets to wander through
      • Hole in the wall restaurants
  • Promenade going from St. Julian’s to Sliema
  • Beaches
    • Golden Bay: vast beach, quite touristy as it is one of the most popular and beautiful beaches with lots of water sports options but one
    • Mellieha Bay: shallow water and wide stretch of sand (Malta’s largest beach)
    • Pretty Bay: shallow water
    • Ghajn Tuffieha Bay: go down by the stairs to get her – rock formations on left side of the beach
    • Paradise Bay: close to the Gozo ferry, nice beach but touristy
    • Ramla Bay: red sand beach in Gozo
    • San Blas Bay: lovely sandy cove in Gozo but can only reach it on foot
    • Blue Lagoon: aquamarine colored water right off the island of Comino
    • Dahlet Qorrot: beach in Gozo
    • Fomm ir-Rih: one of the hardest swimming spots to reach as it requires a 20 min hike down to one of the most isolated beaches in Malta
  • Water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, kayaking, etc.
  • Rent a boat / do a boat trip for the day and get out on the water if it’s nice

Food and Drink Recommendations

  • Raffael – Italian restaurant in Spinola Bay right on the water
  • Miro – restaurant at a hotel in Paceville where we grabbed a quick drink at the bar
  • Fat Louie’s Smokehouse – BBQ food located in St. Julian’s if you are looking for something tasty and quick
  • La Pira – nice restaurant in Valletta that is tiny inside but has lots of outdoor seating
  • The Medina – restaurant in Mdina with a little courtyard inside along with a neat bar in the back where we grabbed an afternoon drink
  • D’office – Italian restaurant in Valletta; we grabbed a bottle of wine and an appetizer here while it was still early
  • Kantina – restaurant in Valletta with a large variety of options
  • Alchemy Cocktail bar – really cool mixology bar in Valletta with fun drinks and a good atmosphere (probably my favorite spot that we got drinks in Malta)
  • 67 Kapitalli – Valletta coffee shop that serves coffee, snacks, appetizers, sandwiches, alcohol and more! It was perfect for an afternoon break.
  • Maltese wine (produced on the island)
  • Cisk beer – local beer (nothing special)
  • Paceville – area in St. Julian’s with a lot of bars, pubs, and restaurants concentrated in a small area

Other Notes

  • The outlets are different than the rest of mainland Europe and instead are like the UK, something we did not plan for
  • If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there are some famous scenes and locations that were filmed in Malta (i.e Khal Drogo and Daenerys’s wedding was at the Azure window and Mdina doubles as some King’s Landing locations)