SMALL AND EXTRAORDINARY
You know when you already have a lot of expectations about a place (you've seen many photos, you know people you love, you've researched a lot ...) but when you reach the destination, can it be even MORE incredible than you thought it was ?? This happened to me in Malta. Surprised me!
Azure Window in Gozo, Malta
Malta is a tiny country located on the European continent . So small that many people do not even know it exists or think it's part of Italy. In fact, it is WELL near Italy , 92km from Sicily. It is also close to the African continent, just 290km from Tunisia.
Location - Where is Malta? | Map: Google Maps
Strategically positioned in the Mediterranean Sea , in a sunny region where winter hardly exists (it's cold in only 3 months of the year - and quite moderate), Malta is the perfect destination for me. It is possible to join beautiful beaches (of those very turquoise, that the Larissinha pyre!), Breathtaking natural landscapes (they do not use any filter of the Instagram), and historical and charming cities (I love places where you can walk ... Through alleys, squares and stop at a little restaurant with little tables on the sidewalk!).
Blue Lagoon - Comino Island - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
The culture of Malta is also very rich, as it was influenced by Arab , French , Italian and English peoples , forming something unique and very special (visible in the buildings, the habits of the population, the language, the appearance of the Maltese and of course in the cooking - the chubby one here proved well!).
English telephone booth in the Maltese capital, Valletta - heritage of the colonial past | Photo: Lala Rebelo
It is one of the smallest countries in Europe , with only 316 km² , formed by three main islands: Malta , Gozo and Comino . The population is a little larger than I had imagined ... There are almost 410,000 inhabitants (30,000 in Gozo and the rest scattered in several cities on the main island of Malta.
Maltese Islands: Malta, Comino and Gozo | Map: Google Earth
Fate has attracted, for some years now, exchange students who are looking to learn English in a European country not too expensive and fun (sooooo cheaper than going to England and much sunnier than going to Ireland, for example) . Yes, because of the period of British colonization (which lasted until 1964), one of the official languages of the country is English (the other is Maltese).
Malta is a developed country , super safe and has an extremely kind and kind population. He has been a member of the European Union since 2004, the Schengen Area since 2007 and has adopted the Euro as currency since 2008.
Flag of the European Union and Malta at the Prime Minister's Palace in Valletta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
An incredible destination for all types of tourists: young and mature couples, families, children, singles, adventurers, people who want to relax, interested in culture, in search of excitement ... And so on. Some people make the pun saying that the name of the country is "SMALLta" . It may even be in size ... But in the enchantment aspect, Malta is GIANT!
Popeye Village in Malta
To contextualize, here is a little bit of ...
____________________ HISTORY ____________________
The history of Malta is rich and very old ... It's 7,000 years of civilization! That's why we find there megalithic temples dating back thousands of years before the Pyramids of Egypt !
What we see today in the islands (cultural, architectural and historically speaking) is the result of a bizarre "exchange-swap" over the years (we are talking about millennia of history). Here is a summary of Malta's history:
History of Malta | Image: maltatemplejourneys.com
____________________ LANGUAGES ____________________
As I mentioned above, Malta is much sought after by students of English , one of the official languages of the country (because of the period of British colonization). In fact, everyone speaks English there and will understand you perfectly, but it is not a country that LIVES that language. In fact, the Maltese only speak Maltese among them and the people, who do not understand Maltese, do not know what they are talking about! Hehehe. He said the same thing from Jamaica (click here to read the post), another country that was British colony ... English is official language but the same Jamaicans speak is patois !
I found MALTES a very complex language. Although it uses the Latin / Roman alphabet (but with some graphic signs / accents different), it is a language originated in Arabic (phonetically very similar). Much of the vocabulary comes from Italian, Sicilian, English and French.
Some little words that you hear a lot:
. Bonġu (read "Bonju") - means "good morning" and comes from the French "bonjour" . The official word is too long ( Għodwa t-tajba!). Hi?!
. Grazzi - means "thank you" and of course it came from the Italian, "grazie"!
____________________ RELIGION ____________________
This is interesting: Malta is the most religious country in Europe ! 95% of Maltese believe in God and 3% believe in "some higher spirit". The Catholicism is the predominant religion, with 94% of the population assuming Catholic (making Malta one of the most Catholic countries in the WORLD). This explains the number of churches in the archipelago: 365 !!!
One of 365 churches in Malta - Gozo Cathedral in Cittadella | Photo: Lala Rebelo
____________________ CLIMATE - When to go? ____________________
You can not go to Malta and not want BEACH, right ?! So the best time to go is in SUMMER. Due to being well south of Europe, in the Mediterranean, the weather is usually hot for much of the year (oba !!). Go to Malta from MAY to OCTOBER . If you want to avoid any fresh wind, prefer to go from June to September (although I was assured that it is only cold even from December to February, minimum 10ºC). July and August are the most crowded (and expensive) months.
I went in late June. It was absurdly hot (I love it!) And very sunny days with blue sky (as you can see from most photos). But it rained a lot in 1 day.
VERY blue day in Malta - Blue Lagoon - Comino in June / 2016 | Photo: Lala Rebelo
____________________ CURIOSITIES ____________________
Flag of Malta, which has the George Cross - View of the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
____________________ SOUVENIRS ____________________
I love buying a souvenir when I travel to a new country. At least a magnet or a home-made treat (besides food like honey, wine, tomato paste ...). Besides the CROSS OF MALTA , you will find many LUZZU EYES . I found it cute! It is the little eye that is present in the boats of the fishermen, to protect them and to bring good luck. I think it's all about buying a luzzu eye to hang at home!
Magnets, bric-a-brac, keychains, magazines ... Malta Cross for all sides! | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Many souvenirs from Luzzu Eyes to buy in Malta! | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Maltese fisherman's typical boat with luzzu eyes in Spinola Bay, St. Julien's, Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Another cool souvenir is MDINA GLASS . Bring a piece of blown glass produced in the "Silent City", Mdina (I'll mention it below), it's worth it (because they're a lot cheaper than Murano's in Italy).
Mdina Glass - blown glass - typical of Mdina, Malta
* There is daylight saving time (from February to October) advancing 1 hour on the clock, ie GMT +2.
** The G-type plug is the same as the one used in the UK.
____________________ FLIGHTS ____________________
Going from Brazil to Malta is as easy as going to any other European city. You only need to catch a flight with only 1 connection . Several European airlines that are in Brazil fly to Malta (Malta Airport, in Luqa - MLA). Are they:
Another easy way and that can also come out cheaper is, already being in some European city, take a " one way" flight to and from Malta , from:
There is also Ryanair, Vueling, among other low cost airlines ... Search here .
Aerial view of Comino Island / Blue Lagoon & Air Malta Aircraft | Photos: Lala Rebelo
____________________ DOCUMENTS ____________________
As Malta is part of the European Union and the Schengen Area , to enter Malta (and stay for up to 90 days ) you only need a valid passport for a further 6 months from the date of return, round trip ticket, accommodation address And, very important, compulsory health insurance (minimum coverage of 30 thousand euros).
For those who go to Malta to study for more than 90 days, a student visa is required. Please check with your school for procedures.
__________ TRANSPORTATION - How to get around in Malta __________
Despite being a small country, the attractions are well spread out and you need to plan well the transport that you will use in Malta to optimize your time!
Using public transport in Malta (buses) is very easy and cheap. You can buy single tickets or cards with a larger number of trips or unlimited, which have more advantageous prices (check here ). Through the official website (and also by Google Maps) you can trace your routes to know which bus you need to get to reach your destination. Although it is easy and cheap, buses are not the fastest way to get to places, so do not recommend this option for those who have little time in the country. The transport in Malta was already much more efficient, but recently they changed the company that provides this service, and it seems that it has greatly reduced the number of buses, making the service much slower.
This is the most recommended option! Even if everything is in the English hand (this is something that gets used VERY fast, believe me!), The traffic is easy, organized and full of signs . Waze , Google Maps and GPS work very well, but an old-fashioned map would also solve it. By renting a car you will be more free to roam the islands (Malta and Gozo), you can organize your time the way you prefer and you will arrive in much more tranquility to all places (without having to worry about missing the bus or finding a taxi) . When I return to Malta without a doubt, I will rent a car (or even a scooter can be a good one !!).
It is very easy to use taxis in Malta. The white taxis are everywhere and are allowed to pick up passengers on the street. There are also black and yellow taxis , which can not pick up passengers on the street, and only pick up if requested in advance.
However, I always find it safer to have a reliable taxi contact to call, or ask the hotel / restaurant to do so. Have the names and phone numbers of these companies listed below. They are not the only reliable ones, of course, but they are the ones I used and recommend:
. Blue Bird (Mario): +356 21 571700 / +356 21 574891 / +356 9949 7170 / firstname.lastname@example.org
. Carl Anthony Borg: +356 9985 7246 / email@example.com
. E-cabs: +356 2138 3838 / site ecabs.com.mt
Malta has free wifi in several places, so you can even call the taxis using skype . You can also ask some Maltese to do it for you, but there is the custom of those who asked to earn a commission, and you end up paying more expensive for the ride (a little more).
There is no taximeter and the rates are pre-established. Confirm how much your race will cost BEFORE getting into the car. Anyway, I found the taxi service in Malta very expensive. Small races cost around 20 euros, for more. One more reason to rent a car! LOL!
[AIRPORT TRAJECTOR - HOTEL]
To get from the airport to your hotel, if you have not rented a car , you can take a taxi there (confirm the rate before.) They are fixed and change according to your destination. See price for other locations here ). Another option that I always point out is to check with your hotel if it offers pick-up service at the airport for a reasonable price, or hire a prior transfer through Viator . It is also possible to leave the airport by public bus .
____________________ HOTELS ____________________
Where you should stay in Malta depends a lot on your profile . The two cities in which I have stayed, Valletta and St. Julians , have completely different styles (it even looks like another country, seriously!). But despite being an island (or rather an archipelago) easy to explore with daily "whirlwinds", if you're going to be staying there for many days, I recommend that you divide your time between these two regions . I found it cool to experience two very different Malts. However, if the stay is short (up to 4 days ... that is inclusive, one time I recommend it), I think it goes very well to stay only in a single hotel.
For those who like historic (read: old), quiet, charming restaurants with small tables on the sidewalks, streets that do not pass cars and a more cultural atmosphere, more expensive than a European town. Although I have seen young people (couples and a group of friends), I can not deny that it is a more mature destination.
Wow! What a hotel! In fact, it is a "building" (or rather, a palazzo ) with only 5 charming apartments. The building is from the 17th century but has been completely restored recently. So what awaits you is a mix of ancient & modern very cool! There are apartments of various sizes, to accommodate families, friends, groups and couples. The rooms are super spacious. The decor is beautiful ... They paid attention to every detail.
My apartment, which was on the ground floor, had only one bedroom (king bed), but it was gigantic, equipped with a kitchen (complete ... everything, all appliances and utensils!), Small living room and even an outside area. The hotel also has a communal kitchen on the top floor. In the morning, it offers a lean breakfast for guests, with coffee, teas, juices, breads and cold cuts.
One of the highest points, for me, is the maaraaaa view from the rooftop. From there you can see almost all of Valletta, the sea and the "Three Cities" (the three cities that are from the "side of there", Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua - I'll tell you more about them in the "what to do" section "). In fact, the location of Palazzo Prince d'Orange is another point that deserves to be highlighted. It is in the center of Valletta , near the most important streets and a few steps from the sea .
Because it is a small hotel, for very few guests, the reception is not 24h. You will receive a key from the door to be able to enter times when there is no one there. But do not worry, this is WELL common in Valletta (the town is packed with apartments that have become boutique hotels).
Ah, despite not having used (hehehe), I can not forget to mention: there is a gym in the basement and a small sauna.
I highly recommend the Palazzo Prince d'Orange! Loved it. Book here .
Palazzo Prince d'Orange hotel entrance on a charming street in Valletta, Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Reception - Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange - Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
One of the positives of the hotel: THE ROOFTOP VIEW! | Photo: Lala Rebelo
From above you can see all Valletta and the Three Cities | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Dining room and kitchen of my apartment at the Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Fully equipped kitchen! Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange - Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
My Room | Hotel Prince of Wales | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Living room inside my room | Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange - Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Private outside area of my room at Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Coffee tables for guests on the rooftop | Hotel Prince of Wales | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Breakfast | Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange - Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Communal kitchen on the top floor | Hotel Prince of Wales | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Academy | Hotel Palazzo Prince d'Orange - Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Other options in Valletta : I did not know it from the outside, but the Grand Harbor Hotel seemed a good alternative due to its location, because it offers a great view of the sea. Search here other available hotels in the city of Valletta.
[Region: ST. JULIANS]
For those who enjoy more lively places, with nightlife, bars, restaurants, ballads, with more modern and urban look, less Europe / more USA. Lots of new people, mainly English students, group of friends on vacation and also younger couples lodge the accommodations of that region. For those who want to stay longer, this may be the best alternative, since hotels in this area have more structure, with swimming pools and activities (this is where the big resorts are).
This was the hotel I stayed in the second half of the trip (I stayed two nights in Valletta and two nights in St. Julian's). I found the hotel to be excellent, good service, large areas, everything very beautiful and well decorated, spacious room, finally a first class service that made it worth its price. What I did not like was the location. St. Julian's is a nice area, but right where the InterContinental is, it has a messy environment too. Noisy, too much partying. But this becomes uncomfortable at night rather than in the daytime, as everything becomes calmer. But I do not think that would make me disregard the hotel. If you are young, this may be your best option.
Despite this negative point in relation to the locality, a good thing is that the hotel, even if it is not on the beach, has a beach club on a beach a few steps away, with sunbeds, towels, parasols, Bar etc. It's not a beautiful beach, but you can relax.
The hotel has a great infrastructure (it's huge), with a large outdoor pool and another indoor, spa, restaurants, gym and more.
Facade of the Hotel InterContinental Malta in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
My room at the InterContinental Malta Hotel in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
My Room Bathroom | InterContinental Malta - St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Balcony from my room to busy street in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Lobby | Hotel InterContinental Malta - in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Outdoor pool | Hotel InterContinental Malta - in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Hotel InterContinental Malta in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Other hotel options in St. Julian's :
Well ... St. Julian's is not all that "partying", and I strolled around to find hotels that were in more pleasant surroundings. And I found it !!! My tip then is: stay close to SPINOLA BAY or MARINA PORTOMASO . Delicious, quiet atmosphere, surrounded by restaurants with outside tables, people walking, everything very healthy! If I return to St. Julian's, I will definitely choose one of the hotels below (I have not met any inside - my suggestion is based on location and facade):
Hotel Juliani - Spinola Bay - St. Julian's - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Hilton Malta hotel in Portomaso Marina in St. Julian's | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Cavalieri Art Hotel - Spinola Bay - St. Julian's - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
For those wishing to live a completely different experience, at least for 1 night, I found it an interesting idea to stay in this walled city , with thousands of years of history . Mdina is also known as the "Silent City" , and has a population of almost 300 people. Only residents' cars and workers are allowed inside the walls. The best hotel in Mdina is The Xara Palace , an absurdly fabulous Relais & Chateaux . I went to meet him and I went crazy to sleep there one day! The hotel has swimming pool, restaurants (among them, one of the best in the country) and a super view of the fields surrounding Mdina.
Hotel Grand Chancellor Singapore in Singapore, Singapore | Photo: disclosure
Swimming Pool of The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux in Mdina, Malta | Photo: disclosure
Jacuzzi of the Hotel The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux in Mdina, Malta | Photo: disclosure
____________________ MALTA CULINARY____________________
I did not know anything about Maltese cuisine before visiting the country, and when I tried it, I realized that the food there has a very unique flavor , even though it is a mix of influences. A mixture of Italian cuisine (of course, due to its proximity, less than 100km from Sicily), Arabic (also due to its close proximity to North Africa and domination), French (during the period of French occupation) and English (due to Time of British colonization).
The typical dishes are:
Ravioli Stuffed with Sheep Cheese | Ta 'Mena Estate - Gozo | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Antipasto Maltese | Ta 'Mena Estate - Gozo | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Ta 'Mena Estate delicioso tomato paste - Gozo | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Honey pot I bought at Ta 'Mena Estate in Gozo - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Nanti Malti Ftira The Artisan Baker in Valletta | Photo: disclosure
Traditional Pastizzi from Malta, from High Street Cafe - Sliema | Photo: disclosure
____________________ RESTAURANTS AND BARS____________________
A nice restaurant with international and Maltese food on the menu, located on a pedestrian-only street in the center of Valletta. I ate (and drank - Rosé Maltese wine) very well and, at dusk, an accordion arrived that left the mood even more special. This street (Archbishop or I arcisqof), where cars do not pass, is a cutie.
Restaurant D'Office Bistro in Valletta, Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
My dish: Raviolis stuffed with goat cheese - traditional from Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
D'Office Bistro Dessert Pies in Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Sanfoneiro cheering the charming late afternoon of Valletta, Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
It is in several guides of Malta and is considered the best restaurant in Valletta. It's Maltese food (but with options) and it's on the same nice street as the D'Office Bistro. In fact, my original plan was to go to Ambrosia, but when I saw D'Office, I found it more cute and I changed my mind.
Ambrosia Restaurant in Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Another neighbor of D'Office and Ambrosia. I had not read anything about it, but from the outside it seemed amusing to me. Super inviting, the ideal place for anyone wanting to taste the typical rabbit. Chef Jamie Oliver when he visited Malta said that it is Angelica's best rabbit in the country!
Angelica Restaurant in Valletta - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
You drink for the customers - I thought it was cute! Angelica Restaurant in Valletta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
The ideal place (and more traditional) to taste the typical Maltese Ftira, made in the wood oven.
Baking a Shot at Nenu The Artisan Baker, Valletta, Malta | Photo: disclosure
[Region: ST. JULIAN'S]
This was the tip of my friend Mariô who lived in Malta and loves this restaurant. The ambiance is normal, fussy, but the visit is worth the duck ( duck breast - be sure to ask for it). The menu is quite international, consisting of pizzas, pasta, burgers and salads. And the price is still very reasonable.
The Avenue Restaurant in St. Juliens - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Interior of The Avenue Restaurant in St. Juliens - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
The menu of this restaurant consists of pastas and pizzas (very good, by the way), but the visit is worth the atmosphere as there are outside tables in Spinola Bay, a very nice area in St. Julian's.
Raffael Restaurant in Spinola Bay - St. Juliens - Malta | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Super nice place in Spinola bay in St. Julians | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Raffael Restaurant Pizza in Spinola Bay, St. Julians, Malta - Delicious! | Photo: Lala Rebelo
Spinola Bay and Portomaso Marina in St. Julian's are packed with charming restaurants. Other two that I wanted to know but did not have time: Ristorante Peppino's (St. Georges Road, 31 - Spinola Bay) and Ristorante Dolce Vita (St. Georges Road, 159) .
Considered one of the best restaurants in Malta. The elegant restaurant, which is part of The Xara Palace Hotel , is run by Chef de Cuisine Kevin Bonello. Book in advance by the site a table on the terrace to have beautiful views of Malta.
De Mondion Restaurant, The Xara Palace Hotel in Mdina - Malta | Photo: malta.com
De Mondion Restaurant at The Xara Palace, Mdina, Malta | Photo: relaischateaux.com
The Xara Palace's more informal restaurant , ideal for more casual lunches and dinners. Menu consisting of pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and salads.
Maltese rosé wine at Trattoria AD 1530 in Mdina, Malta (Hotel Xara Palace)
This place is famous mostly for its cakes / pies. Many people have told me that chocolate is surreal. Unfortunately I did not have time to prove it. Whoever goes to Malta brings a piece to me, pleeeeease !!!! See the photos here . Help!! The view from there is beautiful too.
Fontanella Tea Garden in Mdina, Malta | Photo: Rachelle Lucas for Flickr - CC
Famous chocolate cake from Fontanella Tea Garden in Mdina, Malta | Photo: Rachelle Lucas for Flickr - CC
[Region: St. Paul's Bay - Qawra]
This bar / restaurant is a MUST SEE! The ambience is super cool, with musiquinha lounge, two maras infinity pools, sun loungers and great drinks. The food is also very tasty. I recommend going in the sunset time, as it is lily seen from inside the pool. On some dates there are events / parties on site and you need to buy tickets (pay to enter). We do not reserve, but if you prefer, click