Looking for something a little different for Spring Break? Yeah, so were we. We found it in Malta.
Located deep in the Southeastern corner of the Mediterranean, between Africa and Italy lies the island nation of Malta. And with 300 days of sunshine year round, what’s not to love? We were there during the last week of March and had sunshine every single day, with highs in the 70’s and water temperature in the mid-50’s.
Official languages: Malti, English
Exchange rate: Bad. But everything in Malta is pretty reasonably priced anyway.
Base yourself: In Sliema (or Tas-Sliema in Malti). We snagged a really nice hotel room (with ocean view balcony, holla!) for around 80 euro per night. There’s only one hostel on the entire island, and it too is located in this same general area. Apparently it’s nice, but we wanted something a little quieter.
Getting around: The Maltese bus system is awesome, not to mention crazy cheap. Use it to get yourself all around the island, but be sure to scout out the route before hand. Also, note that some routes run more often than others and that, in case you get too lost, all buses go to Valletta.
Valletta: The capital city and location of the main bus terminus. You’ll spend a lot of time here.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral: Home to Caravaggio’s massive “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist”, this cathedral is baroque at its finest.
Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck: Way cooler (and less touristy) than St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This dark and cavernous church is kinda hard to spot though, so ask around.
Ferry from Valletta to Sliema:
(After riding the bus 40 minutes to Valletta on our first day, we decided that the 5 minute ferry ride was a much more prudent, if not more fun, way to do it.)
Tiny seaside fishing town on the southern coast, this was actually my favorite day of the trip. Killer fresh fish. Go hungry.
Another favorite. Malta’s not really known for sandy beaches, but actually laying out on rocks makes for a much more hassle free beach going experience, so that’s okay. But if you’re looking for more of a buckets and shovels vacation — head north. There you’ll find the isolated Golden Bay and the less-isolated St. Paul’s Bay. We checked them both out, but Golden Bay was the clear favorite.
This is where the fancy people live. Nicknamed “The Silent City,” Mdina’s quiet, winding alley ways and sun drenched cobblestone streets are continually chosen to provide the picturesque backdrop for ad campaigns. Didn’t spot any photoshoots while we were there, but definitely be on the lookout.
There’s something very mysterious about this isolated nation, with its olive trees, fortified walls and complicated, violent past. It’s intoxicating. And I guess, sitting at the crossroads of Africa and Europe, it makes sense. It’s more Arabic than European, to be sure. But it really is a mixture of the two cultures. And a heady one at that.
By Christi Warren