Discovering Malta: Small but mighty

Malta. Doesn’t the sound of it immediately make you think of azure blue water, sunny weather and dazzling cliffs? That is exactly what it is! In July I spent a week on Malta. Since I was visiting a girl I had met in Mexico, I didn’t do any research before arriving. I expected her to tell me where to go and what to do and she did a great job 🙂 But truth to be told: Malta is so incredibly small, you don’t need to be fully organized in order to see the most important spots. Almost everything can be done in a day trip, depending where on you are. Well, let’s get the virtual tour through Malta started 😉

Valetta: Malta’s capital city

Malta sometimes felt like a big city in itself and I needed to remind myself I was in a country. And its capital is Valetta. I didn’t spend too much time in Valleta, since I was rather interested in seeing Malta’s natural beauty. But what I saw of Valetta was surprisingly beautiful. The architecture was a lot nicer than expected! The city is littered with beautiful churches and monumental buildings.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto is famous for its cave formations. You can visit the several caves by boat which are offered for €8. Not knowing what to expect, I hopped on the boat. It took us to the several caves. The caves and especially the different shades of blue were beautiful. But there was one huge disadvantage to this trip: the boat passed by everything far too quickly!

I came back a bit disappointed, but decided to just accept it. After all, I enjoyed it while it lasted 😉 I went to swim a bit with my friend. While we were enjoying the water, we got acquainted with a guy. After some while, he told us he actually is one of the boat owners that takes people on a tour through the caves. He offered to take us on a private tour for free. Of course, we didn’t turn this offer down!

Finally, I could see the caves and the radiant blue water peacefully, without being disturbed by other people. He even stopped in one the caves to let us swim there. But that was not all! He ended up taking us to this beautiful, quiet bay which could only be reached by boat. Therefore, we were the only ones around. It felt like heaven!

Siġġiewi

By accident, I ended up in this beautiful little town. I was on my way to the Dingli Cliffs when I passed through this small town and I loved it! I jumped out of the bus and strolled around the town until the next bus came. As you can see by the pictures below, that was a good decision 😉

Dingli Cliffs

When I arrived at Dingli Cliffs, I was a bit disappointed. I had expected to see dramatic cliffs with a beautiful view over the sea. Well, the view over the sea was there, but it was rather….unspectacular…I could see a cliff somewhere in the far distance, but that was basically it.

Fortunately, it’s not in my nature to give up easily. I started walking along the coast towards the town Dingli. Slowly I saw other cliffs appearing which seemed to be within a walking distance. Determined to get the view I had imagined, I started walking towards the cliffs.

Unfortunately, there was no clear path leading there. Especially the last bit was a bit tricky. In case you want to take the same hike, make sure to bring good shoes since you will walking up and down rocky hills. Eventually, the effort was well worth it. Obviously, there were not many people as eager as I was to get a better view. So, I found myself completely alone, strolling along the cliffs, hearing the sounds of the waves and feeling the adrenaline in my body when gazing down.

Mdina – The Silent City

After I had hiked for about 4 hours around the cliffs, my next stop was Mdina. Mdina is a beautiful and tiny historic city. The former capital city of Malta is still surrounded by fortified walls. Nowadays, the city is mainly a tourist attraction with a small population of 400 inhabitants.

Gnejna Bay

After the beautiful but draining previous day, all I wanted was to relax on a beach. My friends’ friend had recommended me to go to Gnejna Bay. What interested me most was the fact that he told me the bay has a nude beach nearby which is a lot quieter than the main beach. By this time, I had already figured out how immensely touristic Malta is and I was more than willing to escape a bit from the other tourists. Besides, it was a Saturday and I needed to escape from the locals as well.

Just as expected the beach was crowded. Relieved to have the insider tip from my friend, I started looking for the secret spot. Initially, I was afraid I had to walk up an intimidatingly steep hill. Fortunately, it turned out I had to walk alongside the hill. Not even ten minutes of an easy walk later, I had left the biggest part of the crowd behind me. I had even found myself a beautiful spot on a rock all to myself!

View from my private spot at Gnejna Bay

While I was soaking in the beauty of the beach and the tranquility, I saw people walking on top of the hill on the opposite side. My inquisitive nature immediately took hold of me. Although I had promised myself not to drain myself again, I couldn’t fight my curiosity. After all, I was here to discover as much of the island as possible, wasn’t I?

After some relaxation and mental preparation, I took off. The hike was a lot easier than expected and the reward for the little effort was huge. Soon, I got an amazing view over Gnejna Bay and even over the neighbouring Għajn Tuffieħa Bay. Ooh, how I suddenly loved my curiosity!

I ended up walking to the tip of the hill and via Għajn Tuffieħa back to the bus.

Marsaxlokk Market

Every Sunday there is a market in the pretty fishing village of Marsaxlokk. The market is situated along the Marsaxlokk harbour and offers different goods, such as souvenirs, fish and fresh fruits and vegetables. Along the promenade are several restaurants and café’s. The harbour is characterized by the typical, colorful Maltese boats.

Me, getting lost in the huge variety of spices

St Peter’s Pool

St Peter’s Pool is a natural pool near to Marsaxlokk. The only ways to get there are either by boat from the market or by car. My friend and I just missed one of the boats and ended up meeting someone who gave us a lift to the pool. Since it’s so difficult to reach the place, we expected it to be rather empty. Nothing could have been less true.

Just like every other beach in Malta, it was crowded. But just like any other beach in Malta, you can always find a quieter spot as well 😉 The beach on the second picture is less than 5 minutes walk away. The only disadvantage to this part, is that you’re not able to jump down the mini-cliffs which obviously is a lot of fun.

Gozo – Malta’s quiet little brother

Ooh, Gozo! Just thinking of this tiny, cute little island makes me sigh…And smile 🙂 I spent only 1 day and 1 night on the island, but this was enough time to fall in love with the tranquility of it. Gozo is very quiet compared to the main island. Some people might say it’s boring, but I loved it!

Unfortunately, the tranquility is not to be found on the beaches. By this time, I accepted I would never find a single quiet beach on Malta in July. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the beaches, just like I enjoyed all the others!

Mġarr ix-Xini Beach

The first beach we went to was a very small bay in the south. It was relatively quiet, considered the fact that the bay was so small and narrow. From the bay I took a nice, short hike which gives you a nice view over Mġarr ix-Xini tower.

Ramla Beach

The day we arrived at Ramla Beach it was very windy. Therefore, the water was pretty rough. Still, the beach was crowded. I immediately went for my beloved hike, in order to search some tranquility. Once again, it was beautiful and rather easy hike. But make sure you take good shoes, so you don’t hurt yourself on the rocks.

General impressions

Generally, I really enjoyed my time on Malta! The island is beautiful, the people are friendly, it’s fairly cheap (compared to other European countries) and it’s relatively easy to get around without a car. Sounds perfect, huh?

Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and so is Malta. As I mentioned, a lot of Malta’s beauty is hidden behind the masses of tourists. Though, this problem is easily resolved by arriving outside of the tourist season.

The people are indeed very friendly, but to be honest I mostly met men. And I met them whether I wanted or not. Maltese men are extremely flirtatious, especially the older ones. But no worries, the attempts are harmless. Most of the times you will just have to take the compliment and continue your journey.

And last but not least, let’s mention the buses. So, initially I was very happy to find out you can buy a ticket for €21 which allows you to travel unlimited for a week throughout the entire island. By that time I was still unaware of the frequency with which the buses come and their lack of punctuality. Most of the buses only come every 30-60 minutes and most of the time you can expect them to be either 15 minutes early or 15 minutes late. So, make sure to take an interesting book while you are traveling by public transport 😉

I might have grown a grey hair or two while waiting for the buses, but this definitely didn’t ruin my experience of the island! So, if you are in to beautiful nature, kind people and a budget friendly holiday, I’d say: GO!

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