Once I ran into a couple in an airport coming home from Malta and they were singing its praises and I’ve had the country it on the top of my list every since. Every now and then I’d check flight prices and one day Malta popped up as an affordable destination with a bonus stopover in Istanbul so I booked to visit in early April.
Malta is located in the middle of the Mediterranean, north of Libya and south of Sicily, so wherever you go you’re surrounded by coastlines made of steep limestone cliffs indented by bays, inlets, and coves. I arrived on a warm spring day as the rainy season was just ending so I experienced beautiful blue skies during my four days.
Malta has a rich history, the Maltese people are descended from the Phonecians and the language is a blend of Arabic and the Sicilian dialect of Italian. Britain occupied Malta for 150 years up until 1964 and Malta is a member of the Commonwealth so English is also spoken. Throughout the country you’ll see the influences of the Romans, Greeks, Arabs, French, and British.
I rented a wonderful Airbnb apartment with views of the harbor and within walking distance to everything in the capital city of Valetta. All around Valetta, visitors and residents enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.
My first day I spent on foot exploring the capital, it’s small and a very walkable city. What charmed me was all the colorful doors and door knockers on every street!
Just like other capital cities in Europe, Valetta has its share of impressive architecture and street cafes for sipping and people watching.
One must have an Aperol Spritz when in Europe! For lunch I had the lightest pasta I’ve ever tasted, the ricotta ravioli was heaven to savor beneath the chiming bells of the old cathedral.
My second day I took a tour of the sister island of Gozo. I booked a Jeep tour of the island through Viator and a local guide took us around to see all the highlights from the red sand beach of Ramla Bay to the the salt flats to the prehistoric Gigantija temples that date back to 3600 BC. We squeezed in a sea caves boat tour, trips to two cathedrals, and a slow boat cruise through the famous Blue Lagoon. The turquoise color of the waters were stunning to see, no wonder people travel from all over the world to swim in its waters.
My third day I went to the Sunday Market in Marsaxlokk village with its famous colorful fishing boats. I found a cafe away from the tourist section where locals gathered and I ordered the fresh fish and white wine and drank it down as I watched the people passing back and forth. For me there’s nothing better than people watching in a European cafe!
In the afternoon I took a boat tour to the Blue Grotto where our boat driver took us out on the ocean to marvel at the sea cliffs along the coastline, so beautiful!
Malta played a strategic role for the Allies in WWII and as a result was heavily bombed by the Germans and Italians. On my last day, I took a tour of Underground Valetta was recommended by my Airbnb host. The Maltese people were resilient and refused to give up their country, their story of surviving in hideouts underground was so fascinating!
My trip to Malta with a two day layover in Istanbul was a solo trip, so I was able to explore the country on my own without any travel companions. In addition to traveling with family and friends, I also enjoy solo travel. I’m planning on writing a post on solo female international travel, so let me know if you have any questions!