The Perfect Getaway
When we booked Malta, we didn’t really know too much about it other than a few things that some people had told us. We did know that the island is meant to be very good for diving (if you’re looking to dive within Europe). This is something that originally interested us as we’ve been on a couple of one-day diving trips in various locations and loved it. In saying this however, once we began researching all the things we could do and see in Malta, we realised we wouldn’t really have time to fit the Open Water PADI into our plans, so this is something we’ll do at another location in the near future instead.
Upon arriving, we were greeted by warmth as soon as we stepped off the plane. Malta is considered by some as having one of the best climates in the world with mild winters and hot summers. It was prettyyyyy hot on arrival (34 degrees) and stayed the same throughout the week – perfect!
We hopped on the X1 bus right outside the airport and this bus took us all the way to Mellieha (in the north of the island) for the total of two euros each (this is the standard charge for the bus anywhere you go in Malta). We got off the bus at Adenau as we were staying at Splendid Guest House. We couldn’t be happier when we turned up to see two amazing rooms filled with incense, books, colourful lanterns and inspiring quotes all over the walls. We were then shown the roof terrace which was absolutely incredible! A sheltered area with bean-bags, lanterns, quirky little accessories with swing chairs outside in the sun. The place had a fantastic ‘chill’ vibe inspired by the owners Yadi and Robert who have spent considerable time travelling around the world. They were both extremely welcoming and friendly throughout. We had some really interesting chats with Robert about his travelling days. He has a lot of great stories, one of those inspiring people that you can sit and talk about life to. We loved it up on the terrace chilling with some beers, listening to Fat Freddy’s Drop and chatting to Robert about his travels, adding yet more countries to our bucket list.
Our first full day was interesting to say the least (haha). We got a bus to Paradise Bay which was beautiful and then decided to walk for half-an-hour in the most insane heat! After the first thirty minutes on foot, we were greeted by a really sweet Maltese man who felt sorry for us walking through the deserts of Malta searching for a lagoon that most people didn’t know about. He picked us up and drove us to Ramla Bay (we didn’t know what this was but felt somewhat inclined to say “perfect!” to the strange man after he had driven us a few miles) and then we continued walking for another 4km still in search for this place unheard of. Finally the pictures we had seen online became a reality when we were presented with a beautiful lagoon called Ahrax. For a while Louis thought it might be a mirage but it was real! This place was amazing and well worth the sweaty desert walks. We had seen pictures online of people jumping in but as we were the only people there we didn’t want to be the ones to test whether this could be done or not. We did try and convince some passers-by that it would be fine and that they should jump in first but they were having none of it. For the majority of our time here, we were the only people which was incredible. We decided to head down the rocks alongside it and get into the water as there was an entrance to the lagoon around the side. This was a true paradise and so peaceful for the time we stayed!
After we were done here, we embarked on another hot walk to……well, we didn’t actually know! We just kept on walking in to the direction we thought best and again, after obviously looking awful and on the verge of desert suicide, another stranger waved us in to their car (even though it was already full) and gave us a lift to the nearest (very far) bus top. I can only imagine that if they didn’t stop we might still be there now!
In the evening, we had diner at ‘The Arches‘ in Mellieha town, about a five-minute walk from Splendid. The food here was so good and the service even better! Also a great price for their set menu at twenty-eight euros per person (not breaking the bank but still, not a cheap snack). We definitely recommend this place and even tried to go back another night only to find that they are closed on a Monday evening.
The next day we headed to Popeye Village which was fun! This is a place that was originally built as the filmset for the 1980’s Disney film Popeye, starring Robin Williams (poor Robin). The 101 bus gets you here from Mellieha (only one per hour) and takes around twenty-minutes. It’s sixteen euros for adults and thirteen for children. This includes entry to the attraction, a free postcard, photo a drink, use of the inflatables sun beds and boat rides (unfortunately it was too windy on the day we went therefore the boat wasn’t running). The area itself is great and although it’s very family-friendly, we still really enjoyed it, spending most of the afternoon in the water. You can just drive up to Popeye Village and stop outside to look at the views if you don’t fancy paying to go inside.
Malta has two smaller islands that surround it called Comino and Gozo. These are both incredible and a ‘must see’ if you go. We visited the Blue Lagoon at Comino Island which is known for its ‘paradise-feel’ and crystal-clear waters. Most buses that head north stop at the ferry port and you can buy a ticket to both Comino and Gozo for ten euros. Comino is extremely busy so if tourist hot-spots aren’t your thing then be prepared for big crowds of people. However, the water seriously is incredible, some of the most beautiful I’ve seen, so it’s well worth the visit. You can buy cocktails that are served in pineapples which is right up my street so I was very happy!
From Comino, boats only go to Gozo once an hour so keep this in mind (we missed it by three-minutes). Our original plan when we arrived at Gozo was to use a hop-on, hop-off’ bus service that takes you all over the island for ten euros. This plan went right down the pan when we saw quad bikes – Louis’ dream. So we went for one of those instead! It was great fun and a more relaxed way of going wherever you want. The only thing about the bus, I suppose, is you would be able to see more of the attractions as they take you directly to them. Whereas on the quad, we didn’t really know where we were going and just enjoyed the drive and all of the nice buildings/scenery that we past. Gozo truly did look amazing, with very aesthetically pleasing buildings in little villages. It’s got a very ‘Italian’ feel to it and is meant to have some incredible restaurants.
The next very exciting part of our trip was Dinner in the Sky! What an experience this was! It was quite pricey but well-worth the money. It used to be situated in Valleta (the countries’ capital) but they have since moved it to Golden Bay (near Mellieha). We booked the 7pm slot which meant that we were up in the air for sunset – perfect! The food was great; it’s all cooked by the chef up in the sky with you. It all feels very safe – you are strapped in the whole time. The chairs also rotate (as does the whole platform), allowing you to move around and see the 360 views at your pleasure. Little tip – try to get the corner seats as they give you the best views! You are up in the sky for one hour thirty-minutes. They play music throughout. Sometimes this did get a bit too loud but it certainly adds to the atmosphere.
The next day we headed down south to Malta’s capital Valletta. You can jump on the 41/42/49 buses which take you all the way there (1 hour journey time). We wandered around the city which is beautiful (again it has a very Italian-feel to it) and ate ice-creams. We found the best bar called La Bottega which I highly recommend, particularly if you like your Gin. The gin and tonics are sooo good! I had a thyme and cranberry one and Louis had a strawberry and pepper. They’re amazing and at five euros each, you can’t go wrong! The place was very charismatic and sells various olive oils and pasta sauces which we bought a few of.
Malta is great for photography! The buildings and views are beautiful. The thing we loved the most about walking around Valletta were all of the doors! Maltese houses have some great, arty doors with different colours and flowers growing up them.
In Valletta we also rented little electric scooters. We noticed these as we hired them a few years ago in Barcelona and loved them! They’re such a good way of getting around when you’re exploring a city and seeing everything. You can also take these onto the ferries and go across to the other three cities surrounding Valletta. We had them for two hours which is enough (because they start to hurt your bum) at the cost of twenty euros each.
We had dinner in a little restaurant called D’Office which was very quaint. The seafood linguine was delicious! The only place in the world where I’ve seen in the toilet a little dressing table with a type-writer and mirror – quirky!
The next day we did a sunset horse-ride with Golden Bay Horse Riding which as you can imagine, was perfect and I think, the highlight of our trip! The 101 bus goes from Mellieha to Golden Bay (but remember, it only runs one per hour ….and of course we missed it again by a few minutes!) We were all given a horse on arrival after they asked how much experience we have had riding. Me and Louis were slightly apprehensive to tell them of our experience horse riding over the years just in-case they gave us a racehorse. If you are a beginner though, they will put you on a lead with an instructor if you prefer. The ride starts at 18:30 for ninety minutes and is a bargain at thirty euros each! (Horse riding is mega-expensive in London and we’ve always wanted to tick it off of our list to say that we have done it together). The views were incredible and trotting along the beach at sunset was beautiful and so relaxing. All the horses were very calm and we felt safe the whole time.
Finally we got the X1 bus back to the airport. To round off the whole trip …..these go one per hour as well and of course one drove past us as we were walking up to the bust stop! So we had to wait another hour (plus the twenty minutes it was late on top) so it was a fairly anxious ride back to the airport not knowing if we were going to make it or not! So, my advice to you, if you are planning to go to Malta and use the buses – spare plenty of time before you head to your destination. If you are a baller then just hire a car!