I flew to Malta in mid-September 2020 continuing my travel around Europe. The choice of the next direction after Camino de Santiago was subject to simple criteria: cheap flights from Porto, a warm climate and the possibility of entering without a COVID test and quarantine. It was a one-way ticket and in total I spent 3 weeks there, further heading to Greece and the Peloponnese peninsula. Before I left for Malta, I didn’t know anything about the country, except that it was a tiny island in the Mediterranean. Upon arrival, it turned out that there are 3 islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino.
For many years there were different countries of culture here and it can be said that today’s Malta is such a conglomeration of different influences – Italy, Great Britain or Africa. Malta gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1967, which is why English is widely spoken here. The country is inhabited by about 500,000 inhabitants and a lot of expats. We will find here a total cultural mix: Italians, English, Spaniards and a lot of Poles (in September I met mainly Poles on buses running between tourist attractions).
In short, Malta can be described in three words: rocks, churches and cactuses. Cities in Malta are very cramped, crowded, noisy and in my opinion quite dirty (I do not understand the idea of putting garbage bags on the street under the entrance to the cage). In the summer during the day it is incredibly hot, there is neither greenery nor trees. Prices are very high. Fortunately, most of Malta’s attractions are natural and free. And it is here that the sun supposedly shines 360 days a year. And with such a nice touch we start our journey around Malta.
Megalithic Temples in Malta and Gozo
Malta is a very interesting country historically due to the found ruins of megalithic temples built even 5000 years BC. They are also known for the figurines and statues of obese women found here, which are supposed to symbolize the ancient cult of fertility. These are the next, after the ruins discovered in Anatolia in Turkey, the oldest buildings in the world. They are located in different parts of the islands of Malta and Gozo, the oldest of which are located on Gozo. Each of the temples can be reached by city bus from the capital of Malta – Valletta or from the capital of Gozo – Rabat.
Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra
Both temples are located on the south coast of Malta,not far from each other. We buy an entrance ticket immediately to two temples. The temples were built in about 3600-3200 BC. These ruins made the biggest impression on me, because they are proof that already then the sky was observed and a wide knowledge, including astrological knowledge, was possessed. And so in the temple of Hagar Qim there is a hole in the wall, through which on the day of the summer solstice, that is, at the beginning of summer, the rays of the rising sun fall. Similarly, in the temple of Mnajdra, the perfectly measured entrance was facing east. During the equinox, light entered the temple centrally illuminating the altar standing inside, and during the solstices, a narrow band of light entered the temple at an angle.
Temples of Tarxien
The temples of Tarxien are located in Malta, not far from the capital Valletta (I do not know if you can say that something is far away since the maximum length of Malta is 27 kilometers). We will find here a replica of the remains of a statue of an obese woman and the remains of a cemetery.
Ggantija is a complex of the oldest Maltese megalithic temples, which was built between 3600 and 3200 BC. It is located on the island of Gozo. After seeing the previous temples, these no longer make such an impression. However, they are called the oldest and I think that’s why it’s worth going here.
What to see in Malta
We can go to the capital of Malta, for example, for an evening walk or during the day to visit hundreds of monuments: churches, museums, fortresses. It is Valletta that bears the title of one of the most densely dense historic areas in the world. Stroll through the narrow streets, drink coffee or cool down with Kinnie, or eat local delicacies such as pastizzi (puff pastry cakes with ricotta or pea filling).
Malta: Marsaxlokk and St. Petersburg Peter’s Pool
One of the tourist points in Malta is the town of Marsaxlokk, where we will find very photogenic colorful boats. About half an hour walk from the town is St. Louis. Peter’s Pool – a natural pool with rocks ideal for jumping into the sea. I personally did not like it, it was the first day in Malta and there were a lot of people on the spot, in addition, that day it was very hot and the road on foot from Marsaxlokk was exhausting.
Malta: Rabat and Mdina – the former capital
In the center of Malta is its former capital – Mdina. Narrow streets in the shade of which we can hide and peace – I think this is a good description of Mdina. Right next to it is a new part of the city – Rabat. In Rabat we can visit the Catacombs of St. Paul and the Catacombs of St. Agate.
Comino is Malta’s third largest island. It is permanently uninhabited by people. We can get to the island by boat from Gozo or Comino. It is here that the blue lagoon is located – the Blue Lagoon – another showcase of Malta, i.e. a bay with transparent azure water. The color of the water is amazing!
We will get there by buying a one-day trip or directly booking a cruise with carriers. The part of the bay where the boats arrive is dominated by foodtracks, where loud music plays and there is a party atmosphere. There are a lot of people on Comino, and there is no beach, so if we want to spread a towel on an accessible patch of rocks we have to arrive early in the morning. Later, there is the option of booking a sun lounger for a dozen or so euros. If we are looking for peace, we have to go to another part of the island, but the water there is not so beautiful.
Gozo is Malta’s second largest island. I spent most of my time in Malta in Gozo. Accommodation prices are lowerhere, it is much calmer and in my opinion more pleasant to visit than Malta. We get to every place on the island by bus, which depart from and to the transfer center in Victoria. For a longer time I stayed in the town of Qala with a beach 10 minutes walk from the apartment and some 2 shops, 2 restaurants and 2 cafes. Of course, in the center there was a large church. The atmosphere of the town was familiar, everyone knew each other, there were no tourists. An ideal place to relax and explore the island peacefully.
Gozo: Azure Window
It was on Gozo that Malta’s biggest natural attraction was located – Azure Window,which unfortunately collapsed in 2017 during a storm. The place is still visited by tourists, but it does not make such an impression anymore. We will get to Azure Window by city bus from the central station in Rabat.
Gozo: Red beach – Ramla Beach
Ramla Beach in Gozo is worth a visit, if only because there are few other sand beaches in Malta. The color of the sand, which is red, is also unusual here. An additional advantage is the possibility of a short trekking to the surrounding caves of Tal-Mixta,from which there is a view of the beach in the mountains. We can get there on foot along a well-trodden path and by car or scooter on an asphalt road.
Gozo: Wied II-Mielah – new Azure Window
A bit north of the old Azure Window, we find a similar, but smaller and more hidden natural attraction of Gozo. Wied II-Mielah is a place rather unknown and little frequented by tourists. Nearby there is also a natural water bass surrounded by cliffs Wied il-Gharsi with an amazing color of water. Heading further east, we pass the beautifully located Salt Pans salt flats. A place worth visiting!
If we have more time and desire, we can visit other places, such as:
- Golden Bay Beach in Malta
- Popeye Village, Malta
- Town of Bugibba in Malta
- citadel in Victoria (Rabat) in Gozo
- San Blas beach on Gozo
- Hondoq ir-Rummien beach on Gozo
- Marsalforn town in Gozo
- Ta’Cenc cliffs in Gozo
- swimming pool Mgarr ix-Xini on Gozo
- Qala and Nadur town in Gozo
Transport in Malta
There are city buses running around Malta and Gozo, taking us to every corner of the islands. However, these buses run rarely, even every 1-2 hours. Also choosing this means of transport we have to be prepared to wait at stops without any roof in the scorching sun. The cost of the ticket allowing travel within 2 hours is 2 euros (summer season). Tickets can be purchased from the driver. If we travel more often, I recommend buying a ticket for 12 trips for 15 euros or a ticket for an unlimited number of trips valid for 7 days for 21 euros. Detailed options and ticket prices can be found here.
Another option is to rent a scooter or car and full freedom in matters of travel. Thanks to this independence, we can visit each of the islands even in 1 day.
However, with more time and budget travel, we choose the bus + hiking option. Especially in Gozo, where the sun does not seem to bother so much, and the roads are much calmer than in Malta.
There is a ferry between the islands of Malta and Gozo, for which a ticket is bought on the way back from Gozo. We will get to Comino by private boat from Gozo or Malta, the carriers will find us themselves – just go out to one of the marinas.
A summary of the
To sum up, Malta is a nice destination when we want to enjoy the sun, bathe in the warm sea and visit some of the oldest discovered temple ruins in the world.
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