Written for The Handbook.
Malta, with its rich history and Game of Thrones scenery, is an increasingly hot tourist destination – and it’s not hard to see why. From stunning architecture and artistic masterpieces to the nightclubs and party scene, Malta has so much to offer. So, obviously, I had to check it out (I’m sacrificial like that). Here are ten things you mustn’t miss on this amazing island.
Dangle And Dine
Forget a head for heights, do you have a stomach for them? At Dinner In The Sky in Valetta prepare to be strapped in and hoisted 120 feet into the air along with your dinner table, chef, food and drink. There, you will experience gorgeous views and a lavish five-course meal. Let the chefs ply you with liberal helpings of wine to help those with those already wobbly legs.
Party On Paceville
For those in need of some harder alcohol after hanging at terrifying heights, you can’t walk down Paceville without being drawn in to one of the clubs. The centre of the St Julian’s night life, the street comes alive with thumping beats and tons of drinks offers. We crawled through three (to be fair, one stank of sick so we got out pretty quickly). Get a round of caipirinhas at Native Bar and you’re good to go… to bed.
Rest your legs after a big night by taking a leisurely golf buggy tour of the Three Cities courtesy of Rolling Geeks. The Three Cities, the historic bit of Malta, are well worth seeing and the buggies come complete with a sat nav tour guide while you sit back and relax (note: less restful for your designated driver, who has to navigate cars full of angry locals). Luckily (for me), the tour includes an ‘SOS’ service, meaning if you go off-piste, get lost or break down then a member of staff will come and track you down. Tried and tested: you’re welcome.
Malta has a deep maritime history thanks to its commanding position in the Mediterranean. And the best way to experience that is to take a harbour tour. The harbour tour is a must, not least as it’s another great way to see the Three Cities and perhaps fewer angry locals involved than my experience with the golf buggies!
Life’s A Beach
If, like me, your friends can’t get enough of city breaks while you love a beach, Malta delivers. Locals (not the angry ones) recommend Peter’s Pool – a quiet rocky ledge with clear water. Or you can, like I did, enjoy the delights of Golden Bay, which is beautiful but trickier to get to.
Roast Some Rabbit
Ask anyone about the local cuisine and, Malta being an island, seafood is always top of the list. And where better to eat it than on the beach? Paranga in St George’s Bay, St Julian’s
offers beautiful food with a tasty view. You also can’t go to Malta without trying rabbit (#sorrynotsorry) – it’s a local delicacy.
Fillet Some Fishes
Try your hand at filleting a fish and learning more about Maltese cooking at the Mediterranean Culinary Academy in Valletta. Take it from someone whose cookery skills barely extend beyond microwaving a tin of baked beans [Editor’s note: Bex you do know you can’t put a tin in the microwave, right?]: the class caters for all levels of expertise. The staff are super friendly and always on-hand to save the day (thanks, Keith).
Glory In The Gaudy
Don’t let the austere facade fool you. It’s what’s on the inside that counts – and this cathedral could not be more gold if it had been designed by President Trump himself. Built by the Knights of St John, the cathedral houses some of Caravaggio’s most famous paintings. When I’m on holiday I’m totally an outdoors person. Sure, you go and browse the local churches; I’ll just sit here on the beach, thank you very much. But, I’ll make a exception for St John’s Cathedral, which is genuinely amazing. Long queue to get in, but worth the wait.
Say ‘Winter Is Coming’
You can’t go home without seeing the gorgeous views (AKA getting a great Insta pic). Head up to the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta for a great view of the Grand Harbour and Fort Ricasoli – better known as The Red Keep to Game of Thrones fans… I think I’m possibly the only person in the world that this is entirely wasted on; I don’t get the whole G.O.T. thing, but I’m willing to try – honest!
Where to stay:
A hop away from the beach and – importantly – right next to the night life, we stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in St Julian’s. Rooms start at €90 a night with breakfast included and offers free WiFi, a power shower and a smart telly.
The Intercontinental next door offers the same great location but with added luxury (most importantly, a spa).