We visited Malta in November 2022 and were pleasantly surprised by the weather. It sat around 20C, a bit of rain (one day was torrential downpour and thunderstorms) and some days reaching mid 20’s without a cloud in the sky! One thing that’s worth noting about Malta is the number of mosquitos. Our trip here was the worst Scott’s ever been bitten, even using bug spray! I’m not sure if it was the time of year we went or just a particularly bad season, but definitely bring as much protection as possible!
Getting from the airport to Sliema was very easy. We jumped straight onto the X3 bus which took us to the main ferry stop just a 3-minute walk from our accommodation. It only cost €3pp and our daughter was free! It’s fairly simple to get around Malta, either by bus, foot or ferry. You can rent a car, as they drive on the same side of the road as they do in England, however we were warned that the roads and drivers are a bit temperamental, so we stuck to public transport.
Another welcomed similarity to England is the use of 3-pinned plugs! It was so nice not to have to bring a huge amount of adapters with us!
What to do:
If you’re staying in Malta, you HAVE to visit the capital, Valletta! The walled city lies on the coast and is known for its museums, palaces and grand churches. Depending on where you’re staying, you can reach it by either bus or ferry; from Sliema it was more convenient for us to jump on a ferry across the water and walk up the hill into the centre. We popped over a few times, as there are loads of options for either having a quiet meal down a side street or a drink in the hustle and bustle of a busy square. It was great for us with a toddler as there were large pedestrianised areas, and plenty of space for her to safely have a run-about!
If you’re travelling with a child, Malta is the perfect place because there are parks and play-areas dotted around everywhere! On the whole road around from Sliema to St Julians, there’s a park every 5 minutes and it gave loads of welcomed breaks for her (and us). The people were all so friendly and everyone made such an effort to make a fuss of her, wave to her and give her biscuits!
They had quite a few of these little cat areas in the parks, filled with cat beds, blankets, water and cat food which was really lovely!
Day trip to Mdina
Mdina is a walled city in the middle of the island, which used to be the capital. It’s easy to get to via bus, and cost only €2 from either Sliema or Valletta. It’s really pretty and the whole area has a fairytale feel to it because of the mix of medieval and baroque architecture. There are a couple of places to eat inside the walls and a few more on the outside, but overall, there’s not a huge amount to do here so we wouldn’t recommend more than just a day trip.
(If you do visit, Fontanella is a great café within the walls that have incredible views out over the island, all the way towards Valletta!)
It was great to be able to jump onto a ferry from Valletta and travel up to the other island of Gozo for the day. It cost us only €7.50 per person and took around an hour. The big BUT in this though, is that the water can be quite choppy and it’s really no good if you get seasick. We travelled over with Gozo Fast Ferry and travelled back with Virtu which was a little slower and a lot less nauseating (although this could always have been due with the time/direction of travel). We only visited Victoria in Gozo, which was okay but we wouldn’t really recommend it as we found it a bit dull. If we were to go back, we would’ve loved to see some more of the beautiful caves and coastal areas, or even visit Comino which is another island with more picturesque beaches.
If you’re looking for a day lounging in deck chairs right on the seafront, with food and drinks served and easy access for a dip in the sea then Bugibba is the best place we found. The restaurant Nine Lives is oddly positioned off a main road and is just a lift on the pavement going down ‘under-ground’, but when you get down there you can see it’s a really nice restaurant/bar with it’s own beach. We sat here for a couple of hours and had some drinks whilst Scott took Adelaide for a splash about in the sea.
St Julians Is a great area just further up around the coast. It’s within walking distance of Sliema but would take about 30-45 minutes walking the coastal route! It’s supposedly great for nightlife, however the only actual experience we had with this was travelling through on the bus one evening on our way back home and seeing the streets filled with life! When we were here, we decided to try and find a nice seafood restaurant and stumbled across San Giuliano’s Restaurant. It looked pretty fancy and had the most incredible views over Spinola Bay, but luckily there was hardly anyone in there for lunch on a weekday so we were welcomed in.
Where to eat:
There are quite a few different cafes and restaurants in and around Sliema, but our favourite place by FAR was Tiffany’s Bistro down by the ferries in Sliema. We discovered it on our first night in Malta and went back another couple of times because we loved it so much. It’s got a really nice upmarket vibe inside, but they are also completely comfortable having little ones in and we never felt out of place. They did a great selection of all-sorts of food, but the reason we kept going back was for the duck dumpling starter. Even thinking about it now makes us want to go back!
Another great place that we ate at was La Vida Tapas Bar, which pretty much explains itself. It doesn’t look anything special, but the food was really great, and it was nice to have a change from the huge amount of Italian food around. The waiters were so lovely and gave us great recommendations, and the price was really reasonable as well!
The great thing about being so close to Valletta is that their version of Uber Eats (Bolt Food) will deliver, so there’s an incredible amount of choice for takeaways. A couple of the nights we put our daughter to sleep and then sat out on the balcony and ordered food (Korean was our food of choice) and we were so impressed by the number of places we could choose from!
In Valletta, we ate at Lapira first as we wanted to have a taste of the local cuisine. It wasn’t a huge place, but the food was good and gave us (Scott) the chance to try the rabbit! Another great spot we ate at was Palazzo Preca Restaurant, which looks incredibly fancy, but we felt more than welcome at for lunch with our toddler and casual clothing. The food was great, and there was a good selection of Maltese food. Scott said the oysters were incredible, and he even ordered some more as a pudding.
We probably wouldn’t choose to come back to Malta without any real reason, but that’s just because we like seeing new places to tick every country off the bucket list and we felt we’d seen all that Malta had to offer. We’d definitely recommend it to others looking for a relaxing week away, or anyone travelling with young children as it’s not too far and has some of the last of the good weather in Europe, along with Cyprus!