What I’m about to say might sound harsh, but the first step towards enjoying your trip to Malta is to ignore 99% of travel guides you find online.
And I talk from experience.
You see, before we booked out flight to Malta I’ve spent approximately 2 weeks researching this destination and I planned everything out beforehand.
All the articles I read and all the pictures I saw (especially on Instagram) slowly pictured Malta as the unique exotic paradise my heart eager so badly to discover…
So, what exactly went wrong than?
Well, for starters, instead of exotic green, tall palm trees and colorful buildings, Malta majestically shocks you with the exact opposite.
Monocoloured buildings everywhere, clogged in this mysterious and silent atmosphere that immediately gives you the feeling that you stepped few centuries back in time, and are now hopelessly lost somewhere in the Middle East.
Don’t get me wrong now.. In my mind’s eye, it’s not something bad. It’s a great experience and it has a unique beauty that I am happy I discovered. It’s just not what I expected in the first place. And that is because it has nothing to do with how mass media, and most of the famous traveling-guides out there, present it.
So here’s what you really need to know before visiting Malta.
Colorfull is not the word to describe Malta’s landscape.
As mentioned above, throughout the country, the cities are filled with centuries-old buildings showing a mix of Arabic and Italian influences.
Most of them teeter on decay, but if you like medieval, antique looking cities, you will definitely enjoy taking a stroll around Malta’s main cities, just as we did.
The cities are very walkable and the streets are pretty narrow in spots. Here you can get lost in time. If you have a love of history and photography, then you will feel at home.
Nevertheless, as days pass by, it felt like 70% of the cities look photocopied.
Same streets, same buildings, same colors, same people. It can get a bit tiring, and this is why I believe 10 days in Malta were perfect for us, and just enough to fully appreciate it.
Where the land meets the sea is the place to be.
Wherever you are, I really recommend you to visit the ports! They are beautiful! Mostly because the waters are clean and blue and the boats (especially the small ones) are traditionally decorated and colored. Reminded me of Venice, a tiny-tiny bit.
Across the harbor in Valetta are the Three Cities, Cospicua, Vittoriosa, and Senglea, and the views are so iconic and famous that it feels like you’ve stepped into a postcard.
So whenever you get tired of the monocoloured buildings everywhere, just take a stroll on the river bay to charge your batteries.
Move smart. Avoid the Maltese public transport service.
It was one of, if not the biggest mistake to rely on the public transport service. As tourists with limited budget and quite some experience, we thought we shouldn’t buy the very expensive Hop- On bus tickets to get around the island but take the local public transport instead.
Looking back, it might have been much better for our peace of mind to book the Ho-Ho bus.
We lost a ridiculous amount of time and nerves trying to move between cities. I would rate 0 if possible but no review is going to accurately get across the frustration felt by people waiting for buses for hours only to find out that the time tables are not correct.
The good points are that you can get a bus to anywhere in Malta and it is indeed the cheapest way to travel, but the buses only run every 30-60 mins and are always overcrowded, which is absolutely ridiculous.
The routes are long and extremely slow. We traveled every day for about 40 – 60 minutes one way. It felt like no matter where we are and where we want to go, it’s at the other end of the world.
And that’s not all. The landscape between the cities also left me a bit delusional. You see, all the cities are surrounded by agricultural land so no mater where you’re travelling towards, the view is always the same:
Seeing this every day for hours in a bumpy buss ride becomes rather frustrating.
After few days like this, we decided changes have to be made. We rented a scooter and I highly advise you to do the same. It’s cheap, parking is not an issue (it is for a car) and traveling the islands on a scooter is fun and very time efficient.
Best decision ever!
Heads up! They do drive on the opposite side of the road.
I don’t know what image of Malta I gave you, or if your visit was a lot more different than mine, but stick with me here because my next post is about the amazing #Gozo island and this is where, indeed, Malta shines up and bright!