Malta – A Hidden Gem
This year for my birthday I decided to do a quick getaway trip to Malta. I had never even
heard of it until I saw a Buzzfeed video of Malta and then videos of the beautiful Blue Lagoon. We definitely explored much more than that. Malta has 3 islands, the main island which gives name to the country, Gozo, and Comino, where the Blue Lagoon is located. I had an amazing time taking in all the beautiful scenery so I wanted to share some tips and where to go if you ever decide you want to visit here.
Malta is very busy during the summer season so going in October was a win. With the temperatures around 75 degrees and less tourists, this made our experience more enjoyable.
Wear your sneakers when visiting certain sites. Malta is very rocky and walking barefoot or in thong sandals is not ideal and can be dangerous.
Download the app “eCabs” which is similar to Uber. One of the nights we were wandering around aimlessly trying to find a taxi at night. I was able to hail an “eCab” driver within 1 minute.
I brought the wrong wall adapter…so don’t forget to bring the 3 prong adapter that looks like this.
Reservations for dinner – Although we went during slow season, the restaurants remain busy so be sure to call and make reservations at the recommended restaurants. Please check your receipts and if you are paying in cash make sure to double check your change. We had an incident at a cafe where the servers tried to steal a couple extra € from us – not cool.
What To Bring
- Credit cards are accepted at most big restaurants however you will need cash for the ferry rides and gas (if you are renting a car)
- Water shoes and waterproof bag for the Blue Lagoon
- Mosquito repellant and sunscreen
Renting A Car VS. Public Transportation
When I travel I’m all about using public transportation and saving money. However I did extensive research when I was planning my trip and although the public transportation works great in Malta, it can take a while to get from one place to another, especially during peak travel season. For example, a 20 minute car ride can take 1 hour via bus. Also, there were some locations that can be only be reached by car.
Public Transportation Cost:
Single Ticket: 2€
12 Single Day Journey – 15€
7 day unlimited pass – 21€
In the island of Gozo there is a Hop On & Hop Off Bus (18€). Great price, however the downside to that is that the bus only comes once every 45 minutes.
We decided that it would be best to rent a car. Even though the bf has never driven on the left side of the road (that means shifting with your left hand as well!), we figured it would be alright since I’m an outstanding co-pilot. Renting a scooter would be suicidal since the roads are pretty bad with a lot of pot holes.
Some things to know before renting a car:
- The driver must have an international driver’s license (easily obtainable at a Triple A office for $20). It was one of the first things the car rental agent asked when we arrived at the counter
- You have to know how to drive a stick shift
- Book through priceline.com with a major company such at Hertz. Smaller companies may have hidden fees, etc.
- DO GET THE INSURANCE – remember, you are driving on the left side of the road along with many other tourists who are not used to this. Ease your mind and purchase insurance through priceline. Ours was $11/day. If you wait to get to the counter Hertz will charge you a much higher price, sometimes costing more than the rental itself.
- Have that proof of insurance email ready. Rental car companies make money when they sell additional insurance so our agent wasn’t exactly happy when we firmly declined their insurance.
- Okay – don’t freak out but Hertz did a 7,000€ hold on my credit card. I don’t even think the car we got was worth that much. Good news is after I returned the car the hold was off my credit card the next day.
- Triple check your car. Because we declined their insurance the agent clearly gave us the shittiest car they had. After getting the keys we did a walk around and found 9 more dents. We had to walk back to the rental counter so the agent could sign off on all the extra dents.
- Remember where you picked up the car rental because this is the same location where you will be returning it. I say this because when it was time to return the car I didn’t see any “car rental return” signs.
- Parking – Free parking anywhere within the white lines
- GoogleMaps was 95% accurate. On a couple occasions it sent us down the wrong way on a 1 way street and 1 other time it sent us down a really scary windy dirt road.
- Don’t want a big logo on the side of you car screaming “I’m a tourist, come rob me” so I wouldn’t recommend renting from GoldCar.
Finding the best route – I researched all the locations that I wanted to visit and “starred” them on google maps. After looking at the map as a whole, I was then able to plan my route so it would be the most time effective.
Travel Cost Breakdown
RyanAir Round Trip Flight From Barcelona: $70 USD
AirB&B in Gzira, Malta: $75 USD/night
AirB&B in Marsalforn, Gozo: $40 USD/night
Hertz Car Rental: $92 USD for 5 days, $11 USD/day for insurance via Priceline, 30€ for gas
Driving Itinerary – we encountered one day of rain so we had to switch some locations around but here is my recommended route.
Day 1 – Malta Island
- Walk around Cospicua, Vittoriosa, Senglea – Park near the water front. Nice view of the city (Street parking)
- Blue Grotto – you can take a boat tour for 8€. Unfortunately it was too windy when we came but you can take a beautiful scenic photo on top (Parking lot)
- Marsaxlokk – Eat seafood at T’Anna Mari – around 12€ for a yummy pasta dish. This area is known for the colorful fishing boats as well (Street parking)
- St. Peter’s Pool – 10 minute drive from Marsaxlokk. Swim at your own risk!! (Parking lot)
- Valleta – have dinner at Palazzo Preca. We parked our car near our AirB&B. You can take a ferry for 3.30€ or take a cab for 10€
Day 2 – Gozo Island
- Take the ferry from Malta Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal to Gozo Mgarr Ferry Terminal. Cost for round trip:
4.65€ per person
15.70€ 1 person and 1 car
CASH ONLY – You only pay on your RETURN to Malta island.
- Stop by Mekren Bakery for some fresh pizza – 6€ – 7€ for a whole pie. CASH ONLY (Street parking)
- Explore Victoria (Street parking)
- Xlendi Bay – To the right is a set of stairs you can hike. It wraps around the bay and has beautiful views. (Parking lot)
- Dwerja and Azure Window – The Azure Window was a scene in Game Of Thrones when Dany and Khal Drogo got married but has sadly collapsed in 2017. There is a parking lot here. Sunset is the best time to come.
- Dinner in Marsalform – Il Kartell – best seafood dish on this trip!
Day 3 – Gozo & Comino Island
- Ninu’s Cave & Xerri’s Grotto – These natural caves were found when the owner of the home was digging a well. Ninu’s Cave (2€ donation) was alright because when we got down to the bottom there wasn’t much to see. But definitely check out Xerri’s Grotto (2.50€ donation). There’s a beautiful stairwell and the cave is quite large and we were able to walk around it.
- Blue Lagoon – A ride from Gozo to the Blue Lagoon and afterwards a tour of the caves costs 15€. Check out Comino Ferry Services. You’ll need to come to Mgarr Ferry Terminal a little early to find parking (within the white lines only). Bring your water shoes and waterproof bag. Just a reminder that it’s very rocky so water shoes would be the best thing to wear. Also, there’s another small island across from Comino that you can swim to. Definitely do not leave your belongings on Comino, so pack it in the waterproof bag and swim across. Tip: For the cave tour, sit in the very back of the boat to get the best unobstructed views.
- Tal Mixta – After the tour of the caves and returning to Gozo we drove through a dirt road to Tal Mixta. Park your car along the road and then you will find a hidden stair to go down to this beautiful view of Ramla Bay.
- Salt Pans – on the way to the next location!
- Wied Il Ghsari – You will have to drive down another dirt road and walk the rest of the way down here. I recommend coming for sunset for the best photos.
- Dinner in Marsalforn – Otters Bistro & Lounge – waterfront restaurant.
Day 4 – Back to Malta Island
Before heading to the airport there were a couple more places we wanted to see. Head to the Gozo Mgarr Ferry Terminal and take the ferry back to Malta. That’s when you will have to pay.
- Popeye’s Village – an actual movie set. It is now a waterpark attraction. 14.50€ during summer (June to September) and 10.50€ during off season (October – May) Parking lot
- San Anton Palace – Official residence of the President (Street parking)
- Mdina – Beautiful fortified city. Parking lot/street parking
- Airport – fair warning, google maps took us to the airport but I found it difficult to get into the airport because of the lack of signs.
My Experience Putting Gas In The Car
I’m not sure if this goes for all gas stations but this particular gas station which is the nearest to the airport was a ripoff. I’m not talking in terms of price but the method that is used when refueling your car.
First you have to see how much gas you have left. In this case, we had 1/4 of a tank left. Then you have to go to a machine which only accepts bills, no coins! That means the lowest bill you can put in there is a 5€ bill. To add to that, if you put in more money than you need then YOU GET NO MONEY BACK, you just have to guess. First we put 20€, turned on the car and it wasn’t quite full. Then we put in another 5€ and it was almost full but not all the way. We then put in another 5€ and said f it. What a total ripoff.
Even though we almost were t-boned while driving and followed google maps through some terrifying roads, I’m happy to make it out alive. And overall I had the best company which made my time in Malta so memorable. I wasn’t too impressed by the city itself but mother nature is so amazing and going to these sites took my breath away. Malta will always have a special place in my heart.