I must admit, I didn’t do a lot of research for Malta and had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that Malta was a small island south of Sicily, but it turned out Nicky and I could fly direct from Sardinia so we figured “what the hell!” and couldn’t be happier we did!
Arrival Day – Iniala Harbor House and Sliema
We landed in Malta well before check-in so Nicky thought it would be fun to take me to the shopping district in Sliema, a short ferry across from where were staying in Valletta. You won’t find the kind of mid- to high-end retailers like you would in larger European cities, but it did sport one of the prettiest ZARAs I’ve been to.
We went back to Valletta for lunch, and this is where three things became immediately apparent: Malta is extremely affordable, everyone speaks English (it’s one of their national languages), and the food is nothing short of incredible. We went to Palazzo Preca for lunch and were blown away by the flavor of Maltese dishes and genuine friendliness of the staff.
If you’re looking for a prime location to stay, Valletta is the place to be. Our hotel, Iniala Harbour House, was especially great because it was situated on the city ramparts overlooking the harbor while being a 5-minute walk from the main restaurant strip. I suggest booking the hideaway pool suite – it’s the only two-story room and has a jacuzzi on the balcony!
Dinner at Guze
Guze is a small restaurant in Valletta with a rustic vintage appeal much like the surrounding city. Whether you eat here or elsewhere, make sure you walk around at night to soak in the beauty of the city. Expect to come across live music too, the Maltese love to sing!
Day 2 – Private Boat Charter
Because the prettiest waters in Malta are located on the northeastern island of Gozo, a completely untouched region, we opted for a full day private charter on the sailboat Mowgli to help us explore it. There are two places you absolutely need to visit: blue lagoon and crystal lagoon. They’re very close to each other and offer picture perfect waters, coves, and cliffs.
The Mowgli came equipped with snorkeling gear and a paddle board, so Nicky and I had a blast with me on the board and him in the water. I regret not bringing my phone to take pictures of some of the caves because attempting to describe it will not do it justice. Just know you can be anchored for hours and not get bored exploring along the coastline. On the way back, the captain let us steer the boat (it’s not as easy as it looks)!
Dinner at Ion
If you stay at Iniala, make sure you eat at their rooftop restaurant Ion. It’s a 14 course Michelin star restaurant emphasizing the best of Maltese cuisine. The restaurant overlooks the harbor which, at sunset, provides a wonderful glow while you enjoy your dining experience.
Day 3 – Walking Tour of The Three Cities and Valletta
One of the most affordable and interesting things you can do in Malta is take a walking tour of the historical Three Cities and Valletta. It won’t take much sight seeing to see why scenes from Gladiator and Game of Thrones were filmed here. The whole city is sprawling with centuries old fortifications and churches. The gondola ride across the harbor offers a cool photo op, especially if you grab some gelato from the scoop shop beforehand!
Lunch at Taste
Nicky and I went to a place called Taste for a streetside lunch and discovered one of my favorite places for a photo. Though we didn’t get the chance, Taste is even prettier in the evening since they have a bunch of romantic lights strung atop the alley.
Dinner at Under Grain
Our last meal of the trip was at Under Grain. This was another Michelin star restaurant but unlike some other restaurants under the Michelin banner, Under Grain offers a 2 and 3 course dining experience for those looking for a less involved but equally tasty experience.
My take on Michelin restaurants is that unless you haven’t eaten anything all day, you may want to skip the wine pairing or risk being too full! Lately I like to get an aperitif followed by a glass of wine to sip on throughout the dinner.
Departure Day and Final Thoughts
Overall, Nicky and I were completely blown away by Malta. You can spend a full 3-day trip in Valletta alone and not get bored. Stay tuned for our next stop: Cyprus!