I didn’t know much about Malta apart from what I learned from one or two friends who had been there for their holidays, so when I saw a ‘last minute’ holiday advertised as an ‘half-board bargain get-away,’ I looked at the offer, contacted a friend, and in no time I had booked to visit for a one week low-budget holiday for the two of us as it was advertised for 2 people.
If you want to see early offers of bargain holidays it’s a good idea to subscribe yourself to email lists as it’s a great way to get in first as these offers go very quickly. There are so many ‘cheap’ holiday bargains to be had these days so if you’re not too fussy where you go make a search and see what takes your fancy for your budget range. All inclusive and half-board packages with flight and hotels seem to be a great way of saving money, some of which are available a few months ahead.
Prior to our departure, which was only 2 weeks away, we surfed the internet to see what might take our fancy for the trips but decided we’d wait until we were there to book them. Sometimes you can find cheaper tour agents at your resort that do the same trips so it can be another way of saving money.
We stayed in Hotel Santana in St. Paul’s Bay. It wasn’t that big for a 4 star hotel though it was pleasant and had a rooftop pool with a view of the town and the sea in the distance. In June, July and August the temperature in Malta is averaging around 35-40 degrees by the afternoon so it’s highly important to use a high factor sunscreen lotion, wear a hat and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Where is Malta?
Malta is an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the North African coast. It’s a nation known for historic sites related to a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British. It has numerous fortresses, megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, which is a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C. Simply amazing for it’s history and for photography, if you like this kind of thing !
The British Legacy
Malta was part of the British Empire for over 150 years, so it is hardly surprising that business, laws and education have some British overtones. Today, you’ll find plenty of this special blend of Mediterranean Britishness around in Maltese daily life.
English is a joint official language with Maltese. It is spoken fluently and widely. But English, as other languages such as Italian surprisingly, has made an impact on daily conversation in Maltese (Malti) over the years. The Maltese often switch effortlessly from Malti to English mid sentence. So, even though you can get by easily speaking English the locals are always happy to teach you some basic Maltese greetings.
You can find out all you need to know from the Official Malta website. https://www.visitmalta.com/en/
We didn’t stray too far from the hotel due to my friend feeling lethargic and rather ill from sunstroke after spending so long in the sun on our arrival without using sunscreen, so we took a slow walk around the immediate vicinity browsing in the shops and sitting in cafes.
Like most hotels there’s the option of booking recommended tours from their local representative so we sat in the lounge area and selected our choices. We didn’t have so much money to spend on trips but as we both like visiting Churches, Cathedrals and the like we decided on those which were either free entry or a small fee and a couple of activities which cost more; Popeye’s Village Theme Park experience and a Glass Bottomed Boat Trip. For the Gozo trip we just paid for the boat ride there and back as our entry visit to the church was free.
As our holiday was half-board we ate at our hotel for breakfast and evening meal as it was included in the price. Though sometimes, you may find you don’t like the food that’s on offer at your hotel or maybe you want to try a different cuisine, but that would mean an extra cost.
On Day 3 we visited (commonly known as) The Rotunda of Mosta, a Parish church in Rotunda Square in Mosta, that was completed in 1860 and opened to the public in 1865. It has the forth-largest (37.2 meters) unsupported limestone dome in Europe. Very beautiful inside and the dome was especially spectacular (see photos). It is also known as The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady and known for it’s Neoclassical architecture. We found this to be a wonderful experience and I highly recommend anyone visiting Malta not to miss this out.
There’s also an incredible ‘miracle’ story about something that happened in this church. On Thursday 9th April 1942, 300 of Mosta’s parishioners were gathered together for their daily hour of prayer. At around 16:40 pm a 500lb German bomb came crashing though the dome, fell onto the stone floor and rolled amongst the congregation. Surprisingly, it didn’t explode and no-one was hurt. A bomb disposal unit was quickly allerted who defused the device and disposed of it in the sea off of Malta’s west coast.
The residents of Mosta interpreted this as a miracle and a similar bomb is now displayed in a room at the back of the church under the phrase “Il-Miraklu tal-Bomba, 9 ta’ April 1942″ meaning “The Bomb Miracle, 9 April 1942”.
The Church is open 7 Days a week.
Entrance fee €3
We then took a bus ride to delightful Bugibba where we ate lunch, relaxed for a while with a drink and then took a stroll around the town and beach area before heading back to our hotel close by in St. Paul’s Bay.
Our evening was enjoyed at our hotel with Traditional Maltese Dancing and music while we dined on Traditional Maltese cuisine. This we both enjoyed very much and my friend was able to eat a little of the delicious food there was on offer, though she was still not well enough to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.
Gozo By Boat
On Day 4 we took a trip to Gozo by boat which took around 25 minutes. On arrival we walked around for a while looking at the marvellous structures of the buildings and sampled a few beers whilst making friends with a local dog who also seemed to like beer too! I also found myself locked in the stocks for a while. Haha! (I must have had too much beer, LoL).
Gozo Ferry Boat Information
Schedule – every 45 minutes all year round. …
Departure – Cirkewwa, Malta (return boat leaves from Mgarr, Gozo)
Time – 30 minutes.
Ticket prices – All return, round trips.
Passengers standard fare – €4.65.
Children 3-12 – €1.15.
Children under 3 – free.
Car and driver standard fare – €15.70.
We then visited a church named Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica. The Basilica of Ta’Pinu is one of the most visited places on the Island of Gozo, not only by the Maltese people but also by many tourists. Once inside you will be amazed at such great architecture and see how such devotion is expressed on items like helmets, casts, photos, babygrows hanged on the walls as offerings from promises attended by Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu. I highly recommend this to be one of the things to see in Gozo.
Open 7 days a week. Admission is free;
Visitors mustn’t wear shorts and women should cover their shoulders;
On Day 5 we spent the morning mooching around St. Julians and Valletta in the souvenir shops, then ate lunch in a cafe by the seaside and relaxed for a while. Later we went to St.Pauls Metropolitan Catherdral in St. Paul’s Square, Mdina.
The Metropolitan Cathedral is commonly known as St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and is dedicated to St. Paul the Apostle. It’s magnificent style is of Baroque architecture, designed by Lorenzo Gafa and is flanked by two palaces of the same style of architecture, the Cathedral is easily found to be dominant within the old city of Mdina. The baroque palaces surrounding it are the old seminary, and the episcopal residence, with the former housing the Cathedral Museum.
The Cathedral is the metaphoric mother of all Maltese churches, and it is also the seat of the Maltese archbishop. The Maltese archbishop, who is in charge of the whole diocese, uses the Cathedral as his base from which he teaches the Catholic religion, govern over the said diocese, as well as unite all its constituents. In 1944, the bishop of Malta was given the title of Metropolitan Archbishop and Head of the Ecclesiastical Province of Malta and Gozo, thus in effect giving the cathedral the title ‘metropolitan’. This cathedral I can highly recommend to visit during your time in Malta. There is a fee for entry though it’s well worth the visit.
Open 7 days a week.
ADULT TICKETS: €5.00
STUDENTS’ TICKET: € 3.50
CHILDREN UNDER 12 YEARS OF AGE: FREE
LICENCED GROUP TICKETS: €3.50 (Tourists’ guide free)
The ticket is transferable and has no validation date.
Accessible by the disabled.
Day 6 . We left visiting Popeye Village till last due to there being more walking to do here as my friend thought she would feel much better by then. After a hearty breakfast (well, for me anyway, lol) at our hotel we took a taxi to Anchor Bay for our day out at the Popeye Village Theme Park, which was formerly the Film Set for the 1980’s Musical Production ‘Popeye.’
It’s actually become one of the major tourist attractions on the Maltese Islands filled with a number of colorful fun activities for all, and I remember buying a bottle of wine from one of their souvenir shops. They’re open all year round, so you can be sure of getting to see this wonderful attraction while you’re in Malta and I can certainly recommend it! It felt wierd walking around what used to be a Film Set amongst the ‘Characters’ and interacting with them was fun. We thouroughly enjoyed our time there though, due to the being out in the heat most of the day, we were exhausted by the time we left.
Here’s a tip…Popeye Village celebrates yearly activities with a bang as it is highly decorated and themed according to the season. Meet Rickey the rabbit during Easter, be spooked during Halloween and amuse yourself during carnival.
Availability: 01/06/2018 to 30/06/2018 and 03/09/2018 to 27/10/2018 (check the website for 2019 activities and prices @ https://popeyemalta.com
The Summer Package includes the following:
Entrance to Popeye’s Film Set
Use of Water Games, Trampolines and Slides
Use of Splash Pool, Play Pool, Use of Sun Beds, Sun Umbrellas and showers
A variety of Animation Shows
Access to Popeye’s Comic Museum
15 minutes Boat trip around Anchor Bay (Weather permitting)
Entrance to the Cinema (for a 15 minute Documentary of the Film Set)
Silver Smith Demonstrations
Use of Nine-Hole Mini-Golf course
Free Glass of Wine & Free Postcard
Price : Adults : € 15.00 / Children (3-12yrs) : €12.00 / Pensioners : €12.00
This place is definitely well worth a visit no matter what age you are in my opinion!
Day 7. For the morning we went to Mdena Glass and watched the glass blowing demonstration. I’d seen a few before so it wasn’t anything different but the assortment of brightly coloured glass ornaments and glasses was fabulous to see and it’s such an amazing craft. If you like this kind of souvenir then this is the place to come and there are tours you can book to bring you or take a taxi.
In the afternoon after lunch, we took a short boat trip in a glass bottomed boat. The water was clear but we weren’t able to see many fish. There was around 15 of us in the boat.
I enjoyed the Mediterranean food in Malta, though there wasn’t an awful lot of different choices in our hotel. We only had one week in Malta and never realised how much there is to see and do on the Island and in Gozo too. We barely touched the surface! Though to be fair, we were just looking for a ‘budget break’ as we didn’t have much money to spend, but there are many things you can do for free or for a very small cost. Therefore, I enjoyed it to some extent but would have enjoyed it more had my friend not overdone the sunbathing on the first day and been ill for the first few days. So, I think if I were to go back to see more I would definitely travel solo as sometimes the other person can hold you back from your plans.
Things to see and do in Malta & Gozo:
15 Foods From Malta You’ve Never Heard Of
Stuffat tal-fenek. A traditional rabbit stew, stuffat tal-fenek is considered the national dish of Malta. …
Ħobż tal-Malti. …
Qagħaq tal-għasel. …
Zalzett Tal Malti….(delicious sausages)
Find out all you need to know and book your holiday to Malta here…..