Malta: Gold & Blue Delight
If Greece is famous for the blue and white combination, Malta's beauty lays in the mesmerizing contrast between the golden buildings and the blue water. We went in mid-September to avoid the tourist season and stayed in a more secluded area in the north of the island called Mellieha. Ghadira beach is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches, and it is less crowded because it is a one-hour bus ride from the capital Valletta, where the majority of tourists stay. Malta has a lot to offer: pristine beaches (rocky and sandy), and archaeological sites. It depends on the type of vacation you are looking for. If you rent a car, you can find your heavenly corner away from the crowds and take your time to visit the ancient ruins. If you choose public transportation, buses are a great option to explore the island, but you need plenty of time to move around as they often arrive late and it can take a long time to reach your destination. The cost of a ride is around $2.
Regarding excursions, we chose a day trip to the Blue Lagoon, a secluded paradisiac beach located between Malta and the island of Gozo. We paid $20 (low season price) to spend four hours at the lagoon (Supreme Travel package). The bus came to pick us up in Mellieha and took us to the harbor in Bugibba. The ferry made a brief stop to drop passengers who paid for a quick tour of Gozo and later dropped us at the Blue Lagoon. As I like being honest when I write about destinations, I have to say that the Blue Lagoon is VERY touristy, to the point that I consider NOT sustainable (having traveled extensively I feel I can say that). The place is incredibly beautiful, but the tourist hunger transformed it into a commercial hub with umbrellas cramped in a tiny sandy beach surrounded by rocks. All around the beach there are food trucks and people are spread in all directions, tons of cigarette butts are carelessly scattered around. Luckily, there is enough space to swim, and the water is clean. I think that it's worth seeing the Blue Lagoon, but I would recommend a trip that includes just a quick swim there and a tour of Gozo, four hours at the lagoon is too much time.
We didn't go to see the archeological sites because we stayed just four days in Malta, but the temples are a must-see if you have more time to enjoy the island. From Mellieha, we took a bus to explore Valletta, and we loved the tour. Valletta is interesting because it is a witness of many international events, thanks to its strategic position, especially during World War II. The Barrakka Gardens offer a wonderful view of the old capital, and they are surrounded by charming cafes and restaurants, perfect to grab a bite or to sip a coffee looking around.
WHERE TO STAY:
Airbnb in Mellieha with balcony looking at the sea: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/16234955
WHAT/WHERE TO EAT:
Most of the times, we had dinner in Mellieha where we found great local and small international restaurants. Our favorite is called Ix-Xatba, we went twice, had seafood spaghetti, grilled squid, and octopus. Everything was delicious, and the atmosphere was delightful. Zeffirino and Beagle's are on the same street of Ix-Xatba, the first has a big menu that includes local dishes, meat, fish, pasta, and pizza. The second is an Indian restaurant. We enjoyed both.