My Top 3 Favorite Destinations in Malta and Gozo

The more I travel, the more I realize there are so many countries out there that I haven't heard of and know little to nothing about. One of the more recent ones I learned about and traveled to Malta.

The Maltese archipelago lies in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, and as a country, it consists of three main islands — Malta, Gozo, and Comino. I was fortunate to spend time on 2 out of 3 islands, for one week in Malta and one week in Gozo.

To say I was blown away would be an understatement. The architecture is incredible. The people are SO nice. The history dates back a very long time, and I learned that basically whoever controlled the Maltese Islands dominated during wartime dating back thousands of years, so there was a lot of conflict and takeovers on these islands. The weather was a little too hot for my liking but I did go there in July, so hot weather was to be expected (poor planning on my part).

Between the two weeks, I visited 11 different locations across both islands.

Here are my top 3 favorite destinations in Malta and Gozo

1. Valletta, Malta

The current capital of Malta is Valletta, and let me tell you this was a truly magical place to go to. Right away, you feel and see an immense amount of history and can imagine what it would have been like to live here in the olden days.

I visited Malta during a special month, July, which is the month of "traditional festa." During the month, there are 28 different celebrations all around the island held on Sundays with food, fireworks, music, local traditions, and all-around family fun. The very first night I arrived was a Sunday, and I was in for an unexpected treat. The entire city of Valletta was decorated for the celebrations, so it added to the charm of this old but beautiful city.

No matter which direction you walk, you find some sort of beautiful view, neat architecture, or delicious food. I fell for the tourist trap and rode the train around the city, where they also give you a little history lesson. It was totally worth the few euros just to get to ride around to see some of the main sights, especially since it was incredibly hot outside. I did this on my very last trip into Valletta and it took me to a section I hadn't explored, so I'm very glad I rode the tourist train.

For exploring the city, I found I preferred to venture away from the central roads and more to the smaller, less traveled roads. Going to main sights like St. Paul's Cathedral, Archbishop's Palace, Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens, and St. George's Square was a must, but I felt I enjoyed spending more time off the beaten path and in areas where less touristy spots were — though I did enjoy those spots too.

Fair warning, there are a lot, and I mean a lot, of tourists in Malta. I think I'm not the only one who realized this country exists and decided to check it out.

But if you're traveling to Malta, there's no way you can skip going to Valletta. You could spend your whole trip there and be perfectly content, or you could spend a day or two there and go somewhere else for a totally different Maltese experience. Either way, this city has so much to offer, and it's a must-do for your first (or next) Malta trip.

2. Mdina, Malta

Up on the hillside in the middle of the island of Malta is Mdina, which was the old capital of Malta. Surrounded by fortified walls, this old city is nothing short of stunning. Walking around this city will leave you feeling like you're transported back into Medieval times, except for the fact that there's tons of people walking around with phones and cameras (they didn't have those back then haha).

To get into this city, you have to walk through the Mdina Gate, which is famously known from season one of Game of Thrones. I gawked over how beautiful this gate was. At some point during the day, I managed to get a photo here without people behind me. A lot of season one filming of King's Landing was in Mdina, including other scenes which took place in Mesquita Square and on the narrow streets throughout the city. In addition, many other cities in Malta were season one Game of Thrones filming locations.

Just as you walk through the gate, you will see many horse and buggies carrying around tourists. Any direction you walk will lead you to something incredible, so make sure you take a lot of turns and walk down some of the smaller streets. That's honestly where you'll find the prettiest spots including the famous Instagrammable flower arch.

There are several restaurants within but along the perimeter of the walls, and I managed to snag the best rooftop spot looking out towards the coast.

As I walked around the outside of the walls of Mdina, I noticed not many people were walking around the gardens at the very bottom. I managed to find my way down there where I found my favorite viewpoint, and I had the place to myself! At this viewpoint, you had a direct line of sight to St. Paul's Cathedral (not the same one in Valletta; Mdina has its own).

Mdina was such a cool place to go to. If you're looking for lots of history and unique charm, make sure to add Mdina to your Malta bucket list.

3. Xlendi, Gozo

While I didn't have AC in my Airbnb in Xlendi, this location still ranks incredibly high on my list. I booked a place that had an ocean view with an incredible line of sight for the sunset. Plus in the same direction is the most magnificent cliffside, and I literally could sit outside on my balcony and work with this incredible view (which I did).

The town of Xlendi is part of a bay, and both sides are surrounded by cliffs. You can venture up the stairs on one side for a view of the town, or you can venture across the water to the other cliffside where you can follow paths to another spectacular view.

When I visited Xlendi Tower located on one of the cliffs, I spoke to an older lady who is a longtime local. She told me all about the history of the town — how it used to be a small fishing village but in the last 40 years has become more of a tourist destination. The entire waterfront used to be fish markets with the catch of the day. Now it's hotels and restaurants. It's by no means overrun with tourism like you find in many European destinations, but it does make me sad that their small town no longer feels like home.

This destination gave me a peaceful oasis and some of the most beautiful blue water I've ever seen. If my Airbnb had AC, this probably would have taken the #1 spot. I would easily spend a lot more time here if I could.

 

If I ever make it back to the Maltese Islands, I would be thrilled to stay in any of these three destinations. 

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