The Voyage: 48 Hours in MaltaApril 5, 2018
Paradise – that’s how we’d describe the archipelago country of Malta.
From its cerulean, dive-into-me lagoons to its dizzying limestone cliffsides, Malta packs a lot of picture-perfect treasures into its tiny islands. It’s no wonder, then, that the country has been inhabited since 5200 BC by the likes of Phoenicians, Romans, and Brits, to name just a few. It also explains why we chose it as the backdrop of our April photo shoots.
Situated just south of Sicily, its prime locale in the Mediterranean Sea has made it a melting pot of cultures, cuisine, and architecture. Malta is the smallest country in the EU in terms of area, so you can easily spend a weekend getting to know its three islands: Malta, Comino, and Gozo. Fly into Valletta – the nation’sbustling capital – and let our guide below take you from there.
9 AM: Head to Birgu
Directly across from Valletta’s waterfront is the small city of Birgu. There you’ll find the same beautiful architecture as the capital but far fewer tourists, making it a great place to wander and get lost in the scenery. Hail a dgħajsa – a traditional Maltese water taxi – to hop from one city to the other. Once you’re there, grab a morning coffee and a ricotta-filled kannoli pastry alongside the locals at one of the many cafés in Birgu’s main square.
11 AM: A History Lesson
Marvel at the stonework and intricate altars at the Tarxien Temples. Excavated in the early 1900s, the temples — originally used for religious rituals — are interconnected structures that date back to 3150 BC, and claim to be part of the oldest free-standing structures on Earth. Part of Malta’s famed Megalithic Temples, they’re proof of Malta’s thriving ancient culture.
2 PM: Go for a Dip
Head south toward the small fishing town of Marsaxlokk, where colorful fishing boats, called luzzus, line the harbor. Here you can take a dip in St. Peter’s Pool, a natural swimming pool offering inviting water, gorgeous views, and some seriously scenic rock formations. Feeling brave? The cliffs are more than just a pretty backdrop – they double as natural diving boards.
6 PM: Marsaxlokk Market
Marsaxlokk may be a small town, but its outdoor market is anything but. The open-air space was initially intended to sell only fish, but over time it’s expanded to include other locally produced goods, from honey, fruit jams, and vegetables to wine, souvenirs, and clothing.
8 PM: Dinner at Tal-Petut
Back in Birgu, head to Tal-Petut for traditional Maltese favorites like antipasto, ravioli, and rabbit. Hidden in a narrow alleyway, the brick-walled building is around 500 years old, and can be hard to spot if you’re not looking for it. And be sure to book ahead — Tal-Petut is a tiny, intimate spot and seating is limited.
9 AM: Morning at the Beach
Rent a private boat and head to Blue Lagoon, a small, white sand beach with crystal-clear water on the small island of Comino. There, soak up the sun or go for a swim. Comino serves as a nature sanctuary and bird reserve, so the scenery is kept exceptionally pristine. Be sure to pack a picnic, lots of sunscreen, and snorkeling gear.
1 PM: Lunch in Xlendi
Before heading back to the mainland, continue north to the island of Gozo where you’ll find the small, waterfront village of Xlendi. There, grab a table at an outdoor café and order a pastizzi. No trip to Malta would be complete without a sampling of this savory pastry filled with ricotta or peas.
4 PM: Cittadella Stroll
Inhabited since the Bronze Age, Gozo’s citadel is packed with history, having been an acropolis for the Romans, a safehouse for Gozo residents in the 1600s, and now a must-see spot for breathtaking, panoramic views of the island. Take a stroll through the complex for a brief look back in time and panoramic views of the islands.
7 PM: Dinner at Rampila
Take a ferry back to mainland Malta for dinner at Rampila. Located in a historic tunnel (yes, in the tunnel) used by the military in the 1500s, this popular spot serves up tasty Mediterranean dishes like rabbit tortellini and pan-seared red snapper. Be sure to book ahead for a seat on the terrace, which overlooks the city gate of Valletta and serves as the perfect spot to sip on a glass of Maltese wine.
9 PM: Time for Wine
Round out your weekend with a trip to Bridge Bar. Tucked in a cozy, romantic alleyway, this outdoor wine bar is the perfect spot to enjoy a warm night in Valetta. Skip the tables and seat on the candlelit steps, which boast an impressive view of Valletta’s Grand Harbor.
WHAT TO PACK
Malta’s weather is—dare we say—perfect for most of the year. You can expect temps in the high 70s to mid-80s, so make sure you’ve got a few breezy dresseson hand. As always, a one-and-done jumpsuit never hurts when you’re packing a lot of activities into just a few days. Other must haves include comfy, walkable shoes, sunglasses, and of course sunscreen. But whatever you do, don’t forget your swimsuit.