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malta

first impressions: 

i​ won't lie, my first impression wasn't stellar, with the weather (in january) colder than i expected and it doens't have the typical rustic charm you expect from an island getaway. but as i started learning about the country's history, strolling along the coastal paths or in ancient walled cities, malta's charm started growing on me, and towards the end of the trip, i'm convinced i'll be back in summer months to dive after hearing it's home to some of europe's most spectacular wreck dives.

getting around: 

bus system that reaches most of the country, but buses don't run frequently (once an hour in some places). best way to get around is to rent a car (but note: driving is on the left-hand side.) otherwise, apps like bolt, heetch & ecabs are readily available and relatively cheap.  

popular cities (neighborhoods): 

  • valletta: the capital city. central location with a bus terminus and many notable restaurants, so would recommend particularly for those without a car.

  • sliema: resort town with plenty of waterfront shops & restaurants, and is the country's commercial shopping area. popular living area with expats living on the island.

  • st. julian's: town known for beaches and is right next to paceville, the place to be to enjoy malta's nightlife. 

  • mdina: the old capital of malta, and also known as "the silent city". walled city with medieval and baroque architecture.

  • "the three cities" (vittoriosa, senglea and cospicua): more residential among locals, but offers a glimpse into maltese history, with harbour inlets that have been in use since phoenician times.

  • tarxien: archeological hotspot, where you can find the largest temple complex 'tarxien temples' as well as the hypogeum, a neolithic subterranean structure dating back to 3300–3000 bc.

  • gozo: an island off of malta's main island, it's known for hiking paths, ancient ruins and diving sites.

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where & what to eat

traditional maltese cuisine was not what i expected at all - i thought it would be more like the typical mediterranean diet with an abundance of seafood, but turns out it's very meat-heavy. so during my stay, i tried to find a good balance between traditional maltese meals and other cuisines, and honestly, i was exceptionally surprised by the quality of restaurants in malta. 

specialty dishes: 

  • stuffat tal-fenek: the national dish, which is a stew of a rabbit slow-cooked with tomato, garlic and red wine.

  • kapunata: refreshing starter made from fresh tomatoes, capers, eggplants and green peppers.

  • pastizzi: savoury pastry filled with ricotta or mashed peas eaten anytime during the day.

  • Ħobż tal-Malti: maltese local sourdough bread.

  • Ġbejniet: traditional maltese cheese made from goat’s milk, available in many forms and flavours.

  • imqaret: traditional dessert that consists of a thin sweet pastry filled with dates. commonly served w/ maltese ice cream.

tested-and-approved restaurant recommendations (listed from casual to fine dining):

finally, here are a few other restaurants that i didn't get to try since i didn't have enough time, but either look really or were recommended by locals!

traditional maltese restaurants:​

recomended by locals: 

michelin-star / fine dining: 

for more information about malta, check out www.visitmalta.com!