I was born and raised in Malta. At the age of 27, I moved to Edinburgh. There are some things about Malta that I really miss – though there are a few other things I don’t miss at all – and I guess writing blog posts about my country is one way of dealing with homesickness.
While I was still living in Malta, I often came across tourists who were surprised by many things about the island. I also met several people who complained about the same things: it’s too noisy, too dirty and too hot.
To help you prepare yourself for both the good things and the less pleasant things about Malta, I decided to put together a list of my top insider tips, including advice you wouldn’t normally find in mainstream guidebooks.
Visit the island between October and May
Located bang in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta is a much sought-after sun and sea destination. But there’s more to the island than its gorgeous beaches and long hot summers. In fact, if you really want to make the most of your stay in Malta, avoid visiting the island in summer.
The best time to visit Malta is from October to May (or early June), when the streets aren’t chockablock with noisy crowds and traffic, and the temperatures are mild. This means you can spend long hours strolling through the streets of old towns without having to seek refuge from the heat and crowds every few minutes. If you’re a beach lover, you can still go for a dip in the sea on a beautiful day in autumn or spring (we get plenty of them) – you might even have the whole beach to yourself!
Stay in a traditional Maltese village
For a truly authentic travel experience in Malta, I highly recommend ditching the pricey and tacky hotels in Sliema, St. Julian’s and St. Paul’s Bay for a cosy guesthouse in a non-touristy village. For instance, Lemon Tree Bed & Breakfast in the sleepy town of Zabbar offers a truly immersive experience in the south of Malta. Stay in a traditional townhouse where each room has been uniquely designed by the owners and food is freshly prepared with locally-sourced produce.
Meanwhile, Casa Azzopardi Guesthouse in Rabat, close to the historic city of Mdina, is a great base for anyone who wants to stay in a gorgeous Maltese townhouse and get a glimpse of local life and culture in Maltese villages.
Spend two full days in Gozo
Gozo may be a third of the size of Malta, but you’ll be surprised to learn that there’s plenty to see and do on the island. Tourists often make the mistake of thinking that they can see all of Gozo in one day. Whilst one day is all you need to see the main sites, I highly recommend spending 2 days exploring Gozo at your own pace.Get off the beaten path – walk along the Gozo’s rugged coastline, go for a swim at a secluded beach and explore the island’s picturesque hamlets.
Pack waterproof clothes
Contrary to popular belief – or to what guidebooks tell you – it does actually rain in Malta. And when it does, it’s biblical. Rain in summer is highly unlikely, but we do get some apocalyptic storms in autumn and winter (normally they only last a day or two).
Another thing – the weather in Malta tends to be unpredictable in winter, so one minute you’re soaking up some sun on the beach and the next you’re dashing for the nearest shelter.