Getting to Malta
Well, it’s an island so that limits your travel options. Unless you want to swim for a week off the south end of Italy then you either have to fly or take a boat to get here.
If you want to take a boat the only good options are from Sicily, and depending on which port you depart from will take you anywhere between one and five hours using directferries.com and will cost 65-75 euros for a one-way ticket. While that is an option and ferry rides can kill some needed rest time, you have to be in Sicily in the first place to even use this option.
The best way to get to and from Malta is by air. All national airlines travel to and from there freely, as the capital of Valletta has an international airport like most other western European countries. The airport is also the first and best place to find information on the island about where to go and what activities are available. At the time I lived near Frankfurt and used Frankfurt am Main as my main travel hub. From here a round trip to Malta can be as little as $300 (about 276 euros) through Travelocity.com or any other major travel website.
Besides the initial cost to get to and from Malta the average prices I experienced while visiting were very reasonable.
After arriving in the capital city of Valletta I was directed to take a marked taxi from the airport to my hotel in St. Julian’s. There is a specific area for reputable taxis to wait for new arrivals and cost 20-25 euro to get you to your hotel, depending on which part of the island you’re staying. These taxi drivers all speak English and are much more dependable than waiving down your own taxi and gambling on the price.
Taxi fares around the island aren’t too bad. One night a friend and I ended up on a mini-adventure with a taxi driver we met outside a bar. We drove around the parts of the island I couldn’t point to on a map and ended up spending about 45 euros for the trip. Shorter cab rides are sure to cost about 10 euros is just going out for dinner or drinks, but we were young and stupid.
Lodging options are great in Malta. You can stay in four and five-star hotels for a few hundred dollars a night. You can stay in a hostel for 15 – 30 dollars a night. And with Airbnb.com gaining popularity in recent years you can stay in an apartment near the water for anywhere between 16 and 250 dollars a night. The choices for lodging are so numerous that it’s literally up to the travel how much you want to spend and what kind of experience you want to have.
Choices for food are just as plentiful as they are for accommodations. They can range from bagel sandwiches from a small street-side shop to help cure a hangover to lavish Japanese steaks and sushi in a nearby yacht club. By the way, if you want a delicious Japanese meal with immaculate service wear a suit to Zen Japanese Sushi Bar & Teppanyaki sitting on the Portomaso Marina where a lavish meal with a couple bottles of Saki will cost 60-80 euros. In this place suits equal money, even if you don’t really have it. Still, tip accordingly.
In recent years the exchange rate of the Euro has dropped considerable compared to the US dollar. At the moment the Euro costs about $1.07 US, down from nearly $1.45 not many years ago. Although getting to Malta still may be about the same price the already reasonably cheap destination has become that much more affordable and enjoyable to outsiders.
Again, the options for accommodations are many. There are four and five-star resorts, there are smaller hotels that are for the economical, there are hostels for the young and social and there are apartments for the type looking for more privacy and seclusion.
Major travel sites like Travelocity or Expedia will have about the same options. You can find the luxurious hotels right along the water, or you can find the more budget-friendly hotels a street or two off the waterfront. I decided to book a room at the Radisson Blu in St. Julian’s. Since the spring is still the off-season for the island I got a decent price and was thrilled to wake up each morning (or early afternoon) to the waves gently landing on rocks along the coast. The breakfast buffet that spread traditional western fare was also a nice touch.
Had I been looking at saving a few bucks I would have investigated my hostel options on the island. I’ve been in plenty of hostels around Europe but this trip was my last holiday around Europe so I decided to spend the extra money on something more comfortable. Still, hostels are a great option for travelers of all types. Hostels.com is my normal go-to when looking at rooms to stay and there are certainly plenty of choices for Malta. The hostels around Malta are a mix of party hostels and multi-bedroom apartments that have been converted into hostels by their owners. I’ve stayed in both types and each offer their own unique experience.
Since coming onto the scene a few years ago Airbnb.com has done an amazing job opening up vacation destinations to both budget travelers who are looking to rent a single room to families who want to spend a thousand dollars a day renting an entire four-bedroom house. Malta again is the perfect example for both ends of the spectrum where an individual can rent an entire apartment for as little as $16 a night or as much as a few hundred dollars a night. Although I have not tried this out in Malta I think it’s definitely something I would try out if I had the chance to visit again.
Where to Eat
Again, the choices for food and drinks are so abundant that whatever you’re in the mood for you can most likely find it. There are small breakfast bistros, quick take-out joints, seaside restaurants of all tastes, Indian restaurants, Japanese restaurants, smoothie stands, bars with upscale plates and small markets to take fresh fruit back to your hotel room. Emperor of India Restaurant was the first time I ever tried Indian food and is probably the reason I love it so much now. The chicken tikka masala and naan bread was so incredibly delicious that we went back a second night for dinner again.
Since this destination is on an island with an very lively atmosphere you can expect to find a fair amount of alcohol. And I can’t say this often enough – drinks are cheap on Malta! As a drink special one bar advertised pitchers (yes, PITCHERS!) of vodka and mixer for 10 euros! About halfway through my pitcher I went back to the bartender and asked how many shots was in it the oversized screwdriver on my hand (vodka and orange juice). She said “seven or eight. Why, is it not strong enough?” I said no that was plenty, and thought about ordering a second before heading out to another bar.
Go Scuba Diving Off the Coasts and through the Caves