Insight /

Malta

Just Back From Malta

One of the smallest Mediterranean countries in Europe, the island of Malta packs a punch with its heritage sights, culinary expertise and year-round sunshine, making it ideal for a long weekend break.

Why choose Malta for a long weekend?

Our Marketing Manager, Katie recently explored Malta over a long weekend and found it to be a fascinating mix of ancient history and medieval architecture but refreshingly modern with plenty of spots to enjoy exceptional cuisine and local, delicious wine.

And with over 300 days of sunshine a year paired with 7,000 years of history, you won’t be short on sights to explore.

The lowdown

  • Getting There:

    Malta is well connected from the UK with several daily direct flights with Air Malta from London Heathrow and Gatwick. There are also departures from Manchester and other regional airports. The flight time is approximately three and a half hours.

  • When To Go:

    Spring in Malta is lovely with warm temperatures and fewer crowds, summer sees crowds and very high temperatures of up to 40 degrees; October/November is a quieter time with plenty of sunshine and warm seas.

  • Who For:

    We’d recommend this long weekend for couples or families with older children who have an interest in history and good food.

History & Culture

From prehistoric sights to influence from the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John, Malta and in particular its capital city Valletta is a melting pot of history. Seen through its cathedrals, churches, temples, harbour and old town, each have their place in history and story to tell. Across the Maltese islands there are 359 churches highlighting the skyline, a feat of extraordinary dedication.

Exploring with our local Maltese guide was essential to weave the past together. The megalithic Temples of Malta were an impressive look at structures that are older than Stonehenge and the chunky ruins give a glimpse into life 6,000 years ago. By contrast, St John’s Cathedral in Valetta, built in the 16th century was a gleaming, honey-coloured building adorned with gold inside and ornately decorated in High Baroque style; look out for the Caravaggio painting.

The former capital of Malta, lost-in-time Mdina is a small hilltop city found behind high fortified walls nearly 4,000 years old, found in the 8th century BC by Phoenician Settlers and later built on in during medieval times when it was dubbed the Noble City.

Katie Oxley-Brown

Katie Oxley-Brown

Marketing Manager

Visiting Malta was like unearthing an amazing gem of a destination – the history and architecture, the cosmopolitan vibe, the outstanding cuisine – with seemingly endless things to do, I would highly recommend for those wanting something a little different or just a relaxing break in the sunshine.

What to Do

Aside from immersing yourself in Valletta with its juxtaposition of contemporary and heritage charm, exploring St John’s cathedral and the former capital of Mdina, there are a few must-do activities.

One of which is the gun salute at the edge of the Grand Harbour in Valletta, perhaps the oldest saluting battery still in operation in the world, protecting the island’s capital from attack for half a millennia and today gives spectacular views across the Grand Harbour of Fort St Angelo.

The Blue Grotto is an astonishing natural phenomena, a collection of sea caves that are carved around the aquamarine Mediterranean Sea, which glints even more magically when the sun reflects off the seabed.

Another special way to experience Malta is on a boat trip, which will take in the Blue Grotto, snorkelling and other sights; we can also arrange for you to have dinner on a yacht. Viewing the delights of Valletta from the sea as the sun sets it aflame is quite the sight.

With more than a long weekend here, you could also visit Gozo, Malta’s adjoining island which is excellent for scuba diving.

For those that need some beach action, there are plenty of rock-sculpted coves to be found on the island or alternatively for the active – walking across the island or cycling is easily organised.

Food & Wine

Savouring local food and wine on holiday is one of life’s pleasures and here in Malta you won’t be disappointed. There’s a strong tradition of typical Maltese food but like its diverse history you’ll find influence of Sicily and the Middle East.
Aside from this, Malta is also renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurants – there are five currently listed on the island and 31 Michelin-mentioned restaurants.

Our first evening we dined at a typical Maltese restaurant in Valletta; its diminutive size belied the exquisite dishes of food that came out from its tasting menu, plate after plate from the kitchen based on local ingredients available in the market that day. From octopus in garlic, mussels, rabbit stew ‘Stuffat tal-Fenek’ to olive tapenade and cheese platters matched with local wine, it was a gastronomic delight.

We also had the privilege of eating lunch with a famous Maltese chef and resident, Pippa Mattei who treated us to an exclusive culinary experience set in the courtyard garden of her home. She also offers cookery classes on a bespoke basis to learn all about Maltese cuisine.

A mention must go to Maltese wine – which was surprisingly excellent – everywhere we dined on the island the wine was delectable. A highlight of my trip was wine tasting at Ta’Betta Wine Estate where you can tour the estate and cellar then try some robust reds and complex whites on the sunny terrace, paired with local meat and cheese platters.

Where to Stay

"Talk to us about arranging your long weekend in Malta to soak up sunshine alongside a deep dive into its fascinating history and cuisine."

There are lots of options for stylish stays in Valetta from the smart townhouse, the boutique bolthole to the historic hotel.

For this trip, my accommodation was AX Rosselli, which has a lovely location in central Valletta with a beautiful setting for breakfast in their café on the ancient, cobbled street. The rooftop bar and lounge has fantastic views over Valletta, and Rosselli is also renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurant Under Grain, achieved in 2020.

We would also recommend Iniala, four immaculately renovated Maltese townhouses that are decorated in an ornate Baroque style. The hotel also has a rooftop Michelin-star restaurant ION – The Harbour, a spa in the vaults and rooms with terraces overlooking the Grand Harbour.