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One week in Malta

One week in Malta

An island full of surprises, what amazed me the most about Malta was the sense of history throughout. I couldn’t get my head around how ancient some of the places were. The landscape is very arid, towns full of stone buildings, beautiful Churches and cacti everywhere.


Where we stayed - Mellieħa


We stayed in Mellieħa, a town on the north of the island, about a 40-45 minute drive from the airport.

We chose Mellieħa mainly as we wanted a lazy type of holiday. Ghadira / Mellieħa Bay is the longest sandy beach in Malta with pretty shallow waters too. There are all sorts of water sports activities you can do too.

Sunset over Mellieha Bay

The sea at Mellieha Bay during the day

Mellieħa Bay

Our hotel was in Mellieħa itself, about a 20-minute walk from the bay. It’s a pretty steep walk along some windy roads, but buses run regularly.

Our visit coincided with the town’s festa. Usual celebrations were adapted for Covid-19, but we were so lucky to see and hear fireworks and Church bells ringing. The fireworks, set to be seen from around Mellieħa, would go off at different times of the day, echoing across the valley. Sometimes at midday, then an early evening display around 6-6.30pm, and another around 9.30pm, for at least 3 days.

Mellieha Parish Church lit up for festa with fireworks

Mellieha Parish Church lit up for festa

White and pink fireworks at night in Mellieha, Malta

Fireworks at night

Sunset fireworks in Mellieha

Sunset fireworks in Mellieha

The Sanctuary of Our Lady, Mellieha

The Sanctuary

In Mellieħa there is Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa, which sits slightly apart from the main parish church (Church of the Nativity of Our Lady). The Sanctuary is a small, beautiful church, with a fresco that's said to date back to the 13th Century. Across the road is a Grotto, accessed through a little gate in the side of the road, down a series of steps into a small cave. It's an incredible sight to see the candles and offerings, the smell of incense and a sense of peace.

Day trips


The journey from Mellieħa to Valletta takes about 30-40 minutes in a car.

We started by the City Gate, designed by Renzo Piano and saw his Parliament building from the outside. I really liked the architecture - it felt modern and sympathetic at the same time.

City Gate Valletta, photo by South Island Art

City Gate Valletta

Parliament-Building-Valletta-Malta-by-Renzo-Piano. Photo by South Island Art

Parliament Building by Renzo-Piano

Triton Fountain Valletta Malta at night. Photo by Ralph Mallett

Triton Fountain

Don’t miss St John's Co Cathedral. From the outside, it's minimalist but the inside has to be one of the most ornate Cathedrals I've ever seen. It's quite overwhelming and you don't know where to look - every surface has a story to tell from the painted ceilings to the floor. The art is breathtaking. The Cathedral is famous for its paintings by Caravaggio - including the Beheading of St John the Baptist.

Exterior of St Johns Co Cathedral, Malta. Photo by South Island Art

Exterior of St Johns Co Cathedral in Valletta Malta

Interior of St Johns Cathedral, Malta

Interior of St Johns Co Cathedral in Valletta, Malta

Valletta is full of these grid-like hilly streets that go up and down off each other. You could spend forever discovering them and the cafes, bars and restaurants that fill them. We spotted a gorgeous independent art and design shop, il-lokal (15 Old Theatre Street, Valletta), to my delight, with every product by a Maltese designer-maker. The business started on Instagram at the start of the pandemic more or less and is filled with treasures.

Steep side streets in Valletta, Malta. Photo by South Island Art

Upper Barrakka Gardens has utterly amazing views. There's an info board about how Malta and Valletta have featured in all these films, and show you the locations you can spot from the gardens. A lovely spot to sit and catch your breath.


A lovely walk around the city takes in Castille Place, Palazzo Parisio, the city squares and the outside of the Grandmaster's Palace (indoors was closed to the public at the time of our visit) amongst others. The architecture is so interesting, especially the mix of buildings, some of which are so distressed. I was fascinated by the textures and colours.


Ta Pinu Church, Gozo

Ta Pinu, Gozo, Malta

View over Gozo with stormy skies

We opted for an organised tour to make life easier, but in hindsight, I would recommend trying to find your own way if you can or researching your options thoroughly.

Whilst you have the ease of being picked up and dropped back at your hotel, being driven around Gozo and the boat rides included, the organised tour is quite frantic. Our boat (a catamaran) was late leaving, making us late arriving in Gozo and so shortening the tour we’d booked. There’s so much to the island - we found it a real rush, only able to spend about 40 minutes in the capital and a short stop at Ta' Pinu, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin, which has a painting in it that is said to have healing powers. It’s a beautiful island and needs time to explore!

Comino and the Blue Lagoon

Comino-Blue-Lagoon by South Island Art

As expected, there were so many tourists at the Blue Lagoon, it was heaving. The colour of the sea is amazing though, despite the crowds. The water is quite warm and really clear - you can see little fish in the shallow end, but be aware it gets deep quite quickly.

Food & drink

Places we loved in Mellieħa

Commando Misraħ Iz-Żjara tal-Papa Mellieha. A really lovely restaurant with a chilled vibe. We had a smoked salmon starter with wafer-thin crackers and ciabatta with olive oil. For mains, we both opted for steak, bavette with parmesan, chips, rocket and cherry tomatoes.

The Hilltop Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, Il-Mellieħa. This place turned out to be my favourite meal in Malta. From sharing a Maltese platter to our mains, every mouthful was amazing. Think black bean pate, peppered cheese and Maltese sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic bread and crackers. Seriously tasty main meals included a rich and delicious rabbit ravioli and marinara pasta.

Blu Beach Club Marfa Road, Il-Mellieħa. We went for an afternoon coffee and dessert and loved it. An incredibly picturesque setting overlooking Ghadira bay.


Villager by Munchies Triq Gorg Borg Olivier, Il-Mellieħa. My second favourite place, we stopped by for lunch. Lovely staff and the food is delish - I have a chicken fajita and Ralph has a wholemeal sandwich with smoked salmon. Pretty big and filling portions!


Coffee: Lot61 30 Old Theatre Street, Valletta. The coffee is delicious and they had milk alternatives - including lactose-free. Being lactose-intolerant, I was pleasantly surprised. They also had a vegan coconut cake.

Drinks: 67 Kapitali  67 Old Bakery Street, Valletta. It's a really great craft beer bar. The vibe and interior decor are really cool plus the service is super friendly.

Interior of 67 Kapitali, Valletta, Malta. Photo by South Island Art

Dinner: Margos 63 Republic Street, Valletta. Oh my, their pizzas are out of this world. I had the Maltese which included their own fresh Maltese sausage, leeks, onions, and their own smoked prosciutto. Mr R opted for the Affumicata - with chilli flakes, onions, their own smoked prosciutto cotto and Amalfi Sausage. Highly, highly, recommended!

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