Our tour around the beautiful island of Malta threw up some great surprises … who knew that the Popeye film featuring Robin Williams (1980) was filmed in the north of Malta and they left behind the full Popeye Village film set which is now a tourist attraction! It is set snuggly into the base of high cliffs that run around a very deep bay of glorious turquoise water. The views over it from Anchor’s Bay view point is stunning and you can hear the all singing all dancing performers below who act out scenes and songs around the village – great fun!
And we haven’t even started on all the other amazing spots, views and colourful villages we came across. We based ourselves in Sliema which has a wonderful sweeping bay that looks straight across to beautiful Valletta! No need to drive around the bay either as small ferry boats, taxi boats and private boat transfers run back and forth across the water in a matter of minutes all day and evening long!
Valletta is of course the most well known city on the island and is incredibly beautiful as it is set up high with stunning 360 views along the coastline – especially from the Upper Barrakka Gardens with it’s arches framing the vistas of The Grand Harbour below! With jaw dropping architecture, St John’s Cathedral, cobbled narrow streets and lanes which are busy and buzzing with no end of bars, eateries and interesting shops!
Lots of atmosphere and lots of people unfortunately … so if you can get up early and have a wander before the crowds descend and/or a huge cruise ship rocks up and unloads a 1,000 people then we highly recommend you set your alarm! There is lots to see, churches to visit, views to take in, local foods to try and no end of shopping.
As lovely as Valletta is we really enjoyed getting out and about and visiting the sleeper, quieter, less busy villages Mdina being the most spectacular! In the centre of Malta it is one of the best examples of an ancient walled city in Europe and is an incredible mix of medieval / baroque facades and best known as a location heavily used in Game of Thrones! Say no more – it is a definite a fascinating sight to wander around – literally like going back in time!
Another very colourful place we absolutely loved was Marsaxlokk in the south which is set around a large arc of a harbour filled with traditional multi coloured fishing boats! Every Sunday morning there is a vibrant busy fish market with other stalls of clothing, lace, food too stretching around the harbour which is always fun! A rich fishing heritage here and the lovely small old streets of cottages with brightly painted doors and windows are a delight!
Another place worth a mention was Ghar Lapsi Bay which is tiny! But oh so picturesque, quiet and with the clearest of aquamarine water which gentle lapped back and forth around a smaller little fish restaurant that was full of locals … a delicious pit stop for sure!
An opposite in size and popularity is St Peter’s Pool which even though busy is worth seeing as the rock formation hanging over the crystal clear waters below is gorgeous! There are always people jumping in and swimming in and out of the caves there so a pleasant spot to sit a while and people watch … or for that matter actually join in and have a jump in!
We would describe Malta’s over all feel as calm and civilized as it is so clean, tranquil with grown up places to stroll, eat and hang out! There are of course busy areas if you want more atmosphere but it definitely isn’t a party place as far as we could see and that suited us perfectly!