Malta with kids
In February half-term, I took my family of five to Malta. It was a 3 hour flight and we flew with Air Malta. I didn’t know a lot about Malta except that it’s an island in the Mediterranean and if you’re after winter sun it is one of the warmest destinations in Europe.
With all the Brexit hoohaa I thought it would be a good time to visit the EU before Europeans start hating us Brits more than they already do. In terms of climate it was supposed to be about 16 degrees celsius most days but because Malta is a small island, and we were very near to the coast, it was freezing! It felt like 5 degrees on some afternoons, so breezy it was unbelievable. But the weather is stunning from March until November. In fact I’ve heard July & August are uncomfortably hot.
As with a lot of the Med, going to Malta with kids is pretty easy as it’s a pretty child-friendly country. My kids had a fab time and learnt a great deal too.
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We stayed in the Soreda Hotel which I wouldn’t really recommend unless you’re over 70, in which case you may like it. The less said about the hotel the better, but it did have an indoor pool, an all-inclusive dining option as well as a games room. The staff were also pleasant, but it was a bit tired and in a residential side street. Once out of that street there’s lots to do around Bugibba and Saint Paul’s Bay.
Where to stay in Malta
We stayed in Qawra, near Saint Paul’s Bay which is where Paul, disciple of Hasrat Isa (Jesus Christ) is said to have ended up. Following that there is a lot about Saint Paul in Malta, so may cathedrals and churches are based around that. Historically Malta has been ruled by the Romans, Crusades and the Ottomans which has given it a rich and varied culture. The language Maltese is like a mix of Italian and Arabic, and the people also look like a mixture of this too. Located north of Libya and south of Sicily, this makes complete sense. A lot of places have Arabic names too so it’s a very intriguing place.
The small island is beautiful with lots of rocky cliffs, lagoons and picturesque views. There’s not a lot of sandy beaches but if you’re looking for somewhere to go which is beautiful along with some history and culture then Malta ticks the boxes. It’s also quite cheap to eat and travel around, so you can do well if you’re on a budget.
What to eat in Malta
I know what you’re thinking…is it easy to find halal food in Malta? Yes there are halal restaurants and takeaway joints in Malta but they’re scattered around. You’ll find mostly North African halal cuisine or fast food. Visible halal signs are trickier to find but you won’t go hungry. Maltese food has a lot of fish and vegetables and the pasta in Malta is better than the pasta I had in Naples. I kid you not. Even the pizza we had was better than the Naples pizza. You won’t be disappointed with the cuisine.
What to do in Malta
The capital Valetta is a really beautiful place, like a walled city. It has loads of little streets with shops and cafes all perpendicular to each other and on slopes. You can go for a boat ride or just have your lunch on the promenade. Check out Cafe Cordina for some tasty pastries and coffee, it reminded me of Caffe Concerto here in London. The kids loved exploring the cobbled streets and the shops. The highlight for them was of course Cafe Cordina! The handful of mosques in Malta are also situated around Valetta.
Malta is made up of three islands, Malta, Comino and Gozo. You can go on a day trip to Gozo and stop off at Comino too. The boat left from Saint Paul’s Bay but you can get it from most major towns in Malta.
I would recommend spending more time in Comino as there’s a stunning lagoon there which we only got half an hour to see. Most of the journey was taking the ferry to Gozo. Gozo is a small island, and there is a open bus tour which is included in the boat trip. For lunch I would recommend Cafe Jubilee where you can sit outdoors on the square, they have the best pasta ever! The kids liked the whole experience of going on a such a large boat, and then Comino with it’s beautiful lagoon and beach was a hit too.
Mdina is well and truly unique, you cannot visit Malta without going to the Mdina. It is an old city on a hill which has retained its features from the olden days. It’s a city where you enter through a fort and people still live there in cute little houses. You can go around Mdina on a horse drawn cart which is super fun for kids (€35). There are lots of cafes in Mdina, where you can just chill and absorb the views. You can spend half a day here quite easily. We visited the Torture museum in Mdina too (not sure why)..it was a fun 20 minutes, slightly gory for the kids but also educational! Outside Mdina is Rabat which is town full of history. We visited the catacombs too which the kids actually enjoyed quite a lot. Involved running through a lot of caves!
Saint Pauls Bay
As we stayed near Saint Pauls Bay we spent a bit of time exploring it. If you’re going to Malta with kids then it’s worth visiting as the National Marine Aquarium is here which also has a playground. The cafe serves delicious food believe it or not! The most enjoyable part of our holiday in Malta for the kids was walking on the rocks around Saint Paul’s Bay. It’s not the safest but it certainly is fun. You can spot jellyfish and crabs which was very exciting for the kids. This was also the place one of my kids dropped our camera in a rock pool, so be careful!
Other fun things around Saint Paul’s Bay is The Classic Car museum which is really a fabulous museum if you like cars. I’m not into cars but even I enjoyed it! You might also want to go to The Malta Chocolate Factory which is actually just a shop but they do run classes for kids if you’re organised enough to book one in advance. We weren’t.
Getting Around Malta
We used the bus a few times which was interesting! Driving into Valetta is really hard because of parking, like driving to the West End in London. We also used a taxi a few times. You can hire a car but we didn’t really think we needed to. You can get a boat/ferry to the other islands from many points. Luckily we were walking distance from Saint Paul’s Bay so that helped.
What I didn’t like about Malta
I didn’t like the fact that I hardly met any Maltese people. Most people were British including the tour companies! I guess it would have been nice to learn about the culture more, but five days wasn’t really enough. We were on an all-inclusive basis so didn’t get out in the evenings that much.
We had a jolly old time in Malta but I would not advise February. Also Saint Julian’s Bay or Valletta would be an ideal location to stay. If you’re looking for a cheaper holiday to Europe then it’s a really great option too. Basically all I want to do anywhere I go, especially in Europe is go from cafe to cafe eating cake and having coffee. In Malta you can do this really well!
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