This little archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean…
Malta is a country made of 3 islands, one being the main island Malta, the historic island of Gozo and the tiny Comino.
Malta was a country that fell into the power of many different empires. According to a light google search, it was first part of the Roman Empire, then fell to the Moors, then to the Knights of Saint Paul (the army of the Catholic Church), then to the French and finally to the Brits.
It’s disputed territory can be well explained by its prestigious geographical importance. Strategically well located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea; and therefore a passage point of trade routes from Africa to Europe, the Middle East to both continents and vice versa.
Although the Maltese language is very well kept and noticeably the local spoken language, the Maltese do also speak English. One of the traits left by English occupation, as well as the driving on the right side of the car.
Malta does hold an impressive coastline, and you can see it from many in any one of the 3 islands.
Here are some of the points I visited and some of my remarks:
Popeye Village: Stunning view from the top. You can walk over the edge of a cliff and overlook the picturesque scenographic village made for the movie of Popeye in 1980. It’s really one of the cutest sets ever made and the view from the top is stunning as the village borders crystalline green waters!
To get inside the village there is a €15 fee. Inside you can see Popeye and Olivia performances and sit at coffee shops, bars and restaurants. Am sure the views from inside are also stunning and very distinct. I didn’t get to see the experience and see inside the village as when I got there it was almost closing. Note: Gates of village close at 5:30 pm so if you get there later in the afternoon you won’t have too much time.
*The view and pictures from the top left of village are amazing!
*Close to Riviera Bay (you can do it in a day if you plan both visits well.). From Riviera Bay better to take a shared Van (about 4euros, but you should negotiate for less as its really close!) or a Taxi (5-10 mins distance). Bus stop do exist in both locations but buses are very unreliable in Malta and you can end up waiting for over an hour for one to pass (See Transportation remarks at the end of this article).
Comino Island: You can take a bus or shuttle to the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal up north of the Island. The round trip ticket costs €13 to Comino only (it will not take you to Gozo on this fare).
You are taken to Comino in a small -+20 passenger speed boat, big boats wouldn’t be able to get through the shallow waters when approaching Comino.
The guide will most likely take you to the Crystal Lagon before leaving you at the Blue Lagoons stop. The Crystal lagoon is just as its name. Truly transparent waters edged by a high walls of the island. It’s really something! No swimming or stoping here, just look around, enjoy the view and take some stunning shots. The guide will then take off around the island to drop you off at the Blue Lagoons.
Important! If you can, go early! That way you avoid the large crowds. The coast of the Blue Lagoons is really a small area where tourists can lay and tan. Very tiny sand area, and the rest is an overly disputed rocky hill to sit on. Sneakers needed! Especially if you will adventure around inland the island.
When I got there I first decided to take the walking routes to the other side. Very few people go explore the island, so that gave me a Zen moment with lots of quiet and nature to admire. On the other side of the island you will find some small quiet beaches, and then a big cliff wall! Beautiful view from here, but please go with comfortable tennis shoes. The walk up there is very rocky, full of wholes and slow to move around. I was on my flip flops and regretted every second of that poor decision.
Around the coast line walking trails you have really amazing different shades of blue views! There are so many WOW moments.
*There is food available in Comino: Food trucks selling cocktails, sandwiches, wraps, salads, fries and ice cream.
Gozo: The most stunning part of this Island for me: the Citadelle, for sure! You can see it up high from many points of the island. The entrance through the back of its garden is FREE of charge and you can see a lot all the way to its central court yard and central church. It’s really something worth seeing. Beautiful architecture views of different villages of the island and very unique pastel narrow streets within the walls of the Citadel. Just beautiful.
In Saint Laurence village is the Dwerja Bay, famously known by its recently collapsed Azure Window. It is still a beautiful scene even after the collapse of the upper part of the 28 meters high limestone arc in March 2017. The limestone structures around the coast still make a pretty amazing show. ** This was the filming location of Drogo and Kaleesi’s wedding in Game of Thrones. It really is a pretty cool and impressive site. Do Go!
Overall Gozo is a quiet island, not yet flooded by the tourism madness and commerce. This is what makes it still so so interesting and quietly beautiful.
It has 7 different villages, and apparently, as I was told by a local, each one of these districts/villages have their own Maltese dialect!
**Important when in Gozo: you need a car there. Taking the ferry from Malta is easy. 7€ for the car, then 5€ per person. You pay on your way back from Gozo to Malta.
Final remark: I always tell people to avoid Europe in general during the months of July and August. June is already pretty busy. My impression is that Comino should limit the amount of people allowed to the island per day. It got pretty crowded in the afternoon and I went in end of May! I have travelled a lot in Europe during the summer months, and it is just impossible to avoid the large crowds and lines sometimes. If you can go in September, or May. Not so cold, pretty easy to get around and probably a better feel of these amazing historic places.