Located smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean you’ll find the tiny island nation of Malta. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, Malta receives it share of pale Europeans looking for warmth. As I found on my recent day tour of Malta, there is so much more to this popular vacation spot than getting a tan.
Even though Malta only gained independence in 1964, its islands and its people have played a significant role throughout history. As we strolled the old town of Valletta on our day tour of Malta our guide explained how the Knights of St. John built this impressive fortified city. After being forced to flee Rhodes, the incredible fortification that I got to tour on a freaking Segway, the Knights rebuilt on Malta. This time bigger and better.
Beginning as early as the 16th century, Valletta was built in a mind-blowing fashion. The 100-meter-high walls that protect the city are jaw-dropping and impressive to this day. The best place to experience this amazing piece of architecture is at the Upper Barrakka Gardens where there is a great view over the Grand Harbour. There’s also an elevator that takes you 100 meters down to the massive ships below. I could feel the Knights of St. John’s collectively rolling in their graves as I casually rode down.
Boat Ride to Birgu
From below our day tour of Malta continued with the traditional boat ride across the Grand Harbour to Birgu. Our guide explained Malta’s significance as a British base during World War II and the bombings it received because of it. Today it is home to some of the biggest super yachts out there with Brangelina’s boat being one of the many we saw during this day tour of Malta.
The significance of Malta during World War II showed up again on our drive to Mdina. We passed by former aircraft hangers and the road we drove on was once a landing strip. Although I found this history fascinating, our trip was taking us MUCH farther back. The enclosed city of Mdina dates back to as early as 870. 870! It was strategically built to overlook the island and has withstood many attacks over the years. Today Medina is home to about 300 people, and zero cars, and is one of the best-preserved and most significant sites on the island. It also has a crazy collection of cool door knockers. Yep, door knockers.
As well as being historically significant, Malta is also beautiful! With some of the bluest waters I’ve ever seen, the coastline is spectacular. The natural caves found around the Blue Grotto is a must-visit as are the Dingli Cliffs. Our day tour of Malta also took us to pristine bays where guard towers still stand above the picturesque beaches below.
After passing by Popeyes Village, a theme park that was once the set of the 1979 flop Popeye, our day tour of Malta concluded with a look at the modern Malta of today. A walk along the Sliema Promenade gave us a glimpse into the Maltese nightlife. With plenty of restaurants, bars, hotels and cafés, Malta makes for a comfortable and entertaining escape. Although less glitzy, the St.Paul’s bay city of Bugibba offered a similar experience but with ex-pats and locals mixed in.
One day in Malta
Of course, Malta should be enjoyed over a few days as there is much to see and enjoy. This day tour of Malta gave me a great overview and appreciation for the island and left me wanting more time to enjoy it. From history to nature and nightlife, Malta is there for all to explore.
What say you?
Thoughts on this Day Tour of Malta?
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Although I was provided with a complimentary day tour of Malta thanks to Visit Malta,
the experience, opinions, and diverse experiences are my own.