Thursday, October 28

Malta Local Guide: Top 10 Tips | Malta Holidays


Malta claims to be the first EU country to achieve herd immunity. Vaccines were recently extended to everyone over 16 years of age and 58.6% of the population has received two injections.

Since 2020, 420 people have died from the virus and the country has not registered a death since May 26. Quarantine is not required, but all passengers traveling to Malta from the UK must have evidence of a negative PCR test, dated within 72 hours of arrival.

Museums and tourist sites, shops, restaurants and cafes are open and allow tables of six people. Cinemas and theaters reopened on June 7, but bars and clubs remain closed and boat parties are not allowed.

Masks are mandatory for everyone over three years of age in public spaces, but as of June 1, the use of masks on beaches was recommended, but it is no longer mandatory. Maltese Health Minister Chris Fearne said masks would no longer be mandatory outdoors as of July 1 for vaccinated people, as long as cases remain low.

Valletta at night

Valletta used to be like a ghost town at night. Today is different, or rather it will be once the pandemic recedes and visitors return. In normal times the streets are packed after sunset with live music and upbeat Mediterranean chatter everywhere. The grid system used by the knights to build the city creates what seem like parallel nightlife realities. Republic Street is imposing and distinct with exquisite cafes and restaurants; Merchant Street is quiet and leads to the covered market; but walk down Straight Street and you will go back in time, as the British sailors did in the past, and you would enjoy the bars all the way to the Gut. Keep an eye out for old street signage along the way.

Festivals in Malta

BirguFest shows the old city by candlelight.
BirguFest shows the old city by candlelight. Photograph: Vittorio Sciosia / Alamy

There are many. Before visiting the island, it is worth consulting the report of the Malta Tourism Authority. website Y festivals.mt to see what happens, and keep in mind that this year, until further notice, all festivals will be virtual.

The Strawberry festival, White Night in Valletta, Karnival ta ‘Malta, the Malta jazz festival, the Valletta Baroque Festival, the Farsons Beer Festival, the Delicate wine festival, the Fireworks festival, and the Three palaces are just some of the events of the year. Although my favorite is Birgufest and its culmination Birgu by Candlelight, which is an extraordinary experience. One of Malta’s oldest cities, Birgu (also called Vittoriosa) is magically lit by thousands of candles that add a romantic and mystical touch to its medieval houses, auberges and palaces connected by winding alleys. The festival features historical re-enactments, open churches and museums, exhibits and installations along with concerts, theater and laser light shows.

Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens

Maltese folklore show at Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens, Siggiewi, Malta.
Maltese folklore show at Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens, Siggiewi. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans / Alamy

In Malta, you are surrounded by limestone, from the ancient cities of Mdina and Valletta, through the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and the Hypogeum, to the ornaments of traditional Maltese houses. Limestone has been instrumental in preserving the island’s history. In the family-run Limestone Heritage Park and GardensIn Siggiewi Village, visitors can trace the use and function of this resource throughout the centuries. Don’t miss the stone carving and sculpture, where a visitor can spend time working on a limestone souvenir. The Farmer’s lunch, in the peaceful garden of the estate, it is a great way to taste Maltese gbejna cheeses, homemade pasta and rabbit dishes and traditional desserts. Younger visitors will enjoy the heritage park – there’s room for a jog and a petting zoo.
€ 8.10 adult, € 5.40 student, € 2.70 child with online discount, limestoneheritage.com

Casa Rocca Piccola, Valletta

The Green Room at Casa Rocca Piccola.
The Green Room at Casa Rocca Piccola. Photography: Alamy

Not your usual museum, this is the only privately owned palazzo open to the public in Valletta. It displays unusual furniture, memorabilia, family paintings and rare medical instruments from the Sacred Infermeria of the Knights in Valletta. A museum by day and a manor house by night, its rooms bring to life the history of the Knights Hospitallers and the Maltese nobility. The palace was built in the 16th century by Don Pietro La Rocca, admiral of the knights and is the ancestral home of the Marqués Nicolás de Piro family. Today, it is also home to a boutique B&B, with a peaceful garden and a cheerful macaw named Kiku. Tour groups are sometimes toured by the Marquis himself. Regular hourly tours are held throughout the week.
casaroccapiccola.com

Caffe Cordina, Valletta

Tourists at Cafe Cordina, Valletta, Malta.
Photography: Alamy

This is the most beautiful cafe in Valletta and something of an institution. I love going for an espresso with one of their signature sweets. Relaxing in the sun on Pjazza Regina in front of the statue commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria and the baroque National Library is a blessing. The cafe was established in Cospicua in 1837 and moved to Valletta in 1944. The building known as Casa del Commun Tesoro or the Treasury during the rule of the Order of the Knights of Saint John in Malta was used by the British for various positions public. and then it became the Grand Hotel. The cafe’s eclectic interior decor and vaulted ceiling adorned with paintings by the Maltese painter Giuseppe Cali add to the special character of the place.
caffecordina.com

Meridiana wine estate, tour and wine tasting

View of wines and meats on a table in front of the vines at Meridiana Wine Estate, Malta.

Some 30 years ago, the production of world-class wines in Malta seemed like an ambitious goal. Some considered the investment risky, others thought it was doomed from the start. Today, one looks back at the legacy of a courageous company that explored the potential of high-quality wine production in Malta. The Ta’Qali wine estate near Mdina was planted in 1994 on the site of an airfield used by the RAF during WWII, using a British-built herringbone irrigation system. Success was achieved with the first vintage in 1996, which Meridiana sold in a few weeks. Their wines are now internationally established. My favorite Maltese wines are, from the reds, Nexus, a merlot, and Celsius, a cabernet sauvignon. Of the whites, the Baltis from the native grape of girgentina is excellent. The wine tasting takes place on Meridiana’s panoramic terrace overlooking its vineyard or on the patio near the wineries. A tour includes a visit to the fermentation room and the underground cellar, both within the picturesque Maltese farm.
Wine tasting and guided tours in meridiana.com.mt

Taste of History at the Malta Maritime Museum, Birgu

Maritime Museum of Malta, seen from the harbor on a sunny day.
Malta Maritime Museum Photograph: Stefan Cristian Cioata / Getty Images

This museum gives visitors the opportunity to dine inside the museum itself. The atmosphere is special, the menu exquisite and unique, as historians and chefs have investigated documents from the 18th century to find foreign influences, ingredients, spices and eating habits in the menus used by the gentlemen. The Maltese fruits and vegetables used are grown by local farmers, the sausages are made by the butcher around the corner strictly following traditional methods, and the in-house chefs follow authentic recipes. This is a dining experience like no other. The building is a former British-era bakery in Birgu, one of three cities across the Grand Harbor from Valletta.
Maritime Museum, heritagemalta.org. More about Taste of History at Facebook

Lascaris War Rooms

Situation map of Operation Husky in Lascaris War Rooms, Malta.
Situation map of Operation Husky in Lascaris War Rooms. Photograph: Victor Paul Borg / Alamy

Beneath the fortifications of Malta’s capital Valletta, this complex of tunnels and chambers holds fascinating secrets from World War II. Built by the British Army, the war rooms housed the Allied war headquarters, which played a crucial role in defending the island and coordinating Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily. Named after Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, a grandmaster of the 17th century Maltese knights, who built a garden on the site and fortifications throughout the island, the war rooms received communications from all the radar stations and mapped the air movements and navals around the islands. . After the war, the Lascaris halls were used as the headquarters of the Mediterranean Fleet of the Royal Navy. Climbing the stairs of the bastion takes you to Upper Barrakka Garden for the spectacular views of the Gran Puerto.
Adults € 13, students € 11, children under 16 € 6, open from Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4.30 p.m., lascariswarrooms.com

National Museum of Community Art (Muza), Valletta

Interior of a gallery in the National Museum of Community Art (Muza), Valletta, Malta.
Photography: Alamy

Marked by The Guardian Travel as one of 13 must-see new European museums, Muza opened in 2018, in a building that was once the headquarters of the Italian Knights of the Order of Saint John. The site offers the opportunity to explore a lodge that the knights lived in during their stay on the island. The grand Baroque entrance, courtyard, main staircase and hallways were rebuilt with contemporary material to expose intriguing features of late 16th century architecture. As a national community museum, one of its missions is to make art accessible to the public; Muza does this by presenting contrasting works of art by old masters and contemporaries. The Masterpieces at Muza exhibition, currently on display, displays 13 old masterpieces from a private collection, including paintings by Rubens, François Boucher, Leonardo da Vinci and Giovanni Bellini.
€ 10 adult, € 7.50 students and over 60s, € 5.50 children under 11, not open on Tuesdays, muza.mt

Boat trips and spectacular views

View of the city of Paola from Valletta
Photograph: Getty Images

Whenever I can, I take the water taxi service through the Grand Harbor from Valletta to the Three Cities (Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua) and return by traditional boat. The store boat It was built in the 17th century for that purpose. Used to carry passengers connecting port cities and also to remove passengers from arriving ships, ships were the main means of transportation in port areas. The crossing takes 10 minutes and costs € 2. Tourists can opt for a harbor cruise for € 8 per person. The real thrill is feeling the waves between the imposing views of the Valletta Bastions, Fort St Angelo, Fort Ricasoli and the grandeur of one of the largest natural harbors in Europe.

Fra Nikola Soukmandjiev is a diplomat, priest and tour guide.


www.theguardian.com

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