Known as the glittering jewel of the mediterranean, the tiny islands of Malta have drawn treasure hunters from all over the world.
You’ll get a rich sense of the cultures that have left their mark as soon as you reach the streets of Valletta, Malta’s modern-day capital city. Perched between two harbours, Valletta’s vantage is designed to capture the cool sea breeze from both directions, whilst the sun bathes the city in a soft golden glow, every month of the year.
After a fragrant wake-up shot of local anise spiced coffee, head straight into the early morning and let the cobbled laneways guide you through a living museum where the past coexists with the present. Malta's stories are told through monumental statues, baroque architectural features and in the detailing of the balconies that sit above the streets. Each with its own personality, these balconies are a signature of the city and the colourful histories of those who have made Malta their home.
There’s a certain eclecticism here, as wonderfully preserved Rococo finds itself in contemplation with contemporary architecture. And it’s the constant visual contrasts that breathe life into this historic city, unlocking the many layers of place and people.
Duck into galleries that celebrate this meshing of old and new. The Blitz is a must – a self funded modern gallery at the crux of local contemporary culture. Then dive into the opulence of the baroque St John’s Cathedral, don’t miss the grand Caravaggio here and over to Casa Rocca Piccola, the stunningly restored 16th Century Palazzo. Back into the streets, breathe in the late afternoon beauty of sun and sparkling harbour at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, before heading for freshly baked Pastizzi and an evening drink at local Cru Bar before dinner at favourite, Noni.
Book your stay with Valletta Vintage for an immersive boutique experience. This is a unique collection of six apartments housed in old buildings around the city, each interior referencing past and present icons of design. For a minimalist modern hotel experience, then stay at Cugo Gran in Senglea, a short 15 minute ferry ride from Valletta.
In perfect contrast with the tangled laneways of the city, take a day trip to the pristine shores of Comino island. Step ashore to vast, bleached landscapes and wind-worn ancient ruins, all set against the deep sapphire of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a place to travel slow with raw, unfinished roads that are best explored on foot. Follow the island’s trail, tracing an outline of where the land meets the shore. Diving into the crisp turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon, you’ll instantly lose all sense of time and place, floating endlessly, it’s incredibly meditative. Then find a quiet spot on the sand at Santa Maria Bay to bask in the sun. If you’re up for a little more, then climb around to the nearby caves where you can snorkel and explore the island’s thriving underwater world. Comino is the place to step away from attachment to modern luxuries and surrender to the beautiful basics, nourish your soul here for a day or longer if the adventure takes you.
Valletta is rich in precious mementos to be found in the most unexpected corners. Beyond the popular Merchant Street Market, hunt out true gems like vintage jewellery and curious trinkets in nearby side streets and the city’s quiet alleys, particularly those that are pedestrian only. It’ll be the memories of those breathtaking vistas that you’ll take home from Comino island. The perfect blue of the ocean, that view from one of the dramatic cliff tops and the raw beauty found here will stay with you forever.
From wandering historical architecture to day tripping on nearby islands, the total feeling here is one of understated simplicity. The cure of salt water and soft sunshine, along with Malta’s rugged natural beauty, will leave you with a new sense of grounding, clarity and detachment from the clutter of everyday life. Hold onto this feeling, treasure it and carry a little of it back with you on your journey home.