After completing an intense 6 month post-graduate diploma at law school, I needed some alone time to de-stress and recalibrate. The island of Malta was my destination of choice…
I previously had some solo travel experience having moved to Italy alone in 2014 for my year abroad. This was, however, the first time I had taken a full holiday abroad alone – albeit a short one. I only had a few days to spare so I didn’t want to travel too far. I also wanted somewhere that would be good for sight-seeing but not too busy. After carrying out some research, Malta repeatedly cropped up as a popular destination for female solo travellers and seemed to have the best February weather amongst European countries. I booked my trip through Lastminute.com (student budget!) who offer great winter sun deals and city break offers.
On arrival at Malta’s sole international airport, I was struck by how open and welcoming the locals were. The weather was quite mild and sunny at around 17 degrees. After collecting my bag I found that my hotel transfer was ready and waiting for me.
I stayed at the Topaz Hotel in Bugibba, a popular tourist area. The hotel was…fit for purpose ? If you’re after luxury, this isn’t it. But the staff were extremely friendly, the breakfast was great and the rooms were kept nice and clean.
The area surrounding the hotel was very quiet, with a few other hotels around. It was a short walk of about 10-15 minutes to get to the main tourist area of St Paul’s Bay. Once I’d napped and settled down I ventured down here to find somewhere to eat.
Being in the Mediterranean it was only right that I sampled some of Malta’s famous seafood as my first meal. I decided to visit Victoria Restaurant in St Paul’s Square and ordered the Mediterranean seafood medley upon the waiter’s recommendation, along with a cocktail of course.
The food was incredible. A medley of mussels, clams, fish, prawns cooked in a rich garlic tomato sauce. It came with fries and salad too and I left feeling very satisfied and well-fed.
By the time I’d finished my meal it was around 5.30pm and so I decided to go for a walk along the coastline. The sun was setting and the view was absolutely beautiful. It was starting to get a bit chilly though, at around 10 degrees, and I only had a light jacket with me so I cut my walk short and headed back to my hotel.
On day 2 of my trip I decided I would take the City Sightseeing tour bus around the North of the island. It stops at various key sightseeing points around the island and you can hop on and off as you please. Unfortunately, the weather was not on my side on this day and I had to sit inside on the bus rather than on the top deck, as I had hoped to do.
I got off the bus at Valletta, the capital city of Malta. Immediately the architecture reminded me of Italy and it felt quite nostalgic wandering through the little cobbled streets and squares. With its history and location, being just south of Sicily, the Italian influence on Malta was very evident from the food to the language.
I was left feeling very cold and wet after some exploring in the rain so decided to stop for lunch. I came across a little Italian restaurant called Papannis. As I like to do when I travel, I asked for the waiter’s recommendation again and he suggested “Grandmother’s tagliatelle”, a pasta with broccoli, ricotta, chilli and bacon. I also ordered some garlic bruschetta and a glass of the house white wine, which was delicious!
Malta’s annual carnival was supposed to be beginning in Valletta on this day too but it was postponed due to the weather. I did spot a few floats around the city being kept out of the rain.
After lunch, I boarded the sightseeing bus once again to complete the tour. I wish I could have been able to take some more pictures on the top deck but the rain was coming down fast!
That night a storm hit so I ordered some pizza to my room and had a night in with some Netflix.
The weather was thankfully much better the following day and so I decided to go back to Valletta for some more sightseeing. There was a bus stop just a few minutes from my hotel with buses going directly to the capital. The fare cost me just €1.50 each way and I sat at the front of the bus (by the British bus driver who was very friendly and helpful!) with an amazing view. The journey took about 35 minutes.
I explored the more northern part of the city and got to the city walls and coastline.
After a lot of walking I was ready for lunch and decided upon a restaurant called Da Pablo Trattoria di Mare. The staff were incredibly friendly here and made me feel very at home. I was quite keen to have seafood again and the waiter recommended the seafood tagliatelle saying I wouldn’t regret it…and oh, was he right! This was undoubtedly the best pasta I have ever had. It doesn’t look particularly complicated but the combination of flavours and the freshness of the ingredients was exceptional. I genuinely teared up a little! Fellow foodies will recognise this feeling. When I’d cleared my plate and mopped up the sauce with some bread the waiter gave me a knowing “I told you so” look.
I finished off my meal with a delicious tiramisu and an espresso and left to a chorus of “Ciao bella!” from the staff. This restaurant is a must if you ever visit Malta.
On my fourth and final day I decided to visit the Malta National Aquarium. Located in St Paul’s Bay it was about a 30 minute walk from my hotel. It was particularly sunny that day so it was a really nice walk.
I am a big kid so naturally I had a great time. It was around €13 for an adult ticket and I was able to spend about an hour and a half there.
I was due to leave for the airport in a couple of hours so I had a big steak lunch as my final meal at Bad Bull BBQ restaurant in Bugibba Square.
I really enjoyed my trip to Malta and I’d absolutely visit again but in the summer months. With its amazing food, people and scenery, Malta is a great destination for solo travellers and you can definitely see plenty in just a few days. I felt very safe and at ease the whole time I was there. It is also relatively inexpensive (e.g. you could get a good 2-course meal and a glass of wine for €25) so it’s a good destination if you’re on a budget.
Will I be solo travelling again? Absolutely and I’m already planning my next trip!