St Julian’s was the base for our 5 night break in Malta. Location wise it was perfect being just a short bus ride (or a walk and a boat) from Valletta. Unfortunately, during our time here we did discovered the seedy underbelly of St Julian’s. Scratch beneath the surface of designer shops and luxury hotels and you will find the nightlife hub of the island with streets filled with bars and clubs selling multiple shots for next to nothing, akin to Magaluf or San Antonio. Both Stuart and I are fairly savvy when it comes to travelling but this time we were both well and truly ‘done’. Stuart had 2 credit cards cloned in a bar and I had 1 credit card cloned in an ATM. All I can say is watch your wallet if you are heading anywhere near Paceville.
We stayed at the Hilton Hotel in St Julian’s. It was a fabulous hotel and I can highly recommend it if you are planning a trip to Malta. You can read my full post about the Hilton Malta here.
A short walk from St Julian’s took us to Sliema. The buildings along the waters edge were well maintained but just a few streets back you could really see the rustic charm of the island which I found much more interesting to explore.
Sliema is the departure point for boats taking you to Valletta, as well as more touristy boats taking passengers on a harbour cruise. I do love going on a boat tour and whilst the harbour cruise wasn’t the most thrilling boat tour that I’ve ever taken it was a good way to spend a couple of hours. Make sure that you haggle and don’t pay full price.
Valletta was the highlight for me. I really enjoyed exploring the crisscross of streets, some sloping so much that the pavements were stairs.
Having read about the magnificent views from Upper Barrack Gardens I was keen to go and see for myself. It didn’t disappoint. Through the archways I found amazing views across the Grand Harbour to the Three Cities beyond.
Wandering around Valletta I spotted some wonderfully retro signs as well as the classic British red phone boxes dotted around.
In the heart of Valletta we found Cafe Cordina where we sat and watched the world go by with a coffee and a beer. We found the prices to be very reasonable which was surprising given it’s location.
Stuart was keen to visit ‘The Pub’ which is where the actor Oliver Reed died in 1999. I must say that it didn’t sit particularly well with me that we were making a pilgrimage to have a beer in the place where an alcoholic drunk himself to death.
Next door to The Pub we’d spotted a restaurant claiming that Jamie Oliver had said they served the best rabbit in Malta. I think Jamie Oliver needs to get his legal team onto this one as I’d be extremely surprised if that quote is true.
We sat down, looked at the menu and realised we’d found the most expensive place to eat that we’d seen all day. Being British, we couldn’t possible get up and find somewhere else, we were going to sit there and then complain about it afterwards.
Stuart had the rabbit and I had the moussaka. Despite appearances, the food was actually quite tasty. The service was shocking, the price was astronomical compared to most other restaurants, it took forever to get our food but the food tasted ok. Later that evening we had hysterics reading the endless bad reviews on Trip Advisor. Sometimes your poor choices turn out to be the most memorable ones.
We decided to take a trip a little further inland to see the walled city of Mdina. The fortified city has a history which traces back more than 4000 years. As we approached on the bus we could see Mdina perched on its plateau and looking very impressive indeed.
As we got closer we could see just how imposing it would have been in years gone by to those trying to penetrate it’s defences.
We crossed the bridge to enter the city. The only cars allowed inside the gates are residents cars so it was quite peaceful and unspoilt (except for the numerous horses and carts showing the tourists around).
The city was fairly easy to navigate and around every corner was another beautiful alley filled with sand coloured buildings.
From the city wall you could see for miles across the island.
We stopped for a coffee in Coogi’s. As we walked along the alley I was instantly drawn in by the attractive courtyard hidden behind the door and had to go in. Again, the prices were very reasonable.
Malta is a great getaway for those looking for a beach break early or late in the season. In late October it was still warm enough to lay by the pool and catch some rays. We are more interested in exploring the towns and cities and found that probably 5 nights was too long and would have been able to see everything we wanted to in a 3 night stay.