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Why You Should Add Malta To Your Wanderlust List
13 August @ 08:00 - 17:00
As a fervent traveller, the allure of new horizons has forever beckoned me. So when the opportunity to collaborate with Visit Malta on a 4-day press trip in June arose I jumped at the opportunity. I will admit that I didn’t know much about the small Mediterranean island before the trip but my perception changed in ways that I couldn’t even imagine.
Malta is the smallest country in the EU and is historically a conservative Catholic country but for the 8th year in a row they have been ranked number one on the ILGA Rainbow Europe Map. Rainbow Europe – ILGA-Europe’s annual benchmarking tool. ILGA-Europe have produced the Rainbow Map and Index since 2009, using it to illustrate the legal and policy situation of LGBTI people in Europe. So it’s fitting that this year’s Europride will be hosted in Malta’s capital, Valletta from 7-17 September. A celebration of love, unity and acceptance.
Exploring Malta’s Abundance
Malta has a kaleidoscope of experience, catering to every kind of voyager. I have a genuine thirst for knowledge and learning about the history of a new city or country I’m exploring is just as important to me as the best restaurants for dinner.
Artur Lengyal, Founder of travel tour operator Q Travel Malta, took us on a queer history walking tour. Artur taught us about the first drag shows in Malta, underground LGBTQ+ friendly bars and hotels and icons like Katya Saunders, Malta’s first openly transgender woman. Sometimes after the first hour, walking tours in the heat can become a chore but Artur was so passionate during the entire tour which kept me constantly engaged, 2.5 hours went by in an instant.
Exploring New Heights
I’m going to contradict myself now, I might love to have new experiences but I’m not much of an adrenaline junky and have a very bizarre fear of being off the ground. I had to swallow my anxiety for a segway tour around the picturesque Buskett Gardens and Dingli Cliffs with Jean from Segway Malta. After a very quick training session on how to use the segway, I relaxed and completely leaned into the experience and surrendered to the allure of adventure.
Gozo: The Unveiling of Serenity
Malta’s archipelago is made up of three islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. Gozo is only a 30 minute ferry ride from the northernmost point of Malta. The exploration of the island via Tuk Tuk with the infectiously cheerful Joe and Joe of Yippee Malta was unforgettable. I laughed so much that morning, funny tour guides are the best!
Gozo was absolutely breathtaking, with a variety of landmarks and natural wonders. I was particularly hypnotised by the Xwejni Salt Pans that were formed by the ocean hundreds of years ago. Nature is absolutely incredible.
After experiencing all that culture it was time to relax and take a boat trip to the ethereal Blue Lagoon, departing from St Paul’s Bay. The gorgeous turquoise water stretched as far as the eye could see and although I couldn’t dive in, I enjoyed the gentle sea breeze and calmness of the water.
No journey is complete without great food (eating is another past-time of mine) and Malta is a foodie haven. The food scene caters to diverse tastes and budgets but be warned the portion sizes in Malta are immense. I particularly enjoyed our lunch in Gozo at Roza, the mushroom and pancetta risotto was mouthwatering.
One Michelin star restaurant, de Mondion at Xara Palace Relais Hotel is worth visiting. The seven course tasting menu was exquisite and innovative. If you don’t want to blow your entire budget then I’d also recommend Two Buoys in St Julian’s Bay. It’s a fun Australian restaurant with a wide variety of options.
For delicious cocktails, head down to charming and LGBTQ+ friendly Cafe Society. It’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and hang out on the steps and soak in the atmosphere. If you love wine, be sure to visit Kontrada for wine tasting.
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I visited Malta but I went with an open mind and I wasn’t disappointed. Everyone I encountered was friendly and it was a distinct experience that I will never forget. I genuinely can’t wait to return, eager to explore and discover more.