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A Family Guide to Malta
Best for: a quick get-away!
Although it’s not one of the most well-known holiday destinations, Malta has three times more tourists visit than its population every year so it’s not surprising that travel agents are offering more package deals than ever before.
We booked a last minute break with the kids, and as neither of us had been to Malta before we didn’t know what to expect. However we weren’t disappointed, even whilst we were landing we could see the island’s beautiful scenery and because it’s such a short flight we were ready for action straight away!
See and Do:
Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni in Paola is only a 10 minute drive from the airport (proving just how small the island is) and is one not to miss. Even if you’re not into history, you’ll be amazed at the temple and the amount of different rooms and chambers to marvel at. My son particularly liked learning about the snake pit, although thankfully there are no snakes in it now, but my little girl and I preferred looking at the ornate painted ceilings.
It’s the only prehistoric underground temple in the world and UNESCO world Heritage Site and partially because of this, only 80 visitors a day are allowed in, so if possible book you tickets in advance – you can even do this from the UK before you get there.
Another must visit is the Chamber of Mysteries restaurant in Qormi where we enjoyed a traditional Maltese three course meal in the beautifully decorated courtyard of an old farm house accompanied by some live guitar music which the kids loved. After dinner we were then taken through to a secret chamber room for the magic show which were all immensely enjoyed. Although it’s not normally something I’d enjoy (too many terrible magicians at too many children's parties I think) it was a really impressive and professionally performed show with some tricks that I’d never seen before and we were all completely in awe at one trick – definitely not one to miss.
Eat and Drink:
The national dish fenkata – a type of rabbit stew, is considered a delicacy and every restaurant seems to have their own variation, and they all claim to be the best in Malta! The stew has a tomato and garlic based sauce and traditionally served with spaghetti and a Maltese bread called hobza maltija which is similar to a sourdough. The kids absolutely loved this dish as it has quite familiar flavours and even the fussiest of eaters will like the bread and due to the large amount British ex-pats and tourists, restaurants often serve it with chips too!
Maltese cuisine is also famous for its pastries and we loved the pastizz – a filo parcel with different savoury fillings look out for the ricotta filled ones especially. They’re easily found when exploring the towns and great for when the kids are peckish but you don’t want to spoil their dinner – and they’re really cheap too which is great news for mums on a budget.
How to get there:
It only takes around three hours to fly from London to Malta International Airport and most operators fly there from regional airports too meaning there are plenty of last minute deals – which are often aimed at families.
And because the island is so small the transfers to your resort will be quick – which is perfect if you’re travelling with young children.
The currency used is the Euro which is currently at a good exchange rate which makes your spending money stretch a little further.
Although Maltese is the official language, English is the nation’s second language which makes things so much simpler when ordering food, buying things and on day trips too.
If you want to visit one of the many churches and cathedrals (St John’s Co Cathedral has Caravaggio’s famous The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist) then make sure you have a something to cover your shoulders and that your skirt or shorts aren’t too far above the knee as tourists are expected to dress respectfully.