This winter, when it was time to head home from Tunisia and head back to Morocco, I went to book my plane tickets. I was a bit late booking the tickets, so I expected to pay a bit more than I would have originally hoped on either the national airline of Tunisia or Morocco. Most of the tickets were coming up at about $180 or $190.
However, once I started looking, I came across a flight for $106 through the airline Malta air. It appeared not to be a direct flight, which was a bit annoying, as sometimes direct flights are worth the extra money and the saved time. However, upon further look, I realized that the layover was even more interesting than I originally anticipated.
The layover was about 9 hours long and was right in the middle of the day. It seemed like the perfect way to explore a bit of Malta while saving $80! As a budget-minded travel fanatic, this almost seemed too good to be true; I would be able to explore a new country and save money in the process!
The more I travel, the more that these long layovers appeal to me. I like that they often offer the chance to have a break peak into a new culture while saving money in the process!
For those of you who might consider a similar layover through Air Malta while in transit between North Africa and/or Europe, here are my suggestions for the perfect way to spend half a day in Malta!
The Malta Airport is small and very easy to access. As I was traveling with only hand baggage, I wanted to find a place to store my baggage before I headed out to explore the island. Luckily, at the information desk, there was a very handy luggage storage area where I could store my baggage for the whole day for only €5.
After that, I headed outside the airport and crossed the street, where I waited for the X4 bus to come. I believe the ticket cost €1.20, and it took me to the city center Valletta. The bus ride took about 20 minutes. It was clean, calm, and very easy to navigate, and it dropped me off right at the entrance to the city center
As it was still early in the morning when I arrived in Valletta and I hadn’t had the chance to have breakfast yet, I took a moment to grab a bite of traditional Maltese food and enjoy some coffee. Basking in the early morning sun outside a cafe, I tried a traditional Maltese Pastizzi, or pastry. These are traditionally filled with mushy peas or ricotta. I tried the one with mushy peas and it was absolutely delicious.
After breakfast, I set off for a walk around the area of Valletta. First, I explored the main sights near the entrance to the city. The amazing architecture and bright blue sky were absolutely entrancing, and it felt almost like I was in a European fairly tale.
After checking out the main area of the city center, I decided to head towards the seaside to see the marina and the coastal area.
Walking through the beautifully colored cobbled streets made the walk feel effortless, and before I knew it, I arrived at the seaside.
I spent most of the morning walking around the seaside. There was so much life to see and so many beautiful colors to capture.
Eventually, I got hungry again, so I headed to a deli to try another local Maltese dish: Maltese sausage roll. Maltese sausage is an important Maltese dish flavored heavily with garlic and coriander. Not wanting to waste any time exploring, I took it to go and explored more of the city, pastry in hand.
Around noon, I decided that I had explored enough of the area of Valletta, and I wanted to take in a bit of Malta’s extensive prehistoric history. Hoping to get to the other side of the island to see the Ħaġar Qim Temples, who were built around 3600 – 3200 BC by prehistoric Maltese.
Using Malta’s extensive public transport, it wasn’t at all hard to get to. I simply headed outside of the gates of Valletta to the public bus area, where a helpful member of the transport team was able to show me the best bus to get near the temples. Again, the fare was only about 1.2 Euros, and it was a very easy ride. Once I arrived on the other side of the island, I simply used Google Maps to find the temple.
The entry fee was about 6 Euros, and the temples were incredibly cool to see. The history buff in me was absolutely awe inspired by the sheer age and scale of the temple, and it truly was the perfect way to end a day of great sightseeing.
Around 2 pm, using my favorite app Rome 2 Rio, I found the nearest bus station that would take me to the airport, and I headed back for my flight to Morocco. Overall, the day was fabulous. I loved getting some sun, setting a new culture, and sightseeing to the fullest. Overall, my half-day layover showed me just how much one person can see in a day and how exciting small bits of travel can be!
Have you ever been to Malta? Do you have any suggestions for cool things to do on a longer stay? Or have you ever done a short layover tour of a city? If so, comment below!