Pictures of the floating world

Ultimate guide to Malta – p.3

Third (and probably the last) part of my guide to Malta and Maltese islands!

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Malta has slowly become my third home after London and Pescara; without bragging, I’ve visited quite a few spots there.

Here, I prepared a few blogs about the landmarks and venues you can see in Malta: some are full of attractions, such as cities, and others are just a single attraction; however, all are worth a visit! Scroll down to read part 3 of my guide.

21. Aviation museum

The Aviation Museum, located not too far away from Ta’Qali craft village, is what remains of the airstrip used by the British Royal Air Force during WWII. The museum’s goal is to find and restore the historical artefacts – and it does it eagerly, with many planes restored to their glory. It might not be the most modern museum you’ve ever visited.

However, it has a fantastic collection of various aircraft dating to different time periods split between three hangars. It’s very fun to visit with kids who are eager to learn about things like this!

22. Gozo

I can talk about Gozo for hours (and actually, I do: check my guide to Gozo) because it’s one of my favourite places on Earth! Accessible by a short distance from Valletta speedy ferry or Mellieha ferry, it’s a gem with many natural and human-made wonders such as Dwejra, caves, cliffs, beaches, bays, windmills, salt pans and megalithic temples.

You can also visit the craft village near the Kempinski Gozo with lace, glass, ceramic shops and cafes. Vittoria, the main city of Gozo, is primarily famous for its Citadel, which turned into a very modern and cool museum, and the Cathedral.

We always stay there at Kempinski San Lawrenz, a large and welcoming hotel with a large outside pool area, inside pools, marble hamam, spa, and several restaurants, one of which – L-Istorja – presents high-end cuisine. It’s located pretty close to Dwejra, Craft village, Ta’Pinu, Zebbug and Victoria.

23. Birdpark

Birdpark (not to be confused with Salina Park nearby) is an aviary with many birds: you can meet about 200 species there, from flamingos and owls to parrots and ravens. You can take a bus there and walk a short distance towards the park.

Unfortunately, we found it not in the best condition and felt that this place lacked the funds (we visited shortly after the pandemic, so that might be the reason behind it). However, I must note that we noted that the birds still looked healthy and well-fed.

24. Sliema

Sliema is often overlooked by short-term visitors; however, everyone who stays in Malta longer adores it (and I’m not an exception). It has the best seaside promenade of all Malta, starting from Balluta Bay and going forward all the way to Fort Cambridge.

There are lots of restaurants and shops of all sorts – and if you’re with kids, there’s a large playground overlooking St Julian’s. For more shopping, go to the Tigne peninsula: The Point shopping mall has Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger, Oysho, Max Mara and many other options, as well as cafes and restaurants.

You can also pay a visit to the churches there, including Our Lady Star of the Sea and Jesus of Nazareth Parish Church, and there are also a few historical sites in the city, such as the 17th-century Tower of St Julian and mighty Fort Tigne.

The easiest way to move between Valletta and Sliema is to take a ferry. 

25. Ta’Qali petting farm

Ta’Qali petting farm is not really a petting farm but more like a zoo open to visitors (I have yet to notice any keepers there, but we probably just popped in at the wrong time). Many birds, like ducks and geese, peacocks, chickens, pheasants, parrots, canaries, etc.

And there are some larger animals too, like a llama, a donkey, a horse, some sheep and goats, all looking pretty well cared for – however, don’t feed them as many are on special diets due to the various health conditions. And you can still pet them because they deliberately come to you for some interaction (but please, if you’re visiting with kids, watch them all the time so they behave appropriately!).

The rabbits are available for adoption. There are two tiny playgrounds, both stylised accordingly. Malta National Park and Ta’Qali Craft Village are also very close to this farm.

26. Limestone Heritage, Park and Gardens

If you’ve been to Malta, you probably know that limestone is the most common material used in everything from megalithic temples to modern villas. The Limestone Heritage Park and Gardens in Siggiewi Village is a unique venue that allows you to learn its story! 

Your visit starts with a short introductory video. Then, you proceed to the limestone quarry, where you can learn about historical and modern tools and extraction methods of limestone. There’s also a small indoor museum exposition. 

Apart from this, a waterfall and citrus trees around the area transform this space into a magical oasis where you can relax and enjoy the surroundings.

27. Malta Film Studios and Fort Ricasoli

What do Game of Thrones, Napoleon, Gladiator I & II, Troy, Assassin’s Creed, By the Sea, and Jurassic World Domination have in common? They were all filmed in Malta!

If you’re a cinema enthusiast, Malta has something for you: Malta Film Studios and Fort Ricasoli, located in Kalkara near the Three Cities. These locations are not frequently open to the public, but if you’re lucky, don’t hesitate to visit! If they’re closed, you can still admire Fort Ricasoli from the Valletta side.

In January 2023, visitors were allowed to not only visit the Studios but also the set of Gladiator II – exclusively for one day only! Here, you can see the map of the Gladiator II set, which had just wrapped filming.

However, I have bad news for you – photography was forbidden there, and all phones and cameras had to be sealed in plastic bags (though I still saw people with their phones there). Nevertheless, I must assure you that the set looked fantastic: there was a Round temple, an incredible Imperial palace, a Colonnade, an Arena where stunts showed their skills, a triumphal arch, and a statue of Pedro Pascal (with a beard and on a horse), alongside many replicas of Roman sculptures.

Fortunately for us, photography was only forbidden at Fort Ricasoli, and we were able to take pictures of some displays around the other areas of Malta Film Studios, such as the fishing villages or different tanks with equipment. The ship models were also on display. You could also have a look at the backstage of movies: makeup and prosthetics, wardrobe making, filming itself, etc., getting a glimpse of how much effort goes into movie making.

28. Playmobil FunPark 

If you have kids, you’re definitely aware of Playmobil, a German ‘competitor’ of Lego, which sells themed play sets with small figures of humans and animals?

Actually, the concept was invented in 1974 by Hans Beck, and now they have three factories in Germany, Malta, and Spain. And there is a Playmobil FunPark shaped like a castle near the Maltese factory in Hal Far village, not far from the airport! 

There are a few areas on site you can visit for a reasonable price. The indoor area with many tables is equipped with cars, castles, train rails, etc. Kids are given buckets of toys to play around in during their visit. There’s also a playground outside with a giant pirate ship, a pirate house and other facilities to enjoy.

Overall, it’s a great place to spend a few hours (or a whole day) with kids, so consider visiting it while you’re in Malta too.

29. Fort Manoel 

The 18th-century Fort Manoel is located on the island in Marsamxett Harbour between Sliema and Valletta and is accessible by walking on the bridge connecting the island with the Gzira seaside promenade. It’s named after the Grand Master of the Order of St John António Manoel de Vilhena because it was erected during his rule. 

It used to be a very prominent spot, with many movie screenings taking place in the Fort itself (including the Game of Thrones’ reincarnation of King’s Landing); however, now it seems a bit deserted.

You can have a nice walk around noticing dozens of cats, Mediterranean flora and stunning views from the seaside promenade around Fort Manoel; however, during our visit, the entrance to the Fort was closed despite its recent restoration. The yacht marina is located there as well. The island used to be home to Ġzira’s Duck Village; however, it was recently demolished due to the sanitary conditions.

30.Comino

Comino is one of the islands forming Malta: it’s quite small, rocky, with little vegetation and located between Malta itself and Gozo island. The easiest way to get here is to take a ferry from Cirkewwa on Malta, or Mgarr on Gozo; alternatively you can also hire a private boat. 

There is a trail following which you can explore some of the Comino’s few attractions such as a watch tower. Comino is also a nature reserve and bird sanctuary. However, usually everyone comes here for a swim in the Blue Lagoon! There are sparse facilities available like an umbrella hire, a few water and food kiosks and a toilet, and it’s definitely a bit crowded here in the Blue lagoon but just look at the water colour.

If you swim well, just go a bit further from the shore as everyone tends to accumulate within a couple of metres from the shore, and you’ll be rewarded with the clearest water you can imagine.

You might also like my other Maltese guides:

Comino Malta Blue Lagoon

Hope you liked my blog!
Yours,
Anna xxx

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