Welcome to the blog journal about our week-long trip to Malta. Officially named the most LGBTQ+ friendly country in the world by Spartacus. Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, the enchanting island of Malta offers a harmonious blend of rich history, picturesque landscapes, and a newly found allyship for the queer community. From Valletta, Mdina, Gozo, and the Three Cities – Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa – to the fishing village Marsaxlokk, we created lasting memories as a gay couple traveling. Join us as we take you on a journey by the highlights of Malta, infused with the spirit of EuroPride Valletta 2023.
– paid collaboration with Visit Malta –
Is Malta a country or an island?
The archipelago of Malta is a group of islands in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and the coast of North Africa. The member state of the European Union is known for its historical sites. The whole country bears witness to the successive conquest by the Romans, Moors, Order of St. John, French, and British. Four of the 21 islands are inhabited, while 18 remain unpopulated. During our first trip to Malta, we explored the two biggest islands, Malta and Gozo. Both have the perfect mix of culture, history, and natural beauty, including the national plant of Malta, the Maltese Centaury.
What makes Valletta – The Fortress City so unique?
Our journey began in the capital city, Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its grandeur and captivating architecture. Strolling through the narrow streets of “The Fortress City,” we admired the beautifully preserved buildings, churches, and stunning sea views. Named after its builder, Jean Parisot de la Valette, Valletta is a testament to the island’s rich history. Built in a remarkable 15 years – starting in 1566 – without mechanical tools. Valletta boasts awe-inspiring architecture, including magnificent bastions, forts, and the Grand Cathedral. On top of its history, we experienced a welcoming atmosphere as we discovered cute cafés, bars, and restaurants. Valletta balances perfectly history and modernity, creating an unforgettable experience.
We have found some attractive offers for flights worldwide and in Europe via Amsterdam with the gay-friendly KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. These include direct connections with KLM or its partner airlines Air France and Delta Air Lines. *subject to availability / last check: Spring 2024
Which architectural wonders not to miss in Valletta’s old town?
A tour around Valletta’s Old Town is an absolute must for any visitor to Malta. Step back in time as you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s rich historical and architectural wonders. Here are some of our absolute highlights. We started our journey at St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a masterpiece of Baroque art and home to stunning works by Caravaggio. As we continued our stroll, we discovered the Upper Barrakka Gardens. A tranquil oasis offering panoramic views of the Grand Harbor. Then, it was time for us to take in the awe-inspiring vistas of the fortified city walls and the majestic ships that dock in the harbor.
Which landmark in Valletta is definitely worth a visit?
We made our way to the Grand Master’s Palace. An architectural gem that serves as the seat of the Maltese Parliament. Museum-lovers will feel at home in Malta. We recommend the National Museum of Archaeology. Here, you can delve into Malta’s ancient past, discovering prehistoric artifacts, including the world-famous Venus of Malta, which offers a glimpse into the island’s Neolithic period.
What’s the best place to go for a stroll in Valletta?
No visit to Valletta is complete without a stroll down Republic Street, the city’s bustling main thoroughfare. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere as you browse through boutique shops, charming cafés, and local craft markets. And don’t be shy to explore one of the smaller side streets as well. We indulged ourselves in delicious pastizzi, traditional Maltese pastries, as we soaked in the energy of this lively atmosphere.
Does Malta has a cultural scene?
Although we did not have time during our trip, we heard great stories about Malta’s cultural scene. For example, a tip is to visit the Manoel Theatre, one of the oldest working theaters in Europe. Lastly, take a moment to appreciate Fort St. Elmo, a historic fortress guarding the entrance to the Grand Harbor. All the places offer plenty of photo ops. So, do not forget to bring your camera or phone!
During the first part of our stay in Malta, we had the pleasure of experiencing the grandeur of AX The Palace. Situated in the heart of Sliema, this five-star hotel offers a luxurious retreat with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
From the moment we entered the lobby, we were greeted by the staff members who ensured every aspect of our stay was impeccable. The beautiful rooms and suites at AX The Palace provide comfort and sophistication, offering a perfect blend of modern amenities and stylish design.
Where to go for lunch in Valletta’s old town?
Exploring the old town of Valletta makes you hungry. Our tip: Indulge in a culinary delight at Rubino Restaurant in the heart of Valletta’s old town. This small but charming eatery serves traditional Maltese cuisine, showcasing the island’s unique flavors. Sample mouthwatering dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients and savor the warmth of Maltese hospitality.
What is the best way to explore Valletta’s Harbor?
Similar to the Venetian gondolas in Venice, Malta also has colorful traditional boats. With good weather, it is an excellent idea to explore the harbors of Valletta by boat. With the Grand Harbor Tour we got some of the best views of the city aboard one of the traditional Maltese boats. A gentle breeze made our tour extra comfortable while we sailed through the crystal waters of Marsamxett and Grand Harbor, surrounded by Valletta’s impressive fortifications.
Especially, the stunning panoramic views of the city’s skyline have enchanted visitors for centuries. For us, it was just the perfect way to get an excellent first impression of Malta.
During the second part of our stay in Malta, we had the pleasure of immersing ourselves in the luxurious ambiance of Casa Ellul. Nestled in the heart of Valletta, this boutique hotel offers an exquisite blend of contemporary elegance and timeless charm. Each individually designed room and suite at Casa Ellul showcases meticulous attention to detail.
The rooftop terrace that was part of our room provides breathtaking views of Valletta’s skyline. It is an idyllic spot to unwind and soak in the beauty of the Mediterranean surroundings. With its central location, Casa Ellul offers convenient access to Valletta’s historical attractions, cultural sites, and vibrant dining scene.
Why do a tour of the Three Cities?
To experience even more of Malta’s culture, you don’t have to go far from Valletta. During our boat trip, we could already admire the mighty fortifications and walls across the Grand Harbor from Valletta. But now it was time to see the three cities up close. We followed the advice from our tour guide and immersed ourselves in Malta’s rich maritime history with a tour to Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa. Together, they are known as the Three Cities.
These charming destinations offer a glimpse into Malta’s rich past and are a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Walking through their narrow streets, we encountered impressive fortifications, picturesque squares, and ancient churches that show the island’s architectural heritage. Exploring the Three Cities is like stepping back in time, immersing yourself in the fascinating history of Malta.
How did Malta Celebrate EuroPride?
In 2023, we celebrated EuroPride Valletta in Malta’s capital city. The 10-day extravaganza featured Pride Marches, concerts, and theme parties in Valletta and Gozo. A Eurovision Party, Pride March, the concert of Christina Aguilera… In our EuroPride Valletta 2023 article, we’ll take you through the highlights of our EuroPride weekend. Showcasing the vibrant LGBTQ+ community and exploring how LGBTQ+ and gay-welcoming Malta is.
How to get to the charming island of Gozo
From the country’s main island, we set out on day three to explore the second-largest inhabited island of the archipelago, Gozo. This involves crossing the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Gozo Ferries from Cirkewwa take about 20 to 30 minutes to get you there. The fee per person is about €5. And don’t stress if you can’t get a seat inside. You get a free hair toss on deck while enjoying the view.
The charming island of Gozo offers a tranquil and picturesque escape from the bustling streets of Malta. We discovered a greener and more rural side of the archipelago. Here, life moves at a leisurely pace dictated by the seasons, fishing, and agriculture. True to this calmer motto, we uncovered Gozo’s mythical aura by visiting Ggantija Temples, Ta’ Kola Windmill, Ramla l-Hamra Bay, Calypso’s Cave, Qbajjar Salt Pans, Victoria, and The Citadel, along with the enchanting Dwejra.
We danced, laughed, and loved our way through EuroPride 2023 in Malta. Let us tell you more about the exciting program of the Pride event and a Couple of Men’s favorite moments.
Where to go for fresh seafood and a breathtaking view in Gozo?
Savoring the freshest seafood delicacies while enjoying breathtaking views of the azure sea is just another tip for your gay travels to Malta. Ta’ Karolina Restaurant in Xlendi is the place to go. Although Daan didn’t hit the jackpot here, being a vegetarian, he did appreciate the location of this cozy waterfront restaurant surrounded by rocks. At the same time, Karl tried out the delicious, fresh seafood brought directly to the table from the Mediterranean Sea. Let the ocean flavors of Gozo come alive on your plate as you relish every bite.
What is Malta’s most scenic fishing village?
Back on Malta’s big island, culture and history await beyond the bigger cities. We explored the cozy fishing village of Marsaxlokk, Malta’s premier fishing spot. It offers charming walks along the promenade, where traditional fishing boats, the Luzzu and Kajjik, painted in striking red, yellow, green, and blue, add to the scenic beauty. The calm bay waters mirror these colorful vessels, creating a perfect photo opportunity.
Where to eat in Marsaxlokk?
Marsaxlokk is the perfect place to indulge in fresh seafood delicacies. Take a seat at the local restaurants while immersing yourself in the authentic Maltese coastal ambiance. We can recommend La Nostra Padrona, another charming eatery that captures the essence of Maltese cuisine. They offer an array of traditional dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. From freshly caught seafood to mouthwatering pastries. The beautiful view and friendly staff ensure a memorable experience, making it a favorite among locals and visitors.
What makes the Blue Grotto of Malta a must-visit natural wonder?
The Blue Grotto of Malta is a mesmerizing natural wonder located on the island’s southern coast. Take a boat trip into the deep blue waters. It is enchanting how the vibrant colors reflect off the grotto’s limestone walls. The interplay of sunlight creates brilliant shades of blue, turquoise, and emerald, leaving visitors in awe. Dive into the crystal-clear waters to explore the intricate rock formations and vibrant marine life. As you emerge, the breathtaking coastal scenery with its dramatic cliffs adds to the grotto’s allure. With its unparalleled beauty, the Blue Grotto stands as Malta’s most popular natural attraction, leaving visitors with lasting memories of this magical place.
Why you should visit Mdina – The Silent City
Situated in the heart of the island of Malta, Mdina, also known as the Silent City, is a captivating destination that transports you back to the medieval era. Enclosed within its ancient walls, this fortified city exudes an air of tranquility and charm. In our opinion, it is one of the highlights of our gay travels to Malta. But firstly, we had to cross a bridge and enter the city’s gates.
As we wandered through its narrow streets, we encountered grand palaces, centuries-old churches, and enchanting courtyards. After all, Mdina is home to several noble houses, including the island’s oldest titled family, the Barons, who created their home in 1350. With a population of less than three hundred, Mdina maintains a serene and peaceful atmosphere. So don’t forget you’re a guest when you appreciate its historical grandeur and architectural marvels.
We could have spent many more hours among the centuries-old walls of Mdina. But it was time for something sweet!
Where to go for the best tea and sweets in Malta?
For a delightful break on our way back to Valletta we stopped at Palazzo Parisio in Naxxar. Here, we enjoyed tea and sweets at Café Luna. This charming café offers a refined and elegant setting, surrounded by the palazzo’s beautiful gardens.
We fell in love with our cups of rich Maltese tea paired with a selection of mouthwatering pastries handcrafted with care and creativity. After the delicious nibbles, we enjoyed a walk and discovery tour through the lush green gardens.
How to experience the perfect beach day on Malta’s west coast?
We love exploring nature, especially when it is as beautiful as the Maltese coastline. After a local tip, we decided to enjoy the beaches Gnejna and Ghajn on the west coast of the main island. Here, you can rent kayaks with Gnejna Watersports and peddle from Gnejna Beach to Ghajn Beach.
But first we paddled to the left, exploring the Ta’ Marija Cave. After our little adventure, we took our kayaks over the ocean water to Ghajn Beach. Here we had a fantastic lunch at Signita.
Does Malta has a gay beach?
On the opposite side of the restaurant, you will find the local spot for guys to hang out and enjoy the crystal clear water. We took our kayaks and crossed the bay (you can also walk along the beach). The beach was bustling because of Pride, but the energy was chill and friendly. We bumped into some of our friends who we hung out with in the water and while sunbathing on our towels. Behind the little beach is this vast area of rocks and cliffs. Many adventurers went exploring and came back later with a smile on their face. All of these things together made this a perfect day in nature on the west coast of Malta.
Now it is time for your adventure in Malta with our Gay Travel Highlights!
EuroPride 2023 took place in Malta from 7th September 2023 to 17th September 2023. It was a big celebration of diversity, equality, and LGBTQ+ rights. As one of the largest LGBTQ+ events in Europe, EuroPride attracts visitors from around the globe. Together, we stand for love, acceptance, and solidarity. The festival featured parades, parties, cultural performances, art exhibitions, and educational forums. One of the highlights was the performance of Christina Aguilera on the main stage after the Pride Parade!
EuroPride Valletta 2023 was an opportunity for the local LGBTQ+ community and allies to showcase their pride, share their stories, and advocate for equality. It created a colorful and inclusive atmosphere, which will hopefully leave a lasting impact on how Malta and its people interact with the LGBTQ+ community and human rights and acceptance of diversity in general.
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Karl & Daan.
We would especially like to thank Visit Malta, AirMalta, and all hotels for the invitation, support, and opportunity to experience Malta in an accessible and authentic way.