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Malta

Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea that lies south of the island of Sicily, Italy. The country is an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, G?awdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited.

Regions

Cities

  • Valletta – the capital, named for Jean Parisot de la Valette, a French nobleman who was Grand Master of the Order of St. John and leader of the defenders during the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage site for the massive number of historical buildings found in a tiny space.
  • 2 Cottonera (Three Cities) – The name used when referring to the three historic and ancient cities of Birgu (aka Vittoriosa), Isla (aka Senglea) and Bormla (aka Cospicua), three towns conglomerated by 16th century fortifications called the Cottonera lines.
  • Marsaxlokk – fishing village south of the island. A big market is held every Sunday.
  • Mdina – Malta's well-preserved quiet old capital. pronounced 'im-dina'
  • Mosta – 3rd largest city (in population) of Malta.
  • Rabat – hosts numerous historical attractions such as St. Paul's catacombs and the Domus Romana(previously known as Roman Villa)
  • 7 St. Julian's – perfect area for nightlife & entertainment.
  • Sliema – shopping area just north of Valletta.
  • Victoria – the main town on Gozo.
  • 10 ?ejtun – the largest city in the South of Malta and one of the oldest cities in Malta.

Other destinations

  • 1 Hagar Qim and Mnajdra – Two very beautiful stone age temples set on the cliffside of south west Malta. Their majesty has now been marred by protective tents and a 2 storey new building nearby.
  • 2 ?gantija – Another Neolithic heritage in the island of Gozo.
  • Tarxien Temples – A Neolithic temple in Tarxien.
  • 4 Mellie?a – A locality in Malta surrounded by the largest and some of the most wonderful sandy beaches on the Islands
  • 5 Golden Bay – One of Malta's most beautiful sandy beaches, on the northwest coast of the island; The Radisson Hotel overlooking it damages the view somewhat, unless you're looking at the view from inside the hotel.
  • G?ajn Tuffieha – "Apple spring", aka "Long Steps Bay", just behind Golden Bay. Just as beautiful or even more (unspoiled panorama), and even less crowded during the high season.
  • Blue Grotto – A series of seven caves and inlets on the southern side of Malta famous for deep blue waters and spectacular natural rock formations. The Blue Grotto may be accessed by small traditional boats, skippered by cheerful Maltese guides, which leave from a well-signposted pier just off the main road along the south coast.
  • Hypogeum of ?al-Saflieni – A subterranean structure dating from 3000-2500 BC. Advanced booking is required.
  • Ghar Dalam – A prehistoric cave containing remains from the Pleistocene era.
  • Clapham Junction – An area of western central Malta (not far from Buskett woods) where deep ruts in the bedrock appear to have been formed in the remote past by wagons or carts. Some of these ruts cross rock-cut punic tombs, proving that the ruts existed before the tombs. In the vicinity there are large caves which used to be inhabited by troglodytes.
  • St.Thomas Bay – A quaint inlet, 1 km beyond Marsaskala, with a sloping, built up area on one side, and barren Munxar white cliffs on the other. There are 2 small sandy beaches ideal for swimming in summer. Beneath Munxar there is now a 'window' at the cliffside. Beyond Munxar Point there are amazing, very high, white cliffs, with 2 large and deep caves in them. Many amateur fishermen own boathouses in the vicinity and go fishing whenever the sea is calm.
  • St.Peter's Pool – A natural inlet located south of Malta, Delimara area. It looks like a natural swimming pool carved into the rocks.
  • Mosta Dome – the third largest dome in Europe and the ninth largest dome in the world. On April 9, 1942, a bomb struck the church whilst a religious ceremony was taking place with more than 300 people attending. Luckily the bomb didn't explode.
  • Manoel Island – is found in Gzira and is rarely used for some events/activities.

Understand

History

Although small, Malta has a vast and rich history, with evidence for habitation going back to the Neolithic era (4th millennium B.C.). The country boasts the world's most ancient standing buildings (the Neolithic temples), and its strategic location and good harbours in the middle of the Mediterranean have attracted Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Crusaders, the French and finally the British, with the colonial period lasting until 1964.

The Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitallers and Knights of Malta, took over sovereign control of Malta in 1530, and by 1533 the Order had built a hospital at Birgu (one of the Three Cities) to care for the sick. In 1565, Suleiman the Magnificent, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, mounted a great siege of Malta with a fleet of 180 ships and a landing force of 30,000 men. In response the Order, with only 8,000 defenders, drove the Ottoman Turks away after a hard siege of several months. After this siege, the Order founded the city of Valletta on a peninsula, and fortified it with massive stone walls, which even withstood heavy bombing during the Second World War. By 1575 the Order had built a new large hospital known as the Grand Hospital or Sacred Infirmary in order to continue with its primary mission of caring for the sick.

In 1798, the French under Napoleon took the island on 12 June, without resistance, when the Grand Master of the Order capitulated after deciding that the island could not be defended against the opposing French naval force. French rule lasted a little over 2 years, until they surrendered to the British Royal Navy, under Admiral Nelson's command, in September 1800.

Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars.

The island was awarded the George Cross for its heroic resistance during the Second World War. An image of the cross is displayed on the flag.

Independence  21 September 1964 (from UK) National holidays 
  • Freedom Day, 31 March (1979)
  • Sette Giugno, 7 June (1919)
  • Feast of Our Lady of Victories, 8 September (1565)
  • Independence Day, 21 September (1964)
  • Republic Day, 13 December (1974).

Malta remained in the Commonwealth of Nations when it became independent from Great Britain in 1964. It is still a member.

A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has become a freight trans-shipment point, financial centre and tourist destination.

Malta gained European Union membership in May 2004.

Climate

Malta's climate is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and is similar to other Mediterranean climates. Winters are wet and windy. Summers are virtually guaranteed to be dry and hot. Temperatures range from a low of approximately 15° C in December, January, February and March to highs of approximately 29° in June, July, August and September.

Terrain

Mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains, with a coastline that has many coastal cliffs and numerous bays that provide good harbours.

Highest point  Ta' Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)

Get in

Malta is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.

Visitors from outside the EU, including Americans, must fill out a landing card, available on board some arriving flights (sometimes) or in the entrance hall of the airport from the small box between the customs agents.

By plane

Malta possesses its own national carrier, Air Malta, with regular connections to many European, North African and Middle Eastern centres.

Ryanair flies to/from London Luton, Edinburgh, Eindhoven, Dublin, Madrid, Marseille, Trapani, Bristol, Pisa, Kaunas, Kraków, Stockholm (Skavsta), Seville, Valencia, Venice (Treviso), Wroclaw, Girona, Birmingham and Bari. Easyjet flies to/from Belfast, Manchester, Newcastle, Rome, Milan Malpensa and London Gatwick. Norwegian flies to/from Copenhagen and Oslo. Jet2 flies to/from East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Newcastle.

The island's airport 1 Malta International Airport (IATA: MLA) is located in Luqa.

Buses to various locations on the island (Valletta, Sliema, St. Julian's, etc.) are located outside the terminal building. Ticket machines and schedules are by the bus station. As of May 2016, a ticket for one-way adult in summer is €2.00 (€1.50 in winter). It takes approximately 40-50min to get to Valletta or Sliema.

By boat

There are frequent fast ferries to the Sicilian port of Catania (3 hours) and Pozzallo, Italy (90 minutes), but the seas can be turbulent with a heavy swell if it's windy. Usually the trip takes around twice as long on large passenger ships, but fares are lot cheaper, which makes it ideal for drivers of cars, trucks, or campers. Other destinations include Livorno, Salerno, Rome (Civitavecchia), Palermo, Genoa and Tunis. However, discount airlines like Ryanair, Windjet and Efly can be more convenient and the prices of their flights are often comparable to the cost of a boat trip.

Get around

By bus

Until July 2011, one of Malta's joys was the wonderfully antiquated public bus system, consisting mainly of 1950s-era exports from Britain usually kitted up with more chintz than a Christmas tree plus icons of every saint in the Bible and then some.

Since 2011, buses are modern, comfortable and all air-conditioned. On 1 January 2014 Malta Public Transport Services Ltd took over the bus service in Malta from Arriva, after their bus system failed in less than three years.

The Malta Public Transport website can be found here. A summary of the network on a "London Underground" style diagram is found here.

Single ride fare is €2.00 (€1.50 in winter) and you can buy the ticket directly from the driver. It allows you to travel within a two-hour period including changing lines (but doesn't allow returns) until you reach your destination.

If you plan to stay and travel around Malta for one week or more the purchase of a week ticket for €21 is recommended. You can buy it in kiosks close to Valetta terminus and some bus stops. You can no longer buy it directly from the driver or from vending machines (as of October 2015). More information available here.

The current bus system is much more efficient than the old one (prior to 2011), but is still not perfect. Many lines depart from Valletta, which makes it almost always necessary to transit there. Another problem is that buses are often full, especially on weekends, on the lines passing by the tourist spots. Hence, it is almost always impossible to board at another station than the first station -- the bust won't even stop. With very low frequencies (most lines pass every 30, 60 or 90 minutes), you need to wait for the next bus... that will be most probably full too. So it is advised to first head to the bus station (e.g., Valletta), even if it is your opposite direction, and then take the line in the direction you wish. For example, to go to Gozo from St. Julian's, first go back to Valletta (or Sliema Ferries, if using line 222), and then head towards Gozo.

Also note that, at an end station, buses often change lines. That is, do not watch the bus number before it is fully stopped and empty from its passengers, as it can change its number at that time (e.g., a bus can arrive to Valletta numbered as 51, but then depart as number 53).

Finally, the (new) bus system is still notoriously slow, with bus lines doing many detours and buses often stuck in traffic jams, especially around 6pm. Hence, do not plan to rush, and take your time!

By taxi

Malta's white taxis are the ones that can pick you up off the street. Figure on €15 for short hops and not much more than €35 for a trip across the island. There are now government approved fares for taxis from the airport ranging from €10 to 30.

For cheaper airport transfers and local taxis try using one of the local "black cab" taxi firms such as Active Cabs, Malta Taxi by Sean Taxi Service, Peppin Transport (cheaper online prices), Malta Transfer airport shuttle, Malta Taxi Online or Malta airport transfers with a high quality of service and online booking available. Their rates are normally lower than white taxis but their services must be prebooked (at least fifteen minutes notice).

If you would like a taxi tour, it is a good idea to book it in advance with an agreed price and arrange to be picked up from your hotel or apartment. The tours are best kept short, around 3 to 4 hours should do it. In a car you will be able to cover MdinaRabatMostaValletta and the Blue Grotto. However, some people say that when visiting historical sights it is best to also hire a licensed tourist guide (who will wear their license while on tour) and accuse taxi drivers of often giving inaccurate information.

By car

Renting a car in Malta is a fine way to see the country, since it's cheap and driving conditions have improved greatly in the last ten years. Having your own car allows you to make a lot more of your trip and discover the many hidden charms these small islands have to offer.

It is always best to prebook your car rental online as this works out cheaper than booking when you arrive. According to the Mediterranean markets, Malta has very low rates for car rental. Any driver and additional drivers must take with them their driving licenses in order to be covered for by the insurances provided by the local car rental supplier.

Car hire is available also at Malta International Airport with many leading brands such as Active Car Rental, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, First Car Rental, and Economy Rent a Car having a car hire desk inside the airport.

There are also a number of local rental companies that operate on a meet & greet basis at the airport. Most of the times these companies provide more of a personalized service to the clients.

Following is a list of local companies which previous users have recommended:

JS Car Hire - Renowned for their excellent service and fair policies

Aquarius Rent a Car

Percius Car Hire

There is GPS coverage of the Island by popular brands, however do check with your rental company as to whether they make this available to you or not. Popular opinion states that the GPS mapping of Malta isn't altogether that accurate, where certain routes planned on the GPS, will send you up one way streets without warning, best to use common sense in conjunction with this technology. Also the Maltese can be a very friendly bunch of people when giving directions are concerned.

By ferry

Within Malta

There are several ferry lines within Malta, in particular linking Valletta to Sliema, and Valletta to Birgu.

Between Malta and Gozo

There is the regular ferry service [1] between ?irkewwa on Malta and M?arr on Gozo, it goes every 45 minutes in the summer and almost as often in the winter (with lower frequencies in the evening, and very low frequency at night). You buy a return ticket at the Gozo end for 4€65 (no ticket required in Malta, though you can buy your return ticket from there, and save time in Gozo). Also note that the ferry is not strictly on time, and it can even depart before schedule.

To Comino

There are irregular services to Comino.

By helicopter

Scheduled helicopter service between Malta and Gozo has been terminated.

By bike

Renting a bike in Malta is not a very common and popular practice but it doesn't cost much, and offers enough flexibility to explore. Bicycle rental shops are present all over the island but it is always better to book them from beforehand via their websites so as not to be disappointed.

Cycling is an original and fun way of discovering Malta and Gozo, known for their very small size. It is a good idea to cycle on the west of Malta, in the areas of Dingli Cliffs and Fomm ir-Rih as they are far from congested cities and offer a pleasant view.

It should be known however that most roads in Malta are dangerous for cyclists; most Maltese motorists are not friendly towards cyclists and there are no bicycle lanes. It is best to stick to country roads making sure to rent mountain bikes as country roads can get bumpy and uncomfortable for city bikes. In summer, do not go cycling between the hours of 11 am to 4 pm as the heat is unbearable.

By charter boat

The boat charter industry has grown considerably in Malta over the last few years. Malta's favourable tax regime for commercial yachting and its central location in the middle of the Mediterranean sea has meant that large, famous charter yachts – such as the Maltese Falcon and a whole range of small and midsized yachts – are now available for day and week charters. The Grand Harbour Marina has become the principal centre for bareboating (self-hire yacht chartering). It is the headquarter of such companies as The Sunseeker Experience [2], Yachthelp [3] and Navimerian Malta Yacht Charters [4].

Talk

See also: Maltese phrasebook

The official languages are Maltese and English. Italian is widely understood and spoken. Some people have basic French, but few people can speak fluent French in Malta. By law, all official documents in Malta are in Maltese and English and many radio stations broadcast in both languages. Virtually all Maltese citizens speak English fluently and some may even speak with a standard British accent.

Maltese is a Semitic language, though it has borrowed a substantial amount of vocabulary from the Romance languages (particularly Italian). The closest living relative of Maltese is Arabic, particularly the dialect spoken in North Africa known as Maghrebi Arabic (spoken in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria) though Maltese is written in the Latin alphabet instead of the Arabic script. Maltese is also more distantly related to Hebrew and Amharic, so if you speak any of these three languages, you'll recognise some similarities. It also has substantial English elements in it. Knowing a few phrases in Maltese may be useful. See the Maltese phrasebook for details.

See

The ancient capital of Mdina, also known as the Silent City, rests at a high point in the heart of the island. Surrounded by the scenic town of Rabat, this fortress is one of Malta's finest jewels, boasting architecture, history and a quality cup of coffee with a splendid view. Mdina gets very peaceful and romantic in the evenings when the day trippers leave.

Valletta is similar in that it boasts a rich history, only being the modern capital, it is very much alive and much more modern, serving as both a shopping area during the day and offering an array of museums and cultural sites. Of particular note is St John's Co-Cathedral, built by one of the earlier Grandmasters of the Knights Hospitaller. It contains the various chapels of the Knights' langues, with Caravaggio paintings, tapestries and various relics of immense value to the Maltese heritage. The very floors of the Cathedral are the tombs of the most famous knights of the Order of St. John, and a crypt, though off-limits to tourists, hosts the bodies of some of the most illustrious of Grandmasters, including the city's founder, Jean de Valette.

The Megalithic Temples of Malta are some of the oldest buildings in the world, as such they have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Seven megalithic temples are found on the islands of Malta and Gozo, each the result of an individual development. The two temples of Ggantija on the island of Gozo are notable for their gigantic Bronze Age structures. On the island of Malta, the temples of Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders. The Ta'Hagrat and Skorba complexes show how the tradition of temple-building was handed down in Malta. Beware, that access to the Hypogeum is restricted to a maximum of 60 persons a day (10 persons in six shifts), which means tickets must be booked well in advance.

In Gozo, a rural atmosphere is predominant. Billy Connolly purchased a home in Gozo several years ago, owing to the island's quiet and relaxing nature. Visitors will be interested in taking a look at the impressive geographical feature of the Inland Sea, carved out by the Mediterranean. One is also obliged to visit the Citadel, Gozo's version of Mdina. Gozo is situated 5 km northwest of Malta and can be reached by a 25-minute crossing from Cirkewwa, the harbour of Malta.

For a look into more traditional Maltese life, the seldom seen south of Malta is a possible option for visitation. Townships like Ghaxaq often escape public notice, but some of the island's finest churches lie in the south. The many churches of Malta are testaments to the style and design of their times. Many towns in the north were stripped of their culture due to rapid urbanisation, but this has been felt less in the south of Malta.

If you visit Malta in summer, be sure you visit one of the town/village feast. Every town or village has at least one feast dedicated to a saint. The feast usually lasts for one week (in most cases from Monday to Sunday), with its peak being usually on Saturday. During this week, the village or town will be decorated with several ornaments and works of art such as statues, lights and paintings on tapestry. In most cases, the feast would also be furnished with fireworks, both air and ground (which are quite spectacular and rather unique to Malta). In most cases, the ground fireworks are presented the day before the actual feast day late at night. There are differences between one village feast and another, and some are more attractive and more famous than others. Some of the most famous feasts are those of Our Lady of the Lily in Mqabba (third Sunday of June), Saint Philip in Zebbug (second Sunday of June), Mount Carmel in Zurrieq (Sunday before the last of July), Saint Mary of Imqabba, Qrendi, and Ghaxaq (on the 15th of August), Saint Catherine of Zurrieq (first Sunday of September) and the Nativity of Our Lady in Naxxar (on the 8th of September).

During the month of April, a fireworks contest occurs in the Valletta/Floriana area, where different fireworks factories compete with each other exhibiting their finest works both ground fireworks and air fireworks. It is spectacular and above all it's free to attend to.

Quite a few wine festivals are organized during summer, two of which are organized in Valletta and one in Qormi. It is a great experience to taste several Maltese wines at very cheap prices. (In the Qormi festival (September) and Delicata wine festival (August), you buy a 10-euro cup, and you can drink as much as you like; in the Marsovine wine festival (July), you buy a cup and 14 tokens for 10 euros). A beer festival (July–August) is also organized in Ta' Qali.

Finally, Malta's megalithic temples are the oldest free-standing structures on Earth, and one should not forget to take walks in the countryside. The most popular tourist destinations of Sliema and St. Julians probably have the least to offer as regards a taste of Malta, though they continue to be the most frequented. They are the most modern of locations, with most old buildings having been knocked down due to the monstrous construction industry fuelling the economy. Malta's main nightlife area can be found here, especially in Paceville.

Do

Sample the local delicacies. In summer, the island is perfect for water sports and beach activities. The island has been described as an open-air museum by some; one is unlikely to run out of things to see during a visit to Malta. Each township has its own unique sights to offer if one pays close enough attention. Most Maltese citizens have not even visited all the wonders and attractions that this island offers. Hiking in the countryside offers a taste of rural Malta, especially if trekking along the coast of Gozo. Although Malta is not famous for its tennis, it is a popular sport throughout the islands.[5] Players on all different levels can congregate at the various tennis courts spread out across Malta to play a game of tennis or spectate as regular season games are being played. Because of the warm climate, even in the winter months, tennis is therefore a sport that can be played all year around in Malta. Sailing is a wonderful option, as Malta boasts an impressive array of caves, scenic sunsets, and other views. The island is surrounded by a limitless number of beaches.

There are a number of great annual festivals worth attending. Valletta Carnival - February/March Malta Carnival national activities will be held in Valletta and Floriana. Dance and costume competitions will take place in the capital and Floriana followed by defiles which include triumphal floats, bands, grotesque masks and lots of dance. Malta Carnival is an unforgettable experience of fun, colour, art and merriment.

G?anafest - Malta Mediterranean Folk Music Festival - June The Malta Mediterranean Folk Music Festival is a fabulous 3-day event of Mediterranean folk music, including Maltese folksongs (g?ana), Maltese songwriters and folk ensembles, together with guest folk musicians from neighbouring Mediterranean countries. G?anafest also hosts a series of workshops on traditional instruments and a special programme for children, and is complemented by traditional Maltese food and the marvelous surroundings of the Argotti Botanical Gardens in Floriana.

Malta Jazz Festival - July The Malta Jazz Festival has a special place in Malta’s cultural calendar, attracting great stars of the international jazz scene to Malta. It has become a hub for the exchange of musical experience – an encounter between musicians of international fame and gifted local artists. The magnificent setting of the historic Ta’ Liesse wharf in Valletta’s Grand Harbour makes the Malta Jazz Festival a uniquely memorable experience.

Malta Arts Festival - July The Malta Arts Festival is the highlight of Malta’s cultural calendar – a showcase of diverse top quality theatre, music and dance performances, and offers something from almost all artistic forms, including collaborations between Maltese and foreign artists. The festival events are held in various venues in and around Valletta, mostly open-air, taking advantage of Malta’s cool summer evenings. The festival’s joint performances and workshops, together with its specially commissioned works, enhance local artistic development and provide impetus for cultural innovation.

Notte Bianca - September/ October Notte Bianca is held annually in Valletta and is a spectacular, night-long celebration of culture and the arts. State palaces, historic buildings and museums open their doors almost all night, playing host to visual art exhibitions and music, dance and theatre performances. Streets and squares become platforms for open-air activities, and many cafes and restaurants extend their hours and run pavement stalls. All areas of the capital city, from the entrance gate to the far end of the peninsula are involved and all events are free of charge.

Isle of MTV Malta Special - Held annually at the Fosos square in Floriana, it is the largest open-air free concert in Europe. Worldwide acclaimed artists take the stage in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 50,000 people. 2012 saw the performances of Nelly Furtado, Flo Rida and Will.I.Am.

Dive

Malta is a great place to dive, with it being possible to dive all year around. The water temperature varies from a cool 14°C in February/March to warm 26°C in August. The visibility of water is generally high, making it a good place to learn diving as well.

The dive sites are located close to shore. Consequently, most dives start there, making everything easier and cheaper. The dive sites include rocky reefs, some wrecks and cave diving (especially interesting is the dive in the Inland Sea in Gozo). There will tend to be more marine life during the warmer months, when you can hope to see tuna, octopus, moray eels, seahorses, fire worms, soft coral along with the usual sea grass and underwater ridges.

Surf

Being an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta offers up numerous amazing surf spots stretching all over the coastline. In the summer air temperatures average at 31?C and sea temperature is a comfortable 25?C, creating perfect conditions for spending hours in the clear blue ocean. Check out surf spots Ghallis, Palm Beach and St. Thomas, they are all located close to the tourist centre of Malta on the north shore.

Christmas in Malta

Christmas is a largely religious affair on the Maltese islands. This is because most Maltese people are Catholic. During the festive season, various Christmas cribs, or Presepji, as they're called in Maltese, can be seen on display in churches, shopping centres, etc.

The Maltese people have many Christmas customs that are unique to the island. A very popular traditional Christmas dessert is Qag?aq tal-G?asel. These are light pastry rings filled with honey.

Buy

Money

Malta uses the euro. It is one of several European countries that uses this common currency. All euro banknotes and coins are legal tender within all the countries.

One euro is divided into 100 cents.

The official symbol for the euro is €, and its ISO code is EUR. There is no official symbol for the cent.

  • Banknotes: Euro banknotes have the same design in all the countries.
  • Normal coins: All eurozone countries have coins issued with a distinctive national design on one side, and a standard common design on the other side. Coins can be used in any eurozone country, regardless of the design used (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative two euro coins: These differ from normal two euro coins only in their "national" side and circulate freely as legal tender. Each country may produce a certain amount of them as part of their normal coin production and sometimes "Europe-wide" two euro coins are produced to commemorate special events (e.g. the anniversary of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Commemorative coins of other amounts (e.g. ten euros or more) are much rarer, and have entirely special designs and often contain non-negligible amounts of gold, silver or platinum. While they are technically legal tender at face value, their material or collector value is usually much higher and, as such, you will most likely not find them in actual circulation.

Major currencies other than the euro are not acceptable as an over-the-counter currency. In the past, they were widely accepted years ago and changed on the fly at restaurants and bars. So if you have dollars or pounds, it's best to change them at the plethora of exchange bureaus or banks across the island prior to going out.

Costs

Transportation

Transportation costs are cheap by European standards. A weekly bus pass costs €21.

Food

Food costs are reasonable, compared to western European capitals. Having a Maltese-sized pizza in a decent restaurant costs from 7€ to 12€. Snacks (sandwiches, burgers, pizza slices) can be bought from 1€50 to 5€. A main course in a higher-level restaurant typically costs from 20 to 30€.

Accommodation

Accommodation is reasonably cheap by western European standards. A bed in a dorm can cost around 15€, and a double room in rather cheap hotels around 40€. Students can find accommodation with host families at reasonable rates or they can rent an apartment.

Eat

Distinctly Maltese cuisine is hard to find but does exist. The food eaten draws its influences from Italian cuisine. Most restaurants in resort areas like Sliema cater largely to British tourists, offering pub grub like meat and three veg or bangers and mash, and you have to go a little out of the way to find 'real' Maltese food. One of the island's specialities is rabbit (fenek), and small savoury pastries known as pastizzi are also ubiquitous.

The Maltese celebratory meal is fenkata, a feast of rabbit, marinated overnight in wine and bay leaves. The first course is usually spaghetti in rabbit sauce, followed by the rabbit meat stewed or fried (with or without gravy). Look out for specialist fenkata restaurants, such as Ta L'Ingliz in Mgarr.

True Maltese food is quite humble in nature, and rather fish and vegetable based – the kind of food that would have been available to a poor farmer, fisherman, or mason. Thus one would find staples like soppa ta' l-armla (widow's soup) which is basically a coarse mash of whatever vegetables are in season, cooked in a thick tomato stock. Then there's arjoli which is a julienne of vegetables, spiced up and oiled, and to which are added butter beans, a puree made from broadbeans and herbs called bigilla, and whatever other delicacies are available, like Maltese sausage (a confection of spicy minced pork, coriander seeds and parsley, wrapped in stomach lining) or ?bejniet (simple cheeselets made from goats' or sheep milk and rennet, served either fresh, dried or peppered).

Maltese sausage is incredibly versatile and delicious. It can be eaten raw (the pork is salted despite appearances), dried, or roasted. A good plan is to try it as part of a Maltese platter, increasingly available in tourist restaurants. Sun dried tomatoes and bigilla with water biscuits are also excellent. Towards the end of summer one can have one's fill of fried lampuki (dolphin fish) in tomato and caper sauce.

One must also try to have a bite of ?ob? bi?-?ejt, which is leavened Maltese bread, cut into thick chunks, or else baked unleavened ftira, and served drenched in oil. The bread is then spread with a thick layer of strong tomato paste, and topped (or filled) with olives tuna, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and the optional arjoli (which in its simpler form is called ?ardiniera).

If you have a car at your disposal, take a detour and have a lunch or a dinner at the Farmer's Bar in ?ebbieg?, on the road between Mgarr and the Golden Bay. You'll find traditional Maltese food in an everyday environment, at cheap prices (less than 10€ per person). Book in advance if you want to eat rabbit (fenek) and be aware that one dish for 3 easily fills 4. Arrive early (at 12 for lunch, at 19 for dinner) or content yourself with what remains available in the kitchen.

For other suggestions, see "Eat" listings in city articles.

Drink

A typical soft drink that originated in Malta is kinnie, a non-alcoholic fizzy drink made from bitter oranges (called "Chinotto orange") and slightly reminiscent of martini.

The local beer is called Cisk (pronounced "Chisk") and, for a premium lager (4.2% by volume), it is very reasonably priced by UK standards. It has a uniquely sweeter taste than most European lagers and is well worth trying. Other local beers, produced by the same company which brews Cisk, are Blue Label Ale, Hopleaf, 1565, Lacto ("milk stout"), and Shandy (a typical British mixture pre-mixture of equal measures of lager and 7-Up). Other beers have been produced in Malta in direct competition with Cisk such as '1565' brewed and bottled in the Lowenbrau brewery in Malta. Since late 2006 another beer produced by a different company was released in the market called "Caqnu". A lot of beers are also imported from other countries or brewed under license in Malta, such as Carlsberg, Lowenbrau, SKOL, Bavaria, Guinness, Murphy's stout and ale, Kilkenny, John Smith's, Budweiser, Becks, Heineken, Efes, and many more.

Malta has two indigenous grape varieties, Girgentina and ?ellewza, although most Maltese wine is made from various imported vines. Maltese wines directly derived from grapes are generally of a good quality, Marsovin [6] and Delicata [7] being prominent examples, and inexpensive, as little as 60-95ct per bottle. Both wineries have also premium wines which have won various international medals. There are also many amateurs who make wine in their free time and sometimes this can be found in local shops and restaurants, especially in the Mgarr and Si??iewi area. Premium wines such as Meridiana [8] are an excellent example of the dedication that can be found with local vineyards.

The main Maltese nightlife district is Paceville (pronounced "pach-a-vil"), just north of St. Julian's. Young Maltese (as young as high school-age) come from all over the island to let their hair down, hence it gets very busy here, especially on weekends (also somewhat on Wednesdays, for midweek drinking sessions). Almost all the bars and clubs have free entry so you can wander from venue to venue until you find something that suits you. The bustling atmosphere, cheap drinks, and lack of cover charges makes Paceville well worth a visit. The nightlife crowd becomes slightly older after about midnight, when most of the youngsters catch buses back to their towns to meet curfew. Paceville is still going strong until the early hours of the morning, especially on the weekends.

Interestingly it does not rain much on Malta and almost all of the drinking water is obtained from the sea via large desalination plants on the west of the island or from the underground aquifer.

Learn

Malta has promoted itself successfully as an entirely bilingual nation for Maltese and English. It counts for many educational institutes in the rest of the world as a country where English is the first language and they therefore will often even subsidize students to go there to learn it. The vast majority of Maltese citizens speak English to a very high standard.

Work

For foreigners, work is unfortunately often very hard to find. The Maltese are rather insular and figures show that even in the tourist sector, they are very reluctant to hire people not from the island, though there is a sense that since joining the EU, there is more willingness to hire professionals from abroad as the business sector diversifies.

The two main industries that provide jobs for foreigners in Malta are tourism and gaming. Both employ many expatriates. It's easiest to get work in tourism from May to September or October, selling tickets, doing promotions, or working at a bar or in a hotel. Jobs in gaming are often available to those who speak a foreign language and include call centres, support, sales and IT related work. These jobs are season independent and more stable. For those looking for work in Malta, the local job boards Jobs in Malta and Best Jobs In Malta are a good first place to search.

Stay safe

Malta is generally considered safe. However, visitors to Paceville at night should exercise caution.

Due to Malta being a major Mediterranean port, sailors with shore leave tend to become quite rowdy after long voyages. As well, the advent of low cost air travel coming to Malta has brought an influx of teens from across Europe enjoying short cheap weekend breaks in the sun.

Despite that most public parking lots are free in Malta, parking attendants will importunately extort tips from you calling it "donation". They will make you think it's obligatory telling you that everyone does it. However keep in mind that giving tips is completely voluntary and you don't have to do that, especially if you feel that the parking attendant is rude. Feel free to just walk away. Those guys won't scratch your car in case you deny tipping (but be prepared that they may yell at you). Remember, if the parking is not free (like at the airport), there will be a sign.

People of colour have been known to have experienced racial discrimination on Malta.

Stay healthy

The main health risk in Malta is the fierce sun in the summer, which can scorch unsuspecting tourists. Apply sunblock liberally.

it is unclear whether water from the tap is safe to drink.

There are many free and usually very clean public toilets all over the country. Toilet paper is not always available though.

For ambulance, fire or police dial 112. The main hospitals are Mater Dei Telephone: (+356) 2545 0000 and Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, tel. 2156 1600. The Maltese Ministry of Health maintains a complete list of government hospital services.

Respect

  • While a bit reserved, Maltese people are friendly, generous, and helpful in nature.
  • Maltese people tend to speak more loudly than the mainlanders, so they may sound like they are shouting at you even if the volume is normal.
  • Malta is a strictly Roman Catholic country; carousing by tourists, while tolerated to some extent, is not looked on very favourably, especially outside of St. Julian's and Paceville.
  • Dress respectfully when visiting churches. As a guide, men must remove any hats and sunglasses. Make sure your knees and shoulders are covered. Some churches, especially those on popular package tours, provide shawls and/or skirts for any inappropriately dressed visitors.
  • You may be refused entry to a church if a mass has already started, so make sure you arrive promptly if you wish to visit.

Connect

The country has three mobile phone networks available: Vodafone, Go Mobile, and Melita Mobile. Due to international agreements with providers across the globe, Vodafone, GO and Melita are sure to be a part of your carrier's roaming plan. Malta uses GSM for its mobile services and alternatively, travellers can get a SIM card for their own unlocked smartphone to roam with.

Wi-Fi is almost always available in hotels and hostels, and many cafés and restaurants offer a free connection too. Additionally, there are some "Free Wi-Fi" zones around the island. The ferry from Malta Island to Gozo also offers free Wi-Fi.

Ten years of full-time travel have taught us all sorts of lessons, but one of the first ones we learned remains the most important: pack light. It can be a challenge to reduce your luggage to carry-on size, but it’s the single best thing you can do to improve your travel experience.

To listen, hit play below or find episode 307 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:

Benefits of packing light

Pin me on Pinterest!Pin me on Pinterest!People are often impressed by the fact that Craig and I travel full-time with just carry-on sized bags, but the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. They include:

  • We have less stuff to keep track of.
  • We don’t have to check bags on budget airlines, which saves us money.
  • This also saves time, as we don’t have to wait for our bags at the airport.
  • Our bags are never lost by airlines because they are always with us.
  • We always have access to all our stuff.
  • We can use public transport more easily, which saves us money on taxi fares.
  • Walking around with our bags isn’t a problem, so we don’t need to take taxis or pay for luggage storage.
  • We don’t hurt ourselves by carrying around heavy bags.

Disadvantages

Of course, there are some drawbacks:

  • We have to do laundry more often than many travellers.
  • We don’t have many clothing choices.
  • We occasionally don’t have an item that would have been useful, so we have to buy it.

How to get down to carry-on size

To tell you the truth, it took us some time to reduce our luggage to carry-on size. When we first started travelling in 2006, we both maxed out the baggage allowance on our flights to the UK: an 80 litre backpack each, two overstuffed carry-on bags, and a handbag. We justified this by telling ourselves we were planning to live in Malta for six months, so we’d certainly need all of the things we’d packed.

We didn’t.

We didn’t need all that clothing, we didn’t need the DVD collection, and we certainly didn’t need the enormous sleeping bags taking up a third of the space in our backpacks. Before we left Malta we managed to get rid of the carry-on bags, and a year or so later replaced Craig’s large pack with a 50 litre one. When it was time to replace my backpack, we went for a carry-on sized one, and we finally downsized Craig’s bag a couple of years after that.

Every time we reduced, we cut out items that had become essentials. Our stovetop espresso machine was one of the last luxuries to be left behind, and it was a wrench to say goodbye to it. Sure, it sounds decadent to carry a coffee maker, but it had been our trusty companion for years, making mornings bearable and occasionally causing spectacular accidents that involved cleaning the ceiling.

You could follow our lead and slowly reduce your belongings until they fit in a 35 litre bag, or you could start the way you mean to continue. Be ruthless. You really really don’t need as much stuff as you think you do.

A step-by-step guide

  1. Start by getting a really good bag that fits most airlines’ carry-on bag requirements: 55x40x20cm. Depending on your travel style, you might prefer a suitcase or hybrid bag over a backpack; we like backpacks because they are light and convenient to carry, and we really hate the sound of wheelie bags rolling over cobbles. Make sure the bag you choose can be locked for security and that it is comfortable.
  2. Make a list of things you want to take with you, or use someone else’s list. Actually write it down, grouping items into categories. Then start cutting things out.
  3. Compartmentalise. Use stuff sacs or packing cubes for your clothes, and keep similar items together. I have one bag for underwear and another for my other clothing, and I know that if these two bags are full, it’s time to throw something away. You might like to use packing cubes for miscellaneous items and electronics, and it’s logical to keep all your toiletries in a toiletries bag.
  4. Lay everything that’s on your list out on your bed, organised by compartment. Cut down each section — be particularly ruthless with toiletries. Pack it all into your bag, and if everything doesn’t fit, take it all out and cut down again.
  5. Allow yourself a luxury or two, but don’t go crazy. If your hairdryer makes your life better, take it with you, but you might have to leave the coffee pot behind in that case.

So, what to take?

We find it helpful to think of each section of our bags as a room in a house. Sleeping gear is the bedroom, toiletries is bathroom equipment, and so on. You might find a more elegant categorisation system, but this one works for us!

Bedroom:

Depending on your preferences and travel style, you might not need any of these items. We find the sleeping bag liners great for adding an extra layer of warmth when blankets are thin on the ground, and invaluable in less-than-salubrious guest houses and hostels. Earplugs are great for flights and noisy environments, and I’ve recently discovered the value of an eye mask, as a surprising number of rooms aren’t equipped with adequate curtains.

  • Silk sleeping bag liner.
  • Eye mask.
  • Earplugs.
Fox eye mask and ear plugsI’ve found an eye mask and earplugs to be invaluable.

Wardrobe:

We pack for all seasons, and tend to layer up in colder climes. If you’re not going into winter anywhere you can leave the thermals behind, though we’ve needed them in the height of summer when the weather turned on us, so we’re always happy to cart them around.

  1. Five pairs of undies (and a couple of bras, if you use them).
  2. Four or five pairs of socks. Good quality ones, you’ll be walking a lot.
  3. Sneakers or hiking shoes. Avoid hiking boots though, unless you’re planning on doing a multi-day walk.
  4. Flip-flops or lightweight sandals.
  5. Lightweight nice shoes (optional). Linda has a pair of ballet flats that take up very little room and keep coming in handy.
  6. Three t-shirts or vest tops.
  7. Two nicer shirts or tops.
  8. Two thin long-sleeve tops.
  9. Two pairs of trousers, preferably non-wrinkle. If you’ll be hiking, consider the zip-off variety. Jeans aren’t the best choice as they are very heavy and slow-drying.
  10. Shorts or a skirt for the beach. I have a nice dress too.
  11. A sarong can be handy for girls and guys — as beachwear, for heading to the shower in or as a spare sheet.
  12. A heavier jumper (but not very heavy or bulky). Fleece is a good option; Craig uses a down jacket.
  13. A rain jacket.
  14. A sun hat and/or sunglasses.
  15. Sleepwear if you use it.
  16. A belt.
  17. A swimsuit.
  18. Thermal underwear if going somewhere cold. Merino wool is good and black is always a good colour — you might be able to use your thermal top as an outer layer. Hat, gloves and scarf if heading into winter anywhere.

Bathroom

Remember to keep your toiletries to the bare minimum, and if you’re flying all liquid containers must be smaller than 100ml. Check tube size when buying toothpaste and moisturiser and buy several 100ml plastic bottles for shampoo, hair gel, and sunscreen. We tend to buy larger containers of these items and just decant the last

  • A lightweight fast-drying towel

Toiletries

  • Deodorant.
  • Soap and/or shampoo.
  • A toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss.
  • A comb, hair gel, and hair ties.
  • Nail clippers and tweezers.
  • Moisturiser and sunscreen.
  • A razor, and shaving gel or oil.
  • Contact lenses and solution, eyedrops.
  • Makeup if you use it. Limit yourself, though! I carry eye liner and lip liner, that’s all. Lip balm
  • Sanitary pads, tampons, or a moon cup.
Small toiletries in a plastic bag for flights.Remember to buy small-size toiletries whenever possible: check those tube sizes.

Fist aid kit

  • Your essential medication.
  • Pain killers. We carry both paracetamol and ibuprofen.
  • Loperamide for upset stomachs.
  • Bandages and sticking plasters.
  • A sewing kit.
  • Blister plasters if you’ll be hiking.
  • Kitchen (optional)

    We often like to cook for ourselves, and having a few lightweight items makes that a lot more feasible. If nothing else, pack a couple of sporks so you can eat a takeaway salad or pot of yoghurt on the road.

    • A set of Orikaso fold-flat plates. (They seem to be out of production, try Fozzils instead)
    • Sporks.
    • A knife (though you’ll have to throw it away if you’re flying).
    • Snack food.
    • A water bottle.

    Our kitchen equipment included Orikaso plates, sporks, a peeler, and a knife. Our kitchen.

    Lounge/office (a.k.a. technology)

    Since we work while we’re travelling, we carry more electronics than many travellers, and a fair proportion of our luggage comprises cables. If you take nothing else, a smartphone is a useful accessory: use it to access the internet to keep in touch with home and make bookings (among other things), entertain yourself with books and games, and take photos. We’ve found the alarm and torch applications on our iPhones invaluable in recent years. A Kindle or other ebook reader is a great idea if you like to read, and a battery pack can save your bacon if your phone battery doesn’t last as long as you’d like it to. Whatever you do, don’t forget the power adapter — we love our xxx adapters which allow almost any device to plug into almost any socket around the world.

    • A smartphone.
    • A Kindle.
    • A computer or tablet.
    • A backup harddrive.
    • Battery pack.
    • Various cables and chargers.
    • A power adapter.
    • Camera (or just use your phone).

    The junk drawer

    There are always going to be miscellaneous items which don’t really fit into any category! Most of these are essentials, though, so don’t leave them behind.

    • A padlock for securing your bag.
    • Documents (in a document wallet). In addition to our passports, we have vaccination certificates, birth and marriage certificates, various driver’s licences, transport passes for a few cities, copies of our glasses prescriptions, and a spare credit card.
    • Your wallet. You’ll probably want to have this on you; make sure it’s stocked with a credit or debit card, an ID card, and cash for the country you’ll be travelling in.
    • Umbrella/pack cover. Optional but useful!

    To listen, hit play above or check in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud.

    What are your travel essentials? Do you travel with just carry-on luggage? What do you take with you that could probably stay behind? Leave a comment below.

    Last week, I waxed poetic about all the things I’m going to miss so dearly when I leave Thailand. It might be a temporary goodbye, but believe me guys, there will be tears. Lots of tears.

    Still, in the last few weeks I have started to feel those familiar feelings of longing for home. Not quite homesickness, more just an excitement for my annual summer spent stateside.

    Travel has exposed to me to so many cultures, values, and ideas that are vastly different from the ones I was raised with. Some, I’ve absorbed deeply and adopted into my own life. Some, man – they’ve made me appreciative of the place that made me. Generally though, the things I miss from home make up a pretty trivial list. (The one I wrote last week was shorter, but much deeper.) I’m crazy grateful for my international life, but these are the things that I can’t wait to get back to.

    Passport

    1. Diet Coke. From a Fountain.

    Guys, I love Diet Coke. I adore it. I drink Diet Coke for breakfast. I drink it before bed. I’ve been known to write letters to the management of establishments that serve Pepsi products and if I had another pet, I would probably strongly consider naming it DC. When I used to doodle floorplans for my dream house, they always featured a sensible floorplan, plenty of windows, and a built-in Diet Coke fountain in the kitchen. (While I can accept that some may prefer drinking Diet Coke out of a can over a fountain, I am immediately suspicious of the judgment of any person who prefers drinking out of a bottle. I mean really.)

    But anyway. What’s the problem, you ask? Coca Cola is one of the most widely distributed products in the world, so finding its zero calorie cousin must be no big deal, right? Wrong. Listen up, Taylor Swift and other Diet Coke lovers – your beverage of choice is rarely available outside US borders. This “Coke Light” or god forbid, “Coke Zero,” situation that caffeine addicts are often subjected on international adventures simply does not cut it, though levels of drinkability does vary by region. What gives? While Diet Coke follows a strict formula everywhere it is made and marketed, according to Coca Cola’s FAQ page, “the sweetener blend used for Coke/Coca-Cola light is formulated for each country based on consumer preference.”

    You’ve been warned.

    Dad's Cake Diet Coke Cake

    Diet Coke Cake

    Diet Coke

    2. Paying with plastic

    I love having every transaction automatically logged and recorded for me, I love racking up points, and I love carrying one piece of plastic rather than a wad of paper and coins. Alas, most of the world is still cash-only, including Koh Tao, where there’s not a single establishment that takes credit cards without a 3-4% fee (and that’s for the very very few hotels and dive shops that take them at all.)

    Cayman Islands Currency

    3. Soft Bedding

    Do you ever think, well, my bed is nice, but wouldn’t it be better to just throw a sheet over the tile floor and pop a pillowcase over a nearby rock? If so, you’re in luck – my travels have taught me that much of the world agrees with you. While I managed to wrangle a decent pillow in my current apartment, my mattress could withstand the attack of a runaway jackhammer.

    I know some of you might be thinking, oh, but I prefer a firm mattress! Well that is nice for you, but the situation I am dealing with over here goes far beyond anything on the Tempur-Pedic scale. Literally the most exciting aspect of every weekend getaway I’ve had for the last six months has been the possibility that there might be a Western-style mattress waiting for me at the hotel.

    Is it so much to ask to feel like I’m falling asleep in a cloud?

    Yellow Gray Bedroom Makeovermy childhood bedroom

    4. Throwing toilet paper into the toilet

    And letting it flush away never to be seen (nor smelled) ever again. This, I believe, is what Oprah was referring to when she talked about “living your best life.”

    Rhum Shack, Hopkins Bay, Belize

    5. Roaming the Aisles of Joanne Fabric

    I have plenty of hobbies that travel well, including yoga, hiking, reading, and scuba diving. Unfortunately, my sticker-making machine never quite seems to fit into my backpack. But when I’m home, you can often find me in a crafting frenzy, spray painting dozens of tiny plastic sharks in the garage when I should be packing for flight, for a vague and non-specific example. Painting, crafting, baking, more crafting… what I wouldn’t do for a few hours at AC Moore.

    Shark Jaws Party Favorsout-of-control crafting

    6. Twenty Four Hour Everything

    Non US Citizens, did you know in the states you can access 24-hour ATMS, gas stations, Chinese food delivery and even liquor stores? US Citizens, did you know that in other places you can’t?

    The first nineteen years of my life were spent in ignorant bliss of the rest of the world’s casual attitudes towards opening hours. I have to admit that here in Southeast Asia things are pretty nocturnal and I’m rarely frustrated by a “we’re closed” sign. Europe is a different story.

    Like in Iceland, when we desperately needed ibuprofen and found out that it is only sold in pharmacies, and pharmacies are closed on Sundays, and I was like HELLO HAS NO ONE IN THIS COUNTRY HAD A HANGOVER AFTER A SATURDAY NIGHT GONE RIGHT? Or in Belgium, where I spent a week trying to track down my never-recovered-from-customs shipment of festival supplies and was like, um, I appreciate the beauty of the work life balance you all have clearly achieved by being open for like 4.25 hours per week, but what does a girl have to do to speak to an on-duty postal employee around here. Or in Malta when I tried to fill up a gas tank and return a rental car on a Sunday and was met with raucous laughter at the idea that I would try to achieve such ambitious tasks on what civilized people consider a day of rest.

    These stories did not end well for me.

    Opening HoursYour opening hours are what?!

    7. Spa Pedicure Chairs

    I know what you’re thinking. How do I find the strength to get through the day? But I’ve been shocked to learn that in many spas throughout the world, when you get a pedicure, they literally just paint your nails without the slightest bit of attention to the rest of the foot. Not a light buff, not a hint of a scrub, not so much as a dip in one of those space-station whirly tub thrones that $20 mani-pedi salons in Brooklyn are lined wall-to-wall with.

    Chaweng Spasthe closest I’ve found in Thailand

    8. Insert Food Craving Here

    I certainly can’t complain about what’s on my plate here in Thailand. But it’s inevitable that no matter where I am in the world and no matter how much I love the local cuisine, I find myself occasionally craving food only available somewhere else. In this case, home.

    When I had some friends from Koh Tao visit my hometown of Albany a while back, I brought them to the grocery store as an important part of my itinerary. Being picky about what I get to eat is a luxury of my life in the states. Want to know exactly what farm your free-range CSA eggs came from? Want to be choosy about what brand of organic Greek yogurt you consume? Want to special order a case of your favorite Bully Hill wine, or select a special bottle of cake-flavored vodka to go with your real Diet Coke? Want to linger at the gourmet cheese counter? Buy a dozen non-GMO avocados? Perhaps even drive through Chipotle on the way home? No problem.

    On the road, I’m lucky if I’m able to read nutrition labels in my native language, let alone choose between two types of peanut butter or figure out where my meat came from. Believe me, when I leave Thailand I’ll be missing the food here too. But right now, I’m looking forward to a summer of stateside eats. Maybe even eat some guacamole tonight, in my honor. Maybe make it extra salty. I don’t know, I can’t tell you how to live your lives, but I know you’ll do the right thing.

    Cafe du Monde New Year's Eveget in my belly, beignets

    9. American Niceness

    Many of my friends from other parts of the world kind of sneer at this and think that we are being fake with our “have a nice days!” and other saccharine pleasantries but I tell you what, I just love me some American politeness. Maybe they really do want my day to be nice. I want yours to be!

    Hackberry General Store Route 66

    10. Amazon Prime

    Two. Day. Shipping. On. Everything. Need I say more? On and island where a trip to the nearest Apple Authorized retailer or seller of Alex-sized underwear is a twelve-hour journey, it seems like a distant mirage too good to be really true.

    Ochopee Post Office

    11. Megawatt Lightbulbs

    This probably isn’t an issue for the majority of travelers who haven’t lived through a psychologically crippling fear of the dark, but I have yet to find another country as brightly lit as the USA. I noticed this most vividly traveling in Central America, where I heard rumors of crazy high energy costs and even in large cities I always felt like someone had hit the wrong end of a dimmer.

    Bonnaroo After Dark

    12. Smoking Bans

    Admittedly, in general I love the lawless-ness of so many of the countries I travel to. But there’s one piece of legislation this severe-allergy sufferer is ever grateful for – strict indoor smoking bans. I wake up from pretty much every night out here with my sinuses levying a strict punishment for putting them in proximity of cigarettes. The prevalence of smoking at the bar, in transit and even at the dinner table is one of the things that really challenges me about living in Thailand.

    Blues Bar, Khao San, Bangkokif only this cat was protected by an indoor smoking ban

    13. Serious Hustle

    I alarm citizens of other nations on a regular basis simply by walking at a clip that they deem acceptable only for a human being pursued by an apex predator. Travel has slowed me down somewhat, and I’m grateful for it, but I do love the hustle of home. I’m sure any US citizen who has sat in line at OfficeMax watching a high school student collate paper with the efficiency of a drunk sloth would argue that lethargy exists everywhere, but I do think there are few nations on earth that value speediness – and power walking – as much as Americans do.

    American Flag in Times Square

    14. Singing Along in Bars

    In certain parts of the world, the music is one of the highlights of my travels – think Caribbean soca, or Central American reggaeton. Yet here Asia, crimes against music, my eardrums, and the still developing brains of impressionable youth are committed on a daily basis (love you long time though, Job2Do). One thing I really miss is listening to music other than tinny Thai love ballads, aggressive house/techno music or strange selections of American Top 40. What I wouldn’t give for a night of hip hop, classic rock, or funky Motown hits!

    Live Music in New Orleans

    15. My Dog

    I actually thought about making like, every third item on this list MY DOG because that would (A) it’s the kind of lame humor that really tickles me and (B) convey pretty clearly how much I miss my damn dog. Are there any people that don’t think this dog is cute that aren’t also serial killers? Don’t bother looking up the statistics, the answer is no.

    Tucker, you have my heart.

    Christmas Cocker Spaniel

    Cocker Spaniel Love

    16. My Nearest and Dearest

    In all seriousness, the largest sacrifice I’ve made to maintain my traveling lifestyle is missing out on so much of the day-to-day lives of some of those I love the most. I do manage to cram a lot of hugs into every summer, though.

    Family Portraits by My Lens 360 Philadelphia

    . . . .

    Okay. So things might have gone a tad overboard on the S.S. Silliness up in this listicle. But the truth is the thing I miss the most about America can’t really be summed up in a pithy bullet point. It’s this sense of familiarity, the lump in your throat when an immigration officer hands you back your passport and says “welcome home” after months of wandering.

    I can’t wait to hear those two little words. Avocados and employees of craft store retail chains, you’ve been warned.

    Upstate New York Travel

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    OLIVER ASTROLOGO‘s video takes us on a journey to discover an island of contrasts and surprises: Malta.

    From lounging on St. Peter’s pool beach to discovering the colourful village of Marsaxlokk; from mingling with the fishermen to relaxing on the traditional Luzzu boats marked by the “Eye of Osiris”; the whole island is stunning.

    Add to that the famed old capital of Mdina, the imposing St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, and magnificent cliffs in Gozo and it’s easy to understand why most of the people start planning their return trip to Malta before they’ve even left the island the first time.

    AS TRAVELERS, we know that some destinations are more visited than others and we usually try to avoid them — who wants to spend their time surrounded by hoards of tourists all staring at the same monuments, visiting the same museums, and lounging on the same beaches? What we don’t necessarily think about is how much certain countries are relying on tourism for their economy.

    According to data that howmuch.net collected from The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, those with the largest tourism industries are not always the ones that are the most dependent on it.

    Top 10 countries with the largest tourism industries (GDP)

    1. United States ($488 billion) 2. China ($224 billion) 3. Germany ($130.8 billion) 4. Japan ($106.7 billion) 5. United Kingdom ($103.7 billion) 6. France ($89.2 billion) 7. Mexico ($79.7 billion) 8. Italy ($76.3 billion) 9. Spain ($68.8 billion) 10. Brazil ($56.3 billion)

    Top five countries most reliant on tourism (GDP)

    1. Malta — 15% 2. Croatia — 15% 3. Thailand — 9.3% 4. Jamaica — 8.9% 5. Iceland — 8.2%

    I was personally surprised that Austria depended so much on tourism and that France’s was not colored in pink, but what stuck me the most is Iceland’s dependency on the travel industry, “Iceland is one of the smallest countries by population in the world [but] it receives more visitors in one year than the entire population of the country,” explains howmuch.net.

    What surprised you about this map and this data? Let us know by leaving a comment.

    H/T: Mapped: The World’s Dependency on the Travel Industry via Howmuch.net

    More like this: Mapped: How to travel the world and help our planet

    BLOOMBERG collected information about 163 countries in the world to create the Bloomberg Global Health Index and rank and map these countries from the healthiest to the least healthy. The index was based on data such as “life expectancy, causes of death and health risks ranging from high blood pressure and tobacco use to malnutrition and the availability of clean water”, explain Wei Lu and Vincent DelGuidice for Bloomberg Markets.  

    healthiest countries

    Photo: Bloomberg markets

    The results: Italians are in incredible shape and score a health index of 93.11 while the US rank 34 out of 50 (behind Costa Rica, Lebanon, and Cuba) with an index of 73.05.

    healthiest countries

    Photo: Bloomberg markets

    Although the Mediterranean diet may have something to do with the good health index of Italy, Greece, Malta, and Cyprus (they are all featured in the top 50), eating habits don’t explain why Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia are in the top 5 — but access to high-quality healthcare just might.

    How does your country rank in this chart? Let us know by leaving a comment. More like this: Mapped: World life expectancy changes from 1950 to 2100

    Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo (Travel Guide)

    Lonely Planet

    Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

    Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Take a boat trip through the Azure Window, explore the stepped streets of Valletta, or enjoy a long lazy lunch by the sea in Marsaxlokk; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Malta and Gozo and begin your journey now!

    Inside Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo Travel Guide:

    Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, art, music, architecture, politics, cuisine, and wine Over 36 local maps Covers VallettaMarsaxlokk Victoria, Mdina, Dwerja, the Blue Lagoon, San Blas Bay, Gozo, Comino, Sliema, St. Julian's, Paceville, the Dingli Cliffs, and more

    The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo, our most comprehensive guide to Malta and Gozo, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

    Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out our Lonely Planet Mediterranean Europe guide for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

    Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

    About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

    Malta: Where To Go, What To See - A Malta Travel Guide (Malta, Valletta, Birkirkara, Mosta, Qormi, Sliema, Naxxar) (Volume 1)

    Worldwide Travellers

    Worldwide Travellers Present: Malta - The Ultimate Travel Guide • Are you looking to visit a country you've never been to ? • Have you already booked your trip and you're now curious what to expect ? • Maybe a friend loved the trip and you want to have the same great experience now... Either Way, We Got You Covered ! In This Single Guide, You Will Find All The Information You'll Need What This Guide Covers: Major CitiesTraditionsSightsMust-Do ActivitiesHotelsRestaurantsand so much more !

    Malta: A Practical Guide

    Jonathan Goldman

    A brief, practical, and opinionated take on some of the best places to visit and eat at on Malta and Gozo.

    Malta and Gozo (Bradt Travel Guides Malta & Gozo)

    Juliet Rix

    Now in its third edition, Bradt's Malta has built a reputation as being the guide to have if you are really interested in discovering this island nation beyond the beaches. Updated throughout, this new edition delves into Malta's temples more comprehensively than any other guidebook. Packed with historical and archaeological facts from the Stone Age to the Romans, the Knights Hospitaller to World War II, it also showcases the islands' wildlife (and bird-watching opportunities), summer festas, and the less commercialised islands of Gozo and Comino. It also includes details of developments for the 2018 Valletta European Capital of Culture. Malta has long been known for package holidays but this island nation has 7,000 years of fascinating and visible history. With new hotels opening across the islands the guide includes greater coverage of accommodation and restaurants. There is more to the island than sun and sea and this guide will help you to discover the Malta beyond the tourist resorts.

    Top 10 Malta and Gozo (Eyewitness Top 10 Travel Guide)

    Mary-Ann Gallagher

    DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Malta and Gozo is your pocket guide to the very best of Malta and Gozo.

    Make the most of your trip to Malta and Gozo with our Top 10 Travel Guide. Take spectacular island walks and drives to experience the area's natural beauty; tour charming towns and villages, or visit fascinating temples and ancient sites. Your Top 10 Travel Guide can help you find a hotel on any budget, and gives fun ideas for experiencing Malta and Gozo with families and children. Enjoy every bit of your Mediterranean vacation with a travel guide that's packed with great ideas and insider tips.

    Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Malta and Gozo

    True to its name, this Top 10 guidebook covers all major sights and attractions in easy-to-use "top 10" lists that help you plan the vacation that's right for you.

    "Don't miss" destination highlights. Things to do and places to eat, drink, and shop by area. Free, color pull-out map (print edition), plus maps and photographs throughout. Walking tours and day-trip itineraries. Traveler tips and recommendations. Local drink and dining specialties to try. Museums, festivals, outdoor activities. Creative and quirky best-of lists and more.

    The perfect pocket-size travel companion: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Top 10 Malta and Gozo

    MALTA 25 Secrets - The Locals Travel Guide For Your Trip to Malta 2016: Skip the tourist traps and explore like a local : Where to Go, Eat & Party in Malta

    55 Secrets

    25 Secrets you’d never find out about MALTA!Welcome to the most Complete Malta Travel Guide for Tourists made by locals! Here Is a Preview of What You'll Learn Inside...♥25 Unique activities to do when you are in town♥Best places to eat in town♥Best local Markets♥Best Parks and Good Views♥Best Museums♥Best Bars ♥Best things to do in Malta ♥ Much, much more!* * *FREE GIFT INSIDE * * * If you are heading to the wonderful city of Valletta anytime soon this book will give you an insight of the best places and most unique places to see where you will mingle with the locals and get to see and do the activities as one of them.We have prepared a unique BUCKET LIST with the 25 most unique experiences you can have in Malta Most people don't even take the time to prepare themselves in advance, and just wish for the best once they have arrived! Most people aren't aware of some of the most amazing places Malta can offer... And it'd be such a pity to miss them! That's precisely why we desperately need the RIGHT travel guide first. Don’t arrive to Valleta and follow the crowds of Tourists. With this exclusive travel guide made by locals you will be finding about the places that don’t come on Lonely Planet’s or are listed on Trip Advisor where thousands of tourists head daily. It took lots of time to incorporate the tips and hacks that ended up shaping this travel guide! And now, we are willing to share those secrets with you! We will tell you where you should go, eat, sleep, and of course, party! We know you won't just settle for average boring travel guides! We know you are looking for something better; something unique that will truly help you down the road: a book with real life tips, recommendations, useful travel hacks and data... everything you may need in your trip. You've just found what you were looking for! Our goal is simple. we will give you a complete and detailed Bucket list with MAPS to all the locations to make sure you won’t get lost in the amazing city of Malta transforming your trip into absolutely amazing experience. We will help you simplify your path, showing you exactly where the best places are. ♥ Download Your Copy Right Now! ♥Just Scroll to the top of the page and select the Buy Button. TAGS: travel to Malta, travel guide Malta, adventure in Malta, trip to Malta, , Malta hotels, Malta market, guide, holidays in Malta, day trip to Malta, Malta , things to do in Malta, Malta map, Malta lonely planet, Malta beach, its always sunny in Malta, Malta trip, Valletta  , Visit , Malta , Malta guide

    Malta: A Pocket Guide For People Thinking About Relocating

    Andrew Gardner

    Every year over 1.2 million people from around the world travel to Malta and nearly every one of them is charmed by the islands historic and cultural ambiance. This book however, is not any kind of tourist guide to the Maltese archipelago. Rather, it has been written in mind of the hundreds of people from Britain especially, whom holiday to to Malta every year and become drunk on the idea of year round sunshine and the islands perceived affordability to the extent that they decide to relocate. For what many people whom do relocate often discover, is that life on Malta is far from the idyllic Arcadia which they first supposed. Indeed, for expatriates from around the world, Malta represents discriminatory water and electricity price tariffs, racism, faux piety, and a place where they they will often find themselves cheated by what in many cases seems to be a culturally ingrained corruption.This book has therefore been written so as to draw attention to Maltese social norms and values, ones which often oppose what many might consider civilised. Further, it will suggest with an honest analysis of Malta's 2015 housing market that the country might not be the best place in the world in which to invest in property. Rather however, than attempt to dissuade anyone from relocating or retiring to the islands, this book will simply outline daily life on the islands on as it really is basis and suggest that maybe one tests out life on Malta for a year or two before deciding to move here permanently.

    In Love With Malta: The Hidden Treasures

    Paddy Cummins

    In Love with Malta The Hidden Treasures From the Author of the Number One Best Seller: ‘It’s a Long Way to Malta’ The hidden treasures of Malta, Gozo and Comino, little gems that you won’t find in other guide books, but define the charm and mystique of The Maltese Islands. There is something for everyone to enjoy from living it up in modern urban resorts to wandering leisurely in little traditional hamlets and villages dotted throughout the islands where time seems to stand still and you can linger awhile and relax in the warm sunshine. The perfect guide to the hidden treasures of The Maltese Islands.

    Exercise normal security precautions

    The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

    Crime

    Violent crime is rare, although petty crime does occur. Areas frequented by tourists are often targeted.

    Road travel

    Traffic drives on the left. Drivers generally have little regard for traffic regulations and do not follow safe driving practices. Narrow, winding, congested and sometimes poorly maintained roads pose hazards.

    Public transportation

    Travel by taxi is safe. The fare should be confirmed before leaving.

    Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

    Water sports

    Strong currents make swimming dangerous at some locations.

    General safety information

    Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Keep valuables and luggage out of sight in vehicles.

    The water supply may sometimes be disrupted.

    Emergency services

    Dial 112 for emergency assistance.

    Health

    Related Travel Health Notices
    Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
    Vaccines

    Routine Vaccines

    Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

    Vaccines to Consider

    You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

    Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

    Influenza

    Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

    Measles

    Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
     

    Rabies

    Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

    Yellow Fever Vaccination

    Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

    Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

    * It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
    Risk
    • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
    Country Entry Requirement*
    • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
    Recommendation
    • Vaccination is not recommended.
    • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
    Food/Water

    Food and Water-borne Diseases

    Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

    In some areas in Southern Europe, food and water can also carry diseases like hepatitis A. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southern Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


    Insects

    Insects and Illness

    In some areas in Southern Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, leishmaniasis, Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis and West Nile virus.

    Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


    Malaria

    Malaria

    There is no risk of malaria in this country.


    Animals

    Animals and Illness

    Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in Southern Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


    Person-to-Person

    Person-to-Person Infections

    Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


    Medical services and facilities

    Medical services and facilities

    Medical facilities are equivalent to those in Canada. In the event of a major accident or illness, medical evacuation to another European city may be necessary.

    Keep in Mind...

    The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

    Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

    You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

    Canada and Malta are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Malta to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Maltese authorities.

    Illegal drugs

    Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.

    Driving laws

    An International Driving Permit is recommended.

    The use of a cellular telephone while driving is prohibited, unless it is fitted with a hands-free device.

    Money

    The currency of Malta is the euro (EUR).

    Major credit cards are widely accepted and automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available.

    When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

    Climate

    Malta is located in an active seismic zone. However, earthquakes are rare.