Malta for $135 flights included…Bullshit right? Not really.. I just finished a week in Malta for $135, including my flight, accommodations, food, a movie WITH popcorn!, and an open air bus tour of the island of Gozo (which wasn’t necessary with public transport but I felt like spoiling myself) sooooo… You wanna know how to get in on this fantastic budget vacation? I can only share with you how I did it.
I flew to Malta for $30 out of Liverpool airport in England. Now before I lose you because you aren’t in England.. I’d like you to check out my blog on how to get to Europe for as little as possible by clicking here. Doing a European tour is NOT as expensive as I always thought it would be, which was always the reason it remained a dream; until now! Okay, so once you are in Europe, you will want to take advantage of Ryanair and Easyjet airlines. They have amazing specials on flights to hop from country to country. You may have read about my $20 round trip ticket to Dublin Ireland and back.. Or maybe the one to Norway? If not.. Catch up!! 🙂 The key to a frugal flight is baggage. Ryanair allows one carry on with specific measurements and weights, and one personal bag.. A laptop bag or something of the sort. I’ve yet to write a specific blog on how I pack everything I need into this small space, but the keyword has become vaccuum seal bags for my clothing. My pack is actually double the weight limit but there’s never a scale at the gate, so as long as it doesn’t appear to be completely outside of the size range, you will make it thru. Additionally, Ryanair is very proud of their on time percentages, so if you wait until the last to board the plane, they won’t want to hold up the plane just to weigh you for your $50 checked baggage fee. If you are planning on packing more.. It’s an additional $15 to check a bag on each trip. Soo.. One carry on backpack (45L) and one personal backpack, and I’m on my way for $30.
I am a proud member of the community. I say proud, because it isn’t only a FREE way to find a place to sleep in the various places I am traveling thru, it is a way to get to know the locals, a way to make new friends, and for the Lone Ranger like myself, it’s a perfect way to network, and get insight on how the locals do things… Which is usually the cheapest! In Malta I was offered a place to stay by the amazing, friendly, welcoming Dollar Dubassey. He opened his home to me, offering me a room of my own, with plenty of closet space to unpack and make myself at home. I always ask if there is wifi when offered a place to stay, because I work online, so this is important for me. Click here for an awesome break down of how to write your couchsurfing profile. Hosts aren’t just looking to give a bed to sleep in.. They usually want to exchange information and learn about my lifestyle in America, or improve their English by interacting… Or give back what they have been given when traveling. Be prepared to interact because it totally adds to the travel experience, and it’s how you will continue to learn new travel tips, new contacts, the best places to see, or eat.. Get out of that comfort zone!!!
My host was kind enough to send his gf to pick me up from the airport, which was great because the most daunting feeling is landing in a country that isn’t written in English, with an address.. Unless you’ve done extensive research about public transportation, you’ll probably take a cab, and that can get expensive. Luckily I have been to Malta before, so I remembered that all buses lead to Valetta! 🙂 for $20 you can purchase a week of public transportation. Buses can get you anywhere you want to go on the island, and to the ferries to take you to other islands. If you aren’t staying a week then it is good to know that you can pay $1.50 on the bus for one trip, that is good for two hours if you need to transfer. The weekly passes can be purchased at the newspaper stalls at the main bus station in Valetta. I purchased 12 single trips for $15, and the transfers still apply. I had 5 trips left when I departed and passed the card on to my next couch surfing host in Bari, Italy as I believe she will be visiting soon for a weekend. The pass is good for a year! Pay it forward!! There’s always someone in the bus stations and airports that are just arriving, and can use any unused travel tickets or time.. I always pay it forward if I can.
Okay.. So we are now at $45 and we have transportation, accommodations, and we have arrived!!! My first morning, I took a stroll along the waterfront for a breathtaking view, and found a restaurant with a full English breakfast for $5.. I couldn’t beat the price (so I thought) and with that view, I thought it impossible.. But as you can see, it wasn’t.
After breakfast I boarded a bus.. It hadn’t gone three stops and I hopped back off because the view was just too beautiful to miss.
I hopped back on another one, using my transfer, and rode into Valetta. Everywhere you go in Malta is beautiful.. The only way I can attempt to share just how beautiful it all is, is by sharing my photography gallery of the Maltese islands, which you can find here.
After walking around the tiny streets, up and down the stair cases, and down and around the roads.. I found the Barrakka Gardens. Actually they found me as I happened to be standing underneath them at noon when the cannons fired. The view from here is one that shouldn’t be missed, and I spent quite some time taking pictures of different angles.
While posting my pictures to Facebook, it was suggested, by a Maltese local friend that I made in Girls Love Travel, that I take the elevator down to the ground floor and follow the signs to the Three Cities. The signs lead to a dock where there is a ferry or a personal little boat that will take you across the water for €2. I highly recommend doing this as it was one of the highlights of my trip. The view is even more spectacular from the water.
Once in Victoriosa, I did some more walking around, taking more pictures and seeing more beautiful views. One of the keys to frugal travel is to steer away from the traditional tourist traps of attractions and ticket fees and just walk around and see the place for yourself!
After this walk around I felt pretty tired and the sun had set, so I took the bus back to Valetta and a second one back to Sliema. I picked up a spinach cheese roll at the bus station for $1 and called it a night!
Day 2 – Marasaxlokk
It was a beautiful ride to see Marsaxlokk. First I took the bus to Valetta, and then transferred. Fortunately the bus was waiting and though it was hot on board, we opened up the windows, and enjoyed the ride. It was about 50 minutes altogether, but the views of the towns that we passed thru to get there made it quite enjoyable. Marsaxlokk sits on the southern border of Malta and is the famous fishing village of the country. On Sunday’s, there is a market, and the streets are flooded with people. Small restaurants like the waterfront where you can watch the fishing boats come in with their latest catch. The fish are cleaned and cooked on the spot and served in the restaurants. Swordfish was the fish of the day the day that I was there.
I had packed my sandwiches, some cookies and bottled water for lunch, and sat by the water, watching the colorful boats.. I painted an old boat that was hauled out of the water and looked like it was waiting to be repainted.
It was a lazy day where I mostly sat and enjoyed the atmosphere. I took a lot of photos and then took the bus back to Valetta, went home and later walked to st Julian’s bay. I could’ve taken a bus, but the work was scenic along the water front. Originally I left because I thought I was hungry, but actually I just wanted to be out and about. The day didn’t cost anything additional as I ate from the groceries ($13) and my transit was already paid for.
Day 3 – MDina, Rabat and the catacombs.. Dingli Cliffs!!!
There is a Facebook group called Girls Love Travel. If you’re a female and you love to travel, then you NEED to join this group. It is full of amazing women who share their tips and travel hacks with each other. On this site I met Lisa who lives in Malta, and was willing to show me around for a day. I couldn’t have asked for a better guide, and now new friend! She brought me to some of the most picturesque places that I would’ve probably never found on my own… She brought me to the best Pastizzi place on the island where all of the locals go. At 30 cents a piece, how can you go wrong? We then walked around the Silent City of MDina, where the view from the Tea shop was impressive.
View from the Tea Shop in MDina
thank you Lisa!
The catacombs were really interesting, and kinda scary. St Pauls catacombs is a Must See. I don’t often say that when there is a ticket price involved, but for $6 it is completely worth it. Here is a video…
its easier than trying to describe this underground network of tombs that goes on for miles. If you like mazes, you’ll love this place!
Day 4 – Mission Harley Davidson Poker Chips
So when my trip to Europe first began, I agreed to pick up Harley Davidson poker chips from around the world, which has turned out to be more difficult than it originally sounded. Public transport does get you anywhere, but it takes a considerable amount of time usually.. and on island time you can add an hour to that easily some days. Since I had failed in Ireland and Norway, i definitely didn’t want to fail here, and as it turned out, Lisa works practically next door to the Harley shop, so she was kind enough to give me a ride.
From here I decided to check out Blue Grotto. Originally I had planned on continuing north to the ferries and heading to the island of Gozo, but I figured that would be a whole day, so Blue Grotto was closer to home and made more sense. Again, I took a bus to Valetta, and then a second one out to Blue Grotto.. spending $0 to do so. There was only myself and a local lady on the bus, and we talked the whole way there. She told me about some ancient temples that weren’t too far from Blue Grotto, and how the sunset there was magnificent. Now that I have seen it, I agree, and that is why it is the main picture on my blog. Blue Grotto was a lot of hiking up and down the hillside.. it is basically cliffs with caves, and if it hadn’t been so windy, I would’ve paid the $8 to take a glass bottom boat into the lagoons.. as it happens the wind was too strong, so I decided to sit and paint the view. A few other tourists came by, and we took some photos on dangerous looking cliffs.. the drop was endless!
After this, I hiked down to the bottom where a few buildings were in order to use the bathroom. Public bathrooms are few and far between in Europe FYI .. that is a blog of it’s own. I scored the last tuna roll at the cafe for $2, with a litre of water for $1.50 and was on my way.
I then hiked back up to the top, back to the road. About two miles to the North was the Hiram Temples, built before the egyptian pyramids! I wasn’t able to see them due to the museum closing, but I did hang out and get some great shots of the sunset!
Once I got home I decided to try out Lisas’ suggestion on the kebab shop, and devoured this vegan turkish wrap for $5! Need to find the picture on my facebook
Day 5 – St Julians Bay
On the 5th day I took it easy. I went out with Dollar the night before, and decided to sleep late. I was glad to get to know him, because I was starting to think we wouldn’t have an opportunity due to his busy work schedule. Dollar is an amazingly friendly young man. He is completely humble, and I am fortunate to have met him. The words that stand out that most are “this is your house, do what you want and help yourself” and “i don’t like football because this is the problem. Me and you are friends. You like one team, and I like another team. Now we argue. Football makes arguements, and this is problem” That pretty much sums him up.
I took a walk to St Julians Bay.. along the water front, nothing hasty just strolling along for as long as I wanted to. Along the way I saw some pretty unique sights… the sandstone beaches..
Some rectangle cuts into the stone in the Mediterranean Sea that even had steps leading into the water where people swim in the summer time..
and a very built up St Julian’s Bay from what i remembered in 1994. It certainly can give Ibiza a run for its money now. There isn’t any violence on the island, and people typically stay out late, drinking, dancing and having fun. Everyone is respected, and in the fall and spring months, the weather is tolerable. The winter felt friendly enough to me also. In the summer however, temperatures can get up into the 120-130 degree range.. so be prepared! In St Julians I walked around the bowling alley. It hadn’t changed much. My mother bowled in international tournaments there, and I remembered standing behind the lanes watching her compete. I almost felt like she was there with me again as I watched the lanes. Across the street is the cinema where my sister and I watched Mrs Doubtfire with subtitles. Our gran was with us that year. Malta will always have a special place in my heart. I watched a movie, and then headed back to my apartment…
Day 6 – The Island of Gozo
My final tourist day was a total splurge! I took the bus to the top of the island where i caught a ferry to the island of Gozo! It was blistering cold shooting the video of the arrival into the port, but so magnificent that i couldn’t resist! The ferry cost $5 return trip that was to be paid on the way back.
so, with it being my last day, i splurged and bought myself an open air bus ticket for $10 – this is a hop on hop off tour of the entire island. since it took me so long to get there, there was only one bus behind mine, so i could only jump off in one place, but i knew ahead of time where the place was that i wanted to see the sunset.. it was Azur’s Window, the filming place of the famous wedding in Game of Thrones. It was BEAUTIFUL!!!! I actually missed the last tour bus back to the port, but public transportation there is the same as Malta so my card worked, and I took a bus after sunset to Victoria, and then a transfer back to the ferry.
Traveling in foreign places can be scary. I keep saying, get this bus and that bus .. but it isn’t as simple as that in person.. there is some fear.. not knowing exactly where your bus stop is, for example. Everything is in a different language and it can be intimidating. Valetta has about 20 bus stops with 2-3 buses coming into each one. For someone like me, who hates asking for help, it will definitely help you fine tune that skill… but don’t let that stop you from getting out there and seeing the world.. practice makes perfect! Be prepared to walk, maybe miles sometimes.. and above all else, trust that no matter what, you will be okay. Listen to your gutt, and you will be safe.
welcome to gozo!