We welcomed 2016 in Malta, an archipelago nestled between Europe and Africa. Considered the Dubai of the Mediterranean, Malta is incredibly accessible, yet is not a popular destination, at least not for many Americans. It is an off the beaten path destination and one of the smallest countries in the European Union.
Arriving in Malta
We took the ferry from Pozzallo, Sicily to Valletta. But British Airways and Air Malta have daily direct flights from many major cities in Europe such as London and Zürich. From the ferry port we took a taxi to the center since it was 10pm and we were tired. But taxis can be expensive, a definitely better way to explore the island is using its colorful public transportation, which is very cheap and reliable. We made Valletta our home base and stayed at this Airbnb apartment. The apartment is beautiful, in a great location and fantastic views. So climbing a million stairs to the top floor (no elevator) was worth it.
Some interesting facts about Malta:
- In addition to Maltese, English is also an official language
- Maltese is one of the most complicated languages to learn. The alphabet contains 38 letters and has a strong Arabic influence. It sounds like Arabic but they use Roman letters. It also has French influence.
- They use the Euro.
- Malta has been passed between Arabs, Spanish and British. The result is a fantastic heritage mix that makes this place unique.
- For Americans, there is no visa requirement to enter.
- They drive on the left side of the road, like in England.
- It was the most bombed place during WWII.
- The Phoenicians got the color purple, which was the color of royalty from Malta.
- Malta is not an island, is an archipelago. Put all islands together and you’ll get the size of Philadelphia.
- This archipelago was located in a strategic location for trading for the Romans.
Malta is a great place to spend New Years. Yes, most attractions are closed during the 31st and 1st, but if you go a few days before (or stay a few days after) you should be able to see most of the major attractions and still enjoy the celebrations, which by the way are over the top, with free concerts and lots of street vendors selling food and drinks. To save money, we bought the drinks, including the champagne, before hand and brought it with us.
With the hospitality of its people, rich history, vibrant nightlife, gorgeous beaches, and how easy is to access, Malta makes the ideal year-round holiday destination.