Review: From Malta With Love | BCME Explores Majestic Malta

Review: From Malta With Love | BCME Explores Majestic Malta

Last month, our Editorial Contributor Peta had the honour of being asked to represent Bride Club ME on a press trip to the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta. Malta Tourism Authority and the Consulate General of Malta Dubai kindly invited Bride Club ME to explore Malta, Gozo, and Comino as a wedding and honeymoon destination for UAE residents. Having never been to Malta before, Peta was thrilled to have the opportunity to visit somewhere she had heard so many wonderful things about, and we are pleased to report that this small but mighty country did not disappoint!

From Malta With Love | BCME Explores Majestic Malta

Join Peta below as she gives you an insight into her Mediterranean love affair, from the historical walled capital city of Valletta to the enchanting medieval town of Mdina to the charming sister island of Gozo. We hope you will fall in love with the Maltese islands as much as Peta did!

Location

The Maltese archipelago (a collection of islands) lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. With some of the oldest prehistoric structures in the world and a cultural legacy that includes the Sicilians, Phoenicians, Romans and the British, it is little wonder that the ever-hospitable Malta is referred to as ‘the island of sunshine and history’.

So how do you get there? I flew from Dubai to Malta International Airport with Emirates. You cannot fly direct to Malta, however, it’s super easy to access as you don’t need to change planes. You simply fly to Larnaca, Cyprus, which is around a 4-hour flight, and once in Larnaca, you stay on the plane for a 1 hour stop over and then onto Malta which is just under 3 hours away. In total, you’re looking at around 8 hours of travel time which is completely worth it once you land on the charismatic island of Malta.

Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay

During my 5 days/4 nights in Malta, I stayed at the Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay. The hotel is around a 20-minute drive from the airport and myself and the other lovely members of the press trip gang were escorted there by our tour guide, Clive from Malta Private Guide Tours, who soon became a highlight of the trip (more on him later!). The Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay is located at the entrance to St George’s Bay, home to one of the most popular sandy beaches in Malta, and it offers superb panoramic views of the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea.

Corinthia Hotel 1 - Corinthia Hotel St George's Bay : © viewingmalta.com

Upon arrival, I was greeted with fresh juice from the friendly staff and I felt immediately welcomed and at home. Check in was nice and quick and my bags swiftly followed me up to my room. I stayed in one of their Deluxe sea view Queen rooms which had a lovely balcony with a glorious view of one of the hotel’s six pools. Although the room was a little dated compared to the opulent hotel room styles we become accustomed to in Dubai, the size of the room was perfect, and I received complimentary fresh fruit and chocolates in the room every single day. Due to our busy schedule, I didn’t get to explore everything that the hotel had to offer, but with six pools, a diving school, water sports centre and a luxurious spa that boasts an extensive treatment menu, the Corinthia Hotel has fantastic facilities to enjoy during your honeymoon downtime.

Corinthia Hotel 2 - Corinthia Hotel St George's Bay : © viewingmalta.com

Deluxe Sea View Queen Room Features:

27m² of space

Complimentary Wi-Fi

Balcony

Tea and coffee-making facilities

Air conditioning

Mini bar

75 TV channels

Bathroom amenities

My Malta Bucket List

Thanks to Malta Tourism Authority and the Consulate General of Malta Dubai, our press trip itinerary was jammed packed with the island’s top attractions, obligatory site seeing and a sprinkle of extra special activities. Our very witty Maltese tour guide, Clive, knew everything there was to know about Malta. Not only was he a fantastic tour guide, he treated us to an abundance of knowledge and history of the islands. What Clive doesn’t know about Malta isn’t worth knowing! I would highly recommend spending a couple of days with Clive whilst you explore Malta to really understand the story of the country and what makes it so special, plus you get to skip all of the queues!

Tour Guide Clive from Malta Private Guide

Over my five-day trip, I was treated to the best Malta had to offer. Here is a selection of my top honeymoon must-dos in Malta.

Valletta, Malta’s Capital City: “A City Built By Gentlemen For Gentlemen’’

I spent my first full day in Malta exploring the capital city of Valletta. Valletta is a UNESCO world heritage city currently being redesigned by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano and it’s been nominated for European Capital of Culture 2018. With 7,000 years of history, this baroque city built by the Knights of St John is small but packed full of breathtaking sights. UNESCO described Valletta as ‘one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world’, and you only need to spend five minutes there to understand this bold statement.

Valletta 2

I started my Valletta journey with a walk through the Upper Barrakka Gardens which overlook the Grand Harbour. The gardens were laid down in the mid 17th century to provide a peaceful retreat for the Knights. The view from the garden’s terrace is just magnificent. I could have spent hours gazing across the harbour taking in the views of the historic ‘Three Cities’, the three fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua. The oldest is Birgu, which dates back as far as the Middle Ages. The other two cities, Senglea and Cospicua, were both founded by the Order of Saint John in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Upper Barrakka Gardens 1 - Peter Vanicsek : © viewingmalta.com

Upper Barrakka Gardens 2 - Peter Vanicsek : ©

Image credit: Peter Vanicsek

I also took a Dghajsa Trip, a typical Maltese gondola shaped boat, across the harbour later the same day, which is another fun way of seeing the Three Cities. The Barrakka Gardens is the perfect spot to take your wedding photos; I would even consider taking my wedding dress along with me on my next visit for a cheeky floral photoshoot!

Whilst in the capital city a visit to St. John’s Co-Cathedral is also a must. A baroque work of art in its architecture and sculptures, this Cathedral holds some of the most iconic works of art in the world by artists such as Mattia Preti and Caravaggio. I’ve been to my fair share of Cathedrals, but St John’s is truly transcendent.

Whilst exploring Valletta, I was treated to lunch at Rubino, one of the oldest establishments in the capital having opened its doors in 1906. This family-run restaurant is something of an institution and offers popular traditional Maltese dishes in a romantic, cozy setting. Rubino is the ideal spot for a long, lazy, authentic Maltese lunch. I recommend trying their local wine selection too.

Valletta is abundantly rich in history, art, intriguing buildings and fabulous food and wine. Give yourself at least one full day to discover everything this capital city has to offer.

Valletta 1 - Malcolm Debono : © viewingmalta.com

Casa Rocca Piccola: A ‘living’ 16th Century Palazzo in Valletta

Located in the heart of Valletta, Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th Century Palace home to the Maltese noble de Piro family. I was lucky enough to enjoy a private tour with the palace’s current resident, Baron Nicholas de Piro. Nicholas and his wife Frances were the first members of the Maltese aristocracy to open their house to the public, and wow should we be grateful for this decision. I highly recommend booking a private tour with Baron Nicholas himself as he’s quite possibly one of the most charismatic storytellers you’ll ever have the pleasure to meet.

Casa Rocca Piccola 3 - © viewingmalta.com

From the moment we started the tour I was completely captivated by the remarkable story of the de Piro family, and for any Royalists out there like myself, you will be able to get up close and personal with an actual invitation to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953 along with official portraits of Baron Nicholas’s parents at the coronation itself. The palace is filled to the brim with historic trinkets and fascinating pieces of art that each tell their own unique tale. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Valletta to make time to visit this noble family home; after all, it’s the only one we’re actually able to get a glimpse of inside, and it’s wonderful.

Mdina: “The Silent City’’

On the way to Mdina, our tour guide Clive mentioned that the city’s most recent claim to fame is being one of the filming locations of cult TV series Game of Thrones. However, since I’ve never watched Game of Thrones I had no idea of the magnificence that awaited us.

Mdina 2 - Clive Vella : © viewingmalta.com

The history of Mdina traces back more than 4,000 years and is referred to by many as ‘The Noble City’ amongst other things. Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city and quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Splendid palaces line its narrow, shady streets as many Maltese noble families still reside there.

Mdina 1 - Clive Vella : © viewingmalta.com

As I walked around Mdina I felt almost transported back to medieval times. The original capital city is also referred to as the ‘Silent City’ as there are barely any cars there so it’s extremely peaceful and, I thought, quite bewitching, too. Wander the pretty streets or just find a cozy café and watch the world go by, but please don’t miss out on the charm of Mdina.

Mdina 3 - © 2015 RICHARD F. EBERT ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Image credit: Richard F. Ebert

Ta’ Mena Estate, Gozo: Providing an educational experience to all with a Gozitan Green Touch!

During my day trip to Gozo, I was lucky enough to be shown around the Ta’ Mena Estate by its owner Joseph Spiteri. The estate offers a rustic experience where guests can get in touch with nature, enjoy traditional Maltese foods & wines and taste heavenly extra virgin olive oil, all with a touch of Mediterranean sunshine.

Ta’ Mena Estate 2

First, I was treated to a tour of the estate by Joseph, whose passion for farming and fresh, local produce was infectious.

The tour was then followed by a tasting where I got to sample some of the incredible products that are made at the estate including the most delicious tomato paste I’ve ever had, olive oil, the juiciest fresh tomatoes and scrumptious sausage all washed down with their very own, and very drinkable, white wine.

2018-07-04_0001

It was so amazing to be able to enjoy pure, fresh food in such a relaxing setting, and the Ta’ Mena Estate JUEL white wine was so good I had to bring a couple of bottles home with me! To really get an insight into Gozo’s history, folklore and culture I recommend a visit to the Ta’ Mena Estate. Joseph also owns a winery in a place called Xewkija on the island which is well worth a visit too.

More Top Things To Do In Malta

Ramla Bay, Gozo – One of the largest and most beautiful sandy beaches in the Maltese Islands. 

Ggantija Temples – The oldest freestanding structures in the world and potentially Gozo’s single most marketable landmark. 

Marsaxlokk Fishing Village – The foremost fishing village and one of the most picturesque localities in Malta. 

The Blue Grotto – A natural picturesque grotto near Wied izZurrieq. 

Citadel, The Gran Castello – This old capital of Gozo was the centre of activity since Neolithic Times. It has impressive battlements which offer a superb view of the island. 

Blue Lagoon, Comino – A slice of paradise in Malta.

Hotel Picks

Domus Zamittello

During my time in Valletta, I had the pleasure of being shown around newly opened boutique hotel Domus Zamittello by Mr. Fabien Vella, the hotel’s General Manager.

Domus Zamittello 2 - booking.com

Image credit: booking.com

The hotel is ideally located at the beginning of Republic Street so you’re right in amongst the hustle and bustle of the capital city with a plethora of restaurants and bars at your doorstep. Although Domus Zamittello recently opened its doors, the hotel is a restored 17th-century palazzo, and there are reminders of the building’s historic roots everywhere. From the classic rooms to the suites, everything about Domus Zamittello is sheer elegance. If you’re looking for a boutique hotel that’s a slice of Maltese history, then I would highly recommend checking in here.

The Duke Boutique Hotel, Gozo

On day four of my trip, I visited Malta’s sister island, Gozo. The name Gozo means ‘joy’ and boy did this little island bring me a lot of joy! One of the highlights of my day was being shown around The Duke Boutique Hotel by General Manager Mr. Jason Galea.

The Duke Hotel 1 - hwww.thedukehotelgozo.com

The Duke Hotel 2 - hwww.thedukehotelgozo.com

The Duke Hotel 3 - hwww.thedukehotelgozo.com

Image credit: The Duke Hotel Gozo

Located in the island’s capital, Victoria, the hotel’s rooms offer very unique panoramic views of Gozo and Citadel. To get to the hotel you have to go through a shopping complex, and I had no idea what to expect once we reached the 4th floor to the hotel’s entrance, but my goodness was I impressed as we stepped out of the lift. With an outwardly unassuming location, once in the hotel lobby you know you are checking into somewhere rather special. The juxtaposition of the hotel’s ancient surroundings and state-of-the-art luxury interiors make this one of the most exquisite boutique hotels I’ve ever visited. An absolute must for Gozo honeymooners.

Wedding Spots

Fort St Angelo

Fort St Angelo is one of the most imposing forts on the island and this historic gem can be the venue for your dream wedding. Situated on one of the ‘Three Cities’ (Birgu) it has incredible views of the Grand Harbour.

Fort St Angelo 2 - Birgu Local Council : © viewingmalta.com

Even at first glance, I could picture a Grecian, vintage style wedding taking place here under the stars as guests look out at magical views of the Vittoriosa Marina. If you’re looking to wow your guests with an outdoor location oozing in history, then please do check out Fort St Angelo.

The Vilhena Palace Courtyard

The Vilhena Palace Courtyard is part of the National Museum of Natural History, an 18th-century palace just a few steps away from the Main Gate of the silent city of Mdina.

The Vilhena Palace Courtyard 1 - exclusivevenues.org

Image credit: exclusivevenues.org

If you are looking for a majestic wedding venue with a palatial backdrop and Parisian baroque tones, then please consider this beautiful museum courtyard for your special day. With enough space for 200 seated guests and 400 standing, the Vilhena Palace Courtyard could be the perfect outdoor venue for your Malta wedding.

Palazzo Parisio

Palazzo Parisio, an 18th-century palace located in the heart of picturesque Naxxar, is my personal favorite wedding location in Malta. If you are looking for the perfect venue for your fairy-tale wedding, then you need to visit Palazzo Parisio. The stately home offers indoor and outdoor reception options for your big day including one of the most specular ballrooms I have ever seen, reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles.

Palazzo Parisio 3 - Palazzo Parisio : © viewingmalta.com

Palazzo Parisio 4 - Palazzo Parisio : © viewingmalta.com

The palace is surrounded by pristine gardens which are available for weddings all year round. The photos really do speak for themselves. So, if you’re looking for an utterly regal wedding venue that will blow your guests away and make you feel like a princess, it’s worth travelling to Malta for the divine Palazzo Parisio.

In Short

It’s been said that while Malta is small in size, it’s large in heart and history, and this couldn’t be truer. I adored Malta, Gozo, and Comino, and the only thing that was missing was having my husband by my side to enjoy all the amazing experiences with me. With a number of unique wedding venues and stunning boutique hotels, Malta should definitely be considered as your wedding destination. And for those of you that have already had your big day but are stuck on where to go for your honeymoon, I seriously advise you to consider Malta. For UAE residents especially, this collection of islands is a breath of fresh air, quite literally! With a rich history, gorgeous climates, incredibly fresh food and picture-perfect scenery, you and your loved one are bound to make beautiful memories in Malta that you can treasure forever.

Special thanks to Sangeeta from Malta Tourism Authority, The Consulate General of Malta Dubai and Clive from Malta Private Guide. Images courtesy of viewingmalta.com unless otherwise stated.

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