Malta Girlfriend Getaway

Looking for a girlfriend getaway in Europe? The island country of Malta is small enough to explore over a weekend and offers up oodles of shopping, sumptuous seafood, and gorgeous architecture along with history lessons aplenty. My fellow expat friend, Ace, and I had the extreme good fortune to escape our adopted homes in the Netherlands for a few days to explore this beautiful island nation. Here are my tips for a Malta girlfriend getaway.

The Azure Window on Gozo

The Azure Window on Gozo (Photo credit: Farrah Ritter)

Why a girlfriend getaway in Malta?

Ace and I bonded quickly as friends after my family’s move to the Netherlands last year. We love spending time together with our families but we wanted to plan a trip for just us girls without the kids or husbands. We wanted to visit someplace small and a little off the radar, but where English is widely spoken and the Euro is accepted. Malta fit that bill perfectly! Just a couple hundred miles off the tip of Italy’s boot, Malta has a history that includes a golden Neolithic period, and periods ruled by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and the Byzantine Empire. We were excited to delve into all of this history and architecture in a picturesque setting in the middle of a sparkling sea.

Ta' Pinu Sanctuary on Gozo

Me at the Ta’ Pinu Sanctuary on Gozo. (Photo credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

Gozo Island & Ta’ Pinu

For an affordable €2.50 all day bus ticket, you can take the ferry to the nearby island of Gozo. Over the course of several hours, Ace and I took full advantage of a hop on/hop off sightseeing tour and explored as much as of the isle as we could. Since Gozo is only about 26 square miles big, the determined adventurers in both of us wanted to see it all. We couldn’t wait to experience some really show stopping sights like the Azure Window and Ta’Pinu National Shrine.

At the coast we came to the Azure Window, also known as Dwejra. It is said that this incredible natural formation of rock and water will not last much longer. Time is eroding away at the top stone bridge and it will probably will fall into the sea within the next 10 years. For now, you can still climb over to the edge, which Ace did…I was not that brave. Pictured in many movies including Clash of the Titans and the recent HBO series Game of Thrones, it’s something you really have to see in order to believe. So hurry!

We were impressed and humbled at the Ta’ Pinu National Shrine, which is lined with walls and walls of thankful tributes from the many thousands of visitors who have come over the years asking for good health or blessings. This is a magnificent historical place to reflect, appreciate and learn. In the heart of Għarb on Gozo, just a quick ferry ride from Malta, this should be on your must-see list.

Original bus of Malta.

Original bus of Malta. (Photo credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

Shopping in Valetta

What’s a girlfriend getaway without a little shopping? You will see some typical European chain stores, like Marks & Spencer’s, but Valetta also boasts some unique high fashion boutiques. Window shopping is fun if the price tags are too steep but we did find some things to bring back as souvenirs for our family members.

Nave ceiling at St. John's Co-Cathedral

Nave ceiling at St. John’s Co-Cathedral. (Photo credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

St. John’s Co-Cathedral

Located in the heart of Valletta, St. John’s Co-Cathedral bursts with fanciful Baroque art and architecture. The interior ornamentation of this church is stunning.

With so much to see, here we split up and each listened to the audio tour. The highlight is Caravaggio’s masterpiece: The Beheading of St. John the Baptist. This giant-sized mural fills a wall and has its own private room for viewing. The painting is dark and raw, depiction of such a murderous act, yet somehow beautiful at the same time. We were in art-appreciation heaven.

Entry at Hotel Phoenicia, Malta.

Entry at Hotel Phoenicia, Malta. (Photo Credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

Where to stay in Malta

Malta’s five-star Hotel Phoenicia will make you and your best gal pal feel like royalty. With a hair salon, full restaurant and fantastic location, what could be better? Ace said she felt transported into an old-time Hollywood movie the minute we stepped into Hotel Phoenicia’s glamorous lobby.

Central lobby area at Hotel Phoenicia

Central lobby area at Hotel Phoenicia. (Photo Credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

Our art deco room was clean and comfortable with a large fluffy bed that promised to offer up a refreshing night of sleep after major exploring during the day. Our window looked out onto the city of Valletta, but we didn’t hear a peep at night outside our room. The large bathroom was a nice surprise to find in Europe, and stocked with soft robes and big towels.

Breakfast room at Hotel Phoenicia

Breakfast room at Hotel Phoenicia. (Photo credit: Ace Callahan-Brandt)

The Hotel Phoenicia is centrally located; with just a quick walk down the street to the busy bus terminal to whisk you off to explore Malta’s offerings. Each morning we had lots on the agenda, and this proved to be very convenient.

Girlfriend getaway Malta

My friend, Ace, at the Azure Window (Photo by Farrah Ritter)

Malta, a must see!

The history, beauty and astounding views of Malta exceeded my expectations. Ace and I shared a getaway through time and culture. For us, it was a welcome break from the normal day-to-day of school and errands. Malta helped us discover we’re a great traveling team…we’re already planning our next girlfriend getaway!

A Note from The Nomadic Travel Mama: Thank you to Hotel Phoenicia for providing our accommodations on our magnificent Malta girlfriend getaway! All opinions are mine, as always.

About Farrah Ritter, The Nomadic Travel Mama

Farrah Ritter is an adventure-seeking mama to a 4-year-old son and twin 2-year-old boys. Her family of five moved to the Netherlands in October of 2012. Originally from Michigan, she and her husband relocated to the South in 2006 and jumped over the pond with their boys in tow. She blogs at The Three Under when she can and is looking forward to documenting and sharing their European journey with anyone interested in travel with multiple small children. An Instagram and Twitter junkie (@Momofthreeunder), Farrah loves to see perspectives of others and experience the beauty of old towns and historic places.

Comments

  1. This sounds like such a fun getaway! I have wanted to visit Malta for such a long time – I just wish it wasn’t so far away. Hotel Phoenicia looks fabulous!

    • Lisa it’s well worth a trip :) If you should ever find yourself in this part of Europe, flights are really cheap and quick. It’s stunning- really a beautiful place and the hotel was perfection.

  2. I too am in love with Valletta’s coCathedral, and in particular with Caravaggio’s masterpiece within. Did you notice the artist’s signature sinisterly written in the saint’s blood? It’s even more meaningful when you know Caravaggio never signed his works.

    I was intrigued by what you wrote about the Gozo ferry ticket being included in a day’s bus ticket? It doesn’t sound right to me but I might have misunderstood.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Farrah Ritter, The Nomadic Travel Mama says:

      I was absolutely floored by that painting. And no, I didn’t see the signature!

      And the bus ticket we purchased to do the hop on/hop off tour of Gozo was good for a ferry tour of the harbors the following day on the main island. Apologies if that wasn’t clear! Additionally it was ‘free Gozo weekend’ that weekend we were there, so the ferry (which is usually €2.50) was free for everyone and packed!

  3. Ellen Lanin says:

    I believe President Roosevelt, and Churchill met in Malta during WWII. Did you see any information on their meeting place?

    • Not quite- but there is the United States Presidential Citation from FDR which is now a plaque on the wall of the Grand Master’s Palace in the town square of Valletta- since in that square is where we would walk around after dinner at night.

      My mind boggles at the history of this small country. I have been reading The History Of Malta and still haven’t gotten out of the 1800’s :)

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