February 3, 2020 • 7 min read
Malta – a tiny country comprised of three islands in the middle of the Mediterranean, in between Sicily and Tunisia. More rock than lush, this isle hosts the best of classic European charm, mixed with African and Arab allure.
Despite its tiny size, Malta is known for its many UNESCO World Heritage sites, some going as far back as Neolithic times. The mix of ancient ruins with quickly modernizing cityscapes makes for a curious and compelling expanse.
We’re here to share with you some of the local businesses, hotels and eateries that are leading the way in conscious consuming, and that should be top of your list when visiting Malta, Gozo and Comino.
W H E R E T O S T A Y
Maison La Vallette | Valletta
A discreet, self-catering luxury town house situated in the old part of Valletta, this beautiful Baroque hotel dates back to the Knights of Malta. With ensuite facilities, bathroom with luxurious tub, a living room and separate kitchen, this romantic setting is quintessentially Maltese – bold and sophisticated. This accommodation describes itself as a “no-hotel” meaning it aims to avoid cliché and conventional hotel standards. You won’t find unnecessary large spaces, single-dose toiletries, or over-lit hotel facades, but you will find eco-friendly accommodations and a functional space.
Address: St. Patrick’s, Il-Belt, Valletta
The Xara Palace | Mdina
This 17th century palazzo is inextricably linked to the medieval city of Mdina. Stunning, with Baroque architecture, romantic décor, original paintings and antique tapestries and furnishings, The Xara Palace is reminiscent of a time when nobility walked these fortified city walls. Aside from the hotel, The Xara Palace supports the local charity, Dar tal-Providenza, which offers warm and family-oriented accommodations to people with disabilities who can no longer receive the care they need at home. They also support the Sponsor My Future charity which raises money to enable underprivileged children in Ruiru, Kenya to attend school, as well as supporting their families.
Address: Misrah Il Kunsill, Mdina
Thirty Seven Gozo | Gozo
Gozo, the island of Calypso, is an idyllic sanctuary of land in the middle of a sapphire-coloured sea. On that rock sits this gorgeous hideaway of a hotel sits nestled amongst palm fronds and blooming frangipanis. This boutique hotel is a 400-year-old converted farmhouse, with two swimming pools, lush gardens, and two very welcoming hosts. The ten guest rooms here offer views of the pool, the valley and the Mediterranean. Relax by the pool all day, try your hand at local crafts like pottery or painting, or sink into your book on the rooftop terrace. The hotel serves up fresh island fish as well as only organic produce. The bathrooms have only earth-conscious amenities, as well as essential oils to boost your sense of well-being.
Address: 37 Triq Munxar, Munxar, Gozo
Ferrieha Farmhouse | Gozo
Another charming sanctuary on the island of Gozo, this farmhouse is family-owned and historic. Combining the best of old and new, the farmhouse has 4 lovely rooms, beautiful flora, and stunning views of the Blue Lagoon. The large pool is perfect for relaxing in, and it’s just a short walk away from restaurants and bars. The breakfast is sprawling and delicious.
Address: Triq Tac Cawl, Qala
W H E R E T O E A T
Nenu the Baker | Valletta
A must visit to try some traditional Maltese food, Nenu the Baker specializes in ftira, which resembles a flatbread or pizza. This family owned restaurant prides themselves in serving traditional fare, and staying close to the old Maltese way of doing things. The restaurant is in one of the oldest parts of Valletta, and is a restored building, where you can still see the old stone and walls. With an open kitchen, you can watch the baker at work, and even try your hand at baking ftira yourself.
Address: 143 St. Dominic Street, Valletta
Tuk Tuk | Valletta
For those who love flavour and want a break from the sameness, a visit to Tuk Tuk is a must. Inspired by the food hawkers of India, this restaurant is a mix of rustic roadside and railway station dishes. You’ll find dosas and masala fries alongside traditional curries and tandoor dishes. GF, lactose-free, vegetarian and vegan options are all available here.
Address: 174, Triq il-Merkanti, Valletta
Piadina Caffe | Valletta
A great, chill spot to grab and go or to people-watch, Piadina Caffe is literally a hole in the wall that serves up incredible piadinas (think quesadilla with an Italian accent). Across the street is the dining area of the cafe, so you can take your piadina there for to eat. Or outside the café are bean bags and little chairs, lining the sloping street – the perfect place to take a moment, have a bite and revel in the atmosphere of Valletta.
Address: 24, St.Lucia Street, Il-Belt, Valletta
Culto | Valletta
Tiny but incredible, this little café serves some of the best coffee on the island. Owned by a family, grab your coffee and maybe a fresh pastry / bread and sit out in front. You can people-watch, chat with old Maltese men who are regular patrons and sip on some delicious java.
Address: 49, St John’s Street, Valletta
Caffe Cordina | Valletta
Established in 1837, Caffe Cordina is well-known and with a long history. A beautiful place for an afternoon bite, this historic and exquisite interior boasts paintings from a renowned Maltese painter. The coffee shop has a restaurant, tea room, pasticceria, coffee bar and gelateria. Everything is hand-made using traditional recipes, and made in-house. Definitely try a pastizzi, a local Maltese speciality pastry. Their line of gourmet products is a lovely treat to take home with you.
Address: 244, Republic Street, Valletta
Lot Sixty One | Valletta
Originally from Amsterdam, this little coffee shop in Valletta is a must visit. With sustainability and better practices top of mind, you’ll find Keep Cups and reusable straws for sale here, as well as some delicious coffee. With efforts to provide better standards of living and healthcare for their coffee growers, 100% clean and renewable energy in their supply chain, and sustainably harvested water, Lot Sixty One is a café worth supporting. Suitable for vegans as they have many different dairy-free milk options available.
Address: 30 Old Theatre Street, Valletta
No. 43 | Valletta
For vegans and anyone looking for a healthy lunch, No.43 serves up delicious sandwiches, soups and salads, as well as soy and oat milk coffees. The tiny café has outdoor seating, so enjoy the architecture and people-watch as you munch on your healthy eats.
Address: 43 Merchant St, Valletta
L’Artiglio | Valletta
For more of an upscale experience, L’Artiglio is a quiet, unassuming restaurant open for lunch and dinner. With no set menu that is ever-changing, the chef chooses local, fresh produce that is in season to inspire his meals. Have a glass of wine, choose from a delicious menu and spend an evening fine-dining.
Address: 64, Melita Street, Valletta
W H E R E T O S H O P
Whiteshop | Valletta
Vetted by Fashion Revolution Malta, this cute little boutique carries only products that are sustainable, pesticide-free organic cotton, pure linen, and ethically-made. Choosing to support small and local artisans from Malta and Sicily, Whiteshop is the best place to find unique clothing items that will last.
Address: 106E St. John Street, Valletta
W H E R E T O V I S I T
Old Streets | Valletta
The beauty of Valletta is apparent the minute you set foot in the small capital city. Meander the streets and get lost in the historic architecture. The colourful windows are charming and the views of the ocean are stellar. Grab a gelato and spend time soaking in the vibe.
Vincent’s Eco Farm | Mgarr
A fully certified organic farm, this charming ecological estate produces a large variety of organic vegetables and gourmet products. Take a tour of the farm and learn about their traditional farming practices that require no chemicals or pesticides. The sprawling expanse is beautiful, with fresh bounty available for purchase. The shop at Vincent’s Eco Farm also carries exquisite fig jams, olive oil from their on-site 700-year old olive tree and other delicacies.
City of Mdina | Mdina
An absolutely gorgeous part of Malta is Mdina. This historic fortified city is stunning and romantic. Get lost in the many little streets, watch a horse-drawn carriage drive by, and have tea on a patio while you soak in the atmosphere.
Blue Lagoon | Comino
The third and smallest island of Malta is Comino. This is purely a day spot, as the island is just a rock, without any accommodations or eateries. Visit it to see the incredible Blue Lagoon – dazzlingly azure blue waters that are perfect for swimming and relaxing in. It does get busy though, so make sure to go early and bring an umbrella. With no natural or man-made shade, it can get very hot! There are food trucks set up near the port, but try bringing your own cutlery or snacks.
While Malta is quickly becoming a hot spot, it is still quite up and coming. There are buses that run all over the islands and that are very well connected, however they are extremely unpredictable. The schedule can be difficult to navigate, and you might be waiting at a bus stop for 3 minutes or 30. We managed to mostly use buses the entire time we were there, but there were many times where it was quite frustrating.
The tap water in Malta is not very good. They say it’s drinkable, but it has an extremely strong metallic taste and for many, including myself, it was unpalatable. Tourists are mostly left with the choice of buying water in plastic bottles. While this was unavoidable, you can minimize your impact by buying the largest size bottle or jug available, so that your plastic consumption is lower. Instead of buying the small bottles, size up and fill up your reusable bottle for the day.
Sustainable Eats and Treats is a newly launched Malta-based sustainable restaurant and bar certification. You can use this website as a resource to find eateries that are conscious!
Some of these hotels were in collaboration with Forage & Sustain. With stringent requirements, I only work with brands whose visions and ethos align with my own. All thoughts and opinions remain my own.
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