Sure, Malta is a beautiful little island, crammed with history, owning a unique cultural identity and boasting more sunshine that anywhere else on the continent.
That goes without saying.
But nowhere is perfect, and there are some things that visitors to the island would be well-advised to avoid. Here are a few of those tourist traps in Malta that you don’t want to have to deal with:
Let’s start with a controversial one, as Comino is widely regarded as one of the jewels in the Maltese crown. It is a tiny (virtually) uninhabited island featuring the enticeingly named ‘Blue Lagoon’ – so what’s the problem? Well friend, the problem is that in the peak summer months you and about 5,000 other people think that this will be the perfect spot to visit for the day. The place gets absolutely rammed with people; there is no beach to speak of so you are perched on whatever piece of scrub-land you can get to before those noisy Italian teenagers set up camp; there is no shade (unless you pay for it) and the only food on offer is greasy fried food out of burger vans. Yes it’s a nice place to visit, but maybe wait until the summer silly season is over.
Hard to avoid, even harder to love. The antiquated yellow bus fleet has long since been replaced by a more modern and air conditioned variety. While this certainly makes travel more comfortable than in the past, you lose something in the novelty value of the old buses. And however modern the bus, they cannot solve the problem of the horrendous traffic snarl-ups which strangle the life out of the island. So prepare to stand for an hour or more in swelteringly crowded buses for journeys of distances which would take about 10 minutes to cover in your home country.
flickr: city sightseeing gozo
Hop On, Hop Off Buses:
While we’re on the subject… Yes I know that these open top tourist buses are usually a great way to see a new city, and to get your bearings. I’ve taken them myself in lots of different places. But here in Malta they fall victim to the same traffic gridlocks which confound every other road user. More than that, the routes are too long anyway, and generally incorporate a lot of serious underwhelming inland scenery. My suggestion? Go on a water cruise instead, the views are better and it’s a lot more enjoyable.
flickr: Adam Polak
Hey, would you like to visit the set of a flop musical from 1980 based on an antiquated pre-war cartoon?
No!? Me neither!
Let’s not go together!
Where’s me Spinach! Ag-ug–ug–ug–ug–ug! (et cetera)
“Italian who went to Malta” tea-towels:
Yep, so Italians who speak English sometimes elongate the wrong vowels and pronounce certain words in an unusual manner. Still not humorous enough to justify the frankly incredible quantity of these things which have been produced, (you can include teashirts, aprons and coasters into the mix as well). And although I’m not Italian myself, I am guessing that the visitors from one of Malta’s largest tourist markets are not hugely entertained by these particular souvenirs either.
Particularly prevalent in Bugibba, as this is where a lot of British ladies and gentleman of a certain age choose to base themselves while in Malta. These teeth-baring salespeople are masters of the easy banter, picking out prey instinctively (I may as well be invisible when I walk past, not being of the target demographic) and charming the unsuspecting into parting with hard-earned savings for 2 weeks in Msida once a year every February. It’s pretty simple: if time-shares were really that great they would not require fast-talking, pushy salespeople to sell the things.
flickr: Spacing Magazine – Shawn Micallef
Okay if you’re aged from about fifteen to twenty-five ignore this warning and go out and have fun. For everybody else, there are better places you can be. Paceville is where sleaze lives in Malta, among the vomit puddles and the alcoves on the streets which always smell of urine. Cheap watered-down shots in nightclubs, expensive watered-down beer in strip-clubs, fights and stolen mobiles. Not my idea of a good night out, but then I’m pretty past it so you don’t have to pay any attention to me.
I imagine that if I had a Maltese grandmother, these are the kind of desserts she would serve. And the imaginary Maltese kid version of me would always be disappointed that we couldn’t just get chocolate or ice-cream or something good instead. Variations of these are known as either ‘cordina‘ or (unpronounceably) ‘Qaghaq ta’ l-Ghasel‘, and are made of marmalade and orange peel and honey and treacle and all sorts of other stodgily sweet gunk, and I wouldn’t bother with them if I were you.
Don’t agree with the list? Let us know what should be added or subtracted by commenting below.