Malta

Mdina + Blue Grotto, Malta

Peter and I did two days trips during our vacation in Malta. The first was to the island of Gozo (a sister island of Malta), and the second was to the city of Mdina and the Blue Grotto.

Mdina

Mdina is a medieval city known as the “Silent City.”

We didn’t have a rental car and relied on buses and taxis to get around Malta. We decided to take the bus from Valletta to Mdina.

Protip: Purchase your bus tickets from the driver versus at the Valletta bus station kiosks, where there can be lengthy queues.

The bus journey from Valletta to Mdina was 20 minutes. It was short compared to the bus journeys we took prior to Gozo. The downside to the bus was that it ran once an hour.

Mdina is a small fortified city in the middle of the island of Malta. It can be explored in 45 minutes; if we’d known this, we would’ve planned our visit better to catch the next hourly bus.

Instead, we took our time walking around the walled city.

With more time on our hands than we knew what to do with, we went to the Malta Experience. The Malta Experience is a 20-minute film about the history of Malta where the actors are dressed in medieval clothing and play out dramatic scenes. It’s shown in an air-conditioned theater.

Walled cities like Mdina are beautiful, but I swear the temperature inside the walls is 20°F hotter than outside. And there’s usually no breeze. It was very hot during our visit.

Following the film, we roamed the city further and found the main attraction of Mdina, the flower wall.

We ended our visit to Mdina with a little shopping. Mdina is known for hand-blown glass products, so we popped into a shop on our way back to the bus station and purchased a glass olive oil dispenser.

Overall, Mdina is worth a visit, but I’d skip the Malta Experience if we were to do it over again.

Blue Grotto

Our second and final stop of the day was to the Blue Grotto on the island’s south shore.

In Mdina, there was one taxi parked in the taxi rank, but the driver was nowhere to be found. We stood near the taxi for a long time before a local noticed us and woke the taxi driver up from her nap on a nearby bench under the shade of the trees.

Twenty minutes later, we arrived at the Blue Grotto marina. We bought tickets for a boat tour and had a short wait until our boat and captain were ready to depart.

The journey from the marina to the Blue Grotto was 10 minutes. The captain “drove” our boat into several caves. The color variation of the water was incredible.

The photos below were taken with an iPhone 8 and have not been edited.

The color varied based on the cave, water depth, and sunlight. Sometimes, the water was electric aqua, and, other times, the deepest blue I’d ever seen.

Here’s a short video of us hanging out in a cave.

The Blue Grotto tour was 45 minutes long, including the short drive to and from the marina.

Unlike our trip to Gozo, the trip to the Blue Grotto was worth it. As a bonus, we got to the Blue Grotto bus station one minute before the Valletta-bound bus arrived. It would have been frustrating to miss the bus because there were no taxis near the marina on our visit, and the bus ran hourly.

What we’d do differently

In closing, I am happy that we visited Malta, but it is unlikely that we will visit Malta again.

We approached our vacation in Malta as a city break, but I think it is better suited as a beach vacation. Even if organized as a beach vacation, we’d have to be OK with rocky shores and lengthy bus rides to get to and from the beaches.

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