So after an action packed first day in Malta again we woke up and realised we had plenty more to see.
It was such a lovely feeling to roll out of bed and slide over to the balcony again to bask in the morning sunshine and prepare for another day of exploration. After discussing the rough plan for the day and getting ready we headed out on foot down to the Sliema waterfront.
Ferry from Sliema to Valletta
So after a short troll along the waters edge we arrived at the departure point for the ferry to Valletta. Lucky for us it was November so the usual boat load of ticket sellers for the sightseeing harbour trips were absent and it was easy to spot the departure point.
It costs €1.50 single trip and €2.80 return between Sliema and Valletta or Valletta and the 3 Cities and runs every 30 minutes daily, even in the winter. There are some shots of the journeys in the Day 2 video above and we found the boats speedy, clean and efficient. Definitely the way to go and you get fantastic views across the harbours. Check vallettaferryservices.com for more details.
The Capital City of Valletta – UNESCO World Heritage Site
Disembarking from the ferry you quickly realise Valletta is built on a huge, high rock sticking out into the water as you climb up the steep slope into the city streets. The climb is well worth the effort for the wonderful views from the various vantage points up high.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
From here you’ll find one of the best views from the city walls of Valletta out towards the 3 Cities. These are 3 ancient fortified cities that jut out into the Grand Harbour, the oldest being Birgu in the middle, which was settled as the capital in 1530.
Before hopping back on a ferry to cross over the harbour to explore Birgu it was time for a spot of lunch. Where better to grab a snack than the famous Cafe Cordina at 244 Republic Street.
It’s a place that manages to be popular with both tourists and locals and seems to have a constant buzz. Not all that surprising as we ordered some tasty tuna sandwiches which came quickly and in generous portions for just €6.25 each.
We’d certainly recommend popping in, or dining in the courtyard outside, if you are in Valletta.
The interior is beautifully decorated and worth popping in to see even if you don’t stay for any food or drink. You will however be hard pushed to resist the stunning range of fresh homemade pastries and cakes on display.
Ferry to the 3 Cities
So after that tasty lunch it was time to head back down to the waters edge to and board the next ferry over to the 3 Cities. The prices and timetable are the same as mentioned above as it is run by the same folks.
It was a lovely peaceful feeling as the boat slowed down upon entering the harbour alongside Birgu and we glided past all the moored up boats of yachts of varying sizes. From small fishermen’s boats to massive multi million pound vessels we both agreed we’d never seen quite so many boats before, the marina seemed to go on forever.
The Peaceful Streets of Birgu
It took around 15 minutes to cross the Grand Harbour and reach the ferry stop at Birgu. We jumped off and headed up another steep climb, through the ancient fort and into the back streets of the city.
The population of this tiny area stands at just over 2600 but it felt more like 50. We hardly saw a soul about, only catching the occasional conversation form an open window above us. It instantly felt like we had found another world and we both agreed this was more like the Malta we had hoped to discover.
Don’t get me wrong, we had enjoyed all we had seen until now but this was the first time we felt like we discovered the real Malta in the narrow and winding streets of Birgu. Bliss.
This is when travel is at it’s best, when you have time to wander slowly around and soak up a place. We could feel the history all around us as we strolled around getting lost before eventually making our way back down towards the waterfront.
Chilling with a Cisk
On the way back to the harbour we agreed it was time for a little refreshment after working up a thirst with all that sightseeing. Early on in our stay I sampled the local brew called Cisk. I wasn’t a massive fan but they also made a refreshing beverage called Cisk Chill Lemon, a citrus flavoured larger at 4% ABV.
It was more than welcome after all our exploring and decent value at €4 for 3 drinks.
Time to head home
With the sun rapidly setting it was time to head back towards Valletta and back towards our friend’s apartment for some dinner. Taking the ferry once more as Valletta lit up before us was a real treat and a great way to cap another action packed day of sightseeing.
Enjoyed reading this post? Check out our Malta Guide to Travelling and Living on the Island