Places to visit for FREE in Malta!

When people start thinking about going abroad on vacation, one of the first things they generally ask about, is whether the country they are interested in is ‘expensive’ or not. What they are referring to of course, is not the normal cost of living, since they will probably only be there for a week or two at the most, but whether tickets to interesting places and/or events are worth it, how much can dinner cost, and whether you have to break the bank every time you go out, if you really want to enjoy yourself.

Fortunately, many natural attractions and amazing places and events in our islands are either free of charge, or else very cheap to visit. Where you go and what you do depends, of course, on your own personal inclinations and preferences, however I feel quite safe in saying that there are places which no one can but appreciate.

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1. Go to the beach – whether it’s summer, spring, winter or fall, Maltese beaches are always there free to be enjoyed by anyone. You can swim, snorkel, jog, have a picnic (making sure to take any litter with you), or even just enjoy a quick coffee while you look at the waves and meditate. No costs involved.

2. Visit the fish market at Marsaxlokk – taking place each Sunday morning, the Marsaxlokk market, though most famous for its freshly caught fish, offers many other treasures to be found by the intrepid explorer, within its quirky traditional stalls which meander around Marsaxlokk Bay. This is an open-air market, and therefore free to visit. Beware however, although most items are quite cheap, you may find yourself buying more than you bargained for!

3. Stroll around Valletta – rich in Baroque architecture, medieval heritage and photo opportunities, Valletta is perfect for those who wish to ‘look around’ without having to buy anything. Admire the Grand Harbor from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, visit Saint John’s Co-Cathedral and gawk at its artistic masterpieces, and take a look at the newly restored Triton’s Fountain. During 2018, Valletta is hosting the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture, which basically means that there are a myriad of free exhibitions, events, and open-air performances taking place around the city almost every week. Definitely not to be missed.

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4. Explore San Anton Gardens – if you have children, or just love animals, this is surely the place to go. San Anton Gardens are located in central Attard and form part of the Presidential Palace. This beautiful very well kept botanic garden, houses both flora and fauna, and is interspersed with fountains, walkways, ponds and cosy corners. A very pretty place to go if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city-life.

5. Trekking – instead of spending money on a gym membership, why don’t you walk or hike while exploring the beautiful Maltese countryside? Whether it be Fomm ir-Riħ on Malta’s Western Coast, Dingli Cliffs situated in the Northern region, the South-eastern Delimara Peninsula or Għasri Valley in Gozo, the islands of Malta offer a vast array of natural places where one can stop and breathe the fresh air while taking a relaxing walk, or a more energetic jog.

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6. Nightlife – During the summer, the Maltese islands flourish with the onset of weekly village festas dedicated to different patron saints and showing off the best of what traditional Malta has to offer. The fireworks, the night markets, the stalls, the entertainment, is all free, though of course once you smell a whiff of those freshly baked pastizzi, you’ll probably be tempted to open your wallet (don’t worry, this street food is quite cheap). In winter there are usually no festas, however there’s always Carnival in February and Easter in April, which always include a number of open-air evening activities. There are also a huge number of ‘Wine-fests’, and fairs focusing on particular products pertaining to specific localities throughout the year, such as the ‘Bread Festival’ in Qormi, the Pumpkin Festival in Manikata, the Chocolate Festival in Ħamrun or the Strawberry Festival in Mġarr. In case you hadn’t noticed, the Maltese do love their food!

This article was written by me and originally featured on the magazine LivingInMalta here.

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Rant: The SALOTT and Sticks in the Mud

So, yesterday (or more accurately, this morning actually) at around 12.30am, I was right on the verge of sleep, cuddled cozily with my better half in the silent darkness – when suddenly I heard a huge enormous peal of thunder. Or so I thought. Only, the thunder did not stop. It just went on and on and on, rising in volume, until I could almost feel the earth vibrate. Yes, vibrate – even though I was in bed not on the floor, and even though we live in an elevated maisonette with another one beneath us.

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Finally, after like half a minute (which believe me is quite long when you’re listening to what you believe might be either an explosion or an actual earthquake), it stopped. My bf was asleep and, ubelievably enough, had not stirred.

I immediately logged onto social media. I was sure someone would comment on it. AND I WAS RIGHT. A relative tornado of queries, panicked comments and questions suddenly appeared on ‘The Salott‘, a popular local Maltese page on Facebook where people debate present issues, talk about general subject, and moan and groan in general… yea I know… I actually keep logging as a member for the entertainment value these intellectually challenged people provide, but anyways – THIS time, it kinda comforted me to realize that I was not the only one feeling astonished at this amazing booming cracking sound coming on at 12.30am. They heard it in many different places around Malta, and that was quite strange too.

Now what non-locals have got to realize is that in Malta, we have a long tradition of amateur and not-so-amateur firework-making establishments exploding, literally, in flames. There was a period some few years ago when it seemed like there was such an unfortunate accident every two or three months – so naturally, I started to think that maybe something like that had happened. 

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More and more people started saying that it was just thunder, though strange thunder at that. Thunder without any storm, clouds, or inclement weather around, but still thunder. In other words, nothing to write home about they said. Storm in a teacup (excuse my pun). Just a lot of ado about nothing. ‘Why all this fuss?’ they asked us peeps who were concerned, ‘it’s 12.30am in the morning, why don’t you go to sleep now? Don’t you have anything better to do?’

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Nice, so here we, the worried peeps, are – thinking someone might actually be hurt and that something bad might have happened (what with all the terrorism and stuff happening around the world lately), and you’re laughing at us coz we actually give a shit?

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Is this the kind of attitude that’s ‘cool’ nowadays? I don’t know – is being concerned tantamount to being a stick in the mud now? Yes, it may just have been thunder, but for a moment there, no one was sure – and it might actually NOT have been thunder. What if it had been an emergency situation? Anyways, nice attitude pals… *NOT*!