Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Over the summer we had the chance to visit a beautiful island on the Mediterranean between Sicily and North Africa; while we were only there for a few days, my Malta pictures are some of our favourites from recent travels!

We visited in August, European summertime and yes, it was hot.

The highlight for that month annually is the colourful religious festivals which take place in all the Maltese villages of the island. Every church and cathedral is lit up and evening street festivals are held just about every night, with performers and bands, fireworks and an all-round fabulous vibe.

There’s even daytime fireworks – something I’ve never seen before! Oh, and canon fire wakes you up at 8am which takes some adjustment but then it’s just plain amusing.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta’s population is predominantly Roman Catholic and the churches, relics and crosses across the island make that very obvious.

Interestingly though, Malta feels really multi-cultural. I picked up on accents from all over the world on the street and even on their commercial radio stations where I heard a number of varying English and American accents along with Irish and even Australian.

The destination is renowned for its intriguing historical sites associated with a succession of rulers including the Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French and British.

Malta boasts many fortresses, Megalithic temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, a subterranean complex of halls and burial chambers dating to circa 4000 B.C. Really extraordinary.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

There’s something for everyone in Malta, and I’d pitch it as an excellent option against the coasts of Spain, France or Italy in the summer. It’s probably a bit cheaper than these neighbours too.

Travel for me offers a creative outlet, in that I relish the chance to take photos of the beauty of the world around me. Malta pictures are dreamy – the place is so sublime it’s basically impossible to take a bad shot.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta pictures: most Instagrammable

Architecture

I can’t wait to get back to Malta one day and explore more – there’s much of the northern side we missed, but we had a good look around the south of the island.

We stayed in an amazing, authentic 700 year old villa that likely houses a ghost or two.

In fact, they used to make cheese where we stayed, and goats once roamed the lower part of the building that now acts as a casual outdoor area with a pool around which we spent hot afternoons drinking a local brew, Cisk.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Napoleon reportedly stayed in the place next door to where we were based. It was then an armoury, and on further investigation I discovered that historically, relations between France and Malta have been tumultuous.

Malta’s positioned in such a spot that it’s ended up in the centre of many wars and struggles for power over the years, including during WWII.

I spotted several plaques in the capital, Valletta, commemorating Malta’s involvement in recent wars as part of the Commonwealth (same as Australia). In fact, Malta is one of just three European countries that form part of this alliance, alongside the UK and Cyprus.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

A rich history (both modern and ancient), change and rebuilding following periods of war, plus fascinating neighbours bringing a range of cultural influence means that every street, window, door and archway on the island offers an Instagrammable moment.

Blue Grotto

We were staying only about five minutes’ drive from the Blue Grotto, a haven for divers and free spirits alike.

Cliff drops, sparkling blue Mediterranean waves and the option to take a speed boat for just €8 means this is a must-visit in Malta.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Get there early to avoid queues.

The sea caverns you’ll cruise into on the water are awe-inspiring and jetting around these parts feels like nothing less than an adventure out of a Bond film.

There’s plenty of Malta pictures opportunities here, but we also captured a little bit of video to share:

Travel tip: Book a meal at Blue Creek Restaurant which is positioned on a cliff-side not too far from the Blue Grotto. Request a table outside because the views are sensational. The food is well priced and delicious.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in this area, you might like to visit the Hagar Qim temples (Megalithic temple structures built on the Maltese islands between 3600 and 3000 BC), Mnajdra temples (three conjoined Neolithic temples dating from about 3000 BC) and the Ghar Dalam cave and museum which contains bone remains of animals that were stranded and subsequently became extinct in Malta at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum.

Valletta waterfront and city centre

Malta’s striking capital, Valletta, is surrounded by spectacular bodies of water; cruise ships line the harbour alongside expensive yachts moored at Vittoriosa.

In stark contrast to these contemporary symbols of wealth and decadence are the fortified structures that date back thousands of years.

We highly recommend investing a couple of hours of your time in a harbour cruise where you get the best views of such buildings. Plus, there’s really no better way to experience the grandeur of the area and some of the world’s prettiest waterways.

Cruises here take in two of the largest natural harbours in the Mediterranian, Marsamxett and Valletta.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Travel tip: Captain Morgan cruises are heavily advertised, but if you buy tickets on the ground you can also cruise with Luzzu. Start at Valletta and take a fast ferry over to Sliema, or make your way to Sliema first and begin there. Tickets are available on the waterfront in both spots.

We scored tickets for €10 (down from €16 each) on Luzzu, and while we had a small panic that the boat was much smaller than that of Captain Morgan’s, the experience turned out to be much more fun, personal, free and enjoyable. We absolutely recommend you take this option that we happened upon by taking a chance on a street vendor working for Luzzu.

 

Malta harbour - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

While you’re in the city, you might also be interested to see the Malta Experience which offers an immersive trip through Malta’s fascinating history, and the Knights Hospital which showcases more about how this critical 250-year period in Malta’s history influenced everything from architecture to folklore and even the nation’s flag.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Marsaxlokk fishing village

This small and picturesque fishing village is a must-see for perfect Malta pictures and sublime Instagrammables.

Marsaxlokk is popular for a daily open-air market and offers a selection of some of the best fish restaurants in Malta.

I was there around lunchtime and can verify there are plenty of specials to enjoy, the only problem is figuring out which one to try.

There are lovely walks to be had around the harbour here, and you can even take a dip in secluded and untainted swimming zones.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Mdina

The history of the walled Mdina can be traced back more than 4000 years.

It is said that in 60 A.D. the Apostle St. Paul lived here after being shipwrecked. Wandering the narrow old streets of Mdina is like taking a trip back in time.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

The romantic alleyways date back to the 12th Century and over the years has shifted from housing nobles to then falling into disrepair around war times; and now are called home by those who can afford an apartment in unique, historical surrounds.

 

Malta - Sarah Blinco travellivelearn.com

Malta is a destination brimming with beauty, history and plenty of wonderful Instagrammable moments.

A highly recommended destination, and one we suggest you enjoy with friends or family.

A huge thank you to Robin who inspired the trip, and Anna + Anna who also made this escape such fun!

 

Malta

We’d love to hear from you – if you have a comment or tip to add, drop us a line below.

The history of Swedish pop

Our visit to Stockholm reminded us of how much influence the Swedes have had on the history of pop.

Some of the coolest, most influential sounds of commercial music have come out of this area (home of Eurovision) and the locals are rightly proud of that fact.

The excellent ABBA Museum isn’t just a nod to that particular fab foursome, but also to the history of Swedish pop, dance and rock music.

It really had us stepping back in time, remembering melodies of youth.

This experience got me curious about what we’ve forgotten about the history of Swedish pop, so I did a little research while waiting for a flight, and discovered 14 music acts from the 80s through to now that pop and dance music fans might be surprised to know are Swedish.

The history of Swedish pop

14 acts from my childhood to now, that you might be surprised to know are from Sweden:

  1. Europe – they enjoyed number one status in 26 countries around the world with the classic anthem, The Final Countdown.
  2. Roxette – Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle gave us some of the best pop of the 80s and 90s, including their debut hit, The Look, classic soundtrack songs and massive world tours for the albums Look Sharp and Joyride.
  3. Ace of Base – that song about a ‘sign’ that we couldn’t get out of our heads in the early 90s.
  4. The Cardigans – released one of the biggest tracks from Baz Luhrmann’s wonderful Romeo + Juliet back in 1996. The movie’s soundtrack was equally as successful as the film.
  5. Dr Alban – producer of some of the most fun dance tracks of the 90s including the massive Sing Hallelujah.
  6. Robyn – Show Me Love is a song I remember was played a lot on commercial radio – as far away as Australia. This was back in 1997, when Robyn was just 17.
  7. Rednex – Responsible for Cotton Eye Joe back in 1994. Don’t know why I expected these guys were from America! Guess again.
  8. Eagle Eye Cherry – another act I never would have thought hailed from Europe. Save Tonight was huge on radio and featured on television soundtracks in 1998/99.
  9. Alcazar – we all raved to Crying at the Discoteque back in 2000 (right?!).
  10. Eric Prydz – a popular DJ who famously produced Call on Me which was accompanied by a video set in a raunchy aerobic class that made most men pretty happy.
  11. Icona Pop – they had a pop-dance hit we liked, I Love It, which was heavily played in clubs around 2013/14.
  12. Tove Lo – in 2014 she released a successful pop album, Queen of the Clouds, featuring neat releases like Talking Body.
  13. Swedish House Mafia – an electronic music super-group.
  14. Avicii – currently one of my favourite producers of dance anthems.

On the topic of the history of music – here’s a display I got a kick out of at the ABBA Museum – who remembers…?

We loved our visit to Stockholm. Read about our itinerary and travel tips here.

 

Where to eat like a local in Stockholm 

 

(a foodie-insider’s travel tips)

 

Aoife Nowell lived the expat life in Sweden for around a year. She left a little of her heart there, and before our trip to TBEX she was quick to offer Cooper and I some excellent advice on where to drink and eat like a local in Stockholm.

You might like to jot these tips on awesome bars, cafes and restaurants down before your own trip…

Dog watermelon Stockholm

 

Where to eat like a local in Stockholm – Aoife says:

My two favourite coffee shops are literally within 100 metres of each other and both near the square that I lived on. The first is called Il caffé and the second is Gilda.

They are completely different but both do amazing coffee and lunch and are great places to sit and chill. Il Caffé in particular will allow you to properly indulge in ‘Fika’ which the Swedes have every afternoon – it basically means a time to relax with each other and coffee and cake! The ‘cake’ for me should always be a cinnamon bun and Il Caffé 100% do the best we ever tried, it is known locally as Kanelbulle.

For a cocktail before dinner, there’s a bar called Gondolen which is at Slussen, just as you come on to Sodermalm from the old town. From here you’ll get some of the best views of the city. It can be a bit touristy but the view is worth it even if just for an hour.

Gondolen

 

Past that, my favourite bars were little local ones around where I lived, like one called Snottys and Bahnhof. Generally you can wander around anywhere and find plenty of great bars, I would just avoid Gamla Stan (Old Town) if you want something more authentic, as they’re naturally geared up for tourists and cruise ship trade and tend to be more expensive. There are lots of great options if you are in that area though.

Two popular summer bars (as they’re outdoors) are Debaser Slussen and Tregarden, and then around the Stureplan area Sturecompagniet and Spy Bar are both very popular.

There is a great bar / restaurant in Stureplan that I’d highly recommend called Riche – the food is really good (although it’s not in my top listed five below), however definitely a good place to go for a drink before or after dinner.

And five of my favourite places to dine, drink and eat like a local in Stockholm are:

1. Matsbaren  – This place is just amazing! It’s pretty pricey but absolutely worth it. In the basement of the Grand Hotel, it is a Michelin starred restaurant run by Mathias Dahlgren. There are two restaurants, Matsalen and Matsbaren – it is Matsbaren I would recommend – my husband and I ate there the night we got engaged.

2. Pelikan – Has the best meatballs in town! Pelikan is a must for a typical Swedish meal. Set in an old Swedish beer hall, you can tell that it’s hundreds of years old. It is a terrific experience and the staff are great too. If you go here you have to have the meatballs with mashed potato and lingonberries. You can’t book this one but there is a large bar where you can wait, and it doesn’t take too long to get in.

miss-voon43. Bar Central – Not really Swedish but just a great and unusual menu, good wine list and lovely environment to relax in. You won’t get a single tourist in this place either.

4. Miss Voon (pictured) – Not Swedish either, but combines Asian and European foods perfectly. Really nicely done inside, and if you like this kind of food then this place will be right up your street. Being positioned by the fresh Scandinavian waters, this is the best for amazing fish too.

5. Urban Deli – Urban Deli Nytorget is perfect for brunch or lunch. I wouldn’t pick it for dinner over the four above but it wouldn’t let you down. The concept is great – it’s a really nice mini food hall, with a cool bar and tables for breakfast, lunch or dinner and seating outside in the warmer months. They also have a bakery close by where they make everything fresh! Breakfast or brunch would be my recommendation for here, I lived literally next door – love it!

~
Do you have tips or questions? Let us know in the comments, and for more on Stockholm check out our 48-hour travel itinerary here or find out how to buy alcohol in Sweden at a Systembolaget (it’s not as straightforward as popping out to your local Tesco).

Find Aoife on Instagram.