Ah, Malta. This little island in the Mediterranean Sea has it all. Its warm climate and beautiful landscapes have made it a tourist favourite, while its long history of conquest has left it with a treasure trove of cultural antiquities and attractions.
One of the best places to spend time on the island is St Paul’s Bay, home to the towns of Qawra and Bugibba. These two popular destinations have plenty to offer holidaymakers of all ages and preferences, from delectable delicacies to wet and wild water sports.
Read on for my top picks …
Sun, Sea and Sand
Malta is well known for its great weather and world-class beaches. Here, I’ll be discussing some of the best ways to have fun in the sun on your Malta getaway.
Both Bugibba and Qawra offer luxurious, relaxing boat trips out to the various islands in the bay. Available trips include:
- Comino island
- Swimming and snorkelling at the Blue Lagoon
- Fishing tours
Each of these is worth the journey, and all are very affordable. My personal favourite is the cruise out to the Blue Lagoon – one of the country’s best places to see underwater wildlife.
Did You Know? St Paul’s Bay gets its name from the nearby island where, according to the Acts of the Apostles, St Paul was shipwrecked. Keep an eye out for the statue of the saint you’ll see as you sail back into the bay.
Qawra’s excellent sandy beach is a great place to relax and soak up the sun, but those who like a little more action needn’t worry – there’s more than enough to get your adrenaline pumping out on the sea.
- Scuba diving
The Malta National Aquarium
Okay, I might be stretching the definition of ‘fun in the sun’ here, but the aquarium is well worth the trip, and its focus on Mediterranean wildlife allows visitors to get a much better idea of the world underneath those bright blue waves.
The highlightof the attraction is undoubtedly the underwater tunnel, which allows guests to walk underneath the ocean without touching a drop of water. Make sure to bring your cameras for this one!
Top Tip: Grab a coffee or a cold drink in the public square outside for some refreshment in the sunshine.
Local Cuisine and Crafts
Sure, its popularity among tourists – Brits especially – means Malta has a number of familiar culinary staples and souvenir shops. You don’t have to look far in Qawra or Bugibba to find some unique local treats.
Shopping on the Promenade
Bugibba’s waterfront is a thriving, bustling hub of commerce, with something for everyone. Shops sell everything from charming souvenirs to clothes and jewellery, while street vendors and stalls showcase beautiful local crafts. Lace, glass and silver are especially popular, and if you’re willing to haggle you can pick up some unique handmade items at decent prices.
Best of all, everything is open late, so there’s no need to cut your daytime activities short.
Top Tip: Street vendors also sell local produce. The fruit and wine are worth a try, but for something really unique, try the prickly pear liquor.
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
Both Qawra and Bugibba have a range of great cafés, restaurants and bars. Many are influenced by Italian cuisine, so expect a lot of pizza and pasta, but most will also offer a variety of grilled meats and fish as well as salads and other starters.
As you’d expect from a small Mediterranean island, Maltese cooking makes great use of fresh seafood. Other local delicacies include bragioli (beef olives) and ‘widow’s soup’ – a rich hearty rabbit stew.
After sundown, there’s a range of activities available, from the standard bars and pubs to cinemas, casinos and even a bingo hall. English is widely spoken in Malta, so don’t be shy about asking for recommendations.
Where to Stay
Qawra Palace Hotel –Located 750 yards from Bugibba centre and overlooking Salina Bay, the Qawra Palace offers guests air-conditioned rooms, a buffet breakfast, and other amenities including a spa, café and minigolf course.
Qawra Sea View Apartment – If privacy and homeliness are more your style, this brand new Qawra apartment is perfect, offering two bedrooms and bathrooms, a dining area and living room, a kitchen and a private balcony.
How to Get There
50 flights are available each week from London airports to Luga Malta International, with six different airlines offering direct routes. The journey is generally affordable, but prices increase around school holidays – another reason to avoid the busy season.
Once you’ve landed, a transfer to town takes less than a half-hour.
- UK to MLA flight time: 3 hours
- MLA to Qawra distance: 18km
- Shuttle Direct Transfer Time: 25 mins
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is the highest rated airport transfer operator in destinations across the globe, and our experienced drivers are happy to get you where you need to go in plenty of time and with no fuss.