Heading for Malta? Great decision! This small-but-perfectly-formed archipelago in the Mediterranean offers all the fun and sun of larger destinations, but in a compact, accessible destination that’s just perfect for a short getaway.
Even though its diminutive size means it’s super easy to explore, there’s a chance that, unless you’re in the know, you’ll miss some of the more off-the-beaten-track attractions. That’s where we come in. As well as getting you from Malta Airport to St Julian’s in style, your Shuttle Direct transfer serves as the perfect opportunity to get an insight into a few lesser-known places that you’ll pass along the way. Although the journey is only 15 minutes long, there are some excellent natural and cultural gems worth noting. So, get ready for island life and make sure that you don’t miss out on a thing!
1. Santa Luċija
Just a few minutes into the drive from Malta Airport to St Julian’s you’ll pass close by the charming village of Santa Luċija. It’s not your regular tourist town and, in fact, is a relatively recent development (established in the 1950s) – but that certainly doesn’t detract from its genuinely ‘local’ vibe. Surrounded by rolling agricultural land, the town’s main appeal to visitors is the truly lovely Chinese Garden of Serenity. The gardens are an absolute joy for nature lovers to explore, and even if you don’t have a particular interest in the plantings, the deep symbolism behind the Chinese gardens can’t help but have an effect. Designed using the elements of water and rocks to represent contemplation and manifestation, the different areas of the gardens depict life from birth to maturity and through to death.
Recommended Visit Time: You can easily spend a couple of hours roaming the gardens, so set aside half a day.
2. Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Just a few minutes out of Santa Luċija, ask your driver to point out the fascinating World Heritage inscribed Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, which is an absolute must for anyone looking to delve deeper into the history of Malta. The prehistoric underground burial site was discovered at the turn of the twentieth century and comprises a series of interconnecting chambers, hewn out of solid rock to create a vast multi-layered complex. It’s been dated back to at least 4000 BCE, and the three separate levels feature intricately carved architectural elements (inspired by above-ground Megalithic temples), as well as some striking red ochre wall paintings. It’s a rare privilege to be be able to explore a site as valuable and well-preserved as this one, and visitors are now strictly limited to a small number per day. It is also carefully climate-controlled in order to maintain the condition of the wall paintings, which are the oldest in the Maltese Islands.
Recommended Visit Time: Plan half a day to enjoy a guided tour of the site and to explore the surrounding area.
3. Royal Malta Golf Club
While it’s not exactly an off-the-beaten-track discovery, for golf lovers, the Royal Malta Golf Club (a little further into the route, at Marsa) certainly does what it says on the tin, providing an experience fit for a king with some of the most stunning surrounding scenery that you’ll ever encounter on a green. Even if you didn’t think you could love golf any more than you already do, treat yourself to a day here and you might just be surprised. This 18-hole course was established in 1888 and, while you won’t be playing to the handicaps of the old days – when members played around the moats and bastions of Valetta – its par 68 challenges players at any level. If you bow out early, you can relax on the terrace overlooking the green at the excellent clubhouse – and with those views, you won’t have a regret in the world.
Recommended Visit Time: For an easy 9 holes, plan a half-day visit, or for the ultimate 18-hole experience, make a day of it and squeeze in lunch at the clubhouse.
4. Wied Għollieqa Nature Reserve
Just before the end of your transfer from Malta Airport to St Julian’s, you’ll pass very close to the beautiful Wied Għollieqa Nature Reserve. Set in a valley that’s adjacent to the University of Malta, it is a vital part of the national conservation studies, but also a delightful site for simply enjoying the plethora of birds and plants. A prolific site for resident and migratory avifauna, the reserve is also home to some extremely rare flora and fauna, including the elusive Mustela nivalis (a species of weasel), multiple unique fungi and the protected Sandarac gum, the country’s national tree. History buffs will find great interest in the reserve as well, as there are a number of important archaeological relics that have been discovered here, including pottery vessels from the Bronze Age, flint and prehistoric stone fragments.
Recommended Visit Time: Set aside at least half a day to make the most of this gorgeous reserve and perhaps add a tour of the university.
From Malta Airport to St Julian’s
The short and sweet transfer route from Malta Airport to St Julian’s will take you past numerous natural and cultural attractions. It’s the perfect time to get your first insight into some of the region’s more authentic off-the-beaten-track gems that many tourists don’t get to see.
About Shuttle Direct
Looking for the most convenient way to get from Malta Airport to St Julian’s? Shuttle Direct is Europe and North Africa’s most trusted provider of airport transport and, no matter if you need a private luxury ride or an economical shared one, we’ve got you covered.
NB. This route guide has been compiled as an aid to visiting the region. Your airport transfer service from Malta Airport to St Julian’s does not include stops to these destinations.