Malta: small country, rich diversity

Student stories May 15, 2017

Alexander is the Office Manager in our Zurich office, and he loves travelling. Recently, he told us about his experience in Jordan, and today, he’s taking us to Malta as an experienced backpacker!


The Republic of Malta, archipelago and tiny state south of Sicily, is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Malta, the main island, is only 27km long, so you can definitely walk from one coast to the other – if you like an active challenge! The extremely kind Maltese population is bilingual: people are fluent in both the Maltese language (a mix of Italian and Arabic) and English, which is why Malta is a popular destination for language stays. The Maltese island is a sunny alternative to cooler regions such as England, Ireland or Scotland.

 The atmosphere in Malta is special – I would describe it as an Italian dolce vita, with a British touch (they drive on the left side of the road!). People are relaxed; they have a great sense of hospitality and are always happy to engage in conversation. The numerous British people exert their influence on the island, as you can see from the many English restaurants and pubs. Despite an unquestionable Mediterranean style, everything is well organised in Malta. I was extremely surprised to see a waste truck in the street on Easter Monday! Malta offers a remarkable diversity on such a small island. It’s a fabulous spot to benefit from a peaceful, sunny environment, but you can also go diving, swimming or hiking, enjoy the nightlife, appreciate the local cuisine and much more. There are so many things to do! Don’t be surprised to see the slogan at the Tourist Office, “More to do, more to see and more to remember.”


My language stay in St. Pauls’ Bay with ESL

My favourite place in Malta is St. Paul’s Bay. I was very impressed by its authenticity, as the locals there far outnumber the tourists, and prices are low. For a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant in my favourite café on the coast, I would spend only 3 Euros – and I was mainly surrounded by Maltese people. When it comes to nightlife and gastronomy, of course, St. Paul’s Bay can’t compete with St. Julians, but in a 20/30-minute bus ride you can reach the more lively St. Julians and then return to the quieter St. Paul’s Bay. In the street, getting my bearings was pretty easy; people would say “hi” without even knowing me, and I was constantly filled with a sense of well being and security. These are the ideal conditions to learn a language quickly and experience a successful language stay!

BELS, our partner school in St. Paul’s Bay, mainly stands out for its family atmosphere. The 8 bright and modern classrooms are distributed over two floors. The school is never too busy, which is very nice. Classes are limited to 12 participants and create the perfect studious atmosphere. The amazing environment and the great supervision are the aspects that impressed me the most.


My 5 personal tips

1. Excursion to the neighbouring island of Gozo

Gozo Island is definitely worth an excursion! It is easily reachable in a 30-minute ferry ride. The price is affordable: the fee of €4.50 is to be paid on the way back. Once you are on the island, you will be surrounded by a holiday environment and a strong sense of freedom. The easiest way to explore the island is to rent a car or take a sightseeing bus that allows you to hop on and off to see the main attractions. The nature on the island is mind-blowing and the different beaches and coves invite you to swim and have the time of your life. When in Gozo, you should also try the ravioli from Ta’ Rikardu, a restaurant in the surroundings of Victoria, Gozo’s capital – they are delicious, and the rooftop terrace is the icing on the cake!



2. San Anton Gardens in Attard

San Anton Gardens are part of the presidential palace. They are reachable by public transport in about 30 minutes from Valletta, the capital. It’s a wonderful garden, an oasis with plants and trees from all continents, as well as animals such as ducks and turtles. It’s the perfect spot if you want to read a book, go for a walk or escape the summer heat.


3. Café del Mar, St. Paul’s Bay

Contrary to what the name suggests, the Café del Mar is not a café but a combination of a restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool and a club! The view, the infinity swimming pool and the sunset are all amazing! I guess there are worse things than sipping a cocktail by the pool, enjoying the marvellous view and dancing to house music mixed by DJ’s…


4. Visiting the Rotonde de Mosta

 The Rotonde de Mosta is a stunning church with a long and important history for Malta. During World War II, a German bomb hit the church while 300 people were inside. Miraculously, the bomb only passed through the dome but didn’t explode. No one was seriously injured. In the sacristy, a copy of the bomb is on display.


5. TemptAsian restaurant, Silema

On the 9th floor of the Palace Hotel in Silema, the Asian restaurant called TemptAsias offers fusion cuisine. Thanks to the gorgeous view and delicious, creative cuisine, your experience will be unforgettable.  I recommend you go before 7:30 p.m. so you can enjoy the colours of an amazing sunset.    

By Alexander Gyr

What do you think?