Wander or Bust is an Elite Daily travel series that follows young women all over the globe to record their journeys as they experience the thrill of the far-flung and unknown.
They'll track their budgets, where they stay, where they eat and drink, and where they took that amazing Instagram that got them ~maximum exposure.~ The internet is full of travel advice, but none from women just like you. Read on for the tips no one else gives you, and when in doubt, get on the plane.
Here's Ava Hariri-Kia's Wander Or Bust guide to Valletta, Malta.
My Name: Ava Hariri-Kia
What I Do: I am a student at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland
Where I Live: New York, but I’m currently attending school in Scotland for four years
Where I Went: Valletta, Malta
How Long I Stayed: Three days and three nights
My Spending Style: Occasional indulgence (it was my friend’s birthday!)
Where I Got My Recommendations:
We get a week off in October called "independent reading week." This gives students either time to catch up on work, travel, or go home. It is kind of the equivalent of a fall break. We wanted sun, we wanted warmth, and of course we wanted affordability. I did a lot of digging online and spoke to some friends who had done a girls’ trip to Malta a few years ago, and we were hooked!
Exchange Rate At Time Of Travel: $1 USD = €.86 EUR
What That Looks Like IRL: $50 USD = €45 EUR
Preferred Payment Method:
I mostly used debit card or cash. Cash was for sure easier, but everywhere we went took card.
Since I study in Scotland, I have a UK number with Vodafone, which has roam-free plans within the EU, so it did not cost extra for me!
A cute little rolling carry-on — all black, very chic, and from Amazon! I also had my purse!
Mode of Transport: Airplane — Ryanair, specifically
We all shared a taxi to and from the airport, which, between five of us, was around $50 in total (so about $10 each). Since we were going for such a short amount of time, none of us had extra baggage. Easy!
Transport Total: $205
Accommodation: Domus Zamittello
Location: 7 Republic St, Valletta VLT 1111, Malta — right in the city center of Valletta!
Extra Costs: No!
Would I Recommend It To Someone Else:
Yes! It was an adorable boutique hotel in the heart of Valletta. You are not only paying for superb service and rooms but also for the location. 10/10 would recommend!
Accommodation Total: $300 (as Hotels.com was running a deal!)
Breakfast-Lunch Cost: $17/day
Breakfast was included at our hotel, but we mostly ate out for lunch and dinner.
Dinner Cost: $33/day
Average Total Cost: $50/day
Tipping is customary in Malta (if gratuity isn’t already included with the bill); it’s much lower than it is in America. You generally tip between 5-10%.
Since Malta is surrounded by water, it has the most incredible seafood (and wine). Each meal could be light or heavy, depending on what you ordered, but everything was reasonably priced and very fresh!
Favorite Restaurant: The Harbour Club
Location: 4, 5 Quarry Wharf, Valletta, Malta
I had very fresh seafood, cooked with the most incredible and unexpected pairings, yet super simple. I also had the perfect wine to pair it with, the best risotto, and the best octopus.
Food Total: $221
A short drive away from Valletta there is an area called Paceville and St. Julian's. That is where there are strips of bars and clubs, etc. We didn’t do any of the clubs or bar scenes, but rather, we extended later dinners with lots of chatting and wine!
What People Wear Out:
I’ve seen it all — very fancy and somewhere in between, as well as super casual. It really just depends on what you’re doing!
Average Cost Of A Pint:
I don’t think I had any beer. We were drinking wine and Aperol spritz ($4) mostly! And margaritas, of course!
Extra Cost To Know About: None that I noticed!
Last Call: Closing times in Malta vary depending on the bar. Some places close at 10:30 p.m. and others at 4 a.m.
Average Total Cost Of A Night Out: $0, we kept it very chill and focused on dinner.
Going Out Total: $0
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Worth It:
Taking a boat out for a day and lagoon hopping was totally worth it! It was completely unreal, out of a movie. I couldn’t believe it! We brought our own alcohol, and our captain took us to a little beach shack for lunch!
What I Spent A Lot On That Was Totally Not Worth It:
Nothing. Everything was worth it!
What I Spent Little Or No Money On That Was Awesome:
Walking around Valletta is a must! See the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
Favorite Thing I Did, Regardless Of Cost:
I cannot speak more highly about the lagoons we experienced. I cried when I saw them. It is still one of the most beautiful natural creations I have ever seen. I swam into a cave, and it was incredible. I watched the sunset as well on the boat and may or may not have cried again.
Hidden Gem I Found:
There is a locals-only swim spot called Il-fossa. It is literally a ladder into the water by a construction site, but it was so fun, with amazing water and views! All the smaller lagoons are only accessible by sail boat as well!
The Photo I Took That Got The Most Attention:
Excursions/Extras Total: $100
Best Valletta Hack:
Stay in Valletta, but take as many day trips as possible. You can see Valletta in one day. If I were there for longer, I would have gone to Gozo.
Advice For Anyone Traveling Alone:
Sit outside at bars! People are very friendly, and people-watching is amazing. Also, take a boat trip. (There are probably ones you could share with others, and it is worth it!)
Total Trip Cost: $826
YES, YES, YES, a thousand times yes — you don’t need to be there for a long time, but it’s a damn good time! If you want to enjoy the beauty of nature and the history of a city, this place is 100% for you.