If you’re visiting Malta at the tail-end of summer, it’s the perfect time to take a break from lido life and spend the day taking in the sights and culture of one of the most picturesque areas in Malta, the Three Cities.
Steeped in history, the Three Cities refers to Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cottonera – or Birgu, Bormla and Isla, to give them their local names. One packed day will be enough to get in the main attractions, and they are also small enough that you can go round on foot.
Here, we’ve put together our top 5 must-do activities when taking a trip to the Three Cities, with plenty of time leftover to chill, of course.
Visit The Inquisitor’s Palace
This architecturally magnificent palace comes with a dark history that will intrigue not only history buffs. Located on the main thoroughfare as soon as you walk in through the main gate of Vittoriosa, it used to serve as civil tribunal in the 16th century, until it was offered to Malta’s Inquisitor, who would hold trial over anyone accused of going against the Catholic faith. Some of the stories aren’t for the faint-hearted, but don’t worry – you’ll find plenty of coffee shops to revive yourself as soon as you walk out.
Meander around the narrow streets of Cospicua
Once you’ve recovered your energy, take the seaside promenade to walk over to Cospicua. This tiny city is home to the extensive dockyard that was built by the Knights in 1776; to date, the dockyard remains a huge source of maritime business for the island. One of Cospicua’s main architectural features are its double fortifications, and these are best appreciate with a leisurely stroll along the narrow streets, which have retained their original charm.
Visit the Bir Mula Heritage Museum
One St Margerita Hill in Cospicua you will find one of the museums that’s just as popular with local as it is with tourists. The Bir Mula Heritage Museum is the site of a historic site that shows the development of houses in Malta through the ages. On show you’ll see artefacts that were excavated on site as far back as Punic times, including stone works, graffiti and pottery.
Shoot the Gardjola Gardens for the ‘Gram
Keep walking from Cospicua towards the tip of the peninsula and in five minutes you’ll find yourself in neighbouring Senglea. The biggest attraction in this quiet part of the Three Cities is undoubtedly the Gardjola Gardens and its stunning vantage point, with views across Cospicua’s dockyard, Vittoriosa and the Mediterranean. Take your time meandering the quiet garden, and finish off with some photos in the Gardjola, a guard tower that just out of the fortifications.
Stop for an aperitivo at the Vittoriosa Waterfront
It’s time to walk back to the more populated part of the Three Cities. A leisurely 10 minute stroll takes you back to the Vittoriosa Waterfront, home to luxury yachts owned by celebrity billionaires. You can admire these while sipping an aperitivo at one of the many bars and restaurants that dot the promenade, a relaxed ending to your Three Cities tour.