If you’d really like to immerse yourself in the Maltese culture and experience the traditions and heritage of the Maltese, then Easter is a perfect time to visit. This three-day plan gives you the chance to make the most of your short break in Malta during Easter, a significantly important religious celebration on the Maltese calendar.
Day One – Explore the Capital City, Valletta
Having Valletta right at your doorstep, what better place to start your holiday than visiting the beautiful and busy capital of Malta? The hustle and bustle, historic churches, museums and pretty cafés are the perfect ingredients for a genuine Maltese experience.
The newly developed modern city gate welcomes you on entrance whilst the house of Parliament on your right, is still under construction. The royal opera house, bombed in World War II and left in ruins for many years has recently been transformed into an open air theatre, opening its doors to creativity and culture.
A few minutes’ walk away from the theatre will bring you to the pretty Upper Barakka Gardens, secluded away from the busy main streets. Overlooking a beautiful panoramic view of the Grand Harbour, the gardens serve as a perfect escape from the city.
As you exit the garden, walk through the little square where the statue of La Vallette proudly stands and make your way to the magnificent St.John’s Co- Cathedral. In spite of its plane mannerist façade, the Baroque interior overwhelms you. One must not miss a visit to the oratory where the most famous ‘Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ by Caravaggio hangs.
Over and above, a visit to Valletta can be highlighted by visits to the various parish churches in the city. During Easter time, many exhibitions in church halls display scenes from the passion of Christ as well as the last supper table. On Maundy Thursday, the faithful visit seven churches and pay respect to the altars of repose, an ancient tradition in Malta.
If you’re here on Good Friday, you will feel the stillness and quietness in the air as Catholics commemorate the passion of Christ. At 3 o’clock services are held in churches followed by a solemn procession through the streets of Valletta where bearers carry statues depicting the different episodes of Christ’s passion.
Saturday is the time for Easter shopping and many renowned confectioneries and cafés in Valletta beautifully display colourful Easter eggs and the traditional Maltese Easter sweet known as ‘Figolli’.
On Easter Sunday, Valletta comes back to life and festivity fills the streets as bells ring to announce the Resurrection of Christ. Bearers run through the streets of Valletta with the statue of the Risen Christ accompanied by a band and festive cheer.
To get into the Easter spirit make sure to visit Phoenicia’s Malta Artisan Easter Fair on the 12th and 13th April and get the chance to buy the best artisan ware from Malta’s finest crafts people.
Day 2 - Mdina, the Silent City
There’s nothing that can quite compare to the charming and quaint city of Mdina. Its cobbled narrow streets and untouched old architecture, make this medieval city a special place to visit. Like entering a time capsule, Mdina takes you into the past as its streets unravel a historical story. Coined the Silent City, Mdina is truly timeless.
Enter the elaborate city gates and pass by De Vilhena Palace, a 1700’s Magisterial Palace which has been converted into a Natural History Museum. Whether you choose to visit the museum or simply walk round the charming courtyard, de Vilhena Palace is a must see.
The beauty and charm of Mdina can be experienced by simply ambling through the narrow streets. The large limestone buildings offer shade to the weary traveler and a cool breeze is always welcome in the city. Take a stroll to St. Paul’s square and spare some moments to admire the grand St.Paul’s Cathedral. On Maundy Thursday evening, solemn functions in the Cathedral commemorate Christ’s last supper and a Holy vigil takes place on Easter night.
Turn left from the church and walk towards breathtaking views from the Bastion Square. Of course, there’s no better way to take in such spectacular panorama than stopping by the popular Fontanella , for a cup of tea and slice of chocolate cake.
Having reenergized yourself, turn into Villegaignon Street and head towards the fine 17th century Carmelite Priory, home to the Carmelite friars. Join a guided tour by a resident friar and watch an innovative Easter passion play called ‘Is it Me?’, directed by the manager of the Priory.
Day 3 – Birgu, the fortified maritime city
What better way to spend the last day of your vacation than visiting a pretty town with winding streets that lead to the most beautiful view of the Grand Harbour?
Birgu is an old fortified maritime city which was the old capital of Malta prior to Valletta in 1530. Start off by visiting the church of St.Lawrence, one of the oldest parishes on the island, and see the Last Supper Table which is displayed annually during Easter time. Weave your way through Birgu’s charming streets with pretty houses decorated with potted plants and wine bars tucked away in the winding roads. Make your way to the Holy Crucifix oratory where the nine statues which are carried in the Good Friday procession are kept. Each one is of Spanish origin and has a historical story to tell. The statues are unique to Malta because of the real material used to clothe the figures.
Stroll along the Birgu waterfront for a view of the harbour, and the panoramic creek of L-Isla, before stopping for lunch or coffee at one of the popular restaurants which line the promenade. After this, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum, a former old naval bakery which exhibits many artefacts and information which illustrate Malta’s maritime history.
Finally, take a water taxi across the Grand Harbour to admire the splendor of Birgu’s fortifications and find yourself back at the capital city. Make your way to the hotel and enjoy a nice dinner at the Phoenix Restaurant .