When packing for your holidays in Malta, less is most definitely more as there is nothing quite like a holiday in Malta and Gozo to test the seams on your suitcase at the end of your stay. From luxury shops and international brands in Sliema and Valletta to local crafts and fresh produce at Malta’s markets, it’s always time to hit the shops in Malta!
Where should you shop?
Valletta is the most popular shopping destination in the Maltese Islands all year round. Nestled in the centuries-old fortress city is a plethora of shops all within walking distance from each other. Fashion, jewellery and cosmetics dominate Republic Street and Merchants Street – Valletta’s main shopping streets – with little shops being tucked away in St. John’s Street and St. Zachary Street. Older shopping centres such as the City Gate Shopping Arcade and the Savoy Shopping Centre still hold their ground in Republic Street, while the newer Embassy Shopping and Entertainment Complex in St. Lucia Street also includes a cinema complex.
Just across Marsamxett Harbour from Valletta is Sliema, Malta’s commercial centre. Sliema was once a seaside retreat for the upper classes from Valletta, but a lot has changed since those days. While the backstreets of Sliema are still largely residential, the waterfront has been developed into Malta’s most modern shopping district. International brands, designer labels, smaller local stores and cafes straddle each other, bound to make your wallet lighter. The Point, a shopping mall that was recently constructed on Tigne Point in Sliema, succeeded in bringing more international brands to Malta and it also has a few cafes and a supermarket. The Plaza Shopping Centre is an older but still exceedingly popular shopping centre also located in Sliema.
The neighbouring town of St. Julian’s, a playground for any sort of entertainment when holidaying in Malta, also has a mix of high street brands, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment in the Bay Street Shopping Complex. This shopping centre is located on St. George’s Bay, offering a unique combination of indoor and outdoor shopping with regular entertainment events taking place in the mall itself, thereby always ensuring a vibrant shopping experience.
When enjoying holidays in Gozo, a trip to the island’s main town – Victoria – would not go amiss, especially when it comes to shopping. The town’s two main shopping centres are Arkadia Commercial Centre and The Duke Shopping Centre, which are both located on Fortunato Mizzi Street, the main street in Victoria. Both shopping centres are very modern and offer everything from household goods and food to fashion outlets and perfumeries. In fact, such is their attraction that shopping in Victoria is a favourite activity for any local visitor on their Gozo holidays. And, when the shopping centres get a little too overwhelming, a wander around the cobweb of back alleys in Victoria is a sure way to come across hole-in-the-wall shops packed to the brim with any random product the local villager could need.
What shouldn’t you miss?
Markets in Malta have long been a staple of village and town life, and they have become even more popular in recent years. Usually held once a week, Malta markets are a place for locals to socialise while picking up their weekly groceries and household items. The daily market in Merchants Street, Valletta, is always a busy market selling any amount of bric-a-brac.
The Monday market in Mosta and the Tuesday market in Vittoriosa are largely frequented by locals, giving you a chance to mingle with villagers as they go about their daily errands looking for bargains. The market in Vittoriosa in particular is one of the most diverse of Maltese markets, set in the beautiful surroundings of historical Vittoriosa. The best time to visit this market – as with all other markets in Malta and Gozo – is in the morning, making it an ideal morning activity before sitting down for lunch in the peaceful surroundings of the Grand Harbour Marina, also in Vittoriosa.
A similar market to those in Malta is the market held in Independence Square in Victoria, Gozo. Known locally as It-Tokk, this market takes place daily and shares the square with a few open-air cafes where locals and tourists alike enjoy their morning coffee and pastizzi. The market sells a wide array of products, including fruit and vegetables, local delicacies and souvenirs, clothes, fabrics and lots of other bits and pieces.
Part of It-Tokk in Gozo is also a little fish market, where local fishermen sell their latest catch. However, for the real fish market experience, a trip down to Marsaxlokk in Malta is a must. The Sunday fish market is very popular among both locals and visitors, so it is advisable to head down to the market early on in the day to get the freshest fish and seafood. In fact, most fishmongers at the Sunday market close at noon. The rest of the market, however, continues on into the early afternoon with a lot of other stalls selling typical Maltese delicacies, including honey, bread and a variety of local souvenirs.
A relatively new concept to the Maltese Islands is the Farmers’ Market in Ta’ Qali. Having only been set up in 2010, the market has enjoyed resounding success ever since. The open-air market sells all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, and locally made delicacies such as honey, bigilla (a paste made out of beans), and gbejniet (goat’s cheese). At the Farmers’ market, the local farmers and small producers of local delicacies sell directly to their customers at a cheaper-than-normal price.
What shouldn’t you leave Malta without?
When your holidays in Malta and Gozo come to an end, what better way to remind you of the essence of Malta and Maltese culture than picking up that little something to take home with you? The local arts and crafts scene in Malta is vibrant, combining Malta’s historical heritage with both old and modern artistic techniques. The Ta’ Qali Crafts Village in Malta and the Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village in Gozo are the ideal places to pick up local artisanal products. At the Ta’ Qali Crafts Village you can enjoy visiting little stores selling ceramics, pottery, goldsmiths filigree and jewellery as well as watching craftspeople at work blowing and forming glass. At the Ta’ Dbiegi Crafts Village you can also visit a lace shop to see a demonstration of how Gozitan lace is created, a part of local culture that should not be missed.