Meghan Markle, the now Duchess of Sussex since her marriage to Prince Harry, visited the Maltese Islands in the fall of 2015.
I recently spent a good amount of time in Malta myself, and I couldn’t help but look up what the Duchess did on her trip there almost six years ago.
It’s said that Meghan’s great-great-Grandmother, Mary, was Maltese and lived in Sliema, a popular neighbourhood in Malta. Quite funny that I lived in Sliema too for a bit and my name is also Mary!
Meghan was not only a popular (Suits) actress, but she also blogged about travel, food and lifestyle. Her popular blog, ‘The Tig’ and its Instagram account had quite the following.
So what did Meghan do in Malta? I did my research and retraced this stylish lady’s footsteps through Malta and Gozo, which was a pretty fun thing to do! I’ve documented what it was like to follow in her shoes here.
I’ve also added a bit of a twist and included some of my own recommendations for enjoyable experiences in Malta. Let’s start with her visit to the capital.
Meghan in Valletta
First off, Meghan stayed at Casa Ellul in Valletta, the capital of Malta. Here’s what she said about it:
“Check into the absolutely perfect boutique hotel, Casa Ellul – a converted home, which has eight bespoke rooms each of perfect modernized tradition. Think Calvin Klein meets Game of Thrones – chic interiors and styling within a castle-like exterior. Three-story suites with their own private rooftop deck and hot tub make this property one of my favorite worldwide. Plus, there’s an incredible wine bar downstairs only a stones throw to town center, making it the perfect pied-à-terre for your stay.”
Casa Ellul, a boutique hotel in Valletta.
She also recommended having a drink on ‘Strait Street’, a historical, narrow street that is indeed straight and now filled with plenty of establishments to pick from. Apart from Strait Street, Valletta has so many evening tipple choices, from wine bars, to cocktail bars, to more classic pub-style places as well.
While in Valletta, Meghan visited the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, recounting:
…the walls are gilded in 24 karat gold and Caravaggio’s only signed painting hangs. It took my breath away. Truly, madly, deeply. A Tig moment of understanding the power of art.”
I also had a chance to visit this famous Cathedral in the middle of Valletta and see Caravaggio’s painting. As the work of art depicts a beheading (of Saint John), it’s not one that leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside, let’s just say that!
The Duchess-to-be also visited the Casa Rocca Piccola, a 16th Century Palazzo (residence) in Valletta. I didn’t make it myself, but this historical family palace is open to the public.
Meghan at Meridiana Wine Estate and Mdina
Meghan visited Meridiana Wine Estate, and I can also vouch that this winery is surely worth a visit! For 25 euros you can do a tour and tasting, which was seriously well worth it. Meridiana Wine Estate is known for producing quality Maltese wines, and I was truly impressed by all the wines we sampled!
Had to do that pose 🙂
The tasting at Meridiana Wine Estate is so recommended!
Meghan also went to Mdina, an ancient, well-preserved walled city that was once the capital of the country. Mdina is charming, quiet and just beautiful. For the many Game of Thrones fans, parts of it was filmed here. If you make it, be sure to try Fontanella Tea Garden, a tea garden and restaurant/cafe famous for its delicious cakes and panoramic views of the greenery surrounding Mdina.
Fontanella Tea Garden, Mdina, Malta
Cake with a view!
Meghan on Gozo
Malta is an archipelago consisting of three inhabited islands, and one of those is Gozo. You can easily get to Gozo by a short ferry ride from Malta. Here’s what she said about Gozo:
“Just a twenty-minute ferry ride from Malta, this tiny Maltese island off the coast didn’t even get traffic lights until 1990. The population is under 50k and it’s such a tight knit community that residents leave their keys in the doors. Head here for the fresh goats milk Gozo cheese, prickly pear jam and wild thyme honey, as well as the local wines. The Vermintino was standout. Make sure you visit the working public launderette – where local women wash the laundry in fresh water and lay it on the stones to dry. Swing by the Azure Window, a breathtaking scenic landmark – where the sea and cliffs create the most jaw dropping picture op.”
Note, the Azure Window collapsed in 2017, but you can still visit its site today, although are plenty of other similar breathtaking rock formations to see as well. One that really stood out for me was the stunning view of the Blue Grotto on Malta.
A view of the Blue Grotto, Malta.
While on Gozo, Meghan ate at Il-Kartell restaurant in a small village called Marsalforn. I also had the pleasure of eating at this exceptional restaurant, and it was seriously some of the best food I had on Gozo/Malta. I do recommend their Maltese platter — handsdown my favourite. For the mains, this restaurant is famous for its seafood, and the prices were also quite reasonable, so definitely glad I went!
The super yummy Maltese platter at Il-Kartell Restaurant, Gozo.
Amazing food and local wine (Chardonnay) at Il-Kartell, Gozo.
This sign was built from the wood of the restaurant’s old bar.
Here’s what Meghan had to say about Il-Kartell:
“Mosey on over to Il Kartell for a lunch of whole sea bream and traditional Gozoan starters, coupled with the best hospitality from owner Phillip. His family owns an agriturismo on the island and the quality and freshness of his food reflect it. Bring back a jar of sun-dried tomato paste as a souvenir.”
If you’d like to try a traditional Gozitan bakery, I recommend stopping by Mekren Bakery in Nadur. I love their super traditional “qassatat”, which come in flavours like ricotta and raisin, fava bean and green pea … seriously so good!
A ‘qassata’ from Mekren Bakery in Nadur.
Meghan reportedly told ELLE UK at the time of her visit that she really liked the fresh goat’s milk cheeses (‘Gbejniet’) on Gozo, and “particularly the pickled ones with the black pepper on them.” I can confirm that these are also pretty yummy indeed! They are served with most Maltese platters, or you can find them in supermarkets.
Other amazing things to do in Malta
The now royal lady visited Malta in the fall, which means it would have been too cold to swim and sunbathe. If you are visiting in summer, I also recommend visiting The Phonecia Hotel in Valletta for the day (or even staying there!). Relax for a day at their infinity pool, with its beautiful harbour views of Gzira and Sliema.
Seriously though … this photo makes me feel very lucky.
I also recommend visiting Birgu/Vittoriosa, which is just a quick ferry ride away from Valletta. Walking through the streets of this small and quiet fortified city is like taking a step back in time, which is the case for much of the island. Birgu’s harbour (all the huge boats and superyachts give it a super posh feeling) and its scenic views of Valletta shouldn’t be missed.
If you are looking for a nice cafe or brunch spot, I recommend Manouche in Valletta or Spinola Bay. Their tasty coffee, baked goods and menu offerings just always hit the spot.
Manouche in Valletta.
Following this former jet setter’s footsteps through Malta and Gozo was a pretty enjoyable — and tasty — thing to do. If I could go back in time myself, I would definitely choose to follow them all over again. Malta and Gozo are both beautiful islands with plenty of rich history, tasty food and wine, sun and sea. A wonderful combination indeed.