The windy winding road led us to the beautiful Marsaxlokk, a Maltese village known for its picturesque bay filled with blue and yellow boats and its popular Sunday Fish Market.
At 11 o’clock, after a 10 minutes’ walk down the quiet village of Marsaxlokk, we found the Sunday Fish Market up and running and felt happy to have made it on time to see the catch of day: seasonal fish like mackerel and awrat, octopus, squids, prawns, shrimps, and even sea snakes.
I’m a fish & seafood fan, so the whole experience feels surreal and makes me instantly crave for a fisherman’s meal. It’s not even noon, so I resist the temptation of sitting down in one of the restaurants pearled up around the bay by distracting myself with photography.
After all, Marsaxlokk’s rich history still reflects in its deep blue waters. The blue and yellow boats mostly striped with red and teal, bearing the eye of Osiris, are the stars of the bay. The Maltese call them “luzzu”, and the popular belief is that the origin of their design is Phoenician, dating back to 800 BC.
Malta has been landed by the Phoenicians and then conquered by a number of empires: the Romans, the Ottomans, and the British.
Marsaxlokk’s bay was a commercial stop for the Phoenicians and was accosted by Ottomans trying to conquer the island. Since this fishing village has kept its authentic charm, it’s amazing to think of these colorful boats as part of the Phoenician heritage, and see some glimpses of the village’s Turkish past.
It’s been such a long time since I wanted to visit an authentic Mediterranean fishing village. Well, to be specific, this wish of mine is 6 years old – back in 2012, when I visited Sicily, I felt sorry that I didn’t have time to stop by Marzamemi, another picturesque fishing village on the Italian island North of Malta.
Marsaxlokk fishing village is no doubt the most charming place in Malta, offering a feast for the eyes and taste buds alike.
3 Sisters Restaurant in Marsaxlokk, Malta
So after touring its picturesque bay adorned with fluffy clouds, we stopped by 3 Sisters, one of the many seafood and fish restaurants on the waterfront.
They don’t serve lampuki or mahi mahi – the traditional fish pie we were hoping for, but they make an exquisite Octopus stew and great Prawns in tomatoes and garlic sauce. Needless to say, we were more than pleased, especially since we had this wonderful lunch while soaking up the sun on their terrace overlooking the bay.
We chose 3 Sisters restaurant in Marsaxlokk because we loved their marketing – “fresh fish and seafood freshly caught by my husband” was the quirky message displayed in front of their terrace, and it was accompanied by a photo of a pretty blue fishing boat allegedly owned by “the husband”.
To finish up our tour of Marsaxlokk, we adventure again into what’s now a less crowded market (after noon), and buy some sweets and a souvenir.
When it comes to Maltese sweets, I must say they’re an interesting mix of Italian and Turkish recipes, so they taste new and familiar at the same time.
We had some Pastini – Maltese coconut biscuits, almond macaroons, and the Maltese version of Cannoli Siciliano, all pretty delicious.
Insights on Malta and Marsaxlokk
Leaving Marsaxlokk turned out harder than imagined.
We arrived in Marsaxlokk by taking a bus from Valletta’s main station, but when we wanted to return, we found out the bus station was temporarily out of order and a sign was pointing us to another station. Google Maps didn’t help, and so we found ourselves walking aimlessly on the quiet streets of the village under the menacing rainy clouds.
A 20 something girl getting out of her house was our “salvation”. Did I mention it just started raining and we had no umbrella?
This local girl didn’t know where the bus station was, but she offered us a ride back to Valletta, and we said yes in a heartbeat.
We talked about Malta’s economy and social aspects, the traffic, the cost of living, and she shared her story with us.
Like many people on the island, she’s not Maltese, but Canadian. She and her family moved around US, then Tunisia, and finally settled on this sunny little island South of Sicily.
We found out that Malta’s economy runs not only on IT and natural resources like salts, limestone, and fish, but also on online gaming, which makes up the most of its income.
On the social side, it seems that the job market is very active and appealing, but the rents are pretty high, which is why she lives in Marsaxlokk (rent costs 400€) and not Valletta (rent costs 800€). Not bad at all, considering there’s just a 30 minutes’ drive from the village to the city.
Would have loved to stay and chat with this kind and open girl some more, but we reached Valletta, and so my insights on Malta end here, at least for now.
Our next stops, Mdina, Sliema and Valletta, offered some more nuggets of insights about the Maltese social and cultural landscape, but I’ll share them with you in my next articles.
Travel tips for visiting Marsaxlokk, Malta
Best day to visit Marsaxlokk
Sunday is the best day for visiting this wonderful fishing village, and that’s because the market is filled with fresh fish that even locals come to bargain for. During the week, the fish caught in Marsaxlokk is usually taken to Valletta’s markets and restaurants.
Sundays are also the most crowded with locals and tourists alike, so taking the bus requires a bit more patience.
Where to eat in Marsaxlokk
All restaurants serve fresh fish and seafood, so choosing one may be a difficult task. We went for 3 Sisters restaurant and it was pretty good.
Stroll around the waterfront restaurants for a bit before sitting down. They all have pretty spicy prices, if you consider a batch of 3 octopuses goes for 12€ in the fish market, but maybe it’s better to focus on choosing the most appealing fish and seafood dishes.
A lunch for two goes for 35€ to 90€, but remember it’s just a fishing village and, apart from the market, these restaurants are Marsaxlokk’s livelihood.
Getting to Marsaxlokk
Getting to Marsaxlokk is easy – just head to Valletta’s main bus station, close to Tritoni Fountain, and take number 85 straight to the village. You can pay 3€ for your express ticket at the bus driver. The bus driver showed us the way to the bay of Marsaxlokk, and it’s a 10 minutes’ walk from the station.
By the way, you can always choose to pay your ticket at the bus driver, and the cost is usually 1,5€ per ticket.
Remember that renting a car in Malta is not recommended – it’s difficult because of the constant traffic jams and the chaotic driving.
Best time to visit Malta and Marsaxlokk
Summer may be a great time to visit Malta, but it’s a year round destination, so we chose February to escape the winter back home. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t at its best. 15°C, rainy & sunny at the same time, but mostly very windy. If you choose this time of year to visit, bringing a rain coat and an umbrella is recommended.
When it comes to Marsaxlokk, the village might be even windier than the other Maltese towns because of the dry sirocco wind that blows from the Sahara.
Visiting Marsaxlokk is a dream come true for me, and I think it will be a great trip for you too, especially if you’re into fish and sea food dishes or enjoy traditional markets with local produce.