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Valencia Airport, otherwise known as Manises Airport, has just 1 terminal building and 1 runway. Still, nearly 7.8 million passengers passed through this Spanish airport in 2018. But how do they get from the airport to the city of Valencia and back? Keep reading to find out.

VLC – practical information

VLC is the airport code of Valencia Airport. With nearly 7.8 million passengers in 2018, it barely makes the top 10 busiest airports in Spain. It is, however, the second biggest airport in the region, after Alicante-Elche Airport.

How many airports in Valencia?

Valencia has just 1 airport, called Valencia Airport.

How far is Valencia Airport from the city centre?

Valencia Airport is located 10 km (~ 6.2 miles) west of Valencia, in Manises, a town in the province of Valencia. This explains why it’s also known as Manises Airport.

By car it takes about 15 minutes to get from Valencia Airport to the city centre. Depending on where you’re staying, public transport might be a good option too.

Taking the plane to Valencia Airport
Public transport from Valencia Airport to Valencia

As we explained in our post about getting around in Valencia, public transport is very well organised there. It’s fairly easy (and rather cheap) to take the bus or the metro to travel from Valencia Airport to the city centre.

TIP: The Valencia Tourist Card includes unlimited travel over 24, 48, or 72 hours, valid on the bus and metro, including the airport line.

Valencia Airport Bus

There are 2 busses you can take to get from VLC Airport to the city centre of Valencia. Either you take the regular city bus, line 150, or you take the Valencia Airport shuttle bus called Aerobus. Both busses stop just outside the departures hall.

Bus Line 150

Bus Line 150 is a bus line from Metrobus, the intercity bus. It services over 25 stops between the airport and the city centre, so the trip easily takes 40 minutes. It is the cheapest option though, costing only €1.45 (~ $1.65) for a one-way ticket.

This bus leaves every 25 to 35 minutes. It runs between 5:30 and 22:00 on Monday to Saturday, but there’s no service on Sunday and public holidays. You can buy your ticket from the bus driver.

For the up-to-date information on the bus schedule and the route of line 150, check out the Fernanbus website.

Aerobus Valencia

A faster option is taking the Aerobus, which gets you from Valencia Airport to the city centre in just 25 minutes for €2.50 (~ $2.80) per person. Unlike bus line 150, the Aerobus just makes one extra stop before reaching the city centre.

The Aerobus leaves approximately every 20 minutes, running daily between 6:00 and 22:00. You can buy your ticket from the bus driver.

Valencia Airport Metro

Again, there are 2 options for taking the metro from Valencia Airport to the city centre. Either you take metro line 3 or metro line 5. Both lines follow the same route to the city centre, which takes about 20 minutes.

From the city centre, the red metro line 3 continues to Rafelbunyol in the north, while the green metro line 5 goes east, towards La Marina.

Valencia Airport Metro Map

As the airport is located in the outer zone, you need to buy a ticket that’s valid to cross 4 zones to get to the city centre of Valencia. That will cost you €4.90 (~ $5.50) one-way. A return ticket of €8.40 (~ $9.50) is only an option when you’re returning to the airport within 24 hours.

Note that these ticket prices include the €1 (~ $1.10) you have to pay for a rechargeable cardboard card.

If you plan on taking the metro more often or with a group of people, you should consider buying a metro card. Check out our post about transportation in Valencia for more information.

The Valencia Airport Metro leaves approximately every 15 to 20 minutes. It runs between 5:30 and midnight on Monday to Saturday, and between 7:00 and midnight on Sunday and public holidays.

The metro station is underneath Valencia Airport, just follow the signs. You can buy a ticket from the automatic vending machines, or stop by the Metrovalencia information office in the arrivals hall. It’s right near the stairs towards the metro platform.

You can find the entire map of all metro lines, the timetable and more information on the fares on the Metrovalencia website.

Making our way to Valencia
Landed at Manises Airport in Valencia
Taxi from Valencia Airport to Valencia

Taking a taxi is definitely the easiest and fastest way to get from Valencia Airport to the city centre, but often not the cheapest. Count on paying a taxi fare somewhere between €15 to €30 (~ $17 to $34) for about a 15 to 20 minute drive.

You can find the taxi stand just outside the arrivals hall. Simply join the queue and wait for your turn. Make sure to have the address of your destination ready on your phone or a piece of paper, as not all taxi drivers speak English. They are friendly though and use their meters, so no need to haggle.

We took a taxi van from Valencia airport to our accommodation with 6 friends, paying €30 (~ $34). It wasn’t that busy when we arrived on a sunny weekday in April, so we didn’t have to wait at all.

Hotels near Valencia Airport

If you’re just visiting Valencia, it probably doesn’t make sense to spend the night in a hotel near Valencia Airport. If Valencia is the beginning and/or end of a road trip on the other hand, a hotel near the airport might be convenient. Check out all accommodation options near Valencia Airport on the map below:

There’s a lot of choice when it comes to Valencia Airport transfers to the city centre. Depending on how big your group is and where you’re going, different options might be better. Hope this helped you decide which mode of transport to Valencia suits you best. Let us know in the comments!

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How to get from the Airport to Valencia

The post How to get from Valencia Airport to the city centre appeared first on Wandering the World.

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Valencia is one of the biggest cities in Spain, even though it’s not even a fourth the size of the capital, Madrid. You can perfectly explore the old city centre of Valencia on foot, and the larger area by bike. Public transport is also very well organised, so plenty of options to easily get around in Valencia!

TIP: The locations in this article are clickable and will take you to the corresponding marker on the map. You can find the map on the right of your screen, or by clicking the map icon on the bottom if you’re on mobile.

Wander around Valencia on foot

In less than half an hour you can cross the old city of Valencia, Ciutat Vella, on foot. It’s the perfect sized city centre to wander around on foot, getting lost in narrow streets, discovering all kinds of impressive buildings and cute restaurants. It’s also the cheapest way to get around in Valencia, and will contribute to getting your daily step goal!

Valencia is a great city for exploring on foot
Explore Valencia by bike

Not all sights in Valencia are located within the old city though, so we suggest renting a bike for at least 1 day to explore the rest of Valencia.

The 9 km long Turia Park bending around the city is lovely for a bike ride, but there are well-maintained bike lanes throughout the (mainly flat) city as well.

We rented our bikes from our accommodation for €11 (~ $12.30) per bike for 24 hours. This included a lock and a wooden “basket” at the back of the bike. If we’d rented those bikes for more than a day, the price would have dropped to €9 (~ $10) per bike per day.

You can ask if your accommodation offers a bike rental service as well, or just walk into one of the many bike rental shops throughout Valencia.

TIP: The Valencia Tourist Card gets you a discount at selected bike rental shops in Valencia.

Make sure to lock your bike when parking it, preferably attaching it to the bike racks you can find along the streets. If you want to be sure, you can pay extra for insurance, but we didn’t.

We highly recommend renting a bike for at least 1 day
Plenty of well-maintained bike lanes throughout the city
Don’t forget to lock your bikes
Use the Public Transport in Valencia

As mentioned before, public transportation in Valencia is very well organised. There are several metro lines running along the southern border of the old city, but we mainly used the extensive bus network to get around in Valencia.

Click here to skip to the overview of all public transport travel cards in Valencia.

Taking the metro in Valencia

The metro in Valencia is operated by Metrovalencia. As you can see on the map of Metrovalencia below, the metro (or subway) is useful to get to the outer edges of the city quickly, but doesn’t serve as many stops as the bus.

Map of the metro in Valencia

A single Valencia metro ticket will cost you €1.50 (~ $1.70) within one zone. Zone A is the biggest zone, enclosing most of Valencia. Outer districts of Valencia and destinations like the airport are in different zones. If your trip is through 2 zones or more, prices for a single ticket can rise up to €3.90 (~ $4.40).

A return fare is slightly cheaper than 2 single tickets, and after you validate the first trip, you have 24 hours before the return trip expires. However, if you plan on taking the metro more often, or with a group of people, you should consider buying a metro card.

There are 2 metro travel cards you can chose from. The TuiN Card has a minimum charge of €10, with single trips (within 1 zone) costing €0.72 (~ $0.81). The 1 zone Bonometro Card allows for 10 trips at €0.76 (~ $0.85) per trip.

Neither of these cards are personal, so they can be used for travelling with a group as well. Note that you have to pay an extra €2 (~ $2.20) for the physical card, which is rechargeable.

You can buy and top up these metro tickets and cards at the automatic vending machines in the subway stations and tram platforms, or in newspaper kiosks and tobacconist shops, like the franchise Tabacos. Validate it upon entering and exiting the metro.

The metro in Valencia operates between 4:00 and 23:30 on weekdays and between 5:00 and 00:30 on weekends.

You can find the entire map of all metro lines, the timetable and more information on the fares on the Metrovalencia website.

Taking the bus in Valencia

Buses in Valencia are operated by EMT (Emprasa Municipal de Transports). Their extensive network of bus routes efficiently services the entire city (and beyond). Each bus stop has information on the lines that stop there, and you can scan the QR code to see how far out the next bus is.

TIP: When you’re waiting for the bus, it’s custom to signal the bus driver to stop.

A standard Valencia bus ticket (one way) will cost you €1.50 (~ $1.70) and can only be bought with the bus driver upon entering the bus. However, if you’re planning on taking the bus more often, or with a group of people, you should consider buying a bus card.

There’s just 1 bus travel card available: the Bonobus Card. It costs €8.50 (~ $9.50) and includes 10 trips. You can change buses as many times as you want within the hour. That hour starts when you validate your card by putting it on the card reader in the bus. You still have to validate your card upon boarding the bus, but it won’t be charged.

This Bonobus Card isn’t personal, so it can be used for travelling with a group as well. Note that you have to pay an extra €2 (~ $2.20) for the physical card, which is rechargeable.

You can buy and top up the Bonobus Card in newspaper kiosks and tobacconist shops, like the franchise Tabacos. Once bought, you can also top it up via the EMT app, see below. Validate your card upon boarding the bus.

The buses in Valencia operate between 7:00 and 22:30. After that, there are night buses (blue N lines) taking over until 1:30 on weekdays and 3:30 on weekends.

An EMT bus in front of city hall

If you plan on taking the bus to get around in Valencia, we recommend downloading the EMT app, as the EMT website isn’t mobile friendly. You can search the app for buses based on bus stop or bus number, look for points of sale for travel cards, and connect your travel card to the app. You can then use it to check the number of trips available on the bus card, and recharge it. Take note that this won’t be available instantly after linking the card.

During our visit we often took the bus to get around in Valencia. We bought 1 Bonobus Card for a group of 6 friends, topping it up as needed. We were very pleased with the public transport in Valencia. The bus network is extensive, reliable, and buses run frequently.

You can find the entire map of all Valencia bus routes, the timetable and more information on the fares on the EMT website. Note that it’s not mobile friendly. If you’re on mobile, better download the EMT app.

Overview of all public transport cards in Valencia

Apart from the metro and bus cards we mentioned above, there are also travel cards that are valid on both the metro and bus network.

The Bono Travel Card is valid on the bus and metro zone A, which encloses the bigger part of Valencia. (Most tourists won’t need tickets for other metro zones.) It includes 10 trips and costs €9 (~ $10). You can make as many connections as you want within 50 minutes after validating your card.

Should you want to visit the outer areas of Valencia, you can buy the Bono Travel Card Zone AB, which is valid on the bus, metro and Metrobus, which is the intercity bus. It includes 10 trips and costs €15.50 (~ $17.40). You can transfer between buses and the metro without extra charge for 90 minutes after validating your card.

The above 2 travel cards aren’t personal, so can be used for travelling with a group as well. The T1, T2, and T3 travel cards on the other hand are personal cards, valid for unlimited travel for 1 person over respectively 1, 2 or 3 days. These cards are valid on the bus and metro zone A, and cost respectively €4 (~ $4.50), €6.70 (~ $7.50), €9.70 (~ $10.90). Take note that it’s 1 day, not 24 hours.

To keep things clear, we made this overview of all public transport cards in Valencia:

CardNetworkPriceSingle trip price
TuiN CardMetro (all zones)€10€0.72 (1 zone)
Bonometro CardMetro (1 zone)€7.60€0.76
Bonobus CardBus (EMT)€8.50€0.85
Bono Travel CardBus (EMT)
+ Metro (zone A)
€9€0.90
Bono Travel Card
Zone AB
Bus (EMT) + Metro
+ Metrobus
€15.50€1.55
T1
T2
T3
Bus (EMT)
+ Metro (zone A)
€4
€6.70
€9.70
Depends on # of
trips you take in
1, 2 or 3 days.

Note that the price for the physical card, called the Mobilis Card, isn’t included here. It costs another €2 and is rechargeable. You can buy these public transport cards at automatic vending machines in metro stations, and in newspaper kiosks and tobacconist shops, like the franchise Tobacos.

Now, which card to choose? In our experience, the Bonobus Travel Card is the best option. First of all, the bus network services way more stops than the metro lines.

Secondly, it’s still cheaper than the T1, T2, or T3 travel card, even though unlimited travel is a tempting offer. You’ll have to do 4 trips (5 with T1) per person per day for it to be cheaper, but that’ll barely save you 5 cents a trip. To save up to 20 cents a trip, you’ll have to do 5 trips a day, which is highly unlikely if you plan your visit right.

Depending on where you are planning to go and what you’re planning to visit, the Valencia Tourist Card can be a great option too, as it includes unlimited travel over 24, 48, or 72 hours, combined with free entrance to certain attractions and discounts on things like museums, shops and restaurants. The Valencia Tourist Card is valid on the bus and metro, including the airport line.

Taking a taxi in Valencia

If you’re not that into public transport, or need to be somewhere no bus drives, you can always take a taxi. Just hail one, get in, and have the address of your destination ready on your phone or a piece of paper, as not all taxi drivers speak English. All taxis in Valencia are white, available 24/7 and use meters, so no need to haggle.

Renting a car in Valencia

If you’re just visiting Valencia as a city trip, we don’t see any reason to rent a car. However, if Valencia is the start of your road trip (through Spain), check out Auto Europe for a range of options to rent a car in Valencia. Good to know: they drive on the right.

Hop on (and off) the Valencia Tourist Bus

Nearly every (big) city has an open-top hop-on hop-off tourist bus, and Valencia does too. The Valencia Tourist Bus is actually a city tour on wheels, taking you along all major tourist attractions in Valencia. There’s an audio guide on the bus (available in different languages) and you can hop on and off as you want.

The Valencia Tourist Bus drives 2 different routes: the Maritime Route and the Historic Route. Both of these tourist bus routes take 90 minutes, if you don’t hop off, and pass Plaza de la Reina and the Museum of Fine Arts, so you can change routes there.

Plaza de la Reina as seen from above

The Maritime Route starts from Plaza de la Reina and drives via City of Arts and Sciences to La Marina, the port of Valencia.

The Historic Route starts from Plaza de la Reina as well, but drives in the other direction, via the IVAM, the Centre for Modern Art, to the convention centre of Valencia.

Note that each last Sunday of the month, when Plaza del Ayuntamiento becomes a pedestrian zone, the routes slightly differ, with a drop in prices as well. Check out the official Valencia Bus Turistic website for more information.

The Valencia Tourist Bus drives between 9:30 and 21:00 all year round. Except in July in August, when service hours are extended another hour, ’til 22:00. Find the exact timetables on the official Valencia Bus Turistic website.

There are 2 types of tickets for the Valencia Tourist Bus: a 24 hour and a 48 hour ticket. Both of these bus tickets include an audio guide in different languages, but not the entrance fee to the tourist attractions you’ll pass. You can however buy a combination ticket for the Valencia City Bus Tour and Oceanogràfic for example.

Want to explore Valencia on the Valencia Tourist Bus?
Check out these options:

A ticket allows you to hop on and off as much as you like, changing between the 2 Valencia Tourist Bus routes. You can choose between a 24 hour ticket and an 48 hour ticket.

TIP: The Valencia Tourist Card gets you a discount on these Valencia city bus tour tickets.

Our recommendation? Rent a bike in Valencia!

Our conclusion: Valencia is a great city to explore on foot or by..

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Known as La Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències to locals, the City of Arts and Sciences is probably the most famous landmark of Valencia, Spain. Plans for this huge project started in 1989, to attract tourists from over the world. However, the first building was only officially opened in 1998.

What is the City of Arts and Sciences?

The City of Arts and Sciences, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Spanish, is a complex consisting of 6 buildings and a bridge, spread over 2 km (~ 1.2 miles). Most of these were designed by Santiago Calatrava, but Oceanogràfic was the work of Félix Candela. As you might have expected, the price tag of this impressive piece of architecture far exceeded the intended budget.

Notice that the water around these buildings has 3 different colors. The water around the Hemisfèric is bright blue, representing the sky, while the water on the other side of the Museu de les Ciències is grey, for the sea. The water between Science Museum and the Turia Gardens is green, representing the Turia River that used to flow there.

You get some amazing reflections in the water
The reflections really are beautiful

It’s not allowed to swim or even paddle in the waters of the City of Arts and Sciences. You can however rent a paddle board or small boat to go out on the water. Sometimes you can walk on water in giant zorb balls as well, for a small fee of course.

Note that we haven’t included the opening hours of the buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences in this post, because they differ depending on it being low, medium or high season. They are usually open from 10:00 till at least 18:00, but look for the up-to-date opening hours on the City of Arts and Sciences website.

Hemisfèric

Purpose: iMax Cinema
Opened: 1998
Entrance fee: €8 (~ $9) pp

Hemisfèric iMax Cinema

The Hemisfèric was the first building of the City of Arts and Sciences that opened in 1998. It’s the lowest building, only 26 m (~ 85 ft) at its highest point, housing a state-of-the-art iMax Cinema.

It resembles a human eye, the eye of wisdom, and was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The roof can slide open (like an eyelid), and the projection room is inside the iris.

Umbracle

Purpose: Car Park + Garden
Opened: 2000
Entrance fee: none

L’Umbracle garden
Even the car park ventilation looks interesting
Car park with a garden on top

L'Umbracle, opened in 2000, is a covered car park with a garden on top that looks like a major arched walkway. Underneath the arches is the garden with plants native to Valencia. In summer, part of it is transformed to L’Umbracle Terraza, an event space.

Santiago Calatrava intended for climbing plants to cover the 55 fixed and 54 floating arches of L’Umbracle. But unfortunately the arches are too slippery and too far apart for that.

Next to the arches is a balcony looking out over the City of Arts and Sciences. Also called the Art Promenade, this balcony is used as an open-air art gallery of sculptures by contemporary artists. At the time of our visit there was a series of six sculptures called “My Secret Garden Valencia” by Arne Quinze, a Belgian conceptual artist.

At the southeastern end of L’Umbracle you can find the Astronomy Garden, with instruments to measure and understand things like the movements of the stars and sun.

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe

Purpose: Interactive Science Museum
Opened: 2000
Entrance fee: €8 (~ $9) pp

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
The museum as seen from the other side

Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, opened just 10 days later than L’Umbracle, is an interactive science museum. When squinting your eyes, and adding a tad of imagination, you can see it’s shaped as a whale skeleton.

Unlike most museums, this museum’s motto is “Forbidden not to touch, not to feel, not to think”. They want to educate their visitors in new technologies and science advancements in an entertaining way through interactive exhibitions and scientific activities.

To visit the Museu de les Ciènces you have to pay an entrance fee of €8 (~ $9) per person, but the ground floor, known as Calle Menor, is freely accessible. There you can find the ticket counter, a cafeteria, and a couple of small exhibitions, like the one on the history of bikes.

Oceanogràfic

Purpose: Aquarium
Opened: 2003
Entrance fee: €30.70 (~ $34) pp

Oceanogràfic is the largest aquarium in Europe

Since its opening in 2003, Oceanogràfic is the largest aquarium in Europe, designed by Félix Candela. With 42 million liters (~ 11 million gallons) of water filled with hundreds of different species (including sharks and beluga whales), you’re surely in for a thrilling underwater experience.

Oceanogràfic consists of different buildings, representing different ecosystems. The sphere you can catch a glimpse of from the outside are the wetlands for example, while the igloo is the arctic region. The most prominent building, in the shape of a waterlily, houses the Underwater Restaurant.

Besides being the largest aquarium in Europe, Oceanogràfic has the longest underwater tunnel and largest dolphinarium in Europe as well. While we aren’t big on those dolphin shows and animals living in captivity either, Oceanogràfic does work hard when it comes to marine research, conservation and making people aware of the importance thereof.

We didn’t visit Oceanogràfic this time, but might pay the €30.70 (~ $34) entrance fee on a next visit to Valencia.

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía

Purpose: Performing Arts Centre
Opened: 2005
Entrance fee: none

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía

Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía is the performing arts centre, with 4 auditoria for all kinds of opera, musical and theatre performances. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2005.

Equipped with all the latest technology, the Palau de les Arts is now an international player in the performing arts world. It resembles a Roman helmet; can you see the crest on top?

Ágora

Purpose: Multi-purpose covered plaza
Opened: 2009
Entrance fee: none

Àgora next to the Pont l’Assut de l’Or

The last of the six buildings of the City of Arts and Sciences, the Àgora, opened in 2009. It’s a multi-purpose covered plaza fit for all kinds of events like congresses, conventions, concerts, performances, and exhibitions.

To us the building looks like a breaching whale. It’s meant to resemble 2 hands with intertwined fingers though, symbolising the meeting place the Ágora’s intended to be. The large interior space is like a covered public square, where people can come together.

Pont l’Assut de l’Or

Purpose: Bridge
Opened: 2008
Entrance fee: none

Pont l’Assut de l’Or

Between the Science Museum and the Ágora is the highest point in Valencia: the 125 m (~ 410 ft) high Pont l'Assut de l'Or. This impressive bridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2008.

To me it resembles a harp, but apparently locals think of a ham first. Pedestrians and cyclists can cross the bridge through the middle, so cars will always be photobombing.

City of Arts and Sciences Tickets

We already mentioned the individual ticket prices for each of the buildings at the City of Arts and Sciences above. If you plan on visiting more than one of these attractions though, you can buy a combination ticket, which will save you a couple of euros:

Looking for a City of Arts and Sciences combination ticket?
Check out these options:

A Valencia Tourist Card will get you a 15% discount on any of the ticket prices for tickets bought at the ticket counters in Oceanogràfic, Hemisfèric or the Science Museum. This card includes free entry or a discount to quite a number of museums, tours, and restaurants, and free use of public transport (bus, metro, and tram) in Valencia.

Interested in the Valencia Tourist Card?
Check out these options:

Another option is to book a guided tour of the City of Arts and Sciences. A knowledgable guide will take you on a tour of the City of Arts and Sciences, and show you around the Science Museum and Oceanogràfic. Entrance tickets are included.

How to get to the City of Arts and Sciences By car

If you have a car at your disposal, you can probably find your way there using a navigation app like Google Maps. You can then park your car in L’Umbracle Parking, which is opened from Monday to Sunday from 8:00 till midnight. Note that you aren’t allowed to leave your car there overnight.

Parking your car here will cost you €2.30 (~ $2.60) per hour, with a maximum of €24 (~ $27) per day. However, when you’re buying a ticket for any of the buildings in the City of Arts and Sciences, you can get a promotional ticket for €6 (~ $6.70) per day. Just ask at one of the ticket counters.

The car park is open until midnight so you can have another visit in the dark
By bike

Valencia is a great city to explore by bike. It’s pretty flat and there are well-maintained bike lanes nearly everywhere. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can cycle through the Turia Gardens, the 9 km long park, to the City of Arts and Sciences.

Most accommodations rent out bikes, or you can simply walk into one of many bike rental shops throughout the city. Note that the Valencia Tourist Card gets you a discount at selected bike shops.

For reference: we paid €11 per bike for 24 hours at our accommodation. If we rented 1 bike for 2 days or more, it would have cost us €9 per day per bike. That included a lock and a wooden “basket” at the back of the bike.

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The Sentinel Peak Hike takes you to the top of the Tugela Falls, which explains why it’s also known as the Tugela Falls Hike. You’ll be climbing up the Amphitheatre via the famous chain ladders, and looking out over its impressive valley floor, almost 1 km (~ 0.62 miles) below. Want to see this with your own eyes? Keep reading!

TIP: The locations in this article are clickable and will take you to the corresponding marker on the map. You can find the map on the right of your screen, or by clicking the map icon on the bottom if you’re on mobile.

Sentinel Peak Hike in short
  • Duration? 12 km (~ 7.5 miles) or 6 hours
  • Difficulty? challenging
  • Decor? impressive mountain views, Tugela Falls, chain ladders
  • When? best from March to April
  • How much? R125 ~ $8.50 ~ €7.50 per person (no guide)
  • Bring? waterproof jacket, charged phone, camera
  • Where to stay? Amphitheatre Backpackers Lodge or Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge
Where is Tugela Falls?

Tugela Falls is the world’s second highest waterfall, plunging a whopping 948 m (~ 3,110 ft) off of the Mont-Aux-Sources plateau into the valley below. It’s not 1 drop though, rather 5 leaps. Still impressive!

Tugela Falls Panorama

Side note: there’s discussion about the true height of the Tugela Falls. Recent measurements concluded on a 983 m (~ 3,225 ft) high waterfall. This would make Tugela Falls the tallest waterfall in the world, passing the 979 m (~ 3,211 ft) Angel Falls in Venezuela.

The monumental cliff face of the Mont-Aux-Sources plateau is called the Amphitheatre, because of the way it looks from the valley. Situated in Royal Natal National Park, South Africa, it sits on the border between the KwaZulu-Natal province and Lesotho. Phuthaditjhaba is the closest town.

This mountain range is part of the Drakensberg (Afrikaans for Dragon Mountain), the 1,000 km (~ 620 miles) long eastern part of the Great Escarpment. Amazing views on the Panorama Route, like the Three Rondavels, are part of the Drakensberg escarpment as well.

Did you know? Tugela Falls gets its name from the Zulu word “Thukela”, meaning “sudden”.

The Sentinel Peak Hike – practical information

To get to the top of this remarkable Tugela Waterfall, you have to hike the Sentinel Peak Hike, also known as the Tugela Falls Hike. It’s a Drakensberg day hike of about 12 km (~ 7.5 miles) round trip, which took us about 6 hours to complete. Don’t forget to take lunch, snacks and plenty of water!

How to get to the Sentinel Peak Hike? Directions to get there by car

The Sentinel Peak Hike starts at the Sentinel Car Park, where we drove to in our rental car. Keep in mind that about 4.5 km (~ 2.8 miles) of the last part of the road to the car park is unsealed and in bad shape. After that there’s another 2.5 km of paved road.

The roads are part of the adventure!
Carefully driving our rental on the bad road

It had been raining (and still rained) while we were driving up there. Parts of the soil had been washed away, leaving big rocks sticking out of the road. The first part is a pretty good indication of how the rest of the road will be, although it got slightly worse at certain points. If you’re not comfortable driving there, it’s better to turn around.

With our modest Toyota Etios Sprint rental it was a bit of a nerve-racking ride, but we did eventually make it there in one piece. We wouldn’t have done it with our own car though.

They were working on the car park facilities during our visit, so chances are this road will become sealed eventually. Do update us on the road condition in the comments if you visit yourself!

If you’re not willing to drive there yourself, you can go left to Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge instead of taking a right onto the unsealed road. You can ask for a ride to (and from) the Sentinel Car Park there. This will cost you R255 (~ $18 ~ €16) for a round trip if you’re alone, or R150 (~ $10 ~ €9) per person if you’re 2 or more.

In any case, keep your camera ready to snap some shots of the amazing views on the way up to the Sentinel Car Park.

Beautiful view along the road to the Car Park
Join a guided hike to Tugela Falls that includes transportation

If you don’t have a car at your disposal, you can book a guide with transportation or join a guided hike to Tugela Falls. Jump to the guided hike section of this post.

It’s possible your accommodation offers transfers to and from the Sentinel Car Park, the start of the hike, as well. Jump to the section about accommodation near the Tugela Falls.

What will the Sentinel Peak Hike cost you?

While driving up to the Sentinel Car Park, you will pass a check point. There, you have to pay a R50 (~ $3.50 ~ €3) fee per person, and write your information in a hiking register. That’s how they track if everyone that started the hike has returned.

At the Sentinel Car Park, the start of the hike, you have to pay another R75 (~ $5 ~ €4.5) per person and sign another hiking register. We got a map of the Sentinel Peak Hike as well, with emergency numbers on it.

Drakensberg weather conditions

The weather conditions can change quickly, like every hour, at Drakensberg, so you can’t really rely on forecasts. Instead, be prepared for anything when starting the Sentinel Peak Hike.

When we did the hike, it had been raining for a couple of days. On the morning of our hike it was cloudy and thunderstorms were forecasted. We decided to drive up there anyway and have a look. Well, Brecht decided that actually. We didn’t have time to stick around longer and he didn’t drive all this way for nothing. I tagged along.

Didn’t see any other hikers during our trip

We waited for about 15 minutes at the car park till it stopped raining. The sky didn’t look like there was going to be a thunderstorm anytime soon, so we decided to go for it. It rained a bit during the hike, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Didn’t see any thunderstorms either. Guess we were lucky!

However, should dark clouds or a fog come up while you’re on top of the Mont-aux-Sources plateau, make for the chain ladders immediately and get back down. You don’t want to be taking unnecessary risks by staying exposed on the open plateau at that height.

When to do the Sentinel Peak Hike?

The Sentinel Peak Hike is open year-round, but March to April is said to be the best time of the year to hike to the Tugela Falls. That’s when we did the hike, in March.

The gully can be slippery when it’s been raining

In winter, from June to August, you can get snow at Drakensberg. Nice for photos, but the cold weather can result in a slippery path. Days will be shorter too, making an early start necessary to make sure you’re back before nightfall. On top of that it’s possible the waterfall’s frozen into icicles, reduced to a trickle or even non-existent.

Spring, from September to November, is a rather good season for the Sentinel Peak Hike, with a chance of sunny days, but also rain or even snow. It’s not as busy as the summer months, but it’s before rainy season, so unfortunately a waterfall is not guaranteed.

Summer, from December to February, is rainy season in KwaZulu-Natal. The Tugela Falls will be at their best, but it will be hot and humid with a high chance of thunderstorms, not ideal hiking weather. If you will be hiking the Sentinel Peak Hike in summer, take plenty of water and protect yourself from the burning sun with at least sunscreen and a hat.

That leaves Autumn, March to May, to be the best season to hike to the Tugela Falls. The rainy season is over, so there’s less chance of you being caught in the rain, while there is enough water to have a waterfall. If you’re lucky, it’s sunny, but rain clouds and thunderstorms can still roll around without warning.

Can you tell it’s been raining?
We experienced all sorts of weather conditions during our hike

No matter the season, bring a waterproof jacket, and make sure to start your drive back before it’s getting dark. There are no streetlights, and you don’t want to be driving that rocky road with steep drops in pitch black. Starting your descent down the chain ladders by 15:00 at the latest is a good goal.

Common sense hiking ethics

You probably already know this, but here are some tips, just in case.

Stick to path at all times. Don’t leave trash, just footprints, and don’t take souvenirs, just photos.

Bring a fully charged phone as well, in case you get lost or need assistance while hiking. You can find emergency numbers on the map you get when signing the hiking register at the Sentinel Car Park.

The Sentinel Peak Hike – the trail

As one of the best hikes on the Drakensberg, the Sentinel Peak Hike has spectacular views along the entire walk. The trail leads up the Mont-aux-Sources plateau, one of the highest mountain ranges of the Drakensberg. This makes it a rather challenging hike.

Birthe looking excited at the start of the hike

It’s a return trail starting at the Sentinel Car Park at an altitude of 2500 m (~ 8200 ft). No wonder the views are already spectacular before you’ve arrived at the start of the hike. However, the highlight is at the top of the Tugela Falls.

If you’re into Geocaching, you can search for those couple of caches hidden along this hike. We were short on time though, so didn’t look for any of them.

Anyway, start the Sentinel Peak Hike by following the path leading away from the Sentinel Car Park. It will continually climb towards the base of the Sentinel, including some switchbacks.

Near the start of these switchbacks there’s a side path on the left taking you to a viewpoint. There’s a sign pointing you in the right direction, and you’ll know when you’ve reached the viewpoint. We arrived there about 30 minutes after we left the car park.

Sign pointing the way
The quick detour for this viewpoint is definitely worth it
Selfie at the viewpoint

After this short detour, continue on the Sentinel Peak hiking trail. It takes you around the base of the Sentinel Peak before you’ll encounter a rocky section. This part is rather tricky, with a towering cliff on one side and a steep drop on the other.

After that, you have 2 options to reach the top of the Mont-aux-Sources plateau: climb up the gully, or up the chain ladders. We decided to go up the gully and down the chain ladders.

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Marsaxlokk is a picturesque fishing village on the eastern coast of the island of Malta. Definitely worth a visit, albeit just to watch the colourful fishing boats and have some fresh seafood.

Lots of fishing boats in Marsaxlokk

Fun fact: Marsaxlokk, pronounced marsa-schlock, means Eastern (xlokk) port (marsa).

TIP: The locations in this article are clickable and will take you to the corresponding marker on the map. You can find the map on the right of your screen, or by clicking the map icon on the bottom if you’re on mobile.

Visit the Marsaxlokk market

The waterfront market is what Marsaxlokk is known for. Every day, from Monday to Saturday, you can shop scarfs, jewellery, nougat, liquer, paintings and other souvenirs at the Marsaxlokk open market.

The traditional fish market is only open on Sunday
Birthe browsing the Marsaxlokk market

On Sunday, this market is extended with a fish market, where local fishermen sell what they’ve caught. That’s when the market gets really busy, with both locals and tourists.

We visited the Marsaxlokk market on a Wednesday, so haven’t seen the fish market. The waterfront market wasn’t that busy at all, but the waterfront terraces were pretty packed. It was a pretty regular touristy market but the view is nice!

Walk along the Marsaxlokk waterfront

Marsaxlokk is located at a small bay, known as Marsaxlokk Bay. You can walk all along the waterfront from the tiny Shingle Beach on one end, to the waterfront terraces on the other end.

Brecht trying to photograph the colourful boats
Marsaxlokk is pretty photogenic
Birthe walking along the waterfont

Right next to Shingle Beach is Marsaxlokk Harbour, a small harbour with mainly fishing boats.

When continuing further along the water, you’ll notice Marsaxlokk bay is filled with colourful traditional Maltese fishing boats called Luzzu. A very photogenic sight!

St Peter’s Pool

If you want to go for a swim in Marsaxlokk, we can definitely recommend St Peter's Pool. It’s basically a natural open-air swimming pool between the rocks.

It was pretty crowded at St Peter’s Pool
Lucky to find same space in the shade

The water in St Peter’s Bay is a clear blue, great for some snorkelling, with cliffs around it to jump off. A couple of locals were putting up a show doing solo and twin dives, jumps and summersaults. There was even a guy doing a duo act with his dog. Entertainment guaranteed!

Saint Peter’s Pool doesn’t have a sand beach, but rather rock slabs where you can chill in between swimming. There was some, not much, shade while we were there between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. It was pretty busy though.

You can park your car at the free car park at the end of an unsealed road. From there, take the path down to St Peter’s Pool, taking a right where it splits.

Brecht diving into St Peter’s Pool
A man and his dog putting up a show
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If you’re in need of refreshments, there should be an ice cream van at the car park selling cold drinks, slushees, sandwiches, and (obviously) ice cream.

Don’t have a car? No worries, you can join a boat tour to St Peter’s Pool as well, leaving from Marsaxlokk Harbour.

Best restaurants in Marsaxlokk

As Marsaxlokk is a fishing village, it’s only natural you should try some seafood when visiting. For being this small, Marsaxlokk has quite some choice when it comes to restaurants. And almost all of them are on that one road, called Xatt is-Sajjieda, along the seafront.

Brecht had read some praising reviews of Terrone, a small but busy restaurant at the Marsaxlokk waterfront. The small terrace was already filling up quickly at opening time, but we managed to secure a table.

Terrone focusses on southern Italian and local Maltese cuisine. The menu changes daily, based on what the fishermen caught and the vegetable suppliers have on offer. All dishes are made with local, fresh, and seasonal produce. This means that the menu isn’t that elaborate, but the food was so good!

Restuarant Terrone in Marsaxlokk
Delicious fresh seafood at Terrone
The vegetarian option was delicious as well

For most dishes there are 2 portion sizes available, a starter and a main one. Because we were having lunch there, they didn’t mind us going with the starter portions.

Another highly rated restaurant in Marsaxlokk is Tartarun, a family-run fish restaurant. The fish is locally sourced daily and served in a couple of signature dishes and a bunch of highly innovative (their words) specials. Sounds delicious, if you ask us.

Marsaxlokk hotels

We did a day trip to Marsaxlokk, but you can stay the night there as well. Don’t expect big hotels, rather small guesthouses and holiday apartments, all a stone’s throw from the small Marsaxlokk bay. Click here for all Marsaxlokk hotels according to Booking.com.

Find the best hotel deals in Marsaxlokk
Click here for a list of all accommodation options in Marsaxlokk according to HotelsCombined and book at the best price.
How to get to Marsaxlokk

During our time in Malta, we stayed in St Julian's. We rented a car for the duration of our stay and did a day trip from St Julian’s to Marsaxlokk and the rest of the southeastern part of the island.

From St Julian’s it’s just a 30 minute drive to Marsaxlokk. If you’re lucky, you can find a parking spot right at the small Marsaxlokk harbour.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving in foreign countries, you can use Malta’s public transport as well. To give you an example, it takes about 40 minutes to get from Valletta to Marsaxlokk by bus. That’s just 10 minutes longer than by car, and you don’t need to look for a parking spot. For more information on public transport in Malta, click here.

Thinking about visiting Valletta too?
Click here for more information on what to do in Valletta, the capital of Malta.

Another option is taking one of those famous red open-top busses from City Sightseeing you see everywhere. Just book a ticket here, and hop on and off at all the major tourist attractions in Malta. Note that there are 2 routes on the island of Malta, and Marsaxlokk is part of the South Route.

We spent about 2 hours in Marsaxlokk, which includes our lunch, but not St Peter’s Pool. Stroll along the waterfront of this charming village, browsing the (touristy) market and enjoying the view over the bay filled with colourful fishing boats. Then, head to St Peter’s Pool for a refreshing dip in the water!

Exploring the beautiful Marsaxlokk waterfront in Malta
Marsaxlokk in short
  • What? Picturesque fishing village
  • When? Busiest during Sunday fish market, but daily market as well
  • How long? Allow for about 2 hours, including lunch
  • How much? Free, if you don’t count food, drinks or souvenirs
  • Highlight? Traditional fishing boats, St Peter’s Pool
  • Where to eat? Terrone
  • Where to stay? Click here for more information

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What to do in Marsaxlokk Malta

The post What to do in Marsaxlokk, Malta appeared first on Wandering the World.

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The Panorama Route is one of many scenic drives in South Africa. With amazing views over the Blyde River Canyon, this drive is definitely worth dedicating a day to. Keep reading for more information on where to stay, where to eat, and what to see on the Panorama Route in South Africa.

Note that the car park fees mentioned below are the ones we paid in March 2018. It’s probable these are slightly raised by now. Let us know in the comments if you had to pay more!

Where is the Panorama Route?

The Panorama Route is a scenic drive along the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve in the Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. Most people driving from Johannesburg to Kruger National Park take a day or 2 to self-drive the Panorama Route, as it’s on the way.

Birthe & Brecht on the Panorama Route
The Three Rondavels were our favorite stop on the route!

Did you know the Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world?

Panorama Route attractions

Below we summed up the best stops on the Panorama Route, in order of which we visited them on our 1 day road trip from Hazyview. For each stop you can find the entrance fee, how much time we spent there, and a couple of photos.

Note that most of these attractions on the Panorama Route (or their car parks) close at 17:00. Be careful, as there are hardly any railings anywhere. This is a good thing too: no railings on your photos either!

TIP: The locations in this article are clickable and will take you to the corresponding marker on the map of the Panorama Route. You can find the map on the right of your screen, or by clicking the map icon on the bottom if you’re on mobile.

Without further ado, the stops on our Panorama Route itinerary:

Graskop Gorge Lift
You can access this viewpoint for free!
Wooden boardwalk at Graskop Gorge Lift
Enjoying the view on the ride down

Cost: R190 (~ $13 ~ €11.40) per person
Time: 1 hour

The Graskop Gorge Lift is an elevator taking your down 51 meter (167 feet) into the Graskop Gorge. The view over the gorge from the top and while riding the elevator is stunning, and there’s a pretty impressive waterfall as well.

Looking for an adrenaline rush? There is also a huge swing nearby!

Read more on the Graskop Gorge Lift

Click here for a full review on our experience taking the Graskop Gorge Lift and if it’s worth your money.

The Pinnacle Rock
The Pinnacle Rock
Viewpoint at the Pinnacle Rock

Cost: R15 (~ $1 ~ €0.90) per person
Time: 20 minutes

The Pinnacle Rock is a tall lone rock sprouting from a gorge along the Panorama Route. Entrance to the nearby car park is R15 (~ $1 ~ €0.90) per person.

From the car park, follow the paved path to a viewpoint with fencing. Before you reach this viewpoint there’s a dirt path to your left and a paved path to your right. For the best view, take the paved path, continue past the toilet building and make a large U-turn towards the fence. From there you have an awesome view of the pinnacle, the gorge and beyond.

Too bad we forgot the battery of our drone at our accommodation, because The Pinnacle Rock would have definitely made for some impressive footage.

God’s Window
View and crowd after climbing to the viewpoint

Cost: R15 (~ $1 ~ €0.90) per person
Time: 30 minutes

One of the most popular stops on the Panorama Route is God's Window. The view over Lowveld, the bottom of Blyde River Canyon, is jaw-dropping.

There are different viewpoints at different heights, all providing a slightly different perspective over Lowveld. The highest one being the most impressive.

Wonder View
Alternative view at Wonder View

Cost: free
Time: 5 minutes

If you’re short on time or don’t feel like climbing, you can skip God’s Window and pull over at Wonder View instead. The view over Lowveld is pretty similar, without the climbing and the crowds.

Read more on God's Window and Wonder View

We’ve dedicated an entire post to the difference between God’s Window and Wonder View and which stop is the best. Click here to check it out!

Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Small waterfalls at Bourke’s Luck Potholes
Exploring the waterfall area
Selfie at Bourke’s Luck Potholes
At the bottom you see the actual potholes

Cost: R55 (~ $3.80 ~ €3.30) per person
Time: 25 minutes

Bourke's Luck Potholes was the busiest stop on the Panorama Route. It has the largest car park and a museum, so it’s probably fair to call this the most touristy stop on the Panorama Route. Okay, after Harrie’s Pancakes probably, but more on that when we discuss lunch.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes are what they call the big “bowls” that were eroded by the water from the Blyde and Treur River that come together there. You have the best view from the bridges, the farthest being the best.

Although the potholes are the main attraction of this stop, everyone seemed to be more interested in the small waterfalls you see on the far right when walking towards Bourke’s Luck Potholes.

Three Rondavels
Selfie at the Three Rondavels
Incredible view at the Three Rondavels

Cost: R25 (~ $1.70 ~ €1.50) per person
Time: 30 minutes

If there’s one place you should stop on the Panorama Route it’s the Three Rondavels viewpoint. Definitely the coolest view on our Panorama Route road trip!

Did you know a rondavel is an African-style hut? That’s where this landmark got its name!

When driving towards the Three Rondavels viewpoint, you’ll pass a pay point asking for a R25 (~ $1.70 ~ €1.50) entrance fee per person. From there’s it’s another 2 km to the car park.

There are 2 different paths leading to 2 different viewpoints. They’re fairly close to each other, while still providing a different view. Worth checking out both, although the left one is slightly better. You’re closer to the Three Rondavels there, and you’ll also see the blue water of the Blydepoort Dam.

It wasn’t busy at all when we visited around 15:00 in the afternoon, so we could search for the geocache that’s hidden there without worrying about being discreet.

Lowveld View
Lowveld View is pretty amazing!

Cost: free
Time: 15 minutes

The Lowveld View provides another look over the Three Rondavels, but from a different angle. From the car park, follow the paved path to the edge of the cliff. Be careful, because there are hardly any railings here.

Even though it’s similar to the Three Rondavels viewpoint, we still consider the Lowveld View a must-stop on the Panorama Route. Note that the car park closes at 17:00.

Lisbon Falls
Selfie at the Lisbon Falls
Trying to get a good picture of the waterfall
The Lisbon Falls on the Panorama Route

Cost: free
Time: 5 minutes

If you’re driving the Panorama Route, you should make a short stop at the Lisbon Falls as well, a lovely waterfall, plunging down 92 meters (~ 302 ft).

Berlin Falls
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We explored Malta from our AirBnB apartment in St Julian’s, spending almost all of our evenings in this seaside town. Below, we share our favourite places to eat in St Julian’s, locally known as San Giljan.

From a food court to a fancy meat restaurant, we tried as many food spots as possible during our short time here. You wouldn’t expect it from a small town like this, but there are a ton of restaurants in St Julian’s. A lot more than we could lunch or dine at in a week.

Lunch with a view at Marina Terrace

We spent our first day in Malta exploring St Julian’s on foot. Around lunchtime, we were admiring the luxury yachts moored at Portomaso Marina. We were getting hungry, and picked Marina Terrace Pizzeria & Brasserie from a couple of restaurants with a view on the marina. The terrace was pretty busy, but we managed to grab one of the last al fresco tables.

Nice view on the Portomaso Marina
The Menu at Marina Terrace
Trying to decide what to get for lunch

Marina Terrace Pizzeria & Brasserie is open from breakfast to dinner. Apart from a couple of breakfast options, they serve a range of pizzas, homemade burgers, freshly made sandwiches and baguettes, filled focaccia and some wraps. For €15 (~ $17) you can have a decent lunch with a glass of wine, all served with smile.

I expected more of the Caprese Salad (€14.25 ~ $16.15) in terms of amount and variety, although the menu clearly states what you’ll get. My bad. Don’t get me wrong, what I got was really good, but now I know a Caprese Salad just doesn’t do it for me as lunch. Brecht made an excellent choice ordering a Warm Chicken Caesar Salad (€12.25 ~ $13.90) though.

Caprese Salad at Marina Terrace
Chicken Caesar Salad at Marina Terrace
Fresh and healthy lunch at U Bistrot

We walked past U Bistrot daily when leaving our AirBnB apartment in St Julian’s. The small sidewalk terrace was always full, but on our last day in Malta we went early to secure a table.

Starting off with a Superberry Heaven Smoothie (€4.50 ~ $5.10) and a cappuccino (€2 ~ $2.27), we enjoyed the view over Balluta Bay.

A great Ravioli Prawn and Leek
Birthe at U Bistrot

The U Bistrot menu is rather small, but supplemented with a bunch of suggestions. We ordered the Spaghetti Tomato Pesto (€8.50 ~ $9.63) and the Ravioli Prawn and Leek (€12.50 ~ $14.17). Both dishes were very good and fairly priced.

Solid dinner at Caffe Bocconcino

After informing for a table at Wigi’s Kitchen (see below), we ended up at Caffe Bocconcino, situated on the ground floor of the same building. There was no table left on the sidewalk terrace, so we sat down for dinner inside.

Beef Ravioli at Caffe Bocconcino
Grilled Salmon at Caffe Bocconcino

It’s a simple cafe with solid food, nothing too fancy, just good. I had the beef ravioli, Brecht the grilled salmon.

Best Burgers at Badass Balluta

Balluta Square is a lively spot, smack in the middle of St Julian’s. Elderly locals sit on the benches throughout the day for a marathon of people watching, and at night, the terraces on the east side of the square fill up for dinner and drinks. One of those cosy terraces belongs to Badass Balluta, a gourmet burger bar that has a pizza menu as well.

Badass prides itself on being a home grown concept (Maltese that is), striving to serve the best burgers on the island. Their Badass Burgers contain only the freshest ingredients, and are served with a side of your choice. Most of them have an Angus Patty, but there’s a salmon one as well, a vegan one, and even a Rabbit & Maltese Sausage Patty, among others.

Enjoying a drink at Badass Burgers Balluta
The Obama at Badass Bullata

Brecht and I both ordered The Obama: a Badass Angus Patty, Lettuce, pickled Onion, Tomato, Cheddar, Bacon, Onion Relish, and Cocktail Sauce, with Badass French Fries on the side. Yum, a very good burger and fries! We tasted the pizza that Brecht’s mom ordered as well, which tasted very good, although it was a little soft in the middle.

We didn’t try any other burgers in St Julian’s, so for us Badass Balluta is indeed the best burger restaurant in St Julian’s, Malta!

Something for everyone at Carob Tree Food Court

Not a restaurant, but a food court is one of our favourite places to eat in St Julian’s. Carob Tree Food Court brings together a bunch of food stalls with different cuisines and flavours in one modern space. Perfect for large groups, with something for everyone.

All food stalls are situated around a large common space with plenty of inside seating, but there’s a terrace as well. If you prefer, you can also get the food to take away. Unlike most food courts, you can pay separately at each food stall. No need to think about how much you will spend beforehand, guessing how much money to load onto a “Carob Tree Card”.

TukTuk at Carob Tree Food Court

Unfortunately we only ate at Carob Tree Food Court once, so we weren’t able to try all 11 food stalls. The pizza and pasta at Marrobbio smelled good, and the seafood from Pescado sounded delicious, but we went with the South Indian street food from TukTuk. Great choice! Their food is really good, plenty of non-spicy and veggie options, and their Coca Cola is the cheapest on the food court. *wink*

We ordered some street food nibbles and the Lamb Rogan Josh curry and rice to share. We really enjoyed the Vegetable Pakoras (€6.90 ~ $7.82), fried julienne mixed vegetables, and the Vegetable Samosas (€6.80 ~ $7.71), mixed vegetables in a crusty homemade pastry, but they weren’t as good as the Bitsy Naan Bites (€6.80 ~ $7.71), cheese naan strips with Tikka Masala dipping sauce. *heart-eyes* If we ever go back, I’ll definitely have the Chicken Tikka Masala!

Delicious South Indian street food
Yellow Thai Chicken Curry

Apparently you can order food delivery from TukTuk as well – check their website for a list of places where this option is available. If you find yourself in Valletta, there’s a TukTuk eatery there too.

As Brecht and I are Thai food lovers, we tried the Yellow Thai Chicken Curry (€8.50 ~ $9.63) from Genki Asian Cafe as well. It wasn’t really what we expected from a curry (where is the sauce?), but it was good. Not as good as the TukTuk food though!

Note that we shared all of this with 4 people.

Pizza at the water at Piccolo Padre

Piccolo Padre is an Italian restaurant on the border between St Julian’s and Sliema. Technically it’s already Sliema, but it feels like you’re still in the centre of St Julian’s.

Pizza Piccolo Padre
Pizza Carbonara at Piccolo Padre

Anyways, their location is great, with a nice terrace above the water. Their pizza is great too, with yummy tomato sauce. We wouldn’t recommend ordering the Piccolo Padre one though. It was a little too unusual for our taste, with the balsamic baby onions and crushed pistachios. We really did like the Salumiere, Margherita and Pizza Carbonara.

Prices range from €8.75 (~ $9.92) for the Margherita to €14.95 (~ $16.94) for the San Daniele with parma ham. Very fairly priced for a pretty big pizza, in our opinion. If you can’t finish your pizza, they’ll happily wrap your leftovers to take home if you like.

Best seafood at Two Buoys Bistro

If you ask us, Two Buoys Bistro is one of the best (seafood) restaurants in St Julian’s. Their Moules Marinieres (€12.95 ~ $14.68), mussels with cream onion and parsley, were my best dinner in Malta. It was a starter suggestion, but with a side of yummy mashed potatoes (don’t judge) I was more than satisfied. Brecht had the duo of fresh fish (€24 ~ $27), which he absolutely loved. We agreed: best seafood in Malta!

You can choose from the catch of the day
Moules Marinieres at Two Buoys Bistro
Checking out the menu at Two Buoys Bistro
Amazing duo of fresh fish

I’m getting ahead of myself though, here’s some background information about the restaurant as well. Two Buoys Bistro is a family run restaurant, serving Mediterranean cuisine. Their daily specials include the catch of the day, which they will come and present at your table on a big platter. Inside they showcase local art..

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The Cape of Good Hope is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of South Africa. Is that rightfully so, or is it blown out of proportion? Keep reading to find out.

Cape Point Nature Reserve
What is the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is one of three promontories on the Cape Peninsula, with a cliff towering more than 200 meters (~ 650 ft) above the sea below. The others are Cape Point on the other side of the tip and Cape Maclear in the middle.

Chances are you’ve seen photos of the famous Cape of Good Hope sign with the coordinates on it. It’s a crazy popular photo spot, hard to photograph without photo bombers.

The Cape of Good Hope is commonly mistaken for the point where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. It is however located at the meeting point of two major ocean currents. The difference in temperature between these two currents makes for different marine life on either side of the Cape of Good Hope.

The real meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean is at Cape Agulhas, 150 km (~ 93 miles) east of the Cape of Good Hope, as the crow flies. This is the true southern-most point of Africa as well.

Birthe and the famous Cape of Good Hope sign
You could wait in line for a better photo
Where is the Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is located on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. The area is known as the Cape Point Nature Reserve, and is part of Table Mountain National Park, formerly known as Cape Peninsula National Park.

The entrance gate for the Cape of Good Hope is about 50 km (~ 31 miles) south of Cape Town.

What to do at the Cape Point Nature Reserve

Honestly, the Cape of Good Hope wasn’t the highlight of our visit to the Cape Point Nature Reserve. We only did a 5 minute photo stop at the famous Cape of Good Hope sign. It would have taken a bit longer if we had wanted to wait in line for a photo with just the two of us.

You can hike all the way to the Cape of Good Hope Sign from here
At the start of the climb up to the lighthouse
Birthe got tired around the middle of the climb

However, if you have the time, you can hike from the  Cape of Good Hope to  Cape Point. The trail is only about 1.7 km (~ 1 mile), but there is a decent height difference between the start and finish.

We skipped the hike and instead drove to  Cape Point. From the car park it’s about a 15 minute climb to the  Cape Point Lighthouse. The path is paved, but it’s quite the climb, including some steps as well.

You’ll pass a couple of viewpoints on the way. When you reach the lighthouse you have a nice 360° view, mostly over the ocean, as Cape Point is a promontory. Although it was a hot day, it was very windy up there.

Obligatory We reached the top selfie
Brecht and the Cape Point Lighthouse
The lighthouse is 12,541 km from New York

Not up for the climb? For R55 (~ $4 ~ €3) you can take the Flying Dutchman funicular from the car park up to the lighthouse.

On our way back to the car, 2 baboons crossed our path. They rumbled in the garbage can, found a banana peel and moved on. The baboons of the Cape Peninsula are wild animals that can be dangerous. Don’t feed them, keep a safe distance and don’t display food when they are around. You wouldn’t want them fighting you for it!

We saw a lot of baboons at Buffels Bay as well. There was a group of 12 with a bunch of babies digging in the grass, and more running around. The view at Buffels Bay is nice, and there are plenty of braai spots. Although that didn’t seem a safe place for a good braai with all those baboons around.

Can you spot the baboons?
One of them seems to be on the lookout
These baboons will grab any food they can, so watch out!

Apart from baboons there’s more wildlife to spot at Cape Point Nature Reserve. Keep your eyes peeled for herds of zebra, eland, red hartebeest and other antelope. We didn’t see any of those, but did spot a couple ostriches on the way to the Cape of Good Hope.

On the Cape of Good Hope map we received, several viewpoints are marked as great spots for whale watching. Unfortunately we visited outside of whale watching season, which is from June to November.

All in all we were about 2 hours at Cape Point Nature Reserve, but you can easily spend more time there. For more things to see and do at Cape Point, check out the SANParks website or visit the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre.

Buffels Bay in Cape Point Nature Reserve
Baboons at Buffels Bay
Cape of Good Hope entrance fee

The Cape of Good Hope is an area of Table Mountain National Park where you need to pay a daily conservation fee upon entering the park. For foreign visitors, that’s R303 (~ $21 ~ €19) per adult per day. Seems like prices have doubled since we visited in March of 2018, since we only paid R145 (~ $10 ~ €9) per person.

When paying the entrance fee at the gate, you’ll receive a brochure with more information and a map of the Cape of Good Hope area. Note the exit times specified on a sign at the entrance gate. If you don’t stick to them, you’ll be fined.

For more and up-to-date information on the gate hours and entrance fee at the Cape of Good Hope, we refer to the Cape of Good Hope page on the SANParks website.

360 views at the top
How to get to the Cape of Good Hope from Cape Town

There are a bunch of ways to get from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope. We drove there in our rental car, but you can join a tour as well.

Go by car

If you have a vehicle at your disposal, like we did, you can perfectly visit the Cape of Good Hope on a day trip from Cape Town. It’s about a 50 km (~ 31 miles) drive, taking about an hour.

At all points of interest in the Cape Point Nature Reserve are car parks. Like everywhere in South Africa, a lot of them have parking attendants helping you find a spot and keeping an eye on your car while you’re away. It’s custom to give them some change upon departure (or arrival).

Birthe enjoying the view
Join a tour to Cape of Good Hope

There are plenty of tours from Cape Town including Cape of Good Hope. You can go with a full or half day tour, a group or private tour. Most of them combine the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point with a visit to the penguin colony of Boulders Beach, and a scenic drive around the Cape Peninsula.

Looking for a Cape of Good Hope tour?
Check out these options:
Hop on the Cape Explorer City Sightseeing Bus

You’ve probably seen those red (open-top) busses from City Sightseeing somewhere on your travels. Well, they drive around Cape Town as well. Their Cape Explorer tour includes stops at the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

The Cape Explorer tour is a guided day tour in a luxury air-conditioned double deck coach, leaving from 2 meeting points in Cape Town. It drives via Muizenberg (the famous surfer’s town with those colourful beach huts) to Simon's Town, where you’ll stop to visit the penguin colony. From there it continues to Cape Point and  Cape of Good Hope.

The tour ends where it started, but returns via Kommetjie and the Ou Kaapse Weg Mountain Pass.

For more information on the itinerary and availability of the Cape Explorer tour, click here.

Still looking for a place to stay in Cape Town?
We stayed at 91 Loop Hostel, which was great! Click here for our full review.
So, does the Cape of Good Hope live up to its fame?

The scenery at Cape Point Nature Reserve is pretty impressive, but we must admit that the Cape of Good Hope itself is not really a highlight. Spend more time at Cape Point and the other viewpoints and beaches, enjoying the dramatic cliffs and endless ocean views.

We’d love to read in the comments if you found all the information you were looking for in this post. Did we cover everything or are you missing something? Let us know!

 

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How to visit Cape of Good Hope from Cape Town

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There are plenty of things to do in Valletta, the capital of Malta, even though it is slightly smaller than your average capital city. We visited this walled city on a day trip from St Julian’s, so in this post we’ve summed up the best things to do in Valletta in one day.

We started our day in Valletta at the Valletta Ferry Landing at about 10:40. We passed up on the electric tourist train offering a city tour, and instead started walking uphill to the city centre.

Did you know everything is within walking distance in Valletta? You can cross the city on foot in just 15 minutes.

Staying in St Julian's or Sliema?
Click here for more information on how to get from St Julian's or Sliema to Valletta (and back).
Grab a coffee in Valletta

We had our morning coffee at Caffe Cordina. Founded in 1837, this coffee shop/restaurant has become an icon in Valletta. It’s situated in a fancy palazzo with impressive ceiling paintings, and has a large terrace on the square in front of the building.

They’re known for a big selection of Maltese specialties, not just pastries, but dishes too. Pick your favourite pastry from the stretched counter inside to take away, or order something from the menu (can be a pastry too) to enjoy on the outside terrace. We stuck to drinks though, really loving the caramel flavoured cafe latte (€3.60 ~ $4.11), and the Super Berry Heaven Smoothie (€5.75 ~ $6.56).

Caffe Cordina in Valletta
A great caramel cafe latte
Inside of Caffe Cordina
Birthe looking through the Maltese specialties
Attend the Noonday Gun Firing

The guns from the Saluting Battery, situated at the edge of the Upper Barrakka Gardens, used to protect the city and harbour against naval attacks. Later, they were only fired on midday (so Ship Masters could calibrate their chronographs on board) and on special occasions. Now, the Noonday Gun Firing is a tradition heralding the passage of midday, attracting plenty of tourists daily.

We arrived at the balconies looking over the Saluting Battery at around 11:40, grabbing the last front row spots. We were just in time for a short explanation about the Noonday Gun Firing. At about 11:55 they started preparing the cannons, until one of the guys yelled something, followed by a single loud bang. The end.

You won't be alone for the noonday gun firing
Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta
One loud bang and some smoke is what you'll get

The Noonday Gun Firing is often rated as one of the top things to do in Valletta, but apart from that loud bang, it wasn’t too impressive in our opinion.

Maybe it’s more impressive if you pay €3 (~ $3.40) for a true front row spot at the same level as the Saluting Battery, just a couple of meters away from the cannons. I believe this includes a guided tour as well. You can find more information on the sign that’s put up in the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

Anyway, the Upper Barrakka Gardens are worth a visit, whether you can make it to the Noonday Gun Firing or not. It’s a small, but nice park, with a great view over the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities. Besides enjoying the view, you can have a drink on the terrace of the Upper Barrakka Kiosk, or read a book on one of the benches. We just grabbed a bottle of water to go and left again at 12:10.

Lunch in Valletta

There are plenty of options for lunch in Valletta, but since we were there for just 1 day, we didn’t get to try many of those options. Just one, obviously.

The Submarine is a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop
Enjoying our sandwiches on a public bench

We got takeout from a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop called The Submarine for lunch. They have great ciabatta sandwiches and salads, friendly service, but no seating. So we took our chicken with grilled vegetables and chicken with bacon and potatoes sandwiches (about €3.50 ~ $4 per sandwich) to the benches at the square in front of Caffe Cordina. With a pretty good street musician providing some background music with his guitar, it was a lovely lunch!

Explore the Valletta City Gate area

The current City Gate of Valletta is the 5th gate to be in this exact spot. Designed by Renzo Piano, this timeless city gate, undone from all decorations, blends in perfectly with the old city walls. The transition between the old and reconstructed parts of the walls are emphasised with large steel blades cutting through the wall. Although the gate is opened to the sky, making a breach in the fortifications, the high steel poles give the main entrance to the city status and strength.

Just outside the Valletta City Gate, there’s a large square around The Triton Fountain. Walking towards the gate from the fountain will take you over a bridge with views over the moat, that is now a lush green garden. Or so we’ve read, because large fencing was blocking the view at the time of our visit.

The Triton Fountain
View right inside the City Gate of Valletta
Malta Pride entering Valletta through the City Gate
Building a film set in Hastings Garden

Just inside the City Gate, 2 broad, gently sloping flights of steps take you to the top of the city walls. We climbed the left one, making a U-turn to the left at the top, up some more steps. From there you have a nice view over The Triton Fountain and St Publius Parish Church. We visited during Malta Pride 2018, for which you see people assembling on the square below.

When making a U-turn to the right on the top of these stairs, you have a top view of Republic Street. From there we watched the Malta Pride parade pass below.

When continuing straight after reaching the top of the steps, you walk into Hastings Garden. This small, but charming park provides wonderful views over the Grand Harbour, as well as The Triton Fountain and surroundings. There’s a geocache hidden somewhere as well. During our visit they were setting up a film set in Hastings Garden. I’m guessing a wedding scene.

Do a coastal walk in Valletta

We haven’t done this, but apparently you can do a coastal walk all around the tip of the Valletta peninsula. The start, or end, is at the  Valletta Ferry Landing. Follow Boat Street towards Fort St Elmo, which houses the National War Museum. When you’re getting close to the museum, the road will become unsealed.

Continue along the water. You’ll pass the St Elmo Breakwater Footbridge, and probably some people tanning on the rocks as well. There’s a geocache hidden here somewhere, if you’re into that. We found it!

Valletta Coastal Walk
Birthe on the coastal walk
Geocaching with a view of St Elmo Lighthouse
The steps with the blue railing

Keep going until you reach the steps leading up to the street, with a blue railing. Do note that this path isn’t that accessible, with narrow parts and some rock scrambling involved.

Instead of doing this entire coastal walk, we descended the steps with the blue railing from the street. They’re right next to Bistro St Elmo, on the right side when facing it. We enjoyed the nice view over the water and the St Elmo Breakwater Footbridge, with the St Elmo Lighthouse on its tip. We logged the geocache and returned the way we came.

Stroll through the Lower Barrakka Gardens

Just like its sister (the  Upper Barrakka Gardens I mean), the  Lower Barrakka Gardens are a small but nice park. The views are slightly different, but equally impressive. From the Lower Barrakka Gardens, you can see the breakwater on your left, and a different view of the Grand Harbour on your right.

Lower Barrakka Gardens
Second World War Siege Memorial

Across the street from the Lower Barrakka Gardens there’s the Second World War Siege Memorial. The memorial has a big bell that tolls every day at noon in memory of those who let their lives during the siege of Malta between 1940 and 1943.

Visit St John’s Co-Cathedral

St John's Co-Cathedral is a must see in Valletta, from what we’ve read. The outside doesn’t differ much from any other church in Malta, but the inside is a lavish display of Maltese baroque..

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There are different ways to get from St Julian’s to Valletta. We’ve covered them below, so you can choose the one that best fits your needs.

Valletta as seen from Sliema
St Julian’s to Valletta by car

If you have a car at your disposal, driving from St Julian’s to Valletta is an option. Both city centres aren’t even 8 km (~ 5 miles) apart, resulting in about a 20 minute drive.

It’s best to park your car outside of Valletta. There’s a car park right here, just outside the city walls, and one surrounding a soccer field, right here. We believe both car parks are free, but don’t shoot us if they aren’t. We do know that it’s about a 5 minute walk from these car parks to the Valletta City Gate.

Keep in mind though, the best things to see and do in Valletta are within walking distance. Everything in Valletta is actually, you can cross the city on foot in just 15 minutes. So, to dodge Malta’s notorious traffic, and avoid the trouble of finding a parking spot, we took the ferry from Sliema to Valletta.

St Julian’s to Valletta by boat

In less than 10 minutes, the Sliema-Valletta Ferry takes you from, well, Sliema to Valletta. We walked to the Sliema Ferry Landing from our accommodation in St Julian's, which took us about 20 minutes.

Queueing at the Sliema Ferry Landing
Enjoying the breeze on top of the ferry
Make sure to get some photos from the ferry
This is the type of ferry you'll be boarding

The queue for the Valletta Ferry starts underneath a white pop-up canopy tent. The line was already pretty long when we arrived, about 10 minutes before the ferry was scheduled to depart. The boat can hold 200 passengers though, so we did make it on there.

A return ticket for the Sliema-Valletta Ferry costs €2.80 per person (~ $3.20) per person, with children under the age of 12 and people over 60 paying only €0.90 (~ $1). You can buy one way tickets as well. Keep your cash ready to pay right before you board, so you don’t hold up the line.

A ferry leaves for Valletta every 30 minutes, starting from 7:00 in the morning. On Sundays and Public Holidays the first ferry leaves Sliema at 9:00. When the last ferry leaves depends on the season. The summer schedule is in effect from June 1st to October 31st, with the last ferry at 00:45. Note that the night service starts at 19:30, warranting slightly more expensive tickets. The rest of the year there’s a winter schedule, with the last ferry at 18:15 on Sundays and Public Holidays and 19:15 the rest of the week.

For a detailed and up-to-date timetable of the Valletta Ferry, we refer to the Valletta Ferry Services website.

View you'll get from the Sliema-Valletta Ferry
On the way back to Sliema

Once you’ve boarded the ferry, you can choose to sit inside or on top, with a breeze in your hair. It gets pretty hot inside, but on top you feel the swaying of the boat more. Don’t forget to take a picture as the ferry is leaving Sliema or arriving at Valletta, for a nice city view from the water.

After arriving at the Valletta Ferry Landing, just follow the road leading up to the city walls to start your explorations of the small capital of Malta.

St Julian’s to Valletta by bus

As we had a rental car during our stay in Malta, we don’t have any experience with taking the bus from St Julian’s to Valletta, or anywhere really. However, from what we could find bus TD9 is a direct line from St Julian’s to Valletta, taking less than 20 minutes. To plan your journey and check fares, we refer to the official website of public transport in Malta.

Taking the boat from Sliema to Valletta is the best and most fun option to get from St Julian’s to Valletta, in our opinion. First, explore the streets of Sliema by walking from St Julian’s to the Sliema Ferry Landing, and then enjoy the view from the ferry!

 

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How to get from St Julian's to Valletta

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