From ancient forts and crumbling castles to hidden passageways and narrow cobbled streets, Malta’s not exactly short of picturesque locations in which to sip some of the island’s best local wine. But if you really want to get a feel for Malta, seek out a bar with a bit of history. From centuries-old cellar bars like Trabuxu and Del Borgo to Għargħur’s Cent’Anni and even Rampila Restaurant, set in an underground tunnel in Valletta, there are plenty of wonderful, historic bars in Malta to choose from.
With a population of less than 3,000, the petite town of Għargħur is one of the oldest on the island, and unsurprisingly, home to some of the most traditional bars in Malta. Hidden down a back street in the centre of town is Cent’Anni, a relaxed wine bar that specialises in Italian-inspired cold cuts and Maltese wine. With parts of the original décor intact (including mosaic floors and antique furnishings) this is a great place to while away an evening.
Located in a former palace in the historic town of Birgu, (an area once popular with the Knights of St. John), Del Borgo is among the most atmospheric bars in Malta. Make your way down into the medieval cellar bar and you’ll find a concise menu of Maltese delicacies such as ravioli stuffed with local Ġbejniet cheese and Hobza Mimlija Maltija (battered cod fritters), alongside a variety of local and international wine.
Built by Admiral Georgio Carafa (Admiral of the Fleet and Grand Master of the Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta), Omerta’ Trattoria & Winebar occupies what was once the cellar in a 15th century building on Valletta’s Bakery Street – no prizes for guessing what was sold here. Now one of the most popular bars in Malta, the admiral’s former residence today serves a great selection of Maltese wine and traditional dishes.
Housed within the ruins of an ancient battery built back when the Knights of St. John were still strutting around the island, wine bars don’t come much more historic than Ferretti. One of Malta’s more stylish nightspots, guests can enjoys their drinks on the outdoor terrace overlooking a moat, or move inside into contemporary interiors. The cellar offers an eclectic selection of vintages, both from Malta and abroad, while the kitchen serves up classic Mediterranean fare.
Built by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century, Rampila Restaurant is set within the original defence bastions of Valletta, in a tunnel dating back to 1570. Wander down the stone stairs from the street and you’ll find yourself in an intimate domed dining room, and just off of this, a smaller bar stacked to the ceiling with fine wines. Through a glass panel in the floor you can see down into the wine cellar, carved straight out of the rock, but it’s probably easier to pick your poison from the carefully curated wine list.
Located in the former red light district of Valletta, Trabuxu Wine Bar sits within a 400-year old historic cellar on Strait Street (otherwise know as “The Gut”). A popular post-theatre venue, the bar serves a selection of local wines and sharing platters and hosts regular wine tasting and live music events. Having changed very little in the last few centuries, Trabuxu Wine Bar certainly qualifies as one of the most authentic bars in Malta.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.