Like a lot of places where the church forms a central pillar of society, Malta doesn’t offer much to do on a Sunday. But that’s ok, because what it does offer is well worth doing.
Because on a Sunday, pretty much all of the island heads either to church or to Marsaxlokk Sunday Market. Or both.
The market sells everything. Well, you’d expect it to: it’s absolutely huge. It’s also a place where tourists buying souvenirs can rub shoulders with locals stocking up on their groceries, and for that it gets my vote.
But one of my favourite things about it is its setting. The market runs along the edge of the harbour, which is filled with luzzi, Malta’s brightly painted fishing boats, bobbing up and down on the water. It’s no wonder that half of the market is dedicated to seafood.
(Warning: if you’re vegetarian and would rather not look at photos of dead fish, this post might not be for you.)
There were swordfish and octopus and shellfish, plus all kinds of weird and wonderful looking creatures that I couldn’t even begin to name. If we had been staying somewhere with a kitchen, this would have been the perfect opportunity to stock up for the rest of the week – not just with seafood (although: yum!) but with every kind of grocery we wanted.
Stalls filled with colourful fruits and fresh veg jostled for space with tables of breads and pastries. Neat piles of olives sat opposite a stall of sweets and candied nuts.
And if we’d wanted to stock up our wardrobes at the same time, we could have done that too.
Unfortunately, we had nowhere to cook food back at the hotel, as our meals were included. And with only hand luggage, there was a limit to the number of shoes, clothes and souvenirs we could bring back with us. But that just meant that we could wander through the piled-high stalls, soaking it all in and taking photographs instead of buying things we didn’t really need. And what better way to enjoy a market than that?
(Don’t worry – it didn’t stop us buying some of the sweets and pastizzi. No need for a kitchen to enjoy those!)
Tip: Once you’ve worked up an appetite browsing the market stalls, head to one of the many little restaurants across the street. Most of these will have some kind of fish dish as a special (usually some kind of mixed fish plate), so you can watch the comings and goings of the market while trying some of the delicious seafood for yourself!
We visited Marsaxlokk through a tour company which was selling tickets right outside our hotel. It is possible to get to Marsaxlokk by public bus, but on Sundays when most things are closed, half the island makes the trip down to this little coastal town, so the buses are crowded, hot and uncomfortable – and that’s if you can get on them in the first place.
We paid €10 each for the trip. Totally worth it.