The corona fright on Malta increased during our stay and we decided to stay closer to Marsaskala, the place where we were staying, for a day. We had already explored the playgrounds of Marsaskala as well as the playgrounds in Sliema. In addition, we had visited the fortress in Birgu. Marsaxlokk, a famous tourist spot just a few kilometres away, became an obvious destination for a walk. In the end, the walk did not end in Marsaxlokk. Instead, we found ourselves in the neighbouring town, Birżebbuġa.
The walk to Marsaxlokk was about five kilometres long. To Birżebbuġa it was an additional three kilometres. It turned out to be a challenging walk as I set off with Little A in the stroller. The sun was shining and it started to get hot outdoors, but still only spring temperatures luckily. As we walked down to St Thomas Bay, I knew that I had just to follow the coast to reach Marsaxlokk.
Marsaskala extends around the St Thomas Bay with a small settlement along the beach. The constructions and paved streets of the main town did, however, changed fast. The streets around the bay were filled with potholes, a foreboding for what was to come. Once the settlement ended, the Munxar hill came into sight. The small gravel road up the hill had been severely washed away and was mostly large rocks. The uneven surface made it hard to push the stroller with Little A in it, but luckily she was ready to explore and walk. Nonetheless, the climb up the hill caused me several times to consider to return back down. Keep in mind, that it is an easy ascent if you are walking without the need to push something in front of you.
Once you reach the top, you are greeted by the sight of the sea out over the cliff. At the top, we also met two older locals who were more than happy to talk a bit and recommend the road going forward. Following their instructions and staying at the road ahead, we soon reached the Chapel of St Paul – Kappella ta’ San Pawl. It might not be much to see, but it is a waymark telling you that the road is better ahead.
Arriving in Marsaxlokk
After the Kappella ta’ San Pawl, we passed both the St Paul’s Battery and the Island Sanctuary (an animal shelter) before reaching the main road at Church of Our Lady of tas-Silg. Here it was just to follow Triq il-Patrijiet Terezjani and Triq Tas-Silg all the way down to the centre of Marsaxlokk.
The fishing village of Marsaxlokk is mostly famous for its market, its bay filled with colourful boats, and, of course, its fish. We did three things in Marsaxlokk. Firstly, we bought a cap for Little A to protect her from the sun. Secondly, we opted for some ice-cream. Thirdly, we enjoyed the view along the bay. The village’s name comes from the Arabic word “marsa”, meaning harbour, and the Maltese word “xlokk” for the south-east. Marsa is a common part of many names in Malta, Europe, and beyond. You might have heard Marsaskala and Marseille.
Just walking along the bay offers a great view and is probably the best experience to be found in Marsaxlokk.
Birżebbuġa – The Final Destination
Upon leaving Marsaxlook we didn’t turn back towards Marsaskala. Instead, we continued along the coast towards Birżebbuġa. The walk first took us to the St. Lucian’s Tower. This is a larger fort between Marsaxlokk and Birżebbuġa. It was built in the 17th century, with addons during both the 18th and 19th centuries. This is another relic of the Order of Saint John, the Knights Hospitaller. We had earlier come across the history of the knights in Rhodes and Birgu. The last expansion to the fort was done by the British Empire.
During the walk to Birżebbuġa, we saw more fields and industrial silos. However, the road eventually leads down to a beautiful beach walk in Il-Qajjenza. We eventually found ourselves at a square in Birżebbuġa where Little A was happy to find the playground in St. George’s Park. We didn’t get all the way to the beach at Pretty Bay. The town is less known for tourists than neighbouring Marsaxlokk. The municipality also includes the Malta Freeport, which is the main cargo port in Malta.
We were able to get all the way to Birżebbuġa on foot with a stroller, but we opted for wheels back to Marsaskala. There seems to be so much more to see along the coasts, especially further out on the many peninsulas that we skipped out of convenience. Let us hope that there will be new possibilities to explore the area, maybe during a fifth visit to the island.