Photo: © Juan Monino/iStock/Thinkstock
From crumbling castles to ancient forts, all the way to narrow cobbled streets and hidden passageways, Malta is full of picturesque locations in which to sample some of the island’s finest vintages.
Nevertheless, if you were seeking something more quirky or authentic, we’d recommend finding a bar with an added dose of history. Try ancient cellar bars like Del Borgo and Trabuxu, Għargħur’s Cent’Anni, or stunning restaurants such as Rampila (located in an underground tunnel in Valletta). Whether you’re in the mood for a quick drink, wine and nibbles, or an intimate dinner, here are our favourite historic bars in Malta.
With just over 2,500 residents, the quaint village of Għargħur is one of Malta’s oldest settlements, and unsurprisingly, home to some of the oldest bars in Malta. Nestled around the corner in a backstreet just off the main village square, Cent’ Anni is a chilled-out wine bar that specialises in serving Italian cold cuts and local wine. With part of the original décor still intact, including antique furnishings and mosaic floors, this bar is ideal for getting away from the madding crowd and whiling away an evening.
Located within a historic palace in the charming town of Birgu (an area once inhabited by the Knights of St John), Del Borgo definitely classifies as one of Malta’s most romantic bars. Make your way down into the medieval cellar and take your pick from their seasonal Maltese menu that includes regional delicacies such as ravioli stuffed with local goat’s cheese, battered cod fritters, or traditional local bread served alongside fresh tomatoes, capers, olives, onion and olive oil. Of course, don’t forget the wine; there is a good variety from both local and international cellars.
Founded by the admiral of the fleet and former Grand Master of the Knights of the Order of St John, Georgio Carafa, Omerta’ Trattoria & Wine Bar is located in what once served as a 15th century cellar in Valletta. Having gained popularity over the years, the Grand Master’s former residence today serves a great selection of local wine and traditional Mediterranean dishes.
Overlooking the sea and housed within the historic ruins dating back to the Knights of St John, Ferretti represents one of the oldest catering establishments in Malta. Restored to its former glory, this ex-military battery has now become one of the island’s more elegant nightspots offering patrons the opportunity of enjoying a drink al fresco overlooking a moat, or inside into the contemporary cellar. The wine list offers a lavish selection of vintages both from Malta as well as abroad, whereas the kitchen serves an eclectic selection of Mediterranean fare.
Built by the nobles of the 16th century, you’ll find Rampila Restaurant hidden away within the original bastion fortifications of Valletta, in a tunnel dating back to 1570 to be precise. Wander down the narrow stone stairs that lead underground from the street and you’ll find yourself in a cosy domed dining room and bar that’s stacked to the ceiling with fine wines.
Peer down the glass panelling in the floor and take a look at the restaurant’s fine wine cellar that’s been carved straight out of the rock. It’s probably easier just to pick your favourite bottle off the wine list instead, however.
Located at the heart of Malta’s former red-light district, Trabuxu Wine Bar may be found inside a 400-year old historic cellar on Strait Street in Valletta. This popular post-theatre venue serves a selection of local and foreign wines as well as an interesting selection of platters to share. Expect regular wine tastings as well as live music events throughout the month. Nevertheless, despite its lively calendar, it’s safe to say Trabuxu is probably one of the most authentic historic bars in Malta.