If you’ve decided to take a European cruise with Carnival®, make sure your jam-packed itinerary includes a cruise to Malta. A land of contrasts with a history dating back nearly 7000 years, Malta is situated between Sicily and the North African Coast in the central Mediterranean Sea. Locals and visitors alike know this breathtaking island nation as a cultural melting pot, anchored by its capital city Valletta.
There are so many things to do in Valletta, Malta and, most importantly, there are so many great souvenirs you can shop for! Be sure to include shopping for these top 15 unique and Maltese mementos.
1. Blown Glass
The town of Mdina, located about 30 minutes outside of Valletta, is known for its production of blown glass. Artisans here produce a variety of intricately handmade pieces such as vases, candleholders, picture frames and clocks.
Before you buy a Maltese glass sculpture, take a quick trip to the glass factory so you can observe the detailed, production process in action.
2. Maltese Miniatures
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a 3-D model of your favorite Maltese building is even better. Valletta is known for the art form of creating precision-accurate miniature replicas of its real-life buildings.
From cathedrals to townhouses with balconies on lined streets, artists carefully measure each replica to size, ensuring the accuracy of every detail. Pick one up as a souvenir and you’ll leave with an exact replica of Maltese history.
3. Bus Toy
Until 2011, Malta’s public transportation was an eclectic mix of buses dating back to the 1950s. That year, these vintage, orange vehicles with domed, white tops became an unofficial symbol of the city and memorialized in miniature form.
Today, the city has implemented a new public transit system, yet you can still find these iconic bus toy replicas in shops around Valletta. Bring one home to decorate your home or to give to loved ones.
4. Cactus Liquor
The prickly pear cactus is not native to Malta, but it’s often grown on Maltese farms protect crops from strong winds and intruders.
Local businesses also make a liqueur from the cactus’ fruit that is typically served as a before or after dinner drink. Pick up a bottle in a local Valletta supermarket, and Carnival crew members will store it securely for you until the end of your cruise.
5. Door Knocker
It’s hard to miss the distinctive door knockers adorning the beautiful homes in Valletta. The knockers represent residents’ personalities and are made in popular designs such as dolphins, lions, and elephants, as well as maritime symbols like Neptune’s trident and seahorses.
You can bring back a Maltese door knocker to use as a paperweight, to decorate your living space or to adorn your own door!
6. Filigree Jewelry
Known for its carefully woven, intricate designs, Maltese filigree jewelry is a specialty product across the island nation.
Made from thin strands of gold or silver, filigree jewelry is stunning up close and from a distance. This unique jewelry often tops visitor’s lists of things to buy in Valletta.
7. Knight of Malta Figurine
The Order of the Knights of Saint John ruled Malta during the Middle Ages for over 200 years. During that time, they defended Malta from outside forces and left an important cultural legacy.
Consider bringing home a piece of Maltese history with a Knight of Malta figurine.
Maltese lace commonly bears the Maltese Cross within its designs as a way to distinguish it from other lace designs. Adapted from Italian traditions, lace-making in Malta dates back to the mid-17th century when the Order of the Knights of Saint John ruled the island nation.
Back then, lace was a highly sought-after fashion accessory. Today Maltese artisans continue this traditional type of lace-making called “bizzilla”, and create Maltese lace designs for the masses. Bring back a time-honored Maltese tradition and fashion accessory you’ll treasure (and wear!) for years to come.
9. Limestone Art
Limestone is so abundant in Malta that it’s only natural that artists have found various ways to work with it for thousands of years. Carving stunningly intricate such as statues and decorative objects, Maltese artists have even created larger art forms from limestone like buildings and temple structures.
You can bring home a physical piece of the island and its deep history when you pick up limestone art at any of the gift shops around Valletta.
10. Maltese Cross
Although the Maltese Cross originally represented the Order of the Knights of Saint John, today the Cross is a symbol of the Maltese residents. The four arms of the Cross have a distinctive V-shape at the tips and give the Cross a star-like look.
You’ll find the Cross on an assortment of items from key chains to jewelry and are excellent souvenirs, gifts or mementos for you and your loved ones.
When summer arrives in Malta, the Maltese know they can count on two things: hot weather and nougat. This sweet treat combines sugar and nuts to produce one of the most popular confections created on the island.
Nougat conveniently comes in pre-packaged bars so you can bring it home with you and relive your exquisite Maltese experience in a single bite. Make sure to keep packages unopened and sealed until you reach your home port.
12. Wire Flowers
Step inside any church in the Maltese capital of Valletta and you’ll find exquisite works of Maltese art and flower creations adorning its walls and altars. The flower creations are called ganutell, a traditional Maltese art form of creating flowers out of thin wires and beads.
As you explore Valletta, be on the lookout for artisans or booths showcasing this magnificent craft of ganutell and grab a few pieces to bring back home.
13. Prickly Pear Jam
If you’re exploring Malta near the end of summer, that’s when the Maltese prickly pear cactus bears fruit and ripens enough to eat.
While you’re there, you can taste the freshly-harvested fruit in a Maltese staple, prickly pear jam. Make sure to bring a travel-size jar home, so you can share with your loved ones.
14. Sleeping Lady
The Sleeping Lady of the Hypogeum statue is one of the most recognized works of prehistoric art found on Malta.
Dating back more than 6000 years, the statue features a woman asleep on a couch. Although the original remains in Malta’s Museum of Archaeology, you can find a replica of the impressive statue in gift shops
15. Pottery and Ceramics
Maltese pottery and ceramics have a celebrated history that reflects the different groups of people who have called the island nation home.
Today, local artists still create traditional pieces of pottery like platters, cups and vases. They design these artworks and give them a distinctive Maltese flair by including details inspired by the island’s landscape and patterns from Maltese lace.
When you take a European cruise and make a stop in the historic island nation of Malta, bring your favorite memories back with you in the form of decorated souvenirs. These 15 distinctive items in Valletta, Malta will help you relive your trip for years to come.