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Shopping in Malta


Shopping in Malta is colourful markets with fresh fish; quaint old shops in Valletta's backstreets; and the latest continental fashions in shopping plazas. But more than anything, it is an excuse to stop off at a café and people gaze. Shopping is a cultural window on the Islands too.

You'll find plenty of tempting must-buys to take home. For a taste of the Mediterranean, choose among the many local deli treats from olives and sun-dried tomatoes to fine wines. If you want something to appreciate for longer, try the intricate, filigree silverware or a work from one of the Islands' renowned artists.

Deli Delights

With the Islands drenched with sun nearly all year round, it's not surprising that some of the best buys are products of the climate. Gozitan thyme honey, the rich flavours of sun-dried tomatoes, sun-ripened olives, fresh figs, capers, peppered goats' cheese known as Gbejniet, sugary "helwa", nougat and fine wines. The list is endless. Many visitors love the Maltese snack pastizzi so much that they even buy the frozen variety to cook back home.

For deli treats like olives and Gbniet cheese, you can try any local village shop or supermarket. Specialty shops in the old centres of Cittadella and Victoria, Gozo, and Valletta's covered market between St Paul and Merchant Streets are good options. For nougat try a village festa for the best selection. Decorated carts are piled high with local sweets.

Art & Books

The Maltese Islands with their deep colours and rugged landscape have long inspired artists and sculptors both local and foreign. Many excellent artists work in Malta today. The Centre for Creativity at St James Cavalier, Valletta, often shows their work. Look out for exhibitions held by the Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti, a Maltese heritage foundation. It holds spectacular displays of Maltese art, antiques and artefacts from private and church collections. The Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta, holds regular exhibitions as well.

For a memento, buy a coffee table book or an old maritime print. There are excellent publications which give you a different angle on places you may visit and glimpses of the Malta you may not see. They show the treasures which lie behind the walls of Mdina's palaces and tucked away in Valletta's tiny back streets.

Private galleries are dotted across the Islands, often not in the main centres. The Centre for Creativity, St James Cavalier, Valletta, can help with enquiries on local contemporary artists, as can staff at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Valletta. St James Cavalier, an arts centre in a 16th century fortress, showcases Maltese and foreign art and sculpture in its series of exhibitions. Collections of Melitensia - books and maps on Malta - are best found in Valletta and Sliema bookstores. Look also in the Manoel TheatreBookshop, Old Theatre Street, Valletta.

Crafts & Jewellery

Malta's jewellers have a worldwide reputation for quality and craftsmanship. Craftsmen work in both silver and gold. Choose from intricate filigree broches, bracelets and earrings or classic designs in gold. Traditional handcrafted glass is produced across the Islands. Some factories are open for visits. Check attractions on the interactive map for where they are. Favourite objects include vases and figurines sometimes swirled with Mediterranean-inspired hues of blue. Potteries produce too vast a range of items to describe, but there is something for everyone from practical items for the house to more decorative objects.

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