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Messina and Valletta recommendations needed

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We have been all over Italy but have never made it to Messina.  Our cruise also goes over to Valletta.  Wondering if anyone who has been to either of these ports can make some suggestions.  These are the only ports I'm troubled by what to do.  We are not ones to take the cruise line excursions.  Prefer small tours or DIY.  And no our roll call has not started any tour sharing yet.

Thanks in advance!

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In Messina, it seems that many people go to the small town of Taormina one way or another.  I have been there on 2 different cruises.  It is a lovely town perched up on the hilltops with great views of the Sea and Mt. Etna.  It also has a Greek Theatre to visit.  It also has a very nice commercial street with shops and restaurants.  You can pretty much view the entire town in 1/2 day. You will need some form of transportation to get there from the ship.  I've seen some references to public buses going there, but it doesn't seem all that easy to do.  The last time, I used the ship's "Taormina On Your Own" where they just drove us there and back and we were on our own while there. I found that easy and worth the money.  The first time I was there, I visited as part of a ship tour that went to Taormina for a couple hours and also drove part of the way up Mt. Etna where lunch was served.  You probably could arrange something similar with a private tour.  I also have seen references to doing a "Godfather Tour" from Messina.  But I personally haven't done that.  But you could look into it.

 

In Valletta, We hired a taxi for 4 hours to drive us to the towns of Mdina and Rabat; saw the Moste Dome; and Presidential Gardens.  We were then dropped off in Valletta where we explored the city on foot (Visit the CoCathedral and Baraka Gardens).  We walked back to the ship.  You might research the Hypogeum on Malta and see if that intrigues you.  It requires advance purchase tickets and they sell out fast.  You would need transportation to get there (taxi or public bus).  While I haven't used them, others on this forum indicate the public bus system is easy to use with a little research.

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I like the idea of "Taormina On Your Own" but Carnival lists this excursion as $70 for adult. Now I know about Euro/dollar exchanges but still isn't this a lot of money for transport per person?  Am I missing something? Perhaps you paid less?

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In Valletta, we did a tour with Amy Pace http://www.guidedtoursmalta.com/. We met Amy during the tour, but it was a busy day and she had an associate (really knowledgeable) lead the tour. It was great - we did a walking tour of Valletta including St. John's Co-Cathedral, then traveled to the Tarxien ruins, Marsaxlokk where we had lunch, the Blue Grotto, and Mdina. Do know that your admission prices to sites such as the cathedral and the Blue Grotto, as well as lunch, are not included in the tour.

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It's a long time ago, but in 2013 in Messina we found a taxi (outside the gates) who transported us (5 passengers) early in the morning to Taormina and he was back in the parking in Taormina in the afternoon (in time for our return in time in the cruise terminal in Messina). We paid on arrival at the cruise terminal (as agreed beforehand) € 162,50 for the 5 of us.  He told a lot on the way to Taormina and back...., but we visited Taormina all by ourselves. 

 

In Malta/Valletta in the same year, the Tourist bus transported us all day (North route) for € 10,= per person. Pity we did not have time to do the South route that same day (included in the € 10,=).  Is just visited their website. Price is now € 20,= for both routes. 

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Posted (edited)

We have been twice to Taormina, vastly preferred the private tour where we visited the small town where Michael,  Corleone was married in the Godfather.  As well as Taormina.   

Can’t help with Valletta as we had friends show us around on the vintage buses.  

Just checked and the hypogeum is already completely booked when we visit in October!  Arghh!

Edited by bennybear

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4 hours ago, bennybear said:

Just checked and the hypogeum is already completely booked when we visit in October!  Arghh!

http://www.maltaexcursion.com/hypogeum_in_malta_150.html         Are you sure it is fully booked? I do not know the reputation of this touroperator, but at first sight visits in the whole month of September and October are still possible. Good luck!

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Thanks Mavip,  I had gone directly to the hypogeum and it is all booked on their site, unless tour operators have prebooked? 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, bennybear said:

Thanks Mavip,  I had gone directly to the hypogeum and it is all booked on their site, unless tour operators have prebooked? 

If I were you I would ask them the availability and check the company before a definite booking.

 

1 hour ago, bennybear said:

Thanks Mavip,  I had gone directly to the hypogeum and it is all booked on their site, unless tour operators have prebooked? 

Did you try this?:http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/hal-saflieni-hypogeum/ and then:  https://booking.heritagemalta.org/    I found this website bij checking Tripadvisor.  If I am not mistaken, you can still book for October. Of course I do not know the date your cruise arrives, because on such a day lots of passengers can have the same idea of visiting this Unesco site.  I wish you good luck, because it is a very interesting site. (Thank you for the tip, it is on my bucket list for a next trip.....).

Edited by MAVIP
October instead of September....

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In Messina, we used CITY SIGHTSEEING MESSINA bus service. 

The bus departure from Messina around 10-10:30 and arrive in Taormina around 11:30.  The same bus will take you back to Messina around 3:30-4.  You will have 3 hours to visit Taormina.  Not a bad option and it only costs $28 per person.

 

https://www.city-sightseeing.it/en/tours-to-taormina-fromlow-cost-transfers/

 

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I would advise you to not to stay in Messina as there's not much to see or do. I agree with everything MeHeartCruising says about Taormina. It really is a lovely little town to spend a few hours in. As we were there on a Sunday there were very few public transport options so we took a ship excursion, Taormina On Your Own.

 

Last year in Valletta we got a taxi from just outside the dock ( there was a line of taxis waiting ) to Mdina, getting there long before the tour buses. It was great to walk around the 'Silent City' before the buses arrived. The narrow streets started to get crowded towards the end of our visit as the bus tours were arriving. I think the taxi cost 20 Euro.

 

We got the local bus back to Valletta from a bus stop just outside the Mdina city gates. St Johns cathedral in Valletta is a must visit location and then enjoy a stroll back to the ship. In my opinion Valletta is the most scenic port in Europe to sail in or out of.

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On 5/16/2019 at 7:14 PM, nybumpkin said:

In Valletta, we did a tour with Amy Pace http://www.guidedtoursmalta.com/. We met Amy during the tour, but it was a busy day and she had an associate (really knowledgeable) lead the tour. It was great - we did a walking tour of Valletta including St. John's Co-Cathedral, then traveled to the Tarxien ruins, Marsaxlokk where we had lunch, the Blue Grotto, and Mdina. Do know that your admission prices to sites such as the cathedral and the Blue Grotto, as well as lunch, are not included in the tour.

We’ve booked a similar tour through Amy for July. She was personally already booked and has connected us with her associate Vincent. Did you like your tour? Anything you suggest to definitely do or skip while there? We’re planning to do her typical greatest hits tour with a substitution of the hypogeum instead of the tarxien temples. Watched the Rick Steves video on YouTube and we’re looking forward to exploring Malta. 

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22 hours ago, suzannecruisecritic said:

We’ve booked a similar tour through Amy for July. She was personally already booked and has connected us with her associate Vincent. Did you like your tour? Anything you suggest to definitely do or skip while there? We’re planning to do her typical greatest hits tour with a substitution of the hypogeum instead of the tarxien temples. Watched the Rick Steves video on YouTube and we’re looking forward to exploring Malta. 

This was a great tour - the Tarxien ruins were good, but from what I've read the Hypogeum is a good substitute. Malta is a really interesting port - if you're cruising, don't miss the sailing in to the port.

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Thanks  everyone for your advice!!  This gives me a good idea of where to start.

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We just returned from our port stop in Valletta, Malta and if you have had any interest in Game Of Thrones I can "HIGHLY" recommend Malta Film Tours with Malcolm a cast member from seasons 1 & 2. We saw more of Malta during our 5+ hours than I thought imaginable. One of the best private tours we've taken ... just AMAZING !!!!!

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We did an Amy Pace tour in Malta. Mdina and Valletta walking tour including St John's Co-Cathedral. The tour was great and less expensive than the ships excursion. We did this tour from our ships roll call.

 

In Messina, we shared a taxi to Taormina. We went as soon as we were cleared to get off the ship. It was a clear day and the views from the Greek Theater of Mt Etna was outstanding. By 11am clouds moved in with almost no view of Mt Etna. So get there early and go to the Greek Theater asap for the best views of Mt Etna. Then do your shopping in Taormina.

 

The church in Messina is worth the short walk from the ship. Unusual astronomic clock is just outside of the church. Messina didn't have much Italian charm tho. The views of mainland Italy and the straights of Messina were really great from the ship.

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