Seductive beaches, turquoise water, azure sky, warm weather. Tucked away in the southern Mediterranean Sea, Malta is your perfect summer escape. Plenty of alluring beaches across Malta and its sister islands – Gozo and Comino, make it one of the best beach holiday destinations in Europe. Maltese coast is also famous for stunning underwater caves, shipwrecks and fascinating Marine life. This island country is a paradise for anyone fond of scuba diving and snorkelling.
Malta is steeped in thousands of years of history and home to many prehistoric UNESCO World Heritage sites. Some of them are believed to be older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt. There is so much history to uncover in the Capital city of Valletta, Three Cities, Mdina and Rabat.
From village festivals to delicious Ftira, Salt pans to wineries, Malta has plenty to offer. In this guide, we will cover all the best things to do in Malta, our favourites and tips, potential day trips, as well as recommendation for where to stay, eat, and how to get around – pretty much everything you will need to know to plan your trip to Malta.
🌍Where is Malta
Malta is an island country in the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. This beautiful country lies about 50 miles south of Sicily, an island in southern Italy and about 175 miles east of Libya – a country in the north of Africa.
Malta is formed of three main islands – Malta (not to be confused with the name of this country), Gozo and Comino. The capital city is Valletta.
It is the world’s tenth smallest country. However, this country has always been an important naval base in the Mediterranean due to its strategic location. The Romans, Greeks, Arabs, French and the British have ruled this country in past centuries. During World War II, Malta played a crucial role for the Allied forces and was badly affected when the war ended. This island country became a part of the European Union in 2004.
☀️Best Time to Visit Malta
Malta has a Mediterranean climate with hot and sunny summers, and the winter is not too cold, but sometimes rainy. Malta is truly a year-round travel destination and has an average of 300 sunny days each year. You can enjoy swimming at the beaches from May to October.
🌞 Peak Season: The summer months – June to September, is the high season in Malta. The days are long, hot and dry, with average highs hovering between 30 – 32 degrees. The hot sirocco winds from Africa sometimes make the temperature uncomfortably hot, though the sea breeze cools it down. July is the warmest month on this island. Bear in mind Malta gets super crowded in summer.
🍂 Shoulder Season: Spring (March to May) and autumn (October – November) are the shoulder seasons in this country. Late Spring and Early autumn are probably the best time to visit Malta. The weather stays pleasantly warm and dry, and days are long enough. Also, the water is comfortably warm enough for swimming, snorkelling and diving. Tourist attractions are much less crowded, and hotels are relatively cheap.
🏔️ Low Season: December to February are the low seasons in Malta. Winter here is mild, pleasant and relatively warm from the rest of the European countries, though it rains occasionally. The average temperature remains between 9 – 15 degrees. You can expect about 5 – 6 hours of daylight.
📆How Many Days to Spend in Malta
We would suggest spending at least 3-4 days in Malta. It will give you a nice amount of time to visit the popular tourist attractions, which include stunning beaches, historic cities and archaeological sites.
It is a small island country – On the mainland, you can probably drive from one corner to another in just about an hour.
But if you want to explore the nooks and crannies of this island like a local, you can easily spend a couple of weeks. You won’t get bored. So, it depends on your travel style and how much you want to see and explore.
🇲🇹Best Things to Do in Malta🇲🇹
1. Bask in the Traditional Charm of Malta’s Capital City, Valletta
No visit to Malta is complete without visiting the capital city, Valletta. It is a must-visit tourist attraction in Malta and one of the smallest capital cities in Europe. Founded in the 16th century, Valletta is surrounded by two natural harbours in the Mediterranean Sea.
Explore the bustling squares, charming streets, imposing churches and historic Baroque style buildings with colourful traditional Maltese balconies. No wonder this fortress city was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
🏰Highlights of Valletta: One of the main tourist attractions in Valletta is the magnificent Saint John’s Co-Cathedral (Entrance fee €15 Adult). Built for the Knights of St John, this 16th-century cathedral’s interior is very ornate and beautifully decorated. It also houses priceless paintings by Italian painter Caravaggio.
Just a few minutes walk from the cathedral stands the National Museum of Archaeology. It contains an impressive collection of prehistoric artefacts of Malta (Entrance fee €5 Adult). Some of this museum’s famous displays are – the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Hagar Qim Temples and the ‘Sleeping Lady’ from Hal Saflieni Hypogeum.
For one of the most spectacular views of Malta, visit the beautiful Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens. From the high terrace, watch the gunfire ceremony – it happens twice a day at 12 pm and 4 pm.
⚡Other things to do: Step inside the grand Casa Rocca Piccola (Entrance fee €9 Adult) to experience the life of a Maltese aristocrat in the 16th century.
With a few minutes walk from the palace, you will find the National War Museum (Entrance €10 Adult) inside the historic Fort St Elmo. Here you will see the war artefacts and learn about Maltese military history. Also, from the fort, you will get an excellent panoramic view of the sea.
Visit the Grandmaster’s Palace (Entrance fee: adult €8) – a grand historic attraction of Valletta. Admire its lavish state rooms, beautiful tapestry chambers and armour collection.
After that, take a stroll through the vibrant Valletta Waterfront. You will find many restaurants and bar along the historic promenade.
💎Some Hidden gems of Valletta: Watch a performance or tour the beautiful interior of the Manoel Theatre, one of the oldest working theatres in Europe. Entrance fee: €5 per person.
Take a look inside the Is-Suq tal-Belt- Valletta Food Market. From fresh vegetables to street foods, local favourites to international cuisines – there’s something for everyone in this market.
Used as a British war headquarter of Malta during the Second World War, Lascaris War Rooms later transformed into a museum. Entrance fee: Adult €12, Children €5.
🚂Where to go next: Take a scenic boat ride to visit the nearby Three Cities. Spend half a day wandering around the peaceful streets of Birgu. Next, take a day trip to Rabat and Mdina. Also, the incredibly beautiful Blue lagoon on the island of Comino is a must-visit.
🍔Best places to eat in Valletta: Enjoy breakfast or a quick lunch at the historic Caffe Cordina near the st. John’s Co-Cathedral. Visit Nenu the Artisan Baker, one of the best places in Valletta to taste some delicious traditional Maltese cuisine. For some fresh Mediterranean dishes, pop into Palazzo Preca Restaurant. Dine-in Pastaus or Trattoria Romana Zero Sei for some of the best Italian foods in the city.
🚗How to reach: Malta International Airport is just 5 miles away from Valletta. Catch the bus service X4 from the airport to get to Valletta. The bus is frequent, and it costs only €2 per person.
Valletta is the main public transportation hub of the island and is well connected to other Maltese cities and towns by bus.
2. Enjoy the Tropical Paradise, Blue Lagoon at Comino
Comino is a small Maltese island located between Malta and Gozo. Famous for rugged coastline, translucent turquoise water, Blue Lagoon and amazing sea caves, no visit to Malta would be complete without coming to Comino. This small island is about 16 miles long and 9 miles wide and has very few permanent residents. There is only one hotel on this island at San Niklaw Bay if you fancy having a romantic peaceful gateway. Comino is easily accessible by public transport from Malta and Gozo. Also, there are many private boat tour operators that will take you to Comino.
⛱️Blue Lagoon: Located on the west coast of Comino, Blue Lagoon is a tropical dream for sunbathers and swimmers. The water is calm and crystal clear – a beach lover’s paradise in the middle of the Mediterranean to soak up the sun and relax. There are a couple of food trucks selling light bites, ice cream, beer, cocktails (in pineapple) near the Blue Lagoon. You will find a water party vibe here, especially in summer.
💡Best Tips: Blue Lagoon gets super crowded in summer. So, if would like to have a nice little towel spot on the beach, come early. Though there are light bites and drinks available on this island, we would recommend carrying some food with you if are spending a whole day in Comino.
🏖️Other beaches in Comino: Not too far from the Blue Lagoon, there is another nice swimming spot called the Crystal Lagoon. If you are into cliff jumping, this place is the perfect spot for you but be sure about the depth of the water. Crystal Lagoon is great for snorkelling as well, the water being clear and not too deep. So, don’t forget to bring your snorkelling gear. If you want to avoid the crowd in Blue Lagoon, head towards San Niklaw Bay and Santa Maria Bay – they are far quieter than Blue Lagoon.
🌳Hiking in Comino: Once you get out of the water, give some time to explore this beautiful island. There is a hiking loop starting from the Blue Lagoon and it takes about 2.5 – 3 hours to complete. On your way, you would come across Saint Mary’s Tower, a former watchtower built in the 1600s. From there, you would get to admire the seductive stretch of the jagged coast against the turquoise Mediterranean water.
🚌How to Reach by public transport: From Valletta Bus Terminus, catch bus service 41 or 42 to Ċirkewwa. It would take about 1 hour 15 minutes. If you are staying in Sliema, catch bus service 222 to reach Ċirkewwa ferry terminal. From there, you would find ferry services running regularly to Comino. The journey time is about 30 minutes.
Ferry Ticket Price: Round trip, adult 13 €, child 7 €.
3. Uncover Mdina's Unique Past
A day trip to the ancient walled city of Mdina is a must for anyone visiting Malta. This fortified city was once the capital of this country. Sitting proudly atop a hill, Mdina is steep in so much history. This city is filled with many medieval buildings, narrow maze-like streets, imposing churches and beautiful squares. Also, from here, you will get a magnificent view out to Malta and the Mediterranean Sea. Other than the residents, no outside car is permitted inside the city walls.
Also, wander around Mdina in the evening when all the visitors are gone – you would realise why it’s known as “the silent city”.
🌸Things to do in Mdina: One of the first things you will notice while heading toward Mdina is its magnificent city walls. These ancient walls have withstood many attacks and sieges and were rebuilt multiple times throughout history.
When entering the city, admire the beautiful baroque architecture of the Mdina Gate. It was featured in the popular TV series Game of Thrones as one of the gates of the fictional Kings Landing.
The best way to explore Mdina is by getting lost in its winding streets. They are too photogenic and would take you back in time.
Located at the heart of Mdina, you will find the Mdina Cathedral (Entrance fees €10 adult) – also known as St Paul’s Cathedral. Visit the museum as well adjacent to the cathedral.
💡Other attractions: Don’t miss the lovely panoramic view from the Bastion Square viewpoint. There are several museums around Mdina – Palazzo Falson, The National Museum of Natural History and Tales of the Silent City.
🍲Places to eat nearby: Near bastion square, you will find Fontanella Tea Garden. Grab a seat at their upper terrace to enjoy the stunning view over Malta. They serve a great selection of tasty cakes. Also, Coogi’s Restaurant & Tea Garden is a good choice for lunch if fancy having some delicious Italian food.
🌺Where to next: After exploring Mdina, visit the nearby town of Rabat. Also, not very far from Mdina is the Buskett Garden – a woodland area with many walking trails. Dingli Cliffs – the highest point of the island and the Blue Grotto, an impressive natural landmark of Malta are also nearby attractions.
🚌How to reach: Frequent local bus services depart from Valletta Bus Station to Mdina – bus 50, 51, 53. It takes around 25 minutes to get to Mdina.
🚗By car: The drive to Mdina will take around 15-20 minutes from Valletta.
4. Admire the Natural Landmark of Malta, Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is one of Malta’s most iconic natural landmarks and a must-visit tourist attraction on this island. Located at the rugged southern coast of Malta, the Blue Grotto is a network of seven magnificent sea caves, accessible only by a boat ride.
⛵Boat Trip: Hop on the small Maltese fishing boat to see the beautiful sea caves up and close. The boat runs all year round, depending on the weather conditions. You have to pay at the ticket counter near the pier. There is no fixed schedule – boats leave when they are full. The trip takes around 25 minutes.
During the boat trip, you will see the picturesque sea caves and a gigantic natural arch. Your skipper will show you the Honeymoon Cave, Cat’s Cave, Reflection Cave and will tell you the story behind their names. The clarity and the stunning colour of the sea are mind-blowing.
Although the sea was a bit rough on the day of our visit, we enjoyed the boat ride very much from start to finish.
Boat operating hour: Summer 9 am – 5 pm. Winter 9 am – 3.30 pm.
Price: Adult €8, child €4.
💡Top Tips: The best times to visit the caves are from early in the morning to around one o’clock in the afternoon. You will see the most magical shades of different colours reflecting the underwater flora. Also, you will beat the crowd, as it gets super busy in summer.
⛱️Other Things to do: Other than the boat trip, this area is also famous for swimming, diving and snorkelling. You can take a dip into the crystal clear water beside the boat area. Divers can enjoy exploring the Um El Faroud wreck underwater.
⛰️Best Viewpoint: For the most spectacular view of the Blue Grotto and the surrounding landscape, visit the viewpoint located next to the Panorama bus stop. There is also a car park beside the viewpoint. Stop there before going to the village for the boat ride.
Admire the massive natural arch over the Grotto and the pristine water from here. It is a superb spot to watch the sunset as well.
🍔Where to eat: There are quite a few restaurants in the Wied iz-Zurrieq village. Enjoy a delicious lunch with breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline. Head into Il Corsaro, La Cucina di Bettina by Bologna, Alka, Coast @ Cassarini Restaurant to sample some delicious Maltese food. You can also visit Jack’s Eat House- 5 minutes drive from the Blue Grotto.
🌳Nearby attractions: Just a few minutes drive from the Blue Grotto is the prehistoric Hagar Qim Temples.
🚌How to reach: To reach the Blue Grotto from Valletta, board bus 74 from the Valletta Bus Terminus. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the ‘Panorama’ bus stop. From Panorama, walk 10 minutes downhill to the village of Blue Grotto. If you are coming from Malta Airport or Rabat, then catch the hourly 201 bus to the ‘Grotto’ bus stop. 201 is the only bus that takes you directly to the village.
🚗By Car– Approximate time and distance from different parts of Malta- From Malta Airport 15 min/ 7 km
From Valletta 25 min/ 15 km
From Mdina 20 min/ 10.7 km
5. Enjoy Romantic Strolls in the Three Cities
The Three Cities is a must-see place on a day trip from Valletta. It was the first home to the Knights of St. John, who played a crucial role in the history of Malta. The Three Cities are formed of- Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea and Cospicua. Among them, Birgu is the oldest and the most popular one. Some of the churches and forts of Three Cities are even older than Valletta’s.
⛵Boat ride: The most scenic and enjoyable way to reach the Three Cities is by the gondola-style traditional Maltese boat from Valletta.
Use the elevator at Upper Barrakka Gardens to reach the Valletta Waterfront. You can find the gondolas leaving from here. It costs only €2 per person.
⚡Highlights: The best way to get around the Three Cities is by foot. Explore its many winding backstreets, historic forts, beautiful churches and museums.
Start your trip with a visit to St Angelo Fort (Entrance fee: adult €10) in Birgu. It’s one of the oldest fortifications of Malta. Here you will learn about the fascinating military history of the fort. Also, you will get an excellent view out to Valletta and the Grand Harbour from here.
Next, visit the Malta Maritime Museum (Entrance fee: adult €5), a great place to learn about the maritime achievements of Malta. It houses an astounding collection of over twenty thousand different artefacts.
You will find the historic Inquisitor’s Palace (Entrance fees: adult €6) – just a few minutes walk from the museum. It once served as the home of the inquisitors, as well as a courthouse and prison. The palace also houses the National Museum of Ethnography.
🌳Other things to do:
- Take a look inside the Collegiate Church of Saint Lawrence in Birgu.
- Visit the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Cospicua
- Admire the Valletta skyline and harbour from the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea.
🍔Places to eat Nearby: Eat some fresh seafood at Enchanté Restaurant at Senglea, near the marina. For a quick lunch or perhaps some coffee, visit Cafe Riche in Birgu. Grab a seat into their beautifully decorated courtyard.
⛵How to reach: You can easily reach the Three Cities by bus or ferry from Valletta. Bus services 1, 2, 3, 4 or 213- takes around 25 minutes from Valletta to reach the Three Cities. Alternatively, you can catch a public ferry service from the Valletta Waterfront. Ferry services run frequently and cost only €2.80 per person return. Otherwise, catch a traditional boat to reach here.
6. Uncover Thousands of Years of History at the Hagar Qim Temples
Perched on a dramatic clifftop at the southern coast of Malta overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the Hagar Qim temples are one of the best-preserved prehistoric temple complexes in the country. Believed to be 1000 years older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt, these temples were built between 3600 BC and 3200 BC.
In 1990, the Hagar Qim Temples got added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These architectural marvels are a must-visit place for all history lovers visiting Malta.
🌺About the temples: Archaeologists believed that these temples were used as a place of worship and evidence suggests that it might be linked to fertility. Very little is known about why, how or who built these Megalithic temples over 5000 years ago.
You will find a calendar stone here with drilled holes – believed to be aligned with the moon’s phases. Therefore the site was probably used as a prehistoric astronomical observation centre.
🌳What to see: At the visitor centre, you will find a small museum showing some of the excavated artefacts. Watch the 4D show before visiting the temples.
Hagar Qim is the first temple you will visit. The Mnajdra temple is a few minutes downhill walk from Hagar Qim. The temples are divided into a series of semi-circular chambers connected by a passage.
The statues, ‘Venus de Malta’ and ‘fat lady’ were found there. They are currently on display at the National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta.
In spring or autumnal equinoxes, the sunlight passes through the main doorway of the Mnajdra Temple due to its astronomical alignment.
🌼Other things to do: After visiting the temples, follow the waymarked nature trails to the 17th-century watchtower. From there you will get an excellent view of the sea and the small islet of Fifla. Don’t miss to visit the nearby Blue Grotto. You can easily combine them both on a day trip.
💡Tip: If you are not comfortable walking from Hagar Qim to Mnajdra temple, you can hire a golf cart to take you here at an extra cost.
🌻Other prehistoric sites in Malta: There are several ancient prehistoric sites in Malta spread throughout the island. Add some of them to your Malta itinerary. Here are some of the other prehistoric sites:
- Ggantija Temples – Located on the island of Gozo, Ggantija Temples are the oldest of the Megalithic temples in Malta. It is even older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids.
- Hal Saflieni Hypogeum – An ancient underground burial site located in Paola. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Tarxien Temples
- Ghar Dalam Cave
⏰Opening Hours: Winter Months, October – March Mon-Sun 9 am- 5 pm.
Summer Months, April – September Mon-Sun 9 am – 6 pm.
💰Entrance Fees: Adults €10, Children €5.50
🚌How to reach: It is easy to get to Hagar Qim Temples by public transport. From Valletta, catch the direct bus 74. The Visitor Centre is a few minutes walk from the Hagar bus stop.
If you are coming from Malta Airport, board the 201 bus. It takes only 18 minutes to reach Hagar Qim.
🚗Car – The drive from Valletta takes around 25 minutes.
7. Lose Yourself in Rabat
Just a few minutes walk from Mdina lies another must-see place in Malta – the town of Rabat. It offers a glimpse of Maltese suburban life, away from the hustle-bustle of Mdina. You will find historic churches, catacombs and museums here.
Take a ramble around the streets of Rabat. Some of the scenes from Steven Spielberg’s movie, Munich, were filmed here.
🌻Things to do in Rabat: One of the main attractions of Rabat is the St Paul’s Catacombs (Entrance fees €6 adult) – an ancient underground burial site used by the Romans. The complex has over 30 hypogea, meaning an underground tomb. The small museum adjacent to the catacombs displays many artefacts.
To know more about Roman history in Malta, visit the Domus Romana Museum (Entrance fees €6 adult) – one of the oldest museums in Malta. Located between Rabat and Mdina, it used to be a townhouse for Roman aristocrats. Other than the ruined house, you will see the original mosaics and statues at the museum.
Next, visit the St. Paul’s Church and Grotto (Entrance fees €5 adult), an important religious site of Malta. It is believed that St Paul stayed here in 60 AD after a shipwreck brought him to Malta. Also, visit the air-raid shelters used during the Second World War and Wignacourt Museum inside the complex.
🌹Other nearby attractions: Just outside the city of Mdina, you will get to see Howard Gardens. The park is a great spot for a peaceful stroll and provides a nice view of the city walls. Also, you can visit Buskett Gardens, located on the outskirts of Rabat. It is one of the largest green spaces in Malta. The Dingli cliffs are not too far from the garden.
🍔Places to eat in Rabat: Pop into the famous Crystal Palace near the Domus Romana in Rabat, and try out their delicious pastizzi – a traditional Maltese street food. This flaky pastry comes with ricotta, peas, chicken and anchovies fillings.
🚌How to reach: Bus 50, 51, 53 from Valletta to Saqqajja Bus Station in Rabat.
8. Discover the Salt Pans of Xwejni
Close to the small seaside town of Marsalforn on the northern coast of Gozo, you will find these beautiful rock-cut Salt Pans. Stretched across around three kilometres along the Xwejni Bay, these salt pans are believed to be over 350 years old. The mirror-like reflection on the salt pans and the nearby dramatic limestone cliffs make it one of the most photogenic places in Malta. There are approximately 300 salt pans in this area, harvested by three local families of salt farmers. You can buy this salt from the Gozo marketplace – a great choice for souvenirs to take back home from your trip to Malta.
🌴A bit of History: The tradition of salt harvesting in Gozo is quite ancient and changed very little over the past centuries. It started with the Phoenicians and later thrived during Roman times.
Nowadays, the harvesting season starts in April and continues throughout the summer. If you are visiting during this period, you will see the local salt-pan owners scraping the salts from the boxes. The process of evaporating seawater to create natural sea salt is largely dependent on the sunny hot weather and wind.
🚌How to reach: The direct bus 310 runs every 45- minutes from Victoria to Xwejni. The journey time is about 17 minutes. You have to walk along the coast for around 9-10 minutes to get to the Salt Pans.
🚗By car– It is just about 11 minutes drive from Victoria.
9. Admire the Picturesque Views from Dingli Cliffs
For the most stunning view over the Mediterranean sea, visit the Dingli Cliffs – the highest point of Malta. The 250m high cliffs stretch more than 2 km from Bahrija to the Mungar area. It is one of the best places in Malta to watch the sunset. Rabat and Mdina are not too far from here. So, you can easily combine them all on a day trip.
⛰️Best Viewpoints: Nestled over the Dingli cliffs, you will find the 17th century Maltese chapel of St Mary Magdalene. The lovely small chapel marks the highest point of Malta. Soak in the breathtaking panoramic view over the Mediterranean Sea to the tiny uninhabited island of Filfa from the viewing platform of the chapel. You can also enjoy a scenic hike along the cliffs. Keen walkers can walk the 11.2km long trail from Dingli to Zurrieq. If you are hiking along the cliffs, carry plenty of water and food with you – there are not many shops available here.
🌺Nearby Attractions: If you are here, don’t miss visiting the Blue Grotto, an iconic natural landmark of Malta. Also, not far from the cliff is the Buskett Garden – the only woodland area in Malta. It is a perfect place for a peaceful walk or perhaps a picnic in the gardens. Also, you will see a great view of nearby Verdala Palace – the official summer home of the President of Malta. This palace got featured in the Game of Thrones TV series. With just a few minutes drive from the cliffs, you will find the prehistoric Clapham Junction cart ruts.
🍔Places to eat Nearby: Try some tasty local cuisine in the Diar Il Bniet restaurant at the Dingli village. For lunch with a sea view, visit the nearby The Cliffs restaurant.
🚌How to reach: Ride the hourly bus 201 from Malta Airport or Rabat. It takes only 12 minutes from Rabat and Mdina. The bus gives a few stops along the cliffs.
If you are coming from Valletta, catch bus service 52 and 56 to Dingli village. From there, the cliffs are around 10 minutes walk.
🚗Car: It takes around 25 minutes to drive from Valletta and approx 9 minutes from Rabat.
10. Soak up the Sun on the Beaches of Malta
Being an island country in the Mediterranean, Malta is blessed with some stunning beaches. Plus, the weather being very warm and dry in summer, this country is a sunseeker’s paradise. Here are some of the incredibly beautiful beaches in Malta mainland and its sister islands, Gozo and Comino.
⛵Blue Lagoon: Blue Lagoon is your perfect beach escape in Malta. If you are to visit only one beach in this island country, the Blue Lagoon is the one. Located on the island of Comino, Blue Lagoon is a firm favourite with swimmers for its calm and crystal-clear turquoise water. In summer, this place gets super busy with sun-seekers – you would find it hard to get a nice little towel spot on the beach. You will have to take a ferry or private boat tour from the mainland or Gozo to come here.
🐚Golden Bay: As the name suggests, this beach is famous for its lovely golden sands. Located on the northwest coast of the Malta Mainland, Golden Bay is a perfect place for sunbathing and a beach day out with family. It has all the amenities – sun lounges, umbrellas, ice cream shops, bars. Golden Bay is a popular spot for barbecuing, especially at weekends. There are good bus services to this beach from Valletta, Sliema, St Julian’s, where most of the tourists stay in Malta.
🏖️Ghajn Tuffieha: Not too far from the Golden Bay, lies another stunning beach called Ghajn Tuffieha. Away from any high-rise buildings, It’s one of the beautiful blue-flag certified beaches in Malta. Getting to this red sand beach will require walking down the long flight of steps from the road. Ghajn Tuffieha is one of the best spots in Malta to watch the sunset in the Med. There is a kiosk on the beach that rents sun lounges.
⛱️Mellieha Bay: Mellieha Bay, also known as Ghadira Bay, is one of the most popular beaches in Malta. Located on the north coast of Malta, Mellieha Bay is a suntrap of sweeping sandy stretch. Easily accessible by public transport, this family-friendly beach has all the facilities. It’s the largest blue flag certified beach in the country.
🌴St Peter’s Pool: If you are looking for a scenic quieter beach day – away from the crowded beaches, head towards St Peter’s Pool. Nestled on the east coast near Marsaxlokk, It’s an excellent natural rockpool.
St Peter’s Pool doesn’t have much sand, and the bottom of the water is quite rocky. So, bring water shoes. This place is quite popular for cliff jumping and snorkelling. There is no proper public transport to St Peter’s Pool. You will have to walk about half an hour from the nearest bus stop unless you come here by car or taxi.
🌞Ramla Bay: Located on the northern coast of Gozo, Ramla Bay is a slice of heaven with a beautiful red sandy beach. Dip in the crystal-clear water or simply lie on the beach to soak up the sun. There are regular bus services to Ramla Bay from Victoria, the main centre in Gozo.
💡Insider Tip: Visit the nearby Calypso’s Cave for a wonderful panoramic view of Ramla Bay. Legend has it this cave was mentioned in The Odyssey by Homer, and this is where Odysseus was kept as a ‘prisoner of love’ for seven years.
11. Visit the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo
Located in the northwest of Gozo, The Basilica of Ta’ Pinu is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Malta. This gorgeous architectural structure sits between the villages of Gharb and Ghammar. Although the exact origin of the church is unknown, the first mention of this historical site dates back to the 16th century. Some believe many miracles happened in this church.
As the story goes, a local woman from the nearby village heard the divine voice in the late 19th century. After the incident, the church gained massive popularity with the locals and visitors alike.
Admission to the church is free. Admire the beautifully decorated mosaics outside the church. Also, the surrounding scenery is absolutely gorgeous.
🌹Hike Ta’ Għammar Hill: Just to the opposite of the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu, you will find a winding path going up a nearby small but steep hill. It is known as the Ta’ Għammar Hill. There are 14 different marble statues along the path – they depict scenes from the Stations of the Cross.
At the top, you will be greeted with a majestic coastal view of the sister islands of Malta, Gozo and the blue Mediterranean Sea. Also, the Ta’ Pinu sanctuary in the backdrop looks stunning.
🚌How to reach: From the Victoria Bus Terminal, catch the direct bus service 308. The Journey takes only 13 minutes, and the bus stops next to the Basilica. Alternatively, you can take bus services 311 and 312, but you will have to walk about 12 minutes to get to Ta’ Pinu.
🚗Car– The drive from Victoria takes around 10 minutes.
12. Indulge in a Foodie Break in Malta
You can’t leave Malta without tasting some authentic Maltese dishes. Malta being close to southern Italy, Maltese Cuisine has a strong Italian influence. Ftira, a local flattened sourdough bread, appears on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. Rabbit Stew is considered the national dish in Malta. Malta is famous for fresh seafood as well. Here are some of the must-try Maltese dishes:
🥖Hobz biz-zejt: Malta has a long history of bread making, and it’s a staple part of the local cuisine. Maltese Bread is a crusty sourdough bread made in a wooden oven. To appreciate a proper taste of it, try out hobz biz-zeit (meaning bread with oil). The slice of bread is rubbed with sweet tomato paste (kunserva) and topped with a bit of olive oil, tuna, capers, onions and cheese.
🍕Gozitan Ftira: You will have to take a bite of Gozitan Ftira – a traditional Maltese dish originating from the Gozo island. It looks like a pizza, and the usual toppings are thin-sliced potatoes, anchovies, ricotta. We visited Nenu The Artisan Baker, located at the heart of Valletta – they are very popular with locals and tourists for serving the authentic Ftira. It was very delicious – we would definitely recommend a visit.
🥪Pastizzi: Pastizzi is popular street food in Malta. It’s a diamond-shaped flaky pastry with mashed peas or ricotta fillings. Some pastizzeria (shops that sell Pastizzi) also use chicken, anchovies, apples as filling. A popular snack at any time of the day, Pastizzi is a common item on the menu in many pubs and cafes in Malta. Recommended Place to try Pastizzi: Crystal Palace Tea and Coffee Bar near Rabat.
🍗Rabbit Stew: Rabbit Stew (Stuffat tal-Fenek) is considered a national dish of Malta. It’s a tomato-based slow-cooked stew and includes vegetables – such as tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. Rabbit Stew is widely served as a main dish in fenkata (Rabbit Night). Most of the traditional Maltese restaurants would serve Rabbit Stew. Recommended Restaurants: Ta’ Kris in Sliema, Nenu The Artisan Baker in Valletta, Castelletti Restaurant in Rabat.
🥧Lampuki Pie: Lampuki is the Maltese name for mahi-mahi fish. The fishing season for Lampuki starts in mid-August and lasts till the end of December. Lampuki Pie is a favourite dish among the Maltese. Alongside the fish, seasonal vegetables are also used to make the pie. Most of the seafood restaurants in Malta serves Lampuki Pie.
Other popular Maltese dishes include Timpana (baked macaroni in pastry), Bigilla (Bean Paste), Octopus Stew, Aljotta(fish soup), Imqaret (Date Cake). If you are a beer lover, try out Cisk – an award-winning local lager.
13. Fall in Love with Popeye Village
Located in a coastal inlet on Anchor Bay, the Popeye Village is an amusement theme park and one of the best family-friendly fun things to do in Malta. This village was originally built for the set of 1980 Disney musical movie, Popeye, starring Robin Williams as the fictional character – Popeye the Sailor Man. Today, this 40-year-old film set is a tourist attraction for its picturesque setting.
Once you step inside Popeye Village, you would be greeted by the costumed characters from the movie. Watch the short documentary at the theatre to learn about the making of this movie set. Also, several choreographed dance performances happen throughout the day. Kids will enjoy the puppet show, paddling pool and crazy golf. There are a couple of restaurants inside the village where you can grab a bite to eat. Also, you can swim and chill out at the beach nearby.
🌴Best Viewpoint: Walk along the cliffs to the opposite side of Popeye village across Anchor Bay. That’s a popular spot to click your perfect selfies for Instagram.
Take in the stunning view of the village and the turquoise, clear water of the bay. This viewpoint is super easy to find.
⏰Opening Hours: Winter 10.30 am – 4.30 pm. Summer 10 am – 6 pm.
💰Entrance fees: Summer, adult € 18, children €14. Winter, adult € 15, children € 12.50.
🚌How to reach: Catch the 101 local bus service from Mellieha centre to Popeye bus stop. Mellieha is well connected to other cities of Malta.
14. Explore the Upper and Lower Barrakka Garden
Earlier in this article, we wrote about Valletta and touched upon this must-see visitor attraction. While most of the popular attractions there are paid ones, Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens are completely free to explore and offer a stunning view over Grand Harbour and the Three Cities across the blue Mediterranean water. So, we thought of making a separate point about it.
🌻Upper Barrakka Gardens: Located on the southeast coast of Valletta, Upper Barrakka Gardens was built in the 1600s by the Italian Knights for recreational purposes. Opened to the public in the early 19th century, this colonnaded garden is one of the popular free visitor attractions today in Malta.
Upper Barrakka Gardens is an excellent spot to watch the famous Gun Salute that takes place at 12 pm and 4 pm every day from Saluting Battery, which lies directly below the gardens. This saluting battery is one of the oldest operating ceremonial cannons in the world.
Also, watch out for the replica of ‘Les Gavroches‘ by Antonio Sciortino – a famous Maltese artist who built this bronze sculpture in 1904 after drawing inspiration from Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Miserables. There are plenty of other commemorative plaques and monuments in the garden for history lovers.
This garden is open from 7 am to 10 pm. It’s quite easy to find. If you are coming from Grand Harbour, take Upper Barrakka Lift to reach here.
🌷Lower Barrakka Gardens: Not too far from Upper Barrakka Gardens, lies its sister garden – Lower Barrakka Gardens. It’s quieter than the Upper one and is a great peaceful place to watch the cruise ships coming and leaving the Grand Harbour. Also, explore the neoclassical monument to Sir Alexandar Ball – the first civil commissioner of Malta. This temple-style monument has a small fountain in front of it. There are plenty of benches as well to sit and relax and take in the view.
15. Go Underwater Diving in Malta
Malta is a great diving destination for its clear, warm Mediterranean water and magnificent marine life. There are many shipwrecks lying on the seabed off the Maltese coast. This country has been voted one of the top diving destinations in the world time and time again. Here’s a list of top diving spots in Malta.
🐙The Blue Hole: The Blue Hole in Gozo island is a firm favourite among the scuba divers and snorkellers. It’s a natural rock formation having a resemblance to an upright tube. A beautiful 10-metre underwater archway links it to the Mediterranean Sea. Explore the coral gardens where you will come across shoals of marine species that include damselfish, wrasses. Also, you will find large boulders from the fallen-off remains of the famous Azure Window that collapsed in 2017 in a heavy storm.
🦈Um El Faroud: Considered one of the top wreck dives in the Maltese islands, she was a 10,000-tonne oil tanker. After an explosion in 1995, this 115-metre long tanker was scuttled at Wied il-Qrendi, to the southwest coast of Malta. It sits on the sandy seabed – the bottom of the wreck is about 36 metres deep. This is an excellent artificial reef to explore the marine life and the ruins of the tanker.
🐟Inland Sea Tunnel: Located in Dwejra to the west coast of Gozo, Inland Sea Tunnel is one of the most popular scuba diving sites in Malta. It’s a natural semi-circular lagoon connected to the sea by an 80-metre long tunnel. It offers stunning lighting effects and fantastic marine life – a diving paradise.
🐠Santa Maria Caves: Santa Maria Caves in Comino is a popular spot for all levels of diving skills, the water being not too deep. Santa Maria Caves consist of about ten caves. Some of them have lovely underwater tunnels offering plenty of fascinating marine life, including swarming sea breams.
There are plenty of other diving sites in Malta. You can also do PADI certifications here.
16. Take a Wander Around Victoria in Gozo
The second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago, Gozo is much quieter than mainland Malta and home to excellent coastal scenery and beaches. The island’s capital city is Victoria – the main transportation hub and the largest city. The name of the city was changed from Rabat to Victoria by the British in the 19th century. But some locals still call this city – Rabat. Today Victoria is a vibrant city with many restaurants and shops. The historic Citadel dominates the skyline of this city. We will recommend spending at least a couple of days in Gozo.
🌻Things to do in Victoria: The main tourist attraction in Victoria is the Citadel, a magnificent fortified town. From the Victoria Bus Station, it takes around 10-12 minutes to climb the top of the Citadel. The beautiful panoramic view of Victoria and the countryside of Gozo is well worth the walk.
Inside the city, you will find the historic Cathedral of the Assumption. Take a wander around the maze-like narrow streets and the city walls. There is an abundance of museums inside the complex, such as the Museum of Archaeology, Cathedral Museum, the Folklore Museum and the Nature Museum. Although you are free to explore the Citadel, you have to buy tickets to enter the museums.
🍔Places to Eat Nearby: For some fresh food, pop into Maldonado Bistro Gozo. Try Mojo’s delicious salad and burgers for lunch.
🚌How to reach Victoria: To get here from mainland Malta, you need to catch a ferry from Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal. There are bus connections from major cities and towns of Malta to Cirkewwa. The Gozo ferry takes around 25 minutes to reach Mgarr. From there you can catch regular bus services to Victoria.
17. Be Captivated by Charming Marsaxlokk
Set on the southern coast of Malta, Marsaxlokk is a picturesque traditional fishing village famous for its lively waterfront and colourful luzzu boats. Visiting Marsaxlokk is one of the best things to do on a day trip to this island nation. Take a wander around the lively harbour to watch the busy local fisherman preparing to leave for the sea.
🐟Things to see in Marsaxlokk: If you are visiting here on Sunday, look around the famous fish market – It’s very popular with both the tourists and locals. In this open market, you will get everything – from fresh fish to souvenirs. There are many restaurants dotted along the waterfront serving fresh seafood. Pop inside and have a delicious lunch by the water. Visit the Marsaxlokk Parish Church – dedicated to Our Lady of Pompeii.
Later, take a boat trip from the harbour to the nearby St. Peter’s Pool – a beautiful natural pool famous for its clear blue water. If you are up for it, try cliff-jumping into the water. You can also walk or drive from Marsaxlokk to get here.
🚌How to reach Marsaxlokk: From Valletta, catch the bus services 81 and 85 to reach here. Journey time is about 30 minutes. If you are coming from the Airport, catch the hourly bus 119.
18. Embark on a Malta Winery Tour
Malta is one of the smallest wine-producing countries in the world. Mediterranean warm climate, sea breeze and suitable soil properties add up to an ideal combination for winemaking in Malta. Though the production of wine dates back to more than 2000 years ago, palate-pleasing winemaking started in Malta about 100 years ago.
Alongside famous international grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, local indigenous grapes, like Gellewza and Girgentina, are also used for winemaking. Today, a wine festival takes place in Malta every year in September.
🍷Winery Tour: Visiting a winery is one of the unique things to do in Malta. Book a cellar tour in Marsovin Winery, located not too far from Valletta. Founded in 1919, Marsovin is a household name in Malta and one of the largest wine producers in the country. In their cellar tour, you will hear some fascinating facts and history about Maltese wine. At the end of the tour, you will get to taste three different wines with a delicious platter of nibbles.
If you are staying in Gozo, make sure you pay a visit to Tal-Massar Winery which overlooks the beautiful Gharb Valley. The panoramic view from the winery is simply amazing. Tal-Massar is a family-run winery, and the hosts have wealth of knowledge in winemaking. The tour includes tasting four different wines produced in their winery with fantastic local food pairing.
Ta Mena Estate, Meridiana Wine Estate and Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker are also recommended for winery tours.
19. Explore Sliema
Sliema is Malta’s famous coastal resort town and a commercial hub. This bustling town has plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and hotels lined along its promenade. Also, it is a great base to explore the island and just a ferry ride away from the capital city.
🌺Things to do in Sliema: Stroll along the Victorian seaside promenade of Sliema. It stretches for around 5 kilometres around the peninsula, all the way up to St. Julian. Soak in the charming view of the Valletta skyline dominated by St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Cat lovers will love visiting the small Gnien Indipendenza park – home of many stray cats.
Although there is no sandy beach in Sliema, there are designated swimming areas beneath the promenade where you can take a dip. Also, Tigné Point Beach is great for sunbathing.
🍺Places to eat nearby: Visit Ta’ Kris for some delicious homemade Maltese cuisine. Get a quick lunch from Fresco’s Cafe & Restaurant. Also, The Black Sheep and Kebab ji are both great places for dinner.
For a drink, pop into Salisbury Arms – a nice and cosy English pub. Also, the nearby The Brew Bar & Grill is a great spot for craft beers, cocktails and tasty food.
🚌How to reach Sliema: There are quite a few buses that leave from Valletta towards Sliema. The journey takes around 15-20 minutes. Catch the direct bus service X2 if you are coming from Malta Airport.
But the most scenic way to reach Sliema is by boarding a ferry from Valletta. Ferries run every half an hour and only takes around 5-10 minutes. A single journey costs €1.50. Return – €2.80.
20. Dive into a Maltese Festival
Attending a festival would be one of the unique things to do in Malta. Many cultural and religious festivals are held in this country, particularly in summer.
One of the most important festivals is the Village Festas which take place from the end of May till September. During this religious festival, Maltese towns and villages celebrate their patron saints. Around 60 Festas happen in Malta and 20 in Gozo – they last for around 3 – 4 days, at different times throughout the summer. If you are visiting Malta in summer, there is a high chance you would get to witness at least one Festa, not too far from your accommodation.
In the village Festas, you would get to see a lot of festivities – band marches, decorated balconies and rooftops with festoons, fireworks. There are food stalls selling Maltese Nougats, Imqaret (date pastries). It’s a completely free event and is a great place to mix with local people.
Malta’s musical festivals – Jazz Festival, Isle of MTV Festival, Glitch Festival and Summer Daze Festival, among many others – are gaining international popularity. Most of them take place in summer. Other cultural festivals include Malta International Arts Festival, Notte Bianca – an annual event held every October in Valletta.
📍Map of the attractions in Malta
Here is a map of all the best places to visit and things to do in Malta. Click on the link to save the Google map on your phone. You can also use the map offline. We have also marked famous places to eat and the best beaches on the island.
Malta Travel Essentials
💸Currency – The euro is the official currency of this country. Nowadays, all shops, restaurants and accommodations accept international debit and credit cards. If you need to exchange money, there are plenty of banks, ATMs and currency exchange companies around Malta and Gozo.
🌼Local Language – Malta has two official languages – English and Maltese. English is widely spoken in this country. Many locals can also speak in Italian due to this country’s proximity to southern Italy.
💲How Much Does it Cost? Malta is a relatively budget-friendly destination in Europe. With cheap public transport, economic hostels, street foods, and plenty of free things to do – Malta is perfect for solo travellers and backpackers. But during peak seasons, accommodations can get very expensive.
How to get to Malta
Since Malta is a small island nation at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, the easiest and the most convenient way to reach here is by plane. Other than that, one can get onto ferries or cruises to get to here. Having plenty of flight options from most of the big cities in Europe, Malta is a popular choice for a beach Holiday.
✈️Flights to Malta
The only airport on the island is Malta International Airport, located in Luqa. Air Malta is the official flag carrier of the country – they operate flights from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Other major airlines that fly to Malta include Lufthansa, Emirates, British Airways, Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines.
If you are looking for budget airlines, Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizz Air run regular flights from most of the big cities of Europe and the UK. There are frequent direct flights from the UK, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy and many more. Read below for more information about the flights from the UK.
The capital city, Valletta is about 8 km from the airport and is well connected by bus and taxi.
✈️Flights from the UK
Flights from the UK typically take about three hours to arrive in Malta, depending on the city of your departure. Air Malta flies from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester. Ryanair and EasyJet operate from many airports across the country. They have plenty of scheduled flights from London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, Cardiff and Belfast in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you can fly from Edinburgh, Prestwick and Glasgow.
⛴️ Ferries to Malta
If you want to combine your Italian adventure with a trip to Malta, jump on a ferry from Pozzallo in Sicily. Operated by Virtu Ferries, the ships moor at the Valletta Waterfront. The journey takes only an hour and 45 minutes. It runs almost daily all year round.
🚢Cruises to Malta
Malta is one of the most popular cruise destinations in all of Europe. The main cruise port is in Valletta. Ships dock at the Valletta Waterfront in the Grand Harbour outside the city walls. From there, you can explore the capital city Valletta on foot or take a short trip to the ancient city of Mdina and Rabat. Also, the picturesque Valletta Waterfront is lined up with cafés and restaurants. Top-rated cruise operators include Marella Cruises, P & O Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, among many others.
How to get around Malta
With an excellent public transport system, regular ferry services, plenty of taxies and car hire, getting around this island is super easy.
We entirely depended on buses during our whole stay in Malta. All the places we have mentioned in this article are easily accessible by bus. It is the cheap and easiest way to get around. They have an extensive network across this island. The main transportation hub is in Valletta, just outside the city wall.
They are safe, clean and run mostly on time. But, you can expect some minor delays sometimes. Also, bus on the popular routes fills up quite quickly. So, you might have to stand the whole way.
The single bus fare is €2 in summer and €1.50 in winter. You have to buy the tickets from the bus driver and pay the exact fare in cash. Tickets are valid for two hours, including change of services. If you are planning on staying longer, go for a 7-day unlimited card for €21, or a 12 Single-Day Journeys card for €15 – which you can share.
Hiring a car will give you more flexibility to explore the hidden, off the beaten path attractions. Roads in Malta are generally in good condition. Just remember to drive on the left side of the road, like in the UK. You can hire a car at the airport or book online in advance from local and international car rental companies. Also, car hire here is not very costly.
There are reliable ferry services to explore the sister islands of Malta – Gozo and Comino. In Malta mainland, the ferry port is located in Cirkewwa, at the northernmost tip of the island.
The ferry for Gozo runs every day all year round and takes about 20 minutes to get to Mgarr Harbour. You can also bring your car on board. For Comino, you will get boat operators from Cirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr Harbour in Gozo.
Although we didn’t have to use private taxis during our stay, they are available from the airport, Valletta and other popular towns. The official White Taxis run on fixed fare. You can also call the local black cab taxis to pre-book your journey.
Hope you have enjoyed reading our travel guide to 20 Best Things to Do in Malta.
Love, Moumita & Sankha