Whilst Malta is only a small island (27km long and 14.5km wide), it leaves a BIG impression. It has 3 declared UNESCO world heritage sites, countless architectural masterpieces, crystal clear waters, iconic religious monuments and historical sites and added bonus of its two neighbouring islands, Gozo and Comino. To make sure you get the most out of your trip to Malta, for this travel guide we have carefully curated a 7 day itinerary for you to explore the key cities, towns and sites across all of Malta, Gozo and Comino.
Malta only has one international airport and it is the only airport in Malta serving the whole of the Maltese islands. It is located southwest of the Maltese capital city, Valletta, in the town of Gudja. The airport is small but it has a couple of shops, outlets and restaurants as well as one VIP lounge, the Valletta club.
For full details, please see the Malta country overview.
Malta’s public transport system is operated by one main company, set up in 2014. This company operates buses in Malta and Gozo and their network is extensive. The services generally operate daily, between the hours of 5.30am and 11pm. Timetables for the different routes can be found here.
Whilst the network is extensive, it doesn’t always run on time, so make sure you factor that in when you are planning your day trips. You pay for your ticket when you board the bus - make sure you have the right amount, drivers often don’t have the right change and will refuse large notes. A single bus fare costs €2 in the summer months and €1.50 during November - March and it is valid for two hours after you have purchased it. If you are staying in Malta for a week or longer, purchasing a week long travel card is the most budget friendly option. The card costs €21 for adults and with that, you will have unlimited access to the bus network for 7 days.
Renting a Car:
Renting a car is a good option if you are limited on time and want to explore off the beaten path places. All road signs are in English and driving is on the left. Most international brands and local car hires are located on Malta and Gozo with daily rates ranging from €16 - €28.
Official Maltese taxis are white (usually Mercedes with a taxi sign on top) and you will see plenty of them in Malta, especially in the larger towns. They can pick passengers up from anywhere, except bus stops. By law these taxis much run on a meter but it is advised to check before you get in. UBER is not available in Malta, but a similar app-based service called eCABS is.
Taxis to and from the airport are based on a fixed tariff depending on where you are going. Click here for more information.
As an alternative to the official Maltese white taxis, black taxis that are owned privately, more often than not, offer cheaper set fares.
Malta’s ferry and water taxi services are a great way to explore the beauty of the islands. You can take a ferry between:
- Malta and Gozo
- Malta and Comino
- Gozo and Comino
- Valletta and the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea)
- Valletta and Sliema
A single journey costs €1.50 and a return ticket will cost €2.80 for the journey between Velletta and Sliema or the Three Cities. And whilst you do not need to pay anything for a trip to Gozo, passengers are required to pay the €5 far upon returning to Malta.
After arriving into Malta’s International Airport, hire a car and head to Rabat and Mdina in the north western region of Malta. Malta is a small island, so it should take you no longer than 30 minutes to drive here. The name of Rabat translates to ‘suburb’ in Semitic, as it was once the suburb of Mdina, the old capital city of Malta.
Begin your day at the famous Catacombs of St Paul and St Agatha. These were well utilsed by the Romans to lay the dead to rest, as the Romans thought is was unhygienic to bury the dead in the city. The Catacombs were later used by the Christians who secretly met here in times where the Christian's were persecuted.
You can explore the winding corridors and tunnels at your own pace and get lost in the ancient history as you delve deeper underground. There is a small museum at the beginning, displaying a variety of artifacts and an interesting collection of coins. Expect to pay €5 for the entrance fee.
After this, lose yourself in the narrow cobbled streets heading towards Mdina. You will encounter locals drinking their coffee outside their houses and shops, welcoming you with a smile, free roaming cats, and a lot of flowers, filling every one of your senses. Treat yourself to one of the many Maltese cakes in front of the main church.
Then walk to Mdina, crossing the beautiful Howard gardens. Mdina is the old capital of Malta, a fortified city with less than 300 residents. You will enter the city through the imposing entry gate, where inside the city walls, it is all about beauty and stillness (driving is prohibited). The history of Mdina traces back to more than 4000 years and according to tradition, it was here in 60 AD that the Apostle St. Paul is said to have lived after being shipwrecked on the island. Mdina is fascinating to explore - for its timeless atmosphere as well as its cultural and religious treasures. The city has had many names over the years, but is often known as the ‘Citta Notabile’ - The Nobel City or sometimes as the ‘Silent City’.
You can take a guided Calèche tour or simply enjoy walking around by yourself. Although most of the time it is crowded with tourists, it still has a really nice and tranquil atmosphere. The architecture is mesmerising and you will be surrounded by colorful balconies and churches behind every corner (did you know that Malta counts more than 365 churches?) and the clip-clopping of horses hooves as they pull their carriages up and down the cobbled streets.
Ghadira Bay (Mellieha Bay):
Once you have lost and re-found yourself in the beauty of Mdina, venture back to your car and drive to further North, towards Ghadira Bay. The drive will take you about 30 minutes; if you are into bird watching, don’t miss a stop at the Ghadira nature reserve just in front of Ghadira beach.
Ghadira beach is also known as Mellieha Bay, Malta’s largest and most visited beach. It get super busy in high season though, so if you are keen for some beach time, arrive early to secure your perfect sunbathing spot!
Or continue north and head to Armier Bay where the sea is crystal blue. The Armier Bay consists of two beaches: Armier (the biggest beach) and Little Armier. Little Armier is much quieter and the atmosphere is unique. One side of it is really gipsy with old and rusty campervans and the other side of the road is exactly the opposite: a beach bar with Range Rover and Porsche cars parked in front of it. It is called the Baia Beach.
If you keep going to the far end of the island you will discover the Ahrax fallen cave, which is a hole in the middle of the rocks with crystal clear water inside. Although you can reach it by car, it is worth the one hour walk from the Little Armier beach along the rocky coast.
Finish your day by heading back south to St. Paul’s bay (25 minute drive) where you will find plenty of cheap accommodation options and nice restaurants. If you fancy a party, this place isn’t too bad either.
As the world belongs to early birds, go for an early start today and take the ferry at Cirkewwa to Gozo. Ferrys leave every 45 minutes, with the first one leaving at midnight! Check here for the timetable. The journey will take about 25 minutes. The ferry is free, but you will pay €4.65 on your return to Malta from Gozo. Gozo is an incredible island smaller than Malta, but with many things to encounter and more nature and wilderness to explore than on the mainland.
You have many options on Gozo in terms of how to get around. You can take public transportation, hire a bicycle or rent a cabriolet - You will feel even better in the fresh air next to the beach :-)
First stop on your Gozo adventure, Nadur, a small town with 2 nice churches and most importantly a beautiful panoramic view of the Gozo countryside. The scenery is green and hilly with farms, lots of beautiful wild flowers and plenty of friendly cats.
Ramla Bay (Red Sandy Beach):
Then head to Ramla Bay, also known as Red Sandy Beach, as the named suggestss, the sand is golden - almost red. You can chill on the beach, have a local beer if you like, but then don’t miss the little walk on the right side of the beach. The view on the beach is lovely, plus you will encounter some of the most beautiful wildflowers you have ever seen, they are white and when you touch them it feels like cuddling a fluffy cat, pure happiness! Don’t cut them though, just enjoy the feeling. This walk will make you feel really good, use maps.me to feel reassured about the right way and then enjoy. Climb up the little hill to go and visit a natural open cave - another great view on the beach.
If you fancy some lunch the little town of Marsalform is a great option. Then keep going to Xwenji bay if you fancy an after lunch swim. This is an incredible spot and the water is crystal clear!! It is really something that you don’t encounter everyday.
Wied il Ghasri:
The next stop will be the wonderful Wied il Ghasri, I don’t want to say too much to leave you the surprise. On a sunny day you can easily stay there all day!
After that go back to the center of the island and explore the following small villages: Ghasri, Gharb (don’t miss the basilica Virgin of Ta Pinu) and San Lawrenz.
After this, go back to the seaside to see the Azur Window ruins. Unfortunately, the actual Azur Window collapsed years ago, but you will still have a great view on the rocks and the sea. If you like, you can go for a short boat tour that gets you a better site of all the hollowed out ocean caves.
If you want to go back to Malta that night, make sure you check the ferry schedule here. The last boat leaves at 11.15pm so you should have plenty of time to explore Gozo. Remember you will need to pay €4.65 for the return journey back to Malta. However, we advise staying on the island, so you can wake up to its beauty the next morning.
If you have stayed on Gozo, wake up early and visit Victoria, known locally as Rabat or by its title, Citta Victoria. Victoria is the capital city of Gozo and remarkably has a population of nearly 7000 residents! The name Victoria was given to the town in 1887, in honour of the British Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Begin your day with a nice coffee in one of the big terraces on Pjazza Indipendenza (Independence Square), known as it-Tokk. In the mornings there is an open market that shares the square giving it an amazing feel. There are many places of historical and cultural interest in Victoria. Once you have finished your coffee and breakfast, head to the Citadel. With its towering fortifications, it affords amazing views over the whole islands and within the Citadel, there are many historical sites including the Cathedral Museum, the Museum of Archaeology, The Folklore Museum, the Gozo Nature Museum, the Old Prison and lots more! If you buy a combi ticket you will have access to the citadel, museum of Archaeology, the old prison, Gozo's Nature museum and the church.
After this, venture back to St George square, enjoy the atmosphere and grab a bite to eat. Don’t miss the magnificent St George’s Basilica! Keep exploring and wandering around the web of narrow streets interconnecting the different squares in Victoria - these streets are the oldest in town! In Triq-ir-Repubblika (republic street), Victoria’s main street, you will find all kinds of shops, a couple of shopping arcades, pharmacies, banks a swell as a couple of open air theaters! Along Lower Republica Street, is the Villa Rundle Public Gardens, offering a variety of local and important trees, the gardens are an oasis of peace and tranquility.
Slowly make your way back to the ferry, but while you are there, don’t miss out on some of Gozo’s best food with a view of the harbor in the village of Mgarr.
Hagar Qim Temples:
Begin your day with one of Malta’s UNESCO heritage sites, the Hagar Qim temples. They are one of the last standing stone temples on earth. Built on a hilltop near Qrendi, a village on the Southern coast of Malta, these temples were built over 5000 years ago, with no technology or tools just hands. Impressive! The main Hagar Qim structure consists of 5 rooms with a corridor down the middle. People say that with a birds eye view, the structure shows a clear resemblance to a woman’s body. And if you visit the Haar Qim at sunrise on the first day of summer, you will enjoy the unique experience of the sun rays passing through a particular hole in the structure to illuminate a stone slab inside the chamber. You can easily combine a visit to Hagar Qim with the Mnajdra temples due to their close proximity. The entrance cost covers both as well as the visitors centre. Opening hours 9-5pm and cost is €10 for an adult ticket.
Malta's Three Cities:
Once you have finished here, drive to the other side of the island to Malta's 3 old cities (Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea).
Victorriosa is really nice with a great walking tour on offer. You can begin at the Victoria square and explore the little streets around, but don’t miss the Auberge de France, Auberge d Angleterre, Auberge Normande and Auberge de Castille. Continue to fort San Angelo. Then finish your walk with the Vitorriossa waterfront, picking out your dream yacht in the marina!
Then visit Senglea, again get lost in the streets. Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Sanglea is just opposite of Valletta, thus try to be at the top of the fort at 4pm to witness the canon firing ceremony for free from a spectacular angle. In Valletta you have to wait and pay for it, seriously, it is not worth paying as there is just one shot and the spectacle is as impressive from the other side of the bay!
Explore Valletta, Malta’s most beautiful city. Valletta, The Fortress City, labelled ‘a city built by gentleman for gentleman’ is Malta’s capital city. Built in 1566, Valletta was completed in just 15 years and all done by hand, creating a fortress of impressive bastions, forts and of course it’s cathedral. Valletta is a busy city by day, and yet retains its stillness and tranquil atmosphere at night. It gives you the feeling of stepping back in time. The city offers a network of narrow streets, intriguing historical buildings adorned with coats of arms, colourful trellises and balconies and wooden shutters. The side streets are full of quaint coffee shops and cafes whilst the main streets are lined with larger international shops, selling anything from clothes, music, jewellery and much more.
You will enter the city through the magnificent gates in front of Plaza Tritoni. The first building on your right is the new parliament building, the ultra-modern architecture fits in really well with the Maltese style. The new opera house just next to it is interesting as well as is the Muza museum. St John’s cathedral is beautiful and St George square is really nice with trees and terraces and old red telephone boxes as in England. If you have the time, try to get tickets to the theater Manuel as the interior is spectacular! Don’t miss The Upper Barrakka Gardens, Hasting Gardens and the Lower Barrakka Gardens. From the Upper Barrakka Gardens it is possible to see the Saluting Battery and you can take the life down to see the bastions at sea level.
Those are the must-see attractions! But then, just walk around and stop for a coffee and drink it on the many terraces on la Valletta’s stairs.
Head to the Blue Grotto and Saint Peter's pool which is one of the most beautiful natural swimming pools in Malta. Located close to Marsaxlokk at the tip of Delimara Point in Southwest Malta, the sea is crystal clear with amazing light green colours, offering unbeatable snorkelling opportunities. The flat rocks around St Peter's pool are perfect for sunbathing with some good shady areas for those looking to escape the sun. Whilst St Peter's pool is popular with the locals, due to its remote location and bad roads leading there, it is rarely ever crowded. Make sure you bring everything you need with you for the day as there are no facilities nearby! There is also no parking nearby, so the best thing to do is park on the main road and walk down.
If you fancy it, you could also take a boat tour to the Island of Camino and explore the blue lagoon.
Most of the hostels in Malta, are based around Sliema, Malta's first tourist resort area and St Julians. Here you will find plenty of bars and restaurants and shops! Here are our favourite hostels in the area:
Inhawi Hostel (10 minutes from Sliema).
Probably the coolest and most luxurious hostel in Malta and a great choice for solo travellers! The rooms are simple but beautiful, there is a small garden with plenty of hammocks, a lovely clean swimming pool to relax in (even though the sea is less than 300m down the road!), good WIFI, an airport shuttle service and a great atmosphere. Expect to pay €18-20 for a bed in a mix dormitory.
Two Pillows Boutique Hostel (Central Sliema)
As the first boutique hostel in Malta, Two Pillows does not fail to impress. It provides beautiful luxurious accommodation at backpacker prices, from studio apartments to dormitories. With its ultra modern and slick design, and great amenities including common areas, a high spec kitchen, WIFI, air conditioning, internet station, luggage room and so much more, it is one of our favourite hostels in Europe! It is probably better suited to couples, but you will still find some solo travellers hanging around. Expect to pay €21-24 for a mixed dormitory.
Hostel Malti (St Julians)
A great hostel for solo travellers. Hostel Malti offers BBQs in the sun, a Jacuzzi and a super comfy chill out area! The roof top terrace is also the perfect spot for enjoying the sunset or having late night chats with your new found friends. The staff are super friendly and will help you plan out your daily activities and they organise fantastic group trips to the Blue Lagoon, Gozo, Valletta and Mdina during the summer months. Whilst they make sure the hostel is quiet from 11pm, they organise nightly pub crawls, continuing the fun out in town. Expect to pay between €20-23 for a bed in a mixed dormitory.
As a mid-range option, you could rent out an apartment through Air BnB or choose a boutique hotel.
A good but cheap-ish hotel in Valletta is the Vincent, which is ideally located in the city center within walking distance of all the main attractions. The rooms are beautiful and there is also a small but perfectly formed patio where you can relax. We highly recommend this hotel.
The following hotels have been awarded ecolabel status of environmental excellence, but they are at the higher end in terms of budget (depending on your personal budget). If it is luxury you are looking for, the following hotels offer exactly that.
Maltese cuisine is a mix of influences from Italy and the Mediterranean.The specialties are rabbit ragu, snails salad and ravioli filled with ricotta and coated in a delicious tomato sauce. But all food in Malta is excellent.
Here is a selection of places that I tried and highly recommend:
- Duo in St. Paul’s bay, an Italian/Maltese restaurant where the decoration is a bit kitsch but still nice. The food is delicious, tasty and really well presented!
- Ta Tona in Mgarr, Gozo.
- Trabuxu in Valletta
- The Submarine in Valletta
- Guze in Valletta
- Giuseppi’s in Mellieha
- Fontonella Tea Garden in Mdina
My advice is to just explore Malta and Gozo and try to look for the places where the locals eat, they always know the best places!
First the local soda called Kinnie - it is everywhere! The taste is bitter so depending on your taste you will love it or hate it! The local beer named Cisk, a lager beer created in 1929.