Taking a short trip to the magical island of Malta? Don’t worry – I’ve put together some sample Malta itineraries that will let you take in the best of the islands, in only a few days. Whether you’ve got 2, 3 or 4 days in Malta, this itinerary will whisk you around the main highlights!
Don’t be fooled by the petite size of Malta. The island is absolutely filled with amazing things to do, and you could easily spend a week or longer exploring it. Of course, that kind of time is not something we all have.
The great news is that even with as little as two days in Malta, you can still get a great taste of this fabulous little island. With four days in Malta, you’ll be able to scratch the surface and really explore more.
These Malta itineraries are meant to be a guide only. I understand that everyone enjoys different things, so these are easily customisable to suit you.
I’ve added in suggestions for some easy alterations so you can edit this Malta itinerary as you like. If you have any suggestions or questions, feel free to leave them down in the comments!
Where to stay in Malta
Wondering where to base yourself during your stay in Malta? With only a few days on the island, I suggest aiming for somewhere central such as Sliema or Valletta. Sliema is great if you’re on a budget, while Valletta is beautiful – but pricey.
2 Days in Malta Itinerary
Planning a weekend in Malta? Lucky you! It might be a bit of a flying visit, but with this two days in Malta itinerary, you’ll see the main highlights.
Day one: Valletta
It makes sense to start your 2 days in Malta with a visit to one of Europe’s most charming capital cities. I fell totally in love with Valletta, which is a little treasure rather than a sprawling metropolis.
If you’re staying in Valletta, just step out of your front door! Otherwise, if you’re in nearby Sliema you’ll need to get the ferry across to the capital.
AM: Walking tour of Valletta’s highlights
I love a good walking tour, and Valletta is the perfect place to explore on foot. It’s compact and pretty easy to navigate, so it makes sense to see it on a walking tour. This will take you past all the cute little laneways and also introduce you to some of the main historical sights.
You can either take the “DIY” route, or it’s super affordable to join a walking tour. In Malta, I really recommend joining in a walking tour as the history is truly amazing. There is so much of it, which can be a little bit overwhelming to try to decipher yourself.
A good walking tour will help you discover the history of Valletta, and have fun doing it! Here are a couple of suggested tours:
If you take the DIY route, make sure you don’t miss the following highlights. Even if you don’t go inside these attractions, it’s well worth looking from the outside.
Unmissable highlights of Valletta:
- Ruins of the Opera House – one of the finest buildings constructed by the English during their rule, the 19th century building eventually ended up in tatters. Rather than knock it down or restore it to its former glory, a new performance space was built amongst the ruins. It’s super interesting an unique, and it’s free to have a peek!
- Casa Rocca Piccola – life in Valletta was really, really good if you were stupendously wealthy (come to think of it, life is good everywhere if you’re stupendously wealthy). To get a taste of what life for the aristocrats in Malta was like, pay a visit to the beautifully preserved 16th century Casa Rocca Piccola. It’s still a privately owned family home, so it’s an amazing insight.
- Manoel Theatre – Valletta has been named a European City of Culture. It’s no surprise considering the city has many beautiful performance spaces. They don’t get much more impressive than the grand elegance of the domed Manoel Theatre. You can either catch a show (if you’re lucky), or just pop in to admire the architecture.
- Grandmaster’s Palace – Not only does this place make me think of ‘Grandmaster Flash’ every time I hear its name, but it’s also pretty spectacular. It was built in the 16th century to house the Grandmaster of the famous Knights of St John, who ruled over Malta at the time.
Since you’ll be in the capital for the rest of the day, it makes sense to sample some of the city’s best cuisine. Here are two options, depending on your budget:
- Rubino – a Valletta icon that’s been around since the early 20th century, this is a charming place to stop for a more relaxed meal in a charming setting. The cuisine is genuine Maltese, which is unmissable while on the island!
- Il-Ħorża – when the sun is shining it’s the perfect time to take in the amazing views from Malta’s Grand Harbour. You’ll be able to do so from this fabulous yet super cozy European restaurant.
After lunch: St John’s Co-Cathedral
After stopping for lunch, I highly recommend paying a visit inside St John’s Co-Cathedral.
As an impassioned budget traveller, I know it’s not easy to part with the entrance fee – but trust me, this one is worth it. While (controversial opinion ahead) I think there’s a lot of churches in Europe you can just admire from the outside, this one has an amazing interior.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much gold leaf in my life. Every last speck of the Cathedral has been carefully decorated as a show of devotion. Plus, the entrance fee entitles you to a really thorough audio guide which adds a lot to the experience.
You can just buy your tickets at the Cathedral, but they’re also available to purchase online if you’re the organised type!
PM: Grand Harbour/Barakka Gardens
After you’ve been dazzled by St John’s Co Cathedral, I recommend making your way over to the Grand Harbour by about 3:30pm.
Given its name, it’s not really a surprise that this harbour is pretty spectacular. Thanks to Malta’s location – straddled between Africa and Europe – it’s been fought over for centuries. As a result, they built one hell of a harbour.
It’s a great place to sit and just enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, however there’s a good reason to arrive in time for 4pm. At this time, a cannon is fired off to rapturous applause.
Honestly, military history isn’t really my “thing”, however it was pretty amazing to see and hear the cannon go off. It was pretty amazing to think about what it would have been like when the harbour was defending the island.
I recommend leaving at least half an hour or so after the cannons just to enjoy the atmosphere of the Barrakka Gardens.
Evening: Harbour Cruise (Optional)
One of the most popular things to do in Malta is to take a harbour cruise, and you can easily add it onto your Malta itinerary.
Harbour cruises are easy to take at any time of day, as there are plenty of providers near Sliema and Valletta Harbours.
However, I’m all about wine and sunsets, so I’d recommend taking an evening tour as the sun goes down. Obviously, a glass of wine (or soda) is the perfect addition to any sunset cruise around beautiful Valletta.
If you’re visiting Malta on a budget, then there is an alternative. You get beautiful views from the sea on the ferry between Sliema and Valletta, and Valletta and the Three Cities.
In all honesty, it’s not quite as nice (there’s no wine) but you can still see the city from the sea. You can even time it to coincide with the sunset! It will only cost you a couple of euros, or nothing at all if you’re planning to travel on it anyway.
You could always head over to the waterfront at Sliema for dinner (especially if you’re trying to DIY a cruise), however I recommend staying in Valletta for tea. There are many fabulous restaurants in the city, but here are a couple of great options:
- Fifty Nine Republic – just a few steps away from the Grandmaster Palace, you’ll be feeling like a grandmaster yourself after dining here. It’s all very luxurious, and the food is as good as you’d expect! Think lobster and all the other fine things in life.
- Beati Paoli Restaurant – okay, so this isn’t bargain bin prices but it won’t totally eviscerate your wallet either. Also, the food is absolutely AMAZING and the setting is charming, so it’s well worth it.
Day two: The Three Cities & the Beach (or Mdina)
With only two days in Malta, I highly recommend adding in the Three Cities. If the weather is good, you’ll probably want to hit up Malta’s beautiful beaches. That said, if it’s cold or beaches aren’t really your thing, you could instead fit in a visit to beautiful Mdina instead.
The Three Cities
Across the ferry from Valletta lies the Three Cities. Some tour guides will tell you it’s possible to see these in the same day as Valletta, and that’s probably true. However, I firmly believe it’s worth giving yourself a little more time.
To get to the Three Cities from Valletta, you can walk, take a water taxi or take a traditional boat. I wholeheartedly say go for the latter!
It only cost us 2 euro each, and we loved chatting away to our friendly and hilarious captain, who was more than happy to pose for pictures.
Of the Three Cities, I think Birgu (sometimes called Vittoriosa) is by far the most beautiful. The problem with being a travel blogger is that you end up describing a lot of places as beautiful cities. But this one is a really, really, really beautiful place – that’s not really a city.
Birgu’s history dates back to the 1500s, and in typical Maltese fashion, it’s totally fascinating. After the Knights of St John had been thrown out of Rhodes, they made a dash for Malta – settling in Birgu and declaring it their capital.
There are a handful of places in the world where I’ve wanted to run off and live there forever. Birgu is one of those places. Just walking down the little streets, looking out for the beautifully ornate door handles, is a total joy.
It’s not just me who loves Birgu; it is considered the most popular of the Three Cities. Here are some main highlights you can visit:
- The Inquisitor’s Palace – for a spooky place to visit in Birgu (and you know I love spooky), there’s the Inquisitor’s Palace. As the name suggests, it was the seat of the inquisition in Malta between 1574 and 1798. During this time, it operated as both administrative headquarters, and a prison. Spooky!
- The Malta at War Museum – considering that Malta seemed to be under some kind of siege for most of history, it seems wise that this museum is devoted only to Malta’s role in WWII. if you have any interest in military history, it’s well worth a visit.
- Fort St Angelo – Birgu is also known as “Vittoriosa”, thanks to its stellar role during the 16th century Siege of Malta. Fort St Angelo was crucial to this battle, although it’s been renovated and added to since then. It’s also awfully picturesque. And allegedly haunted.
That said, even if you’re not planning to actually visit any of these stops, I do think visiting Birgu is an absolute must.
Bormla and Senglea
I’ll be totally honest – Bormla and Senglea weren’t as interesting or as beautiful as Birgu, in my opinion. That said, I did like exploring them as they gave you a look into regular life in Malta away from the tourist crowds.
Plus, both of them do have a few attractions that are worth stopping in to explore. Here are the highlights:
- Bir Mula Heritage Museum (Bormla) – gives a look at historical life in Malta, before the Knights of St John arrived.
- Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception (Bormla)
- Our Lady of the Victories Parish Church (Senglea) – an absolutely beautiful old church with some spectacular wood carvings
- Gardjola (Senglea) – a lovely green space that offers beautiful views over Valletta.
Lunch in Birgu
I can’t think of a more perfect spot for lunch than a charming little hole-in-the-wall in Birgu. We stopped in at Osteria.ve for some delicious Maltese food, but you can really take your pick.
PM: The beach
Malta’s beautiful Mediterranean climate draws in plenty of visitors, so if the weather is warm I recommend making some time to stop by the surf.
Although you could head to nearby St Julian’s, I personally recommend making the additional effort to head out to Golden Bay near Mellieha. Even though it’s a bit of a trek (leave an hour for traffic), it’s a way nicer area and beach.
If you’re on a time limit, getting a taxi is the quickest way to get out to Mellieha. There’s also a bus from Valletta – check online, but at the time of writing you can get buses including the 41 or 251 from the capital.
Things are pretty quiet in Mellieha, but there are plenty of places to stop and grab something to eat. The main attraction here is just to enjoy the beautiful sea, sand and surf.
If the weather is bad or you’re more about culture than beaches, you could easily swap out your time in Mellieha for Mdina instead. See the below “3 days in Malta” itinerary for more information about how to get to Mdina and what to see.
Dinner in Sliema
If you have a second night in Malta, then I recommend getting dinner in Sliema. It might not have the historic charm of Valletta, but it’s bustling with lots of great restaurants.
Many of the restaurants overlook the harbour, and you might even feel a sea breeze! Lots of the restaurants serve up traditional Maltese dishes, which are (obviously) best accompanied with Maltese wine as well.
You can pretty much just turn up at the harbourside and pick your favourite restaurant. If you’ve got a particular place in mind, you might want to book ahead – especially in summer.
3 Days in Malta Itinerary
With three days in Malta, you’ll be able to take a deeper dive into the island’s history. That’s why I highly recommend spending your third day in the beautiful historic city of Mdina, and nearby Rabat.
Of course, if you’re more into the outdoors than cultural sights, you might instead prefer to visit Gozo. You could easily swap Day #3 with Day #4 if Mdina doesn’t appeal to you!
Day three: Mdina & Rabat
I absolutely loved visiting Mdina and Rabat. In many ways, these two locations sum up Malta – a mix between European, African and Middle Eastern style, culture and architecture.
If you love culture, then I’m pretty confident you’ll be just as impressed by these amazing places.
Mdina is one of the most historic places in all of Malta – its origins can be traced back about 4,000 years. However, most of what you see today dates from around the 12th century when various aristocrats (mostly Spanish) moved in.
Today, it is one of the best examples of a well-preserved historic city in Europe. Inside the enormous city walls, you’ll find a network of cobbled streets lined with Medieval and Baroque buildings.
As well as the beautiful architecture, Mdina is also famous for its glass. You’ll find many boutiques in the city selling beautifully decorated glass ornaments, which are beautiful (but delicate!) souvenirs of your time in Malta.
You can simply wander around Mdina and take in the amazing atmosphere, however there are a few highlights to see:
- St Paul’s Cathedral, Mdina’s most stunning and iconic building. It dates from the 17th Century and is built in the distinct Baroque style.
- Cathedral Museum – not far from the Cathedral you’ll find an interesting and informative museum devoted to various Catholic artefacts.
I recommend eating in Mdina, although you could also head for the piazza in Rabat. However, Mdina is just so gorgeous that I’d take the opportunity to spend a little longer there. Depending on your budget, here are two options for lunch:
- Don Mesquita (affordable), a charming and surprisingly affordable cafe and wine bar right in the heart of Mdina.
- The Medina Restaurant (luxury), an amazingly romantic restaurant set in a historic – and beautiful – old building. It’s sure to impress.
About a twenty minute walk (or short bus ride) from Mdina, you’ll find the area of Rabat. It’s significantly less picturesque, however it feels a lot more “lived in” than Mdina. Don’t be afraid to explore some of the tucked-away alleys, as you can find some real gems.
As well as just exploring the area of Rabat, the main attraction in the area is St John’s Catacombs. The catacombs were the final resting place for people buried according to Roman and Byzantine traditions.
The catacombs aren’t gorey at all – you can’t see any skeletons are the like. The whole complex is more informational about burial practises, so don’t be worried if you’re squeamish. They can be a tad claustrophobic, though – so it might not be a great choice if you don’t like small choices.
There’s not a great deal else to do in Rabat, however there are a few additional things to do in the area if you’re looking for ideas:
- Collegiate Church of St Paul – an incredibly beautiful and ornate church set over the top of a grotto
- Domvs Romana – the ruins of an old Roman house, which is open for you to look around.
4 Day Malta Itinerary
With four days in Malta, I’d recommend heading away from the main island of Malta and over to Gozo.
Day Four: Gozo
While it doesn’t take too long to get there, it feels a world away. On Gozo, life is a lot quieter and more traditional. You’re more likely to bump into Maltese grandmas than other tourists!
How to get to Gozo
It’s easy to get to Gozo from Valletta or Sliema. If you want to make things as easy as possible, then you might want to join a day tour that will take in the main sights. Doing it this way is pretty affordable, and maximises the amount of time you can actually spend at the attractions.
Plus, many of the trips (like those listed below) also include a stop over at Comino Island, which is home to the famous Blue Lagoon.
At Mgarr, you can expect there to be plenty of taxis waiting – or you can hop on the bus for the ten-minute journey into Victoria, my first recommended stop.
Of course, you can DIY it. It just means you’ll spend a bit more time in transit and you’ll need to plan out getting from site to site. You can get a water taxi from Valletta to Gozo, which will drop you off at the harbour port of Mgarr.
What to do in Gozo
Once you’ve arrived on the island of Gozo, it’s time to get to exploring! As Gozo is really small, it’s easy to explore on foot, or cheap to go by taxi.
One of the best things to do in Gozo is simply to sit back and enjoy the more relaxed vibe (away from most of the tourists). However, there are also a few highlights that you should cross off during your stay in Gozo!
If you arrive on Gozo by the local ferry, chances are you’ll find yourself in the “capital” of the island, Victoria. If Valletta is a bit like a country town, Victoria is a humble village!
That’s not to say it’s not worth exploring – far from it! It’s not crawling with things to do, but it will give you a taste of Malta without the crowds. And that, alone, is well worth visiting!
Also in Victoria is the Gozo Museum of Archaeology, which I highly recommend visiting if you enjoy history. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Malta has such a fascinating past that it really is THE place to go all Indiana Jones and take a look below the surface!
The other totally unmissable site in Victoria is the Citadel. It’s believed to be built on the ruins of a Punic-Roman city, with most of what’s visible today constructed back in Medieval times.
Not only was the Citadel a religious building, but it also served as a protective fortress if the island was ever under attack. At these times, the citizens of Gozo would take refuge within its walls and wait for the threat to (hopefully) dissipate.
Lunch in Victoria
Triq ir-Repubblika is the main street of Victoria, home to many pretty boutiques and a beautiful garden. You’ll also find numerous restaurants and cafes where you can grab something to eat.
You could either opt to eat in, or just grab something to take away and eat it in the park, Villa Rundle Garden.
Perhaps Gozo’s most iconic building, the pastel-coloured Ta Pinu features in plenty of photographs of the island. Not only is it a Baroque masterpiece, but it’s also got an amazing view out over the sea.
It’s located about four kilometres away from the centre of Victoria, so if the weather is nice then you can actually walk. However, I’d recommend getting the bus instead – the 312 or 308 will take you there in under ten minutes.
Optional: Tal-Massar Winery
You just know if there’s a winery in the area, I’m going to make a recommendation to visit it! Helpfully, there’s a winery less than two kilometres away from Ta Pinu – meaning you can even walk there.
Unfortunately, they do only do tastings for individuals on Tuesdays and Saturdays. At other times, they do open up for groups, but this is probably only an option if you’re on a tour as there is a minimum of 10 for the tour.
One of Gozo’s most famous attractions used to be the Azure Window, however it has now fallen down! Luckily, the coast is still spectacular even without it.
From Ta Pinu, you can easily catch a bus over to the coast where the Azure Window used to be. Here you’ll be able to take in the amazing views of the Inland Sea, Blue Hole and Dwejra Bay. Don’t forget to bring your swimming gear to dive in, as long as conditions permit!
That’s already a pretty full day, however if you’ve got any energy left then I do recommend a stop in at Ġgantija on your way back to the ferry to Valletta.
There are two incredible Megalithic temples on the site – which are a staggering 5,500 years old. That’s 1,500 years older than the pyramids!
Due to their age, there are a lot of mysteries about the temples. Locals will be able to tell you all kinds of legends, but at the moment historians have plenty of question mark over them.
If you love history or mysteries (or better still, historical mysteries!) then you’re sure to love the chance to visit them.
The temples lie about four kilometres north-east of Gozo, so I’d recommend taking a bus. You can get the 302 or 303 bus from Victoria to within an easy walk of the temples.
From there, it’s a matter of getting back to the Mgarr ferry terminal to connect back to Valletta. Luckily, there’s a direct (albeit slow) bus – both the 322 and 303 will take from Ġgantij to the Mgarr Terminal.
With that, your four days in Malta – and this Malta itinerary – draws to a close!
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