Malta is an absolutely incredible, but often overlooked, country that should definitely be on your travel radar. It holds immense history, incredible architecture, the friendliest people and delicious food. I had the pleasure of spending 3 days in Malta and it allowed me to already scratch the surface of this wonderful little island. However, if you have the time I would stay 4 to 5 days so you can truly enjoy the full experience that Malta has to offer!
There are so many beautiful places that you can visit and this 3 days Malta itinerary includes all of the information that you need before embarking on your trip. You’ll also find a detailed guide on the best things to do in Malta, where to stay and what to pack in your suitcase to have the best experience possible.
📖 CURIOUS FOR MORE UNIQUE PLACES IN EUROPE? MAKE SURE TO READ MY GUIDE ON THE 28 HIDDEN GEMS IN EUROPE THAT I VISITED MYSELF!
The 13 Most Beautiful Places To Visit in Malta
Why you should visit Malta
Malta is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea and is located between the island of Sicily and the North Coast of Africa. An added bonus is that it isn’t yet on the radar of mainstream tourism so apart from the blistering hot summer months you’ll find a tranquil atmosphere on the island. And to be fair, not many people even know where Malta is exactly.
But with its 7000 years rich history that you can explore throughout the entire island, it’s definitely climbing up the touristic ladder. And rightfully so! You can explore cities and ruins linked to the Moors, Romans and even the Knights of Saint John, all of whom once ruled the island of Malta.
Another big plus point is that Malta has two official languages: Maltese and English. This means that the language barrier is very low and that communication on the entire island is very easy.
On top of that the island is very easy to explore and is only a mere 317 kilometers square large. Besides the main island of Malta there are two other islands that you can explore called Gozo and Comino. I didn’t have time during my 3 day tour to visit these islands but I did do my research and you’ll find it at the end of this post as an added bonus for your perfect Malta itinerary.
Where to stay in Malta
I stayed at the wonderful Phoenicia Malta and I absolutely recommend you to do the same. It is ideally located right at the entrance of Valletta which means you’ll be able to do everything on foot and places like Sliema and Kalkara are only a short boat ride away.
The Phoenicia Malta is one of the most iconic hotels and plenty of stars, socialites and royals have stayed here throughout its 60 years history. In the morning you can enjoy their lavish breakfast overlooking the garden and Malta and in the afternoon your can relax by their infinity pool.
They also offer a one of a kind spa facility and I mean just look at that indoor swimming pool!
I truly enjoyed my stay at the Phoenicia Malta and I know you will too! They also offer free cancellation up to 24 hours at the moment!
If this is not your cup of tea or outside of your price range no need to worry! There are plenty of other beautiful hotels on Malta for you to enjoy! Click here to check out other beautiful hotels on the island of Malta.
The Best Places to see in Malta in 3 Days
DAY 1: VALLETTA, VITTORIOSA & SLIEMA
On day 1 of this Malta itinerary we’ll stay in the area of Valletta. Get ready for a morning walk through the cobblestoned streets of Valletta, a fun boat ride to Kalkara and a beautiful sunset dinner in Sliema.
1. Saint John Bastion
The Saint John Bastion was built in the 1560’s to protect the main gate of what would later on become the city of Valletta. It’s limestone walls are absolutely massive in size and climbing up the bastion is the best way to start your tour of Valletta. From here you’ll have a wonderful view of the neighboring towns of Sliema and Floriana and if you walk up on the left side you’ll also be able to see Fort Manoel, which was used on Game of Thrones. True fans will immediately recognize it as the place here Ned Stark literally lost his head and none of us were ever the same again.
If you walk a little bit further you’ll stumble upon a pretty big parking lot from where you have one of the most spectacular views over Saint Paul’s Cathedral.
2. Saint John’s Cathedral, one of the top attractions in Malta
If you have to visit one church in your entire life, let it be this one! Trust me, I am not the biggest fan of churches but my oh my was I blown away the minute I set foot in this cathedral. Saint John’s Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral in the heart of Valletta, dedicated to Saint John The Baptist. The interior of the church is considered to be one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture in Europe.
Compared to the simple and modest exterior you’ll literally need 10.000 eyeballs to catch all of the ornate details on the interior of the church.
🕰 Opening hours
Monday to Friday
09.30hrs to 14.30hrs (last admission at 14.00hrs)
09.30hrs to 14.30hrs (last admission at 14.00hrs)
Sunday and Public Holidays
💵 Entrance fee
Children Free under 12 years of age
(when accompanied by an adult)
3. Casa Rocca Piccola
Casa Rocca Piccola is the perfect example of an aristocratic Maltese home and will give you a unique insight into Malta’s heritage. It’s a much loved family palace which contains over 50 rooms, many of which are open for viewing. The current owners still live here and are the 9th Marquis and Marchioness de Piro but it was originally built in the 16th century for one of the knights of Malta.
Casa Rocca Piccola is located only 2 minutes walking from the Grand Master’s Palace and is also located on Valetta’s main street. Casa Rocca Piccola is open from 10am to 5pm (last admission 4pm) every day except Sundays, Good Friday, The Feast of Mary’s Assumption and Christmas Day.
💵 Entrance fee
Adults 9 euros
Students 5 euro (including University students)
Children up to 14 free
4. Upper Barrakka Gardens
The picturesque Upper Barrakka Gardens offer an incredible view over Malta and the Grand Harbor and is built on the highest point in Valletta. From here you’ll have a view over the towns of Vittoriosa, Cospicua, and Kalkara and the level below the gardens is the former bastion. Don’t be surprised if you’re walking around Valletta in the morning and you here these cannons go off all of a sudden!
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are one of the most beautiful places in Valletta and consist of rows of archways, flowerbeds and fountains. They are located at the end of Ursula street and just like with every other place in Valletta it can be easily reached on foot.
Either you climb up the fortress or you can also take the elevator at the foot of the Saint Barbara Bastion. Inside the garden you’ll also find a small terrace where you can enjoy a drink or some local delicacies. And if you need to use the restroom you can use the toilets on the lower level.
🕰 Opening hours
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are open every day from 7am until 10pm.
💵 Entrance fee
These stunning gardens are free to enter.
5. Lower Barrakka Gardens, one of the most beautiful places in Valletta
If you thought the Upper Barrakka Gardens were already gorgeous, wait until you see the Lower Barrakka Gardens! They’re also perched upon the Valletta bastion and only 10 minutes walking alongside the waterfront coming from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
What did surprise me is that this garden is way less visited and therefore leads to a more tranquil experience. You could easily sit here for a an hour sipping a cup of coffee while taking in the views.
In the middle of the garden you’ll find a neoclassical temple that contains a huge bronze bell within, the Siege Bell Memorial.
🕰 Opening hours
The Lower Barrakka Gardens are open every day from 7am until 10pm.
💵 Entrance fee
These stunning gardens are free to enter.
6. Admire the balconies of Valletta
One of the top things to do in Valletta is to simply stroll around this beautiful yet small city. A typical Maltese feature are all of the colorful wooden balconies and this trend actually started right here in Valletta! It happened in the late 17th century, during the spread of the Baroque style, for which the balcony was one of the main elements. Soon balconies began to appear in the vicinity of Valletta and Mdina, and during the 18th century they also reached the villages.
Despite so many different kinds of balconies, they can be divided into two main categories: open stone and closed wooden. The first ones can be mostly found in small towns and Mdina, while wooden balconies are in Valletta.
To this day, balconies are still very much part of the Maltese way of life. They are the medium through which religious and parochial fervour are expressed. During religious feast days they are adorned with drapes, lights and effigies of saints.
7. Take a boat ride to Vittoriosa
One of the most fun things to do in Valletta is to walk down to the harbor and take a traditional Maltese boat to Vittoriosa. The small town of Vittoriosa, also known as Birgu, is the oldest of the so called Three Cities, which also consist of Senglea and Cospicua and are three fortified cities built in very close proximity to each other around the Grand Harbour.
Vittoriosa is located right across from the Southern wall of Valletta and the easiest way to reach it is to hop on one of the traditional Maltese boats. The crossing takes only a small 10 minutes but it sure is a lot of fun! I love being on the water and this way you get to admire the different harbors! These traditional boats are actually water taxi’s and it only costs €4 to make the crossing for 2 people.
If you truly love being out on the water I highly recommend the following activity – A private shore excursion of Valletta and the Three Cities which only takes 4 hours!
8. Watch the sunset from Sliema
After a full day of exploring and strolling through both Valletta and Vittoriosa it’s time to relax a little bit! And there’s no better place to do so than by watching the sunset over Valletta from Sliema! To reach this part of Malta you either take bus 13 for only €2, which leaves from the main square in front of the entrance of Valletta or you take the ferry for €2 at the Water Polo Pitch in Valletta.
Once you arrived at Sliema you’ll be awarded with one of the most amazing views over the domes of Valletta! For dinner I highly recommend The Chophouse. Make sure to make reservations from before hand cause they always tend to be fully booked!
DAY 2: MOSTA, MDINA & POPEYE VILLAGE
On our second day on the wonderful island of Malta it’s time to explore some of the most beautiful places this island has to offer. From must see attractions to visiting the oldest city on Malta. Today we’ll make sure to see some of the top attractions the island of Malta has to offer! Starting with a quick stop in the city of Mosta to admire another beautiful church!
9. Rotunda of Mosta
The Rotunda of Mosta, also known as The Sanctuary Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, is a minor basilica in Mosta, dedicated to the assumption of Mary. The design of the present church is based on the Pantheon in Rome and has the third largest unsupported dome in the world and is Malta’s largest and most famous church. It nearly became completely destroyed during World War II when a bomb fell through the dome during a mass but luckily it failed to explode.
10. Wander through Mdina, the former capital of Malta
Mdina, also known as the Silent City, used to be the capital of Malta. These days it’s known as a commune, located in the heart of the island and only has 400 inhabitants. The entire city is surrounded by a giant wall and inside you’ll mostly find baroque and medieval buildings. The architecture can be compared to that of Valletta but in Mdina the streets are more narrow and they go criss cross.
Mdina is perched on top of a 225 meters high hill and offers a stunning view over a large part of Central and Northern Malta. Mdina is even smaller than Valletta so you’ll only need a good 2 hours to wander through all of the little streets and enjoy a lunch on one of the rooftop terraces. Make sure to try some of the famous cakes at the Fontanella Tea Garden or grab a quick lunch here.
Besides all of that, another interesting fact about Mdina is that a bunch of scenes from season 1 of Game of Thrones were filmed here. Before they used Dubrovnik as the backdrop for Kings Landing there was Mdina. Stand in Aria Stark’s footsteps in front of the main gate or wander through the square where Ned Stark and his men were surrounded and defeated by Jamie Lannister.
Due to the rich history of Malta it’s best to explore the island with a guide. For instance this 2 hour walking guide through the old city of Mdina offers everything you’ll need!
11. Feel like a little kid at Popeye Village, a hidden gem on Malta
Popeye Village, also known as Sweethaven village, is pretty unique in its kind. It’s the original film set from the 1980 Musical Production “Popeye”, starring Robin Williams. But these days it’s been converted into a small theme park. I tell you, it’s very obvious that the creators behind the Disney theme parks were behind this. These days it serves as an open air museum and seaside resort and it’s a fun activity to do in Malta, especially with kids!
Some of the houses in Popeye Village have been equipped with various items related to the filming, including props used in the film’s production. Every fifteen minutes when the weather permits, visitors can enjoy a fifteen-minute boat trip around Anchor Bay where one can photograph the scenery and view Popeye Village from the sea. And performers and animators provide regular entertainment for families while they are visiting the village, and many of these shows interact with the audience.
🕰 Opening hours
From 10am until 6pm
💵 Entrance fee
Adults € 15.00
Children (3-12yrs) € 12.50
Pensioners € 12.50
Tickets bought online are not refundable
DAY 3: MARSAXLOKK & THE BLUE GROTTO
12. Explore the fishing village of Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is a traditional Maltese fishing village located in the South of Malta and especially popular with the locals on a Sunday morning. Many Maltese visit the fishing market during that time to choose from the catch of the day. Alongside the promenade you’ll find an open air market where you can buy some of the freshest and finest fish and true Maltese delicacies.
Marsaxlokk fishing village is the largest fishing harbor of Malta. It has been so since antiquity and today the greater part of fish sold on the islands are caught by fishermen coming from this village.
Marsaxlokk village is only 6.5 kilometres away from Malta International Airport and from Valetta you simply have to take bus 81 or 85 to reach one of the top attractions in Malta!
13. Discover the Blue Grotto by boat
Despite it being one of the most beautiful places on the entire island of Malta, the South East region remains one of the less visited ones.
Not to be confused with the Blue Lagoon, which is located in the North West of the archipelago, in the island of Comino, the Blue Grotto is a complex of seven caves found along the southern coast of the island, right across from the little islet of Filfla.
Even though the caves are a wonder within themselves, the true beauty of the place really shines through on clear, sunny days. This is when the magic happens; the blue sky reflects off the white sandy seabed under the caves, resulting in vibrant azure and cobalt colored waters.
The best time to visit the Blue Grotto is from the morning until midday to ensure the best position of the sun, providing the ideal light for the colors of the water to shine through.
There are two ways to admire the Blue Grotto. One is from the viewpoint above which is completely free and close to the bus station. But the best way to see the Blue Grotto and one of the most fun things to do in Malta is to visit the caves by boat. Boat trips are usually available daily (weather permitting) with the duration of each trip being around 20 minutes.
More unique things to do in Malta
While the above mentioned places should definitely be on your bucket list when it comes to visiting Malta there are also some other unique things to do on the island! During my visit I only had 3 days so the places I could explore where limited. Below you’ll find a list of the attractions I would definitely add to my list if I had 4 or 5 days to explore!
- Visit the city of Rabat, which is located right next to Mdina.
- Go on a day trip to Gozo, the second largest island in Malta. It’s more rural and quiet with wonderful landscapes and nice beaches and coves.
- Take a boat trip to Comino and marvel at the Blue Lagoon.
- Go for a swim at St Peter’s Pool, close to Marsaxlokk.
- Malta is the perfect island to go scuba diving!
- Taste the popular national dish pan-fried rabit.
Interesting facts about Malta
- Comino island got its name from a plant found everywhere there during spring: cumin. Now you can amaze your guests at the next dinner party with this fact 😆.
- Maltese people are either Italian or English supporters in football.
- In Malta there are 359 churches. Almost one for each day of the year.
- Maltese are nuts about Eurovision.
- Malta’s capital Valletta, was the first ever planned city in Europe.
- Malta is one of those countries in the world where people drive on the left side of the road and where you’ll also find those typical red telephone booths.
- Malta has also been described as the country with the best climate in the world by International Living.
Getting into Malta
The best and easiest way to reach the island of Malta is by plane and fly into the national airport of Malta. You can find plenty of direct flights from major cities in Europe such as Brussels, Paris and London.
Another way to discover a part of Malta is to go on a cruise. Malta is a very popular cruise destination with both the big cruise ships and the smaller ones.
Getting around Malta
The easiest way to explore the island is to opt for a rental car! 🚗 This way you can explore the island at your own pace and all of the main attractions are close to each other anyway.
If you don’t feel like driving on the left side of the road yourself you can also choose a guide tour of the island or make use of the public transportation. The island of Malta has a well connected bus network and you’ll definitely be able to visit the main attractions by public transport.
The best time to visit Malta
Malta was voted as the place with the world’s best climate so it’s pretty safe to say that this beautiful island is a wonderful place to visit year round. There are however a couple of things you need to take into account.
If you’re like me and you can’t really handle the heat then try to avoid the summer months. It can get as hot as 40°C during the day and you won’t be able to do a lot of exploring.
The shoulder months such as September, October, April and May are ideal when it comes to the temperature. It’s not too hot to visit the cities and the water is still warm enough to go for a swim in the sea.
Final thoughts on things to see and do in Malta
Malta surprised me in every way possible! This tiny little island has so much to offer and I really wish we had a couple more days to fully explore the islands. The main capital Valletta is a true hidden gem in Europe and the perfect place to stay when visiting the top attractions in Malta.
Wether you’re a history buff, nature lover or you’re looking for a relaxing holiday where you can combine a lazy day with a bit of exploring in the evening, the island of Malta has got you covered! So remember that there are so many more beautiful places in Europe to explore besides the world famous France and Italy. It would truly be a shame if you would pass on the island of Malta!
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.