Complete 4 Day Itinerary for Malta
Malta is not usually top of mind when people think of places to visit in Europe. It is more relaxed and understated than flashier island destinations such as Santorini. If you live in Europe, however, you’ll soon learn that it is a locals’ destination and for very good reason. If you’re looking for a unique more local European destination that has beautiful colored seawater, delicious food, incredible history and reasonable rates, add Malta to your list.
What should I know?
Where to Stay: Some of the more popular areas to stay include Sliema, Valletta and St. Paul’s Bay. There are plenty of hotel and Airbnb options to choose from. We stayed at a B&B in Sliema for a few nights and then at Talbot & Bons Boutique Bed & Breakfast for one night before our flight. Talbot & Bons is near the airport and central to various parts of the island via buses from the airport. They also serve a delicious included breakfast. Another interesting place to check out staying is Gozo. It seemed less busy and could be even more relaxing!
How to Get Around: You definitely don’t need to rent a car, as buses connect most of the cities on the islands. However, they don’t run super reliably so you need to be okay with your vacation being on island time. We just used the route planning on Google Maps to get around.
If you’re going to take a taxi, consider pre-booking with Ecabs rather than taking a taxi which might rip you off.
When to Go: There are many religious festivals throughout the year being celebrated; June/July is particularly fun because each neighborhood has its own “festa” to celebrate its patron saint and there are great fireworks displays and parades. Summer time will also have better beach weather. Shoulder seasons will yield the least crowds.
The itinerary below is for a short getaway – if you have extra time, I’d spend a couple days on Gozo as there’s lots to explore there (as you’ll see on Day Three below!).
Time needed: 4 days
Day One: Land in Malta, Beach Day @ Golden Bay, Dinner in Sliema
After landing, find your pre-booked e-cab (which will already have confirmed the price with you) to be taken to your accommodation. If you do happen to be staying near the airport, walking could be an option.
After settling in, consider stopping by a local market or grocery store to get some snacks for the beach. Then, take the bus (or car if you’ve rented one) to Golden Bay for some sunshine and relaxation. If you’d like a quieter beach, just a 10-minute walk away is the Ghajn Tuffieha Bay and also a great option.
For an introduction to Maltese food, check out Gozitan Restaurant for dinner.
Day Two: Explore Valletta and Mdina
Today, spend some time on feet exploring the history of Malta. After breakfast at your B&B, or perhaps from the nearby market, head to Valetta. If you’re staying in Sliema, you can take the ferry across to Valletta.
While in Valletta, explore the Upper Barrakka Gardens (be there at noon to hear the cannon shots), the Valletta City Gate and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. There’s also a National War Museum and Fort St. Elmo you can explore. The Triton Fountain is beautiful to see as well.
For a quick lunch, stop by The Submarine. There are lots of options in Valletta – they did feel a bit touristy to us so we opted for something quick from the market so we could keep exploring.
From Valletta, take a bus to Mdina. This is a beautiful fortified city on the island that used to be the capital. It is so fun to just wander around and explore. The Gate and Cathedral are highlights. We particularly enjoyed how quiet it was and how beautiful the buildings were. Consider stopping at the Fontanella Tea Garden for a bite to eat before heading back to your hotel.
Day Three: Kayak and Explore Gozo & Comino
Today it’s time to get on the water. After breakfast at your B&B, head up to the ferry terminal via bus to go to Gozo to spend the day kayaking with Kayak Gozo.
Kayak Gozo is a great outfitter and they’ll take you to the Blue Lagoon (pending weather conditions) on Comino and other gorgeous spots. You’ll get to swim and snorkel and they also provide you with snacks and a delicious lunch. They also send you pictures of the day at no extra charge, so you can just focus on enjoying the day. We did the full day tour but if you wanted more time to explore Gozo (if you’re not staying there), then you could do just the morning.
After the tour wraps up, consider spending more time on Gozo exploring St. George’s Basilica, Cittadella Walkway and Ggantija. Ramla Beach and Tal-Mixta Cave are also two great natural spots to enjoy the beauty of the island. The Blue Hole is also a popular swimming spot if you want more time on the water.
For dinner, visit Café Jubilee if you’re in the center of the island or The Boat House if you’re on the Western / Southern part of the island. Make sure you check the ferry times back to Malta so you know when you need to be back to the terminal. We took the last ferry back so cut it a little close!
Day Four: Blue Grotto, Hagar Kim, St. Peter’s Pool and Marsaxlokk
Start your day with a delicious breakfast at your B&B before heading to the Blue Grotto for a nice boat ride.
Our bus went through Zurrieq (bus stop) where we got out to use the cash machine, as the Blue Grotto boats will only take cash. While waiting for the next bus, we had a delicious pastizzi at C&M’s Pastizzeria (they also prefer cash). Highly recommend you stop here if you too forgot to take out cash before heading out to the blue grotto!
Continue on to the Blue Grotto for a fun and informative boat ride. The busses will stop at the Grotto (bus stop) at the bottom of the island (you don’t need to get out at the top of the hill and walk down).
The boat drivers are very nice and do expect a tip so bring some small change for them if you’re inclined.
If you’re hungry for lunch, consider Il Corsaro.
From here, take the bus to Hagar Qim / Mnajdra for some really interesting history at an archaeological site from 3600-3200 BC.
After the tour, take the bus to Marsaxlokk (you’ll need to transfer at the airport). From Marsaxlokk, walk to St. Peter’s Pools for a beautiful late afternoon swim. There are many signs that lead you there from town since otherwise it’s a bit obscure. Do put it in your Google Maps though before starting out so you know the general direction.
For dinner, enjoy amazing seafood at La Nostra Padrona or La Capanna alongside the water where the fishing boats are tied up for the night. It’s a truly relaxing and special way to enjoy your last night in Malta!
For other European Travel Ideas, check out my other guides here!