The 20 Best Things to Do in Malta (All Highlights – Bucket List)
You want to visit Malta for your next trip?
In order to help you plan your stay, I have create this guide of the best things to do in Malta, but also in Gozo and Comino, the 2 smaller islands of the country. You will discover all the activities, must see attractions and points of interest of this beautiful small Mediterranean country.
So, what are the best places to visit in Malta? Where to stay?
Let’s find out!
- The 20 Best Things to Do in Malta (All Highlights – Bucket List)
- Visit Malta: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
- 1. Valletta
- 2. The Three Cities
- 3. Mdina
- 4. Rabat
- 5. Sliema and St Julian’s
- 6. Marsaxlokk
- 7. St Peter’s Pool
- 8. Mosta
- 9. Blue Grotto
- 10. Dingli cliffs
- 11. The Red Tower
- 12. The Megalithic Temples of Malta
- 13. Malta, Gozo and Comino beaches
- 14. Scuba diving in Malta
- 15. Sport and water sport activities in Malta
- 16. Gozo
- 17. Blue Lagoon and Comino island
- The 3 best things to do in Malta with children
- Where to stay in Malta: My best tips + Itineraries
- Malta tourist map
- You’re traveling in Malta? These articles will help you!
- Visit Malta: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
Visit Malta: The 20 Best Places to Visit and Must-See Attractions
Let’s start this list of the best things to do in Malta with Valletta, the capital. Walk around this lovely city and look at the beautiful architecture, historical museums and amazing views over the sea and neighbor cities.
Here are the best places to visit in Valletta:
The Saint John’s Co-Cathedral might not look very interesting from the outside, but wait until you see what’s inside! It’s full of gold and magnificent paintings from Caravaggio. Below the marbled floor lay the tombs of the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta and other nobles. Close to 400 of them are buried there, it’s a must see for history lovers in Malta!
Grandmaster’s Palace was once their home. While the Supreme Council Hall and the Ambassador’s Room are worth the visit, the most impressive room is for sure the armory. It houses a collection of more than 5,000 armors and weapons, once belonging to the knights and grand masters.
Republic Street and Merchant Street are the main commercial streets in Valletta, with numerous stores and restaurants.
The Manoel Theatre, one of the oldest in Europe.
The Fort Saint Elmo, also housing the National War Museum.
At the National Museum of Fine Arts, you will find a collection of objects, sculptures and paintings which belonged to the Order of Malta.
The Barraka Gardens, also called Upper Barraka Garden and Lower Barraka Garden. The lower garden is quite small but has a very photogenic temple.
The upper one is bigger, with nice colonnades and a wonderful view over the 3 cities. Below you can see the Saluting Battery: an artillery battery used in the past to salute foreign vessels. It’s still functioning nowadays and fires everyday at noon.
Looking for more information about what to do in Valletta? Check out our article and suggested itineraries to visit the city in 1, 2 or 3 days: The 10 best places to visit in Valletta.
2. The Three Cities
From Valletta, you can easily reach the Three Cities. Go to Upper Barrakka Garden and take the panoramic elevator (Barrakka Lift) to go downstairs. Then, cross the street and continue to the left to reach the boat departure point.
Tickets are sold inside the boat. Round trip tickets are 2.80€ per person and it’s a 10min trip.
It will drop you off in the city of Birgu, the biggest of the 3 cities (the 2 others are Senglea and Cospicua). They all have their unique features but they do have one thing in common; the views over Valletta. The best way to explore the 3 cities is just to wander around on foot!
- Birgu points of interest include Fort St. Angelo, the Inquisitor’s Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum
- In Senglea, go to the Safe Haven Gardens at the edge of the city; it has one of the best view over Valletta.
Mdina is the former capital of Malta. During the Middle-Ages (before the Order of Malta), the government and other administrations were located there. It was called “Citta Notabile”, the noble city. When the Order arrived, knights decided that they needed to be close to their ships and Valletta became the new capital.
Also called “the Silent City”, Mdina is a fortified city loved by tourists for its charm and quiet streets. The city is home to many historical monuments:
- St. Paul’s Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in Malta) and its museum
- the 18th century Vilhena Palace
- other palaces on Villegaignon Street, such as the Palazzo Falson.
After exploring the city, you can go down to see the old moat which have been turned into a garden. From there you’ll be able to see the impressive ramparts from the bottom.
Rabat is another place to visit during your holidays in Malta. It’s located right next to Mdina: once you exit the fortified city you are already in Rabat!
The best things to see in Rabat:
- St. Paul’s Church and Grotto, where Paul the Apostle sought refuge after their boat sank on the island
- St. Paul’s Catacombs, the city’s necropolis for 500 years
- Sy. Agatha’s Catacombs, where Saint Agatha hid during her exile from Sicily
- Domvs Romana, a Roman-era house turned into a museum.
5. Sliema and St Julian’s
Sliema and St Julian’s are the main touristic cities in Malta. You’ll find there plenty of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and shopping malls. They are perfect destinations if you like busy cities and to party. If you enjoy quiet places however, that might not be the best places for you to go.
In Sliema, you can enjoy a good meal in the numerous seafront restaurants offering unique views over Valletta.
There is also a nice promenade going from St Julian’s to Sliema and even Valletta along the sea. It’s probably the most crowded area of the island, especially during summer nights.
The best thing to do in Malta on a Sunday is, without a doubt, going to the fish market in Marsaxlokk.
Marsaxlokk is an authentic fishing port, with colored fishing boats called luzzu. Every Sunday takes place a traditional fish market. Don’t be fooled by the name though, you will find more things than just fish at that market, like souvenirs for example.
This market is huge and usually crowded, probably because souvenirs are cheaper there than in Valletta.
You’ll find many bars and restaurants along the port, perfect for lunch break. Most of them serve fish but you can also find pizzas and sandwiches. As always in Malta, the price is very decent.
7. St Peter’s Pool
Close to Marsaxlokk, St Peter’s Pool is another must-see attraction in Malta.
Dug by erosion, this natural pool is a great swimming spot.
Kids in particular love this beach, they challenge themselves to jump from the small cliff rather than actually swim. In fact, the only ways to get in the water is by jumping or using ladders. Please also note that there is very limited shaded areas, so it might not be a good place to go with young children.
If you keep walking past St Peter’s Pool to the right, you’ll get to a flatter area with more natural pools carved into the rocks. Another great spot to take a dip.
St Peter’s Pool is 10min driving away from Marsaxlokk. It’s easy to find and there are 2 free parking lots.
Mosta is famous for its monumental church, whose design was inspired by the Pantheon of Rome. It was built in 1833 thanks to funds raised by the residents, and is one of the most beautiful church in Malta.
It’s said that the dome is one of the biggest in Europe, whether it’s the 3rd or the 4th biggest dome is still a matter of debate. It’s so big that you can see it from many places on the island.
The church is also famous for what happened there in 1942: a German bomb was dropped over it, pierced the dome and fell in the church during the mass, without detonating. Some even says it was a miracle!
9. Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto is located 2km away from Zurrieq town.
It got its name and reputation from the intense blue color of the water in the cave.
You can see it from above at a sightseeing location just outside the city. You can also go to the small Wied Iz Zurrieq port, 2min further away by car, and take a 30 min boat tour.
Remember to check the weather conditions beforehand, there won’t be any tour if the sea is too stormy.
Wied Iz Zurrieq also has bars and restaurants, as well as a spot to go swimming.
10. Dingli cliffs
North off Blue Grotto, the Dingli cliffs are worth stopping by.
Located 250m above sea level, Dingli is the highest point in Malta. It’s a nice place to walk around (be careful not to get to close to the cliff) and enjoy the views. Sunsets there are a photographer’s dream!
11. The Red Tower
The Red Tower, or Saint Agatha’s Tower is located in Marfa, 5min driving from Mellieha.
Built in 1649 among other towers between Valletta and Gozo, it was used to watch the coasts and protect merchants from pirates’ attacks. It could host up to fifty soldiers and had 5 cannons. It’s named after the color of its walls.
You can visit the Red Tower for 2€. It’s small, but the tour is worth it thanks to the amazing view from the top of the tower. From there, you can see the White Tower, Saint Mary’s Tower (on Comino island) and Lippija Tower.
12. The Megalithic Temples of Malta
Several megalithic temples can be found in Malta and Gozo, some of them even being UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They were all built between the 4th and 3th century BCE.
Here is a list of temples to visit:
- Tarxien temples located in the city of Tarxien
- Hagar Qim temples, next to the city of Qrendi, in South Malta
- Mnajdra temples, only 500m away from Hagar Qim
- Ggantija temples on Gozo island
I’ll admit it, we didn’t visit these temples during our trip to Malta. Most of them are covered with large tarps for protection. Going under these when it’s 35 degrees outside didn’t seem like a very pleasant thing to do.
13. Malta, Gozo and Comino beaches
No Malta holidays can be complete without a good beach day! Malta, Gozo or Comino islands all features some nice beaches and coves:
- Mellieha Bay: shallow water and wide stretch of sand, great for families
- Pretty Bay: a real kids’ paradise with its shallow water and playgrounds
- Paradise Bay: close to the Gozo ferry, it’s a nice beach but quite touristy
- Golden Bay: a vast beach, very touristy, lots of water sports options there
- Ghajn Tuffieha Bay: Go down the stairs to reach this very beautiful spot. Don’t miss the surprising rock formations on the left side of the beach
- Gejna Bay: a decent size sand beach, it’s especially nice to walk along the sea there
- Ramla Bay in Gozo, a vast beach with ocher sand, the ultimate family beach
- San Blas Bay in Gozo, a lovely sandy cove, though only reachable on foot. Going back will be your little workout of the day!
- Blue Lagoon and Santa Maria Bay in Comino, more details about it below.
14. Scuba diving in Malta
Scuba divers will love Malta as it’s one of the best diving spot in the Mediterranean region. Scuba diving in Malta is a unique experience, you will go on an underwater adventure and discover marine wildlife, wrecks and caves! On the plus side: water is warm and it’s always sunny (Malta has the most days of sunshine in Europe).
Prices are pretty affordable, the sites are beautiful and there are options for both beginners and experienced divers.
The best dive sites Malta:
- Blue Grotto and its diverse wildlife
- In Valletta, under Fort Saint Elmo, to see the wreck of the HMS Maori, a destroyer which sank in 1942
- The wreck of the Um El Faroud oil tanker
- The wreck of MV Rozi in Cirkewwa
- The blue hole in Gozo
- Santa Maria Caves in Comino
15. Sport and water sport activities in Malta
In terms of activities to do in Malta, there is something for every taste, and at reasonable prices.
Here are some of the water sports you can do:
- Jet ski
- Water Skiing
Other sport activities include:
- Quad bike
- Cross country Segway
- Horse riding
- Climbing: There are 300+ spots spread over 12 breathtaking sites on Gozo island
Gozo is the second largest island in Malta. It’s more rural and quiet with wonderful landscapes and nice beaches and coves. There are really many things to do in Gozo.
To get there, take the Gozo Channel Line ferry, from Cirkewwa on Malta island. The trip lasts about 20min and you can board with a vehicle. Boarding is fast and well organized.
In the ferry, you can find a cafetaria and a convenience store selling food, magazines and souvenirs.
- Ticket Fare: we paid 25€ for 3 people and one vehicle.
- Useful tip: you only have to pay on your way back.
Once you arrive in Gozo, these are the best places to visit:
- Victoria, also called Rabat by the locals, is the main city in Gozo. It’s a great place for shopping and food, but the main attraction is for sure the Cittadella, the fortified part of the city. Located on a hill, it’s home to the Cathedral, the old prison, archaeological sites and of course, amazing views over Gozo from the ramparts.
- Djewra region in the North-West, famous for the Azur Window (unfortunately it collapsed in 2017), Fungus Rock, the Inland Sea and the Deep Blue Hole
- Marsalforn is a popular beach town during summertime, the main attraction being the 3km long salt pans on the edge of the city.
- Ta’Pinu shrine is a dazzling church. Built on a small hill, you can see it from far away.
- Ta’Cenc cliffs, 130m high, offer a lovely scenic view. If you have a drone, this is the place to use it!
- Ggantija temples, among the most impressive and best preserved temples on the island
- Ramla Bay beach, the biggest sand beach in Gozo. A perfect beach for families with plenty of space for kids to play.
You can find more details about all the best places to visit in Gozo in my article: The 10 best things to do in Gozo.
17. Blue Lagoon and Comino island
Comino is a tiny island located between Malta and Gozo island. Tiny in terms of size, but not in terms of reputation! That’s where the Blue Lagoon is, a stunning lagoon with turquoise water.
Every day, shuttle boats come and go from Malta/Gozo to Comino to bring tourists to swim in the lagoon.
Fore sure, unless you go off season, don’t go there if you’re looking for a peaceful and quiet beach. This place is a never ending back-and-forth of tourist boats and their beach club music.
Several kinds of day-tours are available:
We chose to take the shuttle from Marfa, in the Northern part of the island. During high seasons, it runs every 30min, a round trip costs 10€ and take 20-25 min one way. These are small boats (about 30 seats) and allow you to come and go as you please.
On the way back, the shuttle even stops along Comino close to the various caves for you to look at, which is a nice addition. However, be prepared to wait in line a bit because the shuttle is often full when going back.
You can also go for a day-tour on a bigger boat (about 100 seats). Tickets are 13-20€ and include the round trip + lunch. The boat has all kinds of amenities too, but you have to follow the set schedule.
Besides the lagoon, you should also walk around the island, enjoy the beautiful landscape and the quieter areas of Comino. A nice thing to do is to go on top of Saint Mary’s Tower for a unique scenic view. A quick tip: you can only go up the tower if the flag is raised. Entrance fee is donation based.
There is another beach on Comino island: Santa Maria Bay, with a hotel, restaurants and public bathroom. It’s a lot less crowded than the Blue Lagoon.
The 3 best things to do in Malta with children
Are you visiting Malta with children and they’re getting tired of museums and city strolls? Here are 3 kids-friendly alternative activities:
18. Popeye village
Popeye Village is located in the North-Western part of Malta, close to Mellieha.
This village was entirely built to serve as a set for the movie “Popeye”, shot in 1980 with Robin Williams as the lead actor.
To built this gigantic set, trees were imported from Canada to build the houses, a road to the bay was created, along with a breakwater to protect the set. Once the shooting was over, they decided to keep everything intact.
Nowadays, it’s an amusement park. Kids will be able to discover characters from the movie and even act in a custom made one! The park also features boat rides, stores, trampolines and restaurants.
For more information about Popeye Village, you can visit the Official website.
19. Visit Malta National Aquarium
While you’re on the island, why not show your children what’s around them by going to the Malta National Aquarium?
Built in 2013, it’s located right next to Saint Paul’s Bay, in the city of Qawra.
The visit is great and very lively. You will discover all kind of sea animals from the Mediterranean and Malta region, as well as fish from the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The best part is probably the underwater tunnel with sharks and rays swimming above you. There is also an area with reptiles and amphibians.
More details are available on the Aquarium official website
20. Playmobil Fun Park
It’s a very unknown fact, but one of the first Playmobil manufacturing factory was actually in Malta, and it’s still running today.
The Playmobil Fun Park features a vast outdoor playground with Playmobil statutes, and an indoor area with all the Playmobil you can imagine to play with. Thousands of these tiny figurines are available for your kids.
You can also visit the factory and see the manufacturing process, but check the visiting hours beforehand because it’s fairly limited. The place is open to all children aged 5 years old and up.
There is also, of course, a Playmobile shop. If you’re a collector, the “Maltese Knight” Playmobil is only sold in this store!
For more information about tickets and how to get there, click here.
Where to stay in Malta: My best tips + Itineraries
When going to Malta, it’s essential to carefully choose your accommodation to avoid driving around too much.
I have made for you this simple guide of the best hotels in my favorite cities. You will see, it will be easy to find the best places to stay during your trip to Malta!
The list is specifically arranged so you can easily draft a nice itinerary from it. If you want detailed itineraries depending on the duration of your stay, you should have a look at my articles:
- Itinerary: 2-3 Days in Malta
- Itinerary: 4-5 Days in Malta
- Itinerary: 1 Week in Malta
- Itinerary: 10 Days in Malta
It’s always a good idea to start your trip by visiting Valletta, because the city is close to the airport. 1 or 2 days are enough to visit the city. That way you can also save money on you car rental by renting a car only after you’ve been in Valletta.
- Private Room : Located 300 metres away from Fort St Elmo and 700 meters from the Upper Barrakka gardens. Comfortable double room from 75€, breakfast included. Strong points: the excellent location, the hospitality and kindness of the host, the calm.
- Grand Harbour Hôtel: Hotel with traditional architecture, located in the heart of downtown Valletta, only 100 meters away from the Upper Barraka Gardens. Standard double room from 90€ per night or view sea + Three Cities view for 110€, breakfast included. Strong points: ideal location, magnificent view, roof terrace.
- Tano’s Boutique guesthouse: Hotel located in the center of Valletta, very close to all the best places to visit. Spacious and bright double room from 115€ per night. Strong points: the central location, the calm, the terrace on the roof for breakfast. The best value for money in town!
- Grand Hôtel Excelsior: 5* Hotel located on the waterfront, the view is stunning! Very nice rooms starting at 170€ per night. Strong points: The swimming pool, jacuzzi, free parking, the amazing breakfast and many other things that will make your stay in Valletta truly exceptional. My favourite place to stay in Valletta!
- Hôtel Phoenicia Malta: Luxury hotel located on City Gate square. Spacious, bright and tastefully decorated double room from 349€, breakfast at 17€. Strong points: the infinity pool with view on the port, the huge garden, the place and the free private parking. It’s simply the best hotel in Valletta, if you can afford it.
The city of Mellieha, located on top of a hill, is a great place to stay at when you’re visiting the Northern part of the island (Mdina, Rabat, Gneja beaches, Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay, the Red Tower, Popeye Village, Comino etc.). It’s best to stay there for 2-3 nights to explore the region.
That’s also where the Ferry to Gozo island leave from, and it’s the next stage of our itinerary!
- Pergola Hotel & Spa: located in Mellieha with a view over the bay, the village, Gozo and Comino. Studio apartment with kitchen amenities starting from 80€/night, breakfast for an additional 8€. Best features: kitchen amenities, view, excellent service, 3 swimming pools.
- Maritim Antonine Hotel & spa: located in Mellieha, 1km away from a vast sand beach. Very spacious and elegent double room starting from 140€/night, breakfast included. Best features: rooftop swimming pool with a scenic view over the bay, heated pool and hot tubs, good buffet with many options, next to bus stops going to Valletta or to the beach. It’s the best value for money in Mellieha.
- Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands: located in Golden Bay and 2min walking distance to a lovely beach. Big double room with balcony (sea view or countryside view) starting from 150€/night, breakfast for an additional 20€. Best feature: direct access to the beach, view, delicious breakfast, during summertime you can get complimentary sun bed and umbrella on the beach.
Gozo island is rather small: getting a bed and breakfast in Victoria, Qala or Nadur is a good idea (especially if you don’t have a car). Avoid Xlendi and Marsalform: these half modern beach towns aren’t really nice. Gozo island is full of stunning spots, so I recommend you to stay for 2 or 3 nights.
- Bambina guesthouse: Guesthouse located in Xaghra, 10min walking from the beach. Modern with a zen vibe double room starting from 75€/night. Best features: amazing house with a swimming pool and a great view over Gozo, friendly staff, direct access to the beach, very good value. My favorite in Gozo!
- Casa Gemelli Boutique Guesthouse: Charming hotel located in Victoria, the capital of Gozo. Fully renovated double room starting from 90€/night, breakfast included. Decoration is a mix of modern and traditional. Best features: central location, close to all the bus stops, homemade breakfast, friendly and helpful staff.
- The Duke Boutique Hostel: Located in the center of Victoria. Very spacious and comfortable double room starting from 100€/night, breakfast included. Best features: location, great bedding, rooftop terrace view, great breakfast with many options, great staff, some rooms have a hot tub on the balcony.
- Kempiski Hôtel San Lawrenz : Luxury hotel located in San Lawrenz, close to Inland Sea ad Ta’Pinu Basilica. Spacious and modern double room with balcony starting from 130€/night. Breakfast for an additional 25€. Best features: amazing view, huge swimming pools, indoor pool, free parking lot, outstanding breakfast, nice spa. It’s simply the best hotel in Gozo.
Zurrieq is a great place for accommodation for two reasons; the city is close to the airport, and it’s a great starting point to go explore the South-West of Malta (Blue Grotto, Dingli cliffs, Marsaxlokk, St Peter’s pool etc.)
An ideal location to stay for 1-2 nights before flying back home!
- Luxury Room in the South Malta: Bed and Breakfast located in Zurrieq, 3km away from the airport. Big and modern double room starting from 60€/night. Best features: spacious room, very helpful owners, next to the airport et Blue Grotto.
Marsaxlokk is also a good place to end your trip before flying back:
- Port View Guesthouse: Guesthouse located in Marsaxlokk, a lovely fishermen village with a popular Sunday market. Modern and comfortable double room starting from 70€/night, breakfast included. Best features: next to the sea, good breakfast and excellent service.
Sliema and Saint Julian’s
This tourist destination North of Valletta is perfect for you if you’re looking for brand hotels, bars, casinos and clubs.
Here are the best hotels there:
- Sliema Marina Hotel: ideally located on the waterfront, only a few meters away from the ferry to Valletta. Nicely decorated and spacious double room starting from 60€/night, breakfast for an additional 7€. Best features: great value, rooftop terrace, hot tub.
- Palazzo Violetta: located in Sliema, within walking distance of the beach. Studio apartment with kitchen amenities, modern, spacious and comfortable, starting from 100€/night, breakfast for an additional 10€. Best features: swimming pool, good location, comfortable rooms. My favorite for its amazing value for money!
- The Victoria Hotel: located in Sliema, 5min walking from the beachfront. Comfortable double room starting from 130€/night, breakfast included. Best features: rooftop swimming with sceniv view, very good breakfast, high quality restaurant for dinner.
Malta tourist map
Below is the most complete tourist map of Malta. I recommend you to download it on your phone and keep it with you at all time. You can also get a paper version at the tourist information offices.
So, what do you plan to visit during your trip to Malta?
Malta travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet Malta guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the DK Eyewitness Malta guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
You’re traveling in Malta? These articles will help you!
Discover all my articles about Malta: All my articles to help you plan your trip to Malta are listed there.
- Itinerary: 2-3 Days in Malta – with all my best tips + accommodation suggestions!
- Itinerary: 4-5 Days in Malta – with all my best tips + accommodation suggestions!
- Itinerary: 1 Week in Malta – with all my best tips + accommodation suggestions!
- Itinerary: 10 Days in Malta – with all my best tips + accommodation suggestions!