I have to admit I knew next to nothing about Malta before going. A vague notion of Templers and crusaders in a very tiny place. In any case, nothing could prepare me for the beauty of this magnificent country. What’s more, the islands are extremely diverse and offer equally impressive archaeology, architecture, and nature. However, what makes everything such pleasure is the Maltese themselves. Everyone was very helpful, polite, opened minded, and welcoming. Thank you! We’ve prepared this itinerary to spend 4 days in Malta. We are sure you are going to love Malta as much as we do!
- 1 How Many Days in Malta
- 2 The Perfect Malta 4 Day Itinerary
- 3 Day 1
- 4 Day 2
- 5 Day 3
- 6 Day 4
- 7 Where to Stay in Malta
- 8 Moving Around and Tips
- 9 Food and Coffee
How Many Days in Malta
If you are wondering how many days to spend in Malta, the answer is pretty clear. As many as you can! Don’t let the small size of Malta fool you. There are loads of things to do in Malta! In fact, Malta has incredible nature and architecture. We’ve been a couple of times for a week or so and still feel we could’ve stayed much longer. That said, we believe 4 days in Malta are enough to get a good idea of what the country is all about. You will get to see Malta’s highlights without rushing. Thus, experiencing its laid back atmosphere.
The Perfect Malta 4 Day Itinerary
Our Malta 4 day itinerary covers archaeology, architecture, and nature. Of course, Valletta is a must. No matter how many cities you’ve visited in Europe, Malta’s capital is an architect’s paradise. However, fantastic buildings can be found in small villages too, both in Gozo and Malta. When it comes to nature, you are probably thinking about beaches. Yes, Malta has quite a few fantastic ones. Besides, the countryside and parks are pretty nice too. You’ll be able to relax. Since everything is well organized and on time, you won’t have a glitch.
Go to Valletta by boat. You won’t forget the views. Ferries depart from the Silema Ferry port on Triq Ix Xatt coastal boulevard, loop around Manoel Island, and arrive in VFS Valletta station. If in Valletta, take it both ways. Once on the island, all you have to do is walk admiring the exquisite architecture. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so no matter where you look, you will be awed. Our favorite buildings are the St. Paul Cathedral, Manoel Theatre, St. George Square, Fort St. Elmo, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, and the Hastings Garden on top of the city walls. Finish your tour in Valletta’s City Gate.
Ħal Saflieni and Tarxien
Loop around Triton’s fountain to Vjal Nelson to take bus 82, 84, 85 or 88 to the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, the remains of a Neolithic cemetery. From there, walk a couple of blocks to visit the Tarxien Temples, another UNESCO World Heritage Site built between 3600 and 2500 BC. Fantastic architecture dots the area around the temples, including the impressive Paola Parish Church. Two interesting cemeteries are nearby too: the Turkish Cemetery from 1874, and the Addolorata Cemetery, a nondenominational graveyard from the same period.
From the bus stop in front of the Hypogeum take bus 81 or 85 to Marsaxlokk. It’s a 25-minute ride through green fields all the way to the coast, so be sure to grab a window seat. Marsaxlokk is a laid back fishing village. Especially interesting are the City Hall and the Parish Church. In addition, walk along the seaside promenade. As you can imagine, sunsets in Marsaxlokk are spectacular. Beach bunnies should go to Il-Ballut Reserve beach to the south or to the much nicer Il-Ħofra ż-Żgħira bay. It’s just a half an hour walk through nature.
On your second day, go to Ħaġar Qim, to the south of the island. You have to take bus 74 from Triton Fountain. From Sliema, take bus 13, 14, or 16 to Porte des Bombes (Valletta’s main gate) first, then hop on bus 74. It’s an hour ride that crosses the island, so be sure to grab a window seat and enjoy the views. The temple of Hagar Qim, a UNESCO Heritage Site, is one of Malta’s highlights offering both archaeology and nature. We are talking about a structure some 5000 years old set on top of a hill with views to the sea. It makes your mind travel!
Once done with the temple, walk some 25 minutes on Triq Il Wied road to the Blue Grotto on the coast. If you don’t feel like walking, you can take bus 201 or 74. The whole area is beautiful. Be sure to walk along the natural limestone valley of Wied Babu Park to the blue wall and the Il-Munqar cliffs. From there it’s a 10 minute walk to the tiny town of Wied Iż-Żurrieq. Boats that take you to the grottoes depart from the Blue Grotto Trips Departure Wharf. We had coffee and a bite in one of the low key bars while admiring the views.
From the grotto, take bus 72 to go back to Valletta (some 50 minutes). In Valletta you have to walk to the Valletta Waterfront and board the ferry to Bormla in the Three Cities. The trip lasts a couple of minutes; the views will remain with you forever. The cities of Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea (Isla), and Bormla (Cospicua), are an architect’s dream guaranteed to awe you. All you have to do is wonder about admiring the buildings and the views. We simply can’t list all of the outstanding buildings you could visit. However, our favorites are the Fort St. Angelo, St. Julien’s Church, Immaculate Conception Church, the Inquisitor Palace, and the Birgu Belvedere/Is-Simenta.
Mosta Rotunda and Ta’ Bistra Catacombs
Fortunately, Mosta is not as touristy as other parts of the island and still offers a lot. Take bus 41, 42, 45, or 48 from Triton Fountain and you’ll be there in 30 minutes. From Silema, bus 222 goes directly to the Rotunda. The Mosta Rotunda is the city’s highlight, an impressive basilica with a 37m diameter dome. Upon exiting the church, walk along Constitution Street for 20 minutes until you get to the Ta’ Bistra Catacombs, at the edge of town. All sorts of eateries and shops line Constitution Street, so don’t rush. The Catacombs are 1700 years old! We are talking about a 90m structure consisting of 16 chambers with 57 tombs. Spooky, right?
Rabat is to the east of the island. To get there, take bus 186 or 202 from Mosta Rotunda. From the bus stop it’s one block to the beautiful Howard Gardens. Cross the gardens and visit the Domus Romana, the remains of an aristocrat’s roman townhouse. The museum houses roman artifacts from all over the island. Walk along Triq San Pawl Street towards the Parish Church of St Paul and Grotto Of St Paul. Don’t forget to visit the St. Agatha’s Historical Complex and Catacombs. One of the things we love about Rabat is that it’s a real neighborhood so you get a glimpse of local life.
You have to walk back to the Howard Gardens and enter the Mdina through the incredible Medina Gate. The first two structures you’ll notice are the Standardo Tower and the National Museum of Natural History. Everything within the medina is worth visiting. Relax, get lost, and prepare to be dazzled. Regarding churches, the grandest is St. Paul’s Cathedral, overlooking the valley. Of course, you mustn’t miss the splendid Vilhena Palace and the Sta. Sofia Palace. Mesquita Square is the place to soak up the history. Be sure to walk along the walls and ditch gardens. You’ll find fantastic spots to photograph the Mdina and the rest of Rabat.
Day Trip to Gozo
Spend your final day on Malta’s second island, Gozo. Going to Gozo is an adventure in itself. The whole trip takes about 1.5 hours, and you get to cross most of the main island. Hop on bus 41 or 42 in Triton Fountain and go all the way to Cirkewwa on the coast. From Sliema, it’s bus 122. In the Cirkewwa Passenger Terminal, take the ferry to Mgarr (Gozo). Since it can get windy on deck even in summer, bring a coat. The views from the boat are unforgettable. There are buses to the entire island from the Gozo terminal.
Citadella and Victoria
Gozo’s main city is Victoria, in the heart of the island. To get there, take bus 323 from the ferry terminal to Victoria Bay, 600 meters from Citadella. On your way there, be sure to check the St. George’s Basilica and the Villa Rundle Gardens. Enter the Citadella through Cathedral Square and go up the walkway along the walls. You won’t believe your eyes. Loop all around and stop by St. Johns Bastion for pictures. Be sure to check the ditch gardens too. Within the Citadella, you have to see the Cathedral, the Folklore Museum, the Natural Science Museum, and the Old Prison.
Gozo is full of interesting places. From Victoria, take bus 311 and in 18 minutes you’ll be on the coast by the cliffs. Walk to the Blue Hole and the Azure Windows Ruins. One of the nicest beaches is in Ramla, a 25-minute ride on Bus 302 from Victoria. You can also go to Comino directly from Gozo’s Ferry Terminal and then continue on another ferry to Cirkewwa in Malta. Comino is all about beaches. The most popular one is the Blue Lagoon. You cross all Comino in 20 minutes and discover hidden beaches, cliffs, and even temples.
Where to Stay in Malta
When in Malta, we stay at the Carlton Hotel overlooking the sea in Sliema. The location is pretty good, within walking distance to restaurants, cafes, and even a lovely beach. As tiny as Baluta Bay Beach is, we can’t help but dip into the sea whenever we go have coffee under the tree at the square in front. Also, Sliema is a great place to walk at night, and party goers will be within walking distance to the clubs of St. Julian. From the hotel it’s a short bus or boat ride to Valletta and the rest of Malta.
Another incredible place to stay at is Valletta. The place is magical! Of course, when it comes to luxury nothing beats Hotel Phonecia, ideally located in front of Triton Square. Most rooms have splendid views, the service is impeccable, and the pool fantastic. The building per se is an attraction. Thus, even if you don’t stay, stop for coffee. For a boutique experience, book a room at the elegant Palazzo Jean Parisot Boutique Suites. You can’t beat the location, comfort, and top floor terrace.
Moving Around and Tips
We have mentioned how to go to places from Valletta, where most buses depart from, and Sliema. However, rest assured that wherever you decide to stay, you will be able to go everywhere in public transport. Though a lot of people rent cars, we are not into driving. That’s why we appreciate so much Malta’s public transport system. It covers everything, it’s clean, reliable, and on time. Please check the official webpage here for detailed information on routes.
Likewise, if you get a bit lost, all you have to do is ask at a bus stop, and people will direct you swiftly. That’s probably Malta’s best asset: its people. Diverse, educated, polite, and always helpful. Thank you! Regarding the weather, Malta is a perfect destination all year round. That’s the beauty of the Mediterranean. We’ve been to Santorini, Mallorca, Naples, and Nice, in winter too and had a great time. That said, be sure to grab a jacket, hat, and sunscreen since the weather changes a lot during the day.
Food and Coffee
In all honesty, we are not foodies. We like places where good quality food is easily accessible. Malta fulfills all wishes. That said, some restaurants are architectural beauties with top-notch food. In Valletta, you have to eat at Palazzo Preca in Straight Street and Guze Bistro housed in a 16th Century building on Bakery Street. To eat with views of Valletta, go to The Chophouse in Sliema. The Valletta Waterfront is a great place to have a beer and tan. Regarding coffee, we love the kiosk by Balluta Square under the tree. A must in Valetta is Café Cordina, a beautiful palazzo serving incredible cakes.