If you’ve booked a holiday to Malta and are wondering what to do when you get there (apart from relaxing of course), do not fear. There’s plenty of things to do and amazing places to visit! After touring the island, we’ve assembled our top recommendations of areas to visit. Wherever you’re staying, taking a day-trip to any of the locations below is sure to impress, whether you’re looking for sleepy beach towns or rich culture and history.
The best places to visit in Malta
1. Mdina old city
The historic old city of Mdina is our number one recommendation for places to visit in Malta. Located in the centre of the island, this small but culture-rich area is perched on a hill top, surrounded by castle walls and great views of the countryside. Walk over the drawbridge entrance into a labyrinth of narrow streets with high walls.
You’ll find medieval, underground restaurants, small gift shops, a stunning church, and a wall walkway with dramatic views of the countryside. The pictures you’ll capture here will be some of the best from your trip and the architecture is breath-taking. We’d recommend visiting Mdina during the day and then returning one evening for dinner.
Rabat – Mdina suburb
Rabat is the outer suburb of Mdina, which has now evolved into its own town. Most people visit Mdina but completely miss Rabat, which is well worth seeing! The town is surrounded by fortifications and historic buildings that have been excellently maintained throughout the years.
Although it’s small and there isn’t a great deal to do, just absorbing the quiet environment and intriguing scenery of the town is enough to warrant a few hours of your time.
2. Golden Bay
Probably one of the best and most secluded beaches in Malta, and where you’ll find the best sunsets, Golden Bay is a strip of coastline to the west of the island. It’s a long sandy beach that doesn’t get too populated. The water is shallow, and it’s surrounded by intriguing rock formations sculpted from the cliffside.
Drive to Golden Bay for an afternoon of relaxation in the sun. It’s one of the nicer sandy beaches and it’s perfect for families. Retreat to the nearby sand dunes and mountain paths on an evening to have a leisurely walk whilst watching the sun go down.
3. The beaches and town of Mellieha
Mellieha is the relaxed region to the far north of Malta. It’s the area of choice for beach lovers and traditional family holidays and it has excellent ferry links to the islands of Comino and Gozo. Drive to Mellieha for a collection of excellent sandy beaches and places to relax.
The town of Mellieha is an old fishing village that retains its traditional setting. Life here is quiet and peaceful but you have the option for watersports, scuba diving and boat trips if you fancy a bit of an adventure. We recommend visiting Mellieha for a day-trip of relaxation on the beaches and browsing the town.
Another must-see attraction in this area is Popeye Village, an amusement park on the original set of the 1980’s Popeye movie. Read more about this in our Malta tours guide here.
4. The capital city of Valletta
Valletta is the historic capital of Malta, famous for its old buildings and impressive harbourside, built up with castle walls and fortresses from long time ago. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the most concentrated historic cities in the world and you can reach all the top attractions on foot.
Travel to Valletta for an active day of sightseeing. You’ll wander fortresses, old war tunnels, impressive churches and picturesque city streets. There’s also plenty of nice restaurants and shops to check out during your time here. For a full guide to Valletta and the best things to do, read our itinerary here.
5. Blue Lagoon, Comino Island
Blue Lagoon is a turquoise-water cove on the island of Comino, which sits to Malta’s northern coastline. This sparsely inhabited island is one of the top tourist attractions in the country, as visitors flock to see the bay on boats every day. On arrival at Blue Lagoon, you’ll see both tour boats and private yachts anchored in the bay, amongst a small beach and an intricate coastline of caves and turquoise waters.
Although very busy and touristic, it’s a nice place to relax and go for a swim or take pictures of the stunning scenery. Book a boat tour to arrive early if you can – you’ll get to see the bay will less boats and tourists for a short while. For tour recommendations, check out our guide here.
6. Victoria, the capital of Gozo
Take the ferry over to Gozo and catch the onward tour bus to Victoria, the capital of this large and captivating island. Whilst in Victoria you can stroll the historic city streets, go shopping at the street market or sit outside in a corner café. Ascending to the highest point in the city, you can tour the Citadel Castle for free. This iconic attraction has amazing views of the Gozo countryside from the castle walls and several dungeons, walkways and towers to explore.
We recommend joining a walking tour to understand the stories and history of Victoria to its fullest. Wine tasting with a view is another good activity!
7. Dwejra Bay in Gozo
To the west of Gozo is the jagged coastline of Dwejra Bay. The bay has several natural wonders carved from the rock face, and lagoons where you can swim. The views and pictures you’ll capture from the cliffside are breath-taking and its a less-touristic place to visit. Pack a picnic and relax by the rocks or don your scuba gear and go cave diving in the lagoon.
If you’d prefer not to get wet, an organised boat tour of the bay is well-suited alternative and you’ll get to see the other lagoons and bays of Gozo, which is one of the best areas for underwater exploration.
8. St Julian’s Marina
St Julian’s is a holiday hotspot and haven for luxurious hotels and activities. You’ll find a beautiful marina surrounded by yachts and nice restaurants, a small but relaxing beach and plenty of shops, restaurants, bars and casino’s. If you’re not staying in the area anyway, be sure to pay St Julian’s a visit for a vibrant nightlife and romantic cocktails on the beach.
It’s a nice place to go for walks around the marina, beach and shops during the day, coming alive at night with the upbeat bars of Paceville. For recommendations on the best places to eat in St Julian’s (and there’s a lot), check out our restaurant guide here.
9. Sliema promenade
Set afar from the impressive skyline of Valletta, the town of Sliema can be seen. This suave holiday resort attracts tourists every year for its many facilities, active nightlife and central location for exploring the island. It also has lots of affordable accommodation. The main attraction in Sliema is the long promenade that overlooks Valletta’s north harbour. Visit during the day for a scenic walk along the harbour, checking out the shops or enjoying an outdoor lunch.
Returning on an evening, you’ll find some nice bars and an upbeat but relaxed nightlife scene. If you fancy making a full day trip out of your visit to Sliema, walk to the end of the harbour to marvel at the mighty Fort Tigne or join a harbourside boat tour to see the colourful coastline with an ocean perspective.
10. Marsaxlokk fishing village
Marsaxlokk is a pretty but sleepy little fishing village on Malta’s south-coast. If you want an experience of local life in Malta, this is the place to go. The marina is filled with colourful boats, just as you would have seen on Malta postcards. You can cruise around the harbour, browse the boutique shops and cafes or just marvel at the picturesque scenery from a park bench.
Marsaxlokk offers a more relaxed and cultural day-trip compared to other areas of the island and it’s easy to get there. You may also wish to join a boat trip to capture views of the marina from the oceanside or explore the nearby coves and caves of Blue Grotto.
11. The quaint town of Naxxar
Another one of our favourite small towns in Malta is Naxxar, a region to the north-east of the island, covering only 11 square kilometres. Life here is very relaxed and the scenery is beautiful. Drive through the town and stop off for an afternoon of sightseeing or simply wander the archaic streets and have a picnic in the public gardens.
Naxxar is a vast contrast to the busy cities and tourist attractions you’ll see during your visit and is well worth the trip if you’re enticed by peace and quiet in an off-the-beaten-track Maltese town. Although it’s small, it still has some excellent restaurant options for lunch or hotels/B&B’s if you love it so much that you want to stay the night.
12. The Three Cities – Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua
The Three Cities refers to the fortified neighbourhoods to the south of Valletta. Each city is full of museums, fortresses and picturesque city streets, much like Valletta but with a more relaxed and less touristic vibe. Key things to see include the Maritime Museum, beautiful marina’s, Fort St Angelo and St Lawrence Church. Birgu is where you’ll find the most attractions and is the recommend place to visit if you only have time for one, however each location has something unique on offer and is worth visiting if you can.
Seeing the Three Cities in all their glory is a difficult task and many of the best places to see are hidden (Game of Thrones filming location) so we recommend joining a tour for the full historic experience. Alternatively, you may wish to get the ferry over from Valletta after spending some time in the capital.
13. Bugibba and St Paul’s Bay
There’s a good chance you may be staying in the St Paul’s/Bugibba area of Malta; after all, it is one of the most popular tourist resorts. Alongside the rocky beaches and many hotels and holiday apartments, it has a good nightlife, plenty of restaurants and is in a great location for boat and scuba diving trips.
Visit Bugibba for a traditional seaside resort experience. Go for a walk on the promenade with an ice cream, dine in one of the many bars and restaurants or relax on the beach. There are also plenty of gift shops and entertainment venues no matter the time of day. Other top attractions in the area include St. Paul’s Bay Wignacourt Tower, a historic fortress overlooking the bay and Bugibba Water Park. We recommend going on a boat trip or water sports tour in the morning and then explore Bugibba town for the rest of the day.
Our top tips for visiting Malta
• Rent a car if you plan on touring the Malta. It’s cheap and the island is small, so you can get almost everywhere within half an hour.
• Getting around without a car is easy too. An app called Taxify (similar to Uber) provides reasonably priced and quick service taxis. Alternatively, the local bus network operates frequently and is particularly good if you’re staying in a major town or city.
• Thoroughly research a place to stay before booking your holiday. Whether you’re looking for a traditional beach holiday, good nightlife or lots of history and culture, regions can be very different. Check out our ‘Where to stay in Malta’ guide here for inspiration.
• As tempting as it may be to relax in the comfort of your hotel, make sure you go on a least a couple of day trips! Even though Malta is tiny, it’s packed with cool things to see and do. Equally, make plenty of time for relaxation. The beaches, hotels and weather are idyllic for winding down.
• Malta has great weather in Spring and Autumn so consider travelling outside the summer period to save money and beat the crowds.
• English is spoken throughout and you’ll get by everywhere without any issues.
• Try to avoid travelling during rush hour in the morning and evening. There’s a surplus of cars so traffic can get very congested during these times. Have an extra-long breakfast or set off before the work commute starts!
• Malta is highly developed and modernised, so you’ll find good mobile phone signal throughout and all the usual services you’d expect. Most bars and restaurants have websites, so you can browse menus online before arrival and Google Maps works just like it would at home.
For a ideas on the top things to do in Malta, check out our guide in partnership with Travel Through Life here.