Malta may be a small island, but it’s packed with cool things to do and places to see. When you’re not relaxing by your hotel pool or on a sandy beach (which we’re sure you can’t wait to do!), venture to other areas of the island for rich culture, history and fun boat trips and sights. We’ve assembled our top 10 Malta excursions, tours and day-trip recommendations to help you plan your visit. Tours are ideal if you like everything organised or want to try a fun group activity such as horse-riding. Many organisers offer pick up and drop off at your hotel, so you won’t even need a car.
Read on for our top 10 Malta excursions and day trips.
1. Comino and Malta boat trip
Without a doubt, our number one tour in Malta was a boat trip from the holiday resort town of Bugibba to the islands of Comino and Gozo. These islands are must-see locations for any visit and are very different to each other. Comino is a small island with only a few permanent residents and a small, turquoise cove called Blue Lagoon. It’s one of the most popular spots in Malta, where tourists flock to see the beauty of bay and relax. It has a small beach but it’s very crowded.
On the other hand, Gozo is a larger island with a rich history and growing local population. It has plenty of nice resorts and towns, and plenty to see and do. The highlight here is a trip to the old Citadel castle in the capital of Victoria. Visit both islands as part of a boat trip and spend the day relaxing and sightseeing at your leisure. Personally, this is our favourite day-trip and all transport is organised for you.
Recommended tour: We opted for the top-rated Hornblower Cruises and would highly recommend them. They’re very good value, the staff are friendly and the tour is very well organised. There’s also plenty of food and drink options on board for very reasonable prices. They have two tour options – Comino only or Comino and Gozo and we recommend taking the onward trip to Gozo (Option B).
Cost: €25 per person for a full-day group tour (€20 for Comino island only)
2. Horse Riding by Golden Bay
A slightly different but amazing way to see Malta’s quiet but beautiful west coast is a sunset horse-riding tour. You’ll get to ride out to the countryside amongst rugged natural terrain and abandoned monuments, welcomed by an excellent view of the western coastline, including Golden Bay. Their west-coast Malta excursions are organised into groups for all levels of experience and both complete beginners and experienced riders will feel comfortable.
Choose a sunset tour for romantic views and pictures or a longer day-time tour for different sites and scenery.
Recommended tour: Golden Bay Horse Riding are the top-rated stables on the island. The staff are very friendly and professional, and tours are reasonably priced. Go for a longer horse-ride during the day and wander the golden beaches or arrive later for their top-rated sunset tour of the nearby grasslands and cliff-sides.
Cost: ~ €30 per person for a 90-minute tour
3. Walking tour of Valletta
Often the best way to see a city’s main sites is a guided walking tour by a local. They’re inexpensive and give you a wealth of information that you wouldn’t know if you haven’t spent hours researching. Valletta is the capital city of Malta and is simply a must-see. It’s the location for many of the iconic pictures of Malta’s famous fortresses, castle walls and fishing boats by the harbour, and is host to ancient buildings, narrow streets and a stunning Church.
Join a walking tour to see the key sites within a few hours and then break off from the group to explore at your leisure.
Key sites to visit on a walking tour include Lower Barraka Gardens and canon batteries, the mighty Fort St Elmo, the city main square and gate entrance, and St John’s Cathedral.
Recommended tour: Ideal for first time visitors that want all the information they can handle about the wonders of Valletta, this small group walking tour by Colour My Travel is excellently reviewed. See all the sites within an intimate 3-hour group tour. For a private tour, we recommend Tours by Joan, a knowledgeable Malta Expat.
Cost: ~ €30 per person for a 3-hour tour
4. Boat trip around Marsaxlokk fishing village and Malta’s south coast
Set sail for Malta’s south coast for a chance to see the quieter side of the island. Marsaxlokk is a local fishing village famous for its colourful boats in the marina, harbour-side market and quaint little gift shops. In addition to this colourful village, the nearby area has several key attractions. Visit the impressive Blue Grotto cave complex, a series of limestone openings in the rock face. There’s also the megalithic ruins of Hagar Qim Temples – a UNESCO World Heritage Site, St Peter’s Pool; a turquoise bay for swimming and Għar Dalam, a prehistoric grotto.
Whether you just to want to see Marsaxlokk or are intrigued to check out the caves, a day-trip to the south coast is a fun daytime activity and it’s far less populated than the towns and resorts of the east.
Recommended tour: Rent a car or catch the bus to Marsaxlokk fishing village and you can join a boat trip to the Blue Caves on arrival is you wish. If you want a full day tour with many sites included, plus a 3 -course lunch, we recommend this tour by Robert Arrigo & Sons.
Cost: ~ €56 per person for a 7-hour tour
5. Game of Thrones filming locations tour
If you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you’ll be pleased to know that Malta and Gozo was the filming location for many of of the King’s Landing scenes and other key events in the show. Either rent a car see the key filming locations yourself using The World is a Playground’s excellent guide here, or join organised Malta excursions such as this one. The reviews are excellent and the guides do a great job at setting the scene with background information for each set you’ll visit.
Key filming locations include Mdina Old Town, Rabat and countryside spots across the island, mostly making up the dusty but majestic King’s Landing from the series. This Malta excursion even has two casting actors for Seasons One and Two.
Recommended tour: Spend an entire day seeing the key GOT filming locations with extras from the show. This Malta excursion is the recommended option. Even if you aren’t familiar with the TV series, it’s a good way to see the key sites and learn some interesting facts about Malta.
Cost: ~€60 for a full day (9 hour) tour
6. Sliema to Valletta harbour cruise
Set sail for the iconic Valletta harbourside where you’ll capture pretty pictures of the coloured boats in the marina and panoramic views of the city walls, including fortresses, church turrets and the canon batteries of Upper Barraka Gardens. A boat tour is the best way to see the city at a glance before exploring the sites in more detail on foot.
We recommend boarding a boat tour at Valletta marina to see all of the key sites. Some boats cover the entire island, so you get a chance to see the key forts and bay. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry boat to Valletta from Sliema for a shorter and cheaper harbourside experience.
Recommended tour: Captain Morgan’s Cruises is one of the most popular and top-rated options. They run multiple tours throughout the day and provide a detailed commentary for each site you’ll pass. They also offer longer tours of the wider island if you want to see more. For a quick ferry crossing from Sliema to Valletta, the cost is only ~€3 for a return ticket.
Cost: ~€16 per person for a boat tour (~€3 for a return ferry ticket)
7. Scuba Diving tour
The turquoise water surrounding Malta, Comino and Gozo are ideal for underwater exploration. Being such a strategical importance during many wars and battles, the seas beneath the islands have numerous plane wrecks, war monuments, ships and other artefacts of history that you can investigate as part of a scuba diving tour. There’s over 100 dive sites spread across the area and good temperatures and visibility make it a top spot for both learners and enthusiasts.
The seaside towns of Bugibba and Mellieħa, and island of Gozo, are the main diving hotspots. Being a small island, you can easily cover multiple dive sites within a day and the underwater landscapes are captivating to even the most experienced divers. Drive (or stay) to the north of the island and book with a diving centre in advance.
Recommended tour: Bezz Diving Centre in Mellieħa is the top-rated diving centre in Malta, covering top dive sites such as Um El Faroud shipwreck, Cirkewwa reef and many more. Tours start at 45 euros per person for beginners and more advanced options are available for PADI pro’s wanting a challenge.
Cost: Between €45 for a beginner dive to €290 for multiple day dive expeditions.
8. Wine tasting experience
Although Malta may not be world renowned for its wine, hot and humid temperatures make it a perfect place to produce local varieties and a handful of wineries have won wine awards rivalling European neighbour’s Italy. A wine tasting tour is a great way to explore the local produce in a nice outdoor setting, and it’s a fun thing to do with your partner.
You’ll find wineries at all corners of Malta, some in more secluded areas than others. Arriving just before sunset and enjoying spectacular views whilst exciting your taste buds is an activity you’re sure to love.
Recommended tour: We personally recommend Meridiana near the old town of Mdina. This vast wine estate runs regular tours and has a smooth collection of local red’s. Ta Mena winery on Gozo is also excellent if you’re staying on the island. If you’d like to do a spot of sightseeing combined with your wine tasting tour, check out The Three Cities Tour, bookable on Viator.
Cost: ~ €30 per person
9. Popeye village and the beaches of Mellieħa
Another superb day-trip is an excursion to the secluded and popular beach resort area of Mellieħa. It’s no dispute that this location has some of the finest golden sand beaches on the island and many families choose to stay here for a traditional beach holiday. It’s also home to the famous ‘Pop-eye village’, the film set of the 1980’s Popeye movie. Here you can wander the cartoon style village, take a trip on the boat to see the village from afar and dine in the themed restaurants and shacks. It’s a cool thing to do for the whole family.
Extend your day by visiting the nearby beaches of Ghadira/Mellieħa Bay. It’s a great day out for both families and couples. Rent a car and make your way to Mellieħa yourself or book a Popeye-Village tour in advance here for an organised visit with hotel pickup.
Cost: From ~€12 per person for Pop-eye Village entry, depending on the month you visit.
10. Walking tour of Victoria / Gozo island tour
Gozo island to the north of Malta is a highlight to any trip. It’s rich in culture, beautiful to look at each corner of the island has something different to see. Top sights include the Citadel and markets of the capital, Victoria, the stunning bays of the coastline, pre-historic temples and vast countryside. Some people opt to stay overnight on Gozo and explore it to the fullest but many more visit as part of a day-trip from Malta.
Explore the island in a full day: Catch the early ferry from Bugibba or another Maltese seaside town and join a tour group at the Gozo port. Many tours are available, both private and group, however we recommend this one. They check out the key sites such as the Ġgantija Temples, Victoria and the Citadel and a relaxing bay with excellent views. A slightly cheaper option is the open-top bus. It covers most of the island and will pick you up and drop you off back at the main port.
Victoria walking tour: If you’re only planning on spending a half day in Gozo or Victoria is where you want to spend most of your time, a walking tour of the Citadel is a must. This impressive castle is on a hilltop with stunning views of the nearby fields, and it has a lot of historic significance. Join this free but top-rated walking tour to get an interesting background knowledge about the capital.
Cost: Victoria walking tour – FREE | Gozo island tour – From ~€20 per person
We hope we’ve inspired you to book an action-packed day-out whilst you’re in Malta. All the above Malta excursions are top-rated tour companies and suppliers, many of which we’ve used personally. As tempting as it may be to enjoy the hot Maltese sun and relax, be sure to spare a little time for exploring this beautiful island!