Malta Itinerary – the best things to do in Malta in 3 or 4 days

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Europe, Itineraries, Malta, Roadtrips | 0 comments

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

This post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. You can read my full disclosure here.

With its small size, direct flights from so many European cities, and plenty of sunshine all year round, the Maltese archipelago is a perfect destination for a long weekend or a week-long getaway in the Mediterranean.

The thought of this tiny island nation sitting between Sicily and Northern Africa, with a unique culture, shaped by Phoenician, Roman, and Arabic influences, has always sounded very intriguing to me. Fueled by some stunning photos of brightly turquoise waters, and an excellent flight offer, I finally decided to treat myself to a little island getaway.

I spent four amazing days in Malta, getting lost in narrow old town lanes, floating in the crystal clear water, and exploring Malta’s gorgeous coastline.

In this post, I put together the perfect 3- or 4-day itinerary, including all the best things to do in Malta. Find out how to beat the crowds at the Blue Lagoon, where to swim in almost-private rock pools, and how to explore a hidden city below Valletta. And I’ll share my Maltese friend’s tip for one of the best sunset spots in Gozo!

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

How to get around in Malta

If you want to make the most of your time in Malta, I’d recommend renting a car. This will allow you to explore more remote areas and hidden gems, and you won’t waste time waiting for buses. The roads in Malta are good, but often relatively narrow and it can be tricky to find parking spaces in the city. A small car will definitely make your life a lot easier.

If you don’t want to drive, public buses are an easy and budget-friendly alternative, connecting all of the major tourist areas in Malta and Gozo. You can purchase tickets in cash directly from the bus driver, or buy a 12 single-day journeys card for 15 euros, and use the journey planner to plan your trips.

The best things to do in Malta in 3 Days

In three days, you’ll have enough time to explore some of Malta’s must-sees like Valletta, cruise the Blue Lagoon, and spend some time soaking up the sun along the coast. But I would recommend skipping Gozo and spending the three days exploring the island of Malta.

Colorful Luzzus at Marsaxlokk Harbor in Malta
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Day 1 – explore the South eastern Coast of Malta

Explore the Blue Grotto and Malta’s coastline

A short drive from Marsaxlokk, you can find another one of Malta’s coastal gems, the Blue Grotto. The sea cave complex located near the tiny fishing village of Wied Iż-Żurrieq consists of a 30-meter high main arch and six other caves, all of which can only be accessed by boat.

The Blue Grotto is the scene of a very unique natural spectacle! When the sunlight reflects on the white sandy seafloor, it lights up the caves in stunning blue hues! Try visiting between early morning and midday, especially during the summer months, for the best position of the sun in relation to the caves.

How to get to the Blue Grotto | Once you arrive in Wied Iż-Żurrieq, head down to the boat ramp, where a small kiosk sells tickets for the Blue Grotto Cruise. Then hop into one of the traditional luzzus for a 20-minute cruise along the coast and to the Blue Grotto. Tickets cost approximately 8 euros.

If you don’t want to pay for a cruise, head to the Blue Grotto viewpoint instead. Type “Blue Wall and Grotto Viewpoint” into Google Maps. A short walk will take you from the parking to this epic viewpoint with perfect views of the 30-meter rock arch, and the turquoise water below.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Visit the fishing village of Marsaxlokk

If you’ve seen pictures of Malta, you have probably seen Marsaxlokk (pronounced Marsashlok) before. A bunch of colorful boats bobbing in the Mediterranean Sea in front of a sand-colored old town with a church tower?

Yes, that’s Marsaxlokk, Malta’s largest fishing village. Stroll along the harbor front, taking in the colorful luzzus (typical Maltese fishing boats), and enjoy some fresh fish or seafood for lunch.

One of the best things to do in Malta on Sundays is visiting the Marsaxlokk fish market, to mix with the locals and see fresh-off-the-boat fish and seafood. In addition, the market now also sells local produce like honey, jams, wines, and even clothes and souvenirs.

Where & when | The market takes place at Marsaxlokk Harbor. It starts at 6 or 7 AM and lasts until 12.30 PM. Make sure you get there early before all the fish is gone!

Go for a dip at St. Peter’s Pool

Located less than a 10-minute’s drive from Marsaxlokk, St. Peter’s Pool is a popular swimming spot amongst locals and tourists in Malta. This beautiful rock pool is a perfect spot for cliff jumping (or watching other people jump), a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean, and soaking up the sun.

A word of warning though, St. Peter’s Pool does get very crowded! But don’t worry if big crowds aren’t your thing (are they really anyone’s thing?).

Walk along the bottom of the cliffs on the right side of St. Peter’s Pool and you’ll get to Peter’s Little Brother, a smaller and less crowded rock pool. We visited Malta during high season, St. Peter’s Pool was packed, yet we still had Peter’s Little Brother almost completely to ourselves!

How to get to St. Peter’s Pool | The road is signposted all the way to the parking spot at the top of the cliffs. If you don’t have a car, you can catch a boat from Marsaxlokk Harbor for about 10 euros.

Whenever I travel abroad, I always use Airalo to get an eSim with local data. It’s the easiest way to stay connected!
Best things to do in Malta - visit the old capital Mdina.
Narrow street in Mdina, Malta

Day 2 – Mdina, Rabat & Blue Lagoon

Get lost in the cobbled streets of Mdina and Rabat

Mdina, Malta’s former capital, is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful walled cities. It sits perched on a hill overlooking large parts of the island and is filled with well-maintained, century-old buildings. Strolling through the cobbled streets of Mdina is one of the best things to do in Malta if you need a break from the beach and sea.

Head through the gate (you might recognize it from Game of Thrones) and get lost inside the city walls.

Rabat is located right next to Mdina, with only a park separating the two cities. It used to be a suburb, but is now a much bigger town, but less busy and touristy. It has a stunning old town, with colorful doors and balconies, and narrow streets to get lost in.

If you’re not having breakfast at your hotel, hold out until you’re in Rabat and have brunch at Coffee Circus. Located in the old town, the cafe features an epic rooftop terrace, great coffee, and a breakfast menu including pancakes and shakshuka.

Once you’re done exploring Mdina, leave the city walls and head to Rabat.

Rabat is located right next to Mdina, with only a park separating the two cities. It used to be a suburb, but is now a much bigger town, but less busy and touristy. It has a stunning old town, with colorful doors and balconies, and narrow streets to get lost in.

If you’re not having breakfast at your hotel, hold out until you’re in Rabat and have brunch at Coffee Circus. Located in the old town, the cafe features an epic rooftop terrace, great coffee, and a breakfast menu including pancakes and shakshuka.

Explore the north-eastern coast of Malta on your way up north

After exploring Mdina and Rabat, slowly start making your way up to the northern shore, from where you’ll hop onto your Blue Lagoon Cruise. Depending on how much time you have, you can make a few stops and detours along the way:

  • The Dingli Cliffs towering limestone cliffs, stretching over 2 km along Malta’s southwest coast. The views from the up to 250-meter-high rock faces are impressive, and especially stunning at sunset. Dingli Cliffs are also where you’ll find Malta’s highest point.
  • One of the most popular beaches in Malta, Paradise Beach sits at the northernmost point of the island close to Cirkewwa. It is relatively small and can get quite crowded, especially during summer. There are parking spots, a restaurant, and a kayak rental nearby.
  • 1n 1980, a musical production of Popeye was filmed in Malta. The village built for production is still there and is now a theme park. Entry to the village is 20 euros, but from Popeye Village Viewpoint, you can get a beautiful view of the village and the picturesque bay for free.
Blue Lagoon in Malta

End your day with a Blue Lagoon Cruise

Cruising the Blue Lagoon is for sure one of the best things to do in Malta. The lagoon, known for its crystal clear, azure water and sea caves, is located on the west side of the island of Comino, between Malta and Gozo.

A trip to the Blue Lagoon deserves a spot on any Malta itinerary, but don’t go there expecting untouched nature and solitude. The Blue Lagoon is extremely popular and a multitude of cruises bring hundreds of people to the lagoon daily, especially during the busy summer months from July to September.

There are some ways to avoid the biggest crowds at the Blue Lagoon!
  • Try to avoid peak times (midday) and visit the Blue Lagoon in the early morning or late afternoon, ideally on a weekday. If possible, visit during the shoulder season (May, June, or September) rather than during very busy July and August.
  • To beat the crowds on a budget, join a sunset cruise. You’ll arrive at the lagoon in the late afternoon when many of the boats have already left, enjoy some time swimming in the turquoise water, and watch the sunset on your way home.
  • Or treat yourself to a private Blue Lagoon Cruise. While it took quite a chunk out of our holiday budget, it was so worth it. We got to spend some time in the smaller and more quiet Crystal Lagoon, before heading over to the Blue Lagoon, where we enjoyed a peaceful dip away from the crowds. And we got to watch the most magical sunset on the way back.

Read all about visiting the Blue Lagoon in my complete Blue Lagoon guide.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Day 3 – Explore Malta’s capital City Valletta

No trip to Malta would be complete without spending some time in Valletta. Malta’s capital is one of Europe’s smallest capitals and boasts an astonishing density of historical buildings and monuments. UNESCO even listed the whole city as a world heritage site.

Another interesting thing about the city, sitting on a peninsula between two harbors, is that it was designed in an almost uniform grid, which helps the sea breeze circulate and keeps the city cool. In other words, it gets quite windy. Remember this when picking your outfit for the day!

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Exploring Valletta definitely deserves a spot on the list of all the best things to do in Malta. Spend some time wandering around and taking it all in. Here are some of the things you should’t miss:

  • Check out the historic buildings with their colourful doors, and traditional Maltese balconies. If you want to learn more about Valletta’s best-kept secrets and culinary delights, hop on a walking tour with a local guide.
  • Take a break from strolling and enjoy the sweeping views over the harbour from Upper Barakka Gardens. At noon and 4 PM, you can also watch the Saluting Battery firing cannons from the ramparts just below Upper Barakka Gardens (daily, except on Sundays).
  • Join an Underground Tour to experience Valletta on a deeper level (pun intended!). Under the city, you’ll find a whole maze of tunnels and shelters, used as a way to escape the city, store grain, and even as a refuge to over 38.000 people during the air raids of the Second World War.
  • Grab a coffee and a snack at Lot 61 Coffee Roastery. Lot 61 sources its coffee beans from different farms around the world, and then roast them in the village of Burmarrad in Malta. The coffee is delicious, and so are the cookies and cake you can also get at the coffee shop!

The best things to do in Malta in 4 days

If you have an extra day (or two) to spend in Malta, add a trip to Gozo to the mix. Gozo, Malta’s little sister, is greener, quieter, and more rural than Malta.

How to get from malta to gozo

Getting from Malta to Gozo is very quick and easy. The two islands are connected by a 25-minute ride with the Gozo Channel Ferry. You can’t book your spot in advance, just check the timetable here and rock up at the ferry terminal in Cirkewwa when you’re ready to cross the Gozo Channel.

There is no ticket booth at the ferry terminal in Malta. You’ll pay for both ways in Mgarr on the way back to Malta. Here’s what you can expect to pay (February 2023):

  • Standard Passenger Fare: €4.65
  • Car & Driver Standard Fare: €15.70
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Day 2 – Mdina, Rabat & one night in Gozo

After exploring Mdina and Rabat, make your way up to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal to catch the ferry to Gozo. From the Gozo ferry terminal in Mgarr, head to your hotel to relax by the pool for a while or hit one of Gozo’s beaches for a dip in the Mediterranean.

  • Hondoq ir-Rummien, a small sandy beach near Mgarr and right opposite Comino island. There’s parking, public toilets, and a small cafe serving food, drinks, and ice cream.
  • San Blas Beach, a sandy beach on the north coast of Gozo. It’s more secluded and therefore often a bit less crowded than some of the other beaches. There’s a small parking and a cafe close by.
  • Ramla Beach, considered one of Gozo’s best beaches, is a wide stretch of red sand near the village of Nadur. It’s great for swimming and snorkeling, and there’s parking and a few cafes nearby.
Watching the sunset from Xlendi in Gozo, Malta.
Watching the sunset from Xlendi in Gozo, Malta.

End your day with sunset & dinner in Xlendi

When we asked our Maltese friends for their best Gozo recommendations, the first thing they told us was to visit Xlendi tower for sunset. This is a  recommendation that definitely deserves a spot on the list of the best things to do in Malta.

This small watch tower is perched on a cliff by the entrance of Xlendi bay. It was built around 1650 to defend the bay and keep out smugglers, pirates, and quarantine evaders. And as I mentioned, it’s a perfect sunset spot, so grab a bottle of wine and some snacks and enjoy the show!

After the sunset, head down to Xlendi for a dinner by the beach. One of the places we would have loved to try is Terrazzo. Unfortunately, we didn’t make a reservation and they were fully booked, but it looked amazing and the location is 10/10.

Where to stay in Gozo

Looking for a unique place to stay in Gozo? Look no further: Cesca Boutique Hotel is a quaint but stylish boutique hotel on the edge of Xlendi valley, about a 15-minute drive from the Mgarr ferry terminal.

Set in a 350-year-old converted farmhouse, the hotel is now owned by the original owner’s great-grandsons. It features 18 uniquely decorated rooms, each with a balcony overlooking Xlendi valley, and a rooftop pool with beautiful views of the valley and the town of Victoria in the background.

Swimming in the Blue Hole in Gozo, Malta

Day 3 – explore Gozo & cruise the Blue Lagoon

Take a dip in the Blue Hole

Start your day early and head off to the Blue Hole in Dwerja before it gets crowded. One of Gozo’s most popular attractions, the Blue Hole is a natural sinkhole with an archway leading into the open sea at a depth of around 10 meters.

The Blue Hole is one of Malta’s best dive sites.

Being surrounded by a row of sheltering rocks forming a protected pool, the Blue Hole is also a great swimming spot. If you want to enjoy this spot without the crowds, you’ll have to head there pretty early in the day. Despite the crowds, going for a swim in the Blue Hole (or a dive) is a must and one of the absolute best things to do in Malta.

How to get to the Blue Hole | Google Maps will lead you straight to the Blue Hole parking spot in Dwerja. From there, a path leads you across the rocks down to the Blue Hole. There is a restaurant and a little ice cream place at the parking where you can stock up on snacks and water.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Brunch at one80 Kitchen & explore Gozo

I had to add a good brunch place to this list of the best things to do in Malta. If you agree, skip breakfast at your hotel and head straight to One80 Kitchen at Mgarrs yacht marina for some fluffy pancakes or eggs Benedict. Added bonus: delicious iced coffee and freshly pressed orange juice.

After brunch, go on a little road trip around Gozo. Due to the small size of the island, you can see a lot in just a few hours. Mark a few spots on your map and off you go.

  • Like the Dingli Cliffs on Malta, the Sanap Cliffs are towering limestone cliffs extending along the coast of Gozo. They are up to 130 meters high and can also be reached on a hike from Xlendi Bay.
  • Ggantija is a remarkable UNESCO world heritage site in Gozo. The ancient neolithic complex consists of the remnants of two temples, built between 3.600 and 3.200 B.C. The name Ġgantija derives from the Maltese word ‘ġgant’ (giant), and Gozitans used to believe the temples were built by a race of giants
  • Gozo’s main town Victoria, also known as Rabat, is a small but beautiful town with lively streets, old houses with traditional, colorful balconies, and an ancient citadel. Go for a stroll, shop at the daily morning market, take a break at one of the cafes, or visit the citadel.
  • Tal-Mixta Cave is an iconic viewpoint in Gozo, known for its stunning views over the red-sanded Ramla Bay. It’s located at the eastern end of the bay and you can either walk up from the beach or enter through the back of the cave from the parking lot at the end of Triq l-Għassa tal-Maħraġ.
Blue Lagoon in Malta

Head back to Malta to cruise the Blue Lagoon

Catch the Gozo Channel Ferry back to Malta around 4 PM. Check the ferry timetable in advance here and remember that you will have to pay for both ways before getting onto the ferry. The 4 PM ferry should get you back just in time for a sundowner cruise to the Blue Lagoon (make sure to book one departing from Cirkewwa).

Where to stay in Malta

Despite the small size, there are plenty of accommodation options in Malta, from quaint guesthouses and charming boutique hotels to international chains and large beachside resorts. Here are some suggestions on where to stay in the heart of Valletta, along the coast, or in a charming local village.

  • For a stay in the heart of Valletta, book yourself into Valletta Lucente GuesthouseThe Barakka Gardens, the cathedral, and the Triton fountain are all in close proximity to the guesthouse, making it an ideal base while exploring Valletta.
  • South Wind Guesthouse is a small guesthouse in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. Make sure to book a sea view room with lovely views of the colorful luzzus bobbing in the harbor.
  • For a bit of luxury, book one of the 8 suites at Lulu Boutique Hotel in Zebbug in the center of Malta. Two of the uniquely decorated suites come with a private jacuzzi, and the giant penthouse suite even has its own rooftop pool and terrace.
  • Talbot & Bons Bed & Breakfast is a 400-year-old farmhouse converted into a charming boutique guesthouse. It’s a great option if you’re looking for accommodation at a great price, close to Malta International Airport.
Pin this post on Pinterest to remember all the best things to do in Malta for a future trip!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

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Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.