Ultimate Malta Travel Guide
I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve been to Malta 5 times! It’s actually one of the most special places in the world to me because it’s where my husband and I had our first date. From my extensive Malta travel I was able to put together the Ultimate Malta Travel Guide.
When planning your ultimate trip to Malta keep in mind that Malta is not just one island–it’s three! The three islands are Malta, Comino and Gozo. I’ve broken down this guide by island to make your travel planning a breeze.
Where is Malta?
Malta is an archipelago of three islands, Comino, Gozo and Malta. The country is located in Mediterranean sea 421 miles from Italy and east of Tunisia in Africa. Malta is part of the European Union.
Know Before you Go
- Currency: Euro
- Official Language: Maltese and English
- Best time to go: April, May, June
- Electric: 230 volts at 50 Hertz, G prong (UK)
- Drive on the left side of the road: British system
- Tap water is safe to drink although the taste can be a bit off
Make sure to have cash on you as many restaurants, cafes, taxis will be CASH only.
Is Malta safe for travel?
As I mentioned, I’ve been to Malta multiple times and I’ve always felt safe! Malta was one of the first countries I travelled to alone because of it’s reputation as a safe travel destination.
That being said, I did have my wallet stolen in Malta when I was on a night out in Paceville. By no means did this sway my view of whether or not it is a safe destination. Petty crime can happen anywhere and you should always take the proper preventative measures, even more so in nightlife hub.
Touristy locations like Sliema, St. Julian’s (where Paceville is also located) and capital city Valletta is where I would use extra precaution.
Maltese drivers are known for being reckless so you may want to opt out of renting a car. I tend to leave the driving to the experienced locals when I’m in Malta.
Is Malta expensive to travel?
Malta isn’t the cheapest country in the world to visit, but I certainly wouldn’t call it an expensive travel destination. By American and European standards it’s a pretty affordable destination, especially when you compare it to it’s neighbor, Italy.
I actually remember going out to one of Malta’s premier clubs and being shocked when I got my check. I recall getting two rum and cokes for a total of 5 euros, though that was a few years ago.
I found that out of all locations in Malta, Valletta seemed to be the priciest.
Public transportation is very cheap in Malta. (21 euros for a week bus pass)
In terms of food, you’ll find you can eat out for a reasonable price. There’s enough dining choices to keep the prices competitive and let your palate wander. A meal at a mid range restaurant will cost you about 15 euros, 3 euros or less for a beer or glass of wine. For a New Yorker, this is very cheap!
How to Get there
There a couple ways to travel to Malta. You can fly into Malta International Airport from most destinations in Europe. From the airport you can take the bus to most of the main locations on the island, pick up a hire car or get private transport.
The other way to get to Malta is by ferry from Italy or Siciliy. Catania, Pozzallo or Salerno are where the ferries disembark.
Purchase your ticket online from Direct Ferries.
What is the best way to travel around?
Traveling Malta by Public Transportation: Bus
I’ve used the buses quite a bit through out my Malta travel and they are pretty well connected. However, in some instances will take much much longer than driving and they aren’t always reliable. A week bus pass costs 21 euros which works on Gozo as well.
Traveling Malta by Taxi/Uber
Taxis are available, but can be on the expensive side. They should have set fares to certain locations between the airport and seaport. The last time I was there Uber did not exist but I do know of a company called eCabs which have their own app.
Renting a car is an option and will make getting around the island much quicker, however, it should depend on where you plan on spending your Malta travel time. Valletta, like some of the other popular locations, is a pedestrian friendly city with limited parking so having a car would be quite unnecessary.
Ferry boats/taxis can get you from Sliema to Valletta or from Malta to Comino. This is the ultimate Malta travel vessel and I would take it whenever possible. There’s nothing like getting a sea view of the island and feeling wind in your hair!
Where to Stay in Malta
You have your choice of chain hotels, boutique or historic properties, Airbnbs or apartments. I’ve stayed in a handful of properties in Malta but my favorites are always the more unique and boutique locations.
Location wise, Sliema is one of my top picks. It has great access to public transportation and Malta tours with a promenade buzzing with people restaurants, cafes and bars. Valetta is a short, few minutes ferry ride across the Sliema Harbour.
If you don’t mind moving around, you could do a couple of nights in various parts of the island.
- Ta Jolie is cute little B&B conveniently located near the Gozo ferry port.
- Thirty Seven Hotel is an old farmhouse converted into a modern sanctuary.
- Kempinski Hotel
- Murella Living
- U Collection Apartments (Valletta) are beautiful modern apartments, some with a view of the square.
- Valetta Lucente (Valletta) Is an amazing restored property. The couple who run have put their soul into this place and it definitely shows.
- Xara Palace Hotel (Mdina)
- Hugo’s Boutique Hotel (Paceville)
- The Palace (Sliema)
- Two Pillows Boutique Hostel (Sliema)
Places to visit in Malta: Discover Gozo
Gozo is the farthest from the airport so if you’re interested in fitting all three islands into your Ultimate Malta itinerary it could be a good idea to start here. You’ll have to take a bus or taxi to the ferry port in Cirkewwa, Malta and once you get to Gozo you can either rent a car, taxi or take the bus around the island. I only spent 2 nights in Gozo and 1 of the days took a sightseeing bus to make the most of my time there.
Salt Pans in Malta
Salt Pans are something I’d never seen up close. It was really quite beautiful and lies right next to the sea (as I’m sure most sea salt pans do)! I met a man called Alfred there who sits just outside his sea salt cave. He told me the cave has been in his family for years and years. I couldn’t quite tell if all the stories he was saying were completely true but it made me buy salt from him! A decent size bag of sea salt was only 2 euros so it was a real bargain anyway.
The Blue Hole/Azure window in Dwjera
This famous Azure window(featured on Game of Thrones) sat right next to the blue hole before it collapsed on March 8 2017 during severe storms. However, this area is still worth a visit to this area. The blue hole is said to be an epic diving site. You can also snorkel or simply explore this part of the coast on foot.
Ramla Bay is a red sand beach in Gozo. There are not too many sandy beaches in Malta which makes Ramla Bay busy in the peak of summer.
Tal Mixta Cave + Calypso Cave
Tal Mixta Cave overlooks Ramla bay. It’s more popular cousin, Calypso Cave is starting to collapse and is now closed to the public. I would get here before it becomes very busy!
Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica
A gorgeous shrine built between 1920 and 1931.
The capital of Gozo, known for its Medieval Citadel. Explore the Citadel and take in the view from the top.
Wied Il Ghasri
Wied Il Ghasri is an epic place to go on a walk and marvel at the sea sneaking into the middle of massive cliffs.
Ultimate Guide: Enjoy Comino and the Blue Lagoon
Comino is only 3.5 square kilometres in area. There is only one hotel, Comino Hotel, and a few farmers that reside on Comino. Besides an amazing place to hike or camp for the night, there are also hidden coves to discover gorgeous blue water. You can spend a whole day here if you wanted and should! Do a hike around Comino island or rent a beach chair by the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is one of the top reasons people travel to Malta. Through it can get extremely busy, I do recommend it as an incredible place to visit on your trip to Malta.
When visiting the crystal clear lagoon, I suggest taking the earliest ferry you can to maximise your time with the least amount of people. From Gozo you can take the 8am water taxi for 10 euros return — it takes 15 minutes. If you’re coming from Malta, take the ferry from Cirkewwa or you can take a boat tour. There are plenty of options when choosing who to book with for a full day’s tour. These tours will also take you to some of the nearby caves and usually they give you snacks and drinks. (tours leave from various locations)
Food and drinks such as salads, burgers, fresh fruit, and cocktails are available to purchase on site.
Check out my guide on how to day trip to the Blue Lagoon for more information.
Ultimate Travel Guide: Explore Malta the Main Island
Malta is the biggest of the three islands and home to the smallest national capital in the E.U. by area. Malta has influences of many countries including the British. There is actually a high population of British retirees living here. Who wouldn’t want to retire to a place with 300 sunny days a year?!
Malta Travel Map
Capital City Valletta
Valletta is one of the most historical cities in Europe, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980 and the main reason for many visitors Malta travel. In 2018 Valletta was recognised as the European Capital of Culture. It’s a treat to just wander the streets and discover every impressive alley, take in the atmosphere at a local cafe or try a traditional Maltese dish at one of the seasonal restaurants.
Enjoy Merchant Street in Valletta
Merchant Street runs through the city of Valletta and offers a range of shopping and architecture.
Marvel at the gorgeous St. John’s Co-cathedral
Go inside St. Johns Co-catherdral. A beautiful baroque church in the centre of Valletta. Entrance fee is 10 Euros per adult, 7.50 for seniors and students.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens overlook the Grand Harbour for some amazing views. There is a canon fired everyday here at noon and 4pm as a saluting ceremony. This is one of the most beautiful locations on my ultimate Malta travel itinerary.
Fort St. Elmo
Fort St. Elmo is an impressive fort with panoramic views of the harbour. The fort hosts the National War Museum.
Sliema is a great place to base yourself as it’s cheaper than Valetta with great access to the whole of the island. There is a big bus terminal as well as a ferry dock. The water taxi which takes you right over to Valletta leaves frequently from Sliema and provides a beautiful view of the capital. One way on the water taxi costs 1.50.
The Seaside Promenade not only has transportation access, but plenty of restaurants and bars. There are rock pools known as the Roman Baths which have easy swimming access. There are even build in ladder for convenience.
A sleepy fishing village with colourful boats and seafood restaurants lining the harbour. I loved taking pictures here.
St. Peter’s Pool is a beautiful lagoon 1.5 miles from Marzxlokk popular for cliff jumping snorkeling. You can walk to the lagoon from the village or get a taxi to drop you off. From the drop off point the walk is just a few minutes down to the pool. The other option is to get there by one of the traditional beautiful boats from Marzxlokk harbour, sadly this is also the most expensive option!
Paceville is the nightlife center of Malta. Touristy, loud and busy. This area isn’t for the faint hearted. Paceville is a short 5 minute drive from Sliema.
Saint Agatha’s Tower
A large watch tower in Mellehia said to have amazing sunset views. This is sadly one of the sites I didn’t get to. It is also known as the red tower for it’s lovely color. I cry at the lost potential of the perfect instagram shot here!
Visit the picturesque location of the the film set for the 1980’s musical Popeye. They left everything up and you can now visit it as a amusement park with interactive fun. A nice alternative to your typical pleasure park.
Mdina is a beautiful ancient walled city. It’s another pedestrian only area and an incredible place to spend the afternoon. Above is me in Mdina at one of Malta’s Instagram hot spots. This pretty blue door with a vine of pink flowers gets a lot of attention from photographers!
I recommend having lunch at Fontanella Tea Room and soaking up the view. This is where my husband and I actually had out first date so its a bit of nostalgia for me! We wandered around the giant ancient walls and drank Maltese wine, I remember it being such a romantic date.
The highest point in Malta providing incredible sea side views. A known location for amazing sunsets.
The 3 Cities
The 3 cities of Malta are Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. You can see them from the Upper Barrakka Gardens across the Grand Harbour. The cities have been gaining popularity in recent years with an emergence of new hospitality businesses.
Wied Iz-Zurrieq and the Blue Grotto
Wied Iz-Zurrieq is a village known for it’s sea caves, the largest and most famous being the Blue Grotto. You can get a great view of the grotto by sea or from view point located before the entrance of the village.
Eating, Drinking and Nightlife in Malta
This ultimate Malta travel guide wouldn’t be complete without telling about the food and drink scene. Malta has an interesting and eclectic cuisine influenced by a variety of cultures. Spain, Italy and Great Britain are just some of the countries that contributed to the flavors. They have a bit of a cafe culture and a passion for seasonal homegrown options.
Here are some of the local dishes you’ll want to try!
- Lampuki Pie (fish pie)
- Stuffat tal-fenek (Rabbit Stew)
- Bragioli (beef olives)
- Kapunata (Maltese version of ratatouille)
- Local Sourdough bread
Restaurants + Cafes
There are plenty of cute places to eat or enjoy a coffee. Cafe culture is definitely a thing in Malta and you’re sure to find somewhere nice to sit and people watch.
- Medina (Mdina)
- Rampina (Valletta)
- Barracuda (St. Julian’s)
- Ta’ Frenc (Gozo)
- Cafe Berry (Sliema)
- Fontanella Tea Room (Mdina)
- Black Cat Cafe (Gozo)
- Plough and Anchor Pub (Valletta)
- Wild Honey (Valletta)
- Cafe Society (Valletta)
- Yaad 32 (Valletta)
- Hole in the Wall (Sliema)
- The Thirsty Barber (St. Julian’s)
- Cafe Del Mar (St. Paul’s Bay)
- Baia Beach Club (Mellieha)
Malta Music Events
- Malta Music Week
- Valletta Jazz Festival
- Lost and Found Festival
Fun Malta Activities
Have you ever tasted a Maltese wine? Chances are, unless you’ve been to Malta that answer is no. The Maltese drink almost all of the wine they produce, with little making it out of the county. You’ll really be drinking local in this archipelago!
Here are some of the wineries you can go to for tasting experiences:
- Tal-Massar Winery
- Meridiana Wine Estate
- Marsovin Cellars
- Mar Casar Winery
Scuba diving is a main draw contributing to Malta travel. The variety that you can see beneath the sea includes multiple wrecks and caves.
There are a handful of places to ride horses in Malta and Gozo. All levels welcome.