Malta – a southern European archipelago of islands – boasts alluring ancient attractions and an enchanting Mediterranean way of life. Here’s our ultimate guide to the best things to do in Malta.
Where is Malta?
As an archipelago of islands, Malta occupies a prime position in the Mediterranean Sea. Just 50 miles south of Italy and 175 miles away from the coast of Africa, Malta brings together a melting pot of cultures, making it unlike anywhere else in the world. Malta occupies a total area of 122 square miles, giving it the accolade of the tenth smallest country in the world. The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English, making it a destination that is all-at-once captivating and easy for international visitors to get by in. The country enjoys hot and dry summers, mild winters and a pleasant sea breeze, making it a charming destination year-round.
This blog is a comprehensive guide on which fascinating places to visit whilst on your luxury holiday to Malta, to find the information that’s relevant to you, use the handy content links below:
- Best things to do in Malta
- Romantic things to do in Malta
- Free things to do in Malta
- Shopping in Malta
- Fine dining in Malta
- Events & Festivals in Malta
Best things to do in Malta
Malta’s capital city of Valletta – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is a history-steeped must-visit spot for all visitors to the country. Established by the Knights of St. John in the 1500s, the walled city has an abundance of history and heritage to soak up by simply strolling around the quaint streets.
Don’t miss the glorious promenade at the waterfront too, where you can also enjoy cruises that take in all the sights of Valletta and neighbouring Sliema, including the 17th century St Julian’s Tower.
There are numerous museums in Valletta, including the National Museum of Archaeology, which displays objects dating as far back as 5000 BC. Visit the Manoel Theatre – one of the oldest working theatres in Europe – for its glorious architecture and musical performances in both English and Maltese.
For a little respite from the capital, make your way to the Upper Barrakka Gardens on Valletta’s outskirts, for pretty gardens and excellent views over Malta, which also allows a glimpse of the oldest operational saluting battery in the world. The National Museum of Archaeology is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00; entry costs €5. Two-hour long harbour cruises cost €16 per person. Tickets for performances at Manoel Theatre start from €13.
This small island in between Malta and Gozo is just over one square mile in size. Incorporating both a bird sanctuary and nature reserve, the island is the perfect spot to visit for those who love nature and activity, with diving, snorkelling, windsurfing and walking all popular pastimes here. Comino is especially known for the Blue Lagoon, with its white sandy beach and crystal clear waters. Ferries from Malta to Comino and the Blue Lagoon depart several times a day. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes and costs €10 per person.
The ancient capital of Malta, Mdina is found in a hilltop location in the centre of the island. Explore the fascinating fortifications, wander around the postcard-perfect streets filled with medieval and baroque architecture, and visit the 17th century St. Paul’s Cathedral, with its fascinating murals on the ceiling. The Fontanella Tea Garden in Mdina is well-loved by islanders and visitors – perfect for a tea and cake pitstop. Just outside Mdina, the St. Paul’s Catacombs – a captivating and history-filled Roman burial chamber – can be discovered. St. Paul’s Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday, 9:30 to 16:45, and Sunday from 15:00 to 16:45. Admission costs €5, which includes entry to the museum. Fontanella Tea Garden is open daily from 10:00 to 00:00. St. Paul’s Catacombs are open daily from 9:00 to 17:00; entry costs €5.
Malta’s neighbouring island of Gozo is worth visiting for an alternative perspective on the Maltese archipelago. This is the perfect place to unwind, go on walks and visit the Ggantija Temples – one of seven UNESCO World Heritage Neolithic temples in Malta. Be sure to visit the others across Malta too, including the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum. The ancient fortified city known as Citadella is also the perfect spot for architecture fans visiting Gozo. Ferries from Malta to Gozo take 20 minutes and the round trip costs €4.65. The Ggantija Temples are open daily from 9:00 to 17:00; entry costs €9. Citadella can be accessed daily. Tickets cost just €5, which includes entry to numerous museums in Gozo too.
Water sports and traditional activities
Malta is a popular destination for those who enjoy scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, sailing and other water sports. Exploring the underwater world surrounding the islands is especially popular due to the artificial reefs and numerous shipwrecks, such as HMS Maori. Several underwater caves surrounding Comino make the island a popular diving spot too. For those who prefer to stay on solid ground, bocci is a popular Maltese activity that is similar to lawn bowling, with clubs found across the Maltese archipelago. Guided scuba dives in Malta cost from approximately €32 per person, while half day snorkelling tours cost around €40. The most popular windsurfing location in Malta is Ghallis Rock and two hour lessons cost from €65 per person. Hiring a sailing boat costs from €30 per hour.
Romantic things to do in Malta
One of Malta’s lesser known beaches, Golden Bay is a soft sandy beach in the north of the island. The scenery incorporating tall cliffs, the fine sandy beach and the glistening sea makes this a romantic spot to spend some time, with sunset horse riding experiences available to complete the idyllic picture. Horse riding tours in Golden Bay start from €30 per person.
Meridiana Wine Estate
The wines from this pristine wine estate can be found on the menus of all the best restaurants in Malta. For a romantic afternoon out where you can make a toast or two, book a tour of the wine estate, which includes wine tasting too. Meridiana Wine Estate is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 17:00 – tours must be made by appointment in advance. Tours including wine tasting costs €20 per person.
Palazzo Parisio and Gardens
This palace in Naxxar is one of Malta’s lesser known gems. It’s still resided in by the descendants of Marquis Giuseppe Scicluna, who bought the property in the 19th century. With Baroque architecture, elegant Maltese art, a tea room and magnificent gardens, it’s also possible to visit the house and gardens to explore for yourself. Palazzo Parisio is open daily from 9:00 to 17:30. Entrance to the house and gardens costs €15, or €5 for entrance to the gardens only.
Palazzo Parisio and Gardens
Armier and Little Armier
These beaches in northern Malta are a little quieter and more rugged than the island’s more popular beaches. Both are pristine spots to find a quiet corner and enjoy the crystal clear waters and views of Gozo.
Free things to do in Malta
A street in The Three Cities
A traditional village on the outskirts of Valletta, Dingli is located on a plateau an incredible 250 metres above sea level. This is a great place to go for a stroll to enjoy immense sea views from one of the highest points in Malta.
The Three Cities
Explore another side of Malta by visiting Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua – collectively known as The Three Cities. Located just across the harbour from Valletta, these cities previously comprised Malta’s impressive long line of fortifications, and are perfect for enchanting afternoon strolls.
San Anton Gardens
Found on the grounds of the Maltese President’s residence, the San Anton Gardens have been open to the public since the 1880s. A series of walled gardens with centuries’ old trees and a riot of colourful flowers, this is a glorious spot to spend some time. The San Anton Gardens are open daily from 7:00 to 17:00, or until 18:00 from June to September.
Shopping in Malta
This picturesque fishing village in southern Malta is perfect for a stroll while soaking up traditional Maltese life. The village is also popular for its Sunday market, where it’s possible to buy locally produced honey and jam as well as a whole host of souvenirs.
Ta’ Qali Crafts Village
Located on a fascinating former RAF wartime airfield near Mdina, Ta’ Qali Crafts Village is the ideal place for a half day excursion. The village itself is filled with an array of arts and crafts designed and made by local artisans, including the glassmakers Mdina Glass and their impressive glass blown creations. Ta’ Qali Crafts Village is open Monday to Friday, 9:00 to 16:00, and Saturday to Sunday, 9:00 to 12:00.
Fine dining in Malta
The restaurant of the Xara Palace Hotel in Mdina, de Mondion has won numerous awards for its haute cuisine. Expect fine dining from the top floor of the boutique hotel, with a modern blend of French and Maltese cuisine matching the immaculate views over Malta. de Mondion is open Monday to Wednesday and Friday to Saturday from 19:30 to 22:30.
A favourite among celebrities visiting Malta, Barracuda in St. Julian’s is located directly on the waterfront in a 200-year-old villa. The food is modern Mediterranean, with an inventive twist on local and seasonal foods sourced daily. Barracuda is open daily from 19:00 to 23:00.
While Valletta’s waterfront is a haven for high-end restaurants, Rampila offers an alternative culinary experience within the city walls. It’s a place to truly soak up the locality’s history while indulging in the freshest fish and Maltese cuisines. Rampila is open daily from 12:00 to 22:30.
This original restaurant is found inside a 17th century windmill. Steeped in history, the menu does the location justice, with beguiling interpretation of Maltese and Mediterranean food. The wine list has won awards and perfectly complements the cuisine. Il-Mithna is open daily from 18:00 until late.
Events & Festivals in Malta
Each and every village in Malta hosts a celebratory feast between May and October every year. Expect brass bands, processions featuring the village patron saint and colourful decorations adorning churches and streets. Go along to enjoy a traditional Maltese celebration, along with plenty of eating, dancing and fireworks. The annual Maltese Carnival is held prior to Ash Wednesday, and similar celebrations happen in every town and village.
Malta International Fireworks Festival
Fireworks are an essential part of life in Malta thanks to the annual village feasts, but this event takes pyrotechnics to a new level. Held in April or May each year, firework companies from across the world come to Malta to show off their best creations in dazzling displays.
Malta International Arts Festival
Described as one of the best arts festivals in Europe, the Malta International Arts Festival sees theatre, dance, music and art take over the country during a two week period every June or July. It involves a colourful calendar or events in Valletta and the surrounding areas.
Malta International Jazz Festival
This annual music event brings together Maltese jazz musicians and international artists for three nights every July. Taking place in Valletta’s Ta’ Liesse, expect traditional sounds and eclectic new tunes from the world’s jazz scene.
Delicata Wine Festivals
Hosted by a Maltese winery that’s been in operation for more than 100 years, there are two Delicata wine festivals each and every summer. Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta for the festival during early August, or Nadur in Gozo later in the month. Both events bring together a range of wines, traditional cuisines and one-of-a-kind entertainment.
A cultural celebration that takes place each October in Valletta, expect to see open-air music and dance performances, plus special artistic events in the city’s museums and palaces. It’s a time when restaurants and cafés stay open a little later too, while traditional food and drink is also available from stalls on the streets.
Mdina Grand Prix
This annual event sees vintage cars race just outside Mdina’s ancient city walls every October. An exhilarating event blending sport, skill and history, this is an exceptional event to spectate.
Rolex Middle Sea Race
This annual event centres on the Grand Harbour of Valletta every October. Sailing teams from across the world come to Malta to compete in a race that sees them circumnavigate Sicily, before returning to Malta.
Have you been to Malta? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below…