Last updated on June 19, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Malta

Five days in Malta, itineraries with things to do based on your type of holiday

With 5 days in Malta, it will be a little tricky to fit all of the wonders this country can offer

I mean, there is just so much to experience in this small country, from the unmissable Fort St Elmo to swimming in the Blue Lagoon.

However, you have come to the right place.

With the guide below, you will have all the information you need not only about where to go but also when and how.

Now let’s dive right into it and see what fun you can cram into your 5-day holiday.

The end of Valletta town and the start of Fort St Elmo
The end of Valletta town and the start of Fort St Elmo

Five days in Malta – in a nutshell

So, how much time is enough to explore Malta adequately?

Ideally, you should set aside about 7 days or more to explore Malta and all its magical attractions.

This is because it is actually much larger than many visitors expect with its highlights spread out across the 3 islands; Malta, Gozo, and Comino.

For some perspective, check out the map below.

Malta map with destinations and attractions
Malta map with destinations and attractions

However, with a good schedule and insight on how to get around, you should be able to visit the majority of these spots in 5 days.

Here is a quick look at what different parts of Malta have to offer based on your different travel needs.

  • 5 days in Malta on a budget: Valletta is easily the best option to operate from if you are travelling to Malta on a budget. The picturesque town offers access to numerous low budget accommodation alternatives. These include Airbnb’s, hostels, and even hotels if you travel during the offseason. There is also a lot you could do for (almost) free, including going to the beautiful beaches or simply taking a walk and appreciating the old town’s architectural beauty. Check the detailed day-by-day plan below
  • Five days in Malta without a car: Not a lot of people in Malta’s 3 islands use private transportation. As a result, the public transit system is pretty well organised. Valletta again takes the cake being the hub of an extensive bus network. You could also charter boats to explore the rest of the island. You should also consider St. Julian as a possible alternative place to base yourself if you want some more activity in terms of shops, restaurants, and nightspots. Read below the detailed plan for three day
  • For families: Of the three islands in the archipelago, Malta is easily the best when it comes to family trips. If you want to spend a lot more of your time on the beach then consider staying at Mellieha and St. Paul’s bay. The towns of Bugibba and Qawra in St. Paul’s bay are fantastic options to consider not only for beach access but also for activities with both older and young kids. With the two latter locations, you also have a fantastic vantage point from which to take day trips to the rest of Malta, Gozo, and Comino Island. Check below more info for a family stay
  • For couples: If you are looking for a bit of privacy and quiet for your romantic getaway to Malta then book your stay at Birgu. Unlike other touristy hotspots on the islands, this quaint little fortified town is the peaceful slice of paradise every couple wants. The best part is that it has a lovely night scene with restaurants and bars for you and your partner to check out. Read below for a romantic short trip for couples

In this post, I have linked some of the attraction to my guide to the highlights of Malta, including also a few hidden gems.

Most, if not all, of the organised tours I have suggested have a free cancellation policy up to 24 hours in advance. Very flexible. I usually book and cancel if I change my plan.

Five days in Malta on a budget

For low budget vacations spanning five days or more, Valletta is, without a doubt, the most reasonable place to stay.

If you are planning to travel during peak season, make sure to book your rental or hotel early because they go really fast.

Once you’re all settled, here is a pocket-friendly Malta itinerary.

Itinerary for 5 days in Malta on a budget
Malta Itinerary for 5 days in Malta on a budget
  • Day 1: Explore the city streets – On your first day, take your focus on the best things to experience in Valletta. start with a simple walk around town. This will give you the chance to take in the beautiful, historic charm of the city. You could even book this very economical walking tour for a more organised exploration of Valletta. Some of the must-see spots in the area include The National Archaeological Museum which should take about 60 to 90 minutes to explore. The St. John’s Co-cathedral is also worth a visit. Finally, take a walk to Fort St. Elmo for a bit more on Malta’s rich history.
  • Day 2: Grand Harbour Boat Tour & Beach – The Grand Harbour Tour will allow you to see the famous towns of Valletta and Birgu, as well as other attractions, from a different viewpoint, the seawater. The trip itself takes from 90 minutes to 2 hours and can be done in the morning. In the afternoon, take the #13 bus to Sliema (15 to 20-minutes). You can then explore Sliema, go for some shopping and walk down to St Julian to see the Watch Tower and spend some time at the local public beach. From Valletta to Sliema, you can also get the local ferry (5-10minutes). It costs 3Euro and it will give you again a nice view of Valletta and Manoel Island from the water.
  • Day 3: Take a day trip to Birgu – First head to the Upper Barrakka Gardens to enjoy the best view of the Grand Harbour, then take the bus to Birgu from the stop next to the Triton Fountain. The day trip will definitely be worth it with a lot for you to enjoy, from the medieval architecture to the many awesome restaurants. Also, make time to visit Birgu’s attractions like the Malta Maritime Museum and the Inquisitor Palace (affordable entrance). You should read my guide to Birgu and its waterfront, where I also talk about the cheap boat trip to Birgu, an alternative to the bus in a more characteristic meaning of transportation.
  • Day 4: Visit the Golden Bay Beach – There are not many beach options in Valletta so you may have to take another day trip for some fun in the sun. Golden Bay is one of the closest and undeniably most beautiful beaches around. To get here, take the #44. You could also go with the #42 or #49 buses. In addition to the beautiful beach, Golden Bay has several water sports rental businesses and training schools. That way you could try something new like SUP (Stand Up Paddle surfing) to keep your day busy.
  • Day 5: Marsaxlokk Market & a natural pool – This is a great day trip that will expose you to a side of Malta that is not as touristy. From Valletta, take the bus #81 to Marsaxlokk to see first the Fishing Market. Explore the town and after lunch, have a walk to the St. Peter’s Pool for some fun in the water. It’s going to be a long day, however, the views and the opportunity to cliff dive or snorkel in this natural pool definitely make it worth it.

Resources:

View of Valletta and Sliema
View of Valletta and Sliema

Five days in Malta without car

The buses in Malta are very efficient and so you will not be missing out on not having a car.

However, you have to not only understand the schedule but also pick a location that offers access to most of Malta’s hotspots.

In this respect, Valletta is a great place to operate from, being the hub of the extensive bus network.

Itinerary for 5 days in Malta without a car
Itinerary for 5 days in Malta without a car
  • Day 1: Explore Valletta – As with the low budget trip, first thing on day 1 explore the city with a flexible plan (getting lost is part of the fun). There are many scenic and uncrowded narrow streets you could walk through as you get to take in all the architectural wonders. You could also visit different parks in the area for a nice little picnic as you rest. Finally, take some time to visit the museums and cathedrals that are all within walking distance of each other. You can also think of joining the local walking tour for more inside information and visits to some hidden gems
  • Day 2: Grand Harbour & Sliema – In the morning, take some time away from the city and join the Grand Harbour tour. This will allow you to get a fantastic perspective of not only Valletta but the many other harbour towns you will see during the almost 2-hour ride. In the afternoon, grab the #13 bus to Sliema for some shopping and the lovely walk to St Julian where you can spend some time at the beach relaxing or having a drink in one of the many bars facing the sea. On the way back, take the public local ferry from Sliema to Valletta, an experience by itself.
  • Day 3: Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour – This bus tour is a great way to explore different parts of Malta, which makes it ideal when travelling without a car. It costs 20 euros per person and features informative descriptions of different attractions and stops on the route. Make things a little fun by getting off at the Blue Grotto, the Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, Mdina (inside the medieval city walls) and the many other attractions the bus is going through. 
  • Day 4: Time to visit Gozo Island – This is an organised Jeep tour that will pick you up from the hotel to guide you through the Island of Gozo. The experience covers the trip, guide fees and lunch. You will get to explore both the tourist hotspots and the hidden gems of Gozo, an island still stuck in the past. And to finish the day, you will get a powerboat back to Malta through the Blue Lagoon and the Comino Caves. A real unique day. You can read more about the Gozo highlights on itinerary guide.
  •  Day 5Visit the Mnajdra and Hagar Qim Historical Parks – Both of these parks are listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and are definitely worth a visit. The megalithic temples are beautifully preserved and make for the perfect last day trip. Their location is a little remote, with the #74 bus back to Valletta coming every hour. As you wait, you could take a 5-minute walk to Congreve Memorial Park for some spectacular panoramic views.
  • Day 5 (alternative): Eat your way through the city – You could also choose to take a more laid back last day approach in which day a culinary tour of the city would be ideal. Start the day off at Piadina Caffe for some coffee and pastries. If you start your day a little later, J’Oli Sandwich and Salad Bar would be ideal for lunch, after which you could hit 67 Kapitali for their happy hour cocktails. Finally, book at the iconic Rampila Restaurant for a fantastic last meal in Malta. Alternatively join this Street Food and Culture Walking Tour for the great mix of food experience and historical and cultural sites.

You may also consider staying in St Julian for the above Malta itinerary of 5.

The advantage is that you have many more restaurants, bar and clubs options, besides also a local public beach.

The drawback, however, is that most of the public buses will take you back to Valletta (the hub) before going to the final destination. The organised tours usually pick up from the hotel in St. Julian’s

Resources:

Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto

You can read also

Five days in Malta for families

If you are travelling as a family, Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay are the two best options.

Mellieha has a more laid-back vibe.

It also has a wider and significantly less crowded beach, Ghadira Beach, and easy access to the Golden Bay Beach. All this makes it ideal for families with small children.

If you want a bit more action and activities for older children, than the towns of Bugibba and Qawra in St. Paul’s Bay are a better alternative for your family.

Itinerary for 5 days in Malta for families
Itinerary for 5 days in Malta for families

While these destinations have a lot to offer your family, 5 days is more than enough to explore other parts of Malta for a truly rewarding trip.

You could make a day trip to different hotspot cities like Valletta for a little trip down Malta’s memory lane with the many historic attractions.

You could also explore Qawra for some shopping, restaurant hopping, and sightseeing.

Here are more fun places to visit as a family wherever you choose to stay.

Resources:

Popeye Village
Popeye Village

Five days in Malta for couples

Birgu stands out among all other Maltese destinations as one of the most romantic and convenient towns to visit as a couple.

It has the perfect balance of a peaceful, private environment and accessibility to fun activities both during the day and at night.

Here is some fun you and your partner could get into during your visit.

Itinerary for 5 days in Malta for couples
Itinerary for 5 days in Malta for couples
  • Day 1: Explore the Birgu attractions – Birgu may not be a tourist hotspot, but it has a lot to offer for a romantic couple. The town itself is also an attraction with its medieval charm. Explore some of its best places and historical sites, including St. Lawrence Church, The Norman House, the Inquisitor Palace and certainly Fort St Angelo, another one of Birgu’s main attractions that deserves an entire afternoon on its own. Take your time going around the fort, learning from its historic exhibitions, and soaking up the amazing views. You will find also a restaurant on-site for that late afternoon snack before you head back to your accommodations. You can also think to book this local walking tour for an insider tour of the town. And finally make it to the waterfront for an aperitivo and dinner. Read my full guide to Birgu and the waterfront for more info.
  • Day 2: Take a road trip to St. Peter’s Pool – St. Peter’s pool is 2 buses and a little walk away and you can combine the trip with a visit to the Marsaxlokk Fishing Village. From Birgu take the busses #2 to the Paola Interchange and from there the #81 to Marsaxlokk village. The walk from the village to the natural pool is around 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, rent a car and make a whole road trip of it. In this case, make a pit stop at Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the intricate cave system dated back to 3000BC. The entrance fee is about 30 euros per person and it will take about an hour to explore.
  • Day 3: Mdina and Rabat – These two lovely medieval towns are a must seen in any romantic trip. Wandering inside the medieval walls of Mdina is one of the best experience you can have, including also a visit to St Paul’s Catacombs. You can go to Mdina by direct public bus, leaving from Valletta (#41 or #43). It’s a full day trip. Try to organise your lunch in the enchanting courtyard of the Medina Restaurant, a unique experience.
  • Day 4: Historical parks and beaches – You will need to rent a car for this amazing day. First stop is the Mnajdra Historical Park, followed by the Hagar Qim Historical Parks (walking distance from each other). Stop for lunch at the 1640 Wine Room in the small town of Had-Dingli. In the afternoon, drive down to one of the unmissable beaches (Golden, Paradise or Ghadira, my favourite). If sunbathing is not your thing or it’s not a sunny warm day, then drive to the Victoria Lines, for a great walk along the fortification walls (also called “Wall of Malta“)
  • Day 5: Gozo Day – You have two possibilities here: DIY or join an organised tour. They have both the own advantages and drawbacks. For the DIY you would need to rent a car, pay your petrol and the ferry too (make sure you can take the car from the main island to Gozo when you rent it, ask the hiring company, usually it’s not a problem). Driving around Malta is easy enough once you are out from the busy area around Valletta. You should plan to stop in Victoria (the capital) to see the Cittadella Fortress (Il-Kastell), at the Salt Pans in Zebbug, the Rotunda St. John Baptist Church, the Dwejra Inland Sea (also used as a film set in the Game of Thrones) and the Old Prison of Gozo. If driving is not your thing, you can think of joining this organised trip with a Jeep that includes a powerboat ride back to Malta through the Blue Lagoon. The organised tuk-tuk experience is also another possibility.
  • Day 5 (alternative): Brunch and afternoon walk – opt for a more relaxed time with day brunch and an exploration of Valletta. You could start the day with a walk along Fort Angelo Rocky Beach for some breath-taking views. From Birgu you can take a characteristic boat to Valletta and explore the medieval city with stops at some of the most amazing attractions as the St John’s Co-Cathedral, Fort St Elmo, the National Museum of Archaeology and the hidden Casa Rocca Piccola.

Birgu has some great food options. Be Birgu Restaurant is one of them, famous for its pasta dishes and outdoor setup.

Tal-Petut is another famous restaurant for its local Maltese cuisine.

For a few late drinks you should not miss the Old City Pub with its great laid-back vibe.

You should also check out the Prince of Wales Own Band Bar which is known for its unique location.

If visiting in July, you should plan to spend a night at the Malta Jazz Festival in Valletta, always great fun.

Resources:

Beautiful lanes of Mdina - the Silent City
The lovely town of Mdina within medieval city walls

Getting around Malta

I have written extensively about how big is Malta and how to get around in a separate guide.

Here below just a quick few points

  • organised trips are the easiest option to move around, they pick you up and drop you off directly at the hotel or at a meeting points
  • the public bus network is well organised and usually on time. You can check the Journey Planner tool on the Malta Transport website for time and reachable destinations. Unfortunately, the network is very Valletta centric, which means you usually have to go back to Valletta to go to the next destination. Stay in VAlletta helps cutting the time
  • for more flexibility, you can also think to rent a car for one or more days. My favourite hiring site is DiscoverCars.com, where I can compare the best deals. Always great prices.

Check the car prices

You can read my ultimate guide to renting and driving a car in Malta.

I hope you have enjoyed this guide and do not hesitate to leave a comment if you need more information. I usually reply in no-time

Dwejra Inland Sea
Dwejra Inland Sea in Gozo

Frequently asked questions on 5 days in Malta

Is 5 days enough in Malta?

5 days is enough time to visit the highlights of the country, but you will not be able to explore the hidden gems or the island of Gozo

How many days in Malta is enough?

To see most of it, plan 10 days. This will give you 2 nights also in Gozo and a stay in the off-the-beaten-path south of the island. 

Is Malta worth visiting?

Totally is the short answer. There is so much to see and experience, and in a short distance too, making things much simpler.

Can you spend a week in Malta?

I was on my last trip for 10 days in Malta and I thought I should make it longer! The size of the island is misleading because there are so many things to do and places to see! So, the answer is yes, you will not get bored.

Is it better to stay in Malta or Gozo?

Gozo is the Malta as it used to be, very laid back and chilled out where the life goes in slow motion. If you are after a relaxing stay, then Gozo is probably what you are looking for. Malta has so much more, but it’s also much busier.

Do I need a car in Malta?

You can use the public transportation. The bus network is actually good, although very Valletta centric. The car gives however so much flexibility and you can pack so many more activities because you will cut the travelling time by half. You can read my full guide to renting and driving in Malta, with a ton more of information.

Is Malta cheap to visit?

Malta is affordable but not inexpensive. The biggest slice of the holiday cost will be the accommodation. So the answer is no, it is not cheap.

Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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