Ultimate Malta itinerary based on your length of stay and type of experience
The first time I organised a Malta itinerary, I thought I could cover the island in no-time.
This is one of the smallest countries in Europe, however, there are so many things to do and places to see that it is so easy to get lost in the multitude of attractions.
And this is why I was so eager to write this guide with possible itineraries based on the length of your stay and the type of holiday you are looking forward to, either travelling with your partner or with family and kids.
I tried my best to cover all possible scenarios, however, do not hesitate to leave a comment below if you are still unsure when planning your itinerary of Malta (I usually reply within a day or two)
But now let’s get straight to the meaty stuff
Best Malta Itinerary – In a nutshell
Here down a few quick points, however, keep reading for more detailed information
- How many days in Malta: believe it or not, this is the most commonly asked question. To cut a long answer short, in 3 days you will be able to experience the Valletta area, spend some time at the beach and have a day trip to either a well-known attraction like the Blue Lagoon or a less-touristy destination like the St Peter’s pool. With 5 days, you can explore most of the iconic places and medieval towns with a few hidden gems as well. In one week in Malta, you can think to split your stay in two locations with even the possibility of staying a couple of days in the smaller island of Gozo for more of a local experience. With more time, you can also include some relaxing stay at the beach.
- Best place to base yourself in Malta: Valletta is a great base with some budget accommodation as well as boutique and lux ones. The capital is also the hub of the public bus network, ideal place to be if you want to visit Malta without a car. However, it does not have a public beach. St Julian is another option, with more bars, restaurants and clubs, relatively well connected by bus, 2 small beaches, but it’s not as beautiful as Valletta. There are more options for a family stay or a romantic getaway. It really depends on the length of your stay and the type of trip you are planning. You can read more on my full guide about the best (and worst) places to stay in Malta.
- Must-see 5 places in Malta: you will find more below, however, in a nutshell: Fort St Elmo and St Paul’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta, the fortified towns of Birgu and Mdina, Golden Beach. But honestly, there is so much more. Read more on my expanded unmissable destinations below
- Best 5 beaches in Malta (and places for a swim): It’s, of course, a very subjective choice. I personally want to highlight in this section Paradise Beach, Golden Beach and Ghadira Beach, in the north of Malta Island. You should not miss also Wied il-Ghasri in Gozo Island for its unique landscape, a coastal gorge with a small beach. Finally, I would add in the bucket list also St. Peter’s Pool. There is no beach but the rock formation is amazing and you can have a swim too. Keep reading below for beaches and photos
- Itinerary in 3 or 4 days: with 3/4 days in Malta, you could base yourself in Valletta, one of the easiest option. The town itself is so beautiful and amazing, with so many things to do and see. Unmissable is the Gran Harbour boat tour as well as a visit to the nearby medieval town of Birgu. Valletta is also the hub of an extensive public transportation network, so easy to catch a bus and have a day trip to one of the many attractions in the island. There are, however, other towns to stay, based on the type of holiday you want to have. Read below for more details on 3/4 days in Malta
- Itinerary in 5 days: with 5 days you would be more flexible in your hotel location, which you can choose based on your type of break, relaxing at the beach, between medieval walls or a romantic break away. You will have also more time where you can plan your day trips to the beautiful pools, lagoons and caves along the coastline or to the historical parks. You can opt to use the public buses, rent a car for a few days or join an organised tour for more peace of mind. You can read all the options below in the 5 days section
- Itinerary in one week: 7 days will give you enough time to create a great itinerary in Malta. You can even think to split your stay between the main island of Malta and Gozo as well. You will have enough time to relax as well as organise DIY day-trip and join organised trips. One week in Malta is just the ideal time to see most of the attractions that this small country has to offer. Read more on my 7 days options below
- Itinerary in 10 days: with 10 or more days you can have a very relaxed stay, visit most of the attractions like in the 7-days trip as well as lay down at the beach for some sunbathing
- And finally, do not miss one or 2 days in Gozo. I have built a complete itinerary for the second biggest island of Malta, with more information on the ferry to Gozo and a tuk-tuk experience to cover the highlights of this special place. Are you already looking for accommodation in Gozo? You should check out my stay at The Duke, highly suggested.
Malta has a reliable public transportation network with the hub being in Valletta, where most of the buses depart.
Renting a car can make things much quicker if you want to visit multiple attractions on the island, without travelling back to the capital,
My go-to website to hire a car is DiscoverCars.com, a search engine that compares the available vehicle and prices providing the best (less expensive) options
You can read more on my Guide to renting and driving a car in Malta.
When travelling by bus, I suggest using the Journey Planner tool run by the Government. Quick and easy.
You can read more information about travelling by bus, including tickets options in my How to move around Malta section
Here below you find a map and a quick list with most of the attractions that Malta has to offer.
I have also posted a full guide about the highlights of Malta, including some hidden gems where you will find much more information, including photos.
I added a small star (*) for the must-see place
In Malta Island
- (*) Valletta: wandering around the medieval streets of the capital is an attraction by itself. You can easily spend a day or more visiting also Fort St Elmo (try to make it first thing in the morning to avoid the big crowd), St Johns Co-Cathedral, National Museum of Archeology, Lascaris War Room and my hidden gem, Casa Rocca Piccola.
- Birgu: although it’s probably not a must-see place, this medieval town is like an open-air museum, very close to Valletta too, well worth the trip by bus or direct ferry. Most definitely, one of the most romantic towns to stay. Once there you should visit Fort St Angelo and the Malta at War Museum
- (*) Mdina and Rabat: Mdina has the entire historical centre inside a medieval wall, great to explore and get lost. Once there you should check out the Cathedral and the impressive St Paul’s Catacombs
- Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, the underground burial chambers 6,000 years old
- (*) Mnajdra and Hagar Qim, the ancient megalithic temples
- (*) St Peter’s Pool, one of the most underrated places on the island, so unique. On the way, you can also visit the fascinating Marsaxlokk market.
- Blue Grotto, you can easily explore it with a short boat trip
- Victoria Lines, a 12km long dividing wall also called the Walls of Malta
- Popeye Village, great fun for children and adults too. This is the film set of the famous movie, maintained and improved since.
In Gozo Island
- Victoria, the capital of the island and impressive historical town, another open-air museum to get lost in the maze of streets and lanes. Once there you should not miss visiting the Citadella Fortress (Il-Kastell) and the Old Prison of Gozo
- Rotunda St. John Baptist Church, halfway between Victoria and the ferry terminal
- the Salt Pans in Zebbugg, for the impressive design that stretches along the coast
- Wied il-Ghasri, an amazing coastal gorge with a small beach at the bottom end. Not too far away from the Salt Pans.
- Dwejra Inland Sea, a lagoon with cave access to the open sea. Was used also as a film set in the famous TV series Game of Thrones
Famous Beaches and Lagoons
- Blue Lagoon, located off the small Comino Island. You will be impressed by the colours of this iconic attraction of Malta
- Ghadira Bay Beach: the biggest and most popular beach in Malta, beloved by the families with kids for its shallow clean water
- Golden Bay Beach: a sheltered good size sandy beach that gets very popular towards the end of the day for its spectacular sunset. Organise your drinks at the Pebbles Beach Bar
- Paradise Bay Beach: a much smaller beach close to the Ferry Terminal in the north of the island of Malta. As you can imagine, it’s a real paradise 🙂
- Riviera Beach: a nice good size shallow beach south of Golden Beach. Part of it is used by nudists
Places to check with kids
- Popeye Village, as already mentioned above
- Malta National Aquarium
- Bugibba Water Park
- Bird Park Malta
- San Anton Gardens
- BOV Adventure Park and the Petting Farm, located around the Ta’ Qali National Park, just outside the medieval town of Mdina
For more information on the above attractions and other hidden gems you should read this guide to the highlights and secret corners of Malta
With 3 or 4 days I usually suggest staying in the Valletta area.
The capital has a good selection of accommodations, from budget-oriented to boutique sojourns, either hotels or Airbnb.
Valletta is also the hub of the efficient bus network, so easy to organise a DIY day-trip around the island.
The Grand Harbour Boat Tour is a must. In 90 minutes you will see and learn more than in a day of walking, including the view of the historic forts from the water
The nearby town of St Julian is a good alternative if you are more into bars and clubbing.
For a romantic break away, you could also stay in Birgu, a charming and lovely medieval town with the own fort on the other side of the Grand Harbour.
If you are travelling with kids you may also consider St Paul’s Bay, an area of Malta popular with families
For more information, I suggest reading my full guide to 3/4 days in Malta with a day-by-day plan based on your type of trip (families, couples, etc) and budget
With 5 days in Malta, you have more flexibility in the things that you want to do and see.
You can also squeeze in some relaxing time at the beach without the guilty feeling that you are missing out on one of the many attractions
For this reason, I would suggest staying in Valletta only if you are thinking to take public buses on a daily basis to explore the island.
As I said, Valletta is the hub of the public transportation network and it would be easier to move around from there.
However, if you are planning for some clubbing than the nearby St Julian would work better.
Birgu still remains my favourite town for a romantic stay.
Walking through the maze of lanes of this fortified town is an experience by itself, especially with the dreamy street lights in the night.
The area of Mellieha is a great choice if you are travelling with small kids and you prefer to stay at the beach with just 1 or 2 day-trips.
For more details and daily plans, you should check out these four 5-days itineraries of Malta that I have sketched down based on the type of trip (beaches, couples, families, history) and available budget.
You can read also
You will have a ton of options with one week in Malta.
For a full experience, I would probably suggest splitting your stay between the island of Malta and the island of Gozo.
Gozo is more traditional, still untouched by mass tourism, more genuine and rural. You will have more of a local experience.
The capital of Gozo, Victoria, is based on the beautiful old citadel, the perfect spot for a romantic stay.
It tends to be also slightly cheaper, especially on the accommodation side.
For families, I would suggest staying either around Mellieha, with young kids (shallow sandy beach), or St Paul’s Bay, with older children.
From there you can easily organise day trips, assuming you will ever get bored of sandcastles and sunbathing 🙂
I have written this ultimate guide to one week in Malta with possible daily plans. It’s a great reference with maps and photos.
Frequently asked questions on a Malta itinerary
How many days do you need in Malta?
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 5 days enough in Malta?
What can you do in Malta for 2 weeks?
Two weeks is ample time to enjoy the islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino. You have time to relax at the beach and explore all the iconic places and hidden gems that this country offers.
Is 1 week too long 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 no, 1 week is not too long
Should I go to Malta or Sicily?
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.
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.