The 10 Best Things to Do in Malta (All Highlights – Bucket List)
You want to visit Malta for your next trip?
In order to help you plan your stay, I have create this guide of the best things to do in Malta, but also in Gozo and Comino, the 2 smaller islands of the country. You will discover all the activities, must see attractions and points of interest of this beautiful small meditterrannean country.
So, what are the best places to visit in Malta? Where to stay?
Let’s start this list of the best things to do in Malta with Valletta, the capital. Walk around this lovely city and look at the beautiful architecture, historical museums and amazing views over the sea and neighbor cities.
Here are the best places to visit in Valletta:
The Saint John’s Co-Cathedral might not look very interesting from the outside, but wait until you see what’s inside! It’s full of gold and magnificent paintings from Caravaggio. Below the marbled floor lay the tombs of the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta and other nobles. Close to 400 of them are buried there, it’s a must see for history lovers in Malta!
Grandmaster’s Palace was once their home. While the Supreme Council Hall and the Ambassador’s Room are worth the visit, the most impressive room is for sure the armory. It houses a collection of more than 5,000 armors and weapons, once belonging to the knights and grand masters.
Republic Street and Merchant Street are the main commercial streets in Valletta, with numerous stores and restaurants.
The Manoel Theatre, one of the oldest in Europe.
The Fort Saint Elmo, also housing the National War Museum.
At the National Museum of Fine Arts, you will find a collection of objects, sculptures and paintings which belonged to the Order of Malta.
The Barraka Gardens, also called Upper Barraka Garden and Lower Barraka Garden. The lower garden is quite small but has a very photogenic temple.
The upper one is bigger, with nice colonnades and a wonderful view over the 3 cities. Below you can see the Saluting Battery: an artillery battery used in the past to salute foreign vessels. It’s still functioning nowadays and fires everyday at noon.
2. The Three Cities
From Valletta, you can easily reach the Three Cities. Go to Upper Barrakka Garden and take the panoramic elevator (Barrakka Lift) to go downstairs. Then, cross the street and continue to the left to reach the boat departure point.
Tickets are sold inside the boat. Round trip tickets are 2.80€ per person and it’s a 10min trip.
It will drop you off in the city of Birgu, the biggest of the 3 cities (the 2 others are Senglea and Cospicua). They all have their unique features but they do have one thing in common; the views over Valletta. The best way to explore the 3 cities is just to wander around on foot!
- Birgu points of interest include Fort St. Angelo, the Inquisitor’s Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum
- In Senglea, go to the Safe Haven Gardens at the edge of the city; it has one of the best view over Valletta.
Mdina is the former capital of Malta. During the Middle-Ages (before the Order of Malta), the government and other administrations were located there. It was called “Citta Notabile”, the noble city. When the Order arrived, knights decided that they needed to be close to their ships and Valletta became the new capital.
Also called “the Silent City”, Mdina is a fortified city loved by tourists for its charm and quiet streets. The city is home to many historical monuments:
- St. Paul’s Cathedral (the oldest cathedral in Malta) and its museum
- the 18th century Vilhena Palace
- other palaces on Villegaignon Street, such as the Palazzo Falson.
After exploring the city, you can go down to see the old moat which have been turned into a garden. From there you’ll be able to see the impressive ramparts from the bottom.
Rabat is another place to visit during your holidays in Malta. It’s located right next to Mdina: once you exit the fortified city you are already in Rabat!
The best things to see in Rabat:
- St. Paul’s Church and Grotto, where Paul the Apostle sought refuge after their boat sank on the island
- St. Paul’s Catacombs, the city’s necropolis for 500 years
- Sy. Agatha’s Catacombs, where Saint Agatha hid during her exile from Sicily
- Domvs Romana, a Roman-era house turned into a museum.
5. Sliema and St Julian’s
Sliema and St Julian’s are the main touristic cities in Malta. You’ll find there plenty of hotels, restaurants, clubs, casinos and shopping malls. They are perfect destinations if you like busy cities and to party. If you enjoy quiet places however, that might not be the best places for you to go.
In Sliema, you can enjoy a good meal in the numerous seafront restaurants offering unique views over Valletta.
There is also a nice promenade going from St Julian’s to Sliema and even Valletta along the sea. It’s probably the most crowded area of the island, especially during summer nights.
The best thing to do in Malta on a Sunday is, without a doubt, going to the fish market in Marsaxlokk.
Marsaxlokk is an authentic fishing port, with colored fishing boats called luzzu. Every Sunday takes place a traditional fish market. Don’t be fooled by the name though, you will find more things than just fish at that market, like souvenirs for example.
This market is huge and usually crowded, probably because souvenirs are cheaper there than in Valletta.
You’ll find many bars and restaurants along the port, perfect for lunch break. Most of them serve fish but you can also find pizzas and sandwiches. As always in Malta, the price is very decent.
7. St Peter’s Pool
Close to Marsaxlokk, St Peter’s Pool is another must-see attraction in Malta.
Dug by erosion, this natural pool is a great swimming spot.
Kids in particular love this beach, they challenge themselves to jump from the small cliff rather than actually swim. In fact, the only ways to get in the water is by jumping or using ladders. Please also note that there is very limited shaded areas, so it might not be a good place to go with young children.
If you keep walking past St Peter’s Pool to the right, you’ll get to a flatter area with more natural pools carved into the rocks. Another great spot to take a dip.
St Peter’s Pool is 10min driving away from Marsaxlokk. It’s easy to find and there are 2 free parking lots.
Mosta is famous for its monumental church, whose design was inspired by the Pantheon of Rome. It was built in 1833 thanks to funds raised by the residents, and is one of the most beautiful church in Malta.
It’s said that the dome is one of the biggest in Europe, whether it’s the 3rd or the 4th biggest dome is still a matter of debate. It’s so big that you can see it from many places on the island.
The church is also famous for what happened there in 1942: a German bomb was dropped over it, pierced the dome and fell in the church during the mass, without detonating. Some even says it was a miracle!
9. Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto is located 2km away from Zurrieq town.
It got its name and reputation from the intense blue color of the water in the cave.
You can see it from above at a sightseeing location just outside the city. You can also go to the small Wied Iz Zurrieq port, 2min further away by car, and take a 30 min boat tour.
Remember to check the weather conditions beforehand, there won’t be any tour if the sea is too stormy.
Wied Iz Zurrieq also has bars and restaurants, as well as a spot to go swimming.
10. Dingli cliffs
North off Blue Grotto, the Dingli cliffs are worth stopping by.
Located 250m above sea level, Dingli is the highest point in Malta. It’s a nice place to walk around (be careful not to get to close to the cliff) and enjoy the views. Sunsets there are a photographer’s dream!