Malta Itinerary & Travel Guide for an Amazing Long Weekend
Malta, Gozo and Comino Islands are located south of Sicily, Italy, in the Mediterranean Sea. Many people book Malta for a summer holiday due to its hot Mediterranean weather, beautiful beaches and the ocean teeming with sea life. Explore Malta & Gozo Island in a few days, discover beautiful beaches, world-class diving, and immerse yourself in the islands’ culture and rich history. This Malta Itinerary and travel guide provides everything you need for an amazing long weekend away.
As a central archipelago between Italy and North Africa, Malta and the surrounding islands are steeped in culture. Malta’s exciting history and traditions stem from the many different historical rulers. This is what makes Malta and Gozo Islands great destinations to discover and explore.
If you’re only visiting for a long weekend or a short trip, then this Malta travel guide will give you everything you need to know to make the most of your travel.
Malta Itinerary & Travel Guide | Quick Links
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How to get around Malta
Getting to Malta
The Malta international airport well connects Malta. Best of all, as Malta isn’t a large Island, it is just a short journey to all the main destinations. Depending on where you’re staying, you can get a taxi for as little as 16 euros, and it will only take 15 – 20 minutes. Check Cheap O Air for some of the best flight deals.
Explore Malta & Gozo Islands by road
It is effortless to hire a car and explore both Malta and Gozo islands if you drive. Be sure to book your car rental in advance so you can easily pick it up from Malta airport.
If you decide to rent a car, consider booking additional car insurance. You can either do this in advance or on the day with the rental company. It is often cheaper or requires a lower deposit/excess if you take out the rental companies policy. Research this in advance. Make sure to thoroughly check the car in advance and photograph and report any damage before driving away.
Car rental also gives you more freedom and the option to pack food for your road-trip to save costs from eating out.
Travel Malta by Public Transport
There are ample public bus options to travel cheaply and easily around Malta. There are over 80 public bus routes available, and the buses run from the early hours until late at night. You can find out more about the bus stops and bus schedule on the official Maltese transport site.
How many nights to stay in Malta?
People often ask how many days you need in Malta. Of course, this depends on what you want to get out of your holiday, but 3 – 5 days is enough to visit Malta for most people.
This Malta Itinerary & travel guide provides an action-packed three days. If you’re not sure how many nights to stay in Malta, then take a look at all the things to see and do and take it from there. Of course, you can always adapt this travel itinerary to cover the length of your holiday.
Where to Stay in Malta
There are many popular areas to stay around Malta Island, so it really depends what you want to get out of your holiday. The best locations are listed below
St Julian’s & Paceville – Perfect for nightlife
Are you looking for a good choice of restaurants and bars within easy reach on foot? Then, St Julian’s might be for you. St Julian’s is a popular, modern and lively town located to the west of Sliema. It has the distinct features of an old seaside town contrasted with a thriving nightlife known as Paceville.
Whether you’re looking for budget accommodation or a luxury 5-star resort, there are many places to stay in St Julian’s. However, the closest beach is St George’s Bay, and unfortunately, this beach is artificial and looks like it. However, if you want a short dose of sun, then you can happily lounge on this beach. Otherwise, you might want to explore Malta and Gozo island to discover the much nicer beaches on offer.
Locations close to the best beaches in Malta
- Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay. These three villages border each other across the Maltese coastline. Each beach is different. You have rocks at Qawra, artificial sand at Buġibba and a bit of everything at St. Paul’s Bay. These are popular tourist places that are well connected to the island. You can take a catamaran tour from here to see all of the stunning beaches and bays.
- Mellieħa. This village is located in the north of the island with easy access to Mellieħa Bay, Malta’s largest sandy beach. Known for its iconic castle on the top of the mountain, it is a less touristy village than other places. Well connected with other beaches of Malta, but not a place known for its nightlife. Perfect for a family beach holiday, though!
- Sliema. This village is a popular tourist place, close to the capital city. However, Sliema only has rocky beaches, and the closest sandy beaches are still a fair distance away. It caters more for budget travellers due to its good public transport connections to the rest of the island.
Looking to stay away from the tourist areas?
If you’d prefer to experience Malta away from the busy tourist areas, consider staying in Valletta, the Maltese capital.
Valletta has an excellent choice of restaurants and bars and is well connected by a ferry ride and public transport. However, there is no beach, but you will find a few rocky places to take a dip in the sea.
Malta Itinerary for 3 days
So you’ve picked where you’re going to base yourself for your holiday, and now it’s time to explore Malta and Gozo Island. Depending on where you’re staying, you might want to swap the places to see around to create the best journey for your route.
Malta Itinerary | Day 1
Why not open your holiday up with one of the best beaches in Malta by heading to Golden Bay. If you’re going there from Malta airport, it is about 20km and will take 30 minutes or so.
Highlights in a day:
1. Golden Bay Beach
Golden Bay Beach is a popular sandy beach located on the Northwest coast of Malta. The majority of the beaches and the surroundings provide lovely views and a place to relax. If you don’t have a car, this beach is easily accessible via public transport. Parking is available and a short walk from the beach. You can rent a sun lounger and parasol, as well as buy food, snacks and drinks while you’re on the beach.
2. Mdina, the Silent City of Malta
The Mdina cathedral formed the centre of the medieval city of Malta. If you’re into your history, then this is a brilliant example of an ancient walled city. You can book guided tours or self-guided audio tours from the Old Town to learn all about Mdina’s history.
The Old Town itself is simply beautiful, which makes either a peaceful end to your day or, if you prefer, an inspiring way to start your morning before heading to the beach. In addition, there are guided walking tours available so you can take in all of the histories of this impressive architecture.
Did you know that several scenes from the Game of Thrones were filmed in Malta? If you’re a fan, you can opt for a full day Game of Thrones tour. Discover King’s Landing and the Red Keep, amongst so many other fabulous locations (not to mention all the showbiz gossip!).
Malta Itinerary for your first night
If you’re staying in St Julian’s, you might want to get your bearings for the first night. I suggest choosing one of the many lovely restaurants around Spinola Bay. The pretty fairy lights of the restaurants light up the bay with a soft, inviting glow. There are many cuisines to choose from, and as it is a bustling area, it is excellent for people-watching.
You will also find the upside-down love monument in this location, which you must take a photo against! If you want to head to a few bars, then there are a few to the right of the Love monument that locals particularly enjoy. If you head to the left, you can head to the heart of St Julian’s. Find more about this later in this Malta itinerary & travel guide.
Malta Itinerary | Day 2 – Historical Sights in the Capital
If you’re a history buff who’s interested in discovering more about Maltese culture, then plan a trip to Valletta within your Malta Itinerary. The capital city itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site described as one of the most concentrated historical areas of the world and a brilliant example of Maltese architecture.
Valletta, Malta highlights in a day
- Grand Masters Palace. This impressive building is the historic seat of government and, as such, is very beautiful and ordain. Great if you like to marvel at historical splendour and architecture from the 1500s.
- Auberge de Castille. Linked to the previous rule by the Knights of St John, this castle was built in the 1500s and located at the highest point in Valletta.
- The National Museum of Archaeology. If you enjoy seeing ancient artefacts in the flesh, then you could easily spend hours in this museum piecing together ancient history.
- St John’s Co-Cathedral. Roman Catholic cathedral from the 1500s.
In Valletta, you will also find old fortifications, the historic Manoel Theatre and the Grand Harbour. The best way to discover Valletta in one day is through a guided walking tour. That way, you don’t miss out on the capitals fascinating hidden history.
If museums aren’t for you, Valletta is still worth a stopover for a few hours, even if to grab a bite to eat from the capital.
Guide to the beaches close to Valletta
St Peters Pool
St Peters Pool is one of my personal favourites despite it not being an actual beach. If you like to jump into clear turquoise waters from beautiful rocks, then stop here! You need to pay 3euro for parking, but after a short walk, you will arrive at an amazing rocky bay. It doesn’t get that busy, and aside from jumping into the sea, you can easily sunbathe here.
Pretty Bay Beach
If you want to kill some time, you can grab something to eat and sunbathe at Pretty Bay. The beach itself is lovely, quiet and you will be able to relax. The view, however, is spoilt by the view of Malta’s freeport.
Blue Lagoon – Comino Island
If you can’t get enough of beautiful beaches, then you have to make time to take a boat tour to the Blue Lagoon. The beautiful lagoon is on the cusp of Comino Island, with stunning azure waters.
The Blue Lagoon and Comino Island is a must-do on one of your 4 days in Malta. The Blue Lagoon is a day trip in itself, and you will typically also get to see the ‘Azure Window, an iconic stone ridge in the ocean (sadly, this has now collapsed, so bear that in mind).
The Blue Lagoon is sheltered from the winds you might have in other places in Malta. That being said, strong winds will prevent the boat tours from operating, so pay attention to the weather forecast and plan this one accordingly. We were unlucky enough to plan this for our final day, and we didn’t get to go for this reason. Take a look here for some excellent full-day blue lagoon and Comino island tours.
Guide to your second night in Malta
For your second night in Malta, it will be fun to explore the more lively area of St Julians. So why not have an evening meal at the Portomaso Marina.
The Portomaso Marina is chic and sophisticated, framed beautifully by soft lighting and the view of sailboats in the harbour. You will walk down some steps that have several restaurants to choose from on either side. We ate at the Indian Buffet as you can choose a set meal instead, and they had some great veggie options and delicious cocktails. All restaurants are bustling, so bear that in mind if you’re planning to arrive on foot during peak times.
If you put ‘Paceville’ into your GPS, you will find so many other restaurants and bars in a short walk. The more you walk towards it, the more bars/clubs you will find. The nightlife isn’t as crazy as you find in other European holiday destinations, but you’re likely to encounter many people on a pub crawl on Friday and Saturday nights.
We found a quirky cocktail bar called ‘The Thirsty Barber’ with an excellent live rock band. The décor was stylish and cool, and we ended up spending most of the night sipping delicious cocktails and enjoying the music. I recommend this bar when you visit Malta.
If you want to party and experience Malta nightlife, there is many more bars and clubs around the area. A lot of them are cheap and cheerful, enticing you in with cheap shots.
Malta Itinerary | Day 3 – Explore Gozo Island
Malta Gozo Island is a popular destination in itself. Gozo holidays are particularly desirable for travellers who enjoy diving, as Gozo island is one of the best places in Europe for it.
If you’re only planning a day trip to Gozo Island, then take an early ferry ride. There is a lot to see and do, which makes a beautiful road trip within itself! Signage for the Gozo ferry terminal is prominent and tells you the next departure time. The ferries typically run every 45 minutes and take 25 minutes to get to Gozo Island.
You will need to buy your ticket from the Gozo Mgarr Terminal (15.70 euro return for car/drivers) as you wait. Just join the back of one of the rows of traffic, and once you’ve paid, you’ll be ready to board. Once you’re on and parked, you can leave your vehicle to find a seat or visit the store. You’ll be notified when to return to your car, so wait for the signal, and away you go. The best thing about the ticket is that you don’t have a specific time to return and they run until after 11 pm.
Highlights on Gozo Island
- Hondoq Bay. This pretty little beach is perfect for snorkelling and has both sand and pebbles. There are a few small caves at water level, which is one of the reasons this place is popular. You can get drinks and snacks from a nearby cafe.
- Tal-Mizta Cave. This cave is high up in the hills, providing incredible views of Ramla Beach below. The cave itself acts as a beautiful natural window to the beach and should be your first stop. You can drive there directly, and the entrance is free. You also have the option of walking up some very steep stairs from the beach.
- Ramla Bay beach. This is the first sandy golden beach on this road trip located on the East of Gozo Island. If you visit Tal-Mizta Cave, you’ll already be familiar with the stunning views of the golden yellow sands and large marble monuments. We happened to pick a very windy day for our trip, so Ramla Bay beach was pretty quiet. Parking is free, and you can grab snacks and drinks from a nearby stall.
- Calypso Cave. You might see this on google maps and decide to check it out as we did! Don’t go there thinking you will see a cave. You will see signposts for one and some rubble. You will, however, have another lovely viewpoint of Ramla Beach from the opposite direction. It’s not much of a detour, so worth a quick stop off if you enjoy photography.
Where to go for lunch on Gozo Island
After spending the morning on Ramla Beach, by now, you’ll be getting hungry. Marsalforn Bay is a pretty location
that provides an ample selection of restaurants to choose from. Most of them will have amazing views of the ocean.
I recommend Otters Bistro as it is on the shore and it makes a great place to watch the waves, particularly on a windy day. This restaurant is excellent for vegetarian/vegan food with exceptional service. They catered for our needs, as well as some picky alterations by one of my meat-eater friends.
Where to spend your afternoon on Gozo Island
Word of Advice: Do not waste your precious time on this Malta itinerary trying to visit Fungus Rock in the North West of the Island. The roads resemble a poorly maintained stony dirt track and it is practically impossible to drive down due to road closures.
Located in Ir-Rabat (Victoria), the capital of Gozo Island, you can’t help but see the Citadel high in the distance. You can enjoy a free walk around the Citadel or pay to enter the museum. Victoria itself is home to the ‘Independence square’ known locally as ‘It-Tokk’. Perfect for a wander and a quick coffee.
Paradise Bay – Back on Malta Island
Paradise Bay is a pretty little beach which is close to the ferry terminal in Malta. If the tide is in when you visit or it is windy, it might be best to give it a miss. That being said, Paradise Bay is very picturesque and would make a lovely stop off for a few hours.
Alternative options to explore Gozo
If you’re only going to Gozo for a day, this Malta itinerary will cover a lot of stops while still giving you some relaxing beach time. Should you have a little longer, you can spread this out to take the haste out of your trip.
However, if you prefer to sit back and let someone else take the hassle out of planning for you, then check here for an unforgettable full-day tour of Gozo. There’s even option’s to explore Gozo Island in some quirky, fun ways:
- Full day Go-Car tour: Step into a cartoon car and zip around Gozo Island in a fun, unique and exciting way. See all the main sites while having pictures taken of you by people jealous of your go-car!
- Jeep Tour from Malta: Save yourself the hassle of taking the ferry ride on your own and visit Gozo Island as part of a Jeep convoy. There are many parts to Gozo that a 4×4 off-roader will come in handy!
- Quad bike tour: See the main sites of Gozo Island zipping around on-road and off-road behind the throttle of a quad bike.
- Segway tours: If you’d like to try your hand balancing on a Segway, this is the one for you. Indeed a fun experience all in itself.
Final Night of your Malta Itinerary
If you enjoyed Portomaso Marina in St Julian’s, I highly recommend the Blue Elephant Thai restaurant located within the Hilton Hotel. It will need pre-booking and you will see why due to the décor creating the impression that are actually walking into a Thai village. Luscious green plants everywhere and an artificial stream complete with waterfall and koi fish are just some of the fantastic things you will find. The food is superb too. Again, very vegan and vegetarian friendly and while it was a little more expensive, it is worth it.
I do not recommend the Sahara Shisha Bar in Paceville. The traditional Moroccan inspired décor is attractive from a distance, but it’s actually tatty, and the service when I visited was shocking. The music was also so loud you couldn’t have a conversation, and the staff kept requesting you move the table so they could accommodate bigger groups. This was during covid restrictions, but they didn’t give any consideration to this.
Malta Travel Guide | Final Thoughts
By now you will have a good idea of the things you can do on Malta and Gozo Islands, as well as Comino. Swap and change things up in this Malta Itinerary to suit your style and take as long or as little as you want. If you choose a weekend break, read these tips on how you can pack light to save costs.
I’d love to which parts of this Malta Itinerary & travel guide that you like best. So, please let me know about your plans or adventures in the comments.