Ultimate Malta Travel Guide: Top Things to See & Do
Last Updated on July 14, 2020 by Dana Berez
Ultimate Malta Travel Guide: Top Things to See & Do
There is something for everyone on the Island, and in this Malta travel guide I will map out the top thing to see and do.
While Malta may be the smallest island nation, it should not be overlooked on your Mediterranean travel itinerary. Malta is located in the heart of the Mediterranean sea that has a rich history and beautiful natural beaches.
Malta Travel Guide: What to Expect
Getting Around: While Malta might be small in size, it is one of the highest densely populated countries. That being said, there isn’t a whole space spread out. Traffic is inevitable, especially during peak times around Valletta.
If you plan on spending a few days here, you might want to consider renting a car. However, they adopted the British system of driving, so you drive on the left side which may be a bit difficult for some.
If you’re not keen on driving, they do have a bus system that runs throughout the island covering major sights.
Money & Currency: Malta is apart of the European Union so the Euro is used.
I didn’t have a problem using my card at restaurants, but you should always have cash on hand, especially for smaller purchases.
Language: Maltese is spoken throughout the country, and almost everyone does speak English as well. Maltese is such a unique language having influence from Arabic & Italian.
Weather: The weather in Malta is sunny and warm, but they do have their share of rainy days starting from October to November.
Where is Malta located?
Malta is a small island located right in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. Malta is close to Italy, and a flight from Sicily to Malta is only 45 minutes. I’ve seen routes starting only at $28 from Sicily to Malta airport.
Where To Stay in Malta
Staying on the Northside of the Island is the most popular choice among travelers. While staying in Valetta, the capital city, might seem ideal you’ll run into space and driving/parking limitations.
I stayed in St. Julian’s which is located on the northern part of the island. It’s only a short drive away from Valetta but has the luxury of new & larger resorts.
The area of St. Julian’s is not your historic neighborhood, but they have a lively restaurant and bar scene, and even a small beach! I enjoyed walking around this area at night to find restaurants to dine at. I love the fact it was walking distance to so much.
Westin Dragonara Resort
I stayed at The Westin Dragonara. The Westin Malta is a 5-star resort with a beachfront location in the heart of St. Julian’s. This resort is beautiful with recently renovated rooms and amazing beachfront views.
I must add that the service was great and the included breakfast buffet was delicious. There even is a large pool, and beachfront access to spend some time in the sun.
I stayed in one of the Bay Suites that had a kitchen, living room, one bedroom, two bathrooms including a stunning on-suite and even a private pool. The suite was spacious and luxurious, great for a longer stay. The master bathroom suite was honestly about the size of my NYC apartment! Highly recommend for a relaxing stay in Malta.
Things to Do in Malta
1. Spend a Day in Valletta
Valetta is the capital city that was established in 1500 by the Knights of St. John. The streets are lined with years of history, beautiful limestone architecture and traditional balconies.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral: You can’t miss this on your stop in Valetta. This Baroque styled Roman Co-Cathedral has an impressive interior that was built in 1572.
Every inch of this cathedral is covered with design. Be sure to observe the “Beheading of St.John” life-size painting by Caravaggio located inside the Cathedral.
Merchant Street: This street is a popular dining area that is lined with alfresco dining. I had an amazing lunch at Ta Rinaldu, which has local Maltese dishes along with a great wine selection.
Don’t leave without visiting the wine cellar in the basement!
Upper Barrakka Gardens: This garden has impressive views looking out of the bay. Be sure to stick around until 4 pm where history is brought back to life by the shooting of cannons. It goes on daily and is quite the sight to see!
2. Visit the Old Capital: Mdina
This was the medieval capital of Malta, and it still reminds a fortified city with a population of 300 people. Game of Thrones fans may recognize the gate of Mdina from Season One (the original King’s Landing).
Once you are inside the walls you will be transformed into this historic city. Now it is filled with shops and restaurants, but it really does make you feel like you were in a different time.
If you like historic home tours, you can tour Palazzo Falson, which is a medieval townhouse. This home was originally a one-story high courtyard house built around the early 13th century. Throughout the years it has been modified but it is restored to what it would have been like.
3. Gozo Day Trip
Gozo is another Island within Malta that has a rich history. And did you know, even though it’s only 25 minutes away from Malta, the people of Gozo have a different dialect and language.
How to Get to Gozo: To get to Gozo, you will have to take the Gozo Channel ferry from the western side of the island at the Cirkewwa Passenger Terminal. The fare for tourists is €4.65. The ride is only 25- minutes and should not be missed on your trip to Malta.
What to do in Gozo: There is so much to discover on Gozo, but you can fit it in on a day trip. Here were my favorite things to see and do:
This was home to Malta’s azure window, but it collapsed in 2017. However, Dwjera is still worth a visit. The landscape here is so unique. It felt like I was walking on the moon. If it’s a windy day, you can see the waves crash into the rocks.
Fun Fact: For any Game of Thrones fans out there, so many locations in Malta were featured in Season 1. It is fun to spot some familiar locations from the show, and Dwjera was the location of the Dothraki Wedding scene.
Bonus: This location has a parking lot and has a restroom!
Calypso’s cave is said to be the cave from Homer’s “The Oddessy”. It overlooks one of Gozo’s popular beaches Ramla-l-Hamra. The water here is such a stunning shade of blue, and the view is totally worth it.
If you have time, head down to the beach and spend some time in the sun!
Citadel: Take a step back in time by visiting the Citadel in Gozo. This ancient fortified city still has a few inhabitants but offers beautiful architecture and stunning views.
4. Wine Tour at Meridiana Estate
Why is visiting a winery in Malta so unique? Because typically you don’t find quality wines with Malta’s type of climate. That’s why a visit to Meridiana Estate should be on your list of things to do! They pioneered the process and produce 140,000 premium bottles annually.
It would be best to reserve your tasting in advance. You can book a tour and tasting of the Estate online.
During the tasting, I tried two white wines and two red wines. Each of the varieties was unique and delicious. I was tempted to buy them all. Definitely worth a stop when in Malta.
5. Discover Marsaxlokk
6. Try Maltese Specialties: Pastizzi, Rabbit, & Kinnie
You can’t leave Malta without trying their favorite snack: the Pastizzi. It’s a savory dough-like pastry typically filled with peas or ricotta cheese, and you can find them being sold almost everywhere.
Another Speciality is Rabbit, and you will see Rabbit on nearly every menu when in Malta. While I personally didn’t try it, it’s out there for anyone who would like to try.
Kinnie is a Maltese Soda that has such a unique flavor! Try it during lunch, just like a local.
7. Comino & Blue Lagoon Malta
Comino is an island situated between Malta and Gozo and offers unique blue waters popular for swimming and diving. If you are looking for a day in the sun, this is where I would go.
Unfortunately, it was an unusually rainy October and it rained when I had my tour so I didn’t get to see this in person. Definitely a reason to come back to Malta!
MALTA ISLAND MAP:
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*Disclaimer: My trip was hosted by Malta Tourism Authority. All opinions are my own.