One Week Itinerary for Malta: Everything You Need to Know

Mysterious, Multicultural, Majestic. These are all the M words I could think of to describe Malta, an island south of Sicily and not that far off the Tunisian coast. Malta is a strange little place full of friendly people who who speak a language that sounds like what happens when Arabic and Italian have a baby. Don’t let the tiny size fool you, there is more than meets the eye here in many ways. In one week there was no shortage of things to do. Here is my suggestion for a one week itinerary for Malta.

One Week Itinerary for Malta

Useful Stuff

Language:  Maltese but English widely spoken

Currency:  Euro and it is easy to find ATMs

History:  Malta was basically ruled by every empire you can think of since the dawn of civilization. The Romans, Byzantine, Arabs, French and most recently the British have all left their mark.

St. Paul was shipwrecked on the island in 60 A.D. and brought Christianity to Malta. The Arabs conquered the islands in 870 A.D. and left an important mark on the language of the Maltese. Charles V bequeathed Malta to the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalemwho ruled over Malta from 1530 to 1798. The Knights took Malta through a new golden age, making its cultural scene noteworthy in the 17th and 18th centuries.

How to Get Around

This is sooo important and I hate reading blogs that leave out this crucial info, so forgive me if I go overboard making sure you are not clueless about this part, like I was! Just know that the island seems small but has only a few roads connecting certain places and tons of traffic. It takes quite a while to get from place to place, especially by bus. This was one of the things I found frustrating about Malta.

OPTIONS

  1.  Rent a Car.  Be warned, they drive on the left side and they are some  insane confident drivers. I chose NOT to drive, although it would have been convenient.
  2. Taxis.  They are expensive. Just make sure to ask the driver ahead of time what the cost will be for where you are going.
  3. Bus.  This is the best option if you are on a budget. I will include the bus instructions for all the places I discuss below.

Day 1:  Valletta and the Three Cities

One Week Itinerary for Malta

Valletta is the capital of Malta. It is truly magnificent with unique architecture, narrow hilly streets, painted wooden bay windows and glimpses of the sea everywhere. You can walk all the streets in a few hours easily. Make sure to visit the fort and see Barrakka Gardens (that I fondly called Barack Obama gardens).  At the end of this post are options for dining, drinking and lodging.

This is the view of the three cities from the Gardens. Particularly lovely during golden hour.

One Week Itinerary Malta

The Three Cities are Vittoriosa (also Il-Birgu), Senglea (L-Isla) and Cospicua (Bormia). They are the cradle of Maltese history and give a glimpse into authentic Maltese life. The harbor inlets have been in use since Phoenician times and the docks provide a living for local people.

One Week Itinerary Malta

One Week Itinerary Malta

To reach the Three Cities, take the ferry from Barrakka Gardens in Valletta. There is a lift that takes you down from the upper city to the harbor. The ferry round trip is 2.80 euros.

Day 2: St. Julian’s and Sliema

One Week Itinerary Malta

Have a stroll on the Sliema promenade. Maybe visit the beach. Go to one of many public pools and relax and get out of the heat. Explore St. Julian’s Bay. Eat at one of many good restaurants. Take ferry between Sliema and Valletta for nice views of Valletta from the water. FYI St. Julian’s to Valletta is 30 minutes by bus. It doesn’t seem like it should take this long but due to the shape of the harbors, the bus has to take the “long way”. The ferry is only 5 minutes!

One Week Itinerary Malta

Day 3:  Comino Island

Comino Island is the tiny island north of Malta, between Malta and Gozo. It apparently only has 3 inhabitants. One Week Itinerary Malta

Rather than taking the touristy boat trip, consider taking the #11 bus to the ferry at Il Cerkiwwa and visit on your own. You will have more freedom and flexibility. The Blue Lagoon is indeed an impossible shade of blue but this is the only stop on the average boat tour that also takes you to Comino Island.

Trekking Comino Island

Instead of swimming in the famous but crowded Blue Lagoon, you could be here:

Trekking Comino Island

I wrote an entire post about this experience. Yes that’s how much I liked it! I will tell you exactly how to reach this secret lagoon. This was my favorite day of entire trip.

 Read More:  Trekking Comino Island

Day 4:  Mdina 

One Week Itinerary Malta

Mdina is the old capital of Malta. It is a typical medieval town and referred to as “The Silent City”, specially because of its quiet nights. I loved the narrow cobbled streets and the city walls. The whole city is essentially an open air museum and one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city.

Getting there:

  • Take the 202 bus to Rabat.
  • A taxi will cost about $25 from St Julian’s.  The drive is 30 min with minimal traffic.  Google says 12 min.  Oh Google. You don’t know Malta traffic!
  • The bus going back from Mdina to St. Julian’s/Valetta is only once per hour so make sure you know the schedule ahead of time to avoid standing around for almost an hour like someone did.

One Week Itinerary for Malta

The first season of Game of Thrones was filmed here before they decided to make Dubrovnik King’s Landing, so you may see some familiar sights!

One Week Itinerary, Malta

I can totally imagine Cersei or Littlefinger plotting in these alleys.

One Week Itinerary MaltaI came here early around 9:00 am and essentially had the city to myself. It was so peaceful.
One Week Itinerary, Malta

Take a break and try the hazelnut chocolate caramel cake at Fontanella Tea Garden

Day 5: Gozo Island

Gozo Island is a short ferry ride from Malta. Just like for Comino island, take the #11 bus to Il Cerkiwwa and then take a ferry to Gozo.

This is where the magnificent Azure window once stood.

one week itinerary Malta
photo by Susie Sudah

 

The famous Azure Window (backdrop of Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding in Game of Thrones), sadly collapsed into the sea last year. Locals were concerned how this loss would affect tourism in Gozo but apparently this is the best thing to happen for divers! These huge impressive white rock structure are now forming a new reef. Read more here in The Telegraph

Gozo has more to show you of course, like it’s impressive capital Victoria.

One Week Itinerary Malta

This is St. George’s Basilica

One week itinerary, Malta
Photo by Susie Sudah

 

Check out Arzella Restaurant in Marsalforn Bay for a great lunch with a view!

Note: there are several boat trips advertised everywhere that will take you to both Gozo and Comino in one day. If you are really short on time you can do this but I heard mixed reviews. To me, Comino is worth a full day since the best parts are the non-touristy ones!

Day 6: Blue Grotto

One Week Itinerary Malta
Photo by Susie Sudah

The Blue Grotto is a grouo of sea caves on the southern coast close to Zurrieq and then Qrendi Village. It is famous for the sea reflections within the caves.

A boat trip in the blue grotto is best way to experience it. This costs 8 euros.

Getting there:

  • Bus  (2 euros)  Valletta Terminus to Blue Grotto – Route 74
  • Time duration 30 minutes
  • Stop at Panorama bus stop
  • 2 min walk, down the hill to blue grotto
One Week Itinerary Malta
Photo by Susie Sudah

Day 7:  Cafe Del Mar

Cafe Del Mar is a swanky pool bar with a stunning view. A lounge chair here is 15 euros at the pool that allows children and 20 euros for the adult’s only section (you can guess where I went!). I went on a Saturday in early August and by 1130 am it was 3/4 full.

Food here is just ok. I had a nice pasta dish and Aperol spritz by the pool. The service was pretty bad. Can’t lie. It reminded me of the old days in South Beach before the table service improved to match the prices. However I enjoyed a relaxing day here and the sunsets are incredible!

Getting there:

  • 212 bus to Bugibba (Gzejjer stop)
  • walk 10 minutes
  • from the St Julian’s area will take 30min.

One Week itinerary malta

If you don’t have a week, you can still do all these things, maybe not in a leisurely way, but if you are sufficiently motivated, no problem. Mdina and Blue Grotto only require half a day each. You could do Mdina in the morning, then relax in the afternoon and see sunset at Cafe Del Mar. You could do Blue Grotto in the morning and then see the Three Cities in the afternoon/early evening followed by dinner in Valletta. It’s easy to mix and match!

Other options if you have time:  Explore the port of Marsaxlokk and St. Peter’s Pool, both in the southeast, easily accessible from Valletta.

Let’s Talk About Food

Food in Malta is no joke. I definitely added some inches here. Due to their proximity to Sicily, many Sicilians live and work here, spreading the joy of their cuisine. You will find lots of fresh pasta, arancini (frie rice balls), pasta bakes, etc. You also see the delightful blend of Italian and Arabic culture in much of the food. Here are some things to eat and places to check out.

Pastizzi

These are basically everywhere. I had them for breakfast and snacks quite a bit. They remind me a bit of Middle-Eastern or Greek cheese pies, except the crust is different. Not all of them were filled with cheese…some had mushy peas, a throwback to the British colonialism perhaps?

One Week Itinerary, Malta

Cafe D’Office

In Valetta, one of my favorite meals was here.  I tried one of the local specialties here, Ajotta (Maltese Fish Stew) and Imqaret. This stew had a delicious unique flavor and I honestly could have had two bowls.

One Week Itinerary Malta

Good thing I saved room for dessert because it was bomb! This is Imqaret (pronounced Im-AR-et…good to know if you’re going to run around asking for it, like I did). This is a sweet date-filled pastry, most often found during local festivals and also at food stands at the Valetta Bus Station. Other than that, they aren’t easy to find. This cafe had a version served with ice cream and chocolate sauce. I didn’t leave a drop on this plate! Bonus…great wifi here!  Two glasses of wine, water, cappuccino, soup and dessert came to 32 euro.

One Week Itinerary Malta

Pasthaus

This is also in Valletta, and is one of best pasta places I have ever seen. The owner/chef is the nicest Sicilian man and you immediately feel welcomed the second you walk in the door. This was not the case everywhere here. Literally, every person that walks in is greeted and asked if it’s their first time. Then they are given a “tour” of the pasta, all freshly made that day. They offer a crazy cool variety: hempseed pasta (high protein), spelt pasta, pasta made from chickpeas, buckwheat and egg (gluten free), spinach pasta and traditional egg pasta. All made daily of course.

One Week Itinerary Malta

You choose your pasta and sauce combo. So fun! They have traditional sauces like Bolognese, Carbonara, etc but some really foodie unique creative ones too like limoncello, parmesan cream, white ragu, and thyme or mushrooms,  speck, rocket, sesame seeds in pink sauce. I’m drooling, are you?

One Week Itinerary Malta

San Giovanni

This large restaurant in Valletta has a great scene with outdoor tables. It gets crowded and the service is a bit slow, although pleasant. I had a decent pasta with seafood and some local wine.

Bridge Bar

Here you can have a drink sitting outside on pillows on the stairs while listening to live jazz on certain nights.

One Week Itinerary for Malta

Cafe Society

Very cute cafe/bar found on some steps leading down from the center.

C. Camilleri

This is a tiny local spot away from touristy area on a quiet pretty street. I enjoyed a great breakfast here of avocado toast with fried egg. So hipster of me, huh? Also great coffe, fresh OJ and pastizzi.

Ta’Kris

This is in Sliema and is considered fine dining.  This place had amazing table service, definitely on par with any NYC restaurant. I enjoyed fresh fish here and soup.

Where to Stay

One Week Itinerary For Malta

Most popular neighborhoods for tourists are:

Valletta

I absolutely loved Valletta, although it doesn’t have too much nightlife and it does seem a bit dead at night, which didn’t bother me. There was definitely enough to do!

Valletta only has a couple hotels. I stayed in an amazing Airbnb. Be warned with summer travel, many places have limited AC! The views and location of this apartment can’t be beat and the hosts were an adorable couple that couldn’t have been nicer.

Use my AirBnb Link to book your perfect apartment in Valletta! Type in “Heart of Valletta, lovely bedroom in penthous” to find where I stayed.

Sliema

Sliema is resorty with large hotels and many tourist shops. Malta’s largest mall, The Point, is here. They have a long seaside promenade which is a great place for a stroll.  There are beautiful views across the harbour of Valetta from here.  You can have beach time here at the Sliema beach club.

St. Julian’s

St. Julian’s is really chill and is in a good location to explore the other neighborhoods, as well as the rest of the island. There is small man-made beach here at St. George’s bay.

The Meridien Hotel is super nice and well located. Expensive so better if you have SPG points! You can also find Airbnb places here.

Both St. Julian’s and Sliema are popular residential areas and have a cosmopolitan vibe.  They have great bus services to get you around the whole island.  There are bars, restaurants, clubs and nightlife all within walking distance.

Paceville

Paceville is a few streets near St. Julian’s that is the entertainment and clubbing center. It is the party area and is loud. I spent part of my time in Malta at a hostel here, which I really can’t recommend for various reasons. Look for that story in one of my upcoming “Tales and Fails” series. I will say that the location is nice and central. You are closer to Mdina and Gozo/Comino than in Valletta or St. Julian’s. See how I find the silver lining?

 

Book your hotel here!


Booking.com

Malta is a unique country with tons to do. You have history, culture, good food and beautiful ocean landscapes all at your disposal here.  The summers are busy and hot and prices will be higher. I think April or October may be ideal times to go.

Have you been to Malta? Did I leave your favorite activity off the list?

 

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One Week Itinerary for Malta

About The Author

csaradar

19 COMMENTS

  1. France Eff | 10th Sep 17

    Maltalooks gorgeous!! i wonder why it doesn’t gt more press?! I love the old architecture combined with gorgeous water in your pics. Also live the hair color lol

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      It was very crowded with other Europeans but Americans don’t seem to know much about it. And thank you:)

  2. Sandy from Tray Tables Away | 9th Sep 17

    Sounds like you covered a lot of the same ground as us on our recent trip and equally enjoyed it.
    I’ve seen a few people say Valletta doesn’t have much night life but we stayed there and it most certinaly does. In fact there is live music in the main square well into the night in summer and standing room only plus numerous rooftop bars.
    Enjoyed reading about your week – thanks !

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      Yes I also thought the nightlife in Valletta was very nice! Thank you so much for your comments!

  3. Tamar | 9th Sep 17

    Wow wow wow! I’ve wanted to visit Malta since watching The Count of Monte Cristo and these pictures just fired me up for a trip there! It reminds me of a mix of Portugal and Croatia… absolutely stunning. That imqaret pic? I need me some of that too 😀

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      I could go for an Imqaret right now! Yes Portugal/Croatia with a bit of Greece maybe. It’s very dry, kind of harsh landscape but so striking with the crazy blue waters!

  4. Helena | 9th Sep 17

    What a great guide! Never been to Malta and it’s not been on the top of my bucket list but feel really inspired by this list, might need to look it up a bit more now 🙂

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      It wasn’t high on my list but once I learned a few things about it, I had to visit! It’s a good place to go in the season when the rest of Europe is too cold!

  5. Danielle @ The Wanderlover | 9th Sep 17

    I’m going to Malta this month and this was an AMAZING post I definitely would’ve been so lost trying to get to one place or another! I’m also sad the Azure window collapsed but it’s great a reef is growing. Thanks for sharing!

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      So glad that I could help. Feel free to message me here or on FB for more info! Have a blast!

  6. Michelle | 9th Sep 17

    Your photos are gorgeous! I honestly have never thought about going to Malta, but after reading your post, it is definitely going on my list. Thank you so much for sharing and for the useful information.

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      Thanks so much Michelle 🙂

  7. Melissa | Suitcase + Heels | 9th Sep 17

    Thanks for this! I’m headed to Malta in 3 weeks and this helped me plan out a few things.

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      Wow perfect timing! I am so happy to have helped:)

  8. lcdorkin | 9th Sep 17

    All that food looks incredible!! And I love the vibe of the bridge bar — I cannot wait to visit! I’ve heard so much about Cafe Del Mar but probably wouldn’t eat there. The architecture looks so beautiful — I would take a million photos!!

  9. jin | 9th Sep 17

    Wonderful post, as I have always wanted to go to Malta! Love your detailed information and well-organized tips. As well as the lovely photos! They really induce wanderlust to this gorgeous place!

  10. Planes, Trains and Champagne | 9th Sep 17

    Wow! Malta is gorgeous! Your photos really bring it to life. I haven’t been to Malta, but I’m adding it to the list. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Megan Starr (@MeganCStarr) | 9th Sep 17

    Really gorgeous photos! The water is so blue and that food at Cafe D’Office looks incredible 😛 I haven’t been to Malta yet… hoping to get there soon!

    • csaradar | 10th Sep 17

      Thank you and yes….so darn blue! Almost hard to believe in person!

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