Wanting to visit an enchanting Mediterranean destination? Look no further than visiting Malta! This small archipelago offers a unique blend of history, culture, and stunning landscapes that will captivate you.
The Maltese archipelago consists of three islands: Malta, Comino and Gozo. Many use the term “Malta” to refer to both the archipelago as well as the actual island of Malta, and I will cover all three islands in this article.
Malta boasts a rich history, with influences from various civilizations converging into the Maltese language and architecture. You’ll be immersed in hues of honey-colored stone against the backdrop of the Mediterranean blue, creating some fantastic photo opportunities not dissimilar to its neighbor to the north Sicily.
Venture beyond Malta’s stunning coastlines and charming historic cities, and you’ll find numerous activities to make your trip unforgettable. With 359 churches around Malta, each day offers a glimpse into the island’s centuries-old spiritual legacy. Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, a nature lover, or simply seeking a getaway surrounded by beauty, Malta has something for everyone.
Best Time for Visiting Malta
Table of Contents
- Best Time for Visiting Malta
- Getting to Malta
- By Air
- Malta Airport To Gozo
- By Sea
- Getting Around Malta
- Public Transportation
- Getting around by Car
- Things to do in Malta
- 1. Wander the streets of UNESCO Listed Valletta
- 2. Explore St John’s Cathedral
- 3. Visit the Grand Master’s Palace
- 4 Enjoy the view at the Upper Barrakka Gardens
- 5. The National War Museum
- 6. Time travel back to World War Two at the Lascaris War Rooms
- 7. Visit the Three Cities
- 8. Admire the Mosaics at Domus Romana
- 9. Explore the streets silent city of Mdina
- 10. Enjoy a coffee with a view at Palazzo Falson in Mdina
- 11. Go shopping for Mdina Glass
- 12. Marvel at Ggantija Temple on Gozo
- 13. Savour the view from Mixta Cave on Gozo
- 14. Visit Gozo’s Citadel
- 15. Walk the streets of Victoria
- 16. Take a Pilgrimage to Ta Pinu Church on Gozo
- 17. Take a Boat Ride around Dwerja Bay in Gozo
- 18. Go Swimming in the Blue Lagoon
- Gastronomy Things to Do in Malta
- 19. Visit a Maltese Winery
- 20. Experience Farson’s Brewery
- 21. Enjoy Afternoon Tea Maltese Style
- 22. Eat Pastizzi at the Crystal Palace Bar
- 23. Make your own Ftira
- 24. Visit Marsaxlokk Market
- Around Malta
- 25. Get obsessed with photographing doors, covered balconies and door knockers
- 26. Walk Along Dingli Cliffs
- Restaurants to try in Malta
- Where to Stay in Malta
The best time to visit Malta depends on your interests and the type of holiday you’re planning.
If you want a mix of warm temperatures and fewer crowds, May, September, and October are optimal times to visit Malta. During these months, you can enjoy pleasant weather to explore Malta’s attractions without feeling too hot or uncomfortable.
If you want to get some serious sun, the summer months, specifically June, July, and August, are the best times for beach and outdoor activities. This period is also perfect for music lovers since big summer festivals, castle raves, and boat parties attract renowned DJs and thousands of music fans.
However, do note that summers in Malta can get scorching hot, with temperatures ranging from 70ºF to 90ºF (21ºC to 32ºC). Be prepared to deal with the heat and larger crowds at popular tourist spots during this time.
For a more relaxed experience, consider visiting Malta between April and June. The weather during these months is warm but not too hot, making it an ideal time for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Additionally, the Mediterranean Sea is generally warm enough for swimming by May.
In summary, when planning your trip to Malta, keep these factors in mind:
- Warm temperatures and smaller crowds: May, September, and October
- Beach and outdoor activities, music festivals: June, July, and August
- Sightseeing and swimming: April to June
Getting to Malta
Malta is just a few hours’ flight from most mainland European cities and has excellent intercontinental connections. The main airport in Malta is the Malta International Airport (MLA). The national carrier, Air Malta, flies to 23 destinations, including Heathrow and Gatwick Airports in London. The flight from London to Malta takes just over three hours.
Once you arrive at Malta airport, taxis and buses can take you to your accommodation. The city centre of Valletta is just 15 minutes by taxi and St Julian’s is 20 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Malta Airport To Gozo
There is no road access to Gozo from the island of Malta. Visitors must head to the Cirkewwa Ferry Port on the island’s north. This journey takes about 40 minutes by taxi, depending on traffic (there can be quite a bit of traffic on Malta for an island at peak times).
The ferry to Gozo takes 25 minutes from Cirkewwa Ferry Port. Ferries run every 30 minutes at peak times but do check the ferry schedule. Buses and taxis are available at Gozo ferry port to take you to your final destination.
Malta is well-connected to several European countries through frequent ferry services if you prefer to travel by sea. There are two car ferry sailings a week between Sicily and Malta. Or it is possible to take the train to Sicily and hop on the ferry to Malta.
When arriving by ferry, you’ll likely dock in the Valletta Grand Harbour, conveniently near the city center. From there, you can take a short walk to explore Valletta or use public transportation to reach other parts of the island.
Remember to keep track of the ferry schedules and book your tickets well ahead of time, especially during the peak tourist season.
Getting Around Malta
The small size of the Maltese Islands makes getting around relatively easy and hassle-free. You can rely on the public bus service in Malta and Gozo to reach most tourist areas, as buses serve practically everywhere and are inexpensive and efficient.
Malta also has a hop-on hop-off open-top bus that covers the main sites on the island. There are two different bus routes for the north and south of the island.
Getting around by Car
Renting a car is a convenient way to get around Malta but as I mentioned earlier, traffic can be quite heavy during peak hours and there can be parking limitations, particularly around Valletta and the Three Cities.
When I was in Malta, I found rideshare apps the easiest way to get around. I used Bolt but Ryde and eCabs are also available.
If you’re up for it, I also explored Gozo via tuk tuk, which was great fun. There are also lots of options to hire bikes and bikes.
Things to do in Malta
1. Wander the streets of UNESCO Listed Valletta
As Malta’s elegant capital, Valletta is a strategically important seaport with beautiful architecture, charming streets, and various cultural attractions. For me, walking the streets of Valletta was one of the highlights of my visit to Malta. Skinny cobbled streets snake up and down hilly Valletta and are particularly atmospheric at night. Get lost in the charming back streets before heading down to Valletta Harbour.
2. Explore St John’s Cathedral
From the outside, St John’s Co-Cathedral looks much like any other impressive historic site. When you enter the church, you realize why this is such a special location. The interior design is completely over the top with red, gold, and colored marble.
The Knights of St John ruled Malta from 1530 to 1798 and its grand master is buried in the crypt. The marble floors contain the tombs of over 400 knights.
3. Visit the Grand Master’s Palace
The Grand Master’s Palace in Malta, as its name suggests, was originally the residence of the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta. Today, it houses the President of Malta’s Office. Visitors can explore the beautiful courtyards with fountains and statues.
Visitors can access the State Rooms, including the Council Chamber with its magnificent drapes made by the Gobelins. The official dining room, the Supreme Council Hall, and the Page’s Waiting Room (which used to house the grand master’s 16 servants) are also open for exploration.
4 Enjoy the view at the Upper Barrakka Gardens
Upper Barrakka Gardens has some of the best views in Valletta and is a lovely space. It is filled with arches, flowers, and benches for sitting and enjoying the view over the Three Cities. If you visit the gardens at 12 be prepared for some cannon fire. The gardens sit above The Saluting Battery, which fires every day at midday.
There is also a Lower Barrakka Gardens near Fort Saint Elmo.
5. The National War Museum
Malta’s National War Museum is located at Fort Saint Elmo. The fort was built in 1552 to protect Valletta Harbor. The Fort was bombed by the Italians during World War Two but survived reasonably intact.
Inside the museum, you’ll see one of the Italian planes that bombed Fort Saint Elmo and the George Cross that the people of Malta received for their services during World War Two.
6. Time travel back to World War Two at the Lascaris War Rooms
Malta was strategically important during World War Two due to its location. Deep beneath Valletta, a secret war room was built for the Allies. Eisenhower oversaw the invasion of Sicily from these rooms; many radar readings were taken, signals analyzed, and more.
After World War Two, the still secret site tracked Russian submarines until it was closed in 1977. Today visitors can see the map rooms and original equipment still in place.
7. Visit the Three Cities
Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua are three fortified cities located across the Grand Harbor from Valletta. Vittoriosa is known as the “cradle” of Maltese history as it was the first home of the Knights of the Order of St John.
Like Valletta, the best thing to do when visiting the three cities is to explore and wander through their small cobbled streets. Additionally, there are quite a few tourist attractions tucked away. Vittoriosa is home to The Inquisitor’s Palace, the Museum of Ethnography, St Lawrence Church and the Malta Maritime Museum.
Cospicua is the largest of Malta’s three cities. It is home to the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. During World War Two, Cospicua was destroyed by bombs but the Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception somehow survived. Senglea offers some fantastic views of Valletta at the Safe Harbour Gardens.
8. Admire the Mosaics at Domus Romana
This beautiful house was once home to an ancient Roman aristocrat. The site was accidentally discovered by workers in 1881. Little remains of the house itself but there are some beautiful mosaics and artifacts to see.
Domus Romana is just outside the walls of the city of Mdina. After your visit, walk along the beautiful walls and gardens until you reach the grand entrance to the silent city.
9. Explore the streets silent city of Mdina
The hilltop, pedestrianized town of Mdina was Malta’s first capital city back in the reign of the Knights of Malta. It became known as the silent city after Vittoriosa took over as Malta’s capital. Today, its small streets are often bustling with tourists.
Mdina is exceptionally well preserved, so wandering its tiny streets genuinely feels like going back in time. Don’t miss the 17th-century St. Paul’s Cathedral, with its distinct Baroque architecture.
10. Enjoy a coffee with a view at Palazzo Falson in Mdina
Palazzo Falson, or The Norman House, is Mdina’s best-preserved medieval building. Today this historic house is a museum displaying a collection of antiques and objets d’art. It is a beautiful house and well worth visiting, particularly the painter’s studio and library.
However, the highlight of my visit to Palazzo Falson was visiting its Gustav Cafe on the top floor. The cafe has a lovely outdoor terrace with pretty tables and a fantastic view over Mdina, notably St Paul’s Cathedral.
11. Go shopping for Mdina Glass
Visitors will see glasswork for sale all over Malta. The best store I found in terms of design styles and range was Mdina Glass. The store will be on your left just after entering the Mdina gate. Don’t miss the upstairs section, much larger than the downstairs and filled with gorgeous glass works.
12. Marvel at Ggantija Temple on Gozo
This UNESCO World Heritage site was built before Stonehenge between 3600 and 3200 BC. The temples fell into disuse and were not discovered again until the 19th century. Ggantija means “giant” as it was believed that giants had formed these massive limestone rocks, some weighing over 50 tonnes.
13. Savour the view from Mixta Cave on Gozo
This small cave is in Ramla Bay and oversees Ramla Il-Hamra, or the red, sandy beach. The view is absolutely spectacular and it is a perfect place for posing.
The cave can be accessed by walking north of Nadur and following a small rock-covered path. Or from Ramla Bay, it is a 40-minute walk uphill.
14. Visit Gozo’s Citadel
The Citadel is an ancient fortified city at the center of Gozo. Humans have lived in the area since pre-historic times, although only two families live in the Citadel today. The Citadel’s main square is home to the impressive Gozo Cathedral, Bishop’s Palace, and the law courts. Walk the area’s small streets and enjoy the stunning views across the island from the north city-gate.
15. Walk the streets of Victoria
Victoria is the capital city of Gozo and is literally next to the Citadel. The city’s small streets are busy with restaurants, shopping and bars. Don’t miss the spectacular interior of St George’s Basilica.
16. Take a Pilgrimage to Ta Pinu Church on Gozo
In 1883, a woman from the Gozo village of Gharb believed she heard the voice of Our Lady at what was then a small chapel on this site. Word got out and the site became very popular for pilgrimages. The church currently located on the site was built between 1920 and 1931 and is quite spectacular.
17. Take a Boat Ride around Dwerja Bay in Gozo
Dwerja Bay is one of the places in Malta that you must visit. The craggy limestone rocks and cliffs combined with the spectacular turquoise water, make for a visually dramatic location. Dwerja Bay was home to The Azure Window, which unfortunately collapsed in 2017. However, even without this iconic site Dwerja Bay was one of my Malta highlights.
Scuba diving and swimming are, of course, popular in Dwerja Bay, particularly around the Blue Hole. Or take a hike around the bay and enjoy the views. The third option is to take a boat around Dwerja Bay. Head down to the small bathing boxes and negotiate your fair to be taken around the bay.
Dwerja is also home to Fungus Rock. A special plant that grew on Fungus Rock was believed to have special medicinal qualities in the time of the Knights of Malta. The rock was heavily guarded as a result and anyone caught stealing from the rock was sentenced to death or a lifetime rowing in the galleys.
18. Go Swimming in the Blue Lagoon
Malta’s third island, Comino, is tiny. It is best known for its very popular tourist attraction, the Blue Lagoon. The combination of the sharp cliffs of Comino and the see-through turquoise water makes for a stunning sight.
The Blue Lagoon gets VERY busy. I would suggest visiting early in the morning or very late in the day if you want any room to move. Or even better visit the Blue Lagoon on a boat trip and swim in its turquoise seas off the boat rather than setting foot on the busy shore.
The Blue Lagoon can only be accessed by boat. Ferries run from Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal on Malta and from Gozo.
Gastronomy Things to Do in Malta
19. Visit a Maltese Winery
Who knew that Malta made wine? International grape varieties including cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, grenache, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, are grown on the island as well as the indigenous grapes gellewza and ghirghentina. I visited the lovely Ta’Betta Wine Estates, spread over 400 hectares and 200 meters above sea level.
The first vines were planted at Ta’Betta in 2003 and the owners named the winery after their recently born daughter, Bettina. Ta’Betta is a private estate but will take appointments. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at the winery and I was a big fan of their chardonnay.
20. Experience Farson’s Brewery
Farson’s Pale Ale was Malta’s first locally brewed beer when it launched in 1928. Farsons went on to merge with two of the other brewers on the island, and it is now an award-winning brewery. Today, tours are conducted in the stunning art deco building that was Farson’s brewery in the 1950s.
You’ll see the original copper brewing kettles from the 1950s, learn all about the beer-making process and then head to The Cisk Tap on the top floor for a tasting.
Fun Fact: Farson’s also makes Malta’s soft drink Kinnie. Kinnie is made from bitter oranges and is very tasty – try some at The Cisk Tap.
21. Enjoy Afternoon Tea Maltese Style
I was intrigued to hear that I was going to be able to try a Maltese version of afternoon tea. The Corinthia Palace is a beautiful hotel serving afternoon tea with a Maltese twist. This means you’ll enjoy scones with dried fig, orange blossom and cumin and local pastries and cakes with dates, pistachio, orange and honey. Don’t miss this tasty Maltese treat.
22. Eat Pastizzi at the Crystal Palace Bar
Pastizzi are Malta’s national snack. This little savory pastry contains either ricotta or curried peas. The pastry is very similar to filo but a little thicker. You will find pastizzi all over Malta. But if you want the best pastizzi in Malta, you must head to the Crystal Palace Bar in Rabat.
It is conveniently located on the square at the entrance to the city and the pastizzis are to die for. Expect it to be busy as it is very popular with locals.
Rabat is a very cute small city with more winding streets, honey-colored historic buildings and those wonderful photogenic colorful doors, covered balconies, and door knockers. Grab your pastizzi and explore this pretty town.
23. Make your own Ftira
Speaking of food items that are particularly Maltese, it is not possible to leave Malta without trying Ftira. This local snack is like a small pizza, or it can be folded over and appear like a calzone. The base is a disc-shaped flatbread. Toppings or fillings can be anything but the most popular ones are tuna, sardines, potatoes, fresh onions and olives.
So where better to learn how to make Ftira than an olive grove? I visited the beautiful Girgenti Olive Grove and its passionate owner Ivan Galea taught me about Ftira, and I made my own very tasty version.
You can learn how to make ftira with Ivan or take one of his other fantastic-sounding tours at Karlito’s Way.
24. Visit Marsaxlokk Market
Marsazlokk is an extremely cute fishing village located in the far east of Malta. The harbor is filled with restaurants and bars offering views of the sea and many colorful boats. The best time to visit Marsaklokk is on Sundays when it holds a market. Of course there is loads of seafood and sweet Maltese treats for sale and a flea market. If you cannot visit on a Sunday, there will be a few stalls on the harbor most days of the week.
25. Get obsessed with photographing doors, covered balconies and door knockers
Malta sure knows how to use a bright contrasting color! One of the highlights of wandering through the island’s cities is seeing and photographing the brightly colored doors and covered balconies. Many of the door knockers are sculptures in their own right and are often attached to photogenic doors. It does become a bit of an obsession but I enjoyed capturing as many of these as I could!
26. Walk Along Dingli Cliffs
Dingli Cliffs are the highest point in Malta at 250 meters and offer some fantastic views. Take a rideshare or the bus, get out at the cliffs, and explore the cliffs from the east and the west. The area is also home to several historic sites, including the Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene and the Dingli Radar.
Restaurants to try in Malta
I loved the food in Malta. It is a unique mix of Italian and North African with some local spices and methods thrown in. Here are some of the places I enjoyed eating while in Malta.
The Medina Restaurant in Mdina was one of my favorite meals in Malta. It is located very close to St Paul’s Cathedral so I was initially dubious about the potential quality of the food, but I was very happily proven wrong.
The menu is a fusion of Lebanese and Maltese with many sharing dishes like baba ganoush and dolmas. Then move on to the mains, including local classics like Octopus Stew and Pan Fried Rabbit. The food was fantastic and the restaurant is in a beautiful old building with many tables in an inner courtyard. So atmospheric!
Cent’anni Bar and Wine Bistro is in the tiny town of Gharghur, inland from St Julian’s. This building has housed a wine bar for the last 150 years. The restaurant curls and winds inside with several different areas for eating with wine bottles and art everywhere. It oozes character and charm.
This restaurant is all about local sourcing and the menu changes regularly. We enjoyed a fantastic four-course meal, including rabbit belly, outstanding pasta, local pork and an unexpected banoffee cup for dessert.
It takes a little more time to get to Cent’anni, but it is well worth the effort to visit this little gem.
Marsaxlokk has a lot of fish restaurants and it isn’t easy to figure out which one to visit. We asked the tourism board and their recommendation was Tartarun. Tarturun has a great location in the middle of the harbor, across the road from the sea.
Unsurprisingly it is all about fish at Tarturun. A selection of fresh fish was brought to our table and we could choose our fish and whether we wanted our fish whole or filleted. I also had some delicious oysters.
Do make sure you book ahead if you want to eat at Tartarun, particularly for Sunday lunch.
Seed is the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency in St Julians. The restaurant sits on the edge of the pretty Triq Sqaq Lourdes piazza. The menu is modern European with a Maltese bent and the food was excellent.
Where to Stay in Malta
If you’re looking for luxury accommodations, consider staying at The Phoenicia Malta in Valletta. This five-star hotel offers top-notch amenities and stunning views of the city. It also has an unbeatable location near Valletta’s old town entrance.
I didn’t stay at the Phoenicia, but I did visit and can confirm that this hotel is beautiful. Lovely gardens and sea views surround it. This is where socialites and stars have stayed in Malta for 60 years. The good news is the interiors have been kept up to date by designer Peter Young and the rooms are light, bright and airy.
There are several boutique hotels located in the small streets of Valletta. The Saint John is a former merchant’s residence and shop that has been converted into a stylish boutique hotel. There are three room types available plus a family option.
Across the water, many accommodation options exist in the popular area of St Julian’s. I stayed at the Radisson St Julian’s when I visited Malta. This certainly wasn’t my typical boutique hotel but I loved staying here.
The Radisson St Julian’s has a fantastic location on the Meditteranean and every room has a balcony or terrace with a sea view. The rooms are simple but stylish, with wooden floors and attractive hints of eggshell blue. I stayed in a standard room.
The rooms are great – big enough to feel spacious but still quite cozy. The bathroom had two sinks and a bathtub with an overhead shower. There are in-room tea and coffee facilities, and the free wifi is strong.
The buffet breakfast is outstanding. There was such an extensive range of options available and an egg man. The buffet also offers different Maltese specialties each day.
If you’re planning to stay on Gozo, check out the gorgeous Cesca boutique hotel near the bay of Xlendi. This stylish 18-room hotel has fantastic views of the Xledni Valley. The property is a 350 year old converted farmhouse.