Malta is a picturesque European island that is often overlooked. Alluring beaches and incredible history come from this small island off the coast of Sicily. This 3 days in Malta itinerary will give you the chance to relax and visit some great historical sites.
If you’re from Europe, chances are that Malta is on your radar. For the rest of us, it may be overshadowed by other European islands like Santorini, Ibiza, and Sardinia. If you fall into that category, wait until you see how much this amazing country has to offer.
Most people prefer to spend their 3 days in Malta staying in the bigger cities such as Valletta or St. Julian’s. From here you can easily get around the island and explore Malta from Popeye village to the Blue Lagoon and even a jaunt to the Maltese islands of Gozo or Comino.
Traveling to Malta was so different than I expected, both good and bad. I was reflecting on the past year of travel and realized that I had never written a blog post about Malta because I felt like I missed so much.
The truth is, I made some mistakes that impacted my ability to see all that I wanted in Malta. I encourage you to read the Malta Travel Tips section below to get the most out of your vacation.
Best Time of Year to Spend 3 Days in Malta
In summer, Malta can be expensive, crowded and hot. The shoulder season of March – May or October is so much more peaceful and the weather is often better. When I went in May, the perfect, sunny days were in the 70s and nights were very comfortable.
Spring is an excellent time to visit for hotel availability and better prices. November through February are the coldest months with highs in the 60’s, lows in the 40’s and some rainy days, though not too many.
Malta Travel Itinerary Overview
- First Day: Valletta, Blue Grotto, Marsaxlokk
- Second Day: Mdina, Rabat, Popeye Village, Sliema
- Third Day: Gozo, Blue Lagoon, St. Julian’s
3 Days in Malta Itinerary – Day 1
Start Your Trip with One Day in Valletta
Start your first day in the historic city of Valletta which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the southernmost and smallest capital in the European Union. Valletta’s beauty and elegance will set the tone for your whole trip.
Once I saw this 16th century city, I was enthralled with Malta and wanted to see more. Everyone was so stylish and the architecture was incredible. If you are only spending 2 or 3 days in Malta, a half-day in Valletta should be at the top of your list.
Start your morning with a stop at St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The exterior is pretty but the real beauty is the ornate interior that features Caravaggio’s masterpiece, The Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist.
Another “must see” is the Grand Harbor view from the renowned Upper Barrakka Gardens as well. If you end up here at noon, you can see a cannon being fired at the Saluting Battery.
Valletta is a city where you’ll want to be out and about walking arounds so wear comfortable shoes. The cobblestone streets add to the historical feel.
One of the things I loved about Valletta was the way new and old architecture compliment each other. The Parliament building, so beautifully designed, is situated near baroque buildings from the 16th Century.
Walking from place to place in Valletta is definitely the best way to get around. The city also has the National Museum of Archaeology of which the artifacts are often some of the oldest in the world. Another great way to see all the main sights and hidden gems of Valletta is to take a 3 Hour Valletta Walking Tour that starts at 10am and is a total bargain at less than $20.
- Valletta Walking Tour Cost: €15-€20 per person
- Meeting Point: Valletta City Gate
- Duration: 3 hours
When in Malta, Have a Maltese Lunch & Glass of Wine in Valletta
We’ve all heard of wine coming from Napa or Tuscany, but Maltese wine is something you probably haven’t tried unless you visit the country. I like to try foods and beverages that are unique to wherever I am, so Maltese wine was definitely on my list of Malta tips.
Noni is a Maltese restaurant in the heart of the city. Here, you can order traditional Maltese food from seafood to rabbit! A small, casual Maltese restaurant is Zizka. The pasta comes highly recommended, but you’ll definitely want to call and book a table ahead of time.
Visit the Three Cities During Your 3 Days in Malta
Birgu, Senglea, and Bormla comprise an area known as the three cities. They are directly across from Valletta and worth exploring during your 3 days in Malta.
They look similar to Valletta with the iconic colorful doors and windows on Malta’s sand colored buildings. Thankfully though, they are less crowded so it will allow you to explore on foot and be immersed in the feeling of being in historical Malta. Don’t miss the Malta Maritime Museum and vibrant Victory Square.
Cruise Through the Blue Grotto
The Blue Grotto is compromised of seven caverns, one of which is a massive arch. Cat’s Cave and Reflection Cave are also standouts. The best time to visit the Blue Grotto is from sunrise to 1 pm on sunny clear days. The sun reflects off the caves, blue light shines through. The intensity of blue light almost seems impossible.
Visit Marsaxlokk at Sunset or Sunday During Your 3 Days in Malta
Marsaxlokk is a charming little fishing village in the South of Malta not far from the Blue Grotto. This low-key, harbor town filled with colorful boats is the perfect place to catch the sunset and take in local Malta life.
Every Sunday, the village opens its fish market where you’ll also find fresh fruit, wine, and more. You can also head to nearby St. Peter’s Pool, a natural pool where many like to swim or lay out in the warm Maltese sun.
If you get hungry, enjoy appetizers or an early dinner at Capo Mulini. This Italian eatery has an outdoor patio overlooking the harbor and has fantastic food.
Malta’s close proximity to Italy means that you will find many amazing Italian restaurants. Another terrific choice, Tartarun Restaurant has almost any seafood you can imagine from oysters to octopus that everyone raves about. Keep in mind that the service gets a little slow when it’s crowded.
Have Dinner in Neighboring Sliema
If you don’t have dinner in Marsaxlokk, Sliema is another great place to eat. It lies right in between Valletta and St.Julian’s, so it is very close to where you’ll likely be staying.
A delicious pasta restaurant called ImPasta lies on the coast. They have fresh pasta that you can mix and match your choice of sauce. Sea Salt is a fish and chips takeaway restaurant with some of the best fresh fish. Malta is a seafood lovers paradise.
3 Days in Malta Itinerary – Day 2
Check Out the Medieval City of Mdina
The city of Mdina is noticeably more medieval looking than the rest of Malta. In fact, Mdina was the capital city during the Medieval times.
The most popular reason for travelers to visit this city is that it was one of the ten destinations in Malta where Game of Thrones was filmed.
For Game of Thrones fans, Mdina portrays the ancient walled city. Another interesting fact about the city is that no cars are allowed here giving it the name “the Silent City.”
A Highlights of Malta & Mdina Full Day Tour starts with a tour of Mdina’s ancient and baroque architecture. Additionally, you’ll see the catacombs in Rabat, the sea views from the Dingli Cliffs and the San Anton Botanical Gardens.
This tour is likely to sell out and is a great way to get an overview of the best places in Malta in one big sightseeing day.
- Highlights of Malta & Mdina Full Day Tour : €59 per person
- Meeting point: Pick up from your hotel is included
- Duration: 8 hours
If you have a car, you can tour Mdina on your own. There is also a bus from Valletta to Mdina on Route 53. It runs every 10 minutes and will only take you about 30 minutes total.
Try a Traditional Maltese Tasting Menu for Lunch at a Michelin Star Restaurant
Fine dining on vacation is always something special. The De Mondion Restaurant in Mdina is just that. From rabbit to beef and even a full Malta tasting menu, guests say that the cuisine deserves an additional star.
The lunch menu is only served on Friday and Saturday or you can enjoy the dinner menu from Tuesday to Saturday.
For a meal that does not cost quite as much, try the Fork in Cork. With unique catch of the day specials, the fish here is local and always fresh.
Visit the Neighboring City of Rabat
Rabat is the historic and beautiful next door city to Mdina. A more popular attraction on the border of Mdina and Rabat is the Howard Gardens, the largest public gardens in all of Malta. It is very relaxing and tranquil, so sit outside and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee.
Taking a quick trip to see some of the most exquisite and oldest mosaics inside Domus Romana is a great experience as well.
Rabat contains a ton of Roman history like St. Paul’s Catacombs containing cemeteries dating all the way back to the 4th century.
Popeye Village is a Great Addition to Your Malta Itinerary With Kids
Popeye Village is a fun place to tour, especially for families. Built specifically for the Popeye film, you can walk through the entire town, go into the houses and see some characters.
It’s also super instagrammable if you go to the Popeye village view point across the bay. Although Popeye Village is not full of activities, it’s definitely worth visiting.
During the summer months, though, chairs and umbrellas are available for rent. There’s also a water park with boat rides and food options.
Enjoy Dinner and a Night on the Town in Valletta
Since you’ll probably be staying in St. Julians or Valletta, it’s convenient to have dinner nearby. Adesso is a great Mediterranean restaurant. It is a little bit on the nicer side, but definitely worth it. If you haven’t tried the traditional Maltese rabbit, you can try it here!
Another amazing restaurant is Giannini Restaurant. Here you’ll find exquisite city and harbor views. They also have some great vegan or gluten free options! For those with a sweet tooth, head over to Amorino, an ice cream shop that serves macarons and ice cream in the shape of a rose!
If you’re feeling up for a drink and some music, visit Bridge Bar in Valletta. This is a jazz club with a bit of a middle eastern feel. Jazz nights are on Fridays and the music plays until midnight. Bridge Bar is the most noteworthy place to let loose and relax after a day out in Malta, and the drinks are super cheap!
3 Days in Malta Itinerary – Day 3
Spend One Day in Malta Exploring Gozo & Comino Islands
The less developed neighboring island of Malta is called Gozo. It has incredible natural beauty and is known for some breathtaking hikes, picturesque beaches and historical sites.
Sadly Gozo’s most famous attraction, the Azure Window, collapsed in a 2017 storm. It was a huge loss for Malta and the world as it was one of the most stunning natural bridges.
Gozo is filled with hidden gems and definitely worth a day on your Malta itinerary. You have multiple options as to how you tour Gozo.
Your first choice is to set out on your own adventure and take the Gozo Ferry from Ċirkewwa, Malta. The ferries depart every 45 minutes. You can just purchase your ticket at the harbor in Cirkewwa.
Comino is the tiny island where you will find the Blue Lagoon. The same ferry heads to Comino and you can easily stop there by yourself to check it out. Take a swim, but don’t let your visit of Comino stop there. You’ll see Segway tour operators nearby that will take you on a tour of the island. It will give you a more complete picture of the natural beauty all around you.
- Gozo Ferry Duration: 25 minutes
- Cost: round trip standard fare – €4.65
- Time: All day every 45 minutes
Sightsee in Gozo With an Organized Tour
Gozo has so much to see and it can be time consuming to get around the island without a guide. If you are planning to spend 3 days in Malta, you’ll need to be efficient with your Gozo itinerary.
A Full Day Gozo Jeep and Boat Tour will take you all around Gozo and to Comino Island as well to check out the Blue Lagoon on your way back to the main island of Malta. Your travel guide will either pick you up from the ferry or from your hotel in Malta free of charge. Lunch will be provided.
The tour has quite a few stops such as Marsalforn, Xlendi Bay, and of course the Blue Lagoon. In Marsalforn Bay, you will be able to see the Marsalforn salt pans where salt is still harvested to this day, it’s pretty cool! Then you’ll cruise the Blue Lagoon and enjoy it’s turquoise blue water.
- Full Day Gozo Tour Cost: around €70 per person
- Duration: 8 hours
- Departure Time: 8 a.m.
Wander Around St. Julians & Relax on the Beach
St. George’s Beach is one of the best Malta beaches to visit. Here you can relax on the sand and enjoy the many surrounding restaurants and bars. The water is very calm and perfect for renting some kayaks or paddle boards for the afternoon.
Drinks at Paranga, an upscale bar and restaurant right next to St. George’s, are the perfect vacation treat. My favorite was the passion fruit mojito, so yummy!
Enjoy a Dinner in St. Julian’s During Your Last of 3 Days in Malta
Fine dining is always something fun to do on vacation. Caviar & Bull is a fashionable restaurant with innovative cuisine and a great view of St. George’s Bay that’s perfect for your farewell dinner, For something a little bit more casual with nice outdoor dining, try the authentic Neapolitan cuisine at Storie & Sapori.
Where to Stay for 3 Days in Malta
If you want your Malta trip to be a vacation at a resort with plenty of pool time, here are some great options. Beach resorts tend to be a lot bigger and offer a variety of amenities.
The good thing about going with this type of hotel is that you can do a bunch of sightseeing and then come back and relax. It’s the best of both worlds. These are resorts around the island.
- Marina Hotel – Start your day with a panoramic view during breakfast at one of the 11 dining options of this sizable beach resort in St. Julian’s. You’ll also enjoy the health club and spa when you have finished a busy day of sightseeing.
- Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay – Another gorgeous hotel located in St. Julian’s with a lovely spa and 5 swimming pools.
- Dolmen Hotel Malta – This large resort on St. Paul’s Bay has pristine ocean views and multiple pools. It’s convenient to Gozo Island and Mdina but further removed from Valletta. I stayed here and liked the hotel but logistically it wasn’t great without a rental car.
For people that plan to do a lot of sightseeing (there are so many great things to see) a boutique hotel is a great choice. These types of hotels are smaller and will cater to you on a more personal level.
Although boutique hotels have a ton to offer as well, getting out and exploring is likely what you’re looking to do more of. Enjoy free wifi and breakfast included at these two boutique hotels.
- Palazzo Consiglia – Enjoy some old world elegance in this smaller Valletta hotel with a spa as well as an outdoor swimming pool and terrace.
- Hugo’s Boutique Hotel – A modern boutique hotel in St. Julian’s with a pretty rooftop pool area and view (adults only).
Well Located Vacation Rentals that are a Great Deal
If you are trying to keep your costs down, and you don’t want to stay in a hostel, here are some great apartments with full kitchens and Wifi.
- Palazzo Jean Parisot Boutique Suites – A very stylish aparthotel with some rooms that have beautiful sea views.
- Fabulous Penthouse close to St George’s Bay – A very modern 3 bedroom apartment with a fantastic outdoor lounge area..
Although this itinerary doesn’t explicitly say you should stay over in Gozo, it definitely is an option. The ferry from Malta, as stated earlier, runs all day and is super quick and easy. If you’re looking to explore more of Gozo, stay over at one of these hotel options.
- Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz – A resort hotel, with a spa and large property, 15 minutes from the Gozo ferry port
- Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa – A bungalow hotel with a private beach and lovely setting, away from the hustle and bustle..
Malta Itinerary Travel Tips
- A Stopover in Malta can make your European flight less expensive – Malta can easily be an inexpensive stopover on your European vacation. It can actually make a flight from one European city to another less expensive because there are some great low cost fares to Malta. Spend around three days in Malta and get some R&R or some bragging rights that you’ve been to this cool island with all the Game of Thrones filming locations.
- It’s best to stay in a central location – Since this Malta itinerary is only 3 days, it’s best to stay in a central location. Ideally, you should stay in Valetta, Sliema or St. Julian’s. To make things easier, I’ve included some hotel and airbnb recommendations in these areas further down in the post.
- Seriously consider renting a car – Not renting a car was my biggest regret in Malta because it was such a hassle to be stuck waiting for a taxi. I actually missed my flight because the taxi took more than an hour to show up.
- Stay in Malta for at least 3 Days – If you’re wondering what to do in Malta, you’ll see that there is quite a bit. I landed at midnight, had 2 full days and was so disappointed that I didn’t have more time. I made a full 3 day itinerary here so that you can take advantage of all Malta has to offer. Most aspects of this itinerary are pretty flexible but I’ve created it with location as well as timing in mind.
- Visit Malta in the Spring or Fall – Although Malta is a superb summer destination, you can have a great trip here all year round. The crowds and prices are much higher in the summer months. Traveling in the shoulder season will let you score great deals and still enjoy nice weather.
How to Get to Malta
Flight: Malta International Airport (MLA) is located about 20-30 minutes from Valletta/St. Julian’s and 40 minutes from St. Paul’s Bay. It’s a mid sized airport that is too small for the amount of passengers, especially in the check in area.
Most airlines do not have a dedicated check in counter so I couldn’t find Turkish Airlines when I arrived 45 minutes before my flight. My advice is to get there at least 1 hour ahead. You can take one of the taxis lined up outside or as I recommended above, rent a car. Your hotel may provide transportation as well.
Ferry: Malta is directly south of Sicily. The most convenient ferry route is from Pozallo to Valletta, which runs 13 times per week and takes less than 2 hours. You can also go from Catania to Valletta. Generally the ferries from this route will only leave once or twice a day. Click here to book your ferry or look at departure dates and times.
The best way to get to Malta is by flying unless you are on a cruise that stops there. Ryanair and Veuling have really cheap flights to Malta. Furthermore, you can use these flights to move from one area of Europe to another and actually save money while adding another country to your trip.
Transportation in Malta
Malta is bigger than you might think and travel around the island takes even more time than it should due to traffic and road construction. To make the most of 3 days in Malta, your best bet is to rent a car.
- Taxis are in short supply and pretty expensive. Therefore, the biggest issue with taxis is that you’ll waste a lot of time waiting, sometimes up to an hour.
- The public transportation or bus system is actually great and the cheapest way to get around. The only negative with the busses is that you are stuck with their timetable which might not match yours.
- Renting a car is the best option. It gives you the most flexibility and doesn’t put you at the mercy of things your can’t control. My biggest mistake in Malta was not renting a car.
I hope this Malta visitor guide has been helpful especially with the tips on how I would have done the trip differently. A little bit of knowledge going into the trip will improve your Malta travel itinerary immensely. If you have any further questions, leave a comment below and we will reply as soon as possible.
Malta is such an amazing, hidden getaway and I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy it!
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Sherri PrestonFebruary 26, 2020 at 7:05 pm
Given my husband is English, travel through Europe is something we discuss often and do throughout the year. As you say, Malta is on my husbands radar:). Valletta sounds gorgeous, maybe a bit like San Gimignano in Tuscany.
The Blue Grotto sounds wonderful, sounds like we would really enjoy visiting the caves.
And the tasting menu in Maltese sounds like a great way to spend a few hours!!
We love boutique hotels so really appreciate the list you have included.. I plan on going over your blog with my husband over a glass of wine this evening..
JeniferFebruary 27, 2020 at 12:54 am
Malta was such an unexpected treat. Valletta was so much more sophisticated and chic than I expected. Hope you get to visit soon!
Mary Ann GilfillanFebruary 26, 2020 at 11:55 am
I didn’t realize that Malta had so much to offer! It sounds like a wonderful trip to take .
JeniferFebruary 27, 2020 at 12:54 am
It was a surprise to me too. Definitely a great add on to any Europe trip!