The archipelago of Malta (made up of 3 islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino) is halfway between the coasts of North Africa and those of Sicily.
There are so many things to see and do during a holiday in Malta and organizing the perfect trip is simple and cheap thanks to low-cost flights from many UK cities and hotels with decent 4-star hotels averaging £40 - £60 per night and solid 3-star hotels from £30 - £40 per night.
Malta has a Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters. Even in January, temperatures on Malta reach around 15 degrees, making the island a popular destination for winter guests. In the summer months, it can get very hot (over 30 degrees) but is cooled down by island winds.
If you want to lie on the beach and relax, summer is ideal. For more extensive sightseeing tours, we recommend visiting in the spring or especially autumn. During these months, while it's not that hot anymore, you can still swim in the warmed-up Mediterranean Sea.
The villages on the Maltese Islands are well connected by a bus network that offers very affordable rates (a single journey ticket costs €0.75). From 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. you can easily travel back and forth on the islands with around 80 different bus lines and ferries. Taxis are another easily available and affordable option for getting around the island.
Of course, you can also use the hop-on/hop-off buses on the islands to admire great attractions at the same time. The double-decker buses take you to the most important sights in Malta! The tours are available for several routes and in many different languages. Prices start from £14 for a 1-day ticket and £38 for a 2-day ticket (which also includes a 90-minute boat tour). You can book tickets for the south tour here and north tour here or the 2-day tour here.
Pirate tip: Take a tour like this at night, too. The city and its buildings are wonderfully illuminated in the dark and exude a romantic flair. Find night tours here.
Under no circumstances should you miss a visit to Europe's smallest capital city, Valletta. Dubbed “the sunniest city in Europe”, Valletta boasts beautiful baroque architecture and is home to winding streets, over 320 stunning historical monuments and picturesque waterfront dining options. Rich in history and culture, it is no wonder that the city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a walking tour of Valletta from £13.
Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua are together known as The Three Cities, which are home to boutique hotels, restaurants and eclectic wine bars. You can easily grab a bus or water taxi from Valletta for a day trip, or stay overnight to experience more of the city culture off the beaten track.
Beachgoers will rejoice at St. Julians where you will have your pick of popular swimming beaches like Balluta Bay and St. George’s Bay. Take note of the impressive neo-Gothic architecture of the Carmelite Church.
Party-lovers should make a stop in trendy Paceville. This district of St. Julians is best known for its wild nightlife. Book yourself in at one of the area’s quality hotels, like The Westin Dragonara or Hilton Malta, before you try your luck at the Casino Malta or Portomaso Casino.
St Paul’s Bay is home to Bugibba and Qawra, two lively towns full of cafés, restaurants and bars. Here you will find many three and four-star hotels to suit all budgets, with prices averaging around £40 in the offseason and £80 in the high season.
Grab the ferry from Valletta for picturesque views as you make your way over to Sliema, well-known for its ample shopping opportunities. While you’re visiting, take a dip in the coastal pools carved from the rock, known locally as the Roman baths.
The beautiful fishing village of Marsaxlokk in the southeast is still an insider tip. Here you will find a clean sandy beach and what is probably the most beautiful harbour on the island, where you can dine wonderfully al fresco in the evening.
Before Valletta, Mdina was the medieval capital of Malta and the city’s origin can be traced back more than 4,000 years. Located in the centre of the island, today it delights with its historical cityscape. The city is known as the ‘Silent City’ as cars are not allowed past the gates. Take a walking tour of Mdina from £13.
Located in the North of Malta, the islands of Gozo and Comino are a must-see! These sister islands are also full of beautiful beaches, fascinating bays and great historical sights. Gozo is just a short 25-minute ferry ride from Malta while Comino is only a 10-minute boat ride.
Gozo is the second-largest island of the Maltese archipelago with an area of 67 km² and over 30,000 inhabitants. While Gozo usually sees less tourism than Malta, it is not to be missed!
The island features stunning cultural and historical sites including baroque architecture inherited from the Knights of St John, the UNESCO World Heritage Ggantija Temples dating back to 3,600 B.C., the mosaics of salt pans that dot Gozo’s coastline, as well as breathtaking natural sites including mythical caves, crystal clear bays, red sand beaches and much more.
Victoria, the beautiful capital of Gozo
Dwejra Bay, a diver’s paradise
The two beautiful red sand beaches of Ramla and San Blas
The village of Xaghra with the temple of Ġgantija (older than the pyramids in Egypt)
The Cave of Calypso (where, according to Homer, Odysseus was imprisoned for seven years)
The Xwejni Salt Pans
The Kerċem Aqueduct
“Small, but powerful” really applies to Comino. After all, the island has an area of just 3 km² but is home to one of the most beautiful bays in Europe, if not the whole world. So it's no wonder that more and more visitors are enthusiastic about this small but fine island. The absolute highlight of the island is probably the Blue Lagoon, which is formed from Comino and the offshore, uninhabited island of Cominotto. It is an absolute must for all fans of the beach.
The Blue Lagoon
Cominotto at Comino
St. Mary's Tower (or Comino Tower)
The Santa Marija Gun Battery defence system
If you’re looking for a picturesque beach to relax on that’s surrounded by Mediterranean azure blue waters, then look no further than Ramla Bay. Famous for its richly red-coloured sand beach (known in Maltese as Ramla il-Hamra or Red Sands), Ramla Bay is the largest sandy beach on Gozo. The area that surrounds the bay is beautifully undeveloped.
As the longest sandy beach in Malta’s popular northern region, it’s no wonder that Mellieha gets plenty of visitors every year. Spend a day or two here for the ultimate beach experience. For those looking for a little more activity than lying on the beach, you can also partake in various adventuring activities, such as quad biking, windsurfing and more!
Travellers who are looking for something a little off the beaten path should head to the Southwest of Malta to St. Peter’s Pool. Known for its crystal-clear waters, this natural swimming pool is great for those who wish to go snorkelling or swimming.
Ghajn Tuffieha Bay is located between Golden Bay and Gnejna Bay. This sandy beach is slightly more remote, which means you can escape the summer beach crowds.
Pirate tip: we recommend walking up the hillside behind the beach for stunning views of the surrounding bay.
One of the top sandy beaches in Malta, Golden Bay is a must if you need a day of simply lying back and soaking up the sun.
Because Malta makes for a quick break, we’ve put together a sample 3-day itinerary that highlights the best things Malta has to offer.
Spend the morning exploring Valletta’s many charms. Wandering through the streets be sure to stop and marvel at the New Parliament building and the ruins of Royal Opera House turned open-air theatre, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and destroyed in an air raid in 1942.
From here, we suggest visiting the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which date back to 1661 and were originally used as a private garden for the Italian Knights. While you’re there, be sure to take in the panoramic view of the Grand Harbour. Snap a selfie or two before heading on your way to St. John’s Square.
If you’re feeling hungry, stop for a bit of lunch. Why not try one of Malta’s traditional foods? We suggest pastizzi, a delicious savoury filo pastry pasty filled with either rich ricotta cheese or mushy peas.
After lunch, continue your tour of Valletta. We highly recommend visiting St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The Cathedral, which is considered to be one of the best examples of Baroque style in Europe, is also home to Caravaggio’s masterpiece: The Beheading of St John the Baptist. The last entry for the church is at 14:00, so make sure to go before then. The suggested time to see the whole church is a minimum of two hours. Ticket prices are €15 (around £13) for adults and €7.50 (around £5.50) for students.
Stop for dinner at one of Valletta's many restaurants and try Malta's national dish Stuffat Tal-Fenek, a rabbit stew. End your day with a drink at Bridge Bar where you can sample some Maltese wine while listening to Jazz with a beautiful harbour view.
Pirate tip: Wine lovers should seize the opportunity to go wine tasting while in Malta. While Malta is not able to produce enough wine for export, the variety of wines made on the small island is large, including white, red and rosé. It is true, you will be able to taste the island and its many flavours in these special wines.
Start your morning off visiting Malta’s Three Cities, Birgu, Senglea and Bormla. To get there you can take a traditional Maltese boat from Valletta across the harbour. Enjoy a lovely walk through these three fortified cities that offer a wealth of history and culture, and insight into authentic Maltese life.
Stop for lunch in one of the three cities before returning to Valletta. From Valletta head to Malta’s Medieval capital, Mdina, also known as the silent city. Pass through Mdina Gate into the fortified city where no cars are allowed to go and explore the citadel’s cobblestone streets.
Enjoy dinner al fresco at Trattoria AD 1530, a charming restaurant serving delicious traditional Maltese cuisine. Situated in the old square, between the beautiful Vilhena Palace and the magnificent 17th Century Palazzo of The Xara Palace.
Your third day can be spent exploring Malta’s sister island, Gozo. To get there, you must first pass by Comino, which is only a short 10-minute boat ride from Malta. Be sure to stop here and take in the beauty of the Blue Lagoon, famous for being one of the most picturesque locations on the Maltese archipelago. The small cove between the western end of Gozo and the uninhabited islet of Cominotto boasts turquoise shallow waters where you can easily spend a day swimming or snorkelling with your significant other.
Take the 25-minute ferry over to Gozo and spend the afternoon exploring all this little island has to offer. Visit a beach or two (we recommend stopping and seeing Gozo’s largest sandy beach Ramla Bay, known for its red sands) before stopping for lunch in Gozo’s capital city, Victoria.
Unfortunately, the famous Azure Window collapsed into the sea in 2017, but you can still visit the beautiful sea cliffs and snorkel at the nearby Blue Hole. End your day with dinner and drinks in Mgarr before heading back to Valletta.
Just a three-hour flight away, the English-speaking Maltese Islands are a great destination for those looking for a beach holiday or a city break. Located in the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, Malta offers everything you could want in a holiday destination: wild bays, wonderful sandy beaches and extremely interesting historical sites with temples, fortresses and underground burial chambers.