How to spend a long Mediterranean weekend in Malta

Situated between the European and African continents lies a truly unique archipelago that has, throughout the years, earned the title of the ‘Gem of the Mediterranean’.

And after visiting Malta, it’s easy to see why. The country’s rich history, diverse cultural traditions, and 300 days of sunshine a year attract all kinds of travellers, ranging from architecture aficionados to sun-seekers.

In Malta the sun shines 300 days per year

Photo by visit Malta

But it’s not all about history here. Malta’s cultural scene is currently experiencing a golden age, and you’ll find many options for entertainment all around the island. Malta is also a hub for foodies, who get to savour the true flavours of Mediterranean cuisine when dining out.

They say that good things come in small packages, and this rings true for Malta. Spanning an area of just 316 square kilometres, Malta makes the perfect destination for a quick weekend getaway!

So, if you’re after a little dose of travel inspiration, then look no further. We’ve put together an itinerary to help you experience the best of the Maltese islands in just four days.


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Day 1: Explore Valletta and the Three Cities

The Maltese capital has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Photo on Unsplash

Walking through the city of Valletta is like taking a journey through time. It’s no wonder that the Maltese capital has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In fact, Valletta has often been described as an open-air museum, with influences from past rulers visible around every corner.

The 16th-century fortified city is one of a kind, built by the Order of the Knights of Saint John to commemorate their victory over the Turks in the Great Siege of 1565. The city is named after the Grandmaster at the time, Jean de Valette, and is full of Baroque buildings and cultural gems to discover.

Valletta is like an open-air museum - influences from past rulers visible around every corner

Photo on Unsplash

If you’re unsure of where to stay in Malta, Valletta will be a great base for your trip. The city is home to many authentic boutique hotels and Airbnb rentals to choose from, and you’ll also find the central bus terminus right outside the City Gate.

This provides easy access to every part of the island if you’re planning on using public transport. Alternatively, you can easily book low-cost cabs on the go through apps such as Bolt and Uber.

A traditional Malta's snack - pastizzi

Photo on Instagram

When visiting Valletta, we recommend starting your day with a traditional snack of pastizzi at the Café Cordina – one of the oldest cafés in Europe – before visiting some of the main sites.

After fuelling up, make your way to the Grandmaster’s Palace and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. These are both must-sees, and in the latter you can even sneak a peek at Caravaggio’s masterpiece The Beheading of St. John.

Then, take a brisk walk to the Upper Barrakka Gardens, where you have a 180-degree view of the Grand Harbour.

Relax into the afternoon with a spot of shopping at some of the unique boutique stores dotted around the city’s backstreets.

Public garden in Valletta - Upper Barrakka Gardens

Photo by visit Malta

From Valletta’s Grand Harbour, you can catch a ferry to the Three Cities, which sit right across from the capital. Stop to take some photos of the picturesque streets and enjoy a delicious dinner on the stunning Birgu Waterfront.

If you’re interested in history, a visit to the nearby Fort St. Angelo should be on your list, too!

You can go to Malta's three Cities by ferry from Valletta

Photo by visit Malta

If you’re heading back to Valletta in the evening, enjoy a drink or two at one of the bars situated on Strada Stretta in Valletta – Malta’s most infamous street, which has a colourful past and was once where sailors and soldiers spent many a long night.

In the evening in Malta - have a drink at one of the bars situated on the most popular street - Strada Stretta

Photo by visit Malta


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Day 2: Head north to enjoy the beaches

With so many sunny days throughout the year, you’re almost sure to enjoy some sun during your trip to Malta.

Do as the locals do, and head to one of the picturesque beaches on the northern side of the island. Riviera Martinique, a smaller beach next to the more popular Golden Bay, is worth a visit if you can handle the stairs.

Riviera Martinique beach - one of the picturesque beaches on the northern side of the island

Photo by visit Malta

Malta is also known for its scuba diving spots, so if you’re a certified diver, consider booking a guided dive with one of the many scuba centres on the island.

Have lunch with a view at the Sea View Cafe

Photo on Instagram

As afternoon approaches, head to the nearby village of Mellieħa for lunch with a view.

At the Sea View Cafe, you can explore the village core surrounding the beautiful church.

Or head to one80 Kitchen & Lounge to enjoy the scenery from afar.

St Julian’s and Sliema are two of Malta’s most popular towns; they are connected by a promenade, where you will find a wide sort of restaurants and bars

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In the evening, visit the more cosmopolitan side of Malta and experience island life in Sliema and St. Julian’s. The two towns are connected by a long promenade, with many bars, restaurants, and cafés along the way.

Whether you’re in the mood for a great pizza, delicious Asian dishes, or something more traditional, you’ll find a selection of incredible restaurants to choose from.

Check out the Michelin Guide Malta for recommendations on the best spots to eat in Malta, ranging from quick, cheap eats to exquisite fine dining.

Explore a wide range of Michelin-starred restaurants in Malta

Photo from restaurant LOA on Instagram

Stop for some photos as you walk along the promenade, or head straight to Sliema to explore the island’s main shopping district.

You’ll find everything from vintage stores and charity shops in the backstreets to high-end luxury fashion at the Point Shopping Mall in Sliema.


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Day 3: Medieval explorations

Your visit to Malta won’t be complete without paying homage to Mdina, the old medieval capital city (and famous Game of Thrones setting).

Perched on the highest point of the island, the ‘Silent City’ was built during Arab rule in Malta to provide an excellent viewpoint in case of an enemy attack. Nowadays, Mdina is known for its unparalleled charm, with cobblestoned streets and quaint cafés aplenty.

Mdina, also known as Silent City, is the old medieval capital city

Photo by Olly and Haylea

While in Mdina, enjoy a light, scenic lunch at Fontanella Tea Garden and take in the views from the Mdina Bastions.

On your way out, stop by the Palazzo Falson to take a look at the private collections within the historic house museum.

If you’re feeling brave, drop by the Mdina Dungeons for a glimpse into the history of punishment.

Be sure to take a picture with the iconic Mdina gate as a backdrop before you leave!

Be sure to take a picture with the iconic Mdina gate

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Just outside Mdina lies the village of Rabat. Here, you can visit impressive archaeological sites such as St. Paul’s Catacombs and the Domus Romana.

But also take some time to simply stroll through the centre of the village and experience the authentic Maltese way of life.

Enjoy a sunset walk along the wondrous Dingli Cliffs

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To end the day, get on a bus to the nearby village of Dingli and enjoy a sunset walk along the wondrous Dingli Cliffs.

Photography lovers should pack a camera, because this is a view you won’t want to forget.

If you’re after dinner in the area, you’ll find restaurants such as Diar il-Bniet serving local, seasonal, traditional dishes. Rabbit is a national dish in Malta, but feel free to also try favourites such as pork, chicken, and beef.

If you are in Dingli, have a meal at Diar il-Bniet, who's serving local, seasonal, and traditional dishes

Photo on Instagram


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Day 4: Take a trip to a sister island

A visit to Malta isn’t complete unless you take a day trip to one of the sister islands, Gozo or Comino.

If you visit Gozo, renting a car is recommended to help you access some of the island’s hidden beaches.

If you’re more interested in unwinding, catch a ferry to Comino and spend the day lounging by the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Lagoon.

Catch a ferry to Comino and spend the day lounging by the crystal-clear waters

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Ferries run to both islands from the harbour in Ċirkewwa, situated on the northern side of the main island, and take around 25 minutes.

Alternatively, you can catch the ferry from Valletta to Mġarr on Gozo, but you won’t be able to take a car with you.

A Gozo island is also home to the Citadel - an ancient, fortified city

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Once you arrive on Gozo, begin by exploring the island’s capital, Victoria.

This is the hub of all activity on Gozo, and it’s also home to the Citadel. This ancient, fortified city can still be seen from all over the island and is Gozo’s main landmark. It dates back to the Neolithic Age, was further developed during the Phoenician period, and became an acropolis complex during the Roman period. You can enter the Citadel on foot and walk around the impressive structure.

For lunch, head to one of Gozo’s most notable restaurants, such as Ta’ Frenc, Country Terrace, or Roża.

While you are in Gozo, have a meal in one of the most notable restaurants, such as Ta’ Frenc

Photo on Ta’Frenc

The famous Basilica of Ta’ Pinu is next on the agenda.

The original chapel can be traced back to 1534, and it currently forms part of the larger church that exists today to receive the large number of pilgrims who travel to the holy site.

On the hill opposite the church stands a series of 14 marble statues that represent the Way of the Cross, a devotion popular among the faithful.

Must visit among the faithful is the famous Basilica of Ta’ Pinu in Gozo

Photo by visit Malta

If time allows, make your way to the Ġgantija Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is among the oldest free-standing structures in the world.

Otherwise, head to the beautiful Ramla l-Ħamra, a bay named after its red-coloured sand.

If you’re in the mood for a little walk, visit the Tal-Mixta cave situated above the bay, where you can see one of the most picturesque views on the island.

Ramla l-Ħamra is a bay named after its red-coloured sand

Photo by Kaylee Burger

For a touch of romance, visit the Ta’ Sanap cliffs. Here, you’ll enjoy scenic views while walking along the paved pathways.

Then make your way back to Malta, or, if you’re keen to explore further, stay an extra night on Gozo to visit the smaller villages and hidden beaches around the island.

Enjoy scenic views at the Ta’ Sanap cliffs

Photo on Unsplash

The island of Comino is the smallest of the Maltese islands, but it’s the perfect destination for those seeking relaxation during their holiday.

The Blue Lagoon is a stunning spot for swimming, and as young crowds gather during the warmer months, Comino can be quite the lively hot spot. If you don’t appreciate crowds, we suggest visiting the island in the off-peak season for a full or half day.

Scuba divers will enjoy the variety of diving locations on the other side of the island, so go ahead and book a day trip with your preferred diving centre. Pack a lunch, sunblock, and lots of water to drink!

The island of Comino will be the perfect destination for those seeking relaxation

Photo by Olly and Haylea


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Cover photo by Olly and Haylea
Text by Carla Zahra

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