Malta is a group of small islands that sits right in the centre of the Mediterranean, just below Sicily and close to the North African coast.
For a small island with such a rich history, Malta is known for being ruled by some of the world’s greatest empires including the Byzantines, Romans, Moors, the Knights of St. John, the French and then the British Empire. As a result, Malta is incredibly culturally diverse and has numerous fortresses and megalithic temples.
Did you know: Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI of England, to commemorate the bravery of it’s citizens who defended the islands against German invasion during the Second World War. To this day, the George Cross features on the flag of Malta.
Want more facts about Malta? Head over to my post: 20 Interesting Facts About Malta
Malta is one of my favourite travel destinations because it’s absolutely packed with so much to see and do in such a TINY area!
Did you know Malta is the only place on earth where you can: snorkel in aqua-blue waters, hike picturesque coastlines, wander UNESCO World Heritage cities, admire ancient architecture, go sailing around islands, enjoy a family adventure trip, shop in malls, go clubbing in bars, and more – all within an HOUR DRIVE of your hotel!
Scroll on to read: The Perfect Malta 1 Week Itinerary (2023 Edition)
Table of Contents
COVID-19: Entry Requirements for tourists:
Tourists wishing to travel to Malta face entry requirements upon arrival, please check your country of residence’s guidelines for travel.
- UK citizens – see the most up to date entry requirements here:
- US citizens – view the latest travel information from the Department of State here:
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Malta Travel Tips:
Weather: The weather is hot most of the year in Malta, though it does get a little cooler in the winter months. In peak summer months, it can regularly hit 35 degrees celsius in the day, and around 25C at night.
What to pack: A couple of pairs of shorts, couple of tees, a vest, flip flops, trainers, coconut oil (or sunblock), sunglasses, one week of underwear, a towelFor a complete guide on everything you need to pack for Malta, here’s my Ultimate Malta Packing List
Good to know:
As soon as you land in the airport, get yourself a 7-Day Tallinja Explore Card. It costs €21 and gives you unlimited travel on the buses all over Malta (including night services).
Essential Malta Travel Resources:
For more useful Malta travel guide information, check out these articles:
✪ 10 Best Things to Do in Malta✪ The Complete Malta Travel Guide (+ FREE Cheatsheet)✪ Malta 5 Day Itinerary✪ Top 10 Instagram Spots in Malta✪ Ultimate Packing List for Malta (+ FREE Travel Checklist)✪ How to Travel Malta on a Budget (2023 Edition)✪ Car Rental in Malta: The Complete Guide✪ Where to Stay in Malta
Travel Guide – Malta & Gozo: The Perfect One Week Itinerary
Mdina: The Silent City (1)
Valletta: The Capital, a UNESCO World Heritage City (2)
Blue Grotto: Cave tours and clear blue waters (3)
Coral Lagoon: canoe ride into the open caves
Little Armier Beach (5)
Comino Island: The Crystal Lagoon and Blue Lagoon (6)
Gozo Island: Megalithic temples, salt pans and diving spots (7)
Popeye Village: children’s waterpark and stunning cliff views at Anchor Bay (8)
Golden Bay & Ghejn Tuffieha panoramic coastline views (9)
The Red Tower (10)
Marsaxlokk & St. Peter’s Pool (11)
Mdina: The Silent City
Wander around the Fortress City of Mdina.
With a population of 250 people, Malta’s former capital, Mdina, is known as the Silent City. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, everything is within walking distance in this tiny city.
From Valletta, take a 35-minute bus journey to Mdina.
Upon arrival you will see the fortified walls and a bridge leading to the gated entrance, known as Mdina Gate.
Within the walls of the old city is a network of alleyways, cobbled stone roads and open squares full of stunning medieval and Baroque architecture.
How to get there: Number 51, 52 or 53 bus from Valletta Main Bus Terminal
Admission: the city is free to visit, but tickets are required for entry to the Cathedral, Museum and exhibitions (€5 for adults, free for children under 12)
Opening times: the city is open all hours but may close on public holidays. The Cathedral and Museum are open Monday to Saturday 9:30am-5pm, and are closed on Sundays.
What to bring: water, shades, sunblock
Mdina day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions in Mdina:
Valletta: The Capital
Valletta is a fortress city situated on a peninsula in the north of the island. The capital of Malta, it’s granted UNESCO World Heritage status and was the former headquarters of the Knights of St John during the Crusades.
After a morning stroll around Mdina, hop on the bus back to Valletta and catch a glimpse of the majestic Triton Fountain as you walk up to Valletta City Gate – the entrance to the city.
You are now on Republic Street – one of the two main streets that run through the city center.
The historic city of Valletta is surrounded by harbors and packed with shops, cozy cafes, restaurants that cater to international as well as local cuisine, and alleyways that lead down into some of Malta’s true hidden gems.
🚶 Discover Valletta completely on a walking guided tour!
If you have a lack of time during your trip to Valletta or it’s your first visit to this wonderful city or you just want to immerse yourself completely into the atmosphere of the city, then The Original Valletta Walking Tour is an ideal variant for you! Be sure: you will discover the city and its highlights completely.
Grab some lunch at one of the many restaurants lining Merchants Street (the other main street), which is just down one of the small alleyways on your right.
After lunch, stroll the scenic streets and alleys of Valletta.
Valletta is quite a compact city, so you’ll easily be able to cover most of the city on foot within a day.
The main streets are packed with shops, restaurants and cafes. What really caught my eye though, were the quiet alleyways that lead down to the harbours.
Visit the Siege Bell War Monument at Lower Barrakka Gardens and take in the stunning views of the harbour.
After that, head over to Upper Barrakka Gardens to witness a breathtaking sunset and incredible views over the Three Cities (Cospicua, Senglosa and Vittoriosa).
Tip: If you get here at noon instead, you’ll be able to witness a traditional cannon firing ceremony, which stems from a an old Valletta tradition where foreign vessels were greeted by cannon shots from the saluting battery.
Dinner: Pan Fried Rabbit
One of the best things to do in Malta is savouring authentic Maltese cuisine, so I sat at a fine restaurant on Merchants Street called La Pira Maltese Kitchen, and ordered one of the most popular dishes on the island: Pan-fried Rabbit. It was DELICIOUS!
Valletta day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions in Valletta:
Essential Item: Since the water on Malta has a bitter taste, you may find yourself buying small bottles of water at €2 each. Carry a Water-to-Go Filter Bottle with you instead. Not only will it filter any water you put into it, it will also save you money and help save the planet from plastic waste (bonus!)
Explore the caves and swim in the pure aqua waters at the Blue Grotto.
The Blue Grotto is a series of stunning sea caverns located near the fishermen’s harbour village of Qrendi, on the southern coast of Malta.
With incredible blue waters, brilliant phosphorescent colours of underwater flora and fauna, and the mirroring of the seawater on the caves due to the rays of light, Blue Grotto has become one of the hottest attractions on the island.
How to get there: Number 74 bus from Valletta Main Bus Terminal (Stand A5)
Admission: Free. Boat rides to the caves cost €8 per person.
Opening times: All hours
What to bring: backpack with water, shades, and plenty of sunblock.
Head out early after breakfast on the bus from Valletta down to Blue Grotto, the journey is about an hour long.
Most people will get off at Grotto, but I advise staying on the bus as it goes back up the winding hill, and get off at the next stop called Panorama.
Just like the name says – this stop is directly in front of the most breathtaking panoramic sights of Blue Grotto – this is an absolute MUST see, and a bonus that there’s hardly anyone there!
This spot has the BEST views of Blue Grotto, but it’s crazy that not many people know this.
Boat Trip to the Caves
Back down the hill are the boat harbours and a few restaurants. Head down to the boats and buy yourself a ticket to see the caves.
The earlier you get tickets the better, as there isn’t a crowd of tourists early in the morning.
Rock jumping and swim in the sea
After lunch, head back down to the boats and turn left onto the rocks where you’ll see people sunbathing and swimming in the sea.
This is a great place relax and take in the glorious sunshine, cool off with a refreshing swim in the cool, calm sea, and if you’re feeling adventurous – leap off the steep rocks into the sea.
Tip: If you get chance before going back to Valletta, head over to the scenic, towering Dingli Cliffs for panoramic views at Malta’s highest point.
Heading back to Valletta
The bus services across Malta are known to be terrible, particularly when there’s only one route to a place like Blue Grotto.
But for a budget backpacker like myself, €21 for unlimited bus rides for a week is an absolute bargain, and I’m quite happy to wait around sipping a fresh smoothie at the cafe until the bus arrives.
Sliema Ferry to Valletta
In the early evening we caught the bus to Sliema and bought ourselves a one-way ferry ticket for €1.80, and before long we were sitting on the top deck of the ferry heading towards the harbours of Valletta.
This was an excellent opportunity to admire the golden views of of the fortified city from the sea just before sunset.
Dinner: Delicious Lebanese Food
We had dinner at a restaurant called Falafel Street Lebanese Kebab and Grill.
I had a mixed grill of chicken and beef with a selection of vegetables, yoghurt and houmous, and pitta bread, and a chilled drink, all for less than €10.
Malta is known for great Middle Eastern cuisine, and this place is by far one of the best on the island, and at a really good price too.
Blue Grotto day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions in Blue Grotto:
Open Caves of the Coral Lagoon
Row a canoe through the Open Caves at Little Armier Beach
We checked out this morning and moved to another Airbnb apartment in Mellieha – a two hour bus journey to the north-west of the island.
Take the bus to Little Armier Beach. Here, you’ll find boats docked over on the far side.
For €30, we hired a 2-person canoe boat for two-hours to see the open caves at the Coral Lagoon.
It’s quite a far row there, so be prepared for some upper body exercise!
Tip: Don’t hire the boat for less than two hours, as it took us about 40 minutes to get to the Coral Lagoon.
Once you’ve braved the choppy waters across two bays you should finally be steering into the open caves of the Coral Lagoon.
Yet another hidden little gem that not many people visit, the brilliant, clear blue waters of the Coral Lagoon are silent and calm, and the shimmering sun light reflecting onto the rocks is truly mesmerising.
Back at Little Armier Beach, jump into the sea for a bit of snorkelling around the reefs.
Be careful though – there may be a swarm of jellyfish, and there were quite a few when we were there, so we opted out of snorkelling here.
We decided to go to the Coral Lagoon again, but this time walking up over the top of the cave enclosure, instead of canoeing inside.
It’s a bit of a walk over the harsh rocks, but worth it for the stunning views.
We spent the rest of our afternoon relaxing on Armier Bay beach, a great place for sipping on refreshments and swimming in the shallow, clear, jellyfish-free waters.
Take a ferry ride to Comino Island and enjoy the iconic Blue Lagoon (or even better – the Crystal Lagoon)
Malta’s third island, Comino, is a tiny, uninhabited island that host natural stunning beauty spots including The Blue Lagoon – the most popular attraction in Malta.
Get the bus to Cirkewwa port and from here you can buy return ferry tickets to visit the small island of Comino, just 25 mins away.
The boat docks at the Blue Lagoon. This is the largest stretch of pure blue waters in Malta, but unfortunately it’s absolutely packed full of tourists.
The water is LITERALLY crowded with people just standing beside each other, like a massive flock.
This didn’t bother me, as my intention is to visit a much quieter, secluded little gem called the Crystal Lagoon, on the southern coast of Comino.
So we passed the enormous mass of tourists and walked over the rocky hills until we reached the Crystal Lagoon.
And boy, I am relieved not many people know about this hidden beauty!
There’s nobody in the water. Why? Because JELLYFISH!
There’s masses of them around Comino lately.
This didn’t stop me from finding a spot to swim in the sea – using goggles to keep an eye out for them as we saw a few people had been stung.
How to get there: Bus numbers 41, 42, 221, and 222 from Valletta Main Terminal goes through Mellieha to the ferry port of Cirkewwa.
Admission: €10 return trip on the ferry.
Opening times: Ferries operate from 8am until 6pm
What to bring: backpack with water, sunblock.
Comino Island day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions on Comino Island:
Malta’s sister-island Gozo is a more rural and scenic place, well-known for the Azure Window which unfortunately no longer exists as it collapsed into the sea in 2017.
Still, with its historic Megalithic temples and ruins, its salt pans, many beaches and diving sites like the Blue Hole, it’s well worth staying on the island overnight, or at least a day trip.
Take a stroll around Gozo’s main city, Victoria, for a glimpse of a more authentic and traditional Maltese lifestyle – away from the crowds and noise of the main island.
Gozo is also famous for the Blue Hole – one of the best diving spots in Malta.
How to get there: Bus numbers 41, 42, 221, and 222 from Valletta Main Terminal goes straight to Cirkewwa.
Admission: Ferry from Cirkewwa to Gozo island costs €10.
Opening times: Ferries operate from 8am until 6pm
What to bring: backpack with water, sunblock.
Gozo Island day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions on Gozo Island:
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Popeye Village at Anchor Bay is a children’s water park that used to be the film set for the 1980 Popeye TV show.
The set is still there, the bay is quiet and scenic except for the water park which is good for the kids, but kinda spoils the views at certain angles.
How to get there: Bus 101 from Valletta or Mellieha
Admisison: €17 per person. However, we got free entry when we told reception that we’re both deaf.
Opening Times: 9:30am – 7pm
To be honest, even though we had free entry to Popeye Village, it wasn’t that great, certainly not worth 17 euros.
But I guess it’s aimed at young kids so it would be more suitable for families.
Before you get back on the bus, take the path on the right toward the cliff edge and keep walking up, to get a spectacular panoramic view of Anchor Bay from high up (watch you don’t tumble off the cliff though!).
Wander The Coastline of Golden Bay
For a more off-beat route of stunning scenery and panoramic views across two coasts, the Golden Bay is a must-visit.
From Popeye Village we headed to nearby Golden Bay.
This is one of the few sandy beaches (makes a change from the harsh rocks), and is one of the BEST beaches in Malta.
In the morning it’s quieter, a good time to lay in the sun and chill in the cool shallow sea.
After lunch, head up to the rocky cliffs and admire the marvellous vast coastline as you approach the watchtower.
Passing the tower, continue around the cliffs and hike some more rocks until you reach Ghajn Tuffieha Bay – a much quieter beach that’s visited mostly by the locals.
Don’t forget to bring appropriate footwearTrekking Malta’s stunning coastlines and open caves will require you to wear appropriate footwear. Since the rocks are quite sharp, flip flops is not suitable. You are better off bringing a decent pair of strong, sturdy sandals or hiking shoes that will last you years of travels. My favourite sandals are by Birkenstock – a leading brand of outdoor footwear.
Trek up to The Red Tower
You’ll have noticed by now a large red tower on the hills near Popeye Village and Mellieha.
Take the bus to Qammieh stop and from here walk up the hill to this large, bright red watch tower that also goes by the name Saint Agatha’s Tower.
Relax in a natural deep, aqua-blue pool on your last day in Malta.
From Mellieha, head across the island over to the east coast, to Marsaxlokk – Malta’s iconic fishing village.
Here you’ll catch a glimpse of authentic Maltese life – where the locals go about their daily lives in laidback fashion. You may notice a unique tradition – the boats are painted in bold colours, and every single boat has a pair of glaring eyes on the front!
If you fancy one last swim in the Maltese crystal-clear seas, make your way to St. Peter’s Pool – a popular attraction here, and its easy to see why – it’s a huge, deep natural pool formed within the rocks, more like a cliff that’s curved inwards. You’ll have to be careful climbing down mind, but if you’re feeling brave – you could jump in!
A night spent at the quiet, laidback village of Marsaxlokk makes the perfect ending to your Malta adventure, and the airport is less than 15 minutes away, perfect.
Marsaxlokk day trips
Check out the widget below for day trips and excursions in Marsaxlokk:
Other Things to See & Do in Malta:
Lascaris War Rooms – discover Malta’s best-kept WW2 secret: an underground complex of tunnels and operation rooms set up in 1940 to counter the threat from the Nazis and Italians during the war. Book your tour here:
Salt pans of Gozo – see the historic salt pans and visit nearby multiple breathtaking villages on Malta’s true hidden gem island that is Gozo. Book your full-day jeep tour here:
St. Pauls catamaran cruise – go on an unforgettable, modern catamaran cruise around the bays at St Pauls and snorkel at Malta’s best beaches. Book your tour here:
Got more time? Why not take a ferry to Sicily and spend a day or two there.
Flights from the UK: $115 / £90 return from Birmingham International (via Skyscanner)
Accommodation cost: $25-32 / £20-25 per night (private double bedroom on Airbnb) = $220 / £175 for 7 nights
Transport in Malta: $48.80 / £31 (1 week bus pass, ferry rides)
Food: $300 / £235 (Average price $9 / £7 per meal, $4 / £3 per drink)
Airport transfer: €40 (taxi costs around €20 to and from the airport)
Activities: (tours/rides etc.) $48 / £35
Total Spent: $776 / £599
Total Days: 7
Bear in mind this is a basic guide only – based on myself travelling with a partner (hence the private double rooms). Remember, everyone travels at their own pace, and on different budgets, so your personal travel budget may be different from mine.
For the budget travellers
Flights to Malta are really cheap, and accommodation quite reasonable, and this is what tempted me to book a last-minute trip there in the first place. The food in Malta is a teeny bit costly, but then this is Europe after all. Considering I went during peak season, the overall cost was not too bad.
Looking for budget accommodation in Malta?
- St. Paul’s Bay – offers a good selection of hotels & private accommodation, decent restaurants, bars and pubs, and is near to public transport and sandy beaches.
- Sliema – one of the oldest tourist spots in Malta – ideal for budget travellers and close to the capital Valletta – by bus or even a short ferry ride away.
- St. Julians’ and Paceville – the ideal choice for dining and nightlife downtown, and resort holidays
- Mellieha – affordable, a more peaceful and quieter alternative, and close to the finest sandy beaches in Malta. My partner and I stayed in Mellieha during the second part of our Malta trip.
Prefer more authentic stays? Check out Vrbo for their superb and affordable deals on vacation homes – I can recommend this having stayed in a Vrbo accommodation just outside of Valletta (it’s cheaper to stay outside of the city, and it’s only 5-10mins bus ride into the city).
Don’t forget to book travel insurance
It goes without saying really that when you travel in Europe and beyond, travel insurance is super important.
I never always bothered though. For years I travelled without insurance as I thought, “what could happen?”
Well, I once got my bag stolen in Vietnam and I had an electric shock in a hostel bathroom in Mexico. What if you’re cycling in the street and your appendix suddenly bursts, leaving you in excruciating pain and requiring emergency treatment? Anything could happen.
I use World Nomads for comprehensive cover and convenience at great prices on all my travels, and I never set out without it.
Commonly Asked Questions
If you follow the itinerary guide above like I did with my partner, a week in Malta would cost less than $800 total. If you travel solo, you can get that down to $700. Though if you stretch your budget and stay in a hostel, it will bring the total cost down even more.
I would advise a minimum 6 days in Malta, maybe 5 if you’re pushed for time. 7 days in Malta is ideal, and 10 days to properly explore Malta Gozo.
10 days would allow you to cover almost all of the main sights Malta and Gozo has to offer, even at a slow pace. For me, 10 days isn’t too long.
By following this Malta itinerary. However, if you have the time, and would like to explore other worthwhile spots not mentioned in this post, I’d recommend a Malta itinerary with the following:
- The Dingli Cliffs – on the south coast, near the Blue Grotto
- Rabat – the city thats just a short walk from Mdina
- St. Pauls Bay and St. Julians – two regions on the north coast that are great for families and couples to stay, with plenty of restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
- The Three Cities – short ferry ride from Valletta
- Ramla Bay – on the northern coast of Gozo lies Tal Mixta caves and the golden beaches of Ramla Bay, a true hidden gem.
April, May and June are the best months to visit Malta. Spring and early summer is ideal, due to it being not too hot, with cool nights, and not too many tourists flocking to the island.
Malta Travel Guides
For more in-depth reading on Malta and Gozo, you can get your hands on a copy of these bestsellers below:
- Lonely Planet Malta & Gozo (Travel Guide) on Amazon
- Top 10 Malta and Gozo (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide) on Amazon
Travelling to Malta soon?
Book Your Trip to Malta: Budget Tips & Tricks
SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.
Thank you for reading my post: The Perfect Malta 1 Week Itinerary (2023 Edition).I hope it gives you travel inspiration to visit this little gem of an island!