72 Hours in Malta Itinerary: A Travel Guide
As the gem of the Mediterranean, Malta makes an unforgettable short trip, with a rooted history, traditional gastronomy, and playground of crystal clear waters. Join us as we are exploring Malta in 3 days. The heart of the Mediterranean!
History shrouded in the mystery of the knights, wild landscapes, thousands of years old cultural heritage…Malta is home to a wide variety of different cultures; from Arabs to Italians to French and British, they have all been here, making this an island that bears traces of each – perhaps there is no other island that combines so many cultures. Malta is not a very large island, and that makes it the perfect place for a short getaway in the Mediterranean. We’ve got a trip to remember with a few must-visits for you.
Arriving in Malta, whether by ferry or from the airport, the stunning sight of golden hues blending with turquoise waters welcomes visitors. With only 72 hours to explore this beautiful island, we made the most of our time and visited some of its top sights and attractions. To make the most of 72 hours in Malta, be sure to check out our itinerary guide below, which includes recommendations for the best places to visit, things to do, and travel tips. Scroll down to discover the beauty of Malta and start planning your unforgettable Mediterranean adventure!
Malta sightseeing day 1: San Sliema to St Julian’s and Mellieha
We started our first day in Malta by exploring the coastal towns of San Sliema and St Julian's. These areas are known for their beautiful promenades, beaches, and lively atmosphere. Take a walk along the seafront and admire the stunning views of the Mediterranean.
Next, we headed to Mellieha, a charming hilltop town located in the north of the island. Mellieha is home to many historic landmarks, including the Parish Church of Our Lady of Victory, which dates back to the 19th century. The town also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and the sea.
Make sure to try some of the local cuisine while in Mellieha, such as pastizzi, a traditional Maltese pastry filled with ricotta cheese or peas. You can find them in the local bakeries.
Malta sightseeing day 2: Marsaxlokk Fish Market, Marsaskala and Valletta
On our second day, we headed to the southern part of the island and started our day by visiting the Marsaxlokk Fish Market. This vibrant market is located in the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk and offers a wide variety of fresh seafood, caught by the local fishermen (brace yourselves for the heavy fish smell!)
Marsaxlokk Fish Market
Next, we headed to Marsaskala, a small seaside village known for its rocky coastline and stunning views of the sea. The village is a great spot for swimming and sunbathing, and also to find many bars and restaurants along the promenade. We found ourselves in St Thomas' Bay, a small but picturesque beach with white, rocky views. This cove is popular with locals and visitors alike, thanks to its clear blue waters and scenic surroundings. The beach is surrounded by rocky cliffs, which provide a stunning backdrop for sunbathing and swimming. There are also several restaurants and bars nearby, where visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink with a view of the bay. For those who enjoy water sports, St Thomas' Bay is a great spot for snorkelling, diving, and kayaking.
St Thomas' Bay
We left the best to the last that day: Valletta. The capital city of Malta has many historic landmarks, including St. John's Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master's Palace. It is also famous for its Baroque architecture, which was heavily influenced by the Italian Renaissance. The city was designed by the Italian architect Francesco Laparelli, and built by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. The architecture of Valletta is characterised by its grand facades, ornate balconies, and intricate details. Many of the buildings are made from a local golden limestone known as Globigerina, which gives the city its distinctive golden hue. Some of the most notable buildings in Valletta include St. John's Co-Cathedral, the Grand Master's Palace, and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Visitors to Valletta can explore the city's architecture by taking a walking tour or simply wandering the streets and admiring the beautiful buildings.
Malta sightseeing day 3: Islands of Gozo and Comino
Gozo and Comino are two of the most popular islands in Malta, and both are easily accessible by ferry. These two tiny islands are one among the best places to visit in Malta, so on our last day, we took a trip to the islands of Gozo and Comino. Gozo is a small island located just a short ferry ride from Malta, and it's known for its stunning beaches and historic landmarks, including the Ġgantija Temples, which are older than the Pyramids of Egypt.
The ferry terminal in Cirkewwa, located on the northern tip of Malta, offers regular services to both Gozo and Comino. The journey to Gozo takes around 20 minutes, while the journey to Comino is shorter, at around 10 minutes. It's also possible to take a tour or hire a private boat to explore the islands, which can be a great way to see some of the more secluded beaches and coves. Visitors can also opt to take a helicopter or seaplane tour for a unique and breathtaking view of the islands. Whatever mode of transportation you choose, a trip to Gozo and Comino is a must-do when visiting Malta.
There are several reliable tour operators in Malta that offer excursions to the islands of Gozo and Comino. Here are some of the top options:
Captain Morgan Cruises - This tour operator offers a range of boat trips to Gozo and Comino, including visits to the famous Blue Lagoon. We took Fernandes, one among their Turkish Gulet fleet for a day trip. We dropğed anchor in a secluded bay in Gozo and the beautiful Blue Lagoon in Comino, Each stop is of approximately one and a half hours. En-route, one sees the panoramic cliffs, coves and inlets. The ideal day to spend swimming, sunbathing and relaxing on the large decks. A lovely hot and cold buffet lunch is freshly prepared and cooked on board the vessels.
Fresh Fruit is served in the afternoon, while cruising back to the Sliema Quay. A fully stocked bar and toilet facilities are also available on board.
- Gozo Pride Tours - This family-run tour operator specialises in tours of Gozo, and offers a variety of options such as full-day tours, private tours, and even custom tours. They also offer airport transfers and accommodation booking services.
- Sea Adventure Excursions - This tour operator offers a variety of sea-based excursions, including visits to Gozo and Comino, as well as other nearby islands. Their boats are equipped with onboard facilities such as restrooms and showers.
- Supreme Travel - This tour operator offers a range of tours and activities in Malta, including visits to Gozo and Comino. They also offer airport transfers and car rental services for visitors who want to explore the islands on their own.
The Blue Lagoon
Malta travel tips: Beware of jellyfishes
While Malta's beaches and waters are beautiful and inviting, it's important to be aware of the presence of jellyfish in the area. Several species of jellyfish can be found in the waters around Malta, including the dangerous Portuguese Man O' War. These jellyfish have long tentacles that can cause painful stings, and in some cases, even serious injury or death. It's important to be cautious when swimming in the sea, especially if you see jellyfish in the water. If you do get stung, it's important to seek medical attention right away. To minimise the risk of encountering jellyfish, it's recommended to swim in designated areas, avoid swimming during jellyfish season (typically from May to October), and wear protective clothing such as a wetsuit or rash guard. By taking these precautions, you can still enjoy Malta's beautiful beaches while staying safe from jellyfish.
Malta Island Guide: Where to Eat in Malta
Whether you're looking for fine dining or casual eats, Malta has something to offer for all tastes and budgets. Make sure to sample some of the local specialties, such as pastizzi (savoury pastries), imqaret (date-filled pastries), and ftira (Maltese bread).
- The Medina Restaurant - Located in the heart of the mediaeval city of Mdina, The Medina Restaurant offers an upscale dining experience with a focus on Maltese and Mediterranean cuisine.
- Rampila Restaurant - Set within the ramparts of Valletta's historic fortifications, Rampila Restaurant is housed in a former gunpowder magazine and offers stunning views of the Grand Harbour.
- Ta' Kris Restaurant - Located in the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk, Ta' Kris Restaurant serves traditional Maltese dishes such as rabbit stew, fish soup, and stuffed calamari.
- Rubino Restaurant - This family-run restaurant in Valletta is known for its homemade pasta, fresh seafood, and traditional Maltese dishes.
Margo's Restaurant - Situated in the trendy neighbourhood of St. Julian's, Margo's Restaurant offers a fusion of Mediterranean and Asian flavours, with dishes such as sushi, sashimi, and grilled octopus.
- Blu Beach - This is a beach club and restaurant located in the heart of Malta's popular tourist town of Sliema. With stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea, this chic venue offers a unique dining experience with a varied menu of fresh seafood, Mediterranean cuisine, and refreshing cocktails. The restaurant has become a popular destination for both locals and tourists, particularly during the summer months. If you're looking for a picturesque dining spot in Malta, Blu Beach is definitely worth checking out. Be sure to book your table in advance to secure your spot at this popular restaurant.
Best Places to Stay in Malta
Malta offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every taste and budget. From luxurious five-star hotels to charming guesthouses and self-catering apartments, there's something for everyone in Malta. Here are some of the best areas to stay in Malta, along with a few top-rated hotels in each area:
- Valletta - The capital city of Malta is a popular choice for those who want to be in the heart of the action. It's home to a variety of hotels, guesthouses, and apartments, many of which are located in historic buildings with stunning views of the harbour. Some of the best hotels in Valletta include The Phoenicia Malta, a luxurious five-star hotel set in a 17th-century building, and Palazzo Consiglia, a boutique hotel with stylish rooms and a rooftop pool.
- Sliema - This lively seaside town is a favourite among tourists and locals alike, with its bustling promenade, restaurants, and cafes. It's also home to a range of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Some of the best hotels in Sliema include The Preluna Hotel & Spa, a four-star hotel with a rooftop pool and spa facilities, and The Waterfront Hotel, a stylish hotel with panoramic views of the harbour.
- St. Julian's - Another popular destination in Malta is St. Julian's, which is known for its nightlife, beaches, and entertainment options. Some of the best hotels in St. Julian's include The Westin Dragonara Resort, a luxurious five-star hotel with a private beach and extensive leisure facilities, and The George Hotel, a boutique hotel with modern rooms and a rooftop pool.
- Gozo - For those who want to escape the crowds and experience a more relaxed side of Malta, Gozo is a great option. This picturesque island is home to a variety of hotels, guesthouses, and farmhouses, many of which offer stunning views of the countryside. Some of the best hotels in Gozo include the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz, a five-star hotel with a spa and indoor and outdoor pools, and the Duke Boutique Hotel, a stylish hotel located in the heart of Victoria.
No matter where you choose to stay in Malta, you're sure to find plenty of options to suit your needs and preferences. It's always a good idea to do some research and read reviews before making a booking, to ensure that you find the perfect accommodation for your trip.
Unlocking the Local Glossary in Malta: 10 Must-Know Words and Phrases
Malta has a rich cultural heritage and a unique language, which is a mix of Arabic, Italian, and English. The Maltese language is the only Semitic language written in Latin script, and it's the official language of Malta. Many Maltese people are bilingual and can speak both Maltese and English fluently. The Maltese language has a number of unique features, including a rich set of local idiomatic expressions and slang, which are commonly used in everyday conversations. For example, the word "mela" means "well" or "so" and is frequently used in Maltese speech. Understanding these local expressions can add a new dimension to your experience in Malta and help you connect with the locals on a deeper level.
Kif inti? - This phrase means "how are you?" and is a common greeting in Maltese. It's pronounced "kif in-tee" and is often used in casual settings to ask how someone is doing. The typical response is "tajjeb" (fine) or "kollox tajjeb" (everything's fine). Knowing this basic phrase can be a great icebreaker and a way to connect with locals during your visit to Malta.
- Għandi kruċifix - This expression literally translates to "I have a crucifix," but it's commonly used to express frustration or annoyance.
- Ċangaġġ - This word refers to a local snack that consists of a round piece of bread filled with peas, anchovies, and tomato paste.
- Mela - As mentioned earlier, this word means "well" or "so," but it's often used as a filler word in Maltese speech, similar to how English speakers use "um" or "uh."
- Għarusa - This term refers to a traditional Maltese wedding, which includes many customs and traditions that have been passed down through generations.
- Luzzu - This is a type of traditional fishing boat that is commonly found in Maltese harbours. It's known for its bright colours and distinctive eye-shaped design.
- Fenkata - This term refers to a traditional Maltese meal that includes a variety of rabbit dishes, which are popular in Malta.
Warda - This word means "rose" in Maltese, but it's also used to refer to the traditional balconies found on many Maltese buildings, which are decorated with intricate stone carvings.
Mrħaba (sometimes spelled as "Merħba") is a commonly used greeting in Maltese that means "welcome" or "hello." It's often used to welcome visitors to Malta or to greet someone when entering a shop or a restaurant. Other common greetings in Maltese include "bonġu" (good morning), "bonswa" (good evening), and "saħħa" (goodbye). Learning a few basic phrases in Maltese can help visitors to connect with locals and show respect for the local culture.
- Sħiħ (sometimes spelled as "Sħiħa" or "Sıħħa") is a word in Maltese that means "health." It's often used as a friendly farewell greeting, similar to how English speakers might say "take care" or "stay well." For example, someone might say "sħiħ" to a friend who is leaving their home or to a coworker at the end of the workday. The word "sħiħ" is also used in the context of traditional Maltese food and drink, where it's often said before taking a sip or a bite as a way of wishing good health to the person consuming it.
Understanding these local expressions and traditions can help visitors to Malta gain a deeper appreciation of the island's unique culture and history.