Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Malta is a small island. Like a really small island. It’s only 20 km long! You can easily drive around the entire island in just one day, so it is one of the best options to rent a car and drive when and where you feel like it – but please note that in Malta, almost all of their streets are one-way streets and they drive on the left side of the road!
Since the island is so small, there’s also public busses, that can take you anywhere, which actually is my best advice, especially if you don’t feel comfortable to drive on the left side of the road, finding your way through their small one-way streets or driving at all. It will also be cheaper than renting a car, since a bus ticket in Malta is only 2€, but it might take a bit longer time than a rental car. You can also by a weekly bus pass for 21€.
What if you want to enjoy each place a bit longer than just driving through? Here’s some of my favorite cities, locations and beaches.
From June to August, most of Malta will be filled with kids from all over the world, travelling with EF Language Travel – you can spot them by their EF backpacks and staff in pink shirts.
Triq means “road” in Maltese, which is why most of their road names are starts with “triq” – a good thing to know, especially if you’re driving around on your own.
Malta is a rock island, making it an island without many sandy beaches, so don’t be disappointed if this is what you’re looking for. The island has many rock pools around the coast! In this post, I’ll mention a few of the sand beaches on the island.
The Blue Hole at Gozo Island. It’s located next to where the Azur Window once stood
Gozo island is the second largest of Malta’s islands, located North-West of Malta itself and you have to take a small ferry from Cirkewwa to get there. The island of Gozo is also one of the Mediterranean’s top dive destinations and can offer beautiful shore and boat dives, that can include reef, wrecks, caves and tunnels. Remember, if you’re going diving, always dive with one of the registrered Diving Centres.
Gozo is famous for their beautiful rock formation called The Azure Window. Unfortunately, the Window collapsed in March 2017 during a big storm. The Maltese (and everyone else that has been there) is still completely devastated by the loss, so be careful with any “the window has closed”-jokes. Though the Window might be gone, there is still lots to see on this beautiful island. At the location where the Window used to be, there is not a small memorial of the Window and the Maltese government is discussing what to do with the place, in terms of creating an even bigger memorial.
If you’re renting your own car, take a small drive to Dwejra Tower, not too far from The Azure Window. If you’re with the bus, it’s a small walk from the Window to the Tower. Take a stroll and enjoy the views. On your way back to the ferry, take a slow drive through or hop off the bus in Gozo’s main city, Victoria. It’s a beautiful city, so if possible, stop and take a stroll through the small historic streets.
Another thing on this beautiful island, that is worth a visit, is the Ggantija Temples (Giants Temples), which also are listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site and are located in the middle of the island, not too long from Victoria. These majestic temples are older than the pyramids of Giza – I’m not kidding! And is the world’s second oldest manmade religious structures, although it is believed that the temples were built by giants.
Note: If you want to go inside the temples, they are only open for admission 09:00-17:00.
If you have time, drive or take the bus to Marsalforn, a small village on the Northern part of Gozo, with the clearest crystal blue water and a nice beach to enjoy and take a swim. If there’s time, I advise you to eat at Otters Bistro, which serves great food and drinks, while having an amazing view of the bay.
Driving time from Valletta: 1.5 hours to Ferry in Cirkewwa
Ferry time: 20-30 minutes from Cirkewwa – Mgarr
Driving time from Mgarr to The Azure Window: 20 minutes
The amazing water at Comino Island – it’s even better when having a pineapple drink
The Island of Comino is paradise! It’s the smallest of the three Maltese islands and was in the old days known as a pirate base. The island is rather small and virtually uninhabited. The island is car free and there is only one accommodation to find. To get to Comino, you will have to take a ferry from either Cirkewwa, Valletta or Gozo. You can find any information and schedules here. Be advised that they cancel all ferries during bad weather conditions.
Comino Island’s main attraction is The Blue Lagoon, and is a paradise for snorkelers and divers. The water is crystal blue and really looks like a little piece of paradise. You will not regret taking a small trip to this beautiful island! It looks exactly as it does in the pictures!
Driving from Valletta to Cirkewwa: 1.5 hours
Ferry time from Valletta: 2-2.5 hours
Ferry time from Cirkewwa and Gozo: 25 minutes
The majestic city gate to Mdina
Mdina and Mosta
Now these cities can easily be combined to a one day trip, since they’re both quite small and located close to each other.
Start your day off with driving to Mosta to see the Mosta Rotunda (Mosta Dome), which is the biggest church dome in Europe, and third largest in the world. It is also known as the Church of Miracles. This name comes from none other than a real life miracle, that occurred during World War II. Malta was under attack and hundreds of people were hiding in the church, when a giant bomb fell through the roof and fell to the floor without exploding! All the people hiding in the church survived and the bomb is now displayed in the church, where you can also see a replica video of the miraculous day.
If you should’ve gotten a hunger on, make sure to stop by Molly’s Cafe when you’re in Mosta! The charming cafe offers an incredible variety of pancakes – all equally delicious and mouth drooling. I make sure to stop by Molly’s every time I’m in Malta. It is located on Constitution Street, just a short walk from the Mosta Dome.
After wandering around Mosta, drive on to the beautiful city Mdina, which is the old capital of Malta and one of the oldest cities in Europe. Mdina is also known as “The Silent City”, because no cars, motos or other electrical transportation devices are allowed inside the city walls. Mdina is still protected by the ancient walls and is today on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in Malta.
Take a stroll down the small streets and suck in the enchanting charm in which you will feel like taking a trip back in time. Find the cathedral not long after entering the gates of Mdina and wander further up the street to take a breathtaking look over Malta, gazing over the majestic city walls. Eat in one of the small, local cafes or restaurants and stay for as long as you like. I recommend staying until sunset, since the city is almost even more charming once the twilight comes.
Drive to Mosta from Valletta: 25-30 minutes
Drive from Mosta to Mdina: 10 minutes
Drive from Mdina to Valletta: 25-30 minutes
Without a doubt one of the most beautiful bays and one of the best places for family vacation in Malta. It’s located on the North part of the island, just before the ferry to Gozo and Comino. It has very shallow water and you will have to walk very far out before it gets deep. Mellieha Bay is the perfect place to chill, tan, relax and play for a day. Perfect for families with kids, since the kids can easily play in the shallow water with hardly any waves.
If you’re on a party vacation it can also be recommended, since there will be quite a few beach parties hosted there. Look out for events on Facebook.
Along the bay you can find many amazing restaurants, each with their own charm. Many of them in the style of cozy lounge clubs, directly next to the edge of the water.
As many bays in Malta, Mellieha Bay offers a broad variety of watersports and similar activities, such as the banana boat, the sofa and etc. A good advice is also to bring beach games, such as a frisbee or beach tennis. The shallow water is perfect for these activities. Don’t miss out on the fun!
If you feel like it, I recommend staying until sunset, since it will without a doubt be one of the most beautiful sunsets you can find in Malta!
Driving time from Valletta: 40 minutes
The beautiful beach in Mellieha Bay
Another one of Malta’s small gems! Marsaxlokk is an old traditional fishing village located on the South-Eastern part of the island, with the most beautiful bay and the most clear, blue water you can possibly find on the island. The sky photos are simply just breathtaking. The name of the city comes from old Maltese language, “Marsa” meaning “port” and “xlokk” meaning South-East.
My advice is to time your visit to Marsaxlokk with one of their many markets. The city is known for the Marsaxlokk Market, which is a large market taking place every Sunday. At this market you can buy everything from clothes, toys, snacks, food and a big selection of traditional Maltese delicacies.
Once you have wandered around the market, stock up on fresh fruits, olives, traditional delicacies and whatever you fancy drinking and go to the beach on the left side of the bay. Here you will find many locals splashing around and trying to escape the heat. Relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. If you stay long enough, I recommend to find a nice restaurant to eat dinner. It also gives you an opportunity to try traditional Maltese food before heading back to Valletta.
Drive from Valletta: 25 minutes
The traditional Maltese boats docked in Marsaxlokk Harbour
The film set from the 1980’s musical Popeye is now an amusement park and one of Malta’s biggest tourist attractions, known as the Popeye Village! It’s filled with rides and food stands and is located right on the edge of the cliffs with a beautiful view of the West coast of Malta.
Drive from Valletta: 40 minutes
How stunning is Popeye Village? It has it’s own water playground
Splash and Fun Water Park
A summer favorite, since Malta gets unbearably hot during the summer months – visit Splash and Fun Water Park! This water park invites you in for a day filled with fun, offering a lot of water slides, wave pool, dive pool, children’s area and a lazy river.
Use the park as an escape from the heat and to try something else than the many beaches and rock pools!
Drive from Valletta: 25 minutes
My favourite thing in Splash&Fun Waterpark is their lazy river – can you spot it? (it’s not hard)
Paceville (St Julians)
Paceville is the ultimate party central in Malta and one of the craziest party cities in Europe!, located right next to the bay of St Julians. This crazy city is known for being a destination for young party people, since it’s heavily populated with nightclubs, bars, stripclubs, beach clubs, restaurants and everything you can possibly relate to a crazy night out!
If you’re in for a night (or many) of partying, I heavily recommend you staying in Paceville. If you’re looking for the right place to party, you cannot miss Paceville! I have partied many places around the world, but Paceville is definitely one of the craziest!
Find the centre of the night life on Triq Santa Rita. It’s a small pedestrian street connecting Triq Sant Gorge with Triq Santu Wistin. My favorite bars include the Nordic Bar (my favourite), where many Scandinavians and locals takes a ridiculous amount of shots and parties till morning. Another favourite is Bar Native, which plays mostly Latin and Spanish music and serves giant jugs with any drink you want.
Exploring Paceville during daytime can also be quite fun. You can eat at one of the many different restaurants, where many of them has themes, that only adds to the fun experience. It’s possible to chill at their sandy beach and have fun with many of their extreme water sports, that are offered. Paceville is also the home of Malta’s Hard Rock Cafe, which is located in the open air shopping centre Bay Street Shopping Complex.
Paceville is definitely one of my favorite places on the entire island, so it’s an absolutely must-see!
Drive from Valletta: 20 minutes
Note: Getting a cab in Paceville after a night of partying is damn near impossible. But if you want to give it a go, you will find a cab office at the end of the party street, Triq Santa Rita. Here you can let them know you need a cab and then wait in line to get a cab. They also offer “Bus Taxis”, where you share the cab with 10 other people for sometimes only 2€, which is my preferred method. It then drives each of the passengers home after turn.
I could stare at the water in Comino all day long
Malta is a fantastic island, I and hope you can see why I love it so much. I already can’t wait to go back next summer. If you’re not too keen on travelling around the island, there’s also plenty to do in Valletta and Sliema!
Do you have any places in Malta, that I have to see? Leave a comment below 🙂