This 3 day itinerary for sightseeing in Malta will help you visit the most significant highlights of the Maltese islands. It's the same itinerary I followed when spending 3 days in Malta in late February 2017.
Why Spend 3 Days in Malta
Many people, especially from the UK, associate Malta with a sun and sand holiday. A place to relax, unwind, and work on their tan for a week or two.
With some great, and it must be said cheap flight connections, Malta is also the ideal destination for short breaks or long weekend getaways. The islands are small and compact, meaning that you can get a lot done in a short amount of time, and there is plenty to see and do. If you are planning a European short break or weekend getaway, you should definitely consider spending 3 days in Malta.
Sightseeing in Malta
I visited Malta in February 2017, a month when the weather starts to improve. It's still too cold to swim, but beaches weren't on my agenda. Instead, I wanted to find out more about the history and culture of Malta. I've also made a video of the trip to Malta below.
Before going, I contacted the tourism board of Malta, and asked if they worked with travel bloggers. It turns out they do, and they put together an incredible 3 day itinerary for sightseeing in Malta. More than that, they also supplied a driver, transport, and guide. This 3 day itinerary for sightseeing in Malta is based on the program they put together for me. Thank you very much Aimee and Nik at Visit Malta!
Sightseeing in Malta Day 1
Our first full day in Malta was a Sunday, and so the first thing on our agenda, was a visit to Marsaxlokk. This is a small fishing village that has somehow survived the EU fishing policies that have played havoc with fishing communities throughout Europe.
What Marsaxlokk has done to weather the storm, is hold a weekly market on Sundays that attracts locals and tourists alike. Locals can buy the freshest fish, fruit and veg available in Malta, and tourists can take photos of the displays and browse the souvenir stalls. It seems to be working, and was quite buzzing even on a Carnival Sunday.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples
Malta has some incredible archaeological sites, with Hagar Qim and Mnajdra being two of the finest examples. Your sightseeing in Malta itinerary would not be complete without visiting them, and they were the next stop on our tour.
Who built these megalithic temples thousands of years ago and why? We might never know, but there are dozens of theories out there. I have written another article focusing on this – Who Built The Megalithic Temples of Malta?
After leaving the temples, we then headed for Dingli cliffs. This is a popular viewing spot, and apparently also the highest place on the island. The plan was for this to be a brief pause for photos, but things took an unexpected twist when our car broke down!
Not to worry though, as things always work out in the end. We took a hiking route up to the cliffs which offered even better views, and we worked up an appetite for lunch!
Stop for lunch at Diar il-Bniet
We tried a number of different restaurants during our stay in Malta, and this one was my favourite. It served a selection of Maltese dishes, and included mainly locally sourced produce.
It might be difficult to reach unless you have your own transport or are on a tour sightseeing in Malta, but in my opinion, the journey will be worth it. Find out more about the restaurant here – Diar il-Bniet.
After lunch, we headed to Mdina, a walled city sitting on a hilltop. It has a history dating back many thousands of years, and is a beautiful place to walk around. If I were to return to Malta, I would choose to spend longer there, as it is worth at least half a day, if not a little more.
Back to Valletta
After Mdina, we returned back to Valletta where we checked out some of the floats and people dressed up from the Carnival.
Carnival in Malta takes place each year in mid to late February, and we had timed our trip to coincide with this, making it a full day!
Sightseeing in Malta Day 2
Our second day in Malta, was mainly spent on the island of Gozo. Gozo is a more rural, laid-back, and traditional version of the main island. It is beautiful, quieter, and also an ideal place to see by bicycle! Visit Malta had arranged a bike from On Two Wheels along with a local guide to show me around.
Cycling in Gozo
It had been a while since I had turned the pedals, but I guess the muscle memory of having cycled over 40,000 kms all over the world never really fades away! Don't worry though – you don't need to be a pro to enjoy Gozo by bicycle!
In fact, Gozo has a nice cycle route which is clearly signed all the way. We didn't follow this route though, as we wanted to try something a little different. For anyone planning on cycling in Gozo, there are some hills, but anyone with an average level of fitness will enjoy cycling in Gozo. I will have a more complete blog post in the coming weeks about cycling in Malta. In the mean time, I would like to thank On Two Wheels of Gozo for loaning me the bike.
Walk Through Victoria and Citadel
I finished the bike tour at a cafe in Victoria, and then met up with Nik the guide again in the Citadel. Due to the nature of our schedule, it felt like I didn't really have enough time to fully appreciate Victoria and the Citadel, and so I would suggest planning to spend 2-3 hours there at least. Walking around the walls provides a good insight into the size and layout of the citadel.
Stop for Lunch
There are a number of good restaurants to choose from, and Ta' Rikardu was on our itinerary. It's priced at the higher end, and offers some delicious local cuisine. You can check out the reviews here – Ta' Rikardu.
Once we had finished at the restaurant, our next destination was the Azure Window. This is one of the most recognisable parts of Gozo, and its image is regularly used on promotional material for Malta. It's certainly a wonderful sight. Note – The Azure Window collapsed into the sea only days after I visited. I may have been one of the last people to see it standing!
After lunch we drove over to the Ggantja Temples. A visit to these temples should be on every sightseeing in Malta itinerary. These are (arguably) the oldest freestanding structures in the world, and date back over 7000 years.
I am always fascinated by structures such as these, and wonder not just how they were built, but what the society behind them was like. It was a highlight of our trip to Gozo, and indeed one of the main highlights of Malta.
When we had finished exploring the Ggantja site, it was time to head back to the ferry port, and cross over to Malta. We ended the day by again seeing some of the Carnival.
Sightseeing in Malta Day 3
The last of our 3 days sightseeing in Malta was spent in Valletta, and then in Birgu. Valletta is the capital of Malta, and was built by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is an interesting place to walk around with countless architectural gems.
The Cassa Rocca Piccola is one of them. We were taken on a tour inside this family home of the 9th Marquis de Prio who still lives here. It was filled with paintings and antiques dating back many hundreds of years. Below the Palace, we also visited the Bomb Shelters which shielded civilians from the German and Italian bombs dropped on Malta during the Second World War.
Perhaps the most notable building, and one that should definitely be visited, is St. John's Co-Cathedral. From the outside, it may not have the magnificence of other world famous churches and cathedrals. The inside is simply incredible though.
After leaving the cathedral we wandered over to an incredible viewpoint, which overlooked the Grand Harbour. This gave a great idea as to the size and scale of the area, and we could also see where we would be heading to next. Birgu.
To get to the other side of the harbour and reach Birgu, you can take the bus (boring), take the ferry (dull), or take one of the small boats for a couple of euros (the best way!).
Birgu was the area our hotel was located in, and also marked the end our tour itinerary for sightseeing in Malta. My recommendation here, is to visit the War Museum which gives a moving insight into how Malta suffered during the Second World War. It also has an interesting underground section, where you can walk through a maze of tunnels and bomb shelters. If you would like to find out more about Valletta, check out this great travel blog post – The Maltese capital Valletta – Entrancing legion of historical monuments.
And that brings this article about sightseeing in Malta to and end! I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I will aim to have an article about things to see and do in Valletta go live in a week or two.