4 Day Malta Itinerary & Travel Guide
Updated March 2023, The 4 Day Malta Itinerary & Travel Guide was originally written in January 2019
On a whim, I booked a ticket to Malta while I was in Italy last fall (2018). Truth be told, Malta has never been on my radar. I had recently returned from a trip to Lampedusa and absolutely loved it there, so figured why not go check out nearby Malta?
It was a nice break from Italy, compact and with an easy bus system (if you’ve read many of my last few end-of-month posts you’ll probably recall my lamenting of the stupid bus ticket system in Lazio).
With that said, I didn’t fall in love with Malta. No, nothing bad happened, the weather was nice, and I packed in plenty in my 4 days. I don’t even have anything negative to say about Malta, it just wasn’t my cup of tea, that’s all. Also, be warned: I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones, so no, I didn’t set out to visit any of the sites made famous by the franchise.
So if you wanna visit Malta and see the best of the island, continue on for a 4 day Malta itinerary based on my recent trip. I also recommend purchasing a copy of Bradt’s Malta and Gozo Guidebook to kickstart your Malta travel plans.
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- 4 Day Malta Itinerary & Travel Guide
- Malta Quick Info
- Getting Around Malta
- Where To Stay
- What To Eat
- Maltese Dishes To Try
- 4 Day Malta Itinerary
Malta Quick Info
- Language: Maltese & English, though Italian is widely spoken and understood
- Currency: Euro
- Drives on: Left
- Best Time To Visit: Summer (June-September) is boiling hot, most crowded, and most expensive. Fall (October, November) is great with comfortable temperatures and smaller crowds, and prices coming down. Winter (December-February) can be chilly but prices are at rock bottom (aside from Christmas and New Year weeks). Finally, springtime (March-May) is another great time to visit, with warming temps, prices similar to fall, and the crowds gradually coming back.
Getting Around Malta
- The easiest way to get around Malta is by public bus. They’re cheap and (mostly) efficient (they can run behind at times, or be full at rush hour). A ticket will set you back 1.25€. Tickets are good for 2 hours (meaning you can hop on/off any number of buses within that 2 hour window), and are payable in cash to the driver on the bus.
- The only exception are night buses which cost 3€ per journey. Their route numbers will begin with an ‘N’.
- For those headed to Malta for a week or that plan to use the bus extensively, grab an Unlimited 7 Day Tallinja Pass for 21€. Available at the airport.
- For more on routes and timetables click here, and to download the Tallinja App (with bus routes and timetables) click here.
- Gozo Channel Ferries connect the islands of Malta & Gozo. The ferry docks in Cirkewwa on Malta and in Mgarr in Gozo. Tickets are €4.65, return. Click here for the Cirkewwa-Mgarr ferry timetable. You will see men ushering you along and asking where you are going when you get off the bus. If you say Gozo they will direct you to the ferry terminal (don’t worry, they’re not trying to sell you anything).
- Comino Ferries Co-Op connects Malta to Comino, and Comino to Gozo. Tickets are €10 for a two-way ticket. Small ferries go between Cirkewwa Jetty near the ferry terminal in Malta, Blue Lagoon in Comino, and Mgarr in Gozo. Click here for the schedule. The same men mentioned before will direct you to the Comino Ferry booth if you say Blue Lagoon.
- Ferries connect different parts of Valletta and Sliema as well. Tickets are €1.50 one way and €2.80 return. Click here for the Valletta-Sliema ferry timetable.
- Small boats depart the jetty at Zurrieq for tours of the Blue Grotto and neighboring sea caves. Tickets are €8 per person, and boats depart when full.
- For those that want ultimate freedom, you can rent a car on your trip to Malta. Be warned: streets in towns and cities are incredibly narrow. Check Holiday Autos for the best deals on rental cars in Malta!
Where To Stay
Of course, you can essentially stay anywhere in Malta, but the most common options with the most variety will be Valletta, St Julien’s, and Sliema.
Staying in Valletta will make transport a breeze but prices tend to be a bit higher.
St Julien’s has the most in way of cheap backpacker hangouts and buzzing nightlife (especially the Paceville area). I opted to stay at Egali Hostel (Booking.com | Agoda.com) with clean rooms, a friendly and helpful staff, and plenty of restaurants and bars right outside the door. St Julien’s is a good choice for those relying on bus transport, but many longer distance trips will require a stop in Valletta to change buses.
Sliema, located between St Julien’s and Valletta is another great option for lodging and is well-connected with the public bus system. Sliema and St Julien’s are about a 15 minute walk from one another.
What To Eat
Maltese cuisine has influences from several other cultures thanks to its key position in the Mediterranean. Most noticeable will be Sicilian and English, followed by Spanish, French, Mediterranean, and Maghrebin. With that said, beyond Pastizzi, Maltese dishes can be tricky to find in restaurants. Italian, Kebab, and global fast-food chains are everywhere in Malta.
For traditional Maltese cuisine try Nenu The Artisan Baker and Ta’ Kris. For good and cheap pastizzi head to the small walk-up pastizzeria in St Julien’s on the corner of St George Street & Ross Street across from Ross Park.
Maltese Dishes To Try
- Stuffat Tal-Fenek: A Maltese rabbit stew. The national dish.
- Pastizzi: Delicious little flakey fried savory pastries, typically stuffed with ricotta or mashed peas. Can be found at walk-up shops on the streets. Perfect for backpackers as a Pastizzi costs about .30¢.
- Kawlata: A vegetable soup.
- Ftira Ghawdxoja: A flatbread stuffed or topped with Gbejniet (a sheep-milk cheese native to Gozo) and potatoes.
- Lampuki Pie: Pies filled with Lampuki fish, potatoes, spinach, capers, mint, and olive oil.
4 Day Malta Itinerary
Valletta, Mdina, Rabat & Dingli Cliffs
Blue Lagoon & Gozo
Blue Grotto, Birzebbugia, Marsaxlokk
Ghajn Tuffieha & The Three Cities
Day 1: Valletta, Mdina, Rabat & Dingli Cliffs
Welcome to the compact capital of Malta! Valletta is home to elaborate Baroque architecture thanks to the order of St. John following the Siege of 1565. Some of you may need an entire day or more in Valletta to really appreciate it, while others (like me) are happy making a quick lap around it looking at the architecture.
A few things to see in Valletta are the Auberge de Castille, Fort St. Elmo & the War Museum, St. Augustine Parish Church, Grand Master’s Palace, St. John’s Co-Cathedral (€10 to enter), The Upper Barracca Gardens, and Manoel Theater. For history buffs– don’t miss The Malta Experience, an audio-visual show that covers Malta’s 7,000 year history (€16 per person).
If you’re going to Valletta from the Airport take bus X3 to Valletta, Bus X2 will take you from the Airport to St Julien’s
Not keen on exploring on your own? Check out this Valletta walking tour.
Mdina is an ancient city and was at one point in time the capital of Malta. Some could opt to spend 2-4 hours exploring both Mdina & Rabat (they’re walking distance from one another), while others will be happy to make a quick trip to walk through each town and move on.
Sites to see in Mdina are the Mdina Gate, St Paul’s Cathedral & Museum, the Municipal Palace, Banca Giuratale, and Mdina’s beautiful Palazzos. History buffs should jump for the Mdina Experience (€6).
As Mdina and Rabat sit side-by-side and walking distance apart you should visit both together. Check out this Mdina and Rabat walking tour to learn more about the history and culture of both ancient cities.
From Valletta take bus 51, 52, 53, or 56 to reach Mdina. The journey will take about 30 minutes each way. The bus does continue onto Rabat, so it’s totally possible to visit Rabat first if you so choose.
A short 5 minute walk from Mdina brings you to ancient Rabat. The main sites in Rabat are St Agatha’s and St Paul’s Catacombs (€5).
From Rabat take bus 207 and get off at the Dingli Cliffs stop.
Take the work out of your visit and book this Mdina, Rabat, Dingli & Mosta day tour from Valletta
For your first sunset in Malta, head to the Dingli Cliffs for the best sundown views on the island.
Back to Valletta, you can either take bus 207 to the Airport and then switch for bus X3 to Valletta, or bus X2 or TD2 for those headed back to St Julien’s. If you don’t mind a 2 km walk from the cliffs, walk back to Dingli Village and hop on bus 52 or 56 bound for Valletta.
Want To Explore Malta Island without figuring out public buses? Click here to pick up your Malta Hop On Hop Off Bus ticket
Day 2: Comino & Gozo
Malta’s Blue Lagoon is one of the country’s most famous tourist draws. This lagoon and tiny beach on Comino has some of the clearest waters you’ll find in the Mediterranean. It’s easy to see why everyone flocks here.
Do be warned: Get here as early as possible (the earliest ferry from Cirkewwa departs at 9 am). This place gets extremely crowded and there’s only a handful of beach chairs available for rent on the beach, otherwise, plan to lay out your towel on a rock.
There are lockers available for rent for €5 if you’d like to lock up valuables while splashing in the Blue Lagoon. Enjoy a short tour of Comino’s grotto-laden coastline on the way over from Cirkewwa on the Comino Ferry Co-Op boat.
From St Julien’s and Sliema hop on bus 222 to Cirkewwa and then from Cirkewwa take the Comino Ferries Co-Op boat to Blue Lagoon (€10 per person for a two-way ticket).
From Valletta take bus 41 or 42 to Cirkewwa and then from Cirkewwa take the Comino Ferries Co-Op boat to Blue Lagoon.
There’s more to Comino than just the Blue Lagoon! Comino was named after the cumin that once grew wild on the island. A few sites to see on Comino include St Mary’s Tower, St Nicolas Bay, Santa Maria Bay, and St Mary’s Battery. For more intrepid travelers who like a little seclusion, there is a campground at Santa Maria Bay, just a short walk back from the beach.
From Comino, you can catch the Comino Ferries Co-Op Boat to Mgarr in Gozo (or back to Cirkewwa).
Make it easy! Book this €28 Comino & Blue Lagoon Day Cruise, including hotel pick-up!
The island is believed to be the legendary Calypso from Homer’s Odyssey, and home to the oldest megalithic temples in Malta (Ggantija Temples). Some may opt to devote an entire day to touring Gozo while others will do like I did and pair it with a trip to Comino.
You have two options for getting around Gozo: either buy the Hop On/Hop Off Bus (€18 per person- you’ll see tickets being sold right outside the ferry terminal) or by using the public bus. I opted for the public bus option as I wasn’t going to make complete use of the entire Hop On/Off route, but the Hop On/Off Bus does have the advantage of an audio guide.
Notable things to see on Gozo are Xewkija Church, Xlendi Bay, Dwerja Bay & The Inland Sea (this is also the stop where the Azure Window once stood until its collapse in 2017, don’t worry the natural rock pool is still there and still beautiful), Ggantija Temples, and Ramla Bay.
For those traveling by public bus on Gozo you can find all the Gozo bus routes and schedules on this page, just scroll to the bottom.
The Gozo Channel Ferry (€4.65 return, no one-way tickets sold) runs all throughout the day and late in the evening. Note that the last buses from Cirkewwa bound for St Julien’s (222), and Valletta (41 & 42) depart at 9:30 pm, so make sure you give yourself enough time! The ferry takes about 30 minutes for the crossing.
Check out this full day Gozo tour from Malta
Wanna do Gozo & Comino in 1 day without the hassles? Click here to check out this Gozo & Comino tour
Day 3: Blue Grotto, Birzebbugia & Marsaxlokk
The Blue Grotto is a massive and beautiful sea cave on Malta’s southern shore. The Grotto can be seen from a viewpoint on top of the cliff where buses drop you off, but for the best views hop on one of the small boats that leave from the jetty in Zurrieq to take a ride through the grotto and to explore nearby caves (€8 per person).
From Valletta buses 73 & 74 will take you to Zurrieq.
Check out this half-day tour of Blue Grotto & Marsaxlokk from Valletta
To Birzebuggia from Zurrieq take bus 73 and get off at the Airport and then take bus X4 to Birzebbugia.
Relax on the nice white sand beach here at Birzebbugia for the afternoon after these last couple of chaotic days. There’s not a lot to see in Birzebbugia, and even the beach view is obstructed by industrialization and shipping containers in the distance. If heading to the beach isn’t your thing, go check out the Ghar Dalam Cave or Borg in-Nadur Settlement.
To Marsaxxlok take bus 210 from Birzebbugia.
Marsaxlokk is a quaint fishing village on the southeast shore of Malta. This is a great place to head for sunset for photos of the colorful fishing boats anchored out in the water as the sky changes from blue to orangy-pink hues. Grab a meal of the fresh catch at one of the waterfront cafés here before you head back to Valletta.
To get back to Valletta take bus TD10 or 85 from Marsaxlokk.
Day 4: Ghajn Tuffieha & The Three Cities
Ghajn Tuffieha & Golden Beach
Save the best for last! Ghajn Tuffieha was by far my favorite place in Malta. This is a 4 beach in 1 day kind of day trip.
You’ll start your trek from popular Golden Beach and continue to Ghajn Tuffieha Tower set up on a hill above the water. From there continue walking along the trail to Ghajn Tuffieha Bay Beach where you can go for a swim and enjoy the narrow strip of sand.
After you’ve gotten in a good rest and a swim, continue uphill to the knob-like prominence jutting out into the ocean. From up here, you’ll have great panoramic views of beaches on both sides.
Next, hike downhill to the unnamed beach on the other side of the rocky prominence (take care, as it is steep), where you can opt to relax in the sun and water and then turn back toward the bus stop at Golden Beach or Ghajn Tuffieha, or continue onto Gnejna Bay Beach.
If you continue to Gnejna Bay Beach you will either need to return back to Ghajn Tuffieha or Golden Beach to catch a bus (about 2.3km) or continue onto L-Imgarr to reach a bus stop (about 2.7km).
From Valletta take bus 44 to reach Ghajn Tuffieha. From San Julien’s take bus 225 to reach Ghajn Tuffieha.
The Three Cities
After you return from Ghajn Tuffieha to Valletta, take a ferry (€1.50) or a private boat (€2) from Valletta to the Three Cities. The names are Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua and are all within walking distance of one another. They have been inhabited since the Middle Ages.
Sites to see in the Three Cities are Fort St Angelo, Fort St Michael, the Grand Harbor, and the Cottonera Lines of Fortification.
Take a ferry or private boat back to Valletta, and then continue back to St Julien’s by bus if you are staying over there. You can also take a ferry to Sliema and walk back to St Julien’s.
Looking for more ideas? Check out 18 things to do in Malta
Alternative Places To Add To Your Malta Itinerary
Also known as Sweethaven Village, was the purpose-built film set for the 1980 live-action version of Popeye the Sailor. Now it acts as a tourist attraction and resort. Entrance is €11-15 depending on the season, though views of the village from a lookout point nearby are free.
Book a tour of Popeye Village, including entrance fees
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
A Neolithic subterranean structure dating back to 3300-3000 BC in the town of Paola. This is a necropolis holding the remains of at least 7,000 people. Guided tours are €35, video experience is €5. Guided tours book up fast, so secure your place at Heritage Malta.
Dive to the HMS Maori
The most famous World War II wreckage among the many off Malta’s shores. The HMS Maori was sunk by the Germans, sitting at a depth of 14 meters.
Cave Diving in Comino
Comino boasts the best reef and cave diving in Malta. The caves are famous for their shimmering blue luminescence, and keep your eye peeled for octopus and barracuda.
These four temples date back to 3300-2400 BC. The largest temple complex in Malta. Tickets are €6.
Miriam al-Batool Mosque
Malta’s only official mosque, whose first stones were laid by Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi in 1978. Located in Paola.
San Anton Gardens
Located in Attard, in the heart of Malta is the San Anton Gardens. Opened to the public in 1882. Stroll around the lush green trees and plants that line the parks many walkways.
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