Whenever I reveal to anyone that I used to live and work in Malta, I am always met with an air of confusion, as if people don’t quite know what to ask next. I say the same thing to everyone when I discuss Malta – I think, as a country and travel destination, it is very underrated! Tiny in size, and quickly reached from everywhere in Europe, Malta lends itself nicely to a shorter holiday. And so, read on to find out what I would recommend as the perfect 7 day Malta Itinerary…
The useful stuff!…
Currency : Euros, ATMs are easy to find, and debit/credit cards fairly widely accepted.
Language : Maltese is the native language however English is spoken by 88% of the population.
International Airport : Luqa International Airport is the only airport in Malta, and is to the Southwest of the capital Valletta.
Visa : At the time of writing, no visa required for Europeans, or residents of Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand. However, I would always recommend checking on a government website as this can change!
Weather : As one of the most southerly points in Europe, Malta enjoys mild winters and sizzling summers. At the height of summertime, the temperature can hit 40C. During winter, it will rarely get below 10-15C, but can be wet and prone to high winds!
Getting Around : If you are going to take public transport, I suggest getting a 7 day Tallinja Explorer Card as soon as you arrive. This gives you a week of free travel on all the public buses, plus a few other perks, and costs only €21. You can also rent a car in Malta. Driving is on the left here, and roads are easy to navigate, although I found the Maltese drivers to be a little more aggressive than I am used to, so make sure the first thing you locate is your horn! If you feel confident in renting a car I would really recommend it as it will make journeys shorter, giving you much more time to explore during your 7 day Malta itinerary.
Best time to visit : A popular destination for package holidays, I would avoid the scheduled school breaks if you don’t want to experience Malta when it is flooded with tourists. Shoulder seasons of March to May, and September to October, mean comfortable temperatures and less crowds.
Where to stay : Thanks to Malta’s tiny size, you can easily base yourself in one town/city and head off for various day trips. If you want to stay in a few different places, I would certainly recommend splitting your week between Malta and Gozo. The itinerary below is based on that idea, however you can still visit Gozo by ferry for just a day if you choose to stay in Malta only.
Day 1 – Valletta
Kick off your week in Malta with a day exploring the beautiful capital of Valletta. Situated in the Southeast of the Island, all buses lead here eventually. You can either base yourself here, or easily reach Valletta from any other corner of the island. Valletta was voted the European Capital of Culture in 2018. A day spent exploring the maze of streets and admiring the 16th century buildings will leave you in no doubt as to why. The city is steeped in history, and as one of the smallest capitals in the world, is easy to navigate on foot.
Take time to visit Fort St Elmo and the National War Museum if history is of interest to you. Malta was one of the most heavily bombed places during World War 2, something not many people know. In the centre of Valletta, you will find St John’s Cathedral. Even for those who are not religious, it is a stunning building both inside and out. Art fans among you will be eager to get inside and steal a glimpse at original works by painter Caravaggio. Take a break in Upper Barrakka Gardens, an elevated garden with magnificent views of the harbour. The gardens are full of trees and pretty flowers, with cute little love benches dotting the perimeter, perfect for looking out to sea.
Day 2 – Sliema
A short and scenic 10 minute ride on a ferry from Valletta will take you to Sliema. This area around Sliema, which includes St Julians and Paceville, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. The quaint and historic feeling of Valletta is long gone by the time you reach these neighbouring towns. However, the area does offer something to visitors, which is evident in the sheer number of hotels and hostels in the area. Most visitors to Malta stay in this area. If you are a social traveller, this is the place to be.
A day around Sliema can be spent wandering along the waterfront, which is a nice walk between the towns themselves. There are plenty of cafes along the way, so make sure you stop for a coffee and Pastizzi and truly relax into the Maltese lifestyle. Whilst there are no mile long stretches of golden beaches, there are several places along the water front where you can take a dip in the crystal clear waters. At night, St Julian’s and Paceville come alive. Popular for partying with both locals and tourists, this is the only real nightlife you will find on the island.
Day 3 – Golden Bay and Popeye Village
“There are no beaches in Malta” – a statement I have heard so many times, and only ever from people who have never actually visited. Whilst it is true that the coast line of Malta is mainly rocky, you can find some nice sandy stretches! The biggest and most popular is undoubtedly Golden Bay. Situated on the North West tip of Malta, the clue is in the name – this is a really beautiful, golden, sandy beach! It is easily reached by bus or car, but be warned – the place becomes all most unbearably overcrowded at weekends during the height of summer.
Locals from all over the island flock here at weekends and the car park becomes a logistical nightmare.. It is not unusual for the hourly bus to fill up very fast, leaving you stranded! There is a small cafe for food and drink, or the more extravagant bar and restaurant in the Radisson Blu Hotel. There is also a watersports centre in high season for rental of jetski’s and banana boat rides.
10 minutes drive away, or an hour of uphill hiking, you will find “Popeye Village”. This quaint village was built as the set for the 1980 Popeye film, and has been perfectly preserved. For kids, I would say it is a must to go inside the village itself (although at 15 Euros for an Adult entry, it is not a cheap day out). If you just want to admire the village, there is a lookout point on the edge of the road that heads toward Golden Bay, which gives you a perfect opportunity for a cute clifftop photo with the village in the background.
You can actually head down a dirt track to the concrete jetty. When working in Malta, we used to dive here, and it is actually a great little hidden spot. You are directly in front of the Popeye village in a lovely suntrap. You get a great view of the village, and none of the crowds that you would experience inside.
Day 4 – Northern Gozo (Dwejra Bay and Ta’Pinu)
Malta is actually made up of 3 inhabited islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta being the bigger and most populated. Gozo lies to the north and is much less visited, but no less magical. If you have a week then it is easy to add Gozo into a 7 day Malta itinerary. To get from Malta to Gozo, you need to take the ferry. It runs every half hour from Cirkewwa, on the northern most tip of Malta. If you have rented a car, then you can easily take that onto the ferry. Alternatively, you can board as a foot passenger. Buses drop passengers off at the ferry terminal in Malta and in Gozo. The ferry costs 4.65 euro for foot passengers, and 15.70 for a car. Prices are always for a return, and you pay on your journey back over to Malta main island. Gozo ferry timetable can be found here.
If you have rented a car, you could potentially do just one full day in Gozo. If on foot and public transport, I would recommend giving it at least 2 days if you can! On day 1 in Gozo, head Northwest from the ferry terminal to Dwejra Bay. As you drive down the snaking road towards to coast, the views are enough to impress anyone. There is a lot of parking at Dwejra Bay, but it can fill up quick with tourists and coaches in high season.
The main attraction here used to be the “Azure Window” – a huge rocky arch way that extended out into the ocean. Game of Throne’s fans may recognise it as the setting for Daenarys and Khal Drogo’s wedding. Unfortunately, the arch collapsed into the sea during a storm in 2017. Oddly, there are plenty of merchants in Dwejra selling postcards and paintings of the window. Even though it isn’t there anymore and you will never see it, you can still console yourself with a postcard! Nowadays, you will see divers in full kit walking down to the “Blue Hole”, which is one of the best scuba dive sites in Malta. The Blue Hole is the gateway for the Azure Window – which now lies in huge chunks under the surface of the ocean. It is one of the most famous dive sites in Malta. If you do not dive, it is still worth walking down to the blue hole. Swim, snorkel, or just marvel at the pristine colour of the water.
I know this area pretty well, as when I was working in Malta we would come here to dive. As you look out to sea from the upper car park, out to the left you will see a large rock. This huge boulder is called “Fungus Rock”. Many assume it got its name from its shape (although if you ask me, it looks nothing like a mushroom). The real reason they call it Fungus Rock is because it is home to a species of mushroom that has only ever been found on that rock!
There is a second, lower car park at the “Inland Sea”. Difficult to describe, but essentially a lagoon that is blocked from the open ocean by high cliffs. Cutting through the cliffs is a narrow, 80m tunnel, which brings you out on the other side. There are boats which offer the chance to take a trip through the tunnel. You can also dive through the tunnel, which I regularly did. It is a unique and impressive experience, which Jacques Cousteau once said was in his top 10 dive sites – quite the compliment!
This is possibly one of the most tourist heavy areas of Malta, with lots of overpriced paraphernalia for sale. There are a couple of food kiosks, mostly over priced. However, if you head down the hill to the Inland Sea, on the left hand side is a small cafe and it is seriously cheap! It sells mainly toasted sandwiches, greasy burgers, and thick black coffee – but you can’t beat the price!
A 20 minute drive from Dwejra Bay, you should make a short stop at Ta Pinu. This Roman Catholic Basilica is beautiful, and is also outside of any town, offering stunning countryside views. On the inside of the Basilica, there are letters and gifts on display from all over the world. People write and ask “Our Lady of Ta Pinu” to help them with miracle’s, and there are also some examples of miracles that have supposedly come about after people have made the pilgrimage to the Basilica.
Day 5 – Gozo (Victoria and the North)
The quaint coastal town of Marsalforn is worth a coffee stop. If you stay in Gozo for the night, you may well find yourself here as it is one of the more popular places for tourists to base themselves. The town has a pretty promenade, a small sandy beach, and is popular for snorkelling.
Nearby, you can also visit the vast salt pans. This checkerboard of shallow square rock pools stretches for around 3km along the coast of Gozo. They are 350 years old, and even now, you can still see local families harvesting the salt in this traditional way. It is available to purchase all over Gozo too.
If you are craving a beach day, and the small sandy stretch at Marsalforn is not cutting it, then you can always check out Ramla Bay. This is the biggest and most popular beach on the island. Otherwise, spend the rest of your day exploring Gozo’s biggest town, Victoria. The city is sometimes known by its Maltese name of Rabat (not to be confused with the town of Rabat on Malta main island) and is the capital of Gozo island. Within Victoria you will find the citadel, which is an ancient city surrounded by walls. This fortified city sits atop a hill, and is steeped in history and culture, similar to Mdina on Malta main island. Victoria is the perfect place to wander and admire the intricate architecture. Strolling through the streets can feel as though you have stepped back in time.
Day 6 – St Paul’s Bay and Blue Lagoon
Head back to Malta to spend your last 2 days taking in a few more of the countries best known sights. No 7 day Malta itinerary is complete without visiting the famous Blue Lagoon. This little cove, which is near Comino Island, is extremely popular for visitors – and with good reason. The water here is incredible – I honestly don’t think I have seen such crystal clear, blue water anywhere else in the world. The lagoon itself, and Comino Island, lie in between Malta and Gozo.
There are no passenger ferries that will take you here, so the easiest way to visit is to join a day cruise on a smaller tourist boat. You can either depart from Valletta/ Sliema, or you could hop on a boat from St Paul’s Bay. I would recommend the latter as it means less time on the actual boat. It also means you get to see another area of Malta.
St Paul’s Bay, whilst not the most fascinating area of Malta, does have a special place in my heart because I spent 8 months living there. There are a few interesting things to do in St Paul’s Bay, such as the Aquarium, walking the coastal promenade, and getting an Ice Cream from the best Gelato shop I have ever been to – Sottozero. Otherwise, you can just head to the sea front and join a trip to Comino and the Blue Lagoon.
As with almost all attractions that are popular with tourists, the Blue Lagoon can become extremely crowded. My top tip for visiting would certainly be to get there as early as you can. It is not really the kind of place you will find locals, so whether it is a week day or a weekend, it wont make much difference. The best time undoubtedly to try and go would be off season, but failing that, the morning will at least be quieter than the afternoon. There are a few cafe type shops at the lagoon, but they are very expensive.
What to take to the Blue Lagoon:
- Sunscreen (preferably reef safe!)
- A little bit of cash
- A hat – the sun can be relentless
- Snorkel gear if you want to see what is under the water!
- Snacks and a drink
Depending on which tour/trip you take, you may also visit Santa Maria caves, or even the wreck of the P31. This is a sunken shipwreck which I have dived many times. If the water is very clear, you can see it from the surface and just snorkel.
Day 7 – Mdina
It seems only right to save the best until last, so to speak! My absolute favourite part of Malta (besides the underwater world) has got to be Mdina. This ancient, fortified city sits proudly upon a hilltop, overlooking the coast of Malta in every direction. Mdina is the former capital, and is often called the “Silent City”, due to very few cars being allowed inside the city walls. Spending a day in Mdina is like stepping back in time. Even though it is popular with tourists, I have never felt it was overcrowded. I have visited on several occasions and at all times of day. If you can go mid afternoon and stay for sunset, then I would highly recommend that option.
There are plenty of things to do in Mdina and neighbouring Rabat. Mdina itslef was used as the setting for much of King’s Landing in the Game of Thrones series, and tour can be booked online, with some guides having been extras in the series! You can also do your own research and spot various parts of Mdina that were used in the series. There are actually several places around Malta that were used for various scenes in Game of Thrones – here is a more in depth guide to Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta.
Other must do things in Mdina include visiting the magnificent Cathedral. It also has a museum which you can enter and learn a little more about the history of both Mdina and Malta. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a wedding in the cathedral one day – it was pretty special! After getting lost in the snaking backstreets and cobbled alleyways, take a moment to relax with some delicious cake and coffee and the popular cafe Fontinella. Fontinella sits atop the walls, and offers great views over the Maltese countryside.
More time in Malta?
I think this itinerary is fairly packed, and doesn’t include a lot of downtime! However, it does go to show just how much there is to see and do in Malta! You could easily double your time in Malta and just include some rest days in you itinerary! For further inspiration, you can check out other things to see in Malta.
Have you been to Malta? What else would you include in a 7 day Malta Itinerary? Or, if you are planning to go, please do let me know your thoughts and questions!
Like it? Pin it!