WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN MALTA?
On this page, you will be able to discover the essential experiences not to be missed in Malta, the essential tourist sites as well as the activities to be done absolutely.
This selection may be useful in preparing an itinerary and organising your stay in Malta, giving you a taste of the best things to do and places to visit.
The practical information is evolving rapidly, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment if there are any points to change or if you want to share good tips for spending a weekend in Malta.
Here are 10 must-see things to do and see on a trip to Malta:
1. Saint John’s Co-Cathedral
Don’t let yourself be repulsed by its sober and classic exterior, the interior of the Saint-Jean co-cathedral is a real artistic gold mine. From heraldic coats of arms to luxurious organs, the tombs of the Order of Malta’s knights and the vaults painted by Mattia Preti, you will no longer know where to look. In baroque style, the Saint-Jean de La Valette co-cathedral has 8 small chapels. Each of them presents busts, sculptures and other precious objects. Dedicated to Saint-Jean-Baptiste, this 16th century building traces the saint’s life in trompe-l’oeil through his paintings.
2. Enjoy the view from the Upper Barrakka and Lower Barraka gardens
From the Barrakka gardens, enjoy the beauty of the panoramas for free! Upper Barrakka offers you a magnificent view of the port and the sea. Surrounded by vegetation and fountains, it is the ideal place to enjoy a moment of calm and beauty. Every day at 4pm, this tranquility is disturbed by a few cannon shots that remind us of the strategic and military vocation of the place. At the Lower Barraka, you can find a neoclassical temple-shaped monument dedicated to Sir Alexander Ball as well as many commemorative plaques.
3. Grandmaster’s Palace
The Grandmaster’s Palace is a late 16th century building that is now the residence of the island’s president. It was built following the great siege of the Ottomans in 1565. Admission is charged, but can be included in a more attractive multi-site package. Inside the palace, you will discover the incredible collection of masterpieces, weapons and armour that adorn majestic settings.
4. The Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea
A visit to Malta’s Three Cities will give you an insight into port life on the island. Much older than the bastions and fortresses of Valletta, the buildings of the Three Cities are architectural wonders not to be missed. In the evening and on public holidays, it is here that the festive atmosphere is at its height. During your visit to the Three Cities, you can stroll through the gardens of Safe Heaven or take refuge in the watchtower, two perfect places for a romantic getaway.
5. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Hypogée de Malte is a prehistoric cemetery listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discovered by chance in 1902, it is the oldest trace of civilization on the island. Its different levels are estimated at different times: the highest dates back more than 5,500 years, while the deepest has probably been dug around 2,500 BC. Admission is charged and is done in limited groups. However, it is well worth it as it will allow you to observe pottery, amulets and bones that are more than 4,000 years old. Nearby, do not miss the 4 temples of Tarxien, a religious complex from the late Neolithic period.
6. The temples of Mnjdra and Hagar Qim
These two temples are part of a magnificent natural and archaeological context. Surrounded by a park, they face the cliffs of the high coast and are located near a 17th century watchtower. The entrance is subject to a charge and will allow you to observe several mushroom-shaped altars dating from about 3,600 BC. On these two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, you will discover the largest megalith on the island: a cut stone 6 metres in diameter.
7. The fortified city of Mdina
On your way to Mdina, you will visit Malta’s least populated walled city. Located in the middle of the island, it was founded as a Phoenician trade centre more than 3,000 years ago. Following the Arab invasion, the city was divided into two parts: Mdina and Rabat. Both locations can be easily visited on foot. Their entry is free of charge. Inside, you will have the opportunity to visit the foot of St. Paul’s Cathedral, take pictures in the narrow streets and marvel at the architecture of the main gate or Vilhena Palace.
8. The National Museum of Archaeology
This treasure for archaeology lovers is located in a sumptuous palace built in 1574. The entrance fee will give you access to a rich collection of objects dated from the Neolithic (5,000 BC) to the end of Phoenician hegemony (400 BC). All the remains presented in the museum have been collected from the island’s various historical sites, from the Tarxian temples to the Hypogée. Sarcophagus, pendants, weapons and tools are just some of the unique archaeological finds you can see.
9. The beautiful port of Marsaxlokk
Behind this unpronounceable name lies an idyllic setting, worthy of the most beautiful postcards. A typical small fishing port, Marsaxlokkk combines a fish market with a warm atmosphere, turquoise water and rocky beaches to form a dream setting. While walking along the harbour, you can stop in front of the very colourful boats of the fishermen. The golden church, located opposite the port, is also a sublime little artistic jewel. From the top of its steps, you can observe the magnificent view of the port and enjoy the warm wind blowing there.
10. Coves and beaches
Discovering Malta without stopping in one of its many coves and beaches would leave you with many regrets. Indeed, Malta’s bays are among the most beautiful in the whole Mediterranean. At St Peter’s Pool, erosion has done its job to the delight of bathers. In summer, the water is warm and very clear. The rocky cliffs marked by the wind offer natural diving platforms that are highly appreciated by tourists. If you prefer a quieter paradise setting to observe the panorama, fish and starfish, you can use Ghar Lapsi’s natural swimming pool. In southern Malta, lovers of beautiful beaches can go to Ghajn Tuffieha, where Golden Bay offers them an ideal setting to lay their towels in the sand and enjoy the sun.
MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN MALTA
If you have some time, here are some other things to do and places to visit in Malta and the surrounding islands:
- The cliffs of Dingli
- The Malta at War Museum (in Vittoriosa)
- Palazzo Parisio and its gardens (in Naxxar)
- The command room of Lascaris (Lascaris War Rooms)
- Scuba diving (Malta has some very beautiful spots)
- The blue lagoon, on the island of Comino
- Gozo (this is the island that is located in the North-West of Malta): the Citadel of Victoria, Wied il-Ghasri, Calypso’s Cave, Xlendi Bay, Ramla Bay, mgarr ix xini Bay…)
- Tip: of the three cities, Vittoriosa (also called Birgu) is the prettiest so if you have little time in Malta it’s better to put it at the top of your visits.