Row of traditional balconies in Valletta Malta as the sun sets casting pink light

Is Malta Worth Visiting? 13 Reasons to Visit Malta in 2024

Malta is a small island nation in the Mediterranean, located halfway between Sicily and Tunisia. If you’re asking yourself “Is Malta worth visiting?”, we’ve got all the reasons we enjoyed visiting this country with our family. From ancient megalithic structures to Medieval history, you can combine relaxing on the beach with historic, educational sites.

As a full-time traveling family, we’re always looking for unique destinations to explore. Malta has been on our bucket list for a while, as it has a unique history and so much to see and do is packed into a small space. We spent three weeks in Malta with our kids, ages 6 and 9, and checked out a lot of the sites so we can recommend the very best of this island nation.

In this post, we’ll cover why you should visit Malta including some of our favorite things to do on Malta, what kind of prices to expect, the best kid-friendly activities, and where to stay. We’ll also share our favorite places to eat on a budget in Malta.

This article may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. All our recommendations are our own and are in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative.

At the bottom of this post, download free Mobile Wallpaper images to satisfy your wanderlust!

If you are interested in budget travel to Europe, join our free Facebook Group: Europe Travel with Families on a Budget.

Is Malta Worth Visiting?

Yes, Malta is worth visiting. There is so much culture and history here, plus the sea views are amazing. Whether you are taking the ferry from Valletta across the harbor to Silema, or taking a cruise to see the Blue Grotto, the yellow stones and blue waters are so beautiful.

Malta is also known for its Gallarija, or Maltese balconies, you’ll see these wooden painted balconies all around the island, adding a pop of color to the streets.

Green balconey on a stone facade with festive decorations in green and red hung across the street in Valletta Malta

Being an island with strategic importance, Malta has a complicated history of invasions and occupations. Emperor Charles V, the King of Sicily, gave Malta to the Knights of St. John in 1530.

Napoleon occupied Malta in 1798, on his way to conquer Egypt. Just two years later, Malta became a British protectorate, and then a colony. Malta was heavily bombed during WWII and was an important staging site for the Allied invasion of Sicily. Malta remained a British colony until 1964.

🏅 Editors Top Picks 🏅
Most Relaxing Tour: Private Boat Charter in Malta
Best Historical Tour: Walking Tour of Valletta
Don’t Miss UNESCO Site: Hypogeum
Best Family Water Activity: Kayak Gozo and Camino
Best Valletta Hotel: The Barrister Hotel

13 Reasons to Visit Malta

Malta consists of three islands: the main island called Malta, the smaller Comino, and the northern island of Gozo. With a population of just 500,000, this small nation has a lot to offer. After spending three weeks crisscrossing these islands, here are our top reasons for visiting Malta.

Blue green waters off the seaside docks of Sliema, Malta
Rocky coastline of Sliema, Malta

1. Beaches and Lagoons

Most people come to Malta to relax in the sunshine and enjoy beach activities and boat cruises. Malta is very popular with British travelers, as its colonial history means there are a lot of familiar British brands and shops around the country.

Malta is best known for its beautiful lagoons and harbors, rather than wide, sandy Mediterranean beaches. The Blue Lagoon on Comino is popular with swimmers and snorkelers, but it can only be reached by boat. It is open from May to October.

Harbor cruises are a popular way to get out on the water as they visit 10-12 inlets around Malta. A harbor cruise lasts 1 1/2 – 2 hours and takes you to visit the creeks around the Silema harbor, as well as the Three Cities harbor.

Ferry and boats in the Sliema harbor on a sunny day in Malta
Many day trips and harbor cruises leave from Sliema Harbor

Many of the best beaches in Malta are on Comino Island, the least built-up island in the archipelago, and on Gozo, where you’ll find open fields and more boutique resorts. On the island of Malta, Golden Bay is one of the best sandy beaches.

Charter a Boat

To explore the water around Malta, you can book a group cruise from one of the many tour groups set up on Sliema harbor, or you can charter a private boat for three hours with snorkeling equipment (and a captain of course) included. The boat holds groups of up to six people, you’ll work with your captain to decide which beaches and lagoons to visit.

Book Now: Private Boat Charter in Malta

Sailing Adventure

Feeling more adventurous? Book a sailboat to explore Malta! Half and full-day packages are available for groups of up to 10. You’ll take a turn at sailing (if you wish), stop to swim, and generally relax on the boat.

Book Now: Malta Sailing Adventure

2. Ancient Structures

Malta has several ancient, megalithic structures that are worth visiting. Because these sites are so old, very little is known about them, but you can learn about how scientists explore these sites and make guesses as to their uses.

These megalithic temples together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are older than the pyramids of Giza. These include the temples of Ggantija on Gozo, as well as Ħaġar Qim, Mnajdra, Skorba, Ta’ Ħaġrat and Tarxien on Malta. These structures date to 3-4,000 years BC.

The Hypogeum, also called the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum, is also a UNESCO World Heritage site that was in use between 4,000 and 1,500 BC. A subterranean structure, this dug-out complex is in a different category than the above-ground temples, but for most visitors, these sites will fall into a similar category.

We visited both the Ggantija Temples and the Hypogeum. This was enough of this type of history for one trip, but if I were to add a third, the Ħaġar Qim looks really interesting as well.

Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum

We highly recommend visiting the Hypogeum. You’ll need to book in advance as they strictly limit the number of visitors to the site. Each group is limited to ten people. You’ll have an audio guide and a tour guide who shows you where to stop and directs the tour. There are no photos allowed in the underground site.

The visit itself was about 45 minutes. You’ll start with a short video, then descend into the site itself. The area open to visitors is quite small, so you sort of circle around as they light up different features for you in sync with the audio guide.

Our kids were 6 and 9 during the visit, and we all enjoyed seeing this space. The famous Sleeping Lady sculpture was found here, you can then see her in person at the National Museum of Archeology in Valletta.

Adults 35€, Kids 6-11 15€, no one under 6 admitted.
Please Note: This site books up 2-3 months in advance, so get tickets are early as you can.

Ggantija Temples

We also visited the Ggantija Temples on Gozo. This site is delightful on a sunny day, but a little harder to wrap your head around than the Hypogeum. You can purchase tickets on arrival, there is no timed entry.

You’ll start your visit with a small museum that shows some of the items found in the temples, as well as a video that explains how these temples were found, partially destroyed, and then restored. These temples were built between 3600 and 3200 and were probably used for rituals. You’ll also learn about the nearby Xagħra Stone Circle which is not open to visitors.

Two people entering the Ggantija Temples in Gozo, Malta

You’ll then head outside and follow a metal walkway through fields to the two Ggantija temple structures. This site is all outdoors, so make sure you have good weather for your visit. The pathways continue into the center of each temple with signs that describe what you are looking at.

I expected these prehistoric temples to be larger, so my expectations were off a bit. Each temple is quite high, but relatively small- several small spaces in a round temple.

Tickets for Adults are 10€, Children 6-11 are 6€, and Children Under 6 are free.

3. Unique Mix of Cultures

The official languages of Malta are Maltese and English. Maltese is a Semitic language with a Latin script that is related to Arabic. English is the predominant language- all signs, menus, and grocery items are posted in English. Many people on the island also speak fluent Italian due to their proximity to Sicily.

Malta has an interesting mix of cultures- the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, French, and British have all played a part in defining the culture. Much of the food has similarities to Italian, but with unique breads and pastries. The Maltese have a deep pride in their culture, you’ll see the iconic Maltese cross all over the island.

The grocery stores are full of British products, from Cadbury chocolates to many varieties of English cheese. You’ll also find lots of international options, from pitas to tortillas.

4. UNESCO Walled City of Valletta

Many people who come to Malta focus their visit on the old walled city of Valletta. The capital of Malta, and Europe’s most Southern capital city, Valletta was built by the Knights of St. John after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. In this siege, General de la Valette successfully repelled the Ottomans.

Consider a walking tour of Valletta! This three-hour tour will introduce you to the top sites and help you understand the history of the city, with lots of fun facts along the way. With over 1,200 five-star reviews, this tour is the best.

Book Now: Walking Tour of Valletta

The entire city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Valletta is the cultural center of Malta, and in 2018 was named the European Capital of Culture. You’ll find Baroque architecture, traditional balconies, grand palaces, museums, many cathedrals, and pedestrian walkways filled with shops, cafes, and souvenir stores.

The city is well maintained, clean, and quite touristy but also beautiful. Head off the main walkways to get away from the crowds and explore the more picturesque alleyways and stairways.

Built on a hill over a harbor, Valletta has beautiful views over the water from many locations. Head to the Upper Barrakka Gardens to quietly enjoy the views, or time your visit to the daily noon cannon firing.

Cannon firing with a lot of smoke at noon from the saluting battery over the harbor in Valletta Malta

If you’d like to see the cannon fire to mark the noon hour, be sure to arrive early. The actual presentation starts at 11:50, and people crowd the balcony area well before this time. You can also get much closer to the cannons if pay to enter the Lower Barrakka Gardens. This is less popular than the free option to watch from above, so is not nearly as crowded.

Don’t miss St. Pauls Cathedral. Set on a side street, we visited on the Feast of St. Pauls (February 10), and were not expecting such an ornate space. After visiting, head to the nearby Sunday in Scotland cafe for delicious pastries.

For more traditional pastries and great coffee, we recommend Tal-Kafe. We tried their traditional Maltese bread pudding and enjoyed it. Make sure to pop your head in their shop attached, it smells amazing from all the fresh spices.

Valletta is large enough to serve as a good base for your stay in Malta. There are plenty of restaurants and sites to choose from, and many of the top things to do in Malta are in this city.

5. Diving, Snorkeling, and Water Sports

Malta is known for having some of the best scuba diving in Europe. It was very heavily bombed during WWII, which means there are a lot of wrecks in shallow water that divers can explore.

Off the coast of Gozo is the Blue Hole, one of the most popular dive spots in Malta.

Comino Island is home to some of the best dive spots, including the famous Blue Lagoon. Comino is a very small island between Malta and Gozo with only a handful of inhabitants.

Because the beaches tend to be rocky, with lots of caves, you’ll also find great snorkeling. Paradise Bay is one of the best spots on the main island and also has a sandy beach to enjoy. It’s on the northern tip of Malta, close to the ferry terminal for Gozo.

A great way to get out on the water is a kayak tour! This half-day tour includes 2.5 hours of being out on the water and a half-hour swim break. You’ll paddle from Gozo to Comino, and then swim in either the Blue Lagoon or Santa Marija Bay.

The minimum age for this tour is 8 years old. Double kayaks are used unless singles are specifically requested.

Book Now: Kayak Gozo and Camino

Kayaking was also one of our favorite activities in Dubrovnik. In some ways, the rocky shores and walled cities of Malta remind us of the Croatian coast.

6. Karnival Celebrations

Malta is a wonderful place to celebrate Karnival! Like Carnival in Rio de Janeiro or Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Malta has their own celebrations before the start of Lent.

Il-Karnival ta’ Malta includes parades, performances, and lots of dance competitions. Festivities take place across Malta, but the biggest celebrations are in Valletta. Many people come to Valletta just to celebrate Karnival on the streets here.

Float getting ready for the carnival parade in Valletta Malta

The festivities are very family-friendly, with parades happening both in the morning and the afternoon. Seats are set up in St. Georges Square with a viewing platform in the middle.

We bought seats for an afternoon celebration, but while we were waiting for the performance to start it started hailing on us! We were soaked, so headed back to Sliema to get dry and warm.

If you’d like a seat to watch some of the performances, you’ll need to book a ticket online ahead of time. Tickets start at 8€.

7. Knights of Malta and Medieval History

Present-day Malta owes a lot of its architecture and culture to the Knights of St. John who were gifted the island in 1530. In exchange for the island, they agreed to send the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V a Maltese Falcon each year.

The Knights built the city of Valletta, so this is where you’ll find their grandest buildings.

Don’t miss St. John’s Cathedral, which was built to honor the order and houses the bodies of the grand masters.

The Grand Masters Palace was the first building that the Knights of St. John built in the new city. It later also served as the Governor’s Palace under British Rule. It currently contains the Office of the President of Malta.

Hallway of the Grand Masters Palace in Valletta Malta with suits of armour on the sides, a marble floor and painted ceiling
Hallway of Grand Masters Palace

It was renovated and re-opened in November of 2023 after being closed for several years. Here you’ll find an impressive armor collection (alongside a history of warfare), and some ornate rooms including the Pages Room and the Throne Room.

Tickets can be bought online or onsite, adults are 12€, and children are 8€.

8. Traditional Maltese Food

Traditional Maltese cuisine revolves around pasta, bread, and rabbit! You’ll find lots of dishes using rabbit, from ravioli to stews, to fried rabbit liver.

Pastizzi are an easy-to-grab street food. These are shell-shaped fried pastries with ricotta or meat fillings. At .70€ each these make a cheap and fast snack when you are on the go. You’ll also find sausages wrapped in pastry, and fried rice balls filled with bolognese or chicken.

Ftira is a large round break with a hole in the center- a bit like a mix between a bagel and ciabatta. These are used for sandwiches with fillings including chicken, tuna, and even smoked salmon.

You’ll also see a traditional flatbread called ħobż that is like a flattened ftira. They are covered in toppings and served open-faced. Similar to focaccia, you’ll find tomatoes, potatoes, and meats used in the toppings. These are often large, and can easily be cut into four pieces.

Traditional pastries include Qagħaq tal-għasel which is a “honey ring” that is filled with treacle. We loved the almond pastries called Qassatelli tal-Lewz which look very simple. The center is dense almond that tastes a bit like marzipan.

Interested in learning more about traditional Maltese Food? Take a food tour!

This small group food tour has 10 people or less. You’ll walk around Valletta learning about culture and food, sampling food and drink as you go, with a full lunch at the end of the tour.

Book Now: Small Group Malta Food and Drink Tour

We love food tours as a way to learn about new cultures. We’ve taken food tours in Lisbon, Siem Reap, and more.

Our Favorite Places to Eat in Malta

Malta is full of tourist restaurants that are overpriced for what you get. If you see a seaside view, assume you are paying for it! Here are the places to eat in Malta that we enjoyed that were reasonably priced, and that we would go back to again.

In Valletta, head to Nenu the Artisan Baker for a delicious traditional meal. They are not quick, some dishes take longer to make, but you can sit back and relax in their traditional arched basement while you wait. The portions are quite large, so order sparingly! We shared a small starter potion of rabbit ravioli, a flatbread, and a pasta among the four of us.

Lunch from Nenu the Baker in Valletta Malta, serving traditional Maltese Cuisine, including a flat ftira with potatoes and a pasta with red sauce.

When you need a break from traditional Maltese Food, you’ll find many different options around Malta. In Valletta, head to the Is-Suq Food Market for everything from sushi to Vietnamese foods. In Silema, we enjoyed burgers with Japanese flavors from Ichiban.

In Sliema stop for coffee, bolognese balls, flatbread sandwiches, and sweet treats at Dolce Sicilia Sliema. We especially liked their lemon torte.

For an easy lunch, get sandwiches from La Baguette Bros and eat them along the seaside promenade. One sandwich easily feeds two adults, we especially like the curry chicken option.

Inside the gates of Mdina, the pizzas at Coogis Pizzeria are large and tasty. We had coffee and cake at the famous Fontanella Tea Garden but felt the high point was more the views than the cake itself. Outside the walled city, try the filling and inexpensive ftira sandwiches at Chez Eman.

In Victoria, Gozo, we highly recommend avoiding the touristy restaurants in St. George’s Square and eating at Mojo’s instead. They have a great selection of salads and sandwiches, and our whole family had more than we could eat for 25€.

In Paola, before your tour of the Hypogeum, stop for lunch at Traffic Lights Cafe. They have outdoor seating in a delightful plaza and lots of delicious options from omelettes to lasagna.

9. Beautiful Cathedrals

Malta is full of beautiful cathedrals! There are many cathedrals you just pop into, and will often be surprised by how lovely they are. Here are some of the most well-known, “not-to-miss” cathedrals in Malta.

St. Johns Co-Cathedral, Valletta

The most famous cathedral in Malta, St. Johns Co-Cathedral in Valletta which was built in honor of John the Baptist to be the main church of the Knights of Malta.

An audio guide comes with your ticket and will walk you through this large and intricate cathedral. The floors are covered with marble inlay tombs that hold the remains of the Knights of Malta and Grand Masters.

Main alter of St Johns Co-cathedral in Valletta Malta

There are nine “langues”, or chapels, each dedicated to a region where the Order of St. John comes from. You’ll also find two Carravaggio paintings in the church. The most spectacular is The Beheading of St. John the Baptiste, is Carravaggio’s largest piece, and the only piece that he signed.

In the off-season, you can walk right up to the ticket booth for this cathedral, but in the busy season, there may be a long line. Tickets can be bought online for a specific day, there are no assigned times. Tickets are 15€ for adults, and children under 12 are free.

St. Georges Basilica, Victoria

St. Georges in Victoria, Gozo, is called “Gozo’s Golden Basilica”. There is no charge to enter. You’ll find an ornate interior with dramatic lighting and an ornate twisted baldachin above the altar. Every inch of this basilica is covered in paintings or gold trim.

St. Georges is located in St. George’s Square, the tourist center of Victoria. The narrow square is surrounded by cafes with outdoor seating, and some lovely upscale gift shops.

Cathedral of Assumption, Gozo

The main cathedral in the Cittadella, the fortified city of Gozo. Located within walking distance from St. George’s Square, the Cathedral of Assumption is famous for its faux-painted dome. This trompe l’oeil painting creates the image of a dome where none exists.

Faux painted perspective dome in Cathedral of the Assumption in the citadella on gozo island, Malta

Be aware, the entrance to the cathedral is to the side of the main stairs. Google Maps had the cathedral marked as “closed” after noon, so we almost missed it! Your tickets are for the cathedral and the attached cathedral museum. Adults 5€, children free.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Malta, Mdina

St. Pauls Cathedral is the main cathedral of the “silent city” of Mdina, and the original capital of Malta. This cathedral is the main church of the Maltese Archdiocese, shared with St. Johns in Valletta. The cathedral is situated on the spot where the Roman governor supposedly met St. Paul after his shipwreck on Malta.

Inside the church, you’ll find inlaid marble tombstones and ornate paintings. The ceiling is covered in frescoes showing the life of St. Paul.

With your ticket to the Cathedral, you’ll also get entrance to the Mdina Cathedral Museum. Buy the shared tickets (individual tickets are not available) from the Cathedral Museum lobby.

Inside the Cathedral Museum, you’ll find giant silver ewers, inlaid wooden tables, and many religious paintings. The upper floor looks almost like a palace with richly decorated wall coverings and doorways. The final exhibit is an exquisite display of Albrecht Dürer drawings that were bequeathed to the museum by a Maltese Count.

Tickets can be purchased on-site, adults 10€, children 12 and under free.

10. The Silent City of Mdina

The “silent city” of Mdina is a wonderful day trip from Valletta. Mdina was the original capital city of Malta, which became a bit of a ghost town after the new capital of Valletta was built. Hence the nickname. Today it has about 300 residents, and only residents are allowed to drive cars within the walled city. There are also plaques on the walls urging tourists to be quiet.

Walkway and main gate to the walled city of Mdina on a blue sky day

Mdina is a small city with a spectacular location on the top of a hill so you’ll see it looming above you as you approach. You enter by crossing a bridge and passing through a main gate, then you can wander around without getting lost. There is basically one main road running through the city, a road looping around the walls, and several cross streets cutting between the two.

Travel Tip: There is an excellent, large playground just next to the main gate, just before you enter Mdina. This is a great place to let the kids blow off some steam before being quiet and focused inside the city.

The main attraction is the Cathedral of Mdina and its museum, the picturesque alleyways, and the views from the back of the city over the walls. Take some time to stroll around and admire the architecture and browse a few shops. Many people head to the Fontanella Tea Garden for views over the field below with their tea and cake.

Don’t miss the Carmelite Priory Mdina, the ceiling alone is worth a visit.

The city is quiet but touristy- we were surprised how many cars are parked in and moving around the city. There are a few horse and carriages clomping through giving tourists rides as well.

Walking Tour of Mdina

If you don’t feel like wandering through Mdina, consider a walking tour! You’ll learn a lot more about this ancient capital with a local tour guide rather than meandering on your own.

This two-hour walking tour covers this small walled city of Mdina as well as its neighbor Rabat. Includes some tidbits about Game of Thrones as well!

Book Now: 2 Hour Mdina Walking Tour

St. Pauls Catacombs

After you’ve had your fill of the inner city, head outside the walls to the Catacombs of St. Paul. These catacombs are rumored to connect to the grotto of St. Paul, where he hid and preached when he first arrived in Malta. There are actually many catacombs on this site, you’ll be able to walk down into many of them, though only a few still contain bones.

Technically in Rabat, the catacombs are about a ten-minute walk from the gate of Mdina. You will buy your ticket and start your visit at the main entrance, then you’ll cross the street and continue your visit to additional catacombs, with a small gift shop at the finish.

The von Bergs inside the catacombs of St Pauls in Rabat Malta

We didn’t know quite what to expect from these catacombs, but all of us enjoyed them. The kids loved climbing through some very tight spaces to see the tombs. This is little artwork that remains in the tombs, some signage indicated art above doorways that we struggled to see the few remaining signs of and definitely would have missed without the signage.

Each set of catacombs is marked with whether they are pagan, Christian, or Jewish, and notes any special characteristics of that particular tomb, as well as how many people should enter at one time.

Tickets for adults are 6€, Kids 3.50€, Children under 6 free. No need for advance tickets.

Love catacombs? Check out the catacombs in Rome!

11. Gozo Island

Gozo Island is the most Northern Island of the three in Malta. This island is less developed than Malta Island, and a great place to enjoy a few slower days.

The capital of Gozo is Victoria, also sometimes called Rabat. Here you’ll find lovely parks, the tourist center of St. Georges Square (with its lovely Cathedral), and the Citadella, or the old fortified city of Gozo.

Approaching the high yellow walls of the citadel in Gozo Malta

The Citadel is worth a visit- you can walk the walls with great views over the fields and road of Gozo. You can visit the Cathedral of the Assumption, the Gran Castelo Historic House, and a few shops as well.

Also on Gozo a the megalithic Ggantija Temples, some salt flats, and a lot of boutique hotels and resorts. Ramla Bay is the best sandy beach on Gozo if you are looking for quiet beach time.

You can visit Gozo on a day trip from Valletta, but with public transportation, it will take you close to two hours to get there. Uber and Bolt both work on Gozo and are an easy way to move between a few sites.

The best way to easily move around the island is with a rental car. There is a road that circles the island and will allow you to visit more remote beaches, and move at your own pace.

Tuk Tuk Tour of Gozo

To see a lot of the island in a short time, take a full day tuk tuk tour of Gozo! This tour picks you up from Malta, take you by boat to Gozo, and includes Sannap Cliffs, Calypso Cave, and Ramla Valley, the salt pans, the citadel and more. You’ll have a light lunch included, and if weather allows, take a dip in the Mediterranean!

Book Now: Tuk Tuk Tour of Gozo

Tuk tuks are a wonderful way to explore an area, the open air lets you really experience where you are. We loved traveling by tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka and exploring Lisbon by tuk tuk.

12. WWII and the Lascaris War Rooms

During WWII, Malta was an important British Naval Base. It was heavily embargoed and continually bombed for an almost three-year period. You can now visit the Lascaris War Rooms, the underground bunker rooms where the war command worked during the war, and later during the Cold War.

You’ll have an audio guide that helps you understand the system of tracking incoming bombs, and the Allied response. You’ll learn about Operation Pedestal, the mission to resupply Malta which was running out of basic supplies. You’ll also learn about Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily which was run from these rooms under the command of General Eisenhower.

Interior of Lascaris War Rooms underneath Valletta Malta where Allied forces worked during WWII, Board showing squadron locations and a large table map are shown.

We all enjoyed our visit to the Lascaris War Rooms- are kids are always focused when they have their own audio guides, and the tour was short enough that it held their attention. There are also a few videos of the various operations that helped bring it alive for them.

Buy tickets on-site, adults 14€, family ticket 28€ (2 adults and 3 children). Guided tours are available twice a day at 10:30 and 13:00. Adults 17€, Children 7€.

If you are a WWII History aficionado, there are more extensive guided tours that take you into additional spaces within the War Rooms.

13. Horseback Riding

Malta is a fantastic place to go horseback riding! We did a 90-minute sunset ride with Golden Bay Horse Riding and had a great experience. The girls were each on their own horse, but on a lead attached to our guide as they don’t have much experience.

Group on horseback riding on a flat, red dirt area, with ocean and cliffs behind them.

We rode out along the fields to the cliff edge where we had great views of Gozo Island and Golden Bay Beach. We were there in February, so the fields were green with lots of small flowers blooming. This area is quite flat and gets very windy, so definitely bring a jacket to keep you warm, as your horse is doing most of the work.

We also had friends who chose to go horseback riding on Gozo and had a great experience as well.

When is the Best Time to Visit Malta?

The best time to visit Malta is in April, May, June, or September. You’ll find fewer crowds, warm temperatures, and be able to lounge on the beaches, but the weather will also be great for hiking and exploring.

The summer months of July and August bring the highest crowds and scorching temperatures. August often includes days with highs of 90F / 32 C or more. There are many festivals in July including Malta Music Week and the Malta Jazz Festival.

In October, rain is more likely, and winds can get quite strong which may interfere with water activities.

We visited Malta in February and found sunny skies, but chilly winds. The fields were all green with lots of blooming small yellow flowers. It’s a lovely time to explore the history and sites of the island, but not a good time for beaches or water sports.

Sandy strip of beach at St. Georges Bay with turquoise water in Malta

How Many Days Should I Spend in Malta?

3-4 days is enough time to see the main sites around Malta and perhaps relax for a day on the beach. If you would like to scuba dive or dig deeper into the history that is all over the island, you may prefer a week.

We spent three weeks in Malta and just barely got to all the sites that we were interested in. Because we travel full-time, we mix in work and school time with sightseeing, so we move at a much slower pace than vacation travelers.

Is Malta Good for Families?

Yes, Malta is great for families! You have great beaches, snorkeling, and so much history! Whether you are relaxing at an open-air cafe in Valletta or viewing megalithic temples, there’s always something interesting to do.

Girls enjoying a windy ferry ride to Valletta from Silema, Malta

Our kids loved the Esplora Science Museum. We spent several hours there, and our girls wanted to go back! There are lots of interactive exhibits, even the adults had fun. Highlights include a small stop-motion animation studio, a flight simulator, and a room of illusions. They also have a world-class planetarium, but we didn’t have the time to check it out! Tickets are 8€ for adults, 6€ for kids, or a family pass for 2 adults/2 kids for 22€.

Our kids also enjoyed the Malta 5-D presentation. It’s a short movie with “extra-dimensional” effects including 3-D glasses. So for example, when a cannon comes flying at you, you see it, hear it, and your seat moves! It gives you a brief history of Malta which was a great way to put the country into perspective.

It’s a little cheesy, with a flying Maltese Falcon, but the graphics are fun and it lays out the history of Malta nicely. We recommend seeing it partway through your time in Malta so you’ll recognize some of the main sites that are featured, like the Grand Master’s Palace, and also see glimpses of places you are still planning to visit!

Is Malta Expensive?

Malta is expensive compared to similar cities in Italy, but less expensive than Northern European capitals.

Major heritage sites range from the expensive Hypgeum at 35€ per adult, to the inexpensive Grand Master’s Palace, at 6€ for adults.

Street in Valletta with lights strung up and people eating at cafe tables on the sidewalks

When we arrived, we found that Malta was a bit more expensive than we were expecting. Along the harbor in Silema, entrees start at 15€ per plate and quickly go higher. Beers are 3-4€ per pint. Glasses of wine start at 4.5€.

However, we quickly realized that portions in Malta are huge. We often order three plates for the four of us and have food left over. A ftira sandwich serves two. A “small” portion of pasta is enough for two of us.

Bus tickets are 2.50€ per person, children included. We found that for shorter distances, an Uber or Bolt was faster and more cost-effective than paying 10€ for the four of us to ride the bus.

Where to Stay in Malta

There are several places you can base yourself when in Malta. We’ll cover the most popular four options below. Make sure to book as far in advance as you can, options in the town centers are limited and book up fast.


The old town of Valletta is a walled capital city. It is the center of the action, and also the most touristy. If you only have a few days in Malta, base yourself here. Valletta is an old city, so the rooms are smaller and older.

Hotel rooms in Valletta are rarely under 200€ per night. Because its an old, walled city, space is at a premium.

The Barrister Hotel has a great location, beautiful large windows, air conditioning, and offers breakfast on site. This hotel gets rave reviews, especially for the staff. Some rooms also come with a balcony or terrace.

Book Now: The Barrister Hotel


Sliema is across the harbor from Valletta, and much less charming. The seaside promenade is covered in touristy restaurants, and then as you move away from the water you’re more in residential areas.

This is where we stayed, and took the ferry into Valletta when we wanted to go to a site or museum. There are large grocery stores and plenty of cafes here. This is a great place to base yourself for longer stays, or if you are looking for less expensive accommodation that you can find in Valletta.

Choose accommodation that is an easy walk to the harbor and the ferry terminal.

This seafront apartment is a great choice for families. You have two bedrooms, a full kitchen, a living room, and a balcony, all within an easy walk to the Sliema harbor and ferry.

Book Now: Sliema Seafront Apartment

St Julians

St. Julians on on the coast north of Silema, and is where the larger resort hotels and nightlife are. If you are looking for larger, more modern rooms or plan to spend more of your time diving and snorkeling than on historic sites, this may be a better fit for you.

The Londoner Hotel St. Julians is a great choice for couples or families. They have a lot of different room configurations, and every room includes a sitting area. The hotel is new and clean, with breakfast often included.

Book Now: Londoner Hotel St. Julians


Gozo is the northernmost island and a 30-minute ferry from the North tip of Malta island. It is the least built-up area and a great place to base yourself for boutique hotels, and a quiet, relaxed vacation. If you are staying on Gozo, plan to rent a car to make moving around the island easy.

The Ta’ Didi B&B offers a relaxed traditional-style house with a pool, garden, and a balcony off each room. You’ll have a breakfast each morning with traditional dishes and pastries. You’ll find friendly host and a relaxing atmosphere, only about a five minute drive from the walkable city of Victoria.

Book Now: Ta’ Didi B&B

How to Get from the Airport to Valletta

There is one airport in Malta- the Malta International Airport, also called Luqa Airport (MLA). The airport is about a 15-20 minute drive from Valletta.

From the airport, you can take an Uber (12-15€), a bus (1 Hour, 2.50€ per person), or schedule a pick-up (about 30€).

When we arrive very early or very late at a destination we use Welcome Pickups. They will meet you at arrivals and take you straight to your hotel.

Book Now: Welcome Pickups Airport Transfer

Getting Around Malta

While Malta is a small country, the three islands are still quite a bit of land to move around, and some of the most interesting places are spread out. Here are the main ways to move around Malta.

Taking the Ferry

A ferry runs every 30 minutes between Sliema and Valletta. It only takes about 10 minutes to cross, and it’s a beautiful ride across.

From Valletta, head down toward the water, when the main highway starts to curve down, keep walking straight toward the wall, and then down under the road to find the ferry.

Ferry approaching the city of Valletta Malta on a sunny sky. You can see the front on the boat and the skyline of Valletta in front with its characteristic dome.
Sliema Ferry Approaching Valletta

From Silema, you will find the main ferry port on the seaside promenade with easy signage. Line up and buy your tickets are you enter the boat.

Ferry tickets for adults are 2€, children 1€, or a return ticket for adults is 3.80€, and 1.50€ for children. Cash only.

There is also a ferry that runs from the tip of Malta to Gozo. From the port of Cirkewwa on Malta to Mgarr on Gozo. Ferries leave every 15-30 minutes, the trip takes about 30 minutes. This is a car ferry if you wish to drive around Gozo. Return tickets for walk-ons (no car) for an adult are 4.65€, children 1.15€.

Taking the Bus

A single ride on the bus is 2.50€ during the day, and 3€ at night. The same fare applies to adults and children. The fare is good for any transfers for up to two hours.

You can also buy a Tallinja Explore Card, which gives you unlimited travel on public transport for 7 days, and costs 25€ for adults, and 15€ for children. Children 4 and under travel free.

We found that for longer journeys, the bus made sense, but for short rides, the cost of four of us taking the bus (10€) was the same or close to the cost of an Uber car.

Bolt and Uber

Bolt and Uber are both available on Malta, including on Gozo Island. We used both, and often compare prices, as they tend to differ a bit. We never had to wait more than about 5 minutes for a car.

Renting a Car

You won’t need a car in Valletta or Sliema, but you may want a car to explore more of the less built-up areas of the island. You can rent a car for an affordable price from Malta airport, or from downtown Gozo.

We didn’t rent a car in Malta but particularly felt like we would have liked the freedom to explore Gozo more than we could with a lot of short Uber rides.

We recommend renting your car from Discover Cars. They give you easy-to-read, affordable options. Always double-check ratings and competitors to get the best deal.

Book Now: Discover Cars Rental

FAQ: Visiting Malta

Can I Visit the Azure Window on Malta?

The azure window is a natural arch that was 92 feet high on the island of Gozo. It collapsed in 2017, so while you can still visit the site of the arch, there isn’t much left to see.

Is Malta Safe?

Yes, Malta is very safe! The country depends heavily on tourism, so most beaches have security. We walked all over Malta, and took public transportation and never felt unsafe. The pedestrian streets of Valletta can get quite crowded, so be aware of your things, and don’t tempt pickpockets.

There You Have It: Is Malta Worth Visiting

Here are all the reasons think Malta is worth visiting. We enjoyed the mix of history and nature, as well as the Baroque architecture and unique culture. The Mediterranean climate means Malta is enjoyable all year. Since we visited in winter, we didn’t get to take advantage of many of the beaches and water sports Malta is known for, but we hope to return!

Similar Posts