Planning a 4- or 5-day trip to visit and explore Malta and wondering what to do?
There’s a lot to choose from in terms of tourist attractions on a trip to Malta, but what’s really worth your time and what’s best to skip?
In this guide, I provide you with a 4-day Malta itinerary as well as a few options to extend your travel plan to a 5-day itinerary.
To spend 4 or 5 days in Malta, you’ll need an itinerary that balances out some of the best local culture and history while exploring this small island nation at the centre of the Mediterranean Sea.
My recommended itinerary for 4 days is as follows (with coloured markers on the map below to show you the locations):
Most people I’ve helped over the years confirmed that they found this to be the perfect first introduction (and many decided to return to Malta on another trip).
Let’s get into the itinerary itself.
Hi! My name is Edward, and I’m the author and editor here at Malta Uncovered. Having Maltese roots, I’ve experienced Malta both as a tourist and a local and know the islands inside out. I’ve written and published two guidebooks and live in Malta.
I’ve helped thousands of travellers experience a trip to remember in Malta, and I’d like to do the same for you.
Based on the feedback of hundreds of readers (of my site and my Malta guidebooks) over the years, I’ve carefully crafted a few itineraries:
This guide will focus on helping you figure out how to plan 4 to 5 days in Malta: Where to go, what to do and see, etc. Towards the end, I’ve included a separate section (Planning your trip: Additional tips and advice) with more travel advice, whether you’re looking for a luxury hotel with a swimming pool or a cheap place to stay, looking for a car rental, or want to know how the public bus system works.
So when you’re done going through the itinerary, there’s a lot more I can help you with!
You’ll find a few links to recommended tours and services within this Malta itinerary. I will earn a small commission if you book via these links, but:
If that’s all fine with you, I greatly appreciate your support!
The city of Valletta is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in its entirety. Paying it a visit is more or less like visiting an open-air museum, with testaments of its rich history visible around every corner.
Many ages-old buildings in Baroque style still stand tall some 450 years after they were erected, often repurposed to house government departments or owned by private enterprises like hotels and restaurants.
Although you’ll spend half a day here with this itinerary, there’s enough to see and do for three days easily.
With just 4 days in Malta (or even 5), I’d recommend spending a full day in Valletta.
While many itineraries for this trip length suggest splitting the day with a visit to The Three Cities, I’ve found that most travellers prefer not taking that route.
The truth is, there’s a lot to see and do in Valletta that most people will find very much worthwhile. (So much so, I wrote a guidebook on Valletta for that reason, including a detailed 1-day walking route.)
Trying to squeeze everything worth seeing on a first visit into a jam-packed half-day is too much and a waste of time. You’ll be exhausted and regret not having spent enough time in the capital.
Here’s how I would recommend spending that time to get the most out of your visit at an easygoing pace on your Malta trip.
Reducing all the options for places of interest to visit is a real challenge, but if I had to choose, I would recommend focusing on these highlights:
If you plan on visiting multiple museums on your trip, consider getting a Heritage Pass from iSeeMalta. You can save on multiple entrance fees with this combo pass.
Prefer taking a guided tour? These are a few great options to consider:
Interested in a short boat tour around Valletta’s Grand Harbour? You can get tickets for that here.
Gozo is Malta’s second-largest island and much more peaceful than Malta Island. Life still moves slower here; there’s a lot more nature to take in, and there’s enough to see and do to be a holiday destination in its own right.
It’s a must-visit on a trip to Malta, and even though visiting another island sounds like a major time drain, it’s actually very easy to do.
The small island of Comino is mostly uninhabited and has no paved roads and few real landmarks. Yet, it’s one of the most popular destinations almost all year round.
It’s home to the world-famous Blue Lagoon Bay with its jaw-dropping natural beauty: Crystal clear, azure waters and shallow water to swim in.
While people who spend a full week in Malta usually spend a full day in each of these islands, you can easily combine the two without feeling rushed.
I know, another tour recommendation – but hear me out!
I could suggest to you taking a bus to Cirkewwa in Malta (all the way up North), catching a ferry to Comino, then catching another ferry to Gozo and taking a hop-on/hop-off bus. But that really complicates life with the hassle you don’t need on a well-deserved break, timings you need to figure out, and basic audio guides following tarmacked roads in Gozo.
Instead, take a tour on which you get:
You can get these tours in two flavours from the same provider:
These tours are a lot of fun (tried and tested!), reasonably priced, are run by friendly and helpful staff and get great reviews consistently.
If you don’t want to go full “DIY” but want a bit more time at the Blue Lagoon and don’t mind only getting a single stop in Gozo, you can opt for this Gozo and Blue Lagoon combo tour. It’s a more economical option, but you get a lot less for what you pay as well.
You’ll be able to:
Typically, on a first visit to Gozo, these are the main sites to see to get a taste of what the island has to offer:
If you’re interested in visiting most of the above highlights of Gozo, I highly recommend the following (tried-and-tested!) tours, operated by the same provider that gets glowing reviews.
These tours are all-inclusive, with transport to/from your place of stay as well as lunch included.
Mdina and Rabat are two neighbouring towns on higher ground that are rich in history.
Mdina, once Malta’s capital, sits atop a hill towards the West of the main island and was founded in the Middle Ages. Surrounded by tall bastions, this fortified town tells many stories of days gone by and is also called the Silent City.
Visiting Mdina and seeing its tall city walls feels a little like taking a time machine back in time. Well-preserved, old buildings with distinct Norman and Baroque styles, small chapels, narrow winding roads and alleyways. There’s a lot of charm in Mdina.
Rabat sits on the doorstep of Mdina and is one of the nicer towns in Malta to take a stroll through. You can get a feel for local village life, sample some traditional street food and visit a few interesting museums.
You can explore both towns on foot quite easily, without needing transport. I would recommend taking one of the guided tour options to get a better understanding of the area and its cultural and historical significance to Malta.
Here are some key attractions in Mdina worth visiting:
Did you know? The main gate of Mdina featured prominently in the inaugural season of the TV series Game of Thrones!
In Rabat, there are a few museums I would consider visiting, specifically:
These are some suggested attractions worth exploring in the wider area.
They are only worth exploring if you’re renting a car. Otherwise, they’ll likely take up too much time to get there to make it worthwhile.
The village of Mellieħa is located in the North of Malta and is a popular tourist destination, especially for travellers looking to stay close to the sandy beaches in the area.
Despite the tourist draw, the village never feels too busy, and you’ll find plenty of local life there, with a more laid-back vibe than other parts of Malta. It doesn’t have the feel of a tourist resort, but at the same time, you also won’t find many places of interest in the village itself.
If you don’t decide to stay there, I’d definitely recommend paying a visit. Exploring the surrounding nature is also highly recommended.
In the village of Mellieħa, these are the highlights to visit:
Apart from the village itself, I would suggest exploring a few points of interest in the near vicinity:
Two other nearby points of interest are 1) St. Agatha’s Tower (aka the Red Tower due to its ochre-coloured paint) and 2) Selmun Palace. St. Agatha’s Tower is often open to the public (normally Mon-Sat from 10 am – 5 pm – A raised flag on the roof means it’s open). While the latter is currently closed to the public, the nearby area is great for hiking.
If you have a fifth day to add to your itinerary, there are two routes you can take:
I recommend either of these options, though I prefer offering you the choice:
Here’s what both of these options look like.
While Valletta, within its tall bastion walls, is often the focal point of this part of Malta, there’s a lot more to discover and take in the near vicinity. If you’re the type of traveller who prefers exploring on foot and just winging it, this is the option to go for. I’ll give you a walking route as a suggestion; just keep in mind there’s quite a bit of walking involved if you want to follow it by the book.
The town of Floriana is located right outside Valletta and covers the rest of the peninsula that the capital city was built upon.
Historically designed to help defend Valletta from attacks on land, its Floriana Lines fortifications are still visible nowadays and add to the intrigue of the place. Similar to its more famous neighbour, Floriana’s main roads were formed in a grid-like pattern and are easy to navigate on foot.
Here’s what I recommend visiting and seeing:
To take the ferry to The Three Cities, you can head North on foot, following the harbourside, to hop on the ferry at Lascaris (Google Maps location). Tickets can be purchased at the port, and a return ticket costs €2.80 for adults. It’s just a 10-minute ride, and ferries depart every half-hour. More info and schedule here.
After you cross Grand Harbour, you’ll arrive at Bormla (Google Maps location), the central town of The Three Cities.
In my opinion, while Bormla also has something to offer, the most interesting towns of The Three Cities are Senglea and Birgu.
Although you can find a few interesting museums in the area, with a half day to spend, this recommendation is intended more for you to get a feel for local village life. That’s not to say that life in The Three Cities is representative of the rest of the country, but there’s a really nice vibe about the place: History, locals, reasonably priced food and beautiful scenes to take in.
Here’s what I suggest doing and seeing in The Three Cities:
While the South of Malta doesn’t often feature on itineraries for Malta, there are a few specific places that are worth visiting. The caveat is that there’s some distance (however small on an island the size of Malta) to cover, which is easiest to do with a rental car, a hop-on/hop-off bus or an organised tour (- recommendations below).
You can reach all of the below spots by bus, but it’ll take up much of your time and make it difficult to fit all visits into a single day.
Along the southern coastline, on the limits of Żurrieq, paying a visit to the Blue Grotto is a short but memorable experience. This naturally formed sea cave lights up with bright blue hues thanks to the bright sunrays that reflect off the light-coloured, sandy sea floor.
It’s a spectacle to behold, particularly in the morning when the sunlight is optimal.
The seaside village of Marsaxlokk is known as the last real example of a traditional fishing village in Malta. Fresh catch is brought in daily, sold on the market and served in the local seafood restaurants that line the bay. The fisherman boats (called the luzzu) show off their bright colours while moored in the small harbour, while the Sunday market is a popular attraction for bargain hunters.
The sum of all of that is one of a few iconic scenes that Malta is known for traditionally,
There are various Megalithic Temples that can be found across the Maltese islands, altogether listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. They’re pieces of a huge puzzle of early civilisation here, some dating back to 3600-3200 B.C. Older than Stonehenge and older than the Pyramids of Giza, these structures are truly interesting for those with an interest in history and archaeology.
In the South of Malta, you can find three of the better temples to visit:
If you’d like to get hop-on/hop-off tickets to take the South Route past the above-mentioned places of interest, you can get those here.
If you’d like to choose convenience and take a tour of this part of Malta, these are my recommendations:
4 Days is enough to see Malta on a first visit, though if you’re keen to sightsee, I would recommend considering 5 days in Malta, or even a full week, not to end your holiday exhausted.
Yes, you can see Malta without a car, but you’ll likely waste a lot of time on buses.
The benefit of visiting Malta is that there’s a lot to see and do in a fairly small country, but public transport isn’t very efficient, unfortunately. You can find taxis around, but that’ll be an expensive way of getting around. Hop-on/hop-off buses can be found, but don’t expect quality audio guides. More on this topic here: Public transport and getting around in Malta.
Leave a comment at the end of this page or contact me, and I’ll help you as best I can!
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