Best things to see and do in Malta in 5 days. Discover the country’s most famous landmarks and tourist hotspots in our Malta 5-day itinerary!
This Malta 5-day itinerary is a part of our broader travel guide for the country. We recommend you check it out for the best travel tips and the most accurate information on transportation, hotels, restaurants and best beaches in Malta.
If you find yourself in Malta with just 5 days to spare, get ready for an incredible journey packed with exhilarating places! While there’s so much more to explore in this captivating little nation, you’ll at least have the chance to discover the most extraordinary and beloved spots on the island. From its breathtaking coastal areas to ancient cities and millennia-old temples, you’ll delve into the captivating history and mesmerizing beauty of Malta.
So, without further ado, let us introduce you to the cities, beaches and attractions that you should visit on our Malta 5-day itinerary:
Fresh off the plane for your Maltese adventure, we’ll kick things off at the insanely beautiful city of La Valletta, the country’s capital. Although it may resemble more of a bustling village (in Malta, everything seems to be pocket-sized) than a nation’s biggest city, there is so much to discover and experience here, as Valletta stands as the historical and cultural heart of an island steeped in ancient history. As you step into Valletta through the City Gate, a symbolic entrance where the original gate once stood, prepare to be amazed by the breathtaking Barrakka Gardens, home to best panoramic view of the capital, overlooking the Grand Harbour and the so-called “Three Cities”. While enjoying the gardens, we highly recommend a visit to the Lascaris War Rooms (14,00€), an underground complex that served as HQ for the island’s defense during World War II. If you’re still around by noon, make sure to watch the Saluting Battery (everyday at 12h00 and 16h00).
Next, prepare to be awe-struck as you visit the city’s most renowned landmark: the magnificent St. John’s Co-Cathedral (15,00€). An architectural marvel adorned with stunningly ornate interiors, it’s no wonder this cathedral is considered one of the world’s most beautiful churches. Just a few steps away, you’ll discover the Grandmaster’s Palace (10,00€ with access to the armoury), the former official residence of the legendary Knights of Malta, before making a detour to the Manoel Theatre (5,00€ for a guided tour), one of the oldest and most opulent theaters in Europe. As you continue your journey along Straight Street, Valletta’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, make sure to stop by Casa Rocca Piccola (9,50€), a former aristocratic manor house whose owners had strong connections to the British Crown. However, the best is saved for last, as you’ll get the opportunity to delve into the underground bunker where the family sought refuge during the intense air raids that plagued Malta during World War II. To bring your very first day in Malta to an end, head to the majestic Fort Saint Elmo, situated at the city’s northernmost tip, before making your way to Marsamxett Kiosk, the small terminal where the ferries connecting Valletta and Sliema depart from. The journey will only take about 10 minutes (2,80€ round trip), but you’ll be rewarded with a scenic view, especially during the magical sunset hours when the capital’s silhouette shines in golden hues.
As the sun rises over Valletta, it’s time for yet another ferry ride! However, this time you’ll hop aboard the ferry at Quarry Wharf and sail across the Grand Harbour to the charming marina of Cospicua. Once you’ve arrived on the other side, prepare to immerse yourself in the rich history of the “Three Cities” – Cospicua, Birgu, and Senglea. Even though these stand today as little more than three small quarters, occupying two peninsulas opposite of La Valletta, the Three Cities are actually incredibly relevant from an historical point of view. As a bonus, and unlike Valletta, here you can stroll through the narrow streets, marvel at the well-preserved walls and bastions and soak up the ambiance without barely any tourists in sight! While wandering around, be sure to visit the iconic Fort St. Angelo, step into the Inquisitor’s Palace (6,00€), take a moment to admire the exquisite Immaculate Conception Church and don’t miss the chance to unwind in the tranquil Gardjola Gardens, where panoramic views of the harbor await.
From here on, it’s time to venture further south and discover another side of Malta’s captivating past. Even before the Knights Hospitaller arrived and the French and British occupations took place, Malta already had a rich and ancient history. This becomes apparent as you explore the island and come across its many remarkable megalithic sites. Among the very best examples of this vast heritage are the Tarxien Temples (6,00€), a sprawling complex dating back over 5.000 years. However, the real showstopper lies just a short distance away – the mesmerizing Hal Saflieni Hypogeum (35,00€). One of only 3 places on the island to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a hauntingly beautiful underground necropolis carved directly into the bedrock. Believed to be at least 6.000 years old, this place is so important (and sensitive) that only 10 visitors are allowed in every hour. For that reason, it is absolutely mandatory to book your spot in advance!
While it is true that Malta is a great destination for history and culture enthusiasts, we certainly don’t want to shy away from the country’s absolutely stunning beaches. As such, today we have a day filled with activities that cater to all tastes, even those who simply want to relax and unwind. Our first stop is the Blue Grotto, the island’s most popular underwater cave. Catch a boat from the charming coastal village of Wied Iz-Zurrieq and witness the magical sight of the water glistening in brilliant shades of blue under the sunlight. Boat tours cost 8,00€ per person.
Back at the top of the cliffs, we’ll head to the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park (10,00€), another complex of ancient ruins dating back thousands of years. These sites, along with the previously mentioned Tarxien Temples, are collectively known as the Megalithic Temples of Malta and are recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As we continue along the coast towards the west, we’ll reach the awe-inspiring Dingli Cliffs, a series of intimidating-yet-impressive cliffs that lead to a 250-meter vertical drop. Take a leisurely stroll along the cliffside walking trail and marvel at the breathtaking views. Finally, and after so many strong emotions, you’ll finally get your well-deserved rest with a visit to the Golden Bay, one of Malta’s most popular beach destinations. Despite its popularity, the fact that it’s surrounded by cliffs and at some distance from the nearest road makes it appear much more secluded and hidden than it actually is. Just a short distance away, you’ll also find Gnejna Bay, another hidden gem on Malta’s western coast. The scenery around this beach is slightly wilder and untouched, requiring to climb down a long staircase in order to gain access to the sandy beach.
Mdina, famously featured in the iconic series “Game of Thrones,” takes center stage on another day of our Malta 5-day itinerary. Known as the “Silent City,” this enchanting medieval village and its intricate maze of cobblestoned streets, lovely squares and city walls are one of the prettiest and most picturesque places in Malta. As you step through the Mdina Gate, you’ll be transported back in time to an era untouched by cars, as traffic within the fortified walls is strictly limited. Once inside the old city, take some time to visit the Vilhena Palace, the St. Paul’s Cathedral, or the Palazzo Falson, before bidding farewell with a breathtaking view of the surrounding valley from Bastion Square.
Adjacent to Mdina, within walking distance, lies the neighboring town of Rabat. Although technically distinct, these two towns seamlessly blend into one another. Begin your tour of Rabat at the Domus Romana (6,00€), a museum built over the ruins of an ancient Roman house. The highlight of the museum are the remarkably preserved mosaic floors, considered among the finest in the entire Mediterranean basin. However, no other place in Rabat is as famous as the extraordinary Basilica of St. Paul. Beyond its impressive façade, you’ll have to go underground to see the legendary St. Paul’s Grotto (5,00€), a place of great significance where the apostle Paul is said to have sought refuge for 3 months after surviving a shipwreck on the Maltese coast. For you last stop of the day, hop back on the bus and make your way to the Rotunda of Mosta (2,00€). You may have already seen it from afar when visiting Bastion Square in Mdina, but nothing beats the up-close experience, since, according to records, this church holds the third largest dome in the world! Definitely a place that should not be missed.
And here we are, on the last day of your adventure! To end things on a high note, you absolutely must visit the popular Blue Lagoon of Comino, arguably the most famous place in the country. If you’ve looked up anything about Malta online, chances are you’ve already seen countless breathtaking images of this turquoise lagoon! To get there, you’ll need to make your way to the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal (more details can be found in the transportation section of the general guide) where several companies operate this route. As for the lagoon itself, there are no words left to describe its beauty that haven’t been used before. It truly lives up to the hype. However, I highly recommend getting there early in the day to beat the crowds, as it can get frustratingly busy later on.
In the late morning, you’ll take the ferry back to the island of Malta and head towards Popeye Village (20,00€), a charming theme park that served as the set for the 1980 live-action film about the famous sailor. Located along the scenic Anchor Bay, it’s a fantastic place to spend a few hours with your family and enjoy the village’s lively atmosphere. As for the rest of the afternoon, it will be dedicated to Mellieha, the last town before the ferry terminal where boats leave to Comino and/or Gozo. Upon arrival, you’ll immediately notice the magnificent Parish Church of Mellieha, majestically perched at the top a hill, overlooking the entire area. Afterwards, don’t miss the chance to visit the Mellieha Air Raid Shelters, original bunkers from the wartime period, used by the local population during air raids. Last but certainly not least, and to end the day on a perfect note, take some time to relax and enjoy another refreshing swim in the crystal-clear waters of Mellieha Bay. A suitable location to mark the end of your fantastic holiday!