If Malta is on your bucket list, let me help you make the most of your time there! As someone who did a lot of research, finding things to do in Malta was pretty easy (it’s also a really cheap country to visit in Europe)! But if I’m totally honest, some of the spots that are often listed, I found particularly underwhelming.
And that is ok!! Not everything has to be amazing all of the time! Not everything has to blow you away! It’s okay to leave a place disappointed or unimpressed. I often feel that there is an underlying pressure when you travel that you must enjoy every minute. That everything has to be great all the time. I still enjoyed my time in Malta and the parts I liked, I loved! But I also want to honestly share the areas that, personally, did not live up to the hype.
It’s a small island but there are quite a few places to explore. So I imagine if you are reading this, you are looking to learn from someone’s experience and visit the places that are the most worth it. You want to make the most out of your visit! And I like to be as transparent as I can be, so let’s talk about it honestly!
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Valetta: one of the best things to do in Malta
Valetta is the capital city of Malta and is one of the most beautiful cities I have been to in Europe. My boyfriend and I particularly loved this city. We went back a few times because we loved it so much. It is historically important and as a result, the entire city is now a UNESCO heritage site! It was clean, felt safe and looked beautiful. Everything I look for in a city!
The city is filled with beautiful warm tones and colourful balconies. Wandering around its hilly streets is enough to keep you busy for the day! But if you would like more ideas of what to do, here were my favourite spots in the city:
⛲️ The Upper and Lower Gardens had fantastic views of the city. The gardens are a tiny oasis inside the city.
🚤 Taking the boat to Birgu was also such a wonderful experience. It cost us 2 euros to ride the traditional, gondola-style boats across to the island.
⛪️ And finally, St John’s Co Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous. The detailing inside was incredible and it is a really great place to learn more about the city’s history.
Top tip: my favourite restaurant was San Paolo Naufrago! It is located on such a lively street and the food was delicious!
Popeyes Village: if you aren’t travelling with kids, you can skip it
Here’s the thing about Popeye’s Village. It is actually a really cool concept. For those of you who don’t know, the entire village is actually a movie set. The creators actually built an entire village just for filming the 1980s movie Popeye with Robbin Williams. They just never took down the set. So I actually think it is a really cool concept.
BUT, the village is now quite the tourist attraction. Meaning that they have turned it into a museum or theme park. You can walk around the different sets, and learn about the movie and the filming process. There is an area to play games, and to watch a short documentary about the film. There is even a restaurant. But besides that, there really isn’t much to do, and to me, it felt like it was really targeted toward kids. We also paid 14 euros per person, which wasn’t worth it in my opinion.
Top tip: Even though I wouldn’t say it was worth paying to visit the village, the coolest view of the attraction is from across the bay and it is actually free.
Gozo: one of the best things to do in Malta
Visiting Gozo was 100% my favourite day in Malta. I found it to have the most breathtaking views from the entire peninsula. It’s the second biggest island on the peninsula, the largest being Malta and the smallest being Comino. Gozo was a lot more authentic, quiet and empty compared to the hustle and bustle of Malta.
You can visit Gozo from the ferry port at the northern tip of Malta, which might mean you have to drive or take a bus to get there. It cost 4.65 euros per person to take the ferry roundtrip which you pay in Gozo. You can take your car onto the ferry as well! But we opted to rent a buggy to explore the island. We booked ours through a french website but there were many other tours and rental companies available. And it was a really cool experience!
It’s crazy how fast time flies on Gozo, but I’d highly recommend stopping by the Ramla red beach, the Tal-Mixta Cave, the salt flats, and Victoria Citadel! All of these spots were highlights for me. I would also like to note, our visit to Comino was canceled because of the weather so we didn’t get to visit. But from what I’ve heard, Comino is supposed to be a fantastic thing to do in Malta.
✨Travel Planning Tip!✨
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Blue Grotto: skippable in my opinion
Blue Grotto was kind of a dud for me. But some people might disagree. We drove out to this end of the island to only stay there probably no more than 30 minutes. I’m not sure what I was expecting but we essentially parked, walked to the boat rentals, and paid. Waited no more than 10 minutes, took the boat to the grotto turned around, and came back. Once we were done, we were off. There wasn’t much else to do there!
The grotto was a cool experience, don’t get me wrong. The waters are so blue they almost glow. And you visit inside limestone caves. But I think what surprised me was how quick it all was. As I said, we probably spent less than an hour there and the boat ride was quite quick. Now if you were able to visit the Blue Grotto as part of a much larger boat tour, that might be worthwhile! Here is a tour I found after our visit that looks interesting!
Mdina: one of the best things to do in Malta
Mdina is an ancient city and it feels that way the second you walk through the city gate. The city was used as a filming location for several historical series and films including Game of Thrones, Troy, and Gladiator. It is known as the silent city and this is due to the fact that it was once the capital of the island. Since the capital was moved, the city has become a ghost town and in reality ‘silent’.
I really enjoyed walking around. It is a smaller city and we only spent maybe 2-3 hours here but the energy and architecture were quite beautiful. It feels like it is trapped in time and I loved it. A spot not to miss in my opinion! And if you don’t have access to a car, no problem! There are many tours out there that take you to visit Mdina and other island highlights!
Marsaxlokk: skippable in my opinion
I heard a lot about Marsaxlokk from different travel blogs. Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village that is mainly known for its Sunday market. Restaurants are known to use fresh fish and fishing is a huge part of their identity. They are also known for their unique, colorful boats called Luzzu which are decorated with an Egyptian eye to protect the fishermen out at sea.
But again, beyond that, there wasn’t much else to see or do in the area. We parked, explored for an hour, and were on our way. I was anticipating spending the afternoon exploring the town and then enjoying dinner at the harbor. But we saw everything there was to see quite quickly and couldn’t figure out how to spend time before dinner, so we left.
Now, visiting during the Sunday Fish market sounds like that could be a worthwhile visit! Maybe something worth considering for your visit!
I did enjoy my time in Malta despite finding certain parts a bit disappointing. And everyone’s experience differs from person to person, so if a spot sounds interesting to you, even though I didn’t enjoy it, you might!
I hope my honesty was refreshing and that this was at least useful in helping you plan your trip to Malta. There are plenty of other things to do in Malta that I haven’t mentioned here. The island is one of the most popular scuba diving spots in Europe and if you’re visiting during the warmer months there are also tonnes of beaches! So depending on how much time you have, definitely give those activities a try!
Malta is also one of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe which was awesome for me! You can read more about that in my budget breakdown for my trip to Malta and see EXACTLY how much I spent on 7 full days in Malta!