Between Sicily and the North African coast, the tiny Mediterranean nation of Malta is one of the best beach destinations in Europe. It has a laidback tropical vibe with picture-perfect beaches and amazing diving. And would you believe that Malta also has the highest density of historic sights on the planet! Whether you want to lounge at the beach, explore the depths of the Mediterranean, or wander around a 5000-year-old necropolis, you can do it here.
What to Expect in Malta
Language: Maltese people are linguistic pros! Most natives speak Maltese, and nearly 90% speak English, while another 50% also speak Italian.
Credit Cards + Cash: Carry a mix of cash and cards. Most big retailers and restaurants accept cards, although not always American Express. You’ll also still want cash on hand for small purchases.
Climate: With a Mediterranean climate, it’s never too cold in Malta. In the winter, you’ll find temps between 50 to 60, while summer days range from the low 70s to 90.
High Season: June to August gets crazy in Malta. Hotels are booked solid and the beaches can get really crowded. Things also get busy again briefly from Christmas to the New Year. Plan ahead if you’re coming for the high season! There are also big village celebrations that take place all over the islands, so the calendar is packed with events all year long!
*European Travel Alert*
Starting sometime around November 2023, US travelers between 18-70 years old will need to fill out an ETIAS visa-waiver form prior to their trip, and pay a €7 ($7.25) entry fee, to travel to European countries within the Schengen Area. It’s a quick form, and you will most likely receive instant approval—but it’s important to plan and submit ahead.
Getting Around Malta
Taxis: The islands are small so taxis are affordable and the most common means of getting around. Watch for an official white taxi car and make sure they turn on the meter.
Public Transport: Public transport is reliable and goes to most tourist destinations. If you think you’ll use it regularly, you can grab a 12-trip card for 15 euros.
Ferry: To get from Malta to the other two islands, Comino and Gozo, you’ll need to go by ferry. During most of the year, the ferries leave at least once per hour and it takes less than 30 minutes.
You’ll leave for either island from the Cirkewwa port. You’ll have a few options but generally, you can expect to pay 10 euros or less for round-trip travel.
Walk: Both Malta and Gozo Island have Coastal Walks. These are paths you can take to walk around the entire island. The routes and terrain vary, but if you are up for it, this is a great way to see lots of different views!
Where to Stay in Malta
Most people choose to stay on the island of Malta, as there are more restaurants, shops, and opportunities to get around, however, there are options to stay on the neighboring island of Gozo too. Valetta is the “old town” and the most touristy, so you’ll find many accommodation options around this area.
Here are the top hotels in Malta!
Every inch of InterContinental Malta is effortlessly chic. They’ve got a private beach area on George’s Bay and it’s a quick trip to the entertainment and clubbing district. Read about my experience here!
Travel back in time with this cool Victorian-style hotel in Sliema. It’s an especially good pick if you’re looking for nightlife since it’s just a five-minute drive from the center of it all, St Julian’s.
Experience luxury and class at The Palace right in the center of the city! There is a large selection of rooms, facilities, cuisine, and activities.
This family-run boutique hotel has a unique flair and is right in the middle of the best bars, restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing.
Where to Eat in Malta
Maltese food is heavily inspired by Mediterranean and Italian cuisines, so expect to see a fresh mix while you’re exploring Malta. I would recommend trying the handmade pastas and fresh seafood options you’ll come across—it doesn’t get much fresher or more authentic than on this island!
Here are the top restaurants in Malta!
The Harbour ClubMediterranean, French
This Valletta restaurant is all about fresh and local food. They’ve also got outdoor seating with a nice view of Valetta.
Da Ciccio CucinaItalian, Mediterranean
The pasta here is amazing! Come for the delicious food and the wonderful, friendly service.
This family-owned spot in Marsaxlokk has friendly service and the BEST seafood pasta I’ve had in my life.
ONE80 Kitchen & LoungeItalian, Mediterranean
Nestled on a hill overlooking the scenic Mellieħa Bay, one80 Kitchen & Lounge has an elegant ambiance and a delicious menu of Italian-inspired dishes. You’ll want to book a table in advance as it’s one of Malta’s most popular dining spots. I highly recommend trying the homemade pasta or locally-sourced seafood.
For an amazing view of the bay from Il-Mellieħa, come here and get an ultra seafood platter with some amazing local wine.
For good cheap eats in Valetta, look no further! There sandwiches are the perfect Maltese lunch.
What to Do in Malta
I was blown away when visiting Malta— I didn’t realize how fascinating of a history this little island has, and that it has such stunning architecture. Being central to the Mediterranean, you’ll see many influences from Italy, France, and other bordering countries, creating a beautiful melting pot of cultures, languages, and food. And if you’re up for a day trip, plan to take a boat tour or the public ferry to Gozo.
Here are my favorite activities to do in Malta, and you can find more hidden gems in my post on the Top Things to Do in Malta!
One of the first cities to have been named a UNESCO Heritage Site, the small capital city of Malta has an incredibly high concentration of historic sites. It’s perfect for just wandering around and taking in the city.
In Marsaxlokk, you’ll find a sidewalk café, a cool market, and good photo ops. Come on Sundays to check out the fish market.
The old fortified city at the south of the Grand Harbour is ripe for exploration. Follow the winding alleyways to hidden treasures.
You’ll want to plan lots of time on the water in Malta. The Blue Lagoon is a must-see and Comino Island’s coastline deserves a full day of exploring by sea.
Sadly the Azure Window is gone, but I’ve heard you can still scuba dive to see it. There are also lots of good spots to dive in Gozo, which is just a short ferry ride away from Malta.
While it’s a bit pricey to visit and walk around, and it’s geared more towards families, I recommend going out there to get one of Malta’s best photo viewpoints.
This spot survived a bombing and still looks stunning. Take a trip to Rotunda Square in Mosta and bring your camera.
Also known as Red Tower or Mellieħa Tower, these 17th century towers have an interesting history and you can get a great view if you climb to the top.
Malta is famous for its turquoise blue Mediterranean water. Beaches like St. Peter’s Pool, Mellieħa Bay, Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa are musts!
A quiet fishing village on the northern coast, there are a lot of Maltese people living in the old town of St. Paul’s Bay so it’s a good spot to visit to see what local life is like.