Seeing Malta in 3 days sounds like an impossible mission, I know. I actually had more time on this Mediterranean island, but because of the most annoying vertigo, I had to spend a part of my trip in my hotel room.
I didn’t get to visit beautiful places like the Three Cities and Comino Island, and missing out was definitely not fun. Not exactly what I had in mind for this trip, but it is what it is.
Nonetheless, I feel like I used my healthy(ish) time properly and I want to share my itinerary with you, so if you only have three days in Malta, here’s how to make the most of them.
*This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
*I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.
WHERE TO STAY IN MALTA
The city of Sliema is a great base for day trips in Malta, and I stayed at Slimiza Suites (unfortunately, its rating dropped recently).
If you prefer to base yourself in the capital Valletta (which is also suitable for this itinerary), check out highly-rated hotels like Ursulino Valletta and Palazzo Jean Parisot Boutique Suites. You can also read my full guide to the best areas to stay in Malta.
3 DAYS IN MALTA WITHOUT A CAR – ITINERARY SUMMARY
Is three days enough time to experience Malta to the fullest? Definitely not, because I could easily spend a full week there. That said, I think my itinerary won’t leave you disappointed as it gives you a taste of different sides of the island.
Here’s what you’ll see on this itinerary:
- Day 1: Valletta.
- Day 2: Mdina, Ghajn Tuffieha (Riviera Beach).
- Day 3: Blue Grotto, Marsaxlokk.
CHANGES YOU CAN MAKE TO THIS MALTA ITINERARY
1. If you have an extra full day or you want to make some changes to this itinerary, take a day trip to Gozo and Comino, Malta’s other two islands. Gozo’s infamous Azure Window might have collapsed, but there’s a lot more to do and see there.
You can visit Gozo and Comino independently (with a bus to Cirkewwa + a ferry to the islands), with a cruise, or with a full-day guided tour.
If you’re basing yourself in Sliema (or Valletta) like me, you can take this Comino & Blue Lagoon cruise (other tours are only suitable for those staying in the northwest part of Malta). You can also take the Gozo Fast Ferry.
2. You can also visit the UNESCO-listed Megalithic Temples of Malta (Hagar Qim, Tarxien, and others) scattered around the island. Alternatively, book this highly-rated tour of prehistoric temples and the Blue Grotto.
3. If you have an extra half a day or you prefer doing something more relaxed, stay in Sliema. Enjoy the sun and the water at Sliema’s Roman Baths and rocky beaches.
Take your time and continue walking along the promenade towards the town of St. Julian’s. Apart from all the cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy the end of your trip relaxing and savoring the sea views.
3-DAY MALTA ITINERARY – GENERAL TIPS AND NOTES
To know what to expect from this beautiful country, here are a few Malta travel tips you have to read before your trip.
Also, this itinerary does not require hiring a car. Considering all the pros and cons of traveling by car along with what I had read about Malta, I decided to use both buses and taxis to get around the island.
I know a taxi is a lot less budget-friendly, but it’s cheaper than car hire, and it can save you time and energy, especially when it comes to Malta’s bus routes (read my travel tip post for more info on that). Plus, they drive on the left side of the road in Malta, which, if you’re not used to it, can be confusing or even intimidating.
MALTA IN 3 DAYS – DAY 1
Getting from Sliema to Valletta: Take the ferry or buses 13,14,15 or 16 from Sliema to Valletta.
With all the things to do and see in Valletta, it’s hard to believe that it is the EU’s smallest capital city yet clear why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
All the shops and cafes on the main streets make it seem slightly modern, but everything else about it just screams ‘history.’
Although it does get a bit crowded in summer, you can always find quiet corners away from the popular streets. To enjoy the best of this city, here are the best things to do in Malta’s capital.
1. HIGHLY-RATED TOURS YOU CAN TAKE IN VALLETTA
A walking tour in Valletta: Learn about Maltese history while discovering Valletta’s main sights. Read reviews and book a 2-hour tour here, check out this highly-rated 3-hour tour, or book this night tour of Valletta, Rabat, and Mdina.
Street food tour: Learn about Valletta’s history and the local food culture, and try some popular Maltese dishes. Read reviews and browse its latest prices here.
2. VALLETTA’S STREETS AND MALTESE BALCONIES
Strolling through the streets of a city is the best way to see it and discover its hidden treasures, especially when it comes to a city as enchanting as Valletta.
With a mix of European and Middle Eastern vibes and the abundance of colors of the traditional Maltese balconies, Valletta is one big maze of uniqueness.
Some of the streets you should explore are St. Christopher’s Street, Old Mint Street, Old Bakery Street, and Republic Street, but that’s just a taste of Valletta, and you can spend hours wandering around the city.
3. CASA ROCCA PICCOLA
Dating back to the 16th century, Casa Rocca Piccola is the palace and home of the Maltese noble family de Piro (that still lives in it today!).
Some of its rooms are open to the public, and they allow you to have a glance at a noble family’s lifestyle. From silver items and antique furniture to paintings and clothing, this place is the definition of old-school luxury.
Address: Republic 74.
Price: 9 euros. You can purchase your ticket in advance here.
4. GRANDMASTER’S PALACE AND THE PALACE ARMOURY
Update: The palace is temporarily closed.
I have much respect for royal palaces, but visiting the residences of actual knights has always seemed slightly cooler to me.
I had already visited one on my Lisbon to Porto road trip, and I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see a second one.
Dating back to the 16th century, the Grandmaster’s Palace is the largest palace in Valletta and one of the first buildings that were built in the city. Let me tell you one thing – this place has been through a lot.
After serving as the residence of the Grand Masters of the Order of St. John, it was also the Governor’s Palace during British rule and the seat of the Parliament of Malta. Nowadays, it’s the Office of the President of Malta.
When visiting the palace, don’t miss the Palace Armoury. Seeing such a large and impressive collection of original knight armor is simply amazing.
If you don’t want to visit the entire complex, you can also buy a ticket to see the Palace Armoury alone.
Address: Palace Square.
Prices and opening hours: Palace Armoury.
5. ST. JOHN’S CO-CATHEDRAL
Probably one of the most visited landmarks in Valletta (and one of the top historical sites in Malta), the St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral that was built in the 16th century by the Order of St. John.
With so many intricate architectural and decorative details, it’s practically one big work of art and one of the best places in Europe to appreciate Baroque architecture. It also has immense religious importance, so expect this place to be busy.
6. LOWER AND UPPER BARRAKKA GARDENS
Both gardens are exactly where you want to be when you’re looking for a peaceful scenic spot in Valletta.
While the Lower Barrakka Gardens offer views of the Grand Harbour, the Upper Barrakka Gardens has a special treat for you – the Saluting Battery, a 16th-century artillery battery that was mainly used for ceremonies.
Looking down from the gardens’ main terrace, you can watch the cannon firing every day at 12 PM and 4 PM (for free!). I don’t about you, but to me, that was one hell of a unique experience. You can also buy a ticket to see the Saluting Battery up close.
The main terrace is also a perfect place to enjoy the views of the magnificent Fort St. Angelo (which was also built by the knights).
7. AUBERGE DE CASTILLE, AND CHURCHES OF ST CATHERINE OF ITALY AND OUR LADY OF VICTORY
Located one next to another, these three beautiful buildings are worthy of at least a few minutes of your time.
Now housing the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta, the Auberge de Castille was once the official seat of the knights of the Langue of Castille, Leon, and Portugal.
Right next to it, you can marvel at the oldest church in the city, the Church of Our Lady of Victory, and the Church of Saint Catherine of Italy which was built by the Italian knights of St. John.
8. THE ROYAL OPERA HOUSE AND THE PARLIAMENT OF MALTA
Two more points of interest in Valletta located right in front of each other are the 19th-century Royal Opera House and Malta’s Parliament building.
While you can appreciate the modern architecture of the parliament building, you can only see the remains of the opera house.
Sadly, it was destroyed in an aerial bombing in 1942, but I did find its remains pretty charming thanks to its Greek-like quality.
9. THE CITY GATE AND THE TRITON FOUNTAIN
If you want to make an official entrance to Valletta, head to the City Gate, which is actually the fifth one built in that location.
But the true icon in this place is the Triton Fountain. It became such a beloved landmark right from the start (about 60 years ago), so who am I to argue with three mermen holding up a giant plate?
10. A HIDDEN GEM IN VALLETTA: SUNDAY IN SCOTLAND CHOCOLATE BOUTIQUE
I know it’s the last thing you’d expect from this post, but to me, hidden gems come in all shapes and forms. Besides, I’m not going to say no to chocolate.
With its adorable interiors, tempting pralines, and picture-perfect patisserie desserts, you also won’t be disappointed by the chocolate shop & cafe Sunday in Scotland.
Address: St. Lucia 172.
MALTA IN 3 DAYS – DAY 2
There are plenty of reasons to visit Malta, and Mdina is one of them. Also known as ‘The Silent City’, it is a thing of beauty and an ideal spot to start your second day. This gorgeous fortified city was actually Malta’s capital from antiquity until the 16th century.
For those of you who love mazes of charming alleys, Mdina has got you covered. I know that this UNESCO city has other highlights like the city gate, the Vilhena Palace, Palazzo Falson, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Cathedral Museum, but its streets have won me over the most.
Strolling through them truly felt like stepping back in time, and I loved their tranquility. If you want to explore Mdina’s streets with a guide, you can book a walking tour.
To cool off, head to Gelateria Fior di Latte (Villegaignon 21). Apart from devouring the delicious gelato, you can enjoy a fantastic lookout point right next to it.
Getting from Sliema to Mdina: Take bus 202 from Sliema and get off at Rabat station, which is only a minute away from Mdina’s entrance gate.
GHAJN TUFFIEHA BAY
Also known as Riviera Beach, I knew I wanted to visit this bay ever since I had laid my eyes on it on Instagram.
It’s the perfect spot for both relaxing and enjoying some scenic viewpoints. The jaw-dropping sight of the bay reveals itself right when you walk down the stairs from the parking lot above it.
You can get another angle of it by walking towards the Ghajn Tuffieha Tower before taking the stairs down to the beach.
I also highly recommend climbing up to the Ghajn Tuffieha viewpoint on the other side of the beach to see yet another gorgeous little bay.
Important tip: Don’t do any of these climbs with flip-flops. They may be short, but you must wear decent shoes or sandals.
Good to know: The facilities and services in this bay include a restaurant, toilets, and beach chair & umbrella rentals.
Getting from Mdina to Ghajn Tuffieha: To save time, I took a taxi. It should cost about 20 Euros (yeah, not very budget-friendly), but it only takes about 20 minutes instead of 90. The alternative is to take bus 186 to the town of Bugibba and switch to bus 223.
Getting from Ghajn Tuffieha back to Sliema: Climbing back up, right next to the parking lot there’s a bus stop called Riviera. From there, take bus 225 which goes all the way to Sliema.
Did you know? There’s a European legend that says that Malta is the lost city of Atlantis!
MALTA IN 3 DAYS – DAY 3
THE BLUE GROTTO
Let’s just say that boats and I are not the best of friends, but I made an exception for the Blue Grotto.
Located on the island’s southern coast, this complex of seven caves is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Malta, and taking a cave boat tour is a must-have experience.
On the 25-minute tour, you get to see some impressive arches, rock formations, and the most mesmerizing hues of blue water courtesy of the sunlight. In one word: MAGICAL.
Price: 8 euros.
Opening hours: 9 AM – 5 PM during summertime. 9 AM – 3:30 PM during wintertime.
Good to know #1: You don’t need (and can’t) book the tour in advance. Buy your ticket at the ticket office and wait in line. Boats always come and go, and you won’t be waiting for too long even if it’s a bit busy.
Good to know #2: You can also swim in this area, so be sure to have your swimsuit with you.
Getting there from Sliema: Take the ferry from Sliema to Valletta or buses 13,14,15 or 16. From Valletta’s bus terminal, take bus number 74 and get off at the Panorama bus stop.
Tip #1: Choose a sunny day to visit the Blue Grotto and take your tour before noon to enjoy the best blue colors. Also, the tours don’t operate if the weather doesn’t allow it.
Tip #2: Don’t miss the Blue Grotto’s viewpoint where you can feast on the iconic picture-perfect views of the main (and tallest) arch. It’s located not too far from the bus stop. You can either take your photo (and take in the views) and continue downhill towards the ticket office or climb back up after taking the boat tour.
The colorful boats and the tranquility of the fishing village of Marsaxlokk (pronounced Marsashlok) have made it one of my most favorites places in Malta.
The village is small, and there isn’t much to see beyond the boats in the port and Marsaxlokk’s Parish Church, but I still think it’s worth the visit.
The village also hosts a popular market on Sundays, and I even came across a cute little souvenir market in the middle of the week.
If you’re feeling hungry, you can find countless restaurants along the promenade. I had some delicious pasta at La Nostra Padrona Restaurant, which also serves fresh seafood.
From Marsaxlokk, you can take a short boat ride to St. Peter’s Pool (you’ll see many boat tour signs while walking alongside the port), a natural swimming pool with crystal clear water.
Whether you want to take a swim, soak up some sun, or go for a snorkeling adventure, that’s the place to do it.
Price: A one-way boat ride to/from St. Peter’s Pool will cost you about 5 euros.
Getting from the Blue Grotto to Marsaxlokk: Again, to save time, I decided to take a taxi. It should cost about 20 Euros (again, I know it’s not cheap), but it only takes about 15 minutes instead of an hour and a half. The alternative is to take bus 201 from the Blue Grotto to the airport (yes, the airport) and bus 119 from there to Marsaxlokk. Other bus routes include even more switches and take more time.
Getting from Marsaxlokk back to Sliema: Bus 81 goes from Marsaxlokk to Valletta’s bus terminal. From Valletta, you can take either a bus (13,14,15, or 16) or the ferry back to Sliema.
Instead of Marsaxlokk, you can take bus 201 from the Blue Grotto and visit the Dingli Cliffs (from where you can take a bus back to Valletta).
Looking for a girls’ trip destination in Europe? A long weekend in Malta could be a great choice!
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