Malta in 3 Days: An Awesome Itinerary Without a Car

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.

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Looking for things to do in 3 days in Malta? Here's the best Malta travel itinerary that doesn't require hiring a car!


WHERE TO STAY IN MALTA

The city of Sliema is a great base for day trips in Malta, and I stayed at the wonderful Slimiza Suites.

This cute hotel is located only two minutes away from the promenade where you can find the ferry to the capital Valletta, all the buses, and many shops and restaurants.

It offers clean and comfortable rooms and a nice breakfast, and the staff was very welcoming and helpful. It was a perfect stay, and I would absolutely go back to this hotel. Browse Slimiza Suites’ latest prices and availability.

For a more budget-friendly option, check out the highly-rated Corner Hostel which has both private double rooms and 4-bed dorm rooms. For something more upscale, check out the highly-rated Amery House.

If you prefer to base yourself in the capital Valletta (which is also suitable for this itinerary), check out hotels like Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse and Paulos Valletta. You can also read my full guide to the best areas to stay in Malta.



3 DAYS IN MALTA – ITINERARY SUMMARY

Here’s what you’ll see on this itinerary:

  • Day 1: Valletta.
  • Day 2: Mdina, Ghajn Tuffieha (Riviera Beach).
  • Day 3: Blue Grotto, Marsaxlokk.

If you have a full extra day or you want to make some changes to this itinerary, take a day trip to Gozo and Comino, Malta’s other two islands.

You can visit Gozo and Comino independently, with a cruise, or with a full-day tour.

If you’re basing yourself in Sliema (or Valletta) like me, you can take this sightseeing tour of Gozo or this Gozo and Comino tour (other tours are only suitable for those staying in the northwest part of Malta).

For more options for visiting Gozo and Comino, read my Malta travel tips.

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.

Sliema
Roman baths in Sliema


3 DAY MALTA ITINERARY – GENERAL TIPS AND NOTES

To know what to expect from this beautiful country, check out my 18 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.

balconies in Valletta


MALTA IN 3 DAYS – DAY 1

VALLETTA

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 or check out this highly-rated 3-hour tour.

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.

balconies in the city of Valletta

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 vibe 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.

What to see in Malta in 3 days - doors in Valletta
streets of Valletta

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.

Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 10 AM-5 PM.

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 Portugal 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 the 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 knights’ armors is simply amazing.

If you don’t want to visit the entire complex, you can also buy a ticket to the Palace Armoury alone.

Address: Palace Square.

Prices and opening hours: Palace Armoury.

Valletta Palace Armoury

5. ST. JOHN’S CO-CATHEDRAL

Probably one of the most visited landmarks in Valletta, 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 piece 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.

For more information about the cathedral including tips for visiting, read this. If you want to visit it with a guide, book this walking tour.

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.

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).

Upper Barraka Gardens
Valletta saluting battery

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.

Church of Saint Catherine of Italy
Church of Saint Catherine of Italy

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.

the Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House

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?

Valletta city gate

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 won’t say no to the chocolate shop Sunday in Scotland either.

Address: St. Lucia 172.



MALTA IN 3 DAYS – DAY 2

MDINA

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.

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.

Malta 3 days - facade in Mdina
A street in Mdina Malta

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.

malta itinerary 3 days - gelato in Mdina

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.

3 day malta itinerary - Riviera beach

Important tip: Don’t do any of these climbs with flip-flops. They may be short, but you need to 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.

what to do in malta in 3 days - riviera beach viewpoint

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.

The Blue Grotto of Malta

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 of 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.

Blue Grotto
Blue Grotto Viewpoint

MARSAXLOKK

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.

Malta in 3 days - Marsaxlokk boat

From Marsaxlokk, you can take a short boat ride to St. Peter’s Pool (you’ll see many 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.

malta 3 days itinerary - fishing boats

Looking for a girls’ trip destination in Europe? Malta could be a great choice!

Want to explore other Mediterranean islands without renting a car? Read:



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About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). Obsessed with anything Spain-related, I'm always planning my next trip (and the excitement alone can bring tears to my eyes, not that it's difficult to make me cry).

10 thoughts on “Malta in 3 Days: An Awesome Itinerary Without a Car”

  1. I was only in Malta for part of one day, so I did hire a private car to be able to see what was most important to me. Along with several of the locations you mentioned, I visited (most important tome) the cave where the Apostle Paul stayed when he became shipwrecked on the island. It later served as a bomb shelter during the war. I fell in love with Malta, and hope to return for an extended stay!

    Reply
    • I hope it was fine for you to drive there – I really didn’t want to. And I hope you get to visit again soon! Also, do you remember the name of the cave?

      Reply

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