Malta is the most gorgeous little island in the Mediterranean sea and this guide explains ways to travel, places to stay, eat and things you just cannot miss.
Being only 17 miles long and 9 miles wide, you could drive across Malta in under an hour. And it has a population almost the same size as Manchester. So yeah – it’s tiny.
But all good things come in small packages, right?
Malta is rich in culture, history and nature. Boasting several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the most stunning blue seas and warm weather all year round, it’s a dream place for explorers.
How to get around Malta
There’s great bus network in Malta so my best recommendation in this guide is to buy a tallinja travel card from a shop at airport arrivals. They’re much easier to use than scrambling for cash each time. You just tap your card on the machine next to the driver.
12 single day journeys (15 euro)
We weren’t planning on using the bus much, so this worked best for us. The beauty of this card is that you can share it! It’s got a 2 hour limit, so within that you can change buses as many times as you like and it’s valid for a whole year.
7 day unlimited (21 euro)
You need one each and it will allow you to hop on and off any bus. It comes with a few discounts too.
You can take the X4 bus from Malta airport to Valetta in around 20 minutes.
This is basically uber for Malta. We found it incredibly useful especially at Mdina as we were in a rush to get back for our flight!
This little island is surrounded by water so of course there’s lots of boats. We mainly used the ferry between Sliema and Valletta for a couple of euros return. You can also catch a ferry to Gozo for about 5 euros, which is super cheap but we decided on a more expensive boat trip for ease.
Where to stay in Malta
If money is of no concern, you can of course stay in Malta’s capital. It’s a walled city with pretty palaces, ornate buildings and charming churches. Incredible views of this historic city and easy access to everything would be a huge draw but expect it to be very busy, noisy and expensive.
Sliema is a cute resort town only around 15 minutes from Valletta. We stayed at the (AD) Carlton Hotel, which was nice accommodation right beside the ocean. There were lots of restaurants and shops nearby, and it was obviously a lot cheaper to stay in than the city. I would certainly stay in this area again.
4 places to eat in Sliema
Like I said, Sliema is a town with lots of shops and cafes. These were my 4 favourite places.
1. Dolce Peccati
This was a small but stylish cafe offering lots of yummy cakes and pastries but also a hot food menu. We sat inside and ordered the full veggie breakfast, which came on a black skillet. This was right next to our hotel too.
243e Tower Road, Sliema, Malta
Frescos is perfectly situated right on the sea front and is a great place for tasty Italian food and wines as well as a selection of cocktails. The pasta was simple, delicious and came in a huge portion. We chilled here for a couple of hours just drinking, eating and relaxing.
The Promenade. Tower Road, Sliema, Island of Malta SLM 1600 Malta
3. The Black Sheep
The Black Sheep was incredibly popular! It’s a cool bar with a hip vibe and live music. They serve a tasty menu from burgers to pasta. They also have a huge selection of alcoholic drinks and beer – we arrived during cocktails happy hour (3pm-7pm), yipee! We spent a fab evening here.
72 the Strand, Sliema, Island of Malta SLM 1022 Malta
4. Zwitt The Cravings Cafe
If you know me, you know I love desserts. It’s the first thing I look for on a menu and Sliema has a cafe dedicated to all things sweet. Choose you base, donuts, churros or waffle and layer it up with all kinds of toppings and sauces. So indulgent.
270, Zwiit, Churros Home Tower Road Sliema, SLM 1600, Malta
5 things to do in Malta
1. Slowly wander Valletta
Seriously, my best advice is to just slowly wander. Get lost in the winding streets. Admire the castle. Enjoy the retro signs. Relax along the harbour. Take pictures of the cutest doors. Smile at every statue. Eat and drink in small side street cafes. Honestly, the city is full of architectural treats and serves you up wonderful sights on every corner.
2. Gun fire at the Saluting Battery
No Malta guide is complete without a trip to the Saluting Battery. Make your way here for an explosive show at 12pm and 4pm each day. Uniformed soldiers fire cannons across the Grand Harbour in this spectacular ceremonial display. Talk about history coming to life! And be ready for the bang – it is mighty loud! Arrive early for a good viewing spot along the wall.
3. Sunset at Upper Barrakka garden
There’s a small garden that you can explore but we mainly visited to catch the sunset. Relax on one of the many benches and enjoy the lowering sun as it sets over the shimmering harbour and surrounding towns.
4. Explore magnificent Mdina
Do not miss a trip to Mdina. It’s just like stepping back in time. It is one of the finest examples of a walled city and really is in pristine shape. You can read more about taking a trip to this century’s old town here.
5. Island hop around Malta
You would be silly to miss the opportunity to explore Gozo. It has a lot of character and makes a wonderful day trip. Comino Island is between Gozo and Malta and it’s where you’ll find the beautiful blue lagoon. Read more about the Islands boat trip here.
Final top tips
- Malta uses English plugs (3-pin)
- The local currency is Euros
- They drive on right side like in the UK
- It’s about a 3.5 hr flight from Manchester
- Take a cardigan for winter months
A Handy map
I hope my Malta guide has given you a glimpse into this tiny island. I already can’t wait to return to explore this gem of a country even more!
Let me know if you found this guide useful and why you want to visit Malta in the comments.