Malta is a teeny tiny island sitting pretty in the Mediterranean sea and even though it’s small in size, it offers up lots of incredible things to do.
You can read my general guide to Malta, which has advice on how to get around, places to stay, eat and things to see. But there are 2 trips that are so amazing, I wanted to dedicate a whole blog post to them.
2 unmissable things to do in Malta
1. Explore Magnificent Mdina
Mdina really is the most pristine example of an ancient walled city, steeped in around 4000 years of history.
Mdina was considered the capital of Malta in medieval times, and I can see why! It’s title was Citta’ Notabile, which translates to The Noble City. So cool right! It is set in the Northern region of Malta, surrounded by sweeping countryside and with a superior view over the sea. A great vantage point to protect the island.
But as time evolved and attitudes changed, Mdina started to lose its prominence. As Malta opened themselves up to the rest of the world, being harbour side became way more important due to trading, as well as the need to better fortify against attacks. That’s when in 1565 Valletta was purposely built to become the vibrant capital city it is today.
Entering Mdina is just like stepping back in time as the architecture is perfectly preserved. No unauthorised cars are allowed inside the city, which helps to maintain its timeless feel and exquisite condition. You can get lost in the narrow and winding pathways without disturbance from loud and polluting vehicles.
Mdina is set on top of one of the highest hills in Malta so make sure you stop off at the edge of the walls to enjoy the panoramic countryside and sea views. You’ll find lots of cafes hidden in the walls and the streets outside of this medieval city are worth a visit too.
How to get to Mdina?
Head to Valletta Bus Station. Check the station map or double check google maps as to where the Mdina/Rabat bus will depart from. It’s usually Bay C2. Tap your travel card, described in my Malta guide, or pay 2 euros cash. The bus ride will take about 40 minutes so sit back and enjoy the views. Once you arrive, it’s a short uphill walk to the gates of the city.
Looking for more European trips? Make sure you read my guide to Copenhagen on a budget
2. Island hop to Gozo and Comino
Malta has two sister islands, Gozo and Comino, which make for a great day trip.
Malta is the big sister with the largest population and where you’ll find the most activity. Gozo is the sometimes forgotten middle child, which is much more rural with a focus on fishing and agriculture. Comino is the baby of the group, being a small rocky island that only has 3 residents!
We took an island cruise that meant we had very little thinking to do. I’m usually a fan of doing everything myself but honestly, it was a huge relief to let someone else lead. And the itinerary was jam packed!
The boat ride took us along the stunning coastline of Malta and arrived at Gozo in about 25 minutes. We stopped at Mgarr Harbour, which is full of small fishing boats bobbing on the waves. From here we jumped into a minivan for a private tour of the island and the trip looked like this:
First stop: Derja Bay
We went straight to Derja, which is a small inland bay with a pebble beach and access to the wild open seas. We paid a small fee to get on one of the locals boats.
They took us through the thin gap in the rugged stone to the bumpy ocean on the other side. We enjoyed views of dramatic cliffs, sailed inside deep caves and caught sight of Fungus Rock. This was the highlight of the whole day for me!
Second stop: Views of Ta Pinu church
Back in the van, we drove through small towns and stopped for a beautiful view of the landscape. From the vantage point you could see the epic Ta Pinu standing strong in the distance. It’s a church and national shrine that dates back to 1534.
Third stop: Victoria and Citadel
Gozo’s capital, Victoria, is buzzing with shops, restaurants and people. A great place to eat and people watch. We spent most of our time at the Citadel, a short walk uphill. It’s a fortified city with roots all the way back to medieval times and the major attraction in Gozo.
Inside, we were utterly stunned by the impressive size of the Cathedral that was somehow compacted into the centre. We explored the twisting streets and enjoyed a windy walk along the wall. The views around Gozo are lush. You do not need tickets to enter unless you want to visit the museum.
Fourth stop: Comino/Blue Lagoon
We returned to the boat for a short sail to Comino. This protected bird sanctuary and special protected area is just over one mile long with a watch tower, chapel and battery. We climbed to the top and scrambled through the rocks for panoramic views before heading down to have a closer look at the Blue Lagoon. We spent the rest of the time sat on a rock as we watched people swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clear sea.
Fifth stop: Crystal caves of Comino
Back on the boat, our final stop was the Crystal Caves. These ragged limestone cliffs with deep caves were apparently very popular with pirates!
Who did we book the boat tour with?
We boooked with Luzzo Cruises and joined their full day sight seeing tour of Gozo, Comino and The Blue Lagoon. It departed from Sliema Strand at 10am and cost 40 euros each. You can dramatically cut the cost if you jump on a hop on/off ferry for around 15 euros. However, this takes a lot more planning, without all the extras, that we just didn’t want to deal with.
Malta is a stunning country with so many wonderful things to do but these two were definitely the most memorable. I was totally wowed and I already want to return to explore further. I’d love to drive across the island one day!
Let me know if you’re planning on visiting! Did you find this guide helpful?