There are so many fascinating places to visit in Malta, and I could wax lyrically about the historical and cultural attractions around the island. But how to fit it all into a weekend? Here are the best things to do in Malta.
Day one: Check in and chill out
Check in at your hotel and enjoy all the on-resort facilities for the afternoon. Make full use of the pool and spa to rejuvenate your weary bones ready for a full on city break adventure.
Resort spotlight: Sunny Coast Resort Club (1201)
Get away from the hustle and bustle at Sunny Coast Resort Club which overlooks Qawra Bay. Enjoy relaxing by the outdoor pool or languish in the outdoor whirlpool while admiring those Mediterranean coastal views. It’s the perfect location for scenic coastal walks, and not far from Bugibba, a popular tourist haunt, adjacent to Qawra. Accommodation is comprised of spacious studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments sleeping up to six people, with full or partial kitchen facilities.
Day two: Variety in Valletta and beyond
07.00: Wonders on the waterfront
Grab a light breakfast before heading into Valletta first thing in the morning. It’s an early start but for some very good reasons: you can beat the crowds and the heat, it’s the perfect time of day for taking the best photos, and you’re only here for a couple of days, so the early bird most definitely needs to catch the worm!
The bus service is really efficient and affordable on the island - less than €3 gets you a day pass for the bus network.
Once you arrive in Valletta, wander through the city gates and keep heading in a straight direction until you reach the coast. From there, meander south along the coast until you reach the Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens, which offer panoramic views of the Grand Harbour.
In both gardens you will spot Neoclassical monuments dedicated to different historical figures, including Winston Churchill and Captain Ball, the British Admiral who even today is widely loved and respected by the locals. He was the first Civil Commissioner of Malta, and was sent there in 1798 to help the Maltese rebels in the blockade against the French.
Continue your journey, hugging the coast, and you will reach Valletta’s waterfront, with sleek contemporary sail boats contrasting against the backdrop of Malta’s iconic and rustic old world charm.
09.30: A Maltese masterpiece
St John’s Co-Cathedral is a remarkable 16th-century church adorned with some of the most stunning Baroque art masterpieces. To set the scene on your history trail, it was built as a convent church for the Knights of St John. The church was enriched with only the best works of art, thanks to donations by the Grand Masters and several knights.
One key highlight to look out for is the ornate décor of the Marble Tombstones. It is simply jaw-dropping, and each tombstone pays tribute to the most illustrious Knights of the Order, featuring messages recognising their triumph, fame, victory and death.
Be sure to pick up an audio guide to get the full experience and learn more about the work of the Knights. Check entry times when planning your visit.
12.00: Enjoy a leisurely lunch
You will soon discover that cuisine here is a fusion of Italian, Mediterranean and traditional Maltese dishes, so you have plenty of options for dining.
Just a few minutes’ walk from the cathedral, enjoy al fresco dining at Malata on St George’s Square and admire the sandstone architecture around you, but also enjoy the simple pleasures of watching the world go by.
Portions are on the larger side here, so bear this in mind if you’re feeling particularly famished after your morning of exploration. The seafood is highly-rated here, so opt for sharing something like the sea bass, washed down with a refreshing glass of white wine.
14.00: Multi-dimensional history
There are so many fascinating stories about Malta’s colourful history that it’s good to have a bit of a whistle-stop tour of key moments throughout time to get an 18-minute overview which will help inform your island wanders.
Malta 5D allows visitors to really feel the emotion of the stories being depicted, with a 3D film and real life special effects that transport you into the moment.
With a show every 30 minutes from 9.30am to 5pm from Monday to Saturday, and 10am to 2pm on Sundays, it’s one of those attractions that you can fit nicely in between your sightseeing, or before you catch the bus back to your resort, as it’s only a five-minute walk from the bus station.
15.00: Siesta time
You’re on island time so head back to your resort for the afternoon for a little siesta or relax by the pool for a few hours before dinner.
18:30: Meals of mystery
It’s time for an evening of illusion. Pre-book tickets for The Chamber of Mysteries Dinner and Show for a night of surprise and delight. You will be picked up from your hotel and whisked off to a traditional Maltese farmhouse in Qormi - an intimate restaurant and theatre setting for just 30 guests.
Start off with your pre-show dinner experience, featuring free-flowing drinks and delicious food, which are served in the on-site restaurant, 1743 Razzett L-Antik. Expect traditional slow, farmhouse cooking served up in a rustic style on Mondays and Fridays, while on Wednesdays a traditional buffet is served.
The show is hosted by Brian Role and Lola Palmer, who perform mystifying acts that will leave you astounded. With levitation, mind-boggling predictions and mind-reading acts all part of the show, you will be wowed beyond belief.
Day three: Finding solitude
08.00: Silence is a virtue
Mdina, also known as the 'silent city' is a virtually car-free town, and it is the old capital of Malta.
The immaculate town is so peaceful, and the most idyllic way to start the day is with an early morning saunter. Experience the time gone by effect with narrow cobblestone streets, cute shuttered windows, buildings to admire and a small handful of boutique shops.
If you decide to craft your own plans and visit in the evening instead, make a reservation at The Mdina Restaurant, which specialises in local fare, including an octopus and red wine stew, known as Stuffat Tal-Qarnit.
10.00: A tour of the throne
Dubbed as the Mediterranean’s mini Hollywood, it all makes sense as you wander the San Anton Palace and Gardens in Attard (just 20 minutes by car from Valletta). You may experience a sense of déjà-vu as it was used as a filming location for hit TV series Game of Thrones.
The early 17th-century palace is the home of the Maltese President, and the quaint walled gardens contain groves of citrus and avocado, as well as a bird aviary.
The formal gardens are open to the public, and as you stroll along the numerous pathways you will discover a wide variety of flora and fauna - some of the trees here are more than 300 years old.
Dotted in between all the foliage are ornamental ponds, magnificent stone sculptures, rustic urns and fountains - the perfect place to play king or queen for the day.
Depending on the time of your visit, you may also be able to catch an open-air theatre show, ranging from drama to dance performances.
Entrance to the gardens is free and they are open daily from 7am to 6pm, June to September, and from 7am to 5pm October to May. We recommend visiting at opening for a more serene and peaceful experience without the crowds and Mediterranean heat.
12.00: Brunch stop
Head back into Valletta, and stop off for brunch at Reno’s Café, a well-established family-run restaurant. You’ll soon realise you’re onto a good thing when you hear the café stemmed from the family’s confectionery business in the 1930s, plus the locals love to lunch here.
The quirky surroundings are a treat in themselves, while the enthusiastic owner is all too happy to help you work your way through their considerable menu of ftira - a Maltese flatbread sandwich.
14.00: Souvenir finds
Now is the perfect time to pick up some souvenirs and gifts. You will be spoiled for choice, the only challenge will be refraining from treating yourself to way too many goodies.
As you tour around the city you will uncover all sorts of one-off shops selling everything, from handcrafted goods such as jewellery and glass goods to vintage design stores, Mint Sparrow is especially fabulous!
After a few hours flexing the plastic, finish up at The Chocolate District to pick up some speciality chocolate bars, or an assortment of pralines to avoid any melting disasters, before you whizz back to your hotel or the airport!
17.00: Awaken the senses
If you have a few hours to spare before heading to the airport, pre-book a spa treatment to ramp up that holiday glow for your return home.
With a healthy handful of resorts in Malta offering a pool, spa and whirlpool under one roof, you have the ideal opportunity to make the most of it before your journey home.
19.00: A fond farewell
It’s time to head back to the UK, and with plenty of late flights home with low-cost carriers and scheduled airlines, you can easily make the most of 48 hours in Malta.
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