- The best way to get out of the airport and into the city is either by eCab or bus. eCab is like Uber for Malta and is cheaper than a regular taxi. The bus is a great (but slower) option if you're on a budget.
- The best (and freshest) fruit and vegetables are sold by hawkers.
- Get the Malta Pass! This tourism card will give you free entry to the top 40 attractions, making it worthwhile for anyone who plans on visiting a lot of sites.
First thing to do is visit the capitol of Malta - Valetta! This picturesque city was established in the 1500s and has a rich and very interesting history. Walk the fortifications at your leisure, and stop for lunch either by one of the hawkers in the main area, or at one of the amazing and tiny cafes that line the winding street. The city of Valletta as a whole is recognised by UNESCO for its historical and cultural value!
St. John’s Co-Cathedral (Free)
While in Valetta, you cannot miss this church. The opulent interior is home to the Caravaggio masterpiece "The Beheading of Saint John." The interior is breath-taking, and looks much more impressive than the fairly simple exterior of the church. In fact, there are over 25 churches in Valetta to discover.
The Malta Experience ($) - DO NOT MISS THIS!
This one may seem kitschy or gimmicky, but it's definitely not! I would HIGHLY recommend doing this educational audio-video show telling the story of around 7,000 years of Maltese history. You can really appreciate the island and all the sights after learning about its colourful and honestly, just ridiculously rich history. SO WORTH IT!!
Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens (Free)
After you've been schooled on Maltese history, hit up the Barrakka Gardens. This garden terrace promises one of the best views of Malta. An unhindered, panoramic view the only natural harbour in the Mediterranean, with the three cities: Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua as a backdrop. You can easily take the bus to this location.
Bridge Bar ($)
A typically Maltese vibe, laid back, yet still vibrant. This is a great little spot for a small dinner on the terrace, or a few drinks. Some night there is jazz - check the schedule ahead of time to make sure you catch some live music.
St Julians & Pastizzi ($)
Grab a delicious pastizzi from a local shop in the beautiful St Julians! These delicious savory stuffed pastries are all over the island, but this area has many cute shops to grab a bite from. Eat at the cafe, or in the main square by the fountain. Make sure you pack your beach stuff with you, because it's time to go swimming.
Balutta Bay (Free)
Malta is a rocky island in the sea, so it's rare to find a sandy beach. This incredible beach boasts tan sands and aquamarine waters, while being surrounded by old churches and some interesting old town sights. Stay a while and soak up the sun, until it's time to move to the next beachy area.
Fond Għadir Beach (Free)
An absolutely stunning local beach and a nice vantage point to take pictures. This rocky beach is typically Maltese, and a few locals (and tourists) hang out at this spot. However, because it's not one of the "main" or most popular beaches, it can be a nice place to beat the crowds and the heat. Sunbathe on the rocks, and dip into the sea by way of one of the many ladders just hanging off the rocks.
1926 Beach Club ($-$$)
End the night with a local Cisk beer at the new and fun 1926 Beach Club. This place is still new enough that it's not super packed, and because of that, it's a blast! There's a beautiful infinity pool, a great bar, and some good snacks here. I recommend dinner elsewhere, but this is the perfect after dinner/evening spot to end the night off right.
Mdina & Rabat
Take the bus from the city centre into these twin towns. Sitting on top of a hill overlooking large parts of Malta, these are small towns, rich in history and surrounded by tall bastion fortifications. They're filled with centuries-old buildings that have been well maintained throughout the ages. Take some time to wander around and enjoy the old towns.
Mdina Glass ($$-$$$)
Odd, but hear me out. Mdina is known for it's beautiful craft of glass-blowing and crafting and you can't miss it while you're here. This glass shop is right in the middle of the main walkthrough area, so you can't miss it. It's the perfect place to pick up a souvineer and admire all the amazingly crafted handiwork of local glass-blowers and crafters.
Drop by for some amazing views at the edge of Mdina and some delicious wine and dinner. This restaurant is also right by the bus stop back into the city, so it's the perfect way to end the evening in Mdina. There are many good spots to stop in for dinner in this area as well.
Paceville (Free - $$$)
Head back into Valetta to catch an easy bus to Paceville - the strange Las Vegas-esque strip in the heart of Malta. It comes up out of nowhere and suddenly - neon signs! Drink tickets! Open-air bars! Hookahs! Tiny fish pedicures?? Ok! Dance the night away in this weird but very cool area where all the young partiers hang out.
City Sight Seeing Malta ($$)
Again, hear me out. Although this is classically "touristy", it's so worth it! Buy a ticket to the Hop on Hop off bus. The great thing about this bus is that you can hop on or off ANY of the buses, so if you like a place, you can just stick around until the next bus. You'll get the official tour and see A LOT of Malta this way.
Marsaxlokk Fishing Village (Free)
If you take the City Sight Seeing tour, the bus will drop you off right in this village. If you opt out, definitely take the bus or an eCab over to this area. There's an amazing market by the harbour that smells very spicy, as well as tons of great fruit, deserts, and all kinds of crafts. There are some little seafood places dotting the harbour that are great for a fresh lunch. This is a very picturesque location!
St. Peter's Pool (Free)
An amazing swimming hole near Marsaxlokk Village. Buses don't go here, but local taxis or eCabs will bring you for a few dollars. You could walk, but it's cliffy and kind of off the beaten track. Bring you swim gear and spend some time sunbathing by the small cliff. Swim in the clear blue water and wonder at this amazing place.
Hagar Qim ($)
Again, the Hop on Hop off bus will take a stop here, but absolutely take some time to stay in this area. Haġar Qim is a megalithic temple complex found on the Mediterranean island of Malta, dating from the Ġgantija phase (3600-3200 BC). You can actually go into the ruins and see it for yourself! This is a once in a lifetime experience.
Gozo & Hiking Trails (Free)
Gozo is a lesser-known destination in Malta and is the second largest island in the archipelago. Take the ferry over to this area and see an old-timey Malta in its glory. The ferry departs from Ċirkewwa (at the Northern most tip of main island Malta). The beaches here are much more quiet, and this area is less frequented by herds of tourists. There are many amazing coastal hiking trails that are free to use in this area.
Golden Beach/Bay (Free)
Easily accessible and reachable with public transport, this beach offers plenty of amenities and is the perfect location for families to enjoy some sunbathing. Although the North cliff is taken up by a large hotel, the rest of the beaches surroundings are largely unspoilt and make for a great view. Golden Bay is also a popular location for barbeques, mostly on Friday and Saturday evening.