Malta Sightseeing Has Never Been Easier With This List!
If you are trying to figure out where to visit in Malta, you are definitely not alone. The tiny island nation is packed with places to visit, and Malta tourism is booming. Luckily for you, we’ve got you covered. From taking the hop-on-hop-off bus to exploring the island using the buses or your own rental car, there are plenty of ways to see Malta at your own pace and style.
We’re writing about Malta because we love Malta. Eric visited back in 2016 (he almost missed the flight there) and had an incredible week exploring almost every inch of the country. So, if you are planning a trip to Malta, we’ve also got a massive post on planning the perfect Malta itinerary. In it, we outline where to stay, tourism tips, renting a car, getting around, you name it! We include a tourism map, and also lay out some sample Malta itineraries from 3 days to 10 days to help you plan a trip perfect for you.
Just to be clear, Malta (the country) is three small islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino. This post is JUST about sights on Malta (the main island) and has one thing on Comino but NOT Gozo or the capital city, Valletta. Those are their own posts here:
- Here are Sights and Attractions on Gozo – the Sister Island of Malta
- Explore the Capital of Malta with 14 Things to Do in Valletta
That said, there is a ton of sightseeing to be done on the main island. To get you started, check out the top-rated Malta sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus and a few suggestions for places that you can check out while sightseeing on Malta:
The Capital, Valletta
Okay, we know we said we wouldn’t mention the capital of Malta – Valletta – in this post, but it’s hard to avoid. One of the top things to check out in Malta is definitely Valletta. That’s why we have dedicated a whole post to just exploring the capital city. You’ll get the top sights without all the other fluff that you don’t necessarily want to explore.
That said, if you are here and you want to explore Valletta, we won’t leave you hanging completely. Be sure to do a complete Valletta walking tour, check out the Upper Barrakka Gardens, or visit the Lascaris War Rooms and The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel! There, that’s all we are giving away in this post!
The Dingli Cliffs
The Dingli Cliffs are the highest point above sea level in all of Malta! From 253 metres above sea level, you can get stunning views and epic sunset photos. The easiest way to get there is usually from Mdina. You can take the Bus No. 52 from Mdina to Dingli and walk another 10 minutes. The bus number 201 also makes its rounds right by the road on the cliff edge.
While there’s not a ton to do when you actually get there, there are a few places to grab a drink or food. The main idea is to walk the paths along the cliff edge and take in the views. Eric and his friends spent quite a bit of time just admiring the wind and the waves. It’s a gorgeous spot. If you wanted to check out the cliffs in an exciting style, you can take a segway around there to explore the region.
Address: Ħad-Dingli, Malta
The Sunday Marsaxlokk Fish Market
One of the most popular things to check out in Malta is definitely the Sunday Fish Market at Marsaxlokk. Marsaxlokk on its own is a smaller fishing village that you can find in the southeast of Malta. The area is known for those picturesque fishing boats in the harbour. What draws in locals and tourists by the masses, however, is the Sunday market. Here, fresh fish that was caught that morning is sold right on the shore in the marketplace.
Keep in mind that you can visit Marsaxlokk on any other day – but Sunday is deemed as the authentic experience. If you aren’t into fish, the market has many other shops and stalls that sell local honey, jam, fruits, and other things. The area, understandably, has become a hub for great seafood dining at the cafes and restaurants that line the shore facing out into the sea.
The Blue Grotto (mentioned below) is nearby to Marsaxlokk so if you want to check out both in one shot, consider a tour that lets you discover Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto.
Address: Marsaxlokk, Malta
Grand Harbour is the harbour area to the south of Valletta. As with most water areas in Malta, the harbour has a history that dates back many centuries and is linked to the very existence of the country today. That said, this vast expanse of waterway has lots of things you can check out. Notably, the Three Cities (mentioned below) jut out into the water from the other shore.
When Eric was in Malta, he and his friends did a Grand Harbour boat cruise. It was a great way to change perspective and get a ton of fascinating history about the area. If you want to discover Grand Harbour (and the other harbour), you can do so on a day boat cruise or a night boat cruise.
The Three Cities
If you want to get away from the crowds of Valletta, Sliema, and St. Julian’s, you should go to The Three Cities to explore Malta’s past. The Three Cities are referring to the historic fortified cities of Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua in Malta. Together, the cities form two peninsulas that shoot out into the Grand Harbour across from Valletta.
Birgu is the oldest of the three and was built back in the Middle Ages. Birgu also featured the old Fort St. Angelo (mentioned right below). The other two cities are also very old – and were founded in the 16th and 17th centuries by the Order of Saint John! Exploring them is a full day or two of walking around the streets and harbour areas. If you want to explore the cities and their shops, cafes, and historic sites more efficiently, consider a vintage bus ride through the Three Cities.
Fort St. Angelo
Built during the Medieval period to help protect the harbour from invaders, Fort St. Angelo stands proudly at the tip of Birgu, one of the “Three Cities”. Today, the fort is a popular attraction and a great place to learn about Maltese history. The fort has been restored MANY times and continues to have restoration works ongoing due to its age.
That said, the fort is also great because it lets you get views from the other side of the Grand Harbour than most are used to in Valletta. If you want to learn more about visiting Fort St. Angelo, you can visit this website.
Address: Xatt l-Assedju l-Kbir 1565, Birgu, Malta
The Inland Sea at L’Ahrax Point
Located on the northernmost point of the main island of Malta, The Inland Sea is definitely photo worthy and a top Malta sight. Also known as Dragonara Cave, this shallow circular blue opening was created when the roof top fell into the sea, creating a massive “hole” in the shoreline. The result is a shallow coral-filled diving site that draws in divers each season. You can head to the hole to peek in – and you can even swim into it from the ocean side since there is an access cavern.
As for jumping in, you can, but it’s shallow in the bottom and the rocks would be difficult to climb out on. You would also want to be sure not to harm the coral. If you can’t do that, don’t jump in and enjoy a swim or a scuba instead.
Address: L’Ahrax Point, Malta
The Blue Lagoon on Comino
The famous Blue Lagoon is located on the island of Comino and offers crystal, shallow blue waters in a small, secluded bay. The area is great for snorkelling, swimming, or just relaxing on shore soaking up the sun. Because the Blue Lagoon is so beautiful, it can get very busy in the summer and can be hard to get to since there are only a number of ferries/water taxis that take you to Comino. You can read more about the schedules and prices of the Comino ferries here.
The Blue Grotto
Speaking of Blue-themed sights on Malta, there is also the Blue Grotto to check out. Located close to Marsaxlokk (which we mentioned above), the Blue Grotto is southwest of Valletta. The grotto itself is a made up of caverns and caves with the sunlight and the sea water penetrating throughout. The result is a visually stunning mix of colours that make the area great to explore on foot, by boat, or to dive at. Definitely a Malta sightseeing highlight if you are interested in caves!
As such, the area is a very popular tourist area in the summertime. The highlight is the giant 30-metre high archway that has been created by waves over centuries. We wish we had a photo to show you – guess you’ll have to check it out yourself.
Address: Blue Grotto, Il-Qrendi, Malta
St. Agatha’s Tower
Probably one of the most fun and obscure things on the list, checking out St. Agatha’s Tower – also called “The Red Tower” was one of Eric’s favourite things to do on Malta. The stone tower was erected high up on the hill in 1649. Over the years, it has been used by the Knights of St. John and even in World War II.
If you catch the bus to the ferry to Gozo from Valletta, you will actually pass the tower on the left. You can just get off the bus when you see it up on the hilltop. Inside the tower, there’s a nice little historical display/museum that talks about both the history of Malta and the tower, too. If you climb to the roof, the views of the area are honestly worth the small admission fee. It’s also good exercise to climb to the top of the hill to get inside. You can read more about The Red Tower here.
Address: Triq Tad-Dahar, Il-Mellieħa, Malta
St. Paul’s Catacombs
Another one of Eric’s favorite Malta sightseeing moments was visiting the historic area at St. Paul’s Catacombs – the largest Roman underground cemetery in Malta. Through the underground areas and above ground displays, you get to learn all about the Roman influence on the country back in the day.
Understandably, walking underground isn’t for everyone but if you are keen to explore the Catacombs are highly recommended. They are also close to Mdina’s old town, making them easy to walk to if you are in the area. Tickets can be purchased onsite but you can click the above link to learn more.
Address: Hal-Bajjada, Ir-Rabat, Malta
If you want to spend time at the beach while in Malta, you will have a few to choose from. The beach at Golden Bay is one of the most popular – but for a reason! The sand is a golden colour against the blue water. It makes for great swimming and amazing photos, too. Eric went here and hiked the cliff areas around for a nice little side adventure.
The beach has a Blue Flag Certification which means that it is highly rated for safety and amenities nearby. It’s also easy to get to on the buses. You can read more about the beach here. If you wanted to stay right at Golden Bay, the Radisson Blu Golden Sands is a great hotel since it overlooks the beach!
The Nightlife of St. Julian’s/Paceville
While this isn’t traditionally a Malta “sightseeing” stop or attraction, checking out the nightlife scene in St. Julian’s/Paceville is definitely worth to see with your own eyes. This area is famed for all the bars, clubs, and overall partying. In the summer and on most nights, the streets are packed with people enjoying bar after bar that line the streets.
Eric went out while in Malta with a local buddy and – because he knew the bouncers – they got into quite a few places with minimal waiting. Even if you don’t drink, the area of St. Julian’s is lively during the day and has coves, bays, and beaches to enjoy. If you’re keen to stay a little bit closer to the action in St. Julian’s, then perhaps check out St. Julian’s Bay Hotel!
Mdina’s Old Town
Another popular sight (and one of Eric’s favourite stops) was Mdina, close to Rabat (it’s technically the same town/area). In Mdina, you’ll find the medieval old town of Mdina. As the former capital of Malta way back when, there is plenty of history to learn about in museum, exhibits, and more. The best part is the high outer city wall – from which you can get great views of the surrounding area.
If you are keen to explore these areas in more depth, consider a tour of the region that includes Mdina as well as other sites of historic Malta. One of the most beautiful things you can see in Mdina is St. Paul’s Cathedral which is located within the walls of the city. You can even sleep in the Old Town which is a fascinating experience because the “Silent City” is a quiet, tranquil, romantic place after dark. To do that, check out The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux.
Malta is known for its old temples and rich history – but these temples are OLD. As the best-preserved prehistoric temples on Malta, the Ħaġar Qim is a megalithic temple complex. They were built – get this- between 3600 and 3200 BC! They were actually excavated in 1839 but very old documents and paintings have proven their existence for historians to be at this time.
Close by the main complex, you can also find Mnajdra which is another complex approximately 500 metres from the Ħaġar Qim. Because of their age and religious significance, they have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the “The Megalithic Temples of Malta”. Once you are there, there is a visitors centre that you can also check out. You can tour the temples on Malta in a single day if that’s your interest!
Address: Triq Hagar Qim, Il-Qrendi QRD 2501, Malta
St. Julian’s Bay
Located between St. Julian’s and Sliema, you’ll find a rather large bay with plenty going on. This is St. Julian’s Bay – and it’s a great place to hang out. The bay itself is actually made up of a few smaller bays like Exiles Bay, Spinola Bay, and Balluta Bay. Eric stayed at a hostel close by so he had the chance to explore this area quite often. He caught the bus to explore the island at a stop along the water’s roadway so this was convenient for exploring while in Malta.
The area along the water is full of restaurants, cafes, little beaches, and scenic views. The restaurants actually increase in frequency as you near Spinola Bay and the further you go you’ll be in the famous St. Julian’s (discussed above).
Rotunda of Mosta
As the third largest rotunda dome in the world, the Rotunda of Mosta is definitely a sight you should see. Technically called The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, this Roman Catholic church is located in the town of Mosta. Many people call the Rotunda the most impressive of all the churches in Malta – which is saying something because Malta is very religious and there are a TON of places of worship.
Built in the 1860s, the church has survived World War II bombing. The Dome itself took 27 years to construct and was designed by a French architect. You can learn all about the fascinating history of the church and explore Mosta if you check out the town on a day trip.
Address: Rotunda Square, Mosta, Malta, Il-Mosta, Malta
Oh Sliema. Sliema isn’t so much of a sight as it is an area to explore but we felt it was important to include since there is so much going on in Sliema. First and foremost, Sliema is arguably (besides St. Julian’s and Valletta) the most popular area for hotels, apartments, hostels, and guesthouses. Many visitors stay in Sliema – Eric included. You should search for hotel deals in Sliema if you also plan on staying here.
Sliema is very popular for a few reasons. The shopping is good, it has a pretty and authentic feeling, it’s not the centre of Valletta (which can get busy), and there are restaurants, cafes, and things to keep you busy. As for actual sights there, Sliema Beach is the very long rock shoreline which you can just enjoy anywhere, and towers like Torri ta’ San Ġiljan (a historical watchtower) are there for you to climb and check out!
San Anton Palace
As the official residence of the President of Malta, San Anton Palace is definitely on the must-see list. Located in the town of Attard, the place was originally built in the 17th century as a country villa. It has since been added to and restored over the years. In fact, the gorgeous public gardens around the palace – the San Anton Gardens – have been a public addition to the palace since 1882.
If you want to check out the palace and the gardens, you can visit them by yourself or hop on the San Anton Garden/Mdina tour to see many historic Maltese places with ease and comfort. The palace is gorgeous and definitely worth seeing.
Address: 24 G.Portelli, Ħ’Attard, Malta
At last, we come to the other important and beautiful harbour close to Malta’s capital region – Marsamxett Harbour. This expansive harbour to the north of Valletta is situated along the shore of Sliema and a few other smaller towns like Msida and Gzira. This harbour is full of fishing boats, tour boats, and a massive boardwalk that stretches all the way to Valletta. There is even an old fort that you can photograph – Fort Manoel – with its beautiful star shape!
Eric and his friends made the mistake of walking to Valletta from Sliema – don’t do this since it is quite far. Instead, take the ferry from Sliema to Valletta. Here’s the link to check out the Valletta-Sliema ferry website. This harbour is lined with restaurants and cafes – making it a great place to a day out in the Maltese sunshine. Again, don’t forget about those cruises to explore both harbours.
Located in the main island’s northwest corner, close to the ferry to Gozo, you’ll find Anchor Bay. This popular spot is the home of Popeye’s Village – the movie set used in the 1979 film “Popeye” that starred Robin Williams. These days, you can check out the set and the beautiful green-blue waters of the bay. You can’t really swim in the bay because it is very rough but there is a water park nearby that you can check out. The bay is, however, a popular diving site.
And there you have it – 21 of our best Malta sightseeing ideas. Keeping in mind that this is just the main island, this is also just a sample of all the things available to check out. There are other towers and ruins all over the main island. The history of Malta is fascinating and we hope you get a chance to discover everything that interests you! If you head to Malta, let us know what you think – you can tweet at us @penguinandpia if you want!
As always, Happy Malta Waddlin’,