The Maltese Islands are a heady mix of sunny days, turquoise waters, dramatic coastline and amazing historical sites. If you are a Game of Thrones fan then there’s the added bonus of some instantly recognizable filming locations across the islands.
We loved our time spent exploring Malta and, to help with your Malta planning, we’ve put together our ultimate Malta itinerary: it’s our guide to exploring the Maltese islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino and includes things to do, where to stay and what to see along the way. It’s the perfect guide for planning your own Malta itinerary.
Malta Itinerary: The Essentials
Located in the Mediterranean, Malta is comprised of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. Malta and Gozo are the main tourist islands while Comino is known for the crystal clear waters of its Blue Lagoon which are a popular day trip from the islands.
How long to spend in Malta
The Maltese islands are small and easy to navigate so even 3 days in Malta will allow you to see many of the main sights on Malta and Gozo. 4 to 7 days will allow you to check out all the sights, spend some time relaxing and take day trips to Gozo and Camino if you wish.
Best time to visit Malta
Malta is a beautiful destination year-round and we have loved our summer and winter visits to the islands.
- Summer: the summer months in Malta typically see long, dry and sunny days. Temperatures can reach 30°C during June, July and August and this is when the islands are at their most crowded. Early June is one of the best times to visit.
- Autumn/Winter: September and October are typically beautiful in Malta with temperatures reaching the mid 20°Cs although it can rain more frequently in October. Late Autumn and December can still see temperatures reaching highs of 15°C – we’ve visited Malta in early December and the weather was pleasant if a little gloomy and wet on occasion!
- Spring: the rainy days lessen in April and May and the temperatures climb towards the low 20°Cs. May is another excellent month on the Maltese islands.
Malta itinerary tip: we prefer to avoid the peak summer months as we like to sightsee and explore the islands but the higher crowds mean higher hotel prices and more traffic. If you are seeking sun and sightseeing then summer is still an excellent choice.
Malta Itinerary Map
We’ve put together this Google Map of all the things to do in each area of Malta, including the best things to see and do and places to visit.
How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.
How to get around Malta
Rental cars and public transport are both great options for exploring Malta.
Renting a Car in Malta
Renting a car in Malta is one of the best ways to see as much as possible. Malta rentals can be relatively cheap and a small car is easier. We rented a car during our time in Malta and it allowed us to see everything on the island, including trips to Gozo and Comino. Make sure to shop around and book your rental car in advance for the best price. We recommend using RentalCars.com to reserve your car. They have the best selection and prices that we’ve found – click here to book now!
Hop-on Hop-off bus tour: The Hop-on Hop-off bus tour is a great way to explore the island of Malta and stops at most of the tourist sights we mention – check prices here!
Bus: There is a good bus system in Malta and Gozo. It covers most of the tourist sites and is inexpensive.
Ferry: There are also ferries between Valletta and Sliema and Valletta and the Three Cities, as well as from Malta to the islands of Gozo and Comino.
Where to stay in Malta
The great thing about Malta is that it is relatively compact and easy to get around – in fact, you can base yourself in one hotel for your entire stay and still check out the sights across the three islands. The bustling seaside town of Sliema or nearby St Julian’s are our favourite locations, closely followed by Valletta and St Paul’s Bay.
- Gomerino Hotel, Valletta: perfectly located for sightseeing and dining the Gomerino was once a 17th Century Baroque Palace. The Gomerino’s rooftop bar, with’s its amazing harbour views, is a fantastic bonus! – check prices now!
- The Palace, Sliema: where we stayed during our time in Malta and loved the spacious rooms which were nicely furnished. The rooftop swimming pool is a real treat – check prices now!
- Hotel Juliani, St Julian’s: a gem in St Julian’s on Malta Island close to lots of bars and restaurants and with beautiful views over the bay – check prices now!
- The Duke Boutique Hotel, Gozo: if you want to stay overnight on Gozo, the Duke is one of the best hotels on the island. The hotel is excellent quality and good value – check prices now!
Malta Itinerary Overview
We’ve included all our favorite sights across the Maltese Islands and have provided suggested itineraries for 6 individual days taking in Malta, Comino and Gozo.
Malta Itinerary tip: pick and choose from our daily itineraries and individual sights as you please depending on how long you have and what you want to see. We consider the first four days as a highlight of Malta’s must see sights so focus on these if you have limited time.
Game of Thrones Malta
If you are a Game of Thrones fan you are in for a treat: Malta was a prominent filming location during Season 1 and there are various filming locations to visit in Malta and Gozo. We’ve included them as optional stops in our itinerary – if you are planning to visit the Game of Thrones sights then check out our Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta for a more detailed breakout of the locations.
Malta Daily Itinerary
Our recommended day by day Malta itinerary:
Day 1 | Valletta and the Three Cities
Our Day 1 itinerary includes Malta’s capital, Valletta, and the Three Cities, the fortified historic cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua.
Founded in 1566, Valletta is Malta’s capital city and boasts an array of historical sights and a strong Baroque presence. The fortified city is surrounded by city walls and is sandwiched between Grand Harbour and Marsmxett Harbour. It is one of the 3 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Malta and, despite its small size (it’s one of the smallest capital cities in Europe), Valletta is packed with things to see and do.
There are two excellent tours in Valletta for exploring the city:
- Walking tour: this walking tour is one of the most popular walking tours in Valetta and includes all the major sights in the city – check prices now!
- Food tour: food tours are one of our favorite ways to explore new cities and this is one of the best in Valetta – check prices now!
The entrance to Valletta is marked by the City Gate. The current gate was built in 2014 and is the fifth to stand at the entrance to the city. It’s lovely to wander through its historic and picturesque streets – the main street, Strait Street, is renowned for its Italian restaurants.
One of Valletta’s highlights is St John’s Co-Cathedral which houses two pieces of art by Caravaggio and his piece, the Beheading of St John the Baptist is often described as one of his most extraordinary works.
For the best views, check out the stunning Barrakka Gardens. The Upper Gardens overlook the Saluting Battery where a daily reenactment of the gun firing takes place at 12pm and 4pm.
For those interested in Malta’s history, the National War Museum at Fort St Elmo is a must-visit as are the Lascaris War Rooms.
The Three Cities
Directly across from Valletta are the cities of Birgu, Senglea and Cospicua which make up the Three Cities of Malta. They were the first fortified cities built by the Knights of St John when they arrived in Malta in 1530. The three cities neighbour each other and it’s wonderful to stroll around enjoying the serenity and history which exudes from every street and building.
Valletta in Game of Thrones
On the east side of the Grand Harbour, Fort Ricasoli doubled as the Gate of the Gods of King’s Landing and featured when the Starks reached King’s Landing.
The 18th Century Fort Manoel is located on Manoel Island and doubles as the steps of the Great Sept of Baelor. It was here that Ned Stark was executed.
Fort Saint Angelo, at the centre of the Grand Harbour, was the location for the Red Keep Prison and the Underground Chambers. It is where Arya chased the cat into the dungeons and where Ned Stark was imprisoned before his death.
Day 2 | Mdina and Rabat
Day 2 takes in the ancient walled city of Mdina and the nearby town of Rabat.
There is a fantastic walking tour which covers Mdina and Rabat: check prices here!
Mdina, known as ‘the Silent City’, is one of Europe’s best-preserved ancient walled cities and was once the capital of Malta. The fortified city sits atop a hill and commands views for miles around. With its narrow streets and well-preserved architecture, visitors are instantly transported back centuries upon crossing through its commanding gate.
The ancient city has over 4,000 years of history and is believed to have housed the Apostle, St Paul, when he was shipwrecked on Malta.
Mdina has some beautiful sights. As well as its magnificent entrance gate, the Gate of Mdina, its streets are lined with historic buildings in a mix of medieval and baroque architecture and one of the highlights is wandering through the city streets.
Built in the 17th Century the Baroque style St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the most popular sights in Mdina. Its ceiling is adorned with paintings of the shipwreck of St Paul and its twin bell towers are visible across Mdina. The Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady is another beautiful Baroque Chuch worth a visit. For history fans, there is also the Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum, the Mdina Dungeons and the Knights of Malta.
Make sure to pay a visit to the Fontanella Tea Gardens and admire the views from the second-floor terrace while indulging in a sweet treat. The Tea Gardens are located right on the city walls and the homemade food is delicious. It’s one of the most popular stops in Mdina and is especially beautiful at sunset.
Mdina in Game of Thrones
Some prominent Game of Thrones scenes were filmed in Mdina. It was at the entrance to Mdina where Catelyn Stark and Ser Rodrik Cassel rode into King’s Landing to try and establish what led to Bran’s fall. This is also where Ned later says goodbye to Catelyn as she sets off from King’s Landing.
Mesquita Square was the location where Jamie Lannister and his spearmen attack Ned and his guards in Season 1, Episode 5 ‘The Wolf and the Lion’. You can also find the entrance and balcony to Little Finger’s brothel as well as the Street of Steel.
Just 10 minutes east of Mdina, in the town of Attard, the San Anton Palace and Gardens made frequent appearances throughout Season 1 of Game of Thrones where it doubles as part of the Red Keep exterior. The palace is the official residence of the President of Malta and is not open to the public but you can still see some of the filming locations and the gardens themselves are beautiful.
One of the most memorable scenes from San Anton is when Joffrey took Sansa to the balcony to see the heads on spikes – her father, Ned Stark’s included.
Rabat is located just outside Mdina and is a suburb of Mdina.
Howard Gardens, which separate Mdina and Rabat, are nice for a stroll. St Paul’s and St Agatha’s Catacombs date back to the 4th Century. At the time Roman law prohibited burials within Mdina and St Paul’s is said to represent the earliest Christianity in Malta.
Other noteworthy stops include Domus Romana, a townhouse from the Roman period which boasts some of the oldest mosaic compositions from the western Mediterranean (it’s ranked alongside Pompeii and Sicily), Casa Bernard, a 16th Century palazzo that offers guided tours and St Paul’s Church, a shrine to the Apostle St Paul.
Rabat in Game of Thrones
St Dominic’s Convent in Rabat doubled as the Red Keep Garden. The water feature in the convent gardens is the location of the scene where Ned Stark confronts Cersei about Jamie being the father of her children. It is here that Cersei declared ‘When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.’
Malta itinerary tip: St Dominic’s Convent is a quiet convent and not a tourist site. Opening hours vary so it can be hit and miss if you manage to gain access.
Day 3 | Island of Gozo: Day Trip
Day 3 of our itinerary is a day trip to the Maltese island of Gozo. Gozo is Malta’s charming sister island and it is a short ferry ride between the two islands. For a tiny island, there is a surprising variety of fun and interesting things to do in Gozo.
How to get to Gozo
Many visitors do a tour of Gozo. The best options include:
- Tour: full-day tour which includes the ferry from Malta – check prices here!
- Jeep and powerboat tour: explore Gozo by jeep and return to Malta on a powerboat – check prices here!
- Quad and powerboat: explore Gozo by quad bike and return to Malta on a powerboat – check prices here!
If you are travelling independently, there are two ferry routes between the islands of Malta and Gozo
- Valletta and Gozo (passenger ferry): travel between Mgarr in Gozo and the Grand Harbour in Valletta in less than 45 minutes with Gozo Fast Ferry. 10 ferries depart Malta daily from 6am to 8pm and return from Gozo between 7am and 9pm
- Cirkewwa and Gozo (car and passenger ferry): there are frequent departures from Cirkewwa, on the North of Malta and Mgarr in Gozo
Malta itinerary tip: we take our rental car over to Gozo so use the Cirkewwa to Gozo ferry. Note, if you are brining a car you only pay your fare on the return journey – this confused me the first time we crossed, I thought I had left the ferry without paying for our ticket! If you are planning to travel by bus around Gozo then the Valleta ferry is a great option if you are staying in Valleta or on a bus route to the city.
Things to do in Gozo
Victoria, or Rabat as it’s known to locals, is the capital and the heart of Gozo. The Citadel, which dates back to the Middle Ages, is its main attraction and the fortress is visible from all over Gozo.
Gozo was first settled around 5,550 BC and one of its impressive prehistoric sights is the Temples of Ggantija. Two megalithic Temples in the Ggantija Temple Complex are described as the oldest free-standing monuments on earth. Together with five temples on the island of Malta, the Temples of Ggantija were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although Gozo’s most famous landmark, the Azure Window, collapsed in 2017, Dwerja Bay is still worth a visit. The Bay is home to spectacular sights including Fungus Rock, the Dwejra Tower, the Inland Sea and the Blue Hole.
The Wied il-Mielah Sea Arch is a beautiful sea arch if you are seeking an alternative to the Azure Window.
Other sights on Gozo that are worth visiting include Wied l-Għasri, the Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica and the Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xaghra.
Malta itinerary tip: the Popeye Village is located en route to the ferry in Cirkewwa at the North of the Island. It was the movie set for the 1980’s Popeye Musical and is now a fun village with mini golf, giant board games, a small playground, and some set props to explore. Even if you don’t visit, make sure to stop and admire the picturesque village from above.
Gozo in Game of Thrones
The now collapsed Azure Window in Gozo was the backdrop for the scenes of the Dothraki wedding feast between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen on the coast of Pentos in Season 1. It’s still easily possible to visualise the scenes from the wedding even in its absence.
Day 4 | Island of Comino and Blue Lagoon: Day Trip
Located to the west of the smallest of the Maltese Islands, Comino, the Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular day trips for visitors to Malta.
The Blue Lagoon
The postcard-perfect Malta attraction is a small lagoon with shallow turquoise waters and is sheltered by jagged cliffs and rock formations.
If you want to explore a little of Comino while you are there then take a walk (30 to 40 minutes) to St Mary’s Tower, a watchtower built in 1618. Santa Marija Bay (25 minutes) is a sandy beach with a shallow bay and is a nice retreat from the Blue Lagoon.
How to get to the Blue Lagoon from Malta
Most visitors to Malta join a tour to the Blue Lagoon. This Bluestar tour is our favourite as they are one of the first ferries to arrive at the Lagoon. As well as a 4.5 hour stop at the Blue Lagoon (with a 10-meter slide to have fun entering the lagoon from the boat!) the boat takes a scenic route past some of the best sights, including Gozo Harbour, en route – check prices here!
If you want to travel independently then Comino Ferries operate a round trip service between Marfa and Cirkewwa in Malta and the Blue Lagoon, Comino on a daily basis. The trip takes approximately 25 minutes to Comino and 35 minutes to return.
It is also possible to combine the Blue Lagoon with a tour of Gozo if you want to do both in one day – check prices here!
Day 5 | South Malta: UNESCOs and Marsaxlokk
Day 5 comprises the UNESCO listed Megalithic Temples of Malta and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum along with the fishing village of Marsaxlokk.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples, Tarxien
As well as its capital city Valletta, Malta is home to 2 other UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Megalithic Temples of Malta and the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum. The two sites are located close to each other in the town of Tarxien.
The Tarxien Temples date back to 3,150 BC and are one of seven prehistoric temples found between the islands of Malta and Gozo on the UNESCO World Heritage listing. The site is small and outdoors and gives an incredible insight into ancient life.
The prehistoric underground burial site of Hal Saflieini is one of the most fascinating sites we visited in Malta and is only accessible through a guided tour. The complex consists of interconnecting rock-cut chambers over three levels and the earliest remains date back to 4BC. The burial sites are on the top level while the middle level features red ochre wall paintings and the Lower Level is known as the ‘Holy of Holies’
Malta itinerary tip: book your tickets to the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum in advance as visitor numbers are strictly limited – tickets can be reserved on the official site here. Photography is not allowed in the Hypogeum.
Chinese Gardens, Santa Lucija
If you want to stretch your legs, the Chinese Garden of Serenity, a gift to the Maltese people from China, is a nice stop near Tarxien. The gardens, made up of several small areas, are peaceful and beautiful and have water features, pagodas, rocks and a pond.
The charming and picturesque fishing village of Marsaloxx is the largest fishing village in Malta and it’s a lovely spot to spend a few hours. As one would expect, its fish restaurants are among the best on the island making it a great lunch or dinner stop. Marsaloxx harbour is filled with colourful boats known as the Maltese Luzzu, a traditional Maltese fishing boat with a pair of eyes to symbolise protection painted on the bow.
The nearby St Peter’s Pool is a lovely natural swimming pool located along the coast. You can take a short boat ride from Masaxlokk or walk/drive.
Day 6 | West Malta: Dingli, Blue Grotto and Temples
Day 6 focuses on the West of the island with stops at the Blue Grotto, Dingli Cliffs and the ancient temples of Mnajdra and Haġar Qim.
The Blue Grotto is a series of 9 sea caves and a sea arch that are only accessible by boat from Wied iz-Zurrieq. In the morning the blue sky reflects the seabed turning the water in the caves a wonderful cobalt blue.
Malta itinerary tip: there are some viewpoints above the Blue Grotto but a morning boat trip is the best way experience its true beauty.
Mnajdra and Haġar Qim Temples
Considered unique architectural masterpieces given the limited resources available to their builders, the temples of Mnajdra and Haġar Qim are among the seven temples included on the Megalithic Temples of Malta Unesco World Heritage listing.
The Dingli Cliffs are 15 minutes west of Rabat and, at 253 metres above sea level, they are the highest point on the island. A church dedicated to St Mary Magdalene is perched on the edge of the cliffs and the views over the Mediterranean Sea are wonderful.
Malta Itinerary tip: Dingli Cliffs are only worth the detour if you have a rental car. Buses are quite infreuqent and there’s not a lot to do outside of a walk/scenic drive.
West Malta: Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones fans should make a stop at the Verdala Palace while driving between Rabat and Dingli. The palace serves as the exterior of Illyrio Mopatis’s mansion in Pentos and it is where Daenerys and Viserys Targaryen meet Khal Drogo before the wedding. The palace is the official summer residence of the President of Malta and is closed to the public.
Head north from Dingli towards Mthaleb – take care as the road is narrow and winding. The cliffs at Mthaleb appeared in some Dothraki camp scenes towards the end of Season 1. It was along the cliffs that Khal Drogo collapsed and it is also here that Daenerys emerged from the flames with her baby dragons.