If you have not yet been to Malta, then you are missing out big time. There are so much to see and do in Malta… The up and coming three island republic (comprised of Malta and sister islands Gozo and Comino) lying right in the heart of the magical Mediterranean Sea has finally secured its much and long-deserved place on the popular tourist map.
The main island Malta is already somewhat known to movie goers because of the over 200 major movies that have been filmed on this storied Crusader Knights island of history, myth, and legend. There is so very much to see in Malta and dozens of great activities to do in Malta.
Today the island of Malta could be easily declared a museum thanks in large part to its 365 historical and beautiful churches, two UNESCO World Heritage medieval walled cities that are immaculately and miraculously preserved, and countless medieval forts, towers, and palaces that grace the 95 square mile island.
It is significant to visitors looking for things to see in Malta that the country boasts more attractions per square mile than any other place on earth. With free standing buildings a thousand years older than the oldest Pyramids in Egypt, you simply have to come see what treasures the three islands hide.
You will not lack for things to see and do in Malta, whether you come for a weekend or a month. These things include more than just historical and architectural sites and world class museums by the way.
The islands are also world famous for their breads, fresh markets, fish, and many other local products and experiences just waiting for you to come. And did we mention that the island offers world class festas and a town devoted entirely to wild parties as some of their things to do in Malta?
What to do in Malta? Best things to do and see in Malta
1. Spend a day (or a week) in Valletta
The current capital of Malta (since only 1565, but recent enough by Maltese standards to be called the “modern capital” of the islands) could occupy you and the other daily tens of thousands of tourist crowds from the up to three cruise ships per day for literally weeks.
You will probably want to start your things to see in Malta in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, then work your way over to the Co-Cathedral of St. John’s, Malta’s most storied and beautifully gold gilded church whose walls just happen to be graced by the greatest collection of Caravaggio paintings anywhere in Europe (yes, even the pope was impressed when he was here).
Do not forget to see the Palace of the Grand Masters, the surviving Inns of the Knights, and the Hospital of the Knights of St. John while you are here enjoying 200 year old cafes, restaurants, and bars. There is oh so very much to see and do in Malta while you are here!
2. Embark on an underwater safari from Sliema throughout the Grand Harbor or to Comino and its famous Blue Lagoon
This experience will provide you with a glass bottom boat view of the refreshingly pristine water life of the Maltese archipelago. These are rated the cleanest seas in all of Europe, by the way.
Check this tour: Gozo, Comino, Blue Lagoon, & Sea Caves: Full-Day Sightseeing
3. Do not miss the hop on/hop off bus tours of Malta and Gozo
Among the best things to see in Malta start with the hop on/hop off bus tours. Everywhere you travel in Malta you will see these open air tour buses patrolling the island.
With so much to see, why not spend a day on two tours (one north and one south island route) where you have a narrator provided guide (in around 16 languages) and the ability to jump on and off whenever you like to take in a specific place or site of interest at your leisure?
Gozo also has a route of hop on/hop off buses that include the capital Victoria with its amazing citadel. If you only have a weekend to enjoy the many things to do in Malta, this should be near the top of your list.
4. Snorkel in one of the pristine bays of Malta, Gozo, or Comino
You are spoiled for choice of places to do amazing snorkeling in Malta and her sister islands. Anchor Bay near the world famous Popeye movie village is a great choice, as is the Caribbean blue Blue Lagoon in Comino.
If you are looking to extend your day of things to do in Malta and the north, go to the Popeye Village theme park where the movie of the same title was filmed back in the 1980’s. Many visitors mark this high on their list of things to see in Malta.
5. Spend a day touring the authentic UNESCO World Heritage walled city Mdina, built in the days of the ancient Roman Empire
This is authentic old Malta where even her favorite foreign son Paul the Apostle spent three months (admittedly as a prisoner though). On your short list of things to see in Malta should be walking the tiny city.
Alternatively you could pay for a horse drawn carriage ride in the Karozzin and having a local guide explain the countless palaces, churches, squares, and monasteries that make up this city of only 300 wealthy inhabitants.
Do not miss the incredible desserts at Fontanella Cafe which comes with free vistas over around half of Malta from the fortress walls. Mdina at night is magical and other-worldly enough that they offer popular Mdina by Night tours here. It is still called the Silent City after dark.
If you can plan your visit for April, you can catch the Medieval Mdina festival which populates the old city with characters straight out of the hey-day of the ruling Knights of St. John and their Grand Masters.
6. Take in the candle lit streets of Vittoriosa and the Three Cities by night
Arriving in October means that the charming harbor town and original headquarters of the Knights in Malta is at its best in the display called Birgufest. This event has become legendary in recent years for its beauty and excellence.
The incredible history and architecture of the town is on display with all of its Italian-esque narrow alleys, five hundred year old plus buildings, historical reenactments, beautifully decorated streets, and free for all museums, galleries, and churches.
The city becomes lit up by literally thousands of candles as all of the lights are turned off across the harbor. This is not a site that you will ever forget.
7. Do an organized pub crawl in the Paceville, Valletta, or St. Julian’s areas
These pub crawls tours are pre-arranged by the pubs and can easily fill an entire night. You are sure to make new friends who share your love of alcohol on these excursions. You can pre-book a taxi for the end of the night to be ready with your ride back to the hotel.
8. Fans of sailboat racing can not miss the world famous Rolex Middle Sea Race
This world famous sailboat race brings in visitors of the rich and famous from around the globe. Grand Harbor is where the sailing action gets underway.
Why would you attend? You can stand atop the medieval bastions of Valletta and enjoy the world class race in the glory of the world class fall Maltese weather.
9. Spend Half a day at the Malta National Aquarium in Qawra
The northern tri-city area of St. Paul’s Bay/Bugibba/Qawra is now host to the only aquarium in the Maltese Islands.
This Malta National Aquarium only opened a few years ago. It offers sharks, dolphins, and countless exotic fish and other sea creatures that you can view up close.
While up in this semi-remote part of Malta that is its own self-contained tourist resort, be sure to walk the Bugibba promenade and take the kids to the Bugibba Water Park, a fun and free outdoor attraction.
10. Take in a movie or a game of bowling
Ir you are looking for less onerous types of attractions on a things to do in Malta list here, the best movie theater and bowling alley in Malta can both be found across the street from one another in the Eden Cinemas/Eden Bowling complex. You can even get a joint ticket for both activities at an attractive discounted price.
11. Take in the Grand Harbor fortifications from a cruise
Napoleon was not kidding when he called Valletta the most impregnable city in Europe. It is these amazing and incredibly preserved intact late medieval fortifications in Fort St. Elmo, Fort St. Angelo, and several others lining the harbor that contribute to the legendary defenses of this waterfront city that was never taken in a fair fight.
Napoleon ran up a white flag of truce above his fleet and then after sailing past all the cannon platforms allegedly in friendship, he stormed the unsuspecting knights on the docks in a treacherous underhanded rout in which they forfeited all of their huge defensive advantages.
>> Do not miss it!!! Book your Grand Harbour & Marsamxett Harbour cruise by a traditional maltese boat
12. Enjoy an open sea fishing tour
Malta has such an abundance of fish that it makes sense the pristine waters would be ideal for world renowned fishing tours. You can catch an impressive size example of the tasty local fish or even an octopus on an afternoon out on the clean Maltese waters.
Read also: Where to stay in Malta
13. Do the Mediterraneo Marine Park Dolphin, Seal, and Parrot Shows
This activity will take you the better part of a day by the time you reach its pristine and remote location of Bahar ic Caghaq in the northeast of Malta. The facility features Black Sea rescued dolphins who do a show worthy of any Sea World facility.
The seals and parrots are also entertaining, giving you three shows for your reasonable entrance ticket price and making a nice day out in the beautiful Maltese Mediterranean sunshine.
14. Horseback riding on the Maltese islands
If you enjoy horse back riding or you want to learn how, go up to Golden Bay and the horseback riding country. This is a novel way to take in the beautiful surroundings and environs of relatively sparsely inhabited Malta.
15. Swim along Malta’s most beautiful beaches
Malta may be a rocky island, but it does feature several beautiful beaches with excellent swimming in the clean and clear (and miraculously shark-free) waters. Ghajn Tuffieha may be the most beautiful beach spot in all of Malta.
There are also more secluded rocky bays throughout the isle, including Marsaskala area’s St. Peter’s Pool and far north Slugs Bay.
16. Malta Air Show and the Maltese Air Museum at Ta’ Qali Crafts Village
The end of September every year welcomes flying enthusiasts from around Europe to one of the best air shows in all of the cultured continent.
From anywhere on the eastern central quarter of the island you can take in incredible and up close air displays flitting across the incomparable Maltese sea and landscape.
The island also offers a decent aircraft museum in Ta’ Qali in the island’s interior at the Malta Craft Village. You can go to both the Crafts Village and the Air Museum and make a day of it, watching the local craftsmen blow glass, throw pottery, make jewelry, and buy some authentic handmade souvenirs to take back home here.
17. Spend a wild night out in Paceville
Malta is one of those more traditional societies where night clubs have never really taken root. To address this dearth of wild after dark entertainment, the country turned a sleepy centrally located fishing village of Paceville into a glitzy, debauchery prone, gentlemen’s club and party club hub that rocks hard all year round.
There are dancing clubs and dancing girls to be enjoyed until the dawn every night of the week. The place gets pretty crowded, and you are warned that it is not for the faint of heart as the center of hedonism on the island.
18. Take the ferry from Sliema to Valletta across Marsamxett Harbor or the Valletta to the Three Ferries ferry
These are fantastic experiences to enjoy when the weather is good (as it is most of the year here). The views from the Three City Ferries of Valletta are incomparable, and you get a longer ride on the boat (maybe 15 minutes versus the less than 10 minutes from Valletta to the commercial capital of Malta— Sliema).
19. Take in the Three Cities and Vittoriosa’s Luxury Harbor and Yachts
All of the family will enjoy a day or half day in the Three Cities. From forts, beautiful medieval churches like St. Lawrence in Vittoriosa, the original Auberges (Inns) of the Knights of St. John (spectacularly preserved and open to the public at no charge), to winding Italian styled alleys and shops.
Don´t miss the incredible luxury harbor on the waterfront where you can appreciate 20 million euro yachts hailing from the Middle East and wealthy Bermuda. The Three Cities have something for everyone.
>> Book your Malta´s Three Cities Tour & Wine Tasting
20. Take the time to appreciate a world class sunset
Malta has several great cliff side locales from which you can enjoy a world class sunset. In the northwest, you can catch this every night at Golden Bay or Ghajn Tuffieha. In the west, the chalk white stark Dingli Cliffs offer the best view of the setting sun.
21. Take in some of Malta’s finest water sports in Golden Bay or Mellieha Bay
You can enjoy fine windsurfing, paragliding, water skiing, or jet skiing activities in the two bigger beach resorts in the northwest of Malta. Go to either Golden Bay with its resort complex or Mellieha Bay with its countless hotels along the sands to partake.
22. Spend a day exploring Gozo
The Malta to Gozo ferry is an unmissable experience that feels like a real journey thanks to the modern ferry port terminals at both ends of Cirkewwa in northwest Malta and Mgarr Harbor in Gozo.
The open air tour buses await you at the ferry port once you leave the terminal. You can hop on/hop off all of the best beach resorts in Gozo as well as Victoria the island’s heavily fortified citadel capital city (that held out a year against Napoleon’s French forces in 1798).
You can and should extend this trip by renting a renovated farmhouse that includes so much more than just privacy and seclusion. Most of them come with all of the modern conveniences, including a private swimming pool and four to six well appointed bedrooms.
You can see most of Gozo from the free to the public citadel atop the hill in the middle of Victoria. Several families still live in here, as they incredibly have from the 1500’s.
>> Check this Gozo Full-Day Jeep Tour with Lunch and Powerboat Ride (8 hours)
23. Spend half a day admiring the unique beauty of nature at Dwejra in Gozo and swimming in the Inland Sea
They also offer boat trips through the cave from the Inland Sea to the actual sea. All of the hop on/hop off bus tours go up to this remote northern Gozo spot, making it easy to come out and see some of nature’s more unique rock formations.
24. Spend time kayaking, abseiling, or mountain biking around Gozo
Gozo is small enough at 25 square miles that you can take it in by kayak from the sea, or mountain bike or abseil around this entire sister island of Malta’s rather easily.
25. The day trip to Comino Should not be missed
Make the boat tour visit to Comino, the unique third Maltese island where only five people live on a five square mile island that features a Medieval Crusader tower, an old British fort, two pristine bays, and a single modern hotel.
The Blue Lagoon is a movie backdrop for several famous Hollywood blockbusters. This island is so small and sparsely developed that it is easy to tour the entire gem by foot. There are no cars on Comino, and only boats provide access to the island that remains a favorite for visitors year in and out.
26. Go Camping on Comino for a once in a lifetime experience
Malta boasts very few untouched natural preserves, and this island is the best one they have to offer. You can get a camping spot and put up a tent.
At night, you will be one of only a few handfuls of people found anywhere on the entire island (you and the few dozen hotel guests and five permanent residents of Comino, that is). Star gazing anyone?
27. Plan Your Visit to Valletta around the world famous Notte Bianca
You should make it a point to visit Valletta the night of the “White Night.” All of the pricey museums and palaces magically become free, though the lines are understandably long as a result. There are musical performances from a range of live acts and deejays on three different stages throughout the lit up city.
Dance performances and theater shows also entertain the crowd until the break of dawn. Local Maltese artists always display their wares in booths found throughout the capital at the capital’s greatest and most popular festival.
28. Do a Maltese BBQ on the beach for the authentic outdoors Malta experience
If you want to feel the authentic local Maltese culture to its fullest in summer or late spring, then go buy a cheap BBQ grill from the stores along with some pre-marinated meat from the butcher and also some local drinks to have a barbecue at one of the beaches, such as Golden Bay. These typically go on late into the night in Maltese culture.
29. Enjoy a beginner’s diving course to take in one of Malta’s justifiably famed diving sites
Malta has some of the higher rated diving sites in Europe. The waters are so clear that you can fully appreciate the underwater world and beauty here. After a beginner’s course in diving, you can get certified and be ready to go out with an experienced local guide.
30. Enjoy a spa treatment at one of Malta’s four star/five star resorts
Malta takes great pride in offering great spa treatments to help you enjoy your holiday or to detox. Myoka Spa is one of the best. They are located within several different fine hotels in the top Maltese resort complexes.
31. Go to admire the Blue Grotto sea caves and surrounding environs of the south of Malta in Zurrieq
The south of Malta is often overlooked by visitors more eager to take in the most famous attractions of the center and north of the island. The south may be underdeveloped (eerily similar to Italy), but some of the more beautiful spots can be found here. The Blue Grotto cave is a setting for several major Hollywood Blockbusters filmed in part here.
32. Watch weekly horse races in Qormi like the Queen of England
Queen Elizabeth actually lived about a year and a half in Malta in the early 1950’s with her then newlywed husband Prince Philip. She fondly remembers this as the happiest year in her life (saying something at 95 years old). She used to enjoy the horse races in Qormi on Sundays. You can party like the queen there still every Sunday morning.
33. Experience Medieval Maltese falconry traditions in Siggiewi
A little known attraction that is fun for all of the family in more rural Siggiewi is the Malta Falconry Centre. They offer daily traditional Medieval falconry shows and exhibitions.
34. Play the odds at one of Malta’s three high-end casinos
Malta is no Macau where casinos are concerned, but the island does boast three-higher end options. In Vittoriosa (Birgu) you can go to Casino di Venezia for an Italian like experience. St. Julian’s offers the highest-end Dragonara Casino near the most exclusive enclave of the island. Bugibba boasts the Oracle Casino to entertain the north island holiday makers.
35. Enjoy the traditional Victory Day celebrations in Grand Harbor
Malta loves to celebrate independence and victory days. They have half a dozen of them. On Victory Day on the 8th of September, the capital comes together for the traditional regatta boat rowing races held in Grand Harbor. There are also grand fireworks launched over the harbor after dark.
36. Experience the annual Isle of MTV celebration
Malta has vastly increased its reputation in the world of international partying by attracting and keeping the Isle of MTV open air concert at the open air Granaries venue square just outside of the capital Valletta (in Floriana, an easy walk from the capital city’s gates).
Isle of MTV presents an eye opening headliners assortment every year. Past acts have showcased Lady Gaga, Will.I.am, David Guetta, Nelly Furtado, Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo, OneRepublic, Maroon 5, and Jessie 7, to name just a few performers.
Tens of thousands of hedonistic party-hearty music lovers mob the island at the end of June for what could be one of the very biggest (free) open air concerts in all of Europe.
The whole island chain gets into the experience, with a number of parties organized throughout Malta and Gozo to celebrate the MTV spectacular. The local nightlife and clubbing scene sees its golden age at this time.
37. Film Tours of Malta
You can not come to Malta and not participate in one of their many film tours. These guide-led events include transportation and commentary on some of the most filmed sites and locations in the island of Malta, including Rabat, Mdina, Valletta, Vittoriosa, Blue Grotto caves, and more.
Over 200 major movies and TV shows have been filmed in Malta, most of them in the last few decades. Remember Game of Thrones (the entire first season was based in Malta and Gozo), Troy, Gladiator, Popeye, Assassins’ Creed, World War Z, and the Count of Monte Cristo? These were substantially filmed in the Maltese Islands.
Steven Spielberg has famously said about Malta that there is no single other destination on earth in which you can film so many different period and present day settings, cities, and countries from around the world as in Malta.
That is a huge endorsement from one of the leading Hollywood directors and producers that you simply cannot afford to ignore while here.
Try to get in on the Water Tanks in the southeast of Malta if you can. Huge ship battles are regularly filmed here in the largest water tanks of their kind in Europe (think Troy here).
38. Enjoy a historical reenactment from the time of the Knights of St. John by the present day Knights of Malta at In Guardia at Fort St. Elmo
The Knights of Malta/Knights of St. John still exist, though they are today headquartered in Rome. They come back down to Malta every summer and hold a summer long residence at Fort St. Angelo.
During this time, the knights remember their golden age and glory days ruling Malta by partaking in the world famous In Guardia reenactment display at Fort St. Elmo, where once they battled the Ottoman Turkish fleet and army for the future of all Southern Europe.
This is not to be missed, as a musical parade and choreographed fighting and marching spectacular, complete with a show ending fireworks display, of course.
39. Go visit and tour one of the open historical watchtowers along the coast
Malta has over a dozen impressive late medieval era watch towers which are really small castles complete with dry moats and easily defended bridges. Several of them are open to the public, as in St. Agatha’s Tower (the Red Tower) overlooking Mellieha Bay or Marsaxlokk Tower protecting and overlooking Marsaxlokk Bay.
40. Admire some of Malta’s incomparable churches
The Knights outdid themselves in their late Medieval and Renaissance period church construction campaign to make sure they had one church for every day of the year. They had more money to spend than they knew what to do with obviously. Many of these churches are covered in gold and silver inside.
Some of the finest churches on the islands include Gozo’s Ta’ Pinu Basilica, the third largest domed church on earth the Mosta Dome, the Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck and Co-Cathedral of St. John’s in Valletta, the St. Paul’s Cathedral in Mdina, the Church of Peter and Paul in Rabat, the Village Church of Balzan, the Chapel of San Anton, and the Mellieha Church of Our Lady of Victories in Mellieha in the north.
Malta is justifiably famed for having 365 historical churches in its 125 square mile territory. After five years residing in Malta, I have managed to personally see around two dozen of them.
The crusading Knights of St. John ruled the island for 3 centuries and made it their successful mission (and eternally lasting legacy) to build one church for every day of the year.
41. Go inside of the surviving Auberges (Inns) of the Knights of St. John around Valletta and the Palace of the Grand Masters
The Knights were the greatest builders of the Middle Ages. Among their incredible projects were the auberges, or inns, where the various nationalities of the Knights actually lived and dined.
In Valletta, you can go inside of the surviving and immaculately preserved Auberges of Castille (when it is open, also is the Prime Minister’s office), Provence (the Museum of National History), Italy (the Office of Tourism), and England.
The Palace of the Grandmasters is a beautiful late Medieval palace that acted as the fortress of last defense for the Grand Master and their impressive knightly forces.
The beautiful State Rooms and the Palace Armory (also the largest medieval weapons and armor collection on earth anywhere) including the golden suit of armor of one of the Grand Masters can be toured for a hefty price. It is completely free on Notte Bianca.
42. Take the Hospital of the Knights Tour
While taking in Valletta, you should not miss the tour of the Hospital of the Knights of St. John. This largest hospital in the world for centuries is also full of catacombs you can explore on a narrated, guided tour. Today the building also doubles as the popular venue the Mediterranean Conference Centre in lower Valletta.
43. Follow a weekend long Good Friday to Easter Procession Around the Islands
Malta is rightly famous for its Easter weekend spectacles in which they reenact all of the Holy week events from ancient Jerusalem and the final week of Jesus’ life. Mosta and Zebbug do this particularly well. The statue of Our Lady of Sorrows makes a Valletta-wide parade circuit to open the Holy Week.
44. Do not miss the world’s oldest buildings constructed by ancient man
Malta has a little-known but huge claim to fame that helps to draw in millions of tourists a year. The islands are the site of the world’s oldest free-standing structures. Think Stonehenge from England but thousands of years more ancient.
Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temple complexes are the oldest existing buildings humanity has built on the planet. Malta has around 30 of these awe-inspiring Megalithic temple sites, the most impressive of which must be the Hypogeum complex in Hal Safli.
This underground temple is cut literally into the rock (think Petra). It was constructed starting in 3600 B.C. Tickets must be booked well in advance in order to assure a tour, as it is nearly always fully booked for months ahead of time.
45. Go to one of the legendary Maltese Religious Festas
No one can put the Maltese people to shame when it comes to their dozens of amazing festas every summer. The Maltese take these festivals very seriously. There are fantastic fireworks displays (by day and night) during the Fireworks Festival at the end of April and at every weekend long village festa.
These parties get into crazy full swing most every weekend somewhere in the islands all summer long from April till October.
The traditional village feasts include professional marching bands, parades, costumes, free flowing alcohol and edible dainties, and of course, fireworks for the entire weekend. The churches bring out their beautiful and larger than life-sized saint statues to parade around town.
Originally a primarily religious celebration, these festas are now heavily inebriated festivals, the biggest weekend long party for most villagers. Traditional Maltese music vies with impressive big band styled tunes throughout the days and nights.
46. Spend an afternoon at Sliema’s promenade Lido or the Baia Beach Club
When you are ready to hang out with a few drinks in hand by the pool, you should go to The Lido on the Sliema promenade. This features great music and good food and drinks served up here. You could also go to the Baia Beach Club in the North of Malta to lounge comfortably by the sea.