Things to do in Malta at the Blue hole at Dwejra on the island of Gozo

Best Things to Do In Malta and Gozo

Post updated 14 March, 2022

What do you do when your company is bought out, you know you’ll be out of work for a month or so, and your new job starts at the end of November? Plan a trip to Malta. That’s what.

In the summer of 2018, Chris and I began planning a European excursion for November but hadn’t yet decided on a location. I happened upon a pin titled, “10 of the Best Things to do in Malta and Gozo” on Pinterest and it inspired part of our travel itinerary.

The palm trees and sunshine were a welcome sight in November while exploring the Republic of Malta. We were delighted to find some pretty amazing things to do in Malta and Gozo.

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Things to do in Malta? Stay at the Hilton Malta

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Let me just say, if you are traveling to Malta and want to stay in a stunning location, choose the Hilton Malta. If you are not a member of the Hilton Honors Reward Program, now is a great time to sign up.

The benefits of being a Hilton Honors Reward Member are:

  • Free WiFi
  • Digital Check-in
  • Accrue Points toward FREE night stays
  • Exclusive Rates
  • Choose Your Room

When you love to travel, signing up for reward travel should be first on your list of things to do.

The Hilton Malta is located along the Portomaso waterfront in beautiful St. Julians in Malta.

Hilton Malta

Portomaso, St. Julians
Malta

Call: +356-2138-3383

Chris and I found Malta to be a relatively inexpensive travel destination within Europe. You may find other destinations such as Serbia, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic and Croatia that also offer cheaper travel options.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

While in our taxi from the airport to our hotel, Chris chatted with the driver about things he recommend we do in Malta; the driver suggested that our first stop of the evening should be the Upper Barrakka Gardens next to the Castille Palace.

Briggs and Riley luggage in Malta

After checking in at the Hilton Malta, we dropped off our luggage and climbed into a taxi to Valletta—the capital city—a 20-minute taxi ride away.

This driver was friendly as well, sharing helpful information as we drove. He dropped us off at the Gardens.

Valletta is a cruise ship terminal, so there were mobs of cruise ship passengers to work around.

View from the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Malta

There weren’t many instances of waiting patiently for the perfect photograph [affiliate] as so many others were trying to capture the scenery as well.

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No doubt you would love the many beautiful and instagrammable photo opportunities at the gardens and along the winding streets of Valetta. Finding these spots are awesome things to do in Malta.

Sunset in November was early, as it was at home, and limited our time for looking around during daylight hours.

Instead of returning to our hotel by taxi, however, we noted a ferry traveling back and forth across the bay from Valletta to Sliema and were pleasantly pleased with €1,50 ticket price.

We did have about a half an hour walk back to our hotel once arriving at Sliema, but after three long flights, we were happy to be out and about stretching our legs.

Visit Gozo

Gozo, an island belonging to the Republic of Malta, can be considered the smaller sister island of Malta. If you are looking for things to do while on vacation, a trip to Gozo should be part of the plan.

Gozo is a delightful place for a romantic getaway or honeymoon. In fact, bring along your 99 questions to ask your partner as you travel to add a little bit of fun to your day.

Plan for an early start to your day, especially if you are coming from Portomaso; you will need to catch a bus to Cirkewwa and then the ferry to Mgarr, Gozo.

Starting the morning with an optimistic attitude, Chris and I dressed for a Life is Good® kind of day.

Life is Good affiliate

Chris and I both packed our backpacks for the day of sightseeing—Chris’ with water and snacks.

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Mine was filled with my camera and lenses, some snacks, a water bottle, and Zipfizz [affiliates].

Don’t forget to pack the Built Bar protein bars or puffs if you want to snack throughout the day.

Well, except you will want gelato. You still have to buy gelato!

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Bonus * Use Code SJTRAVELS at checkout for 10% off your Built Bar purchase.

If you are going to spend the day sightseeing with your camera when you plan for things to do in Malta, I highly recommend investing in the Peak Design Camera Clip.

The clip attaches to the strap of your backpack and makes for an easy-on easy-unclip experience. Plus, your camera won’t be so heavy hanging from your neck all day long.

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The bus stop for bus 222 wasn’t too far from the Hilton Malta; we were glad to snag seats for the one-hour ride to the ferry. The ferry was then another 25 minutes to Gozo. Such reasonable prices when we visited in 2018. €1,50 for the bus and €4,35 round trip for the ferry. 

We hadn’t done as much research on the island of Gozo as we might normally undertake, but we should have. We said “No” to the taxis AND the Hop On Hop Off tours and just took off walking. It wasn’t too far to the church in Ghanjsielem where we wanted to stop first.

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I found the people on the island to be friendly in returning my smiles. And a first for any European country—a lady actually said “Hi” to me first!

We waited at the bus stop for a ride in to Victoria only to find that the bus was coming from the ferry terminal and was completely full. It just drove right on by us. The next bus wouldn’t come for almost an hour. So we set off to walk some more.

And more.

And more. 

The one bus we could have ridden arrived at the bus stop early and we were still too far away. We watched as it arrived at its designated stop five minutes early and then moved on.

So, we walked a couple of miles more until finally reaching Victoria. 

My advice? Plan to tour on the Hop On Hop Off bus tours, take the bus, or hire a taxi at the ferry terminal. You’ll be glad you did.

Once we finally made it to Victoria, we were famished. We hadn’t had much breakfast and we were ready for a rest. We stopped at the first cafe we found—Hog.

Rejuvenated by our lunch, we toured the Cittadella (Citadel) in Victoria. It was made of limestone and had served as a fortress for the residents of the island until it was breached and the people were all carried away to be slaves in foreign countries.

Some of the fortress was in ruins; some of it had been reinforced. Many of the walls still stood.

Explore Blue Hole at Dwejra on the Island of Gozo

You will definitely want to take a bus from Victoria to Dwejra to see the Blue Hole.

Gelato first and then water when you arrive though. Those should be your first priorities.

Chris and I sat on the rocks to eat and enjoy the view. The rocks had been worn and weathered by the tide over the years.

You will definitely want to watch your steps as you make your way to the cliffs and water’s edge.

If you are feeling a little brave (and have come prepared with a swim suit) you might even want to do a little cliff jumping.

Sadly, the Dwejra Arch or Azure Window, a natural limestone arch, had collapsed in a storm on March 8, 2017.

When we returned from Gozo to Malta by ferry, we had to catch the 4:30 bus at Dwejra to return to Victoria and then catch another bus to the ferry terminal.

Once arriving back on Malta from the ferry, we queued up for the next hour-long bus ride back to St. Julians.

A guy with a van offered €5 rides with a guaranteed seat (instead of possibly standing on the bus for the next hour). Chris and I, along with about ten others, jumped at the chance.

We reached St. Julians far sooner than we would have on the bus, we had comfortable seats, and our driver dropped us off close to our hotel. I highly recommend the option if you get the chance.

Malta blue footer

Things to do in Malta Should Include a Visit to Marsaxlokk Bay

On our last full day in Malta, the sun was shining but the air was still a little cool.

We had a lovely breakfast in the hotel restaurant and enjoyed the outdoor seating and excellent buffet.

Good thing I don’t eat that much food most mornings!

When chatting with the Concierge about things to do in Malta, he suggested a visit to Marsaxlokk first before a Hop On Hop Off tour of the island.

We opted for a taxi directly to Marsaxlokk (pronounced Mar-sa-schlock) instead of an hour bus to Valletta and then a change to another bus to Marsaxlokk. Marsaxlokk Bay reminded me a lot of the village of Cassis in France when we had the chance to explore for five spectacular days in the South of France.

Our driver got us to Marsaxlokk in no time, offering to take us around the rest of the island for $35/hour. We planned to explore with a Hop On Hop Off bus tour and declined his offer. 

I loved the boats in the harbor and took pictures while Chris soaked up some sun.

Impressive sites in Malta

Marsaxlokk, a fishing village, is known for its colorful fleet of “Luzzu” boats. They are moored everywhere in the harbor.

Photographing the boats should definitely be on your list of things to do in Malta when you plan your visit.

The luzzu boats have a reinforced hull which makes them a hardy boat and resistant to the extreme weather condition. They have survived for many years and are still used by the fishermen of Malta today.

The luzzu boats, boasting vibrant yellow and blue colors, are decorated with eyes engraved on both sides of the prow, believed to be a symbol of protection while the fishermen are at sea and good health.

While strategically important over the centuries, Marsaxlokk Bay today is a beehive of activity where you can find fishermen repairing their nets and preparing for the day, souvenir stalls to peruse, and Instagram-worthy scenery.

The tourism office was on the far side of the harbor and we made our way there to ask questions about the Hop On Hop Off bus. There were two companies running buses, but only one would allow you to change from the South tour to the North tour without extra cost.

We sat on top of the bus for the view, but it was definitely chilly as we drove at higher speeds between cities.

Explore Mdina

During our bus tour as we explored Malta, we wanted to get off at Mdina (Im-dina) as Sharon, our waitress from the previous night, mentioned that it was a beautiful fortress city set up on a hill.

I LOVED Mdina.

It was one of the most impressive sites in Malta during our stay. It reminded me of some of the French and Italian cities we have toured, with stone walls and walkways, beautiful doors and windows, impeccably clean streets, horse and buggy rides…and people actually lived within the walls of the fortress.

You have probably seen the picture of the blue door and the bougainvillea growing up the wall before. It is a popular spot for photos.

Mdina is also known as Malta’s “Silent City”. The fortress sits atop a hill with an impressive view of the neighboring towns and countryside. You also might enjoy these attractions while visiting Mdina:

  • Architecture
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral
  • Cathedral Museum
  • Fontanella Tea Garden
  • Knights of Malta
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • St.Paul’s Catacombs
  • Buskett Gardens in neighboring Rabat
  • Mdina Dungeons

It was getting dark and much colder shortly after we left Mdina. The tour was winding down, but we still had quite a ways to go before returning to our hotel.

The bus driver came to find out everyone’s stops and then proceeded to drop people off along the way. Now that is service! 

Chris and I finally left the outdoor seating on the top of the bus for the warmer, restricted views inside the bus. It was almost dark though, so it was time to warm up.

Additional Things to do in Malta

If you have a little more time to spend in Malta, you might also consider exploring here:

  • Snorkel or Dive at the HMS Maori
  • Explore the Lascaris War Rooms via tunnels under the Barrakka Gardens
  • Tour Casa Rocca Piccola Museum
  • Explore Fort St. Elmo
  • Visit Mosta Dome
  • Ride Horses at Golden Bay
  • Tour St. John’s Cathedral
  • Explore ruins of the Ggantija Temples on Gozo
  • Visit Ta’Quali Craft Village

If Malta is just a stepping stone in your travels around the Mediterranean, consider Catania, Sicily as your next stop. It is just a short flight from Malta.

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5 impressive sites in malta and gozo post

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Malta and Gozo

Following our first trip to Malta, Chris and I headed to France. Read about our 5 Spectacular Days in the South of France.

While Malta and Gozo had never been on our travel radar before, it was a delightful visit and relatively affordable.

I highly recommend a visit to Malta. There are so many things to do in Malta that you will want to plan for at least four days…if not more.

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36 Comments
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Shelley
11 months ago

Malta has been so high on the top of my bucket list for so long! There seems to be so little info about this beautiful place, so I am thrilled I found your blog… I will definitely be heading to Mdina when I visit.

Megan
11 months ago

That’s great the ferry was so affordable! That would be way more fun than a taxi. And after such a long flight, walking is so refreshing anyway!

Vanessa Shields
Vanessa Shields
11 months ago

I’ve wanted to visit Malta for quite awhile and now more so! Each area looks gorgeous whether it is by the water or wandering a charming street. I think visiting Mdina would be my favorite!

Jen
Jen
11 months ago

We have a very similar story in fact. When my company closed and I had some time, I also booked a trip. 🙂 Malta looks really cool. I’ve been wondering about it for some time. I don’t always hear about it. It looks just beautiful. I live in France so I’m not too far…will definitely start considering it. 🙂

Denise
11 months ago

I had an aunt who lived on Malta and always wanted to visit! Good to know it’s affordable!

Wellness Travel Diaries
11 months ago

Oh my gosh, I love the city of Valletta and Mdina! They are both insanely charming and beautiful, such a great mixture of history, architecture, and vibrant city life. I didn’t get the chance to go to Gozo, but I hope I can go back and see the island. Thanks for sharing!

Moona
11 months ago

I want to visit Malta so bad… I’m hoping to go for my birthday so this is timely. The island looks so charming, especially Mdina…I can’t wait to visit.

Linda (LD Holland)
11 months ago

On the travel wish list! Would love to visit Malta. It was on the travel planning board and then 2020 hit. Your post sure showed me why we need to keep Malta on the travel planning board. 

Hannah
11 months ago

These spots look so beautiful! Mdina looks stunning and I’d love to visit Upper Barrakka Gardens. Thanks for sharing these beautiful places!

Payton Jameson
11 months ago

Think I’ll have to add these destinations to my bucket list!

kate
kate
11 months ago

Malta is so, so high on my list! A tour sounds like a great way to learn more about the country and I would definitely love to visit Mdina!

Kitti
Kitti
11 months ago

Malta is very high on my bucket list. I would love to visit Mdina, it looks so picturesque but so is Blue Hole at Dwejra. The place looks so impressive.

annelies
annelies
11 months ago

Ah Gozo is wonderful! I still got the chance to see Azure Window. too bad it collapsed!

cosette
11 months ago

Such beautiful sites in Malta and Gozo. Malta is still on my radar to travel to, and after reading various blogs, I know I’ll have to go to Gozo then to.

Krista
Krista
11 months ago

All of these locations look beautiful to visit! I can’t wait to get to Malta and walk around its historic streets.

Lasma
Lasma
6 months ago

I’m in Malta right now and I absolutely loved Gozo. Found some more things to try around here, so thank you for sharing this list! Well done!

Travel A-Broads
6 months ago

It sounds like you had an amazing and relaxing trip! I would love to visit Malta one day, and the Marsaxlokk Bay stood out to me the most from your post. Thanks for sharing! Xx Sara

Laura
6 months ago

I would love to visit Malta. I haven’t read much about Gozo before and I’m absolutely adding it to my list, along with the hop on and off bus 🙂

kmf
kmf
6 months ago

Malta and Gozo are breathtaking. So many cool things to do. This is a perfect guide!

Ashlee Fechino
6 months ago

I have heard many amazing things about Malta! Someday we would love to visit. Saving this article for later. Mdina looks so cute!

Jeanine
5 months ago

Malta has always been on my DO list but never been able to get around to it… I will definitely be moving it up the list now thank you

Valentina
Valentina
4 months ago

My best friend just moved to Malta so this article will really help me when I will go to visit her and explore the island.