Are you interested in discovering Malta by car, but you have no idea where to start? Read this perfect 6-day itinerary and find out everything Malta has to offer: sandy beaches, limestone cliffs, old fishing villages, underground cemeteries, churches and miracles, old cities, and beautiful gardens!
Day 1. Marsaxlokk – Marsaskala – St. Peter’s Pool – Blue Grotto – Gnejna Beach – Dinner in Mgarr
Start your first day in Malta with a trip to some fishing villages, head to St. Peter’s Pool to watch the locals jumping from the cliffs, and go on a boat ride to Malta’s famous Blue Grotto. For the rest of the day, relax at Gneja beach. Drive to Mgarr and stop at Il Bari Restaurant for the best Maltese dishes on the island.
In the south-eastern part of Malta, you’ll find the largest fishing village with a population of 4,000. The picturesque town of Marsaxlokk is popular for the Sunday fish market when many locals buy the day’s catch.
Park the car near the promenade and take a short walk to admire the village or enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the many terraces.
Only 7 km from Marsaxlokk lies the picturesque fishing village of Marsaskala, with 10,000 inhabitants. As many Maltese families own summer houses here, the lovely village turns vibrant in the summer months and the population doubles.
Park the car near the promenade and take a quick stroll around the area. You’ll see many lovely fishing boats, typical for Malta.
Not far, overlooking the harbor, lies the Parish Church, a mid-20th-century church dedicated to St. Anna.
After your visit here, drive another 2km until you reach the Salt Pans area. There are countless benches to sit and admire the salt pans system, the sea, and the waves.
Walking the promenade, look for the Scarlet Window, a tiny replica of the Azure Window from Gozo.
The promenade stretches all the way to St.Thomas Bay, a great place for swimming and sunbathing. First, find a spot to snap some photos from above before heading down to the rocky beach. If your time allows you, you can visit one of the nearby towers: St. Thomas Tower, Mamo Tower, or De Redin Tower.
Close to Marsaxlokk, at the tip of Delimara Point, you’ll find one of the most beautiful natural swimming pools in Malta. The water is crystal clear, with some turquoise and green colors, offering great snorkeling possibilities.
The road leading to St. Peter’s Pool is not the best bust manageable. Follow the signs, and you’ll find a designated parking lot. Leave the car here and stay as much as you want for a small fee.
The natural pool is popular among locals and tourists, offering great possibilities for plunging into the water. The beach is quite small, and finding a proper place to lay down is hard to do, especially in high season.
A boat tour through the massive arch formation and the most beautiful turquoise water at Blue Grotto is something you can’t miss from your 6-day itinerary.
If you’ve heard about Malta, you’ve heard about Blue Grotto, a highly visited spot due to the cave system, which can be accessed only by boat.
Stop at the designated area for a panoramic catch of the cave system before heading down to the boat ramp.
Boat rides last 20 minutes and are available every day from 09:00 to 17:00 in summer and from 09:00 to 15:30 in winter, weather permitting.
Note. If you miss this spot, you can hop in a boat at Blue Grotto in Gozo. The tour lasts 20 minutes, but it’s less touristy, and you’ll see many rock formations and small caves.
The popular sandy beach among the locals, Gnejna Beach, lies outside the beautiful town of Mgarr. One of the three sandy beaches in the area, this one is smaller and not so crowded, therefore quieter. Bring your goggles as the crystal clear water is great for snorkeling. What makes Gnejna striking – the colorful boatman houses and the gorgeous limestone cliffs bordering the bay.
Note. There are rocks inside the water, so wear water shoes or head to the right side to jump from the rocks. Parking can be tricky in high season. There are some food and drink stalls near the beach.
After spending some leisure time at the beach, head to Mgarr town for dinner. For the best-fried rabbit with garlic and horsemeat stew, stop at Il-Barri restaurant, a family-run restaurant since 1940. The Maltese dishes served here are supposed to be the best on the island. This is another must on your 6-day itinerary, so you should definitely give it a try.
After dinner, pay a quick visit to the Parrish Church and stroll around the area.
If you feel inspired, you can stop for a drink at one of the few restaurants near the central square.
Day 2. St. Paul’s Catacombs – Rabat – Mdina – Dingli Cliffs
Today you’ll be driving to the beautiful towns of Rabat and Mdina. Visit Paul’s Catacombs in the morning and head to the Silent City for lunch or coffee. A quick stop to see the famous Dingli Cliffs before driving to Golden Bay and spending the rest of the day swimming and lazing in the sun.
St. Paul’s Catacombs & Rabat
Mdina’s charming neighbor, Rabat, houses the oldest Roman underground cemetery in Malta. Like the famous Hypogeum, but more affordable, the interconnected catacombs cover an area of 2,000 square meters. The name comes from the Apostle Paul, who brought Christianity to the island, and as a consequence, Malta became one of the first Roman colonies to convert. The site was first investigated by Dr. Antonio Caruana back in 1894.
Finding a parking space can be tricky but still manageable. Walk to the catacombs and explore underground life. There are over 30 hypogea, and 20 are open to the public. The remarkable labyrinth of tunnels carved out of solid rock should definitely be on your 6-day itinerary. At St. Paul’s Catacombs you’ll discover many archaeological artifacts, artworks, and some skeletons. The site is easy to wander around, but you should wear some comfortable shoes as you climb many stairs.
On your way to Mdina, you’ll pass Rabat’s streets and squares; look for the colorful Maltese balconies.
If you want to explore the quieter side of life, head to Mdina, Malta’s capital in the Middle Ages, and stroll the sleepy streets. With a history of more than 4,000 years, Mdina or Silent City is a peaceful fortress where you can get lost in the maze-like alleys.
The fortress has only 300 residents, and only a few cars are allowed to drive inside.
One of the main attractions is St. Paul’s Cathedral, the oldest church in the country. You can admire the amazing architecture and gorgeous paintings for a 10€ fee.
While strolling the streets, stop at Fiori di Mari for a sweet treat. Enjoy the ice cream while admiring the views over the island from the top of the bastions.
We visited the Silent City in October, during pandemic times, and the area was almost abandoned. After wandering the streets for a while and tasting the best ice cream, we declared Mdina our favorite place on the island. So glad we included this visit in our 6-day itinerary.
If you are into rugged coastlines and cliffs, drive along the western side of the island and take a look at these remarkable cliffs.
Rising around 253 meters above sea level, Dingli Cliffs is the highest point in Malta. Once there, go on the trail to see the cliffs. The walk is not long, and the views along the edge are wonderful. The best timing for photography is in the afternoon. There is a small church on top of the cliff.
If Dingli Cliffs are not on your agenda, don’t get upset. You’ll bump into many cliffs while driving the coastline of Malta.
After so much walking and sightseeing, now it is time to relax at Golden Bay, another great swimming and snorkeling option. Beautiful cliffs surround the bay, and the huge sandy beach is the perfect choice for families and children. Parking is huge, and there is a small bistro for takeaways and drinks. During the summer months, the beach is a favorite spot for parties and barbeques.
Day 3. Gozo Island and Popeye Village
On your third day in Malta, wake up early so you’ll have plenty of time to discover everything Gozo has to offer. Before reaching the Cirkewwa, stop at Popeye Village’s viewpoint for some panoramic shots. Or you can do it after you visit Gozo if time allows.
Not far away from Cirkewa, where the ferry to Gozo leaves, is the thematic park Popeye Village. The Village was a film set for the musical production “Popeye” back in 1980. The place is now an attraction park, consisting of wood colorful buildings with few shows for entertaining, rides and games, and food stalls. One of the best things to do in Malta, especially if you have children, is visiting the Popeye Village. If you want to spend a day at the beach, you can do it here: the water is crystal clear and calm.
If you don’t wish to visit the park, you can snap the village from a panoramic spot, outside the village, easy to reach by car.
A visit to Gozo Island should definitely be on your 6-day itinerary. Drive to Cirkewwa and take the ferry to Gozo. Start with a generous breakfast, then walk through the Citadel. Drive to the gorgeous Ta Pinu Sanctuary, buy some souvenirs from the Ta Dbiegi Craft Village, go on a boat ride at Gozo’s Blue Grotto and explore the salt pans from Marsalsforn.
Are you planning a day trip to Gozo? Read my article: GOZO BY CAR – ONE DAY TRIP ITINERARY
Day 4. Mosta – San Anton Gardens – Riviera Beach – St.Julians
On this day, you’ll drive to Mosta to learn more about the miracle; you’ll wander through the San Anton Gardens, and spend some leisure time at Riviera Beach. In the evening, stroll St. Julians and Sliema’s promenade before settling at one of the many restaurants for a delicious meal and drink.
The Miracle of Mosta
Malta has 365 churches, one for every day of the year, but none has such a spectacular story as The Church of the Assumption of Our Lady in Mosta.
During World War II, Malta was one of the most bombed countries on the planet. On 9th April 1942, a 500 kg bomb hit the church’s dome and landed inside. At that time, more than 300 people were inside the church for a mass. Fortunately and surprisingly, the bomb didn’t explode. It was a miracle! Many parishioners left while others stayed and prayed. Today, the Mosta is celebrated for its miracle and continues to attract lots of tourists.
What makes this church so special? The spherical shape, the gorgeous 37-meter dome, the baby blue walls, and the Jesus paintings. While touring the church, make sure to stop for a short movie introducing the events and head to the bomb’s replica.
TIP. I would recommend buying the full tickets so you will get the chance to walk the 74 stairs to the dome, admire the views from the roof and visit the air-raid shelter where people gathered during the Italian bombing campaign—entrance just outside the church.
San Anton Gardens
A visit to San Anton Gardens is the perfect choice if you want to spend an hour or so in the shade, away from the traffic and the heat. Part of the official residence of Malta’s President, San Anton Gardens, are open to the public. The walled gardens provide a lovely array of different plants and flowers, many fountains, and beautiful trees. The place is so peaceful and quiet!
The gardens came as a surprise to us: we didn’t expect to see so many peacocks, hens, or turtles!
I have to be honest: Riviera beach is my favorite beach in Malta. Yes, it is crowded and busy, but the panoramic views are amazing. The limestone cliffs surrounding this bay, with no buildings to obstruct the views, are amazing.
You’ll have to walk down some stairs to the beach, but once there, you’ll see that there is enough space for everyone. The entrance is smooth, and the water crystal clear. There is also a restaurant serving different kinds of dishes and drinks.
We got there on a windy day, and everyone was euphoric on the waves’ high and strength.
St Julian’s & Sliema Promenade
St. Julian’s and Sliema are two popular touristic spots in Malta, north of Valletta. The towns are considered Malta’s nightlife hub, providing a huge diversity of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The best way to know these places is by taking a stroll along the promenade that connects them. The walk along the shore is enjoyable and vibrant, and you should include it in your 6-day itinerary.
The walk will take you to Balluta Bay, where you’ll spot locals and tourists taking a swim at the tiny beach. Nearby are the famous historical architecture Balluta Building and the gorgeous Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
At Spinola Bay, you’ll find lots of restaurants, coffeehouses, and bars.
You don’t know where to stop? No need to worry, the options are endless: from Maltese restaurants to Italian and Asian Cuisine, from Turkish to Balkans kitchen.
If you want to relax for a while, grab an ice-cream and rest on a bench at Independence Gardens, one of Sliema’s largest parks.
Day 5. Valletta – The 3 Cities – Imgieban Beach
On your fifth day, you’ll wander the streets of Valletta, take a look at the famous Caravaggio’s masterpiece, and take the ferry to the 3 Cities. After so much sightseeing you’ll spend the rest of the day at the beach, doing nothing.
The UNESCO heritage city is one of the most visited in Malta and a must on a 6-day itinerary. Built on a hill between two harbors, Valletta had fortified walls to protect it from conquerers. The impact of the Knights of St John was meaningful for Valletta, and you’ll notice that in the incredible architecture.
Leave your car at one of the parking lots near the capital and walk through the main entrance. Have a delicious breakfast at one of the many restaurants while observing the locals and tourists commuting around the area.
Co-Cathedral of St. John
Start your visit to Valletta with the gorgeous Co-Cathedral of St. John, Valletta’s main attraction. Built in 1571 and completed six years later, the church had minimal decoration at first. But, in the late 16th century, the cathedral became one of the most abundant ones. Take an audio guide and follow the instructions. You’ll pass by eight chapels, each given to one of the languages of the Order. The marble floor houses the tombs of the Knights and priests. Finally, head to the famous Caravaggio’s artwork, which attracts hordes of visitors.
Strolling the streets
There are so many attractions in Valletta, but strolling the streets should be high on your list. The capital has 12 parallel streets, which can be steep, with many providing harbor views. While wandering the streets, admire the Parliament buildings’ architecture, the Manoel Theatre, or the Old Opera House. Discover Republic Street and Merchant Street, with many restaurants and cafes, handmade, and jewelry stores.
The Lower Barrakka Gardens
On top of the Christopher Bastion lies the Lower Barrakka Gardens, a quiet and intimate park in the city’s middle. Find a bench in the shadow and admire the views from here.
The Upper Barrakka Gardens
Around noon head to Upper Barrakka Gardens. One of the main activities here is the midday gun salute or the Saluting Battery, which occurs every day. The views from here are amazing, and you can recognize the 3 Cities and many forts in the distance.
The 3 Cities
The 3 Cities are easy to reach from the Upper Barrakka Garden by taking the panoramic lift. After the exit, cross the street, and you’ll reach the pier. From here, hop on a 10 minutes shuttle boat to the cities of Vittotiosa(where the shuttle boat leaves you), Senglosa and Cospicua.
Take some time and explore them on foot or take the tiny tourist train. You will bump into many restaurants and different kinds of shops.
After so many hours wandering the streets, now it’s time to relax, so if you feel adventurous and would like to have a beach only to yourself, drive 25km to Imgieban Bay.
Located in the northern part of Malta, the bay is not easy to reach but well worth it. Keep the road to Selmun and once you see the Selmun Palace, turn left on the twisting road that takes you to this small bay. The road is one lane, and you might bump into other cars coming from the opposite way. If you’re not confident driving this road, leave the car at Selmun Palace, but the walk to the beach will take 20 minutes or so.
Once there, leave the car at the small designated area and walk down to the beach. Usually, the area is deserted, and you’ll have the whole beach only to yourself. Bring your goggles and water shoes and explore the rocky area on the right-hand side.
Day 6. Comino Island
Another place you’ll want to include in your 6-day itinerary is definitely Comino, a paradise for swimmers, snorkelers, divers, and hikers.
Although Comino is known for the legendary Blue Lagoon with its gorgeous turquoise crystal water, there is much more to do and see on the island. A stroll on the island, a visit to St Mary’s Tower, a swim at the Blue Lagoon, or a break at one of the secluded beaches are among the things to do in Comino.
If you want to find out all the things you can do In Comino, read my detailed blog post: THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN COMINO.
Malta by car – The perfect 6-day Itinerary – Points of Interest
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