Last Updated on April 16, 2023
The Maltese Islands are made up of three main islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. In this Malta 4 day itinerary, I will be focusing purely on Malta, the largest of the islands. Many itineraries will include day trips to the other islands but there’s easily enough to do in Malta alone for 4 days. Malta is one of the smallest countries in the world and the smallest country in the EU!
Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Jet2Holidays. My trip was gifted but I had full control over my itinerary. Thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may contain affiliate links.
4 Days In Malta
🕚Duration: 4 nights
📅Month of Travel: March/April
🗺Destination Base: St Julian’s, Malta
🏨Hotel: Hilton Malta
✈️Airline: Jet2 Malta Flights
Day 1: Malta Highlights Tour | Day 2: Valletta | Day 3: Marsaxlokk | Day 4: St Julian’s & Sliema
Malta Highlights Tour
If you only have 4 days in Malta, a great thing to do is go on a Malta Highlights Tour. I booked my excursion through Jet2 but it was operated by a local company. The tour lasted approximately 7.5 hours.
San Anton Gardens
First stop was San Anton Palace and Gardens. The Palace is the official residence of the President of Malta. The gardens were private but they opened to the public in 1882. There were a couple of fountains, very old trees, flowers, chickens, peacocks and bird aviaries. (There’s also a public toilet!)
San Anton Gardens
The second stop of the tour was the Dingli Cliffs, the highest point in Malta. The Church of St Mary Magdalen sits right on the edge. There was a little fruit and snack stand and I bought some prickly pear juice. After speaking with some other guests in my hotel, they highly recommend the Maltese coffee from here, they said it was the best coffee they have ever tasted! Exact recipes alter between families but it is typically infused with chicory, cloves and aniseed.
The main stop on the tour was to Mdina, the original capital of Malta before it changed to Valletta. It’s a fortified city with narrow streets. It’s mostly full of large palaces but because people can’t really afford to live there/the upkeep, they are moving out of the city. Because of this, it’s been given the name ‘The Silent City’, as there aren’t many permanent residents anymore.
Mdina ‘The Silent City’ Malta
After a little guided tour where various things were pointed out, such as Mdina Gate, St Paul’s Cathedral and Pjazza Mesquita. We were given around 45 minutes to wander the alleyways. Fior di Latte is a good place to stop for gelato!
Next up we walked across to the town of Rabat. The main reason for going there was to visit St. Cathaldus Church, Crypt and Catacombs. Down some rocky stairs there are several types of tombs that date from the 2nd to the 3rd centuries, including graves for infants and still born babies that were dug into the walls. The main difference in these catacombs compared to others in Malta, is the Agape Table, which is a circular platform where it is thought that during funeral rituals people would have sat and had a celebratory meal after a burial.
Rabat Catacombs Malta
Lunch was included as part of the tour and was at the nearby L’Isle Adam Band Club. For starters we had pasta with tomato sauce, mains was pork, potatoes and vegetables and for dessert, date cakes (imqaret) which you pour Amaretto on top. It also came with bread, a glass of wine and water. Unfortunately for vegetarians there wasn’t really an alternative, the pork was left off and exchanged for a few extra potatoes.
Ta’ Qali Craft Village
So back on our bus, we went to Ta’ Qali Craft Village, which is located on a converted RAF airfield. First stop was at a jewellery making shop. A lady was making some pendants with teenie tiny pieces of metal (silver filigree jewellery). My favourite stop at the craft village was Mdina Glass, a glass blowing factory that make all sorts of glass items. We watched a guy make a fish and a swan in literally seconds, which was really cool.
Mdina Glass Malta
Last up was Mosta Rotunda, a giant domed church. The dome is just under 60m tall and 60m wide and is one of the largest unsupported domes in the world. The walls are 8m thick, just so it’s strong enough to hold up the dome. It had loads of murals and patterns and during my visit was housing a whole load of Jesus ‘Easter’ statues made out of papier mache.
Malta Mosta Rotunda
My last minute winter sun getaway coincided with the week before Easter, so the statues were going to be paraded through the streets of Mosta that evening. Each statue is carried by 10 men and then people follow behind and pray.
There is also a replica of a bomb that had gone through the roof of the church in 1942 but didn’t explode.
*Tip* Shoulders must be covered when entering the Mosta Rotunda.
Where To Eat: Shoreditch Bar & Kitchen (St Julian’s) for awesome pancakes. I had Kinder pancakes which have a Kinder Egg on the top!
Kinder Egg Pancakes at Shoreditch Bar & Kitchen
Of course you can’t come to Malta within visiting the island’s capital, Valletta, the smallest capital city in the EU. This walled city is filled with history, shops, restaurants and bars. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. It is built in a grid system so is quite easy to navigate compared to other European cities.
Questo Self Guided Tour
I decided to try out a Questo tour which is a self guided tour written in the style of a story mixed with an escape room. We did ‘Ghosts of Valletta: The Psychological Distress’. There are legends that ghosts haunt Valletta, so the tour combined these stories with the fictional aspect. It started at the City Gate and the Triton Fountain and took us around several landmarks in the city. We had to solve clues by finding the answers written on the buildings and monuments. It was a really fun way to discover the city. We solved the 12 tasks in 54 minutes.
Manouche Craft Bakery Valletta Malta
You are able to pause the game midway to stop for a rest. We had coffee and cake at Manouche Craft Bakery opposite St. John’s Co-Cathedral (they also have a free toilet for diners. Otherwise there is a public toilet near St. George’s Square for €1).
The tour finished up at St Elmo, so from there we followed the lower road past the Siege Bell WWII Memorial to the Valletta Waterfront area. The Waterfront area was also completely bombed during WWII. The facades have been rebuilt but not all of them have interiors, some are literally just a wall with doors!
The window boards are painted with different colours to represent what was once upon a time stored behind them when it was an old dockyard. Blue for fish, green for agricultural goods, yellow for wheat and red for wine. Dock workers used to be illiterate so the colours were how they used to know what goes where.
The area is now mostly restaurants and shops. There’s a Hard Rock Cafe and during our visit there were some butterfly wings made of flowers for a photo opportunity.
Barrakka Lift & Upper Barrakka Gardens
From here you can use the Barrakka Lift to get from the port to the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The lift in some capacity dates back to 1905, but after standing unused for a number of years, it was completely rebuilt and modernised, reopening to the public in 2012. It’s 58m high and a return ticket costs €1. Bit of a bargain and saves walking to the main part of the city on top of the walls.
Barrakka Lift Valletta Malta
The gardens were quite nice, they overlooked the Saluting Battery and cities on the other side of the Grand Harbour. A load of movies and tv shows had been filmed in that area opposite (such as Game of Thrones).
Upper Barrakka Gardens Valletta Malta
Where To Eat: The Crafty Cat Pub near Spinola Bay (St. Julian’s). This is an Alice in Wonderland themed pub that offers a wide range of craft beers and alcohol. I had an awesome chicken burger with avocado, bacon, crispy onions, lettuce and tomato.
The Crafty Cat near Spinola Bay
I highly recommend visiting Marsaxlokk on a Sunday when they have the weekly fish market. There are many half day tours that combine the market with a visit to the Blue Grotto, however I used the public bus network. From Valletta bus route 81 takes 35 minutes or from St Julian’s I took the 120 and then the 210 changing at the hospital. A bus journey costs €2 and transfers are included if completed within 2 hours.
Marsaxlokk is a traditional fishing village with a harbour full of colourful Luzzu fishing boats. These are small wooden boats painted in yellow, red, green and blue. If you look closely, on the front of the boat there are painted eyes. These are said to be the eye of Osiris to protect fishermen while out at sea.
The fish market is very busy, it’s best to arrive as early as possible. I got there at 9am just before all the bus tours arrived but it was still very busy! A lot of the fish for sale around the island comes from the Marsaxlokk fishermen, with them selling to restaurants and businesses at a specialised fish market during the week. However on a Sunday they sell directly to the public. Fishermen even stand on the harbour wall, fishing and then transferring their catch straight onto the market stall. You can’t get fresher than that!
As well as fish, they sell traditional Maltese cakes, fruit and vegetables, handmade crafts, clothing, toys, souvenirs and more. When the market isn’t on, there are a few restaurants along the waterfront but otherwise the village is very quiet. Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk is a small beach area or alternatively, some people choose to walk to St Peter’s Pool, around 30 minutes away.
Where To Eat: Forty Fishes in St Julian’s. Well priced fish restaurant in St Julian’s with amazing cod and roast potatoes!
St Julian’s & Sliema Promenade
As I was staying at the Hilton Malta, I spent some time checking out the St Julian’s area. St. George’s Bay beach is a small sandy beach popular for swimming, right next to Paceville and the Bay Street shopping complex. This area was very busy with lots of bars and restaurants, great if you enjoy nightlife. Personally I preferred heading in the opposite direction towards Spinola Bay and Sliema.
Portomaso Marina St Julian’s Malta
The Hilton Malta overlooks Portomaso Marina. The marina is mostly residential properties, however you can walk around the marina.
Here you’ll find the 6km Sliema Promenade which leads from Spinola Bay all the way to the Sliema ferry terminal. It even has distance markers as it’s popular with runners and joggers. I actually walked from St Julian’s to Valletta using this route and then took the Sliema to Valletta ferry for the last section (1.50 euro one way, ferry leaves every 30 minutes).
Spinola Bay Malta
There are lots of bars, restaurants and cafes with waterfront seating and plenty of benches to stop and rest. The route passes Balluta Bay Beach, Exiles Bay Beach, Gnien Indipendenza park and gardens and the Sliema outdoor gym. The park has free public toilets and there is even a small area for the local stray cats, almost like a cat hotel! It has lots of beds and houses for them to go inside when it’s cold and people leave cat food out for them.
Spinola Bay ‘Love’ Sculpture
For those that enjoy public art, there are several sculptures along the route. Spinola Bay has a giant LOVE sign and when the sun is in EXACTLY the right place, the shadow spells ‘love’ on the ground. Further around in Sliema there is a statue in memorial of all those that died during the pandemic.
Where To Eat: The Blue Elephant located in the Hilton Malta (read more below).
Where To Stay In Malta
During my trip I stayed at the Hilton Malta and it truly is a wonderful hotel. It’s a 5 star hotel located in St Julian’s, around 25 minutes from Valletta by bus. On arrival you are greeted with a glass of Prosecco or juice. The staff throughout my whole stay were amazing, they were all so happy and friendly!
King Deluxe Room
I was staying in a King Deluxe room with a garden view (I could also see the sea from my room!) on the ground floor (which is actually considered the 3rd!).
I couldn’t fault the room. It had a sofa and an armchair, along with a desk and chair, a TV, tea and coffee making facilities, a fridge and a wardrobe with a safe, ironing board, hair drier, robes and complimentary slippers and even an umbrella!
King Deluxe Room Hilton Malta
For me the bathroom was the star of the show, it was huge. It had double sinks, a rain head shower, a toilet (of course) and a large round bath that has a window looking into the bedroom…don’t worry, there was a curtain you could pull! I thought it was great that there was a retractable washing line in the shower too!
The Hilton is trying hard to become more eco conscious. It has a bin with sectioned off recycling compartments, toiletries are in refillable bottles (shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body lotion and hand soap) and there’s even a separate tap in the bathroom that provides unlimited fresh drinking water.
The Hilton Malta has 4 outdoor pools and an indoor pool. During my stay which crossed March/April, there were only people in the outdoor pool for 1 of the days. The outdoor pools are not heated so are freezing cold. However there are plenty of sun loungers and the umbrellas even have call bells on them for when the Aqua Bar is open.
Hilton Malta Pool
The indoor pool is heated though and has a whirlpool area as well as a sauna and a steam room. After 7pm children are not allowed in the pool area, so this is a great time to go as it empties out a little.
The gym and spa area is probably one of the best that I’ve ever seen in a hotel. There is a full exercise studio, a spin class room, squash courts, table tennis, a MASSIVE gym with every piece of equipment you can think of, along with all the massage treatments etc that are available.
I was staying on a bed & breakfast basis so had the buffet breakfast included. My highlights were the made to order omelette station, the fresh smoothies, the fancy honey straight from a block of honeycomb and the ‘fill your own’ croissants.
Hilton Malta Breakfast
A MUST try is the Blue Elephant Thai restaurant. It was SO GOOD. They even have a waterfall and stream running through the restaurant with koi carp swimming in it! The prawn crackers are amazing and the Thai Iced Latte has ruined iced coffee for me forever because it was extremely tasty. It is on the pricier end but the portions were huge. We ordered a couple of different things and then ate them tapas style.
Blue Elephant Malta
Travelling With Jet2holidays
This isn’t my first Jet2holidays winter sun break, I also travelled with them to Cyprus in January. As well as my trip to Mallorca in 2022 and I also have a trip to Madeira booked with them in June. They are very convenient for me when I’m looking for holidays from London Stansted Airport and they are a company that I genuinely love. They have a 10kg hand luggage allowance, as well as 22kg checked baggage included.
Check out package holidays to Malta here.
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