Are you travelling to Malta, new to the island, or maybe planning a staycation? Then get the very best tips and tricks on how to spend a weekend or just 24 hours in Malta!

how to spend 24 hours in Malta

Malta might be a tiny island but it has a lot to offer. The short distances open up for a lot of exploring in just one day or weekend. In this guide, I will focus on how to spend 24 hours in Malta (or possibly a full weekend) and then I will write another post specifically on Gozo.

How can you cover a country in 24 hours?

While spending a weekend or simply 24 hours in Malta might not sound like much, it can actually show you a great deal. Due it’s mini size of just 316 km2, the island of Malta can almost be looked at as a large city. In fact, it is smaller than the city areal of Málaga!

Interested in learning more about Malta?
Read my ultimate Malta guide full of facts about the island(s).

So while Malta is a country (and republic) of its own with many cities, everything is very close. When living there, my fiancé and I used to joke that “everything is 20 minutes away“. Because whenever we were going to another town – that seemed far away – and plotted it into Google Maps, it was about a 20-minute drive.

To get around the island, I would recommend renting a car. This will make it possible to drive wherever and whenever you want. But if you prefer not to drive yourself, there are also great options for taxis. Both Bolt and eCabs have very convenient apps where you’ll get a taxi very quickly (and cheap). And there are of course buses driving all over the island too.

Malta coast

How to spend a relaxed day in Malta

Although I like to explore when I am travelling, I also like to enjoy my time off and relax a bit. That is why sometimes when I see other “how to spend 24 hours in X” or “how to spend a weekend in X” guides I quite frankly get exhausted by all of the points listed. Therefore, I want to start off slow.

If you are like me and want to explore the greatness Malta has to offer, while also having time to actually enjoy each step, this is how to spend a relaxing 24 hours in Malta.

PS: Wear good shoes!

Itinerary for a relaxed 24 hours in Malta

  1. Start the day with brunch
  2. Take a stroll to Manoel Island
  3. Have a pit stop at Bus Stop Lounge
  4. Stroll to the Sliema Ferries
  5. Take the ferry over to Valletta
  6. Explore Valletta
  7. End the night with some drinks and live music

1. Start the day with brunch

Breakfast? Skip it! Unless you have breakfast included in the hotel, that is (nothing beats a hotel breakfast). Sleep in a bit and then head straight for brunch. Or if you are getting straight from the airport, hop in a taxi and get yourself to St Julians or Sliema.

Malta has a lot of great brunch spots. While they can be found all over the island, I have found my favourites to be mostly in St Julians or Sliema. That’s why you’ll start the day there. Find out what sounds most tempting from my 8 brunch favourites and get brunching. Fuel up on some pancakes or egg benedicts, and pair it with a mimosa if you’re feeling cheeky!

2. Optional: Take a stroll to (or around) Manoel Island

We’re only at step 2 and it is already optional. I know this is a relaxed 24 hours in Malta, but there will be quite a lot of walking involved. And if you’re up for it, it starts by walking to Manoel Island in Gzira.

It shouldn’t be too long from St Julians or Sliema and on the way, you’ll get to see the beauty of Malta: Narrow streets, colourful doors, French balconies, and people out on the streets.

Once you’ve made your way to Manoel Island, you’re in for a treat. As you arrive you will be met by Duck Village, a volunteer-run sanctuary for ducks and other animals such as rabbits and turkeys. Greet the animals, leave a donation and keep strolling. If you like looking at grand boats, head to the yacht marina where they are all lined up.

3. Optional: Have a pit stop at Bus Stop Lounge

If you’ve completed step two and feel that you deserve a little reward, I recommend a pit stop at Bus Stop Lounge. Walk back off the island, past Paparazzi 29 Clubhouse (which I don’t recommend) and take a left. There you’ll be met with a small café with plastic chairs and tables.

Don’t let the interior or design fool you. While it might not look like much at first glance, this is a great spot that is cheap, comes with a great view of the ocean, and serves up some delicious food. Sit down for a soda or pint and enjoy the fresh ocean breeze.

4. Stroll to the Sliema Ferries

If you skipped step 2 and/or 3, now you have to start walking. You could always take a taxi from your brunch spot directly to the ferry, but then you’ll once again miss out on a lot of exploring.

Strolling along the Sliema seafront, you will get a great view of boats, buildings and people. You can grab an ice cream on the way or say hi to some dogs out on their walk. Don’t rush the walk, instead, enjoy your surroundings.

Once you arrive at the Sliema Ferry point, you can get a ticket for the Sliema-Valletta ferry. Next stop, Malta’s capital!

5. Take the ferry over to Valletta

You can get to Valletta, Malta’s capital, several different ways. There are buses and taxis, but I recommend taking the ferry. Not only is it cheap (€2.80 for an adult return ticket) but you will also get an amazing view of Valletta and Sliema from the boat.

Unless the weather is really bad, the ferries normally go every 30 minutes. The ferry ride itself takes less than 15 minutes. You can see if the ferry is operating and find the schedules and full price list here.

6. Explore Valletta: shop, barhop and enjoy a good meal

Once in Valletta, there are lots to see and do. First of all, you need to do some sightseeing. I recommend visiting a church. Malta has 365 churches and chapels scattered across the islands, so you should definitely check out at least one of them.

You should also visit the beautiful Upper Barrakka Gardens. On your way there, you can check out the Auberge Castille and Royal Opera House Site (Pjazza Teatru Rjal).

Once you’re done sightseeing, you might want to do some shopping. Republic Street and the many small streets up and down from it have a lot of great shops for souvenirs, clothes, delicacies and more. And if you want to sit down for a bit, there are also many bars and cafes along the way.

After all the walking, you will probably be in need of some food. If you want a quick/light bite, I recommend one of the best pizzas in Malta: Pizzeria Trattoria Vecchia Taranto. If you’re in the mood for something meatier (literally), Sciacca is a great choice.

restaurant after 24 hours in Malta

7. End the night with some drinks and live music

As you are already in Valletta, you should also enjoy some of the nightlife the city has to offer. The capital has a lot of great bars, several of which offer live music. I would recommend checking out the gin bar Yard 32 or Bridge Bar for some good drinks and entertainment.

Interested in more ideas?
Read my what to do in Malta guide full of 51 ideas of things to do in Malta.

The pros and cons of a relaxed 24 hours in Malta

With this more relaxed day in Malta, you will visit just a few towns. On the plus side, this means that you won’t need to rent a car or drive around a lot. But of course, you won’t get to explore the other sides of the island. So if you want to see and do more, keep reading.


How to spend a full day in Malta

If you have a limited time in Malta but want to see and do as much as possible, driving around will get you far. Here I have tried to serve up a mix of must-see cities and hidden gems that will make for a great and full day or weekend on the island.

PS: This itinerary works best if you have your own (rental) car.

Itinerary for a jam-packed 24 hours in Malta

  1. Pick up breakfast-to-go at Frensh Bakery
  2. Drive around to see and photograph the island
  3. Visit Mdina – the Silent City
  4. Have lunch in Marsaxlokk
  5. Enjoy the rest of the day/evening in Valletta

1. Pick up breakfast-to-go at Frensh Bakery

As this day has a lot of ground to cover, you need to start bright and early. And while you could opt for a good breakfast or brunch before leaving, I recommend taking breakfast on-the-go. And there is no place that does take-away breakfast than Frensh bakery in St Julian.

Head to the bakery, buy a selection of sweet and savoury pastries (the butter croissant is a must!) plus some juice and coffee. Eat and drink a bit before driving out and then save the rest for pit-stops later.

2. Drive around to see and photograph: Top of the world, Popeye Village, the Red Tower and Miġra l-Ferħa

Are you ready to start driving? Because this route will take you around almost the whole island!

The first stop is the viewing point called Top of the world in Għargħur. This is a beautiful spot where you can get an amazing view of Malta. There is a nice, circular walking route and also some benches where you can sit down and eat your breakfast. Driving from Frensh Bakery in St Julians, you should be there in about 15-20 minutes.

Next up is Popeye Village in Mellieħa. What was built as a film set village for the movie Popeye in the 1980s, is today a popular tourist attraction. While you can buy a ticket and explore the village itself, I recommend just driving to the Popeye Village viewing point. From there, you get a good view of the beautiful village and take some photographs – all for free. Driving from Għargħur, it should take about 25-30 minutes to get there.

Popeye Village

And once you’re in Mellieħa, there is another beautiful viewpoint and tourist attraction to check out: The Red Tower. Saint Agatha’s Tower, known as The Red Tower because of its vibrant colour, is a large bastioned watchtower built in the 1640s. The tower itself is beautiful and worth photographing, and the hill where it is located is also a great spot.

You’ve now made your way along the north-east coast of Malta, and it is time to turn around and drive along the west coast. From Mellieħa, you will drive for about 30 minutes to a final viewpoint called Miġra l-Ferħa in Rabat.

Here the cliffs go straight down in the ocean and create a beautiful view of “the end of the island”. Stroll around and take some photos, but just remember to keep a safe distance to the edge!

3. Visit Mdina – The Silent City

After more than an hour of driving and just as much – if not more – of exploring, it is time to head into a city and maybe grab a bite to eat. As you’re already close to Rabat, it’s a good time to drive the 15-20 minutes route to the city of Mdina.

Mdina, also known as the silent city, Città Vecchia and Città Notabile, is Malta’s old capital from the medieval period. The city is fortified, surrounded by the original walls. This small city has a population of less than 300. Due to the few people living there and the fact to no cars* are allowed inside the city, it is known for its silent and calm atmosphere.

*Only residents and emergency vehicles are allowed within the city walls.

Mdina is a small city (0.9 km2) with narrow streets and cobblestone roads. Park your car outside* and have a stroll, where you can admire the many beautiful houses and quaint streets. And if you feel up for a bite, I recommend heading to Fontanella Tea Garden.

*There’s a public parking ground here, two minutes by walk from the city entrance. The parking is free, however, there’s a “parking officer” who looks after the cars. He might try to demand a payment from you, saying you “have to pay”. You do not, the parking is public (and free) and paying the guy is not compulsory.

Fontanella is my favourite restaurant in Mdina. The ancient tea garden offers a varied menu with some light dishes and drinks, but I go there for the grand selection of delicious, homemade cakes. Sit down for something small (lunch will be in the next stop!) and enjoy the view of Malta from the top of Mdina.

4. Have lunch in Marsaxlokk

Fontanella was just a snack. Now it is time for lunch. And what place better than Marsaxlokk, the fishing village with the freshest catch of the day! From Mdina, Marsaxlokk is about a 30-minute drive away. You will now end up in the south end of the island, with the little nook that is Marsaxlokk.

Marsaxlokk is a small, traditional fishing village. At the harbour, you will be met with clear water filled with colourful boats – the traditional Maltese luzzu fishing boats. On Sunday mornings there is a weekly fish market in Marsaxlokk, but you can find fresh seafood at the restaurants any day of the week. Choose one of the fish restaurants and try the daily special for lunch (for the purist, I will recommend grilled Lampuki, which is a local white fish)!

The harbour of Marsaxlokk

5. Enjoy the rest of the day/evening in Valletta

Hopefully, you have now enjoyed a delicious and relaxing lunch and probably feel ready to slow down a bit for the rest of the day. That is why you are going to drive the last bit to Valletta (about 20 minutes) and park the car for the day.

Once in Valletta, there are lots to see and do. First of all, you need to do some sightseeing. I recommend visiting a church. Malta has 365 churches and chapels scattered across the islands, so you should definitely check out at least one of them.

You should also visit the beautiful Upper Barrakka Gardens. At 12 pm and 4 pm daily there is a canon fire (salute) and you also have a beautiful view of the Three Cities. On your way up to the garden, you can check out the Auberge Castille and Royal Opera House Site (Pjazza Teatru Rjal).

Once you’re done with sightseeing, you might want to do some shopping. Republic Street and the many small streets up and down from it have a lot of great shops for souvenirs, clothes, delicacies and more. And if you want to sit down for a bit, there are also many bars and cafes along the way.

Once it is time for dinner, there are many great restaurants to choose from. If you want something light, I would recommend one of the best pizzas in Malta: Pizzeria Trattoria Vecchia Taranto. If you’re in the mood for something meatier (literally), Sciacca is a great choice.

After dinner, you can also enjoy some of the nightlife the city has to offer. The capital has a lot of great bars, several of which offer live music. I would recommend checking out the gin bar Yard 32 or Bridge Bar for some good drinks and entertainment.

PS: If you are renting a car for the day, see if you can pick it up at the airport but deliver it in Valletta.

How to spend a weekend in Malta

Do you have more than just 24 hours to spare? Lucky you! Then you can combine the two plans above and keep it relaxed while also covering a lot of ground. Drive around, eat, drink and be merry. And if you have time, don’t forget to check out the island of Gozo too!

For some more restaurant recommendations, check out the following Malta guides:


What not to miss if you only have 24 hours in Malta!

I know that this guide, and other Malta guides, will cover a lot to do and can seem overwhelming. If you don’t want to follow a guide step-by-step but still want some pointers on what not to miss out on, see my checklist below:

  1. Visit the capital (Valletta)
  2. Drink something local (Cisk beer, La Valette wine, Kinnie soda)
  3. Eat something local (Pastizzi, rabbit stew, Gbejniet cheese, grilled lampuki)
  4. Travel to different cities (for example Mdina, Marsaxlokk, Sliema)
  5. Walk around and explore by foot

Want more Malta guides? Check out the Malta tag at DineWineLove.

About the Author

I started my first blog in 2008 and have been an online writer ever since then. With a BA in Journalism and daytime job in SEO content creation, I want to use my knowledge to create fun, interesting and useful content. I am a 25-year old Norwegian who just can't seem to stay in one place! Although from a small town in Norway, I have lived almost half of my life abroad. I moved to Qatar in 2008 and has since then lived in London, Malta, and now Spain!

You Might Also Enjoy

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *