Malta is such a small country that it is possible to reach the end points of this island for Malta one day itinerary, from north to south and from east to west. This country is in the Mediterranean region and was once a British colony. But even before the British occupied this island, it was already conquered by various rulers in the past centuries. Malta was ruled by the Order of Saint John (or Knighthoods) for more than 200 years (1538-1798) followed by the French headed by Napoleon Bonaparte, and finally volunteered themselves to be protected by the British. Nowadays, you can find lots of influences in the country by its occupiers with the British as the most prominent. Like the United Kingdom, the driving style is on the left, the official language is English (in addition to Maltese), the local restaurants offer cup of tea with lots of milk, and even there are red telephone boxes in Valetta and Silema.
Touring Malta is very easy and I suggest to stay for at least 3 or 4 days if you want to have a rich Malta experience. However, if you only have one full day to tour around Malta, I prepared in this blog an Itinerary for touring the whole island. My previous blog about Malta family trip: What to do and tips discusses about the things to with family when in Malta. This blog focuses more on the places to visit in Malta one day itinerary. If you do not have a car, or is hesitating to drive in Malta because you are more used to right hand driving, then it is possible to take the hop on hop off bus (at least this is what we did to reach many of the heritage sites). The hop on hop off tour bus have 2 colors based on the route – the red bus goes to south while the blue bus goes to the north of the island. The time table for the bus can be found on this site. If you want to make the most of your one day itinerary, start your day early! I will begin with discussing the south route, followed by the north route.
Malta one day itinerary (South route)
Below is the map of the South route. It takes only 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive in all these stops, so the tourists spots are quite close to each other. The nice thing is the hop-on hop-off buses also stop in these major destinations. For the south route, I begin with Balutta Bay in St. Julian, but it is possible to also begin with Valetta.
1. Balutta Bay
Balutta Bay is a popular spot for brisk walking or strolling around Malta. It is also a famous spot for swimming, diving, snorkeling, or other water sports. In fact it has a beach which is just in front of Carmelite Parish church, with shops and restaurants close-by.
Silema, which means “peace” and “comfort” in Maltese, is a town in the northeast coast of Malta. It is a popular place for shopping, dining out, night life with bars and restaurants. Like Balutta Bay, Silema has quite some rocky beaches, hotels, and water sports. Silema also has various fortifications, with some dated centuries back. Fort tigne, a polygonal fort, is built by the Order of Saint john in 1793-1795. Other forts, which were built by the British in the 19th centuries include Silemma Point Battery, Cambridge Battery, and the Garden Battery.
Valletta is one of most popular destinations to visit in Malta. This city is around 15-20 minutes away from Silema. Valletta, which is founded in 1566, is the capital of Malta and is considered as the smallest capital city in Europe. In fact, its population is less than 6,000 based on the census in 2016. Even though Valletta is so small, it is rich with historical and cultural sites, some date back in 16th century. The name Valletta comes from the grand master Jean Parisot de Valette, the founder of Vallette. There are around 25 churches in Valetta alone and the city itself is considered a UNESCO world heritage site since 1980.
4. Tarxien Temples
Just 15 minutes away from Valetta is the city of Tarxien. This place is very popular for the Tarxien temples, one of the megalithic structures in Malta and is considered as one of the free standing architecture on earth! The temple is believed to be dated back in 3600 BC. The temples feature various statues, with some representing the mother of Goddess and fertility, and various animals such as goats and pigs. For a small price, you can discover this heritage site of Malta. The entrance to the temple is only 6 euros for adults and 3 euros for kids age 6-11 years. Kids age 5 and below are for free. See the Tarxien temples opening times and tickets.
5. Vittoriosa Waterfront
Just ten minutes drive (or 22 minutes by bus) from the Tarxien temples, you can reach the Vittoriosa waterfront. The Vittoriosa wharf has been used since the Phoenician period (2500-1000 BC) and is now a dockyard for super yachts. Vittoriosa was previously the main naval base of the order of Saint John and now the Royal navy army. Nowadays you can find the Maritime museum, which was once a Naval army bakery, and many restaurants along the Vittoriosa waterfront.
Another 15 minutes drive from Vittoriosa Waterfront you can rich the the traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk in the Southeast of Malta. Once a fishing village by famous civilizations on earth such as the Phoenicians, Cathaginians, and Romans, this place became popular to tourists because of its view and history, and of course, its large fish market. Other things to see in Marsaxlokk includes the Delimara Lighthouse, Delimara coastline, Parish church, and Fort St. Lucien.
7. Blue Grotto
Blue grotto, which is located in Qrendi village, is 22 minutes away from Marsaxlokk. It has several sea caverns located on the coastline of Malta in the Southeast. Blue grotto is a popular tourist destination for those who do boat tours visiting various caves.
8. Hagar Qim-Qrendi
In addition to the Tarxien temple, Hagar Qim-Qrendi temple is another megalithic structure in Malta dating from the Ggantija period (3600-3200 BC). The megalithic structures in Malta have been considered as the sites of the most religious and ancient activities on earth. The Hagar Qim is made of the globigerina limestone.
9. Mnajdra temple
Just 6 minutes walk from thee Hagar-Qim temple is the Mnajdra temple, a UNESCO World heritage site since 1992. The foundation of Mnajdra temple is from coralline limestone, which is way harder than the one in Hagar Qim. The lowest temple of Mnajdra has astronomical function, and most probably used for astronomical function such as for calendar site.
Malta one day itinerary (North route)
The north route of Malta is also very accessible thanks to the Blue busses. It also connects the island to another island such as the Comino Blue Lagoon and to Ggantija. Below is the map of popular places to visit in the north for Malta one day itinerary. Note that the places are very close to each other that it only takes an hour to drive the places.
9. Bugibba St. Paul’s Bay
Bugibba is one of the biggest seaside village in Malta. It is a popular place for many young tourists since it features many restaurants, hotels, clubs, and bars. Bugibba also has a promenade that stretch from Salina to St. Paul’s Bay. The coast is quite rocky but provide a good view of the St. Paul’s bay island. Things to do when in Bugibba include scuba diving, casino, and night life.
10. Malta National Aquarium
Malta National Aquarium is a perfect place to visit when with kids, or if you are fan of discovering various animal species typical in the Maltese island. In addition to fish and mollusks, the aquarium also features amphibians, reptiles, and other rare invertebrates. The entrance to the aquarium is around 16 euros for adults and 10 euros for kids of 4-12 years old.
11. Mdina Gate
If you are a fan of Game Thrones, you might recognize that the setting of the King’s Landing in the third episode of season 1 is the Mdina Gate in Malta! The Mdina Gate, known as the Vilhena Gate, was a baroque style gate built in 1724. Mdina is a city consisted of double walls to serve as protection from invaders. It consisted of 3 gates that were divided by the courtyards.
12. Golden Bay Malta
Golden Bay Malta is a sandy beach in the northwest coast of the country. It is a popular place since it is close to the Radisson Golden Sand hotel. It has a larger stretching coast compared to the other ones, and is easily accessible by tourists using public transports.
13. Comino Blue Lagoon
If you have extra time, you can visit the Comino Blue Lagoon which is one of the most popular swimming spots in Malta and Gozo. Its crystal clear water is the reason why many tourists are attracted to visit this place. The Blue Lagoon can be reached by ferry or boat tour, and there is a beautiful cliff that gives a nice sight of the crystal clear water.