What to see and photograph in Malta
Malta consists of 3 islands, Malta, Gozo and Comino. There are various must see sites throughout the largest island of Malta;
- St Julian’s and Paceville
- Blue Grotto
- Popeye Village
I based myself in a Valletta boutique hotel and took day trips to explore the island.
Valletta is a must visit in Malta as it’s the capital city. It is the smallest capital city in the EU. My favorite site to visit in Valletta is the Saint John’s Co-Cathedral. The interior reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. If you go at 9 am there won’t be many other tourists. You may be lucky to see the guards at the city gates of Valletta. If you don’t see them at the city gates you’re guaranteed to see them outside the Grandmaster’s Palace.
I wrote a detailed description on what to see in Valletta.
Sliema is a popular place to stay in Malta. It’s located across the bay from Valletta. The promenade is lined with bars, restaurants, shops and hotels. You can easily take the ferry to and from Valletta from Sliema. The cost is less than €2 and it takes about 10 minutes. On the boat over to Valletta you get some good city views of the Maltese capital. There are many tour companies based on the promenade selling day trips to the three cities, Gozo and Comino. What is useful about these tours is that they take you by boat. You can see how densely populated Malta is (above) so a boat trip takes the traffic out of the equation on a visit to Gozo.
St Julians / Paceville
St Julian’s is the home of Paceville. Paceville is the nightlife capital of Malta. You’ll find endless bars and clubs in this area. I recommend you stay in St Julian’s as close to Paceville as possible if you are visiting Malta for the nightlife. There is a high concentration of hotels and restaurants in this area.
Mosta is a town in the center of Malta. The main reason to visit is to see the Mosta Dome. The official name of the Mosta Dome is the Rotunda. This is 3rd largest unsupported dome structure in the world. Mosta is really easy to get to as it’s located in the center and most buses pass through it. Mosta is also a stop on the Hop on Hop off north bus tour.
Mdina is a walled town which used to be the capital of Malta. Mdina is famous for its gate and St Paul’s cathedral. Mdina has narrow streets and mix of Baroque and Medieval architecture. You can make some unique street photography in Mdina, especially at night when it’s quiet. From the fortification you get a good aerial view of Malta. Mdina is small with only 300 residents but is connected to Rabat. You can plan what to do in Mdina with Rabat as you’ll have plenty of time.
You’ve probably heard of Rabat before as it’s the capital city of Morocco. Malta has it’s own Rabat city which has some interesting sites. Rabat is easy to get to as it’s located in the center of Malta alongside Mdina. The beautiful Parish Church of St Paul is worth a visit by itself. The church is home to the catacombs of St Paul. Opposite the facade of the church are the catacombs of St Agatha’s. These are huge catacombs with over 500 graves. There are a few pedestrianized streets which are perfect for taking your Maltese Instagram street shots.
If you are interested in movie locations, Munich was filmed in Rabat.
The Blue Grotto is a must for any visit to Malta. You have probably seen pictures of the beautiful blue waters before visiting. The Blue Grotto is a series of sea caves on the south west coast. It’s best to visit them in the morning when the sun is shining towards them. This will guarantee you see the full variation of color. To get to the Blue Grotto it’s best to go by local bus or the south Hop on Hop off tour. Once you are there you can arrange a boat to take you to the sea caves.
Scenes from the Brad Pitt movie, Troy were filmed at the Blue Grotto.
If you are traveling to Malta with kids then Popeye Village is a must visit. It was the movie set of the 1980 Popeye movie starring Robin Williams. Now there are lots of activities for kids. Activities such as boat rides, swimming, trampolines in the water. It’s also quite an Instagrammable village with all the Popeye colors and lagoon.
Naxxar, like Mosta is famous for its Parish church. If you are passing through the northern city you should visit. If you’re not passing through then it’s not worth the detour. There is not much difference between this church and the churches you’ll see in Rabat, Mdina and St Julian’s.
How to get to Gozo from Malta
To get to Gozo from Malta you first need to take a bus to Cirkewwa. From Cirkewwa the ferry to Gozo is a free service (you pay around €5 for the return). It takes about 15 minutes to reach Gozo and you’ll see Comino and the Blue Lagoon to your right. You’ll see people selling tickets to Comino from outside the ferry terminal in both Malta and Gozo.