What to see in Malta – Malta by land

What to see in Malta including Valletta, Sliema, St Julian's and Paceville, Mosta, Mdina, Rabat, Blue Grotto, Popeye Village, Naxxar before taking the ferry to Gozo

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;

  • Valletta
  • Sliema
  • St Julian’s and Paceville
  • Mosta
  • Mdina
  • Rabat
  • Blue Grotto
  • Popeye Village
  • Naxxar

I based myself in a Valletta boutique hotel and took day trips to explore the island.

Valletta

Valletta Gate, Malta

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

Sliema Bay viewed from 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 Julians church, Malta

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

Rotunda of Mosta, The Mosta Dome, Malta

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

Mdina Malta - City Gates

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.

Rabat

Parish Church of St Paul & Grotto Of St Paul, Rabat Malta

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.

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto Malta

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.

Popeye Village

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

Naxxar Church, Malta

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

Bus and ferry from Malta to Gozo

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.

What to see in Valletta and Gozo

2017-10-11T17:13:52+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Malta, Western Europe|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Tony October 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    There is so much history in Malta and it looks such a built up country. I think I would take the boat to Comino and Gozo Islands! I must watch the movie Munich again so I can see the Maltese Rabat!

  2. Lisa October 11, 2017 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    Malta is high on the list as there’s so much to see and it’s so small too! I’m in Morocco right now so funny you should mention Rabat! I’d love to see the Blue Grotto, plenty of good photo ops there I’m sure!

  3. Yukti October 12, 2017 at 3:17 am - Reply

    There is so much history, culture and nature in Malta. You have perfectly advised where to go, what to do and where to stay in your post. Paceville nights must be beautiful as it is lively and have many bars/restaurants. Blue Grotto tour is also unique as I have never seen sea caves like this type. I would love to take Boat tour to Gozo and other islands.

  4. Heraa Farooq October 12, 2017 at 6:23 am - Reply

    I had no idea there was so much to do in Malta. This guide will definitely help me plan my visit to Malta. I would love to visit Popeye village and Blue Grotto. Even though you suggested it for kids but I would still love to visit in the memory of Robin Williams.

  5. Sonja October 12, 2017 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I love your night photos! Malta has been somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, and somehow it keeps getting passed over. This makes me want to plan it in for next year! I can’t believe the colour of the water in the blue grotto, it just doesn’t look real!

  6. Kate Storm October 12, 2017 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Great practical advice! We were just in Malta ourselves, and we had such a hard time deciding where to stay on the island. There’s surprisingly little information out there! We ended up staying in Bugibba, but will probably stay in Valletta if we visit again.

  7. Abigail Sinsona October 13, 2017 at 1:08 am - Reply

    As I’ve said in your other post about Malta, Valletta is in my bucket list. But it excites me to see that there are plenty more to see and do in Malta. Mdina sounds so interesting too – I would totally visit that aside from Valletta!

  8. Swati Jain October 13, 2017 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    Malta has been on my list and I hope to visit it super soon. Didn’t know there is so much to do. Hey by the way loved the captures

  9. Alouise October 14, 2017 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    Malta looks like a fantastic country to visit. It’s great that the ferry from Sliema to Valletta is so affordable and quick. I’d love to visit Malta, but the blue lagoon would be my top pick.

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