one week in malta

Last Updated on August 23, 2023

One of the beautiful coastal views in Gozo Island

The small country of Malta is a nice destination for those who want to escape the winter.  We visited Malta in early March 2023 and the weather was cool in the shade, perfect under the sun and windy about ⅔ of the time.  Though a small country, it offers enough things to do for a full week and maybe even more depending on what you are inclined to do.  For one week, we visited the cities/towns of Gozo, Rabat, Mdina and Valletta and the rest were devoted to doing hikes to see beautiful places.  We also rented a car and took public transportation.

Getting around malta

Rental Car

We rented a car from Avis for about 77 Euros for seven days.  Our rental car was an older model Ford Fiesta that had a few scratches but it ran well.  We did not even consume half of its tank when we drove it around.  We think rental cars are cheap in Malta because there is an extensive publicly run bus system.

Maltese drive on the left side of the road.  In other words the steering wheel is on the right side of the vehicle if you are inside the car facing the windshield.  Besides driving on the right side, the streets are sometimes narrow and become even narrower with parked cars.  Sometimes the streets are only wide enough for one vehicle to go through.  So your stress level would be a little elevated if you are not used to such driving conditions.

Another common thing in Malta that is not common in the US is the abundance of roundabouts.  Actually, roundabouts are a good thing if you know how to use them.  Simply go around again if you missed your exit.  We did not have any issues with roundabouts as long as you always look to your right because that is where the traffic would be coming from.  Drivers are good at following the roundabout rules.  They all yield to cars that are already in the roundabout before entering.

We always stay on the roundabout’s outer lane if it is a multi-lane roundabout.  This way we can always exit if we need to.  Once we got stuck on the inside lane and we could not exit because there was a truck to our left.  We just simply went around the roundabout again and got on the outer lane and were able to exit.

However, in a multi-lane roundabout, taking the outer lane is only good if you are planning to take the first or second exit. You must initially be in the inner lane if you plan on taking the third or later exit. The unwritten rule is you get in the outer lane if your exit is coming up.

Renting a car in Malta is an efficient way of using your valuable time if you can handle the stress of driving around.  We have a saying about renting a car and that is “When you are done, you are gone”, meaning there is no waiting around.


Malta public transportation buses are colored green and white.  At major bus terminals you will find Malta’s public transportation map that shows the route numbers of each bus that plies a certain route.  It takes a little bit of patience to figure out which bus you need to get on.  Most bus terminals have a bus employee that is there solely to help people answer questions.  The nice thing about Malta is that almost everybody speaks English so communication is not an issue for those folks that are English speakers.

There are two options for a tourist to use the bus system.  First is pay as you go, meaning you pay the driver every time you get on the bus.  The cost is 2 Euros per person and it is good for two hours on most buses except the buses labeled TD (more later).  The expiration time would be printed on the ticket so do not throw it away or forget to get it from the bus driver.  We took the bus from Valletta to Rabat and from Rabat to St. Peters Bay using just one ticket (each) because it was within the two hour time limit.

TD buses are Malta’s express buses. They have fewer stops so they get to the destination a little earlier.  However, because Malta is such a small and congested country, in our opinion, it is not worth paying the extra 1 Euro to get to a destination 10 minutes earlier.  TD buses do not accept tickets from ordinary buses.  TD tickets are one and done, meaning, it is only good for one trip.

The other option is to buy prepaid bus cards that can be reloaded.  You tap the card on the card reader by the driver and the fare is automatically deducted (either 2 or 3 Euros depending on the bus you take).  There is no need to tap the card to get off the bus.  Each person should have their own card.  We were told by a bus driver that there is a family card that can be used for a group.  The number of taps corresponds to the number in the group.  However, we did not find this option available from the bus card vending machines. 

There are three choices on prepaid cards.  First choice is a card preloaded with 6 Euros.  The second choice is a card good for12 trips and costs 15 Euros.  The third choice is a 7 day unlimited ride for 21 Euros.

Bus cards do have an expiration but your visit to Malta would be over before the card expires.

Buses run on a schedule and are posted at bus terminals.  Some bus stations have an electronic sign that informs riders the wait time for the next bus.  We rode the bus three times and all buses were late.  So if you think the bus may have left you, do not give up as there is a good chance it could be late.


The country of Malta has three main islands, namely, Malta, Gozo and Comino.  Malta is the largest followed by Gozo.  We did not go to Comino as it is virtually uninhabited.

We took the Gozo Ferry (only one company) that shuttles people and cars between Malta and Gozo.  You do not pay to ride the ferry to get to Gozo.  You pay for the ferry when you ride it to get back to Malta.  The ferry cost is 4.95 Euros per person and 14.95 Euros for a car, driver included.  The ferry takes less than 30 minutes and is supposed to leave at the top and bottom of the hour. However, just like buses, Gozo Ferry is also not punctual.

Bolt and Taxi

Bolt is the equivalent of Uber or Lyft in the US.  You just have to download the app to be able to use the service. Taxis are everywhere in Malta.  

We did not use either service as we had a rental car or took the bus.  We were told by locals that Bolt is the cheaper option than taxi. 

what to see In Gozo

The Citadel

The Citadel in Gozo

We stayed in Gozo for two nights.  As we regretted later, we should have stayed longer as there are more scenic coastal cliff hikes in Gozo than in Malta.  We basically only had 1.5 days to explore Gozo since we had an early flight to Malta from Porto, Portugal that we decided to just chill in our accommodation when we arrived.

On our second day, we decided to visit the town of Gozo in the morning and do the Sanap Cliff and Ta’ Cenc Cliffs hike in the afternoon.  If Malta was a person, it is not a morning person.  We left our accommodation around 8:30 AM and were in the town of Gozo around 9:00 AM.  We did not have any issues finding a parking spot near the town’s bus terminal.  Though there were people around the town’s main square, it was not busy.  Traffic was light and restaurants were not open yet.  The only open establishments were the bakeries.

We found the tourist information office by the town’s main square.  The tourist office gave us a map of Gozo and circled the recommended places to visit.  Number one on the list is to see the Citadel which is a walled city perched on the town’s highest point.  There was nobody walking the streets of the CItadel which felt eerie and nice at the same time. It felt so peaceful walking the narrow streets with yellow sandstone walls.

The cathedral was still closed. There are museums within the Citadel and it costs 5 Euros per person to visit.  We walked within the walls of the Citadel for about an hour when we noticed that people were going into the cathedral for the 11 AM mass.

Town of Gozo

We walked around the town of Gozo after the Citadel.  It was noon and the town is now alive and buzzing with tourists and locals alike.  Restaurants and cafeterias were open serving mostly tourists.

One of the narrow streets in Gozo

Sanap Cliffs Hike

The hike between Xandi Beach and the Sanap cliffs viewpoint is probably one of the prettiest in Gozo island.  The hike is an out and back hike less than 8 kilometers.  You do climb up in elevation but it is not lung busting nor terribly high.  From the Xandi Beach parking lot (there were plenty of open spaces when we arrived), walk towards the water and take the path to the left.  The path follows the water’s edge before making a U turn at the bridge to climb up.

The only structure you would encounter on the hike is a tower perched on the cliff’s edge.  We would recommend that you hike down below the tower to see where the locals mined their sandstones to build their buildings.  

Mined sandstone area

There is also a cool erosion feature happening in that area.  The eroded edge is concave in shape and looks like a big yellow wave made up of sandstone.

Riding the eroded sandstone wave

Continuing on, you’ll pass fields with wildflowers.  The trail is well worn out and has several side trails.  The main trail is marked with red dots on stones or red and white tape tied to a branch or something semi-permanent.  You are near the viewpoint when you reach the paved driveway.  You can actually drive to this viewpoint as we saw Safari jeep tours just leaving the viewpoint.

View of the Sanap Cliffs

Mgarr Harbor to Hondog i-Rummien Beach Coastal Walk

We decided to hike in the morning before getting on the ferry back to Malta.  The start of the hike is at the marina at the east end of Mgarr Harbor.  There is a parking structure under the cul-de-sac by the marina.  The hike from the marina to Hondoq ir-Rummien Beach is about two kilometers one way.  It is an easy hike with minimal elevation gain.

The hike’s highlight are two coves with calm blue-green water.  However you cannot get down to the cove safely unless you have ropes or Spider Man.

Looking at the turquoise water and Mgarr Harbor in the background

Ta’ Cenc Cliffs Hike

We wanted to do the Ta’ Cenc Cliffs hike but it was already 4 PM.  The sun’s warmth was fading, the wind was blowing harder and the temperature was slowly dropping.  So we decided to just hike a few meters to get to the plateau and snap a picture of the cliff in front of us.  The website Moon and Honey has more information about this hike.

At the start of the Ta’ Cenc cliff hike

what to see in malta

Blue Grotto

The Blue Grotto is a natural arch carved out of rock jutting into the water.  It is located in southwestern Malta.  It got its name when the water under the rock formation reflects the blue sky.  So the best time to visit the Blue Grotto is on a sunny and clear day.  The water has to be calm as well.

We were there in March and the waves were in force too.  There were no boats taking tourists inside the grotto so we had to contend ourselves from observing it from the viewpoint.  Fortunately, the Blue Grotto viewpoint is also a few steps from the parking area off the road.

Blue Grotto


Mdina is right next to Rabat.  Mdina is a walled city just a few steps from Rabat’s bus terminal.  We just walked into a couple of churches and explored its yellow sandstone walled street.  Similar to the Citadel in Gozo, we were there before 9AM and we had the place to ourselves.  There is a cathedral and museums but you have to buy a ticket to get in which we skipped.

One of the plaza within Mdina

Popeye Village

Popeye Village is a theme park that was born as a production set from the 1980’s musical movie titled Popeye that starred the late Robin Williams.  Since then, Popeye Village has been an attraction in Malta.  There is an entry fee to visit the village but it was closed when we were there due storm damage a month earlier. However, we were able to view the village across the bay from a parking lot. 

The theme park is located near the north end of Malta.  According to Google Maps, Bus 101 has a stop right at the theme park’s entrance.  But we saw people walking from the main road to the theme park during the week when the bus was supposed to be running.  It is at least a kilometer walk from the main road to the theme park.

Popeye Village, movie set for Popeye movie


Rabat is an old town with just a small main square.  The attraction in Rabat is the feast of their patron saint, Saint Joseph.  The feast is a weekend long celebration that begins Friday evening and ends on Sunday.  Unfortunately, we had to leave the Saturday of the celebration.

They hold no stops in decorating the streets leading to the Ta’ Giezu Catholic Church. Really something unique and different.

One of the decorated streets of Rabat

The other attraction in Rabat is the catacombs based on the signs we saw.  We skipped this attraction as we have no desire in seeing them having seen a few in Peru.

Ra id-Dawwara Hike

This hike is located on the eastern side of Malta.  It is not terribly long nor hard.  For us, the reward is going through patches of red, yellow and white colored wildflowers.  The cliff and sea cave views are just added bonuses.

Patch of wildflower along the Ra id-Dawwara hike

You will need a car to get to the trailhead as there is no bus that will take you there.  Allow two hours for the hike.

View of the sea caves

St. Peter’s Pool

St. Peter’s Pool is located in southern Malta.  It is a natural cove popular for swimming when the water is calm.  Its water is clear and a combination of blue and green depending on the depth.  We only saw one person that was swimming as the water was still chilly and the water was not calm.

Be prepared to give way to other vehicles if you are driving to St. Peter’s Pool.  The road is narrow in most places that is only wide enough for one vehicle.  The last 300 meters prior to the parking lot is only wide enough for one vehicle. You would hope that there is no vehicle going the other direction.  However, driving is better than taking the bus as it is about a two kilometer walk from the nearest bus stop, according to Google Maps.

St. Peter’s pool

Tuffieha Beach

Tuffieha Beach is located on the northeast side of Malta.  We learned about Tuffieha Beach from our hotel room attendant.  She said it is her favorite so we went, twice.  It became our favorite as well after seeing and hiking around it.  Parking was never a problem the two times we were there.  Probably because there is a bus stop a few meters from it.  Golden Bay is about a kilometer walk from the Tuffieha Beach parking lot.

We went down a series of steps from the parking lot to the beach.  Though the beach is neither white nor fine, it is still sandy, not unlike most beaches in Malta which are rocky.  The water is somewhat shallow in Tuffieha Beach and you have to venture out a couple of hundred feet before it gets deep.  On not so windy days, people would be swimming in the beach despite the air temperature hovering in the high teens or low twenties degrees Celsius.  You will see surfers riding the waves when it is windy and the water has decent waves.

Tuffieha Beach

Another attraction of Tuffieha Beach is the hike from the parking lot to a tower at the edge of the cliff about 1.5 kilometers away.  There is minimal elevation gain and the views are very rewarding.  We spent three hours just soaking in the beauty of this hike.

The hike near Tuffieha Beach


Valletta is Malta’s capital city and a Unesco World Heritage site.  It is located on the eastern coast of Malta.  Some of the walls of this fortified city are still standing.

There are lots of  restaurants and shops so it attracts many visitors.  The main attraction is its pedestrian-only street lined with tourist shops and tourist restaurants.  This is the place to see and be seen.  I sat on one of the main street benches near the cathedral while waiting for my wife and observed that people just leisurely walk up and down the street.  Venture away from the main street and all of a sudden it is much quieter. 

Valleta’s busy pedestrian only street

We looked at the menus of some restaurants that lined the main street and they were in the 20 Euro range per plate.  Lucky for us we ventured away from the main street and found the Is-Suq Tal-Belt – Valletta Food Market a few steps from St. John’s Cathedral.  The prices are reasonable and have several restaurants to choose from..


Malta is a small country in the Ionian Sea just south of the island of Sicily, Italy.  It is a popular winter destination because of its mild temperature during that time of the year.  Malta has two main islands which are Malta to the south and Gozo to the north.

Malta has an extensive public bus transportation system. The bus may be off the schedule sometimes but it does come.  Car rental is very affordable also although it is stressful to drive in an extensively developed island with narrow streets. Plus you have to drive on the left side of the road.  But a rental car maximizes your precious time as there is no waiting around for the next bus to arrive though you may have to circle a while to find a parking space.

There are many places to go in Malta.  Our favorite was Tuffieha Beach as it has a sheltered cove so the waves were small.  It also has a short scenic hike nearby.  

It was very windy in Malta during our visit in March.  It also got chilly at night such that a down jacket would be needed to stay comfortable.  Finally, the capital Valletta was very busy with visitors.  Overall, Malta would provide the needed break from cold winter months without breaking the bank.