There’s a reason why Malta was a prominent Game of Thrones filming location. We discovered this and many other places to visit on Malta Island on a recent 2-day sightseeing trip to Malta.
Our 2 days in Malta were spent exploring the history, culture, and natural beauty of this little country in the Mediterranean. From UNESCO World Heritage sites to pristine beaches and great island vibes, Malta Island is a multi-faceted tourist destination.
Quick Introductory Facts about Malta Island
Malta Island is one of 3 Maltese islands making up the Republic of Malta, one of the smallest countries in the world with a surface area of only 316 km².
As an EU member state, you can visit Malta with a Schengen Visa.
In 2017, the country recorded record tourist numbers with 2,3 million visitors spending €1,9 billion on their accommodation and things to do in Malta.
With more than 3,000 hours of sunshine per year, good weather is almost guaranteed when you visit Malta in 2 days.
It’s easy to communicate with the local Maltese because they all speak English, one of their official languages. The other is Maltese, which sounds Arabic.
Malta was ruled by knights from 1530 to 1798. Under the Order of Saint John, the country experienced a Golden Age of development. Travelers can thank the knights for many of the most interesting places to visit on Malta Island.
Malta only became an independent republic in 1964. Until then, it was ruled by the British. Like their former rulers, the Maltese still drive on the left of the road.
7 Must-See Places to Visit on Malta Island
Malta’s capitalcity was founded in 1566 and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1980. The city is built on a high and rocky peninsula between two natural harbors.
Valletta is small for a capital city but it doesn’t mean there isn’t much to see and do. Here are just some attractions which make Valletta one of the must-see places to visit on Malta Island.
City Gate – 5 different gates have marked the entrance to Valletta, across a bridge spanning a deep ditch, over the ages. The latest one was only completed in 2014 but is nevertheless impressive.
Once you’ve passed through the City Gate, Valletta’s main shopping street stretches out in front of you. You can imagine how pleased I was at this realization ?. The City Gate Shopping Arcade is one of the first buildings you see.
Believe it or not, I don’t (only) shop when traveling. It was also nice to see the ruins of the Royal Opera House, Parliament House, and the two bastions (St John’s and St James’) on both sides of the gate.
Church of Our Lady of Victories – This little church is nothing compared to the big cathedrals in other European capitals but it was the first building to be erected in Valletta way back in the 16th century. It was recently renovated and I loved the beautifully painted ceilings.
St John’s Co-Cathedral – Unassuming from the outside, but a wealth of Baroque art awaits inside this cathedral which was built as the conventual church for the Knights of St John. Many of the valuable artworks were donated by knights. This is definitely one of the more interesting places to visit on Malta Island.
Fort St Elmo – At the tip of the peninsula on which Valletta rests. You can simply admire it from the outside or visit the National War Museum inside. Malta was heavily bombed during WWII and suffered under many wars before that. There are more than a few sunken WWII ships along the Maltese Coastline.
Grandmaster’s Palace – A Presidential Palace in the heart of Valletta. It was one of the first buildings to be erected after the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. Once the home to the Grand Masters of Malta, it’s now the seat of the Office of the President of Malta. However, you can still visit the Palace State Rooms to see the only intact set of the famous 18th century French Gobelins tapestries left in the world.
2. The 3 Cities – Malta’s Harbor Towns
Visiting three medieval fortified cities opposite the Grand Harbour east of Valletta is one of the historically and culturally significant things to do in Malta. The 3 Cities are called Birgu (Vittoriosa), Bormla (Cospicua), and Senglea (Isla).
What attracted us to the 3 Cities during our 2 days in Malta was the trendy vibe in the narrow streets thanks to some great revival initiatives. Among the boutique hotels are wine bars, and restaurants to enjoy great lunches, sundowners, or dinners.
Birgu – This is where the Knights of St John settled after arriving on Malta Island in 1530. Their Fort St Angelo has been magnificently restored as part of the Birgu Waterfront project. The city also has a yacht marina and is aptly home to the Malta Maritime Museum.
Bormla – A double-fortified harbor city boasting an incredible six kilometers of fortifications. The Parish Church of Immaculate Conception in Bormla is also worth popping into.
Senglea – Located on a peninsula in the Grand Harbour, this is Malta’s smallest town. A good reason for visiting Senglea is to take in the views of Valletta and the Grand Harbour from Gnien il-Gardjola (the look-out garden).
3. St Julian’s
For more of a modern touch mixed in with a few historic sites, St Julian’s is a lively seaside town. We also discovered that it had a few beautiful bays with beaches for swimming if you don’t want to travel too far from Valletta for this.
These are a few highlights to see in St Julian’s when you only have 2 days in Malta.
Balluta Bay – A sandy beach, turquoise water, and a skyline dominated by a neo-gothic church. Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of hours taking it all in?
Spinola Bay and Spinola Palace – When the French conquered Malta Island, this is where they touched land first. The scenery is more peaceful today with small boats dotting the bay and many street cafés lining the shore. And you’ll get a view of beautiful Spinola Palace from the garden gate.
Portomaso Business Tower – Malta’s tallest building, with the Portomaso complex at its base. It’s an upmarket area with luxury apartments and restaurants and its own marina.
4. Blue Grotto
This is certainly one of the most popular things to do in Malta. You can’t say you’ve been to Malta and not have visited the famous Blue Grotto. We don’t regret taking the trip to the southeast of the island to see the complex of seven caves across from the islet of Filfla.
A boat tour is the best way to experience the caves, starting with the 30 m-high main arch which leads to adjacent caves and rock formations. The caves got their name because of the amazing blue colour of the water when the sky reflects off the white sandy seabed on a clear, sunny day.
If you like to, you can swim and snorkel in the caves. But with a full schedule of exploring Malta in 2 days, a boat trip lasting about 20 minutes also suffices.
I could see why this little town was one of the Game of Thrones filming locations. From its position on a hill in the southwest of Malta, it overlooks large parts of the island. But it’s the big bastion fortifications and centuries-old buildings which give it an otherworldly feeling.
Mdina is a worthy contender to be added to Malta’s list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. People have lived in the area since 700BCE and it was also the capital city until the arrival of the knights in 1530.
Things to See in Mdina:
St Paul’s Cathedral and Museum – The baroque cathedral is an imposing landmark which can be seen from many parts of central Malta. In the old adjacent cemetery, a museum exhibits church vestments, famous artworks, a coin collection, and Roman antiquities.
Palazzo Falson – More commonly known as the Norman House, this is the best-preserved medieval building on Malta Island. The first Grand Master of Malta lived here.
Triq is-Sur Bastion – Make your way to this bastion at the back of Mdina for the best views to the east of Malta.
Rabat is a quiet town compared to Mdina but nevertheless one of the must-see places to visit on Malta Island. The quietness is amplified by the Howard Gardens, one of the biggest public gardens in Malta. They form a natural border between Rabat and Mdina. You can enjoy the peaceful atmosphere by grabbing a coffee from one of the kiosks scattered around the gardens.
More things to see in Rabat during your 2 days in Malta:
St Paul’s Catacombs – The complex of interconnected underground Roman cemeteries is a perfect example of Roman and Byzantine burial sites in Malta. Representing the earliest archaeological evidence of Christianity in Malta, they were in use up to the 4th-century AD.
Casa Bernard – See how Maltese nobility lived and still live since the 16th century. Casa Bernard is a unique royal palace which has been passed on through many generations.
Think colorful fishing boats, think freshly prepared seafood coming from one of those boats, think a leisurely morning or afternoon eating, drinking and swimming along a beautiful promenade. This is Marsaxlokk, one of the very traditional places to visit on Malta Island.
Even though it’s Malta’s biggest fishing village, Marsaxlokk is never overrun by tourists. In fact, the locals still love to come here for lunch over weekends. That’s why we concluded a visit to Marsaxlokk was one of the best things to do in Malta in 2 days.
Things to Do in Marsaxlokk:
Harbor walk – Watch the fishermen mend their nets and take pictures of their colorful traditional boats, called Luzzu. If you happen to be in Marsaxlokk on a Sunday, you’ll find the weekly fish market very interesting.
Fort St Lucian – A fort built by the Order of Saint John in 1610 to protect Marsaxlokk Bay against a Turkish invasion. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the village center.
Marsaxlokk Church – Dedicated to the Madonna of Pompeii, the village church was completed in 1897 with a statue of the Madonna and child added later.
The Best Time to Visit Malta in 2 days
Depending on what kind of traveler you are, Malta is principally a year-round destination. If you’re looking for a family beach holiday, then you won’t mind the heat and humidity of July and August. These are also the busiest tourist months.
If you want to enjoy most of the things to do in Malta in 2 days and aren’t bound by school holidays, then April, May, and June are the most pleasant months on the island. Not only will you escape the peak season crowds, but also enjoy pleasant beach and sightseeing weather. On the other end of summer, the peak beach season can last until mid-fall.
An added incentive to spend 2 days in Malta in spring is the many events and festivals held at this time of the year. An international fireworks festival in Valletta, local village feasts, medieval re-enactments in Mdina, and the strawberry festival Festa Frawli are just some of the things to do in Malta in spring.
Of course, if you live in a colder climate there’s nothing wrong with visiting Malta in winter either ?. You may encounter a spot of rain, but the sun never stays away too long on Malta Island.
Flight duration from European capitals to Malta:
Getting Around Malta
Getting to your hotel from Malta International Airport is easy. You can choose to take a taxi, shuttle bus, or a public bus. The public buses are very cheap although they do take longer to get from point A to point B.
For sightseeing, I would recommend either renting a car or taking one of the hop-on-hop-off sightseeing buses for longer drives. Short trips to nearby things to do in Malta can be undertaken by taxi or public bus.
Where to Stay in Malta
Of course, Malta is filled with all possible accommodation options – from luxury to budget hotels to apartments and private rooms.
For our 2 days in Malta, we stayed in the Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay. What a treat! With its own private beach, luxurious spa and six swimming pools to choose from it was hard to tear ourselves away to explore all the other places to visit on Malta Island.
However, the Corinthia Hotel does make it easier to see Malta in 2 days by providing a free shuttle service to Valletta.
What to Pack for 2 days in Malta
Thanks to the pleasant Mediterranean weather, you can really pack light for exploring Malta in 2 days.
Here is my list of handy things to have in your suitcase:
Good hair products. You may laugh, but Malta’s weather plays havoc with human hair!
Comfortable, but stylish summer sandals.
One pair of closed shoes for sightseeing on uneven terrain.
A beach bag big enough for your towel, flip-flops, camera, sunscreen and everything else you’re going to need on the beach.
A light jacket for cooler evenings.
Wide-rimmed sun hat (and don’t forget the sunscreen).
Skirts, shorts, and shirts in light, natural fabrics such as cotton and linen.
Tip: Always carry some cash with you as there are still some local shops where credit cards aren’t accepted.
I hope you are inspired as much as I am by all the things to do in Malta in 2 days. It looks like a lot, but if you don’t spend lots of time inside museums and simply walk around sightseeing, it’s more than doable. What would you do with 2 days in Malta?
Have you been on the Malta Island? Any tips and recommendations?
Which were some of your favorite things to do in Malta? Comment below!