The 11 best cities in Malta to visit


Malta, an archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean, is a treasure trove of history, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture. Although it’s a small country, there are many things to see and do, from cities full of historical monuments to quiet fishing villages. Whether you’re looking to explore ancient fortresses, enjoy sunny beaches, or immerse yourself in the lively nightlife, these Maltese cities have something for everyone. Here we present the 11 best cities in Malta that you can’t miss.

Planning a trip to Malta

#1 Valletta

Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a historical and cultural gem founded by the Knights of St. John in the 16th century. With over 450 years of history, this city is an open-air museum. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its narrow streets are filled with baroque palaces, churches, and museums that narrate the rich history of the island.

Among its main attractions of the capital are St. John’s Co-Cathedral, famous for its impressive interior and Caravaggio’s painting, “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist“, and the Upper Barrakka Gardens, which offer spectacular views of the Grand Harbour. The Grandmaster’s Palace, now the official residence of the President of Malta, reveals the opulence of the former rulers with its tapestries and collections of weapons.

The streets of the capital Valletta Malta

#2 Mdina

Mdina, known as “The Silent City”, is the ancient capital of Malta and offers a journey back in time with its medieval streets and well-preserved architecture. Located atop a central hill, Mdina is one of the best-preserved historic cities in Europe. Its narrow, cobbled streets create a fairytale-like setting. Although it is a very touristy city, it is sparsely populated, with approximately 306 inhabitants.

In Mdina, tranquility prevails. Highlights include St. Paul’s Cathedral and Vilhena Palace, as well as the Palazzo Falson (Norman House) and other medieval-style buildings. The city has also been the backdrop for several film productions, including the famous series “Game of Thrones”. A visit to Mdina wouldn’t be complete without trying the famous Mdina cake at Fontanella Tea Garden, while enjoying the privileged views from atop the city walls.

The streets of the city of Mdina Malta

#3 Rabat

Rabat, adjacent to Mdina, is an archaeological treasure famous for the Catacombs of St. Paul and St. Agatha, built in the 3rd century AD. These catacombs served as a refuge for early Christians and offer a fascinating insight into early burial practices and the religious history of Malta. Rabat is also home to the Roman Antiquities Museum, where you can admire a Roman mosaic that has been preserved almost intact.

Mdina and Rabat were built by the Arabs over an ancient Roman city. We recommend visiting both cities in one day, as they are only ten minutes apart and are relatively small.

The streets of one of the cities in Malta, Rabat

#4 Sliema

Sliema is the most popular city among expatriates in Malta, known for its excellent English language schools and numerous social activities and gatherings. Here, rent is the most expensive on the island, reflecting its high demand and the quality of life it offers. In Sliema, you will find a wide variety of restaurants and shops, making it one of Malta’s main shopping areas. Additionally, Sliema also hosts some of the most luxurious hotels in Malta, making it a popular destination for both tourists and locals.

If you enjoy walking, we recommend strolling along the seafront from St. Julian’s and taking in the views of the sea, bays, churches, and towers along the way, while Tigné Point offers unparalleled panoramas of Valletta. Furthermore, from Sliema Harbour, you can take a ferry that will take you directly to Valletta, providing a quick and scenic connection between these two cities.

City of Malta, Sliema

#5 St. Julian’s

Without a doubt, St. Julian’s, also known as San Ġiljan, is one of the most touristy cities in Malta. Here you will find some of the top English schools such as ESE, EC, and EF, attracting a young and multicultural population of students from all over the world. The city has a dynamic atmosphere and is ideal for those looking to study and work.

St. Julian’s is particularly known for the neighborhood of Paceville, the epicenter of Malta’s nightlife. This area is packed with bars, nightclubs, and casinos, attracting young and adult crowds looking for fun until the early hours of the morning. Paceville is the perfect spot for those who enjoy live music, international DJs, and a festive atmosphere.

For those seeking daytime entertainment, St. Julian’s offers shopping centers, bowling alleys, cinemas, and casinos. Additionally, in St. George’s Bay, you will find one of the few sandy beaches in Malta. This beach is always lively due to its proximity to English schools and many hotels. Moreover, a stroll along the seafront offers stunning views of the sea, and you can’t miss the famous “LOVE Monument”, built so that the word “LOVE” reflects in the waters of Spinola Bay. This spot is popular among couples who place love locks on the monument.

Visit St. Julian's

#6 The Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua)

The Three Cities of Malta, consisting of Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (L-Isla), and Cospicua (Bormla), are a group of historic towns located in Malta’s Grand Harbour. These cities, rich in heritage and tradition, offer a fascinating glimpse into Malta’s history, especially during the era of the Knights of St. John. Vittoriosa, the oldest, was the first seat of the Knights of St. John in Malta and is notable for its narrow, cobbled streets and medieval architecture. Here, Fort St. Angelo and the Inquisitor’s Palace are must-visits, offering a rich military and religious history.

Senglea, also known as L-Isla, is a fortified city that offers some of the best views of the Grand Harbour. Its strategic location made it a crucial stronghold during the Great Siege of Malta. The Gardjola Gardens, located at the tip of Senglea, provide panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and Valletta. The Basilica of Our Lady of Victories is an important place of worship and pilgrimage in Senglea, noted for its historical and religious significance.

Cospicua, locally known as Bormla, is the largest of the Three Cities and has played a significant role in Malta’s naval history. Known for its docks and shipyards, Cospicua has been a center of maritime activity for centuries. The Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Maritime Gate are examples of its rich architecture and military past. Exploring the Three Cities on foot allows visitors to discover hidden corners, historic streets, and impressive buildings, making it a must-visit destination in Malta.

Plaza in one of The Three Cities Malta

#7 Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is a picturesque fishing village located in the southeast of Malta, known for its Sunday market and its colorful “luzzus,” traditional Maltese fishing boats decorated with eyes of Osiris, a symbol of protection. The Sunday market in Marsaxlokk is one of the most popular in Malta, where you can find a wide variety of fresh products, especially seafood, as well as local crafts and souvenirs.

In Marsaxlokk, you can enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many seaside restaurants, serving local dishes such as “lampuki pie” (dorado fish pie) and grilled octopus.

Marsaxlokk Village

#8 Mellieħa

Mellieħa, located in the north of Malta, is known for its stunning beaches, with Mellieħa Bay being the largest on the island. This beach is perfect for families and water sports enthusiasts. The beach also offers several facilities, such as umbrella and sunbed rentals, as well as bars and restaurants where you can enjoy a meal with sea views.

Additionally, the Mellieħa Parish Church and the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa are must-visits for those interested in local history and culture. The combination of golden beaches and rich cultural heritage makes Mellieħa a perfect destination for a relaxing getaway. For nature lovers, Mellieħa offers several hiking opportunities. The trails traverse natural landscapes and historic sites, providing routes that reveal the rural beauty of the region.

The church of Mellieħa Malta

#9 St. Paul’s Bay

St. Paul’s Bay, locally known as San Pawl il-Baħar, is one of the largest and most diverse tourist areas in Malta, located on the northeast coast of the island. It is the most populated city in Malta, reflecting its popularity among both locals and visitors.

Bugibba and Qawra, two prominent areas within St. Paul’s Bay, feature well-equipped rocky beaches and a variety of water sports centers. The Bugibba promenade is lined with restaurants, cafes, and shops, making it a perfect place for an evening stroll. Nightlife in Bugibba is vibrant, with a wide selection of bars, nightclubs, and casinos attracting both tourists and locals. Additionally, for nature lovers, the city offers several hiking trails that allow exploration of the coastal and rural landscapes of the area, providing a complete experience for those seeking both fun and tranquility.

The Malta National Aquarium, located in Qawra, is one of the main family attractions. This aquarium hosts an impressive variety of local and exotic marine life and offers educational and recreational activities for children and adults, making it an ideal place to visit with family.

St. Paul’s Bay Malta

#10 Mosta

Mosta is famous for its impressive church, the Rotunda of Mosta, which boasts one of the largest domes in Europe. The Rotunda of Mosta, officially known as the Church of St. Mary, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Malta. The church dome, with a diameter of 37 meters, is one of the largest in Europe and the third largest unsupported dome in the world.

During World War II, on April 9, 1942, a 500 kg bomb pierced the dome during a mass attended by over 300 people, but miraculously did not explode. This event is considered a miracle by the locals and is commemorated with a replica of the bomb in the church’s sacristy.

Another significant attraction in Mosta is the Ta’ Bistra Catacombs, a complex of prehistoric caves offering a fascinating insight into life in Malta during the Bronze Age. Excavations at this site have revealed a wealth of artifacts and ancient structures, providing valuable understanding of the early history of the island.

Mosta Malta

#11 Victoria (Island of Gozo)

Victoria, also known as Rabat, is the capital of the island of Gozo and a vibrant center of cultural, historical, and commercial activity. With a population of around 7,000 inhabitants, Victoria is the beating heart of Gozo and offers visitors a unique blend of traditional charm and modern conveniences.

One of the must-see sites in Gozo in Victoria is the Citadel, an impressive fortification located in the center of the city. The Citadel has been inhabited since prehistoric times and has played a crucial role in the defense of Gozo over the centuries. As visitors walk along its ancient walls, they can enjoy panoramic views of the entire island, including its green fields, rolling hills, and the deep blue Mediterranean Sea.

Within the Citadel, you will find the Cathedral of the Assumption, a 17th-century baroque church that stands as a testament to Gozo’s rich religious heritage. The Cathedral Museum and other museums within the Citadel, such as the Folklore Museum and the Archaeological Museum, offer an in-depth look into the island’s history and culture.

Victoria Gozo Malta