Malta is a beautiful fusion of ancient and modern, offering everything from beaches and cities to prehistoric sites. And though you could easily drive from one side of the island to the other in under an hour, there’s an incredible amount to see and do along the way. From shopping in Valletta and exploring Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra to experiencing Malta at night in the ancient city of Mdina, here’s how to spend 24 hours in Malta.
With only 24 hours in Malta, there’s not a minute, or a meal, to spare. Hop in the car and get things started with a delicious breakfast at Caffe Cordina in Valletta; located in a beautiful old palazzo, this is a great place to sample traditional Maltese pastizzi (delicious flaky pastry parcels) or a breakfast ftira (freshly baked bread with toppings). Located on Republic Street, Caffe Cordina is also perfectly placed for shopping in Valletta – stop by The Silversmith’s Shop for authentic silver filigree jewellery to bring home.
Continue down Republic Street, past the impressive Grand Master’s Palace, and you’ll find yourself at St John’s Co-Cathedral. The Knights of Malta established this place of worship back in the 16th century. Today, it’s a masterpiece of Baroque architecture, gilded and grand, and home to Caravaggio’s “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist”.
From here you can continue your cultural explorations in Valletta with a trip to either the National Museum of Fine Arts (don’t miss the Turner watercolour of Malta) or the National Museum of Archaeology (including awe-inspiring artefacts from Malta’s Neolithic period), both within five minutes of the Cathedral.
Filling though pastizzi are, by now you’ve probably worked up an appetite for lunch. Follow in the footsteps of the locals and search out sustenance at Trattoria da Pippo – this is the place to come for generous helpings of delicious Sicilian, Maltese and Mediterranean food. It’s a popular place, so book ahead.
Back behind the wheel, roll down the windows and take in the Maltese countryside as it flashes past on your drive to Malta’s ancient temples, Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra. These two UNESCO World Heritage sites are actually older than Egypt’s Great Pyramids, with the oldest structures dating back to between 3600 and 3200 B.C. Exploring the stone chambers, pillars, and ancient altars of these two prehistoric temples is a great way to spend the afternoon, and makes for some stunning holiday snaps.
As the day starts to cool, take one last look out over the Maltese coastline before making your way to the medieval fortified city of Mdina. Itself a place of great historic significance, it’s said that Mdina’s history stretches back over 4,000 years. No cars can enter the city so park up and continue on foot; dubbed the “Silent City”, a stroll through these medieval winding streets is particularly enjoyable and atmospheric at sunset.
For dinner, nowhere beats Medina Restaurant. Recently awarded the title of Best Restaurant in Malta, Medina serves Mediterranean and Maltese dishes like Giant King
Prawns with Cognac and Stuffat Tal-Qarnit – a rich stew of octopus, roast walnuts, apples and sultanas. A table outside in the charming courtyard is one of the best places to enjoy Malta at night, and makes for the perfect romantic end to your 24 hours in Malta.
Fully sated, head back to Corinthia St George's Bay for a nightcap and a comfortable night's sleep. The perfect end to a whirlwind 24 hours in Malta.