Six of the Best Local Things to do in Malta

I remember my childhood fondly, a Mediterranean childhood, orange trees, prickly heat and above all the sea. Searing hot summers are saved by the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. A sea that was all around us, engulfing the island, it was our horizon and also our salvation. We spent so much time on its shores, discovering the rock pools, their treasures or immersed in its cool waters. And then of course there were the houses. My parents were obsessed with them! Crumbling ruins, faded grandeur and wild gardens. Villa Bologna was part of this. A beautiful house and it also had extraordinary pottery in its stables. My parent's house was full of lamps, vases, plates and bowls from Villa Bologna Pottery.

Rowley and I married in the villa in 2017 and made Malta our forever home with our two wonderful children. When the opportunity came up to take over the pottery at Villa Bologna, which resonated so deeply with me, Rowley and I were completely committed to carrying on this wonderful legacy. 

Malta holds a special place in our hearts and is somewhere I would recommend everyone to visit. So, we wanted to share with you our Malta Travel guide, including some of our favourite things to do in Malta as a visitor and a local.

where to find the best views in Malta and to see the sunsets

1. Best family-friend beach: Riviera

Malta is known for swimming off the rocks, which although makes for a more exhilarating beach experience, is not always an ideal option when you have young children. That is why we love Riviera Beach, not only because it is one of the prettiest beaches in Malta, but also because it offers visitors a gold sandy beachfront and tranquil turquoise waters protected by a small bay. 

Despite the many hundreds of steps to descend to reach the beach (and to climb on the way back), the view from the cliffs above is spectacular and can be enjoyed by very few people in the early mornings. Riviera Beach is also one of the best beaches in Malta to watch the sunset, but it does get busy in peak summer months so be prepared to share the show.  

Another reason why we love Riviera Beach is a coffee stand at the top of the stairs brewing up some of the best coffee on the island that keeps you fuelled for the walk down. There is also a beachside restaurant called Singita, which prepares smoothies and juices for breakfast, fresh salads and seafood for lunch and sundowner cocktails. We like to get a seat here early as it’s got the best view of the sunset. 

Riviera Beach is the best family friendly beach with golden sand bay and the best sunsets in Malta.


2. Best places for a secret swim in Malta and where to eat nearby

The waters around Malta and its islands are extremely clear and get very deep very quickly, making it safe to dive into directly from the rocky shores. We are lucky to have a variety of possible places to swim —and sunshine almost 300 days a year! It’s the perfect way to refreshen up after a day exploring the island.

So, if jumping off rocks is your thing, we do have a few recommendations for where you can enjoy the pristine waters of Malta. 

Fort St. Angelo, Birgu

Fort St. Angelo is an important site in Malta for history lovers. Dating back to the 12th century, it was first built as a Castrum Maris (castle by the sea) at the end of the Birgu peninsula and dominates the Grand Harbour. 

We love it for the panoramic views of the harbour and the cities that surround it. You can slide into the water and swim under the fort to discover views of Valletta. Make sure you stop by Terone, located in the fort, for dinner after your dip.

Għar Lapsi

Translated to Cave of the Ascension, this secluded bay sits at the feet of the Dingli Cliffs and boasts a natural swimming pool formed by the rugged rocks that define the landscape. It’s one of the most popular swimming spots in Malta among locals. Famous for its 40-metre cave, this cove also offers extraordinary views of Filfla Island. Because of its location surrounded by cliffs, the waters are calm and perfect for swimming and snorkelling, especially as there is a reef and network of caves—which can even be explored by scuba diving! 

We come here for the very local vibe and a cute, family-run restaurant called Carmens for seafood spaghetti or freshly grilled fish. 

Manoel Island

Manoel Island is a small island in the Marsamxett Harbour between Gżira and Valletta. It is connected to the vibrant Gżira waterfront by a small bridge and the island comprises a yacht marina and an 18th-century fortress.

Walk all the way across the island and you’ll get to a rocky outcrop where you can go swimming and enjoy spectacular views overlooking Valletta. Although there is nowhere to eat on the island, you are surrounded by cafes and restaurants on the waterfront in Sliema, Gżira, Ta' Xbiex and Valletta. 

secret swimming spots in Malta - jump right off the rocks into the Mediterranean Sea

3. How to spend the day in Valletta

Want to know how you can spend the day in Valletta? Here is what a usual day in the city looks like for us as a family: 

  • Start at Lot 61 Coffee Roasters for the best coffee around!
  • Visit St. John's Co-Cathedral to see the Caravaggio.
  • Lunch at Da’ Pippo Trattoria - a family run very local Italian restaurant with indoor seating. The walls are plastered with photography to remind the staff of their esteemed customers. It gets very busy so book ahead.
  • Potter around the charming, stoned walled St Lucia Street to find a row of gold shops and discover hidden shops - my favourite one is Frank Zampa.
  • Cool off with a cocktail in a classic old bar and swim at the pool of the Phoenicia Hotel overlooking Manoel Island.

 4. Mdina 

Step back in time by visiting the ancient walled city of Mdinaa fortified city in the north of Malta confined within its walls and has a population of just under 300. Also known as the "Silent City," it boasts narrow medieval streets, stunning architecture and panoramic views across Malta. Only a few cars are allowed in adding to its enchantment. There are many things to do in Mdina, including a “karozzin” horse and cart ride, go for a walk in the moat and finish with a slice of chocolate cake from Fontenella Tea Garden sitting on the ramparts walls with an amazing view across Malta. 

prettiest places in Malta

 5. Gozo

Jump on the fast ferry from Valletta to Gozo, Malta's quiet sister island, and explore its picturesque landscapes and charming villages. Just 20 minutes away, you can visit the ancient Ġgantija temples, relax on the stunning Ramla Bay beach and explore the vibrant Victoria market. Enjoy a leisurely pace of life and immerse yourself in the island's natural beauty.

If you’re looking for a place for lunch on Gozo Island, we recommend Kantra, a restaurant with a lovely spot overlooking the sea (also great for swimming!)Just by the ferry port in Marr, there is one of our favourite bars, called Gleneagles. It’s an old Fisherman's bar with a superb interior and great for an evening drink on your way back to Malta. 

 6. Villa Bologna, Attard

Ok, we may be biased but visiting Villa Bologna is an absolute must-do when you visit Malta. We would love to welcome all visitors from near and far to our pottery shop and workshop and new Italian trattoria! Just a 15-minute drive from Valletta, if you’re looking to escape the crowds and spend the day under the shade of our orange trees admiring local heritage and craftsmanship, then Villa Bologna is for you!

one of the best things to do in Malta is visit the Villa Bologna Pottery in Attard

The Villa Bologna Restaurant is a classic and friendly trattoria, located in the historic gardens of Baroque Villa Bologna in Attard, Malta. Our menu offers quintessential Italian dishes, presented on elegant handmade and hand-painted ceramics, crafted by local artisans from Villa Bologna Pottery and are available to buy in our pottery shop next door. 

We are open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, with a special lunch on Sundays. Our seasonal menu is made with locally-sourced produce and the freshest ingredients grown in the Villa’s own vegetable and herb garden. Featuring a cosy bar for evening cocktails, Italian and French wine, or coffee and pastries earlier in the day. We hope to see you there!