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Malta is an archipelago in the Mediterranean sea, found between Sicily and the coast of North Africa.

Malta has a history full of succession by various rules including the Romans, Knights of Saint John, the French and the British. For this reason there’s numerous historic sites and fortresses throughout the island.

Aside from its natural Mediterranean beauty, the best feature of Malta has to be the weather! I took a spontaneous solo trip to Malta in January and it was sunny all day with a temperature of at least 17 degrees – dreamy if you ask me.

As it’s only a small country, it’s the perfect place for a short European break, especially if you’re trying to escape the northern European winter.

So here are some of the best things to do in Malta in January! 

best things to do in Malta in January

How to Get to Malta

Travelling from Europe

There are plenty of direct flights from lots of European countries, and lots of cheap flights too. I booked a return flight from the UK for around £40! Check Skyscanner for the best rates.

You can also get a boat from Italy to Malta.

Travelling from the Rest of the World

You’ll be hard pressed to find direct flights to Malta from countries like the USA and Australia. You’re best off travelling to other, larger European countries and then picking up a connecting flight. Check Skyscanner for the best deals.

Getting Around Malta

When it comes to getting around Malta, there are a few different options.

It’s also worth noting that when using maps on your phone use google maps! Apple maps gave me no public transport information or directions, only google maps did.

Hiring a Car in Malta

A lot of people I met opted to hire a car, as it makes everything much easier to access and gives you complete flexibility with your schedule. 

Also sometimes it can be hard to find direct bus routes to where you want to go, so it’s simply easier just to get the bus.

Getting around Malta by Bus

There is a good network of buses around Malta, and they’re cheap to use too. A single fare costs €2 but this ticket is valid for 2 hours, so you can take as many journeys as you want in that two hour time slot. I didn’t realise this until my last day in Malta so I could’ve saved myself €€!!!

If you’re staying in Malta for longer than a few days, or planning on doing a lot of journeys, then it might be worth getting a 7 day pass. 

The Tallinja Explore Plus card gives you unlimited travel for 7 days in any part of Malta and Gozo. It’s valid on both daytime and night time services, and costs just 21€, which I think is excellent value for money!

With unlimited travel, the 7-Day ‘Explore Card’ offers the best value for anyone wanting to explore our islands. You can go to all of Malta’s sites of interest, in any part of Malta and Gozo. You can buy a travel card from various places.

One thing about Malta public transport is it isn’t the most reliable. I found most buses didn’t turn up on time, and then they take a very long ‘round the houses’ route to get to where you want to go.

zurrieq malta things to do in Malta in January

Getting around Malta by Ferry

I was staying in Sliema, and instead of taking the bus to and from Valletta I opted to take the ferry as it was just more interesting!

A single costs 1,50€ and a return 2,80€. The prices were the same for the tickets from Valletta to the Three Cities. Check out the prices and timetables for the Valletta ferries here.

If you want to visit Gozo or Comino you will have to get a ferry. There is a Gozo fast ferry that runs from Valletta to Gozo and takes less than 45 minutes. 

To reach Comino you will have to take a ferry from either Cirkewwa and Marfa Bay (the northernmost tip of Malta), or from Mgarr Harbour on Gozo. The crossing takes around 25 minutes and costs 10€.

Getting around Malta by Bolt or Uber

Bolt and Uber both operate in Malta. I heard a lot of people saying they got fed up of waiting for the bus, or just wanted to get somewhere quicker so they hopped in an Uber.

My flight home from Malta was at 6am (!!) so I had to leave my hostel at about 4. Of course there were no buses running at the right time, so I opted for a Bolt instead.

Both Uber and Bolt offer similar prices so check both to see which are offering the best rate.

Whilst Bolt and Uber provide a quicker and more reliable service than buses in Malta, I don’t think you get the same experience just jumping in a taxi! And of course it’s also a lot more expensive.

Walking around Malta

A great way to explore a new country or area is just to have a walk around! I walked around both Sliema and Valetta to get a feel for the place, as well as enjoy the small pretty streets.

But when it comes to seeing Malta as a whole you’re best off using a car or public transport.

Valletta Malt three cities malta
Three Cities

Is January a good time to visit Malta?

Well I am biased, but yes! I loved visiting in January. If you work in a job where you don’t get Christmas holidays (and don’t have kids!) then booking annual leave in January is an absolute life hack.

Whilst everyone else comes back from their Christmas breaks more tired than they did than before, and everyone’s faced with the harsh reality of January, you can wave them all goodbye and head off somewhere warm and sunny. Or just simply chill the f**k out after the December madness.

What to wear to Malta in January

When it came to getting myself organised for my trip to Malta (a mere 12 hours before I had to leave for the airport, in classic fashion) I just didn’t know what to pack for Malta in January.

During the day temperatures can reach up to around 18 degrees, and it’s very warm in the sun! Perhaps not quite shorts weather but definitely a combination of long and short sleeved t-shirts and loose fitting trousers.

When I was there one of the days was super windy, and it can get cooler in the evening so you’ll want a jumper and/or a lightweight jacket.

As for shoes, a trusty pair or trainers worked for me as I was doing a lot of walking around. And don’t forget your sunglasses! 

Where to stay in Malta in January

I think I’ll always be a budget backpacker at heart, even if I’m just on a holiday during my annual leave. So my first port of call is to always try and find a hostel.

I stayed at Two Pillow Hostel in Sliema. This was an amazing hostel! As the name suggested, you get TWO pillows on your bed, which is unheard of for hostels, and something which I am very much here for.

They also have a small SPA on sight which you can use for FREE. Yes you heard me. A free spa on site at a HOSTEL! It has a jacuzzi pool and a sauna, and is open until 9pm every night. Just ask reception to let you in.

The hostel is really easy to get to. From the airport, catch the bus into Valletta, and then catch the ferry to Sliema. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the ferry port to the hostel.

Check Two Pillows’ rates and availability.

mdina malta in January

15 Best Things to do in Malta in January

Malta Attractions Map

Here’s a map of some of the best things to do in Malta in January, to help plan your trip to Malta in winter.

1. Explore Valletta

First on my list of things to do in Malta in January has to be visiting the capital of Valletta.

Although it’s the capital city, Valletta is tiny really, and it’s the smallest capital city in the EU.

Being so small, Valletta doesn’t feel like your typical capital and I think that’s why it’s so easy to love it! It’s a walled city with beautiful buildings, history and culture. Valletta is perhaps best known for its grand churches, palaces and museums.

Valletta is a great place to start your Malta adventure, as it’s just 15 minutes from the airport, and a gateway to other popular attractions in Malta.

Unlike other capital cities it isn’t overpriced either, so when it comes to food and attractions it’s really accessible.

There are so many great things to do in Valletta, but the perfect way to kickstart your time in the city is taking part in a free walking tour.

I love free walking tours as they give a great insight into the history of the city, whilst giving you a chance to see all the best bits. The guides are passionate locals who are happy to share all about their home, and you can get some great recommendations from them!

valletta malta at night things to do in Malta in January

2. Visit the Three Cities

The three cities are one of Malta’s best known attractions. They are culturally and historically very poignant and have been kept alive thanks to years of preservation.

The Three Cities are:

  • Birgu (aka Vittoriosa)
  • Senglea (aka Isla)
  • Bormla (aka Cospicua)

Birgu is the oldest of the three cities. If you visit here on a Sunday there is a flea market.

You can get to them via a ferry running directly from the Grand Harbour in Valletta ove to Senglea.

Ferries cost 1,50€ for a single fare and 2,80€ for a return. If you are visiting Malta in January the ferries will follow the winter timetable, which means there is a ferry every 30 minutes.

Check out the ferry timetables here.

You will want to allow yourself a few hours to enjoy the Three Cities. Unlike the name ‘city’ suggests, they are only very small places, but they’re lovely to just wander around.
Some of the best things to do in the Three Cities are:

  • Birgu Market (only on a Sunday)
  • DATE Art Cafe, Senglea (only a few minutes walk from the ferry port)
  • Gardjola Gardens
  • Fort Saint Angelo, Birgu
  • Inquisitor’s Palace, Birgu
  • Victory Square, Birgu
view of valletta grand harbour malta in January
View from Gardjola Gardens to Valletta Grand Harbour

3. Explore Gozo

Gozo is a beautiful Maltese island in the Mediterranean sea, and one of the 21 that make up the Maltese archipelago.

There have been inhabitants here for thousands years and it’s best known for its neolithic temple ruins, scuba sites, stunning beaches, and rural hiking paths.

Ideally you’d want to give yourself a couple of days to enjoy Gozo. There are lots of accommodation options in Gozo for you to enjoy an overnight stay. 

But if you are short of time you could visit in a day, and still enjoy some of the best things to do in Gozo, including:

  • Relax at Ramla Bay Beach, then walk up to Tal Mixta cave for a great view of the beach
  • Visit Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu Basilica and the Ancient Citadel
  • Climb up Dwejra Tower
  • See the salt pans in north Gozo

Getting to Gozo 

There are two options for getting to Gozo. You can take the fast ferry from the Grand Harbour in Valletta, over to Gozo which takes less than 45 minutes. You can buy tickets and check schedules online or by using the Gozo Fast app. A one way adult ticket is 7,50€. 

The other option for the ferry to Gozo is taking the 25 minute ferry from Cirkewwa in the north of Malta. If you have hired a car in Malta, and want to take it to Gozo you will have to get the ferry from here.

Standard passenger fare is 4,65€ for a round trip, or 15,70€ for 1 adult + vehicle. You can reach the Cirkewwa ferry terminal by bus. It takes around an hour and a half from Valletta, or 1 hour 15 direct from Malta Airport,

4. Take a day trip to Comino

Comino is the smallest of Malta’s islands with only a handful of permanent residents.

You’ll most likely want to head to Comino from either Gozo or Malta. You can stay on Camino but it is only small and only has one hotel.

You can catch a ferry to Comino from Cirkewwa on Malta, or 

Another popular way to visit Comino is to book a tour. Lots of tours you can book online leave from St. Paul’s Bay, but there are also tours leaving from Sliema Harbour.

It is unlikely tours will become booked up if you’re visiting Malta in January, so you could be spontaneous and turn up on the day, or book last minute.

In fact, it’s probably better to head to Cominio in the winter or in the spring, as in July and August it becomes almost unbearably busy!

The most popular area of Comino is without doubt the Blue Lagoon, but there are loads of other amazing beaches and areas around the island which are worth visiting, so make sure you allow yourself some time to explore!

coming blue lagoon malta
Comino Blue Lagoon

5. Discover Mdina, the Silent City 

So we kicked off this list of things to do in Malta in January with the current capital, now it’s time for the former capital – Mdina. Mdina served as the Malteste capital up until the mediaeval area. 

So if you think Valletta is a small capital, wait until you see Mdina! 

Mdina’s claim to fame is that it was actually used as a filming location in Game of Thrones.

Although Mdina may be small, it’s certainly perfectly formed. It’s so pretty so just wandering around here alone is enough! There’s a great view over the rest of Malta from the city walls.

Mdina is a great destination for a Malta day trip. It’s also close to Rabat, another interesting place to visit in Malta. 

Discover more here: A Guide to Mdina and Rabat

Why the Silent City?

Mdina became known as the Silent City when the capital was moved from here, to what is now Vittoriosa.

The movement of the capital city left Mdina so quiet and uninhabited that locals began to refer to it as a ‘ghost town’, so the term ‘Silent City’ was coined.

car in front of doors mdina malta

6. Snorkel in the Blue Lagoon

If you’re visiting Comino, the chances are you’ll want to see the Blue Lagoon.

Some of the tours for Comino will include snorkelling equipment, whilst others may charge an extra fee for hire. Sea Adventures are a popular and reputable tour provider, with tours departing from St. Paul’s Bay. They’re also incredibly reasonably priced!!

The Blue Lagoon 

It’s best to visit the Blue Lagoon during your trip to Malta in January, or in the winter as it will be much less crowded.

It gets SO busy in peak times that a lot of Malta blog posts actually recommend avoiding the area completely in the summer.

7. Have a drink at the Hole in the Wall

This little bar in Sliema is the perfect spot for a cosy drink or bite to eat. According to the Times of Malta the Hole in the Wall is the oldest bar in Sliema, dating back almost 100 years!

From coffee and cake, to cocktails and craft beers they have it all. They also host live music events.

I went with a group from the hostel and we were pretty much all doing dry Jan (lol) so it gave us a chance to sample some Ruggata tal Lewz (Maltese almond drink). 

It is basically a soda drink which tastes like marzipan. I really liked it to start with, but by the end of the bottle it became far too sickly!

Worth a try though for 2€, and something I had never come across before.

8. Head south and check out the Blue Grotto

Next on my list of things to do in Malta in January is head to The Blue Grotto.

This must see in Malta is one of the best attractions in Malta, found in the southeast of the island.

The cave is 30 m wide and 56m long, and is famed for its bright blue water which becomes even more ‘azure’ the further inside the cave you venture.

The biggest challenge is actually getting to the Blue Grotto. This area of Malta is a bit more secluded. You can get a bus there but the route is long, winding and time consuming. Bus routes 74 and 201 go directly to the Blue Grotto, but only stop here once an hour.

The first stop is the Blue Grotto Panoramic Viewpoint where you can see the grotto from above. From here you then head to the small harbour at Wied iż-Żurrieq, where you can take a small boat trip into the cave. The boat costs 8€ and is the best way to see the Blue Grotto and surrounding caves.

The boats operate all year long, weather permitting. I wasn’t able to take a boat as the wind was so strong and the sea was so rough, so bear this in mind if you are visiting Malta in January.

blue grotto malta
Blue Grotto

9. Go Hiking in Il-Munqar and Explore the Munqar and Barbagann Caves

Il-Munqar is a quiet and isolated area of Southern Malta, about 1.4km out of Zurrieq town centre.

You can access the Il-Munqar area near to the Blue Grotto. The path takes you around the cliffs and you can explore the Munqar and Barbagann Caves. In order to reach the caves you have to do a bit of scrambling!

It’s worth noting that this area is very isolated and paths aren’t clearly marked. Although I was solo travelling in Malta, I went to Il-Munqar with a friend I met at the hostel. We both agreed we wouldn’t have done this on our own.

There isn’t any phone signal in the area either, so it’s worth downloading offline maps before you head that way.

I have managed to find a circular hiking route around Il-Munqar which starts and ends in Zurrieq.

beach cave malta
Munqar Cave

10. St Paul’s Catacombs

So you’ve heard of the famous Parisian Catacombs I’m sure, but did you know Malta was home to some? I certainly did not!

St Paul’s Catacombs are the largest example of Malta’s early Chritstian archaeology. The catacombs cover an area of over 2000 sqm, with galleries and tombs dating back to the 8th century.

St Paul’s Catacombs are found in Rabat which is close to Mdina. You can walk from Mdina to Rabat in under 15 minutes. Entry is 6€.

11. Try some local cuisine at Ta Kris Restaurant

When you think of Italy, you think pasta and pizza. When you think of Thailand you think curries and stick rice. Spain, paella! But what is a classic Maltese cuisine?

Well head to Ta Kris in Sliema and you can sample some of the best Maltese cuisine, and sample some local wine.

Rabbit stew is a national dish of Malta but being vegetarian and having had pet rabbits growing up, there was no way I was going anywhere NEAR that!

There’s a variety of traditional dishes on the Ta Kris menu, suitable for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Aside from their main menu they have daily specials.

You can make a reservation online with 48 hours notice.

view down road rural Mediterranean village

12. Spend the day at St. Paul’s Bay

This village on the north coast of Malta is a beautiful area to visit. The name refers to the nearby St. Paul’s shipwreck.

It’s a popular place for visitors to Malta to base themselves, so there’s lots of options for food and drink and souvenir shopping in the area.

St. Paul’s Bay is also a good sunset spot, and you can walk along the beach for miles! One of the best things to do in St Pauls Bay is visit the National Aquarium of Malta.

13. St John’s Co Cathedral

This Roman Catholic Cathedral is found in the heart of Valencia and is dedicated to John the Baptist.

Built between 1573 and 1578, St. John’s Co Cathedral is a prime example of Baroque architecture.

The interior of the church is extremely ornate and very impressive. You can climb to 

You can climb up to the interior viewing platform to get a closer look at the impressive ceiling art and carvings.

Entry is a bit expenny at 15€, but this does include an audio guide.

14. Try Pastizzi, a Local Maltese Delicacy 

Pastizzi are little pastry ‘snacks’ filled with either meat, peas or ricotta. You can pick them up from any deli or pastry shop for less than 1€.  The peas and ricotta ones are suitable for vegetarians.

15. Watch the sunset at Dingli Cliffs

This is the perfect place to watch the sunset as it is west facing, and straight out into the sea.

It’s a really beautiful and secluded spot, and there’s plenty of space for you to sit all along the cliffs, so you really feel you have it all to yourself.

You can get the 201 bus direct to Dingli Cliffs. The 52 and 56 bus go to Dingli Village. I got one of these and then walked to the cliffs.

The great thing about Dingli cliffs is it feels so isolated, compared to Sliema and Valetta where it was very busy and built up.

Check the time of sunset before you plan your visit.

sunset at dingli cliffs malta
Dingli Cliffs

16. Check out some of the world’s oldest temples

Malta is home to some of the world’s oldest temples – who knew?!

The Megalithic Temples of Malta are a selection of several prehistoric temples, some of which are UNESCO rated, which date back to between 3600 BC and 2500 BC.

An example of one which you can visit is the Tarxien Temples, which were actually uncovered by farmers!

Entrance is 6€. It’s open 10-6 everyday and the last admission is 5:30pm.

All in all there are seven Megalithic Temples for you to visit. If you’re interested in checking a number of them out, it might be worth jumping on a tour.

17. Visit the Popeye Village

Finally on my list of things to do in Malta is perhaps one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Malta!

Opened in 1979 the Popeye Village (aka Sweethaven Village) was a purpose-built film set, built as the film set for the 1980 live-action musical Popeye. It’s now a park providing fun for everyone (not just kids, adults too!)

You can find it in Anchor Bay, 3km from the village of Melliena. 

Popeye Village is open all year round, but if you are visiting Malta in winter it’s only open until 4:30pm. Entrance costs 14€ and includes:

  • Access to the Popeye film set
  • Animation shows and documentary film at the cinema
  • Mini golf
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Entry to the Popeye Comic Museum
  • Free photos and postcard
  • Meet the characters
  • Rides and museums
  • Free popcorn

According to their website (April 2023) the film set is currently closed due to bad storm damage. Other areas of the park are still open, with activities running. Check their website for more information.

Popeye village malta
Popeye Village

Malta in January FAQs

Is Malta worth visiting in January, or in the winter?

Yes! I thought it was the perfect destination to visit in the winter, especially when it’s so dark, gloomy and depressing at home in the UK.

And what’s also great about visiting Malta in winter is that it’s quieter and there’s less crowds. In some instances as well there are ‘off season’ prices, so you’ll find you get a cheaper rate by visiting Malta in the winter, as opposed to in the summer.

How warm is it in Malta in January?

Temperatures in Malta in January peak at around 18/19 degrees, with an average high of 16. and can drop to around 10/11 overnight.

The weather in Malta in January is generally sunny. On average 95mm falls over 12 days. When I was there there was really high winds one day and it rained, and the locals were shocked by how ‘cold’ it was. I was still in a short sleeved t-shirt!!

So of course, the weather won’t be anywhere near as nice as July, but it’s very much a welcome escape from weather in the rest of Europe.

coffee street in valletta

Are things open in Malta in January?

Yes! There may be a reduced timetable for buses and ferries in the winter, and also reduced opening hours for attractions, but I was able to go and see everything I wanted to.

Just do your research before you travel on exactly what is available.

General Malta FAQs

What is Malta best known for?

Malta is perhaps best known for its warm climate, and its good weather all year round!
It’s also renowned for its stunning landscapes and amazing coastline. It is also the smallest country in the EU, and Valletta the smallest EU capital.

It’s also perhaps known for being home to some of the world’s oldest temples (read more about them above!). 

Is Malta expensive to visit?

On average travellers can expect to pay €60-150 per person per day, which will greatly depend on how you get around, the sort of accommodation you have, and where you choose to eat.

Although Malta is more expensive than other southern European countries, it’s less expensive than a lot of western European destinations.

I found that food in supermarkets was considerably more expensive than at home in the UK, and tourist attractions weren’t cheap either. However accommodation and public transport (bus and ferries) were very reasonably priced.

general store building Mediterranean

Is Malta part of Spain or Italy?

Neither! Malta is its own country. In fact it’s been an independent state since the 1960s, when it gained independence from the British empire in 1964.

It’s been an EU member state since 2004 and joined the Euro zone in 2008.

What language do they speak in Malta?

Malta has two official languages – Maltese and English, but Maltese is the national language. Italian was also an official language in Malta until 1934.

According to a 2012 poll by Eurobarometer:

  • 98% of the Maltese population can speak Maltese
  • 88% can speak English
  • 66% can speak Italian
  • Over 17% can speak french

Lots of Maltese people can also somewhat understand Darija (Moroccan Arabic).

What are your best things to do in Malta in January?

Have you visited Malta in January before? I’d love to hear all about your trip, and what you got up to. Or maybe this post has left you feeling inspired to visit Malta in the winter.

Drop me a comment below or say hi over on instagram.

building and trees sunlight

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