This small Mediterranean nation has lots to offer visitors for a short break. Whether it’s exploring the beautiful old towns, dining on mouthwatering seafood or swimming in the azure waters surrounding it. We spent 5 days exploring the island which was a good amount of time for some relaxing by the pool as well as checking out some of the sights.
Here is the Mini Travel Tribe guide to making the most of a short break in Malta with kids.
Where to stay?
There are numerous resort areas around the island and it is very much personal choice as to which area might suit your family best. We stayed in St Julian’s, which is an area just North West of Valletta. This area is full of restaurants and bars within easy walking distance. There is also a small sandy beach at nearby Balluta bay.
We stayed at the Hilton hotel, which was a great choice for our family. There are four different swimming pools and we never an issue getting a pool-side sunbed. It was also within easy walking distance of lots of restaurants and bars in St Julians and Balluta bay.
Neighbouring Sliema has a similar vibe and you can also catch a ferry from there across the water to the old town of Valletta.
Other popular areas for families are Mellieha, in the north of the island which has one of the few sandy beaches in Malta.
Usually we like to hire a car on holiday so that we can be independent in getting to wherever we want to go. We didn’t get a car for this trip since it was meant to be mostly about relaxing. There are buses that go between most of the towns on the island, although these can often take a while. Traffic, particularly around Valletta can also be a problem. Around Valletta and there are ferries that shuttle across the water to both Sliema and Birgu, part of the three cities.
We mostly got around by taxi or ecab. E-cab is the Maltese equivalent of Uber, and is pretty easy to use by just downloading the app to your phone.
Places to Visit in Malta
Here are the places to visit in Malta that we enjoyed most. There were plenty of other places in our guidebook that we didn’t make it to but that just means we will have to go back sometime!
No trip to Malta is complete without a visit to the capital and UNESCO world heritage site, Valletta. Crowned by domes and spires and surrounded by sturdy city walls, Valletta enjoys a unique position on a promontory.
Wandering through the cobbled streets rising and falling like a roller coaster, can in itself while away a few hours. Especially when you pause to watch the world go in pavement cafes while enjoying delicious ice creams or snacks. The sights that we enjoyed exploring within the old city were.
Unless you arrive by ferry you are very likely to enter the old city via the impressive city gates. The current gate is is in fact the fifth city gate to stand here, having been erected in 2014. The gate itself is more modern than much of the surrounding architecture, which I thought made it stand out more. It was in fact designed by the same architect as the shard in London.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Towards the right after passing through the city gates you will find these lovely small gardens. It’s always good to find a place for children to be able to roam around a little when in a city. These small but perfectly formed gardens are a delightful haven. There is also an impressive terrace with fantastic views out towards the three cities (three towns each on their own peninsular) across the water.
St Johns Cathedral
This stunning cathedral in must be one of the top places to visit in Malta. It’s not cheap to enter this central Valletta landmark, although under 12s are free, but in my view it was worth it. The entrance fee includes a comprehensive audio guide which takes you around the main cathedral as well as all of it’s side rooms. Don’t miss going up onto the balcony for a stunning overview of the interior from above. Shoulders need to be covered but they will provide you with cover ups at the entrance so don’t worry if like me you have shorts and vest on.
Situated in the centre of the island, this stunning town was once the capital of Malta. We took a taxi there from our hotel in St Julians but it is also well connected with buses from around the island. Due to it’s central location it shouldn’t take too long to get there from wherever you are staying and should definitely be on your list of places to visit in Malta.
Rabat, the neighbouring town, is the modern workday town now while Mdina remains a small time capsule of a city. Encircled with robust city walls it is mostly pedestrianised so easy to explore on foot. It is packed with winding alleyways which our children loved exploring. It is difficult to get truly lost in old town Mdina because of the small size. You will most likely end up back where you started at some point. Some of the bastions provide awesome views all the way out to the coast.
This pretty fishing village in the south of the island is THE place to go for sensational seafood. Our family are united in our love of seafood meaning that we had to make the trip there to explore and enjoy a fish supper!
To get there we got an e-cab from our hotel in St Julian’s, which took around 20 minutes. It is a small fishing town so rather than go for a whole day we got there for late afternoon / early evening to enjoy a wander and drink before dinner.
With directions from our friendly cab driver we walked along the harbour to find a small playground for the kids to let loose. To get there when facing the water walk towards your left, past the tourist information centre. It’s always great to be able to find a playground for little ones to have a run around and play. Even better, this one is fully fenced and has a small bar next to it for a drink!
By early evening the restaurants that line the road across from the harbour begin to set up their tables harbourside. The only problem is that there is so much choice! It is a perfect setting for dinner watching the colourful, traditional boats bobbing up and down in the water.