Cruises,  Malta

One Day in Valletta From Cruise Port: Things to Do in Malta

Are you headed to Valletta Cruise Port and are wondering how to spend one day in Malta? Then I got you covered!

Malta is a beautiful island in Southern Europe in the Mediterranean Sea. A mix of Arabic, Italian and British influences makes the island so special and attracts many cruise ships each year.

One day is not nearly enough to see all of the island. So it can be hard to plan on what to do with your precious time.

Luckily, I have been to Malta many times – and I know every spot on the island.

To save you some trouble planning, I have created several itineraries for your 1 day in Malta for you in this post.

Let’s get to it.

picture of the port in maltas capital city of valletta

Table of Contents

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picture of the capital city valletta with the ocean and the port in the background
Malta Basic Facts
🏙  Capital: Valletta
💡 Voltage: 230 V
⏲ Time Zone: GMT + 2
💶 Currency: Euro
💁🏼‍♀️ Languages: English, Maltese

One Day in Malta Itineraries – at a Glance

If you are just here to get a quick overview of what you can do in Malta in 1 day, look no further. The island is too big to see all of it in this short amount of time, so I have come up with a few ideas on how to spend your shore excursion in Malta.

For more details on the itineraries and how to arrange it all from the cruise port keep on reading.

Here are the possible itineraries for Malta:

  • Spend the day in Valletta
  • Day trip to the islands Gozo, Comino and Blue Lagoon
  • Explore the island with a rental car/ATV
  • Guided Island Tours

The Valletta Cruise Port

The Valletta Cruise Port is located directly in the city of Valletta. The port has several terminals on the Triq il-Vittmi Furjaniżi tal-Gwerra in Floriana.

google maps screenshot of valletta showing the valletta cruise port and its location in malta
Valletta Cruise Port

It is not necessary to use tender boats in Malta. You can step off the ship and find yourself directly in the city. It is possible to explore Valletta without using transportation.

The Valletta Cruise Port is located on the Valletta Waterfront. There you will find duty-free-shops, restaurants, a pharmacy and an ATM.

You can also find several transportation options at Valletta Waterfront:

  • Bus Station
  • Taxi Stand
  • Car Parking/Rental Car Pickup
  • Marina
picture showing the Valletta Cruise port with a big MSC cruise liner docked on the valletta waterfront

1. Book a Shore Excursion and Tour the Island

Booking a shore excursion beforehand is a great way to have a hassle-free day in Malta. You will be picked up directly from the cruise ship and brought back in time for your departure.

I suggest booking the excursions not with the cruise line itself. It will be much cheaper to book with an external provider.

I book all of my shore excursions with Viator. They have a great cancellation policy in case the ship is delayed.

Malta is pretty cheap concerning excursions. You can book a private tour and share the cost with your family or friends for a great price.

Here are some of my favorite shore excursions from Valletta Cruise Port that you should consider for a nice day in Malta:

Author’s Choice
the author in malta standing on a platform overlooking the ocean
Malta Private & Customizeable Shore Excursion
  • Flexible Itinerary
  • Up to 3 Guests
  • Cruise Port Pickup
  • 4 – 8 Hours
  • Professional Guide
Best Money/Value
mdina the silent city in malta glass factory
Full Day Guided Malta Tour
  • 8 Hours
  • Lunch Included
  • Malta Highlights: Mdina, Rabat, Ta Qali, Mosta & Many More Stops
  • Cruise Port Pickup
  • Amazing Price

2. Explore Gozo, Comino and the Blue Lagoon

Ah, the lovely Maltese islands! Gozo, Comino (and the Blue Lagoon) are little gems in the Mediterranean and you can see them on your one day in Malta.

They are perfect for a dip and some lazy sun-soaking. Oh, and don’t forget the camera for those Insta-worthy shots! 🏝️😎

Here is some information about all three of these islands, so you can pick which one you want to visit. It is also possible to visit both on an organized tour (see some suggestions below).

Gozo

Picture charming villages, rustic landscapes, and laid-back feels. Visiting Gozo is like stepping into a Mediterranean postcard.

On our trip to Gozo you can check out the stunning Azure Window (RIP – it broke a while ago) or hit up the Citadel for some history.

If you’re into diving or snorkeling, the underwater world in Gozo is pretty amazing as well.

Psst, the local cheese ‘Gozo Għannej’ is a taste you shouldn’t miss.

picture of the azure window in gozo with people swimming in front of it

Comino and the Blue Lagoon

The mini-island Comino is mostly famous because of the Blue Lagoon. Crystal-clear waters that’ll make your heart skip a beat are awaiting you.

Snorkeling here is a must. But Comino not just beaches. You can wander around, and you might spot the Santa Marija Tower too. It is also possible to take a speedboat to a hidden grotto.

The Blue Lagoon is a special spot famous for its stunning blue waters. Tons of boats drop anchor here, so it can get a bit busy. But if you catch it on a calmer day, it’s like swimming in a dream. 🌊💙

picture of a boat tendering in the blue lagoon in comino with stunning crystal clear blue water

Tours to Gozo and Comino

Gozo
beautiful sandstone cathedral on gozo island
Gozo Tuk Tuk Tour – Chauffeured Day Trip
  • 8 Hours
  • Cruise Port Pickup
  • Lunch Included
  • Boat Transfer Included
  • Private Tour
  • Amazing Price
Comino
picture of beautiful blue water from shore at the blue lagoon in comino
Private Boat to Blue Lagoon & Comino
  • 2 Hours
  • 6 People Max
  • Custom Itinerary
  • Private Tour
  • Cruise Port Pickup
Gozo & Comino
the author on a day trip to gozo and comino
Private Boat Trip to Gozo, Comino & Blue Lagoon
  • Private Trip
  • 3 hours
  • Cruise Port Pickup
  • Snorkeling Equipment
  • Custom Itinerary
  • Up to 6 People

3. Spending the Day in Valletta

Exploring Valletta is an easy option to spend one day in Malta. The beautiful capital city has a lot to offer.

The Valletta Cruise Port is located right in the city. You don’t need to arrange for a rental car or public transportation upon arrival.

Valletta is walkable. You can reach many major sights in the city on foot. Find below my suggestions of spots you can visit on one day in Valletta (by yourself) and my favorite walking tour of the city.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral

The 16th-century high baroque cathedral is one of the most interesting sights in Malta. The ornate gold and art in the church is mind-blowing.

Caravaggio’s painting “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” is a must-see. If you love art, this place will make your heart sing.

It is very simple on the outside, but the inside is quite surprising.

There is an entrance fee of about USD 20,00. In my opinion, the St. John’s Co-Cathedral is definitely worth visiting.

Get your tickets here.

inside decorations of the st johns co-cathedral with beautiful gold ornaments and paintings on the ceiling

Upper Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens are one of my favorite places in Valletta. They are easy to reach from the cruise port, only a couple of steps away.

These public gardens offer panoramic views of the Grand Harbor.

Perfect for sunset lovers like me. Don’t miss the Saluting Battery at noon; the cannons fire and it’s quite a spectacle!

The entrance to the gardens is free, but you can take a guided tour and see the Saluting.

the author sitting on a bench in the upper barrakka gardens in malta

Fort St. Elmo

Fort St. Elmo is famous for its role in the Great Siege of 1565. Nowadays, this fort houses the National War Museum.

Spend time exploring, and you’ll feel like a time-traveling warrior. Well, maybe without the sword fighting.

It takes up a big part of the city of Valletta, and is one of the sights definitely worth checking out.

There are different ticket options for visiting Fort St. Elmo and other sights and museums in the area.

beautiful drone shot of fort st elmo in valletta

Visit the Most Instagram-Worthy Spots in Valletta

Valletta is not only rich in history, but it is also so instagrammable. Cute little alleys, hidden corners and bright-red phone booths make the city stand out.

When you walk around the city, you can easily find good photo spots.

But if you are looking for some specific spots in Valletta for you Instagram, I got you covered:

  • Lower Barrakka Gardens
  • The Parliament’s House Staircase
  • The Bridge Bar
  • Triq Sant Ursula
  • Auberge de Castille
  • Triq San Ġwann
  • Triq San Żakkarija

Valletta Waterfront

When you arrive in Valletta Cruise Port you will exit the ship at Valletta Waterfront.

The promenade is filled with colorful 18th-century buildings. This area is perfect for shopping, dining, and people-watching.

The vibe’s laid-back and cheerful, just like a good vacation should feel.

Valletta waterfront of grand harbor with lots of small ships picture taken from a cruise ship

Casa Rocca Piccola

Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Valletta that is totally worth visiting.

Nowadays, it is still used as a private residence of the noble family de Piro!

You can see period furniture and bomb shelters from WWII. There is also a restaurant in the house.

If you are interested you can participate in a guided tour. And the guides? They’ll make you laugh and learn at the same time.

Tickets are fairly cheap and totally worth it.

beautiful festive fable setting in casa rocca piccola in valletta

Do you need travel insurance in Malta? Yes, travel insurance is recommended for your stay in Malta. While the island is generally considered safe, there is always a danger of road accidents and water sports accidents. EKTA is my travel insurance of choice – worldwide coverage, no hidden fees or clauses and amazing 24/7 service.

4. Get a Rental Car/ATV and Explore Malta

How to Get Around Malta

The last option of my four different one-day in Malta itineraries is getting a vehicle and exploring the island by yourself.

You can either get a car, a scooter, or an ATV. We opted for the ATV, but we got a nasty sunburn.

You can book a rental car or an ATV right on the cruise port, there are usually many different people offering. If you wish to have more certainty for picking, I can recommend using DiscoverCars.

Malta is not too big, so you can drive around and see most of the island in one day.

Driving in Malta is pretty chill, but sometimes the road signs are in Arabic, which can be confusing. Just like in the UK, you drive on the left-hand side of the road in Malta. Please keep that in mind.

I would not suggest taking public transport. The buses are not always on time. You can’t risk missing your cruise ship because of that.

One Day in Malta Road Trip Interactive Map

One day is not enough to see all of Malta. So I only added my personal highlights to this post.

It is important not to plan too many things, you might end up not enjoying them and being in a rush.

I have created this map with a one-day road trip itinerary in Malta for you. For the interactive map version, click on the link or the map below.

For more information about the stops keep on reading.

Malta Interactive Road Trip Map
Malta Interactive Road Trip Map

Things You Need to See in Malta in 1 Day

Mdina

Mdina is also known as the “Silent City.” It’s a medieval walled town full of cute and narrow alleys.

You’ll feel like you’re in “Game of Thrones” or something. Maybe because they actually filmed for the series in Malta.

You can walk around the charming little city, take pictures in cute alleys and have a coffee in a lovely cafe.

Mosta Rotunda

The Mosta Rotunda in Malta is a lovely spot to visit on a road trip.

It’s a church with one of the largest unsupported domes in the world. Picture this: You walk in, and the dome just engulfs the sky above you. Super impressive.

During WWII, a bomb fell through the dome but didn’t explode. What a miracle. They’ve got a replica of the bomb inside to tell the tale.

If you’re into architecture or just love a good story, it’s a must-see. Plus, the town of Mosta itself is super sweet and great to check out.

St. Pauls Bay

St. Paul’s Bay in Malta is a seaside town, perfect for those at a slower pace but still want some action. Fishing boats, casual eateries, a bit of nightlife— St. Pauls Bay got it all, but in moderation.

The area’s got history, too. Legend says St. Paul shipwrecked there. Kinda cool to walk where a saint might’ve walked, right?

Water sports and diving are also possible in St. Paul’s Bay. Its a fun place to hang out for a couple of hours and spend a fun time.

Paradise Bay Beach

Paradise Bay Beach is an amazing beach: stunning, but not too crowded.

Tucked away near the ferry to Gozo, it’s a little harder to get to. But that’s what makes it so special. The water is like a crystal-clear daydream, perfect for snorkeling.

The vibe is super relaxed. There is not much around except the beach, so it’s all about the sun and sea. If you want to escape the tourist traps but still get those Insta-worthy shots, this is your spot.

Popeye Village

Popeye Village is a great spot in Malta and it is like stepping into a live-action cartoon!

Initially, the place was built as a film set for the 1980 Popeye movie. Later, it became an amusement park. It’s quirky as heck, full of colorful wooden houses.

It’s touristy, yes, but in a fun, nostalgic way. You can wander around the village, go on boat rides, or even splash around in the mini water park they’ve got.

You can also just check it out from the cliffs above or go swimming on the other side of the bay. Then you don’t have to pay the entrance fee.

Golden Bay

Golden Bay is one of Malta’s most famous beaches, and for good reason. The beautiful golden sand on the beach actually lives up to the reputation.

Golden Bay is more developed, got some restaurants and bars and even a big hotel there. So it’s not exactly a hidden gem, but it’s a gem nonetheless.

Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and the usual beachy stuff. If you’re into water sports, they’ve got you covered. Surfing, jet skiing—you name it.

amazing bay seen from above with a big hotel on one side and lots of people swimming on the beach

Dingli Cliffs

The Dingli Cliffs in Malta are definitely worth visiting on your shore excursion. High cliffs dropping into the deep blue sea creating a stunning scene.

There are usually minimal crowds, so you really get that “edge of the world” vibe. There’s a small chapel nearby that you can visit as well.

This place is like slow travel gold—quiet, stunning, and thoughtful.

stunning dingli cliffs in malta

Blue Grotto

Blue Grotto is a series of caves on the coast. And let me tell you, the water is the kind of blue that makes it almost seem unreal!

You can take a boat to get the full experience. Once you’re inside the caves, the way the light plays on the water is beautiful.

It’s popular, but it’s not overly commercialized. You can also do some diving and snorkeling around the area.

We found it fun to just drive by there and watch from the top of the cliffs.

St. Peter’s Pool


St. Peter’s Pool is a great spot located down south near Marsaxlokk.

The water is crystal clear and it’s got these natural “pools” formed by the rocks. You can find your own little swimming nook.

Cliff jumping is a thing there. Not too high, but enough for a little thrill. A perfect blend of chill and adventure, I’d say.

It’s not super touristy, but the locals love it, so you can get an authentic vibe. There are no bars or cafes, so pack your own snacks and drinks.

drone shot of st peters pool in malta

How to Get to Valletta Cruise Port From the Airport?


Valletta Airport, or Malta International Airport (MIA) is Malta’s only airport. It has quite some flights arriving every day, but it’s not massive.

It mainly serves flights from Europe (like the Czech Republic, Italy and Austria) and the Middle East. If you are traveling from the US, South America or New Zealand you might need to stopover somewhere.

There is just one main terminal. It’s about 5 miles from Valletta, so getting to the city is a breeze.

Here is how to get to the Valletta Cruise Port from Malta Airport:

  1. Taxi: Fastest, takes around 20 minutes. Costs around EUR 20,00 – € 25,00.
  2. Public Bus: Takes longer, like 40-50 minutes, but it’s cheap. Look for buses X4, X5, or X7 to Valletta, then it’s a short walk or another bus to the port.
  3. Shuttle: Some cruise lines offer shuttles. Convenient but check the price.
  4. Private Transfer: If you’re feeling fancy, you can book a private car. Costs about EUR 38,00 for one direction.

What Language Do They Speak in Malta?

In Malta has a great language culture, that’s as unique as the island itself.

Maltese is the most commonly spoken language in Malta. Its kind of a blend of Arabic, Italian, and a dash of English. It’s the official language and what you’ll hear most locals speaking.

English is also an official language, thanks to the British colonial past.

You can get by without knowing a word of Maltese. Most signs are in both languages and pretty much everyone speaks English to some degree.

The Weather in Malta

If you are wondering about the best time to go to Malta on a cruise, look no further.

Spring (March to May): This is a mild season with temperatures from the 60’s to 70’s Fahrenheit. It’s a good time for hiking, exploring historical sites, and enjoying the outdoors. It is great without the summer crowds. Spring is an ideal time to visit.

Summer (June to August): The weather gets hot, with highs often reaching the 90’s. This is peak beach season. The heat can be intense, especially in July and August. We went in August and it was almost unbearable at times.

Fall (September to November): Temperatures start in the 80’s in September but drop to the 60’s and 70’s. It sometimes rains, but it’s a pleasant time to visit.

Winter (December to February): This is the coolest season and also the wettest time of the year. Malta still has a lot of sunny days compared to other European destinations.

Most cruise lines don’t run in the Mediterranean in the winter in the first place. I found May/June or September a great time for a Mediterranean cruise.

beautiful blue ocean and swimming platform

Conclusion: One Day in Malta – From Valletta Cruise Port

To sum it up, you have four choices on how to spend your 1 day in Malta on a cruise. You can either book a boat trip to the islands Comino and Gozo or book a full-island short excursion.

Other options are getting a rental car and checking out the island by yourself or exploring Valletta on foot.

Whichever option you choose, I am confident that you will love Malta as much as I did on my Western Mediterranean Cruise.

If you love cruising as much as I did, you might want to check out the Eastern Mediterranean Cruise next.

Of course you might want to thing about your route some more, so keep on reading if Malta is really worth it.

Check my Destination guide for more inspo.

More 1 Day Cruise Itineraries

FAQ: One Day in Malta – Valletta Cruise Port

Can you see Malta in 1 day?

Yes, you can see Malta in one day! Malta’s small, but packed with stuff to see. One day won’t cover it all. You can see Valletta and a couple of nearby spots. But if you want the full experience—history, beaches, culture—you’ll need more time. So, one day is doable, but you’ll miss out on a lot.

How can I spend one day in Malta?

Start your day in Valletta—grab a coffee and stroll the gardens. Then, hit St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Take a short ferry to the Three Cities for lunch. In the afternoon, go to Mdina for epic views and history. End the day at a beach like Mellieha Bay. Quick, packed day but gives you a little taste of Malta!

Can you walk around Malta in a day?

No, it would take you about 2 weeks to walk around Malta. If you only have one day and want to spend it exploring Malta, you can check out the capital city of Valletta. It is very walkable and you can see tons of interesting stuff.

Is Valletta walkable from Cruise Port?

Absolutely, it’s super close! The cruise port is basically at the foot of Valletta. It’s a 10 to 15-minute uphill walk to the city center. You’ll pass by some cool sights on your way up, too. Start your tour off at the Upper Barrakka Gardens and keep going from there.

Where do Cruise Ships dock Valletta?

Cruise ships dock at the Valletta Waterfront, also known as the Grand Harbour. It’s right below the city, making it easy to get to the heart of Valletta. You’re just a short, uphill walk away from all the action!

How far is it from Valletta airport to the Cruise terminal?


The distance from Valletta Airport to the cruise terminal isn’t too far. It’s just a short ride, around 15 kilometers or about 9 miles. You’ll be at the cruise terminal in no time. You can take the bus, taxi or private shuttle transfer to the cruise terminal.

Where to Cruise Ships go in Malta?

Cruise ships in Malta usually dock at the Valletta Waterfront, a charming area with a mix of history and modernity. This location offers easy access to the heart of Valletta, where you can explore its rich culture and architecture. From here, you’re just steps away from discovering the city’s captivating history and enjoying its vibrant atmosphere.

Malta Bucket List