If you’re like me and want to escape winter, then you need to know that you can, even in Europe. I visited Malta in January and all I can say is that it was stunning. Here’re my recommendations for how to spend 2 days in Malta in January (on a budget).
Malta is a small country, and you can see a lot of it by walking, so bring good walking shoes. It’s easy to make your own Malta itinerary because the islands are small and the public transport infrastructure is excellent.
Let me start by answering some of the questions I had before arriving in Malta.
- “Is Malta warm in January?”
Depends on where you’re coming from and what are you comparing it to, but I would say yes. It’s like the European spring. During the day you can wear shorts or just a t-shirt.
However, it is quite windy, and that can feel colder for some. During mornings and evenings, before the sun starts to shine, it might feel a bit chilly. When I was there, at the end of January 2020, it was around 16-18 Celsius degrees at noon and around 13 Celsius degrees at night.
2. “What to wear in Malta in January?”
Make sure to bring a scarf, sunglasses, good walking shoes, a jacket, a sweater and a winter hat, if you’re like me and tend to get cold when the wind is blowing. Consider the constant windy weather, because that’s how the weather is when you’re on an island.
3. “Can you swim in Malta in January?”
I suppose you can, but it’s too cold for that. While the sun can burn at noon, it can feel cold when sitting in the shade. The water is too cold for swimming. But locals have said that the best time is between April and June.
4. “How much money do I need for a 2-day trip to Malta?”
I heard more than once that Malta is expensive, and somehow that stuck in my head. I was afraid to go to Malta, because I like a cheaper destination. But to my surprise, Malta is not as expensive as it was advertised.
It’s cheaper than Central Europe and if you go to Malta in January, it will be even cheaper.
For a 2 days trip and 3 nights, it cost 160 Euros per person (considering there are 2 people) for everything (flights, accommodation, touristic attraction and food). Please take this as an estimate. I am not a foodie, I don’t drink or go out. I don’t eat in fancy restaurants, never take the taxi or buy souvenirs.
Why did I choose to visit Malta in January?
Malta is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, halfway to Africa. It’s one of the best warm European destinations in January, and there are low prices for flights to Malta in January.
In January, most prices are low for European destinations, because it’s considered to be off-season. That’s also one of the reasons I choose to visit Malta in January. I found round trip tickets for about 40 euros from Bucharest, Romania.
Because it’s off-season, most prices are lower now, and that includes accommodation, public transport and food.
To sum it up, I chose to visit Malta in January because it is cheaper to visit in the off-season and far less crowded. And the weather is just perfect for walking and touring.
How to spend 2 days in Malta in January?
Visiting Malta in January or any other off-season month, it’s better for an overall experience if you are interested in experiencing Malta’s culture and history.
I will not give you a history lesson. Still, I have to mention that Malta has an extraordinary history and having an idea of what happened around it, can get give you a better understanding of Malta.
I spend 3 nights in Malta and 2 full days, and all I can say is that I can’t wait to go back in spring, to explore more of it.
Here’s how to spend 2 days in Malta in January.
Day 1 in Malta
I had arrived the evening before, so the first day I woke up refreshed and after having breakfast, I got ready for a long day of exploring Valletta, the capital of Malta.
As I was looking for a more budget-friendly option for accommodation, I found an absolute gem in Sliema, which is like a neighbourhood or Valletta. From Sliema to Valletta you can take the ferry (1.5 Euro in wintertime and 2 Euro in the summer), or you can take the bus. The bus takes longer because it has to go all around the bay and takes around 30 minutes, while the ferry takes only 10 minutes.
As this was my first time in Malta, I decided to explore as much as possible and to try to see the less touristic part of it. That’s why I decided to walk from Sliema to Valletta.
The walk took around 2h, with all the stops for photos. I recommend walking as much as possible on the streets of Malta.
I arrive in Valletta around noon. The weather is perfect, and Valletta is easy to discover, just by following the Walkway. You just have to walk straight ahead.
What to see in Valletta, Malta?
Valletta is small, and you can easily see most of it in 1 day or even in one afternoon.
What to see in Valletta, Malta?
- City Gate
- The new Parliament building
- The Ruins of the Royal Opera House
- The Church of Our Lady of Victory
- The Church of St Catherina D’Italia
- Upper Barrakka Gardens
- The Auberge de Castille
- The Auberge d’Italy
- Palazzo Parisio
- The Castellania
- St. John’s Co-cathedral (the entrance is 10Euros, but it’s worth it)
- The Great Siege Monument
- The Law Courts
- The Gut (Strait Street)
- The Grand Master’s Palace
- The Main Guard
- St. George’s Square
- The Bibliotheca Nazionale
- Republic Square
- The Sacra Infermeria
- Fort St Elmo (where the National War Museum is. The museum visit should take around 1-2h and it costs 10 Euros. Worth it to understand the history of Malta)
- The Siege Bell Memorial
- Lower Barrakka Gardens
- The Grand Harbour
You will get by all of these if you just follow the walking way in the centre of the city. Or just use this map to see it all:
Day 2 in Malta
Of course, there are so many things to do and see in Malta. It is tough to choose just a few if you only have 2 days in Malta.
Even so, as I told my friends I was going to Malta, they all recommended visiting Gozo, one of the 3 main islands of Malta.
After some Googling and debates with my boyfriend, we decided to do just that, on our second day in Malta.
We woke up early, had breakfast and hopped on a bus to the west of the island to catch a ferry to Gozo.
The bus ride from Sliema to the ferry terminal took a bit over 1h, but at some point, I felt a bit sick as I was staring into my phone the road was narrow and steep.
The bus drivers are the best in Malta, but I am not used to such tight ways. So beware!
What to see in Gozo, Malta
Gozo is even smaller than Malta, the main island of Malta. (Yes, the main island of Malta is called Malta, just as the country, although the country has a few more islands. Confusing, I know!)
Gozo is one of the best diving spots in the Mediterranean and a centre for water sports.
Because it was the end of January, there weren’t that many tourists around, and nobody was diving, as the water is too cold, but still, tourists were roaming around.
After we arrived in Gozo, we were asked if we want to take a taxi to the centre of the island, where the largest city is Victoria.
I was too cheap to spend 10 Euros on the taxi and made my boyfriend walk for about 1 hour, on streets without a sidewalk, to arrive at our first attraction, Ggantjia temples, in the Xagħra village.
Ggantija temples or it-Tempji tal-Ġgantija in Maltese, are one of the world’s oldest free-standing structure.
They were built sometime during the Neolithic (c. 3600–2500 BC), which makes this place older than the pyramids of Egypt.
The temples of Ggantija are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being called the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
The entrance costs 10 Euros and includes the museum, the actual site of the temples and the Ta’ Kola Windmill, which is across the street.
The temples of Ggantija represent a ceremonial site in a fertility rite. Although they call them standing structure, at this point, the stones are about to collapse, and they are searching for a solution to stop the site from further degrading.
Ta’ Kola Windmill
This windmill was built in 1725 and was turned into a museum in 1992. The sails and milling machinery have been restored, as have the miller’s living quarters.
The museum is excellent and contains tools and information about Maltese traditions.
After we visited these 2 sites, we took the bus to Victoria, the main city of Gozo. The bus ride took under 30 minutes and cost 1.5 Euros, for a 2h ticket.
Victoria, the capital of Gozo, Malta, and is the largest town on Gozo. The city got its name in 1887, by the British, to celebrate their queen, Victoria. But many old Gozians, still refer to it as Rabat, Gozo.
What to visit in Victoria, on the island of Gozo, Malta?
The centre of the city is charming. And that’s where you will find the Citadel.
On the site of the Cittadella of Gozo, known as Castello, which has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, once laid the acropolis of the Punic-Roman city of Gaulos.
The Citadel was completely restored in 2013, and inside it, you will find:
- Cathedral of the Assumption
- Gozo Museum of Archaeology
- Gran Castello Historic House (Folklore Museum)
- Natural Science Museum
- Old Prison
The Citadel is free to visit, and the views are to die for.
However, if you want to visit the visitor’s centre and the museums, there is a 5 Euro ticket which includes everything in the Citadel, except for the Cathedral, which you have to pay for separately.
After visiting the Citadel, grab something to eat, or head to the bus station to catch the ferry at sunrise, on the way back to Malta island.
Bear in mind that most restaurants close or stop serving food at 5 pm on Gozo, due to the low number of tourists in winter. But that means you will see the most beautiful sunset from the ferry.
Once you get back to Malta island, you will probably have to take a bus to your accommodation in Malta. If you are staying in Gozo for the night, then there’s no need to hurry, but make sure to go to dinner early.
Transport in Malta
Malta has excellent public transportation, and you can quickly get around the islands using public transport. Buses are going everywhere like they would in a city.
There are timetables on each station, and they mostly respect those.
There is a difference in the price ticket for winter and summer seasons. In winter, a bus ticket is 1.5 Euros, while the same ticket costs 2 Euros in the summertime.
The bus tickets can be bought from the driver of each bus and have a timestamp on them. Each ticket is valid on all buses, for 2 hours and has an expiration hour printed on it.
That means that if you need to change 3 buses to reach your destination, but the journey takes less than 2h, then you can use the same ticket for all 3 buses, all you need to do is to show it to the driver. (You buy the ticket from the first bus, then keep it for the rest of the journey and show it when you get on the next bus).
All the islands of Malta use the same transport system and the same tickets. That means that you can buy a ticket on Gozo and then use it on Malta island if you are under 2h since the original timestamp.
Ferries are going between the main islands of Malta. The ferry ticket is separate from the bus ticket. You need to buy the ticket at the ferry terminal.
If you want to visit Gozo for 1 day, buy the road trip ticket, which costs 4.65 Euros.
Driving in Malta
Most prefer to rent a car and drive. Rending a car gives you more freedom and more time to explore. The distance you cover in one hour by bus takes about 30 minutes to drive.
But, remember that in Malta, you drive on the left side, just like in the UK. I have never driven on the left side, and I wasn’t sure I would be comfortable, but many drivers say it is easy to learn to drive on the left in Malta.
Take into consideration the narrow and steep streets, when you look for cars to rent.
Where to stay in Malta?
I stayed in Sliema, which is on the other side of the gulf from Valletta.
From Sliema, you can reach Valletta on foot, and it takes around 2 hours, as you have to walk all around the gulf. Or you can take the ferry, which takes 10 minutes and costs 1.5 Euros (one way) in winter and probably 2 Euros in summer.
Of course, there are buses too, but they take around 30 minutes.
If you decided to stay in Sliema, which I do recommend, as the streets are gorgeous and the prices are not as high as in Valletta, then I recommend staying at Meditropical B&B. The hosts are lovely, the location is beautiful, and the neighbourhood is adorable. I stayed in the deluxe room, which has its private patio.
They even had special prices for January and lots of vegan options for breakfast, which was included. This was the absolute perfect solution for budget accommodation, located in a superb neighbourhood.
If you want to find accommodation in Valletta, prepare to pay a bit extra for it, but it’s worth it if your budget allows it.
If you have more time and decide to rent a car to visit everything, there is to visit then you can choose to have different accommodations in Malta. Although the distances are so small, it doesn’t matter if you have a car.
I do recommend to spend at least 1 night in Gozo if you’re visiting Malta in the warm season.
What else is there to see if you have more than 2 days in Malta?
As it turns out, you can see quite a lot if you’re in Malta for only 2 or 3 days. If you are spending more than 2 days in Malta, which you should, I have a couple of more recommendations of places I also have on my list but haven’t made it there yet, due to my short trip to Malta.
I recommend visiting more than 2 days in Malta if you want to add the following to your Malta itinerary:
This former capital of Malta has a population of about 300, and it’s known as the “Silent City”. Mdina gets its name from the Arabic medina is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There aren’t any cars allowed in the city, except for emergencies, and the city finished restorations in 2016. Mdina has a similar fortress to the one on Gozo and has several churches, palaces and gates waiting to be explored.
On the way to the ferry to take you to Gozo, you can stop by the Popeye Village. You should have enough time to see it if you’re driving there.
It is the film set built for the Disney musical Popeye in 1980. Today, Popeye Village is an open-air museum and a seaside resort.
Marsaxlokk is a fishing village, famous for its colourful boats, fishers and history. Marsaxlokk was used as a port by Phoenicians, Carthaginians and also has the remains of a Roman-era harbour.
If you drive there, park your car and walk to St. Peter’s Pool to enjoy a beautiful natural beach.
Comino is the island standing between the island of Malta and Gozo. It is a small island, which you can surround it by waking in under 2 hours.
The island is a bird sanctuary and nature reserve and has only 3 permanent residents. The Comino island was feature films (Troy, The Count of Monte Cristo – in which St. Mary’s Tower is featured as the Château d’If – and Swept Away. )
A visit to the Comino island is a better option for spring or summer, as it is always windy and nature is the main attraction. There are tour agencies offering day trips to Comino and Gozo, with all the sightseeing and stops at the best snorkelling places and beaches.
I hope to have convinced you to visit Malta in January or in winter when there aren’t crowds of tourists roaming around, and the prices are lower.
I promise you the weather will be perfect for exploration. And there is so much to explore in Malta. The islands are full of archaeological sites, towers and ancient settlements.
I hope my 2-day Malta itinerary will help you plan your trip to Malta and you will have the best time exploring this beautiful land.