Three Cities Travel Guide - 8 Best Tips for your Malta holiday (2020)

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The Three Cities - 8 Essential Travel Tips and Things to do during your Malta holiday


1. Take a ferry ride from Valletta to Bormla
2. Hotels in the Three Cities Malta
3. Apartments, Bed and Breakfast, Hostels and Guest Houses
4. Top Bars, Restaurants and Nightlife
5. Getting There
6. Places of Interest
7. Interesting Facts about the Cities
8. Frequently Asked Questions

Bormla, Birgu and Isla (also known as Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea respectively) are three fortified cities located in the south of Malta. The 3 cities endured hardship and showed strength in the siege of 1565 which earned Birgu the name Città Vittoriosa and Senglea the title of Città Invicta. To this day, the cities encapsulate some of the oldest monuments of the island. Birgu is a city fit for yacht lovers who enjoy taking strolls by marinas and admiring luxury yachts. On the other hand, Bormla is more suited to history buffs who enjoy spending the day touring museums and churches. Alternatively, a visit to Isla will give you a good taste of the local lifestyle while amazing you with its stunning views. An ideal day in Malta would call for a visit to all three of these mature cities.

1. Take a ferry ride from Valletta to Bormla

Whilst Bormla, Birgu and Isla are very accessible from every point on the island, we recommend you travel to the three cities by means of boat. Find your way to Valletta (if you haven’t been to the capital yet, you may want to find your way round using our Valletta travel guide), take the lift located in the Upper Barrakka Garden down to Lascaris Shore where the ferry is located. The ferry costs €1.50 for a one way ride and €2.80 for a return ticket.You may pay for the ferry at the terminal or, alternatively, if you reside in Malta and own a Tallinja card, you may benefit from a cheaper rate of €1.30 for a single way trip. Children and seniors are covered by discounted rates starting from €0.50. In total, the ferry takes 12 minutes and will escort you in the heart of the three cities, Bormla, which is a walks away from the tourist hotspots.

2. Hotels in the Three Cities, Malta

While the Three Cities don’t feature a long list of hotels collectively, the cities host some of the most beautiful accomodations on the island. Use the search below to find a suitable hotel in Birgu, Bormla or Isla which suits your budget. Choice Holidays can guarantee the cheapest package prices so grab yourself a bargain now. Here's our pick of a range of hotels which are ideally located.

Locanda La Gelsomina - Birgu

The 4-star boutique hotel combines luxury with traditional Maltese characteristics. Each room features a flat-screen TV as well as a private ensuite. Breakfast is available at the hotel daily and comprises of a range of continental and American options. The hotel also offers an airport shuttle should you wish to get to your accomodation stress-free following your landing in Malta.

Casa Birmula Hotel - Bormla

Casa Birmula is an elegant, eclectic hotel located a stone’s throw away from the waterfront. Each suite comes with its own personalised name - representing an iconic Maltese city. Along with offering a wide range of breakfast items, the hotel also features a gorgeous patio which overlooks the city of Cospicua. The patio hosts a soothing pool you’ll find hard to leave.

Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour - Isla

The Cugo Gran Macina Hotel can be found sheltered by the ramparts of the city of Isla. The chic hotel offers a continental and à la carte menu for breakfast to start your day off on a strong foot. The suites at the hotel are spacious and well equipped with a luxurious private bathroom and extensive mini bar which you can treat yourself to at the end of each day. Some of the suites also feature a terrace from which you can admire the city of Isla.

3. Apartments, Bed and Breakfast, Hostels and Guest Houses

If a hotel is not what you're looking for, there are plenty of other accommodations with a wide range of prices available. Have a look at all the self-catering options available in the area.

Vittoriosa Inn

Vittoriosa Inn is a homestay which features a double bedroom as well as a kitchen. The inn is ideal for people looking to cater for themselves and not overspend on eating out. The inn also offers a level of privacy a hotel could never cater for.

Seagull II Luxury Historic Static Charter

If you’re visiting the Three Cities, you’ll notice yacht marinas are a predominant theme. Why would you not spend your vacation on board a gorgeous superyacht then? The Seagull Charter is upkept by an exceptional crew and features gorgeous communal spaces as well as a hot tub on board.

No. 17 Birgu

No.17 is a guest house offering minimalist spaces to their clients. The house is designed on a traditional Maltese structure and incorporates the local stylistic tiles which are ever so trendy on social media at the current moment.

Nelli's B&B

Nelli’s is a bed and breakfast boosting a gorgeous terrace and rated for the best value in Cospicua. If you’re coeliac, you might want to consider Nelli’s B&B as they offer a gluten-free breakfast, in addition to their regular continental breakfast.

BOCO Boutique

BOCO is the guesthouse to stay in if you’re the artsy type. Differently from other accommodations, the guesthouse serves an authentic Maltese breakfast - spotlighting local brands and fresh produce. This guesthouse is ideal for visitors looking to experience the Maltese culture at its fullest.

Marina View Malta

The Marina View in Senglea (not to be confused with the penthouse bearing the same name in Msida) is a 2 bedroom apartment overlooking Birgu’s marina. The tenant speaks Italian, French and English, making it easier to communicate your expectations and requirements ahead of your stay.

Grand Harbour Vista

Whilst the flat is thoroughly designed, if it were up to us - we’d spend every second of our stay in its jaw-dropping terrace overlooking Valletta’s Grand Harbour. The accommodation hosts 2 bedrooms and bathrooms as well as a fully equipped kitchen - perfectly suited for everyone’s needs.

If you're still not happy with the above, use our generic search facility below to find an accommodation which suits your needs.

4. Top Bars, Restaurants and Nightlife


An osteria is a typical Italian restaurant serving simple and inexpensive Italian cuisine. Run by a Venetian pair, Osteria.VE pairs authentic food with exquisite wine.


With a long history behind its back, Tal-Petut cooks its food with seasonal and local products. The restaurant makes away with fryers and instead opts to make the best use of the local products at hand.

Tully’s Fusion

Tully’s Fusion is a family-run restaurant which marries Mediterranean flavours with Asian and Middle Eastern tones.


Dine underneath Birgu’s architecture. D’Breeze describes its food to be as Maltese as it can be so if you’re looking to indulge in the local cuisine, this restaurant is the place to eat at.


There’s nothing more authentic than eating seafood by the sea. The restaurant is true to its name and will enchant you with its exquisite plates.


Cargo sits on the Birgu waterfront and delights its customers with its pristine platters and delicious tagliata - amongst other dishes. Enjoy your dish as you carry out some yacht hunting under the stars.


Il-Bacino is the perfect nook to share a platter and a bottle of wine at. The restaurant is praised for its sophisticated atmosphere and professional staff.


Tas-Serena is a refurbished 500 year old establishment which survived the bombings of the second world war. The menu features a cheesy, deep crust pizza as well as fresh pasta - alongside other exquisite dishes.

Don Berto

Fancy a classic wine? Don Berto has a range of 120 to choose from. The restaurant features a stunning view of the waterfront while offering a serene atmosphere.

Del Borgo

Del Borgo is set within traditional, antique walls. Whilst the location offers delicious plates, it also caters for a unique wine tasting experience.

5. Getting There

Airport to the Three Cities

The trip from the Malta International Airport to the Three cities, by car, would normally take around 20 minutes. By public transport, this would translate to a 40 minute ride. The fare costs €1.50 in winter, €2.00 is summer, and €3.00 for the night service if you buy cash tickets. Prepaid cards are usually cheaper down the line, so if you're planning to do some travelling by bus, you might want to check out the cards available on the Public Transport website. Taking a cab is a faster, but pricier option - with fares starting at about €20 when you pre-book a cab with agencies such as eCabs. Alternatively, you can catch a White Taxi directly from the stand at the airport, but you'll find that at peak hours you might find yourself waiting. Shared shuttle services such as those offered by MaltaTransfer from the airport to the Three cities cost about €10 but we recommend you book this service ahead of time to avoid being left behind. Other than from the airport, getting to the Three Cities is very easy.

By Car

You can get to The Three Cities by rental car (if you've hired a vehicle), but finding parking is very difficult in summer - with traffic wardens dishing out fines for any parking contraventions (not parking within white boxes). It is highly advisable to ask for parking at your hotel or the accommodation you are staying at, or find a paid parking area in your vicinity to avoid wasting time looking for a parking spot.

By Public Transport

The Three Cities is very easy to visit by public transportation, just hop on any bus with destination Birgu, Bormla or Isla.

Valletta - Three Cities Ferry

A ferry to the Three Cities can be boarded from Lascaris Shore. The ferry costs €1.50 for a one way ride and €2.80 for a return ticket.You may pay for the ferry at the terminal or, alternatively, if you reside in Malta and own a Tallinja card, you may benefit from a cheaper rate of €1.30 for a single way trip. Children and seniors benefit from a discount with tickets starting from €0.50. In total, the ferry takes 12 minutes and will escort you in the heart of the three cities - Cospicua.

Hop-on / Hop-off and Open-top buses

As with most major towns and tourist destinations, you'll find that Hop-On, Hop-off are a regular feature here. In fact, open top buses are a great way to discover Malta and visit the most interesting places if you don't have much time on the island. Malta Sightseeing lead a vintage bus tour around the Three Cities. The tour is 2 hours long and is hosted on board of a traditional 1920s bus. The tour is led in English and is free for children under the age of five. Children between 5 and 12 pay €9 to board the bus whilst adults pay €15.

6. Places of Interest

Just walking across The Three Cities, taking in the winding roads, the traditional Maltese architecture and balconies and just allowing yourself to get lost in the heart of the city is usually quite the experience. If you're looking for specific places to visits there are also a number of places and landmarks you might want to stop at. As with most towns in Malta, you'll find that churches are found at almost every corner of The Three Cities. The following are some of the landmarks you can opt to visit, but these are mostly pitstops, rather than places such as museums.

  • Fort Verdala
  • Yacht Marina
  • Fort St Angelo
  • Victory Square
  • Bormla Square
  • Cottonera Gate
  • Cottonera Lines
  • Gardjola Gardens
  • Inquisitor’s Palace
  • Malta War Museum
  • St Lawrence Church
  • The Maritime Museum

7. Interesting Facts about the Cities

  1. A lot of festivities go on in the cities.
  2. In Easter, locals run baring the statue of the Risen Christ on their shoulders.
  3. The statue of Our Lady of Victories in the Senglea basilica is not original, in fact it was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt many years later.
  4. Birgu’s shores are lined with many luzzus (traditional Maltese boats) which you can ride for the cheap price of €2 for a ride to Valletta or €8 for a tour of the harbours.

8. Frequently Asked Questions

As somebody who is looking to visit, here's are some common questions you might have.

  • Should I stay here as part of my holiday? Yes, if you enjoy staying in a quaint, historic area. Although located in the south, it is very well connected and popular with tourist operators so you're bound to find all you need as a visitor.
  • What's the weather like? Malta has a relatively small geographic area so you'll find that the weather does not vary much from one town to the other. In all likelihood, if the weather says it's going be nice and sunny in Malta, that's what the weather will be like in the Three Cities. (Why not have a look at our weather breakdown by season in our Best Time to Visit Malta article?)
  • Is it safe? Malta has few if any no-go areas which are not safe. The crime rate is very low and generally speaking the country remains one of the safest, but it's never a bad idea to keep an eye out for your and your companions' safety. If you find yourself in an area or situation which looks and feel dodgy, get yourself to more popular areas quickly.
  • Can I find free Wi-Fi? As with most places you'll find that most bars, restaurants and cafes offer free connectivity. The Maltese government also has a program of providing free Wi-FI in squares and public gardens - so look out for MCA Free Wifi to get connected for free.
  • Can I eat cheaply? Absolutely, if you go to the right places. There are ways and means of shopping around for the right prices. Visiting any of the small kiosks, pizza stands and other such food stalls should result in a good bargain and any very local eatery will provide snacks and food cheaply (and yes, it is very safe to eat there, despite the fact that they might look grubby). Alternatively, you can do some shopping at grocery stores like Maypole.

If you've still got questions, we'd love to hear from you!

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