Starting in Valletta, Malta, this tour explores the island's ancient ruins and historical cities, with visits to Mdina, Marsaxlokk, and the "Three Cities", plus the Blue Grotto sea cave, the megalithic temples, and Gozo Island. Sail to Sicily to discover its beloved baroque architecture in Ragusa, Noto, and Syracuse, followed by a day atop Mount Etna for impeccable views of the island, lessons on past eruptions, and a wine tasting. End your tour with a visit to Taormina's Greco-Roman theater and a farewell dinner amongst Catania's historical streets.

Highlights

  • Discover baroque architecture and ancient ruins in Sicily
  • Enjoy the beauty of the Blue Grotto sea cave, the Dingli Cliffs, and Gozo Island
  • Explore Malta's historic cities, such as Valletta, Mdina, Senglea, and Marsaxlokk
  • Visit the prehistoric ruins at the Megalithic Temples of Malta
  • Admire scenic views, learn about past eruptions, and taste wine at Mount Etna

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Malta - Explore Valletta Valletta
Day 2 Guided tour of Valletta - Day trip to Malta's ancient capital, Mdina Valletta
Day 3 Enjoy a day trip to the "Three Cities" and the Blue Grotto Valletta
Day 4 Visit the megalithic temples of Malta Valletta
Day 5 Day trip to Gozo Island Valletta
Day 6 Sail to Sicily - Explore the historic streets of Ragusa Ibla Ragusa
Day 7 Discover the architecture and ancient ruins of Noto and Syracuse Syracuse
Day 8 Transfer to Catania - Experience the allure of Mount Etna Catania
Day 9 Visit the ancient Greco-Roman theater in Taormina Catania
Day 10 Depart Catania  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Malta - Explore Valletta

Narrow Streets of Valletta
Narrow Streets of Valletta

Welcome to Malta!

Upon arriving in Valletta, a private driver will transfer you to your accommodation. Take some time to settle in and rest before meeting your trip hosts for a welcome dinner. You'll receive all your necessary trip documents, as well as enjoy a traditional Mediterranean meal as you learn more about the days to come.

After dinner, you'll have free time to either relax at your hotel or enjoy some of Valletta's nightlife. You don't have to walk far in the historic city center to find trendy wine bars, cozy pubs, or live music venues.

Day 2: Guided tour of Valletta - Day trip to Malta's ancient capital, Mdina

The Ancient Capital of Mdina
The Ancient Capital of Mdina

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel, then head out to explore the two main cities that have been the capitals of Malta throughout the centuries: Valletta and Mdina

You'll start in Valletta with a private tour of the city's historic core. Your first stop will be St. John's Cathedral, which houses the famous 17th-century painting, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio. Next, head to Barraca Gardens to enjoy stone structures, fountains, sculptures, and views overlooking the city and its harbor.

Meander through the streets to the center of the old town where you'll find the Grandmaster's Palace, which is home to the Maltese Parliament. Here you'll have some free time to enjoy lunch and some shopping. You'll find plenty of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops near and around St George’s Square.

After lunch, you'll transfer to the center of Malta to visit the old walled city of Mdina. This was the ancient capital of Malta when the country was under Arab rule. The tour will include a stop at St.Paul's Cathedral and time to stroll through the narrow streets. End the day with panoramic views from Mdina's belvedere.

In the late afternoon, you'll return to Valletta.

Day 3: Enjoy a day trip to the "Three Cities" and the Blue Grotto

Marsaxlokk Fisherman's Village
Marsaxlokk Fisherman's Village

In the morning, your driver will take you to Malta's Cottonera Region, where you'll explore the ancient cities of Senglea, Vittoriosa and Cospicua. Known as the "Three Cities", all are located across the Grand Harbour from Valletta, where you'll find old fortified walls, impressive stone gates, tall cathedrals, and narrow streets lined with colorful balconies.

You'll continue to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, with a colorful waterfront lined with traditional fishing boats known as luzzus. Each boat is painted in red, blue, and yellow tones. Enjoy some free time in Marsaxlokk by strolling its streets and market stalls in search of a delicious seafood lunch.

Your next stop is the western coast of Malta to visit the famous Blue Grotto, a deep sea cave only accessible by boat. The Blue Grotto may be steep and precipitous, but it's accessible in places with small fjords that slope down to sea level. One of these is Wied izZurrieq, which serves as an anchorage for boats in calm weather.

Many of the local fishermen use their boats to take visitors to the cave, making for great conversation as you leave the port. After the Blue Grotto, you'll cruise by the Dingli Cliffs, passing by the rural Maltese countryside.

On your way back to Valletta you'll take a scenic coastal road and return in time to relax a bit before dinner. Find a traditional restaurant in the city center, then head to one of the city's wine bars.

Day 4: Visit the megalithic temples of Malta

Hagar Qim Megalithic Temple
Hagar Qim Megalithic Temple

Awake early for a day trip to some of Malta's oldest history at the megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnejidra. Dating back 5,500 years ago, they are the oldest free-standing stone structures in the world, even older than the Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid of Giza.

Hagar Qim is set atop a soft, limestone hill on the southern edge of the island. Nearby is Mnajidra, which is on a cliffside overlooking the sea. Both archeological areas are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, considered some of the most ancient religious sites in the world. You'll find temples, dwelling houses, a reservoir system, and even an astronomical observation device. 

Your last stop on today's day trip is the Ta' Qali Craft Village. Enjoy some free time to peruse the unique, domed shops of local artisans, including the works of glass blowing, pottery, and jewelry making. Afterward, you'll return to Valletta.

Day 5: Day trip to Gozo Island

Mgarr Port, Gozo Island
Mgarr Port, Gozo Island

After breakfast, your private driver will accompany you to the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal, where you'll board a 20-minute ferry to Gozo Island. The ride is quite scenic, passing by the smaller island of Comino before reaching the port in Mgarr.

Upon arriving in Gozo, you'll begin a 5-hour tour throughout the island. You'll start at Ta' Pinu, a Roman Catholic basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of Ta' Pinu. Then you'll discover what Gozo is truly known for: its clear, turquoise water and swimming holes. You'll find some of the island's best at the crescent-shaped Dwejra Bay with views of Fungus Rock, and the fjord-like Xlendi Bay, popular for swimming and diving. Here you can enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Continue inland to the Megalithic Temples of Ggigantija, where you'll find two preserved, limestone temples that are some of the world's oldest monuments. Then end the tour in Gozo's capital city of Victoria, where you'll visit the old Citadella, complete with churches, museums, and a walkway with views over the historic center. You'll have some free time to explore St. Georges Square and the city's bustling, open-air market before heading back to Valletta.

Day 6: Sail to Sicily - Explore the historic streets of Ragusa Ibla

The Colorful Rooftops of Ragusa
The Colorful Rooftops of Ragusa

Today you'll trade the island nation of Malta for the shores of Italy. After breakfast, you'll transfer to the Valletta Port where you'll board a catamaran set for the Sycilian port of Pozzallo. The trip will take about 90 minutes.

Upon arriving in Sicily, your private driver will transfer you to your accommodation in Ragusa Ibla, where you can settle in and relax. Enjoy some free time to explore the streets and grab lunch at one of the terraced cafes. Ragusa Ibla is known for its historical center, which is filled with typical Sicilian Baroque architecture. You can't miss the two dominating churches, the Church of Saint George and the 18th-century Ragusa Cathedral

As the sun starts to set, head to the eastern side of the island and stroll through the Giardino Ibleo gardens. You'll enjoy pathways, churches, fountains, and gorgeous views of the old historic center. End your day by tasting some of the local products at different bars and cafes throughout the old town, including olives, pistachios, different cheeses, and wine.

Day 7: Discover the architecture and ancient ruins of Noto and Syracuse

The Cathedral of Syracuse
The Cathedral of Syracuse

While making your way to the historic city of Syracuse, you'll discover two of the Sicily's most architecturally-rich towns. You'll start in Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the capital of Sicilian baroque architecture. Along its main street, you can admire palaces, convents, and churches that characterize the historic center. Stop at the 18th-century Noto Cathedral, and the impressive palaces of Nicolaci and Ducezio.

After a hosted lunch in Noto, you'll head to Syracuse, starting with a visit to the Archaeological Park of Neapolis. Here you'll find the ruins of a Greek Theater, a Roman Amphitheater, and the old stone quarry and cave network of Latomie, where the famous limestone cave Orecchio di Dionisio (The Ear of Dionysius—aptly named by Michelangelo) is found. 

Next you'll explore the historic center of Syracuse, which is on the island of Ortygia. Stroll by the Piazza Duomo with its 7th-century Cathedral of Syracuse. Today, the cathedral maintains a baroque facade, but in the past it was a Greek temple built in traditional Doric style. Meander the narrow alleys of the historic center and make your way to the Fountain of Arethusa, which is mentioned in many works of literature, including Moby-Dick.

In the late afternoon, settle into your hotel and relax before heading back into the historic center to find a traditional Sicilian dinner.

Day 8: Transfer to Catania - Experience the allure of Mount Etna

Etna Volcano from Taormina
Etna Volcano from Taormina

Enjoy a hearty breakfast as you prepare for an exciting day visiting Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe and one of the most popular destinations in Sicily. Mount Etna is known not only for its volcanic phenomena, but also for the incredible views and array of different plant species found along its slopes. A local guide will lead you through a demonstration about safety on the mountain, past and recent eruptions, and the traditions, flavors, and smells of the regional environment. You can use this knowledge as you make your way to the top and savor the incredible views of Sicily.

At the end of the tour, you'll visit the Gambino Winery. The area's unique climate and soil conditions, plus a high altitude and temperature variations, create a perfect mix that's essential for developing the flavor of red grapes and the aroma of white wines. You'll learn more about Gambino's wine production over lunch and a wine tasting.

In the afternoon, you'll arrive in the ancient port city of Catania. Settle into your accommodation and head out into the historic old town for dinner. The city is particularly known for its seafood and you'll find plenty of taverns, bistros, and wine bars featuring regional, Sicilian cuisine.

Day 9: Visit the ancient Greco-Roman theater in Taormina

Taormina Square
Taormina Square

After breakfast, you'll visit the hillside town of Taormina, set near the coast with views Mount Etna. A local guide will take you through the historic town, first discovering the preserved ruins of an ancient Greco-Roman theater. Because the preservation is so thorough, today the theater is used for events while displaying views out to Mount Etna, the valley, and the Sicilian coastline.

Next you'll enjoy the town's main square, walking along the narrow, medieval streets. You can't miss Belvedere di Via Pirandello, a viewpoint overlooking the sea, or the 15th-century Palazzo Ciampoli. You'll have some free time to enjoy the shops selling local handcraft, such as coral jewelry, precious laces, ceramics, sweets, and more.

In the early afternoon, you'll return to Catania for a hosted farewell dinner.

Day 10: Depart Catania

Piazza Duomo in Catania
Piazza Duomo in Catania

Enjoy your final breakfast of the trip, as it's time to say goodbye to Sicily. Your driver will transfer you to the airport in Catania in time to catch your flight.