How to Visit Malta’s Magical Blue Grotto (Ultimate Travel Guide!)

Malta’s Blue Grotto, with its bright blue water and striking caves, is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in this small island nation–quite a feat for such a beautiful place!

Its name comes from the otherworldly blue hue that illuminates the inside of the cavernous grotto that runs along the southern coast. 

This complete guide to visiting the Blue Grotto covers everything you need to know to plan your visit, from the easiest way to see it to tips for making the most of your time there.

I had the chance to experience the magic of the Blue Grotto (not to be confused with the Blue Lagoon on the nearby island of Comino or with the Blue Grotto on the Italian island of Capri) firsthand.

After an amazing day spent boating into the grotto and marveling at its ethereal colors, I can confirm that, like famous Maltese spots such as the Blue Lagoon, Popeye Village, and Valletta, a visit to the Blue Grotto is definitely worth adding to your Malta itinerary.

This guide shares need-to-know details on the Blue Grotto’s location, the best times to visit, transportation information, and insider tips gathered from my recent visit.

This Blue Grotto travel guide was written for Our Escape Clause by fellow travel blogger and Malta travel lover Billy, of BRB Gone Somewhere Epic. Thanks for joining us, Billy!

view of the bow of a small boat approaching the blue lagoon in malta
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A Tiny Bit of Blue Grotto History

Curious about how Malta’s Blue Grotto came to be?

The caves and caverns that make up the Blue Grotto have been carved into the limestone cliffs over many millennia by the constant motion of the tides.

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This natural wonder was known to local fishermen and adventurous travelers for hundreds of years, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that the Blue Grotto gained widespread fame.

At that time, it became a popular sightseeing spot for British upper-class travelers completing their then-traditional “grand tour” of Europe.

Today, visiting the Blue Grotto is one of the top things to do in Malta!

view of blue grotto malta from above with boat visible in the distance

The Easiest Way to Visit the Blue Grotto in Malta

The easiest way to experience the Blue Grotto is to join one of the boat tours that regularly depart from the southern coast.

You can do this either by traveling independently to the Blue Grotto (more on those options below) and then signing up for a boat tour on-site, or by visiting as part of a larger day trip like this, which includes transportation and more stops around the southern part of the island.

Personally, I booked my tour in advance and had a great time.

author billy of brb gone somewhere epic pictured on a cliff overlooking the sea when visiting the blue grotto malta
Billy, the author of this blog post, getting ready to visit the Blue Grotto. Photo reused with permission.

The small group size ensured personal attention from our guide, who gave us a fascinating overview of the caves and grottos along the coast.

We were able to spend ample time marveling at the magnificent views and the shimmering blue light illuminating the inside of the Blue Grotto.

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Pro tip: if you can, try to book a tour that leaves as early in the morning as possible, especially if you’re visiting Malta in the summer.

Not only is the light best for visiting the Blue Grotto in the morning but the more you can avoid the peak midday crowds, the better your experience visiting the Blue Grotto will be!

turquoise water against cliff base inside blue grotto malta

Where is the Blue Grotto in Malta?

The Blue Grotto is located on the southern coast of Malta, right next to the small fishing village of Wied iz-Zurrieq.

You can reach the Blue Grotto area by car (confident drivers only: driving in Malta is not for the faint-hearted!), taxi, bus, or organized day trip if you’re staying elsewhere in Malta.

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The grotto itself is situated within towering limestone cliffs and can only be accessed from the sea by boat, as the opening faces the ocean.

Once you’re inside, you’re surrounded by the cavernous, domed interior with ethereal blue waters.

It’s definitely an experience like no other!

aerial view of blue grotto area with road approaching it visible on the left

The Best Time to Visit the Blue Grotto

Your best bet for visiting the Blue Grotto is in the morning when the sun is still low in the sky.

This offers the best chance to see the grotto illuminated with brilliant shades of blue.

Around noon, the overhead sun mars the magical effect because you’re looking directly into the light when facing the cave entrance.

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Late afternoon is also not ideal, as boats stop running around 5:00 PM.

Also, I’d recommend planning your trip between April and October when the weather is mildest.

During the winter months, the sea can be too choppy for boats to safely access the grotto.

No matter when you visit, weekday mornings tend to be less crowded than weekends, so aim for a weekday visit if you can!

sunny view of the malta blue grotto from above with spiky green plant in foreground

How to Get to the Blue Grotto

While booking a day trip like this is the simplest way to visit the Blue Grotto (and you’ll need a boat tour regardless), you can absolutely get to the Blue Grotto independently as well.

Here are a couple of other options for making your way to the Blue Grotto for the day.

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Visiting the Blue Grotto By Car

Reaching the Blue Grotto by car is fairly straightforward from most spots in Malta.

It’s about a 20-minute drive from Valletta, depending on traffic–but note that traffic is notoriously bad in Malta, and driving here is only recommended if you’re very experienced and confident.

However, driving will also allow you to combine your Blue Grotto day trip with nearby stops like Ħaġar Qim and Marsaxlokk, so it definitely has its advantages!

kate storm in a navy blue dress in front of the marsaxlokk harbor, one of the best places to visit in malta
Marsaxlokk is definitely worth a visit!

If you do plan to rent a car when visiting Malta, we recommend searching for your rental car through Discover Cars, which will allow you to sift through all your options and choose the right car for you based on price, the reputation of the company that is renting it, and the terms of the rental contract.

Want to enjoy the benefits of private transportation?

Hiring a private driver like this can be surprisingly affordable when shared between a group!

Shop rental cars for your trip to Malta or price out private tours today!

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Narrow streets and heavy traffic are common when driving in Malta.

Visiting the Blue Grotto By Bus

There are also regular buses that go directly to the Blue Grotto area. That being said, the bus network isn’t great in Malta, and bus delays are quite frequent. 

If you must rely on public transportation, take bus #101 or #102 from Valletta Bus Terminal to the Zurrieq Bus Terminus.

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From there, you can walk about 15 minutes downhill along a well-marked footpath to reach the Blue Grotto area.

Taxis are readily available too and you can arrange for a pickup/drop-off service with a taxi or private driver if you’d rather not deal with parking near the Blue Grotto.

Once at the grotto, head to the jetty where many local boat operators will be waiting to take you directly into the cavern.

No advanced booking is required, though you’ll of course still need to hire a boat in order to visit, as the Blue Grotto can only be appreciated from the water.

sign for a malta bus stop in st julians

Tips for Visiting Malta’s Blue Grotto

To make sure your Blue Grotto adventure goes smoothly, keep these tips in mind!

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Start your Blue Grotto adventure as early in the morning as possible.

Like other popular spots in Malta like the Blue Lagoon, the need to arrive early can’t be overstated!

Not only will an early-morning visit allow you to see the grotto’s vivid blue colors at their best, but it’s also the best way to avoid the (often intense) crowds.

If at all possible, try to arrive at the Blue Grotto before 10:00 AM.

two boats passing through blue grotto in malta as seen from above

Wear sturdy shoes with grip.

You’ll want shoes that make it comfortable to keep your grip on the boat’s wet surfaces–flip-flops won’t cut it!

The wooden boats can be very slippery, especially when underway.

Sturdy water shoes like this or sneakers are ideal.

No matter what footwear you bring, you’ll need to step carefully on the boat, especially when boarding and disembarking (the jetty’s stones are uneven and slippery).

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Dress for comfort on the water.

Your shoes aren’t the only item of clothing to consider when planning what to wear to the Blue Grotto!

To stay comfortable, avoid loose-fitting clothing that could catch on anything or balloon up in the wind.

You may also want to consider bringing a light sweater or jacket, because even in the summer, it can get a bit chilly on the water with the wind.

boats leaving village with tourists getting ready to visit blue grotto in malta

Don’t expect a lot of amenities.

There are no toilets or places to buy drinks and snacks at the grotto itself, so come prepared!

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Pay close attention to the boatman (and then tip them).

For safety reasons, be sure to listen to your boatman’s instructions about when to duck inside the cavern and when it’s safe to stand upright.

Specifically, you’ll need to duck low when entering the grotto’s mouth, so mind your head on the rocky overhang!

Note that the grotto boatmen work for tips, so bring small bills along as well (€2-5 per person is a good rule of thumb).

view of 2 boats inside malta blue grotto

Fun Things to Do Near the Blue Grotto in Malta

After wrapping up your trip to the Blue Grotto, consider sticking around the area to go for a swim in the aqua-blue waters.

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If you’re feeling brave, you can even go cliff-jumping!

Of course, take precautions and be sure to check that the water is at a safe depth.

Most likely you’ll spot a group of young people jumping from a certain spot, a good indicator that that’s the safe place to jump from.

view of bright blue water of blue grotto with cliff faces in front of image

After, spend an hour or two drying off on the rocks in the midday sunshine and then head to a nearby fish and chips restaurant for some grub, before leaving the Blue Grotto.

Once you do, you’ll find several other cool things to do near the Blue Grotto that are worth checking out before leaving this part of Malta.

Here are a few nearby spots to consider visiting:

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Xutu Tower

This 17th-century fortified watch tower is just a short walk from the Blue Grotto.

While it’s not an enormous site, its location overlooking the sea makes for beautiful views!

image of xutu tower in malta near blue grotto on a cliff overlooking the sea

Għar Dalam Cave

The Għar Dalam Cave and Museum contains fossils and exhibits providing insight into Malta’s prehistoric inhabitants and animal species.

Ħaġar Qim

Dating to between 3600 and 3200 BCE, the UNESCO-listed Ħaġar Qim is one of Malta’s most impressive megalithic temple complexes.

close up of Mnajdra temple in hagar qim temples malta

St. Catherine Church of Zurrieq

This beautiful church is known not only for its architecture but for the sweeping views from its doorstep.

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Home to a harbor full of colorful wooden fishing boats, a lovely waterfront stuffed with restaurants serving fresh seafood, and a fish market on Sundays, this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in Malta.

If you want to get even more swimming in, consider walking over to St. Peter’s Pool from the village!

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FAQ For Visiting the Blue Grotto in Malta

What is the best way to see the Blue Grotto?

Joining a boat tour is the easiest way to experience the Blue Grotto fully, as the boats can enter the cavern.

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How much does it cost to visit the Blue Grotto?

The fare to access the Blue Grotto by boat is around €8-10 per person paid directly to the boat operator in cash on arrival (plus tips).

view of a few boats near the blue grotto in malta as seen from above

When is the best time to visit the Blue Grotto?

Early morning is ideal, before 10:00 AM, when the sun is low in the sky and illuminates the cave with vivid blue hues.

Avoid visiting at midday when the crowds are at their highest.

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How do you get to the Blue Grotto from Valletta?

If you aren’t driving or visiting the Blue Grotto as part of an organized day trip, take bus #101 or #102 directly from the Valletta Bus Terminal to the Zurrieq Bus Terminus.

From there, you’ll walk 15 minutes downhill following signs for the Blue Grotto.

aerial view of wied-iz zurrieq and tourist boats ready to visit blue grotto

Can you swim in the Blue Grotto?

Yes, swimming is allowed in the waters around the grotto entrance.

However, boats are needed to access the cavern interior where swimming is prohibited.

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Are there restaurants near the Blue Grotto?

A few small restaurants are clustered near the grotto but options are limited.

I recommend packing snacks and drinks as there are no facilities at the grotto itself.

view from inside malta blue grotto with arch looking out toward the sea

Is the Blue Grotto wheelchair accessible?

Unfortunately, the Blue Grotto’s location within uneven seaside cliffs makes it challenging for those with mobility impairments or disabilities to visit.

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The pathways have steep inclines and lots of stairs.

Limited accessible parking is available, but the walk is still difficult. The boats also require agility to board.

aerial view of malta blue grotto area looking back toward the cliffs

Read More About Visiting Malta (and Beyond!)

Heading to southern Europe soon and eager to keep planning?

You can browse our Malta blog posts here, or check out these guides:

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