Get ready to explore Malé, the capital of the Maldives! Malé is the biggest city in the Maldives and is known for its vibrant culture, just about as many motorbikes as people, and the hub for exploring the rest of the Maldivian islands.
Malé is not a common destination for tourists, making this city even more special. You will find that most travelers go directly to the islands of the Maldives, skipping over Malé entirely. This means Malé is a hidden treasure that is ready for you to explore!
Malé may be the biggest city in the Maldives, but it’s fairly small compared to other cities! About 252,768 people live here, and the island is only 3.2 sq miles. You can actually walk from one end to the other in about 45 mins!
With this guide, you can get to know some of the locals and check out some fun dining spots and enchanting landmarks. You’ll also learn all about the history of Malé and the Maldives and explore Malé’s natural scenery and artificial beach; there is truly something for everyone.
I recommend a day or long layover here to get your bearings and learn more about the country of the Maldives before heading off to your resort island!
Keep reading to learn more about what to do with one day in Malé, Maldives!
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How To Spend One Day In Malé, Maldives
How to Get Around Malé
This is a great way to explore Malé as the island is fairly small, and you can see a lot by walking! You can walk across the entire island in about 45 mins.
Rent a Motorbike
Did you know that Malé has more than 82,000 motorbikes? That means plenty are around for you to rent to explore the city more quickly. The best part is you can visit most of the places on this list via motorbike.
You can rent your bike with Atoll Transfers. The prices start at $60 daily, which can be more affordable than taking a taxi all day—however, you can easily walk around Malé as it’s very small. You will also fit in with the locals! It is said that one out of six residents in the city has their own motorbike. Enjoy your one day in Malé by hitting the open road on the windy city streets.
Taxi & Rideshare
Malé doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, but they do have taxis, and it’s pretty efficient. You can hail a taxi in Malé, and they come in all different colors and types but have a taxi sign on the top.
Where to Stay in Malé
Now that you know how to spend your day, let’s talk about the best hotels in Malé for you to enjoy your night. While most travelers stay at island resorts when visiting the Maldives, the city hotels of Malé can be just as relaxing.
Samann Grand Hotel
Located in the heart of Malé is the luxury boutique Samann Grand Hotel. This beach hotel has one-of-a-kind ocean-view rooms for you to enjoy. They are a smaller property with 26 rooms. Cozy up in one of their comfortable beds after a full day of exploring Malé.
They have a restaurant on the property, the Cloud Restaurant, known for its unique ocean views. The hotel also has free airport transfers, making it convenient to get to and from the hotel.
JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La
Stay at the 4-star hotel of JEN Maldives Malé by Shangri-La. The hotel is located in the heart of the city. Relax and spend the night by nestling up in their airy rooms. You can indulge in their fresh Maldivian seafood and rooftop views at Azur. Or try their southeast Asian flare at their all-day restaurant, Lime. Don’t have time to sit down for a meal? Then watch the sunset from their infinity pool that overlooks the ocean.
Can’t stay overnight? No problem! You can purchase a day pass to the pool instead. This is also a great idea for those who have a late flight out of the international airport. You can spend your day poolside before catching a flight to your next destination.
Things to Do in Malé Maldives
1 – Take a walking tour of Malé
Start off your day in Malé by signing up for a walking tour of the city with Secret Paradise Maldives! This four-hour walking tour is the perfect way to get a feel for the city without figuring out how to navigate it yourself. Your tour guide will teach you all about the culture of Malé and Maldivian lifestyles. You will pass interesting buildings where you can admire the architecture, and they will touch base on the local education system and bring you to a local market where you can purchase some items.
The tour is $50 USD per person and includes all return transfers to and from the jetty, entrance to Sultan Park, a light refreshment, a map of Malé & the Maldives, services of a Secret Paradise guide, and local tax.
I definitely recommend going on this walking tour, especially if you have one day in Malé or a half-day layover with a night flight. Let’s face it there is no better way to learn about a city than by talking to a Maldivian local.
You’ll also probably learn that many Maldivians don’t even know how to swim and have never seen the reefs surrounding their country! Mind blown!!
Book your tour via Viator here!
2 – Stroll through Sultan Park
Sultan Park is a must-visit on your day in Malé! Explore the peaceful park with fountains and beautifully landscaped grounds. There are treehouses that you can climb into, as well as a small fish pond. Sultan Park is famous for its historical past. The Royal Palace of Malé was demolished in the 16th century, and then in 1952, it was rebuilt into the National Museum. The remains outside of the museum were then turned into Sultan Park.
The park lights up in the evening hours and into the night. You can sit on the light-up swings and watch the sunset over the greenery. The entry to the park is about $5. If you do the walking tour above, the entry is included.
3 – Visit the National Museum
Sitting alongside Sultan park is the National Museum. Here you can find artifacts from the country’s prehistoric Islamic times and current-day items. This includes the face of Lord Buddha sculpted on a coral stone! There are also old drums that musicians used to play traditional Boduberu music. Marvel at engravings on wooden planks from the 13th century.
There is even a marine collection from 2009 by President Nasheed. This includes the 19-foot skeleton of the rare Longman’s Beaked Whale. The whale has never even been spotted in the ocean! The entry fee to the Museum is about $6 but note the average price can vary at any time. The National Museum is a must-see when visiting Malé.
4 – Have a sandbank picnic, snorkel, and sunset tour
If you want to spend the day in Malé on your own private island, then snorkeling at a sandbank might be right up your alley. This four-hour excursion makes a great day trip. You will enjoy snorkeling, a sunset dolphin tour and sunbathing on an actual sandbank, which is a very small beach that shifts its position and eventually disappears. Think of it as an upgraded version of a sandbar.
Your tour guides will sail you out to the sandbank, where you can begin your day of relaxation. Enjoy the turquoise blue waters and white sand beach. This tour is very highly rated on Viator. You can book here!
5 – Explore Malé’s local markets
Visit the local markets of Malé! This is a fantastic opportunity to try local cuisine from the vendors. The Malé Local Market offers up some fresh veggies, fruit, and spices. Spices can make fun and exciting souvenirs. This will allow you to recreate some Malé Dishes when you return home too. You can also purchase some unique knick-knacks, such as miniature wooden boats, slippers, and wooden vases for flowers that are made from seashells and lacquerware.
Located near Malé Market is the Fish Market. Here you can see all of the humongous fresh fish that drive the Malé fish industry. While you cannot try the fish in a sashimi manner, you can watch the local fisherman unload the fish, which normally happens in the morning and afternoon. Also, enjoy watching the stingrays gather together and eat the fish scraps. You will gain an appreciation for the fisherman and how hard they work to provide fresh fish to Malé.
6 – Visit the Artificial Beach
Hang out at the Artificial Beach! That is right; there is a world-famous man-made pool in Malé that attracts visitors from all over. Swimming at an artificial beach with a real one steps away may seem a bit bizarre, but this is Malé, and things are different!
The beach is located on the island’s eastern seafront, near Malé city’s recreational center. It is truly the best place to swim and lounge out because it is so close to the city’s attractions.
7 – Walk by the President’s colorful house
Take a leisurely stroll by the Mulee’aage, which is the “Official Residence of the President of the Maldives”. The Mulee’aage is located in the ward of Henveiru in the historic center of Malé.
The Palace was built from 1914 to 1919. The site was the ancestral home of former Sultans and royalty. However, Muleeaage never served as a Sultan’s Palace.
While you cannot go inside, you can enjoy the residence from outside. The colors of the house are what make it so special. With bright pinkish reds, bright blues, and bold white, it is a flawless photo opportunity for you one day in Malé!
8 – Have dinner at Seagull Cafe
Visit the renowned restaurant of Seagull Cafe in Malé. This delicious restaurant prides itself on its fresh food and unique flavors. They have nightly specials, including their Grilled Jumbo Prawns with Garlic Butter Sauce. Their Chicken Biryani is a crowd favorite that is served with cucumber raita and mint chutney. Yum!
It is home to one of the first national gelateria. So make sure to stay a little bit longer to enjoy dessert!
9 – Marvel at the Grand Friday Mosque
Enjoy the stunning architecture of the Grand Friday Mosque. The infamous Golden Dome has become a symbol of the city of Malé. The Mosque opened in 1984 thanks to assistance from the Gulf States, Pakistan, Brunei, and Malaysia. It is also the biggest mosque in the country of Maldives, holding up to 5000 worshippers at a time.
Today visitors love to stop by and see it for themselves. Its white marble and large staircases provide the perfect photo opportunity for those looking to capture Malé. You can go inside but only during certain hours, between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. These times are outside of prayer hours. There is also a dress code to enter the mosque. Men must wear long trousers and women must wear long skirts or dresses.
10 – Go on the submarine tour
Descend one hundred feet beneath the ocean on the Whale Submarine. This unique experience allows you to see different types of fish, a coral reef, and a seabed. Normally you can spot blue or yellow-striped Snappers too. You will spend 45 minutes on the submarine as your guide will teach you all about the extraordinary sea creatures you are spotting. It is a quick trip, perfect one day in Malé! Book your tour here!
11 – Take a day trip to VilleMalé
If you are looking for a day trip, then visit the island of VilleMalé, which sits across from Malé. You can take a four-hour eco-walking tour with Secret Paradise Maldives. The tour will allow you to chat with locals, explore conservation projects, and sample local delicacies. The tour finishes with the opportunity to witness a breathtaking sunset on the beach. The cost is $70 per person, and the proceeds of your ticket cost go to NGO Save the Beach, a great cause.
Speaking of NGO Save the Beach, you can even give back to the community by signing up for a beach cleanup with them. The event is held annually, so plan your travel dates around that. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend your day than by helping the locals while still getting astonishing beach views.
Book your tour via Viator here!
12 – Check out the Tsunami Monument
Visit the freestanding memorial that honors the victims of the devastating 2004 Tsunami. On December 24th, 2010, a tsunami hit the Indian Ocean, where 74 people lost their lives. Today visitors stop by the monument to pay their respects. It is known to be a quiet yet peaceful area where you can spend some time reflecting.
The monument has 20 steel spheres that encircle it. The sphere symbolizes the ring-shaped reef around the islands. The rising pillars resemble the waves of the Tsunami, and the roads of the structure pay respect to the victims. You will also see the 74 names engraved into the monument as well. The Tsunami was obviously tragic, but the monument was put there to display hope for the people of Malé.
13 - Prepare a meal with the locals
You have to try this once-in-a-lifetime experience with Secret Paradise Maldives. You will visit a local market and cook a meal with a Maldivian family! First, you will gather fresh ingredients with your guide at the market before boarding the boat to HulhuMalé. On top of eating a delicious meal, you will also learn some unique cooking tips on how to prepare Maldivian food. This will come in handy when using the Maldivian spices you bought from the market.
The locals will even teach you some words in Dhivehi. There is no better way to learn about a country than to spend some time with the people who make it so wonderful. The price for the four-hour tour is $75 per person, which is quite a steal for the experience.
Also, while on the other Maldivian islands, it’s rare to find actual Maldivian food. Many of them cater to other audiences, so this is a great experience if you want to dive into the culture through food.
14 - Walk through Republic Square
Take a quick walk through Republic Square. This park was home to different landmark events in Maldivian politics and history. This park hosts festivals and music throughout the year, so always check with the locals to see if anything is happening. You will notice the park by spotting the large flag of Malé that stands in the middle of it.
The park sits in front of the large white and blue Malé Police Station as well. This is a great area for people-watching as it can get quite busy.
15 - Visit the Old Friday Mosque
Visit the 500-year-old mosque and tomb at Ibrahim Rasgefaanuge Ziyaaraiy Shrine. A quick stop during your one day in Malé. The mosque was originally constructed in 1658 AD and took over two years to build. They used mostly coral stones to construct it, and it’s beautiful!
You will also see many tombstones here. Buried underneath are past sultans and heroes of ancient times. A truly historic place to visit in Malé.
16 - Take in the rooftop views at Salt Cafe & Restaurant
Located on the 6th & 7th Floor of the Shinetree Building in the market area of Malé is Salt Cafe & Restaurant. This rooftop cafe is a favorite among tourists and locals and it looks out over the ocean and market. Their fine dining menu includes a variety of dishes from Atlantic Salmon to Aesthetic Beef. A chic, fun restaurant that provides views and tasty dishes. Yum!
Remember that in the Maldives, alcohol is illegal so you’ll only find it served at resorts!
17 - Visit the Medhuziyaaraiy Shrine
Stop by the Medhuziyaaraiy Shrine to learn all about Abdul Barakat Yoosuf Al Barbary. The shrine is also the tomb of this famous Morocco Scholar. In 1153 AD he created the advent of Islam in the Maldives. It is also said that Abdul helped the people of Malé get rid of the wrath of sea demons. Once he freed the people from the terror of the demons, the king agreed to convert him and his people to Islam.
Today, the tomb symbolizes peace and religion for the Maldivian people. As well as to honor Abdul and their Islamic culture.
18 - Visit Lonuziyaaraiy Park
Want to watch surfers from a park that sits near the ocean? Then make your way over to Lonuziyaaraiy Park. Here you can find gardens paired with bright Maldivian flowers. Then visit the Surf Watch Tower, where you can see local surfers hitting the waves. The park is relatively new and maintained by the city.
19 - Walk the Sinamalé Bridge
This famous bridge links Malé, Hulhulé, and Hulhumalé in the Maldives. The .08-mile-long bridge has car lanes and also a separate lane for motorcycles and pedestrians. The bridge was originally called the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge due to funding received from the Chinese government. You will even see that written on the bridge during your walk.
You can enjoy sensational views of the sea below you and Male from a distance. A fun and quick walk that you can take during your one day in Male.
20 - Rent a motorbike and explore like a local
Did you know that Male has more than 82,000 motorbikes? That means there is plenty around for you to rent to explore the city in a quicker fashion. The best part is you can visit most of the places on this list via motorbike.
You can rent your bike with Atoll Transfers. The prices start at $60 a day, which can be more affordable than taking a taxi all day. You will also fit in with the locals! It is said that one out of six residents in the city has their own motorbike. Enjoy your one day in Male by hitting the open road on the windy city streets.
Many people don’t get to experience the capital city of the Maldives, so if you do get the chance to go, I recommend it. Even if it’s just for a long layover before your flight or between plane transfers, you can always get a day pass at the Hulhule Island Hotel and store your bags, enjoy the pool, or take a walk around Malé!
Would you visit Malé while going to the Maldives on vacation?
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