If you’re planning a one or two day trip to Melaka (Malacca) in Malaysia this guide is just for you. We recently spent a few days in the charming coastal city, so we can share what we got up to and what we consider to be the best Melaka Itinerary for one or two days. We cover all the top things to do in Melaka, where to eat and sleep, as well as everything you need to know to help plan your trip.
Whenever I mention Melaka, also known as Malacca, I’m often met with blank or confused faces. The historic city doesn’t find it’s way onto most Malaysia itineraries – which is a pity, as it has a lot to offer. While Melaka might not be as exciting as Kuala Lumpur or as adventurous as Borneo, the city provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of Malaysia. And if you’re looking to explore somewhere a little bit unique, you should, at the very least, consider a day trip to Melaka which is easy to do from Kuala Lumpur or even Singapore.
To sum up the city in a nutshell, Malacca is a melting pot of cultures and a stunning UNESCO Heritage Site. Having once been colonised by the Dutch, British, and Portuguese, you will find said influences in the food, architecture, and even the language. It also has a large Chinese and Indian community, whose influence again are prevalent throughout the city. Gorgeous architecture and a serene river add to its charm, and I promise you won’t regret giving this whimsical little city a chance.
Anyway, I could spend all day bigging up Melaka but let’s get to it. Here’s our tried and tested Malacca Itinerary, ideal for a 1 or 2 day trip.
The Best Melaka (Malacca) Itinerary for a 1 or 2 Day Trip
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How Long to Stay in Malacca
While Melaka is a huge city, the tourist centre is actually pretty small. Other than a few exceptions, the tourist centre concentrates most of the cities major landmarks, making it easy to navigate on foot and manageable in a day. If you wanted to explore places a little further afield such as the Melaka Straits Mosque, for example, I’d recommend spending at least 2 days here.
Below I’ve laid out a suggested Malacca Itinerary for 2 days; but if you only have the day, you can follow day 1 of the itinerary and ignore day 2.
Where to Stay in Malacca
There is no shortage of wonderful places to stay in Melaka, regardless of your budget. On one end of the spectrum, you’ll find cute hostels and charming homestays, on the other boutique hotels and luxury resorts.
The best area to stay in would be near the river close to Jonker Street. This way, you’ll be close to most of the top things to do in Malacca, which is ideal if you’re only staying for a day or two.
I’ve made some hotel suggestions below, or you can click the link for a list of all hostels, guesthouses, and hotels in the city.
Hostel $ – Yote 28
Yote 28 is where we stayed during our time in Malacca, and it’s one of the best hostel experiences we had in Malaysia. The hostel is modern and clean with excellent facilities, and it’s within walking distance of Jonker Street and other famous landmarks. It is a tad more expensive than most other hostels in the city, but in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.
Budget $ – Lavender @ Guesthouse
Hostels aren’t for everybody, so if you’re travelling as a couple or prefer a private room, Lavender Guesthouse comes highly recommended. Again, this place in an ideal location to explore the city, and while basic, the rooms are clean and comfortable, equipped with everything you need for an enjoyable stay. Throw in the optional breakfast for £1, and you’re onto an absolute winner.
Mid-Range $$ – Heeren Straits Hotel
If you have a few extra pennies to spend, I can recommend Heeren Straits Hotel which provides insane value for money in one of the best areas of Melaka. Tastefully restored from a Peranakan culture townhouse, you can feel the history throughout this boutique hotel, which combines mid-century architecture with contemporary decor. Opt for a superior room for the best experience and enjoy the onsite terrace as well as a children’s play area.
Luxury $$$ – Casa Del Rio Melaka
If you are going to treat yourself in Melaka, you can expect nothing less than the celebrity treatment at Casa Del Rio. Set alongside the river, just a 2-minute walk from Jonker Street, this 5* hotel provides astonishing views as well as convenience and luxury in the heart of the city. Alongside spacious and modern rooms, you can enjoy a realm of facilities including an infinity pool and fitness centre.
Top 10 Things to do in Melaka
I go into a quite a lot of detail in this comprehensive Melaka Itinerary. So if you’re short for time, here’s an overview of the top 10 things to see and do in Melaka.
- Sample all the street food at the Jonker Street weekend market.
- Learn about Malaysian history at one of the many museums.
- Take a ride to remember on a fantasy-themed tricycle.
- Admire the pink facade of the Christ Church.
- Take a serene river cruise on the Malacca River.
- Check out the ruins of St Pauls Church
- Meander the streets on the hunt for street art and colonial architecture.
- Visit The Huskitory and play with Siberian Huskies.
- Marvel the awe-inspiring Melaka Straits Mosque.
- Visit the Cheng Hoon Buddhist Temple.
The Best Melaka Itinerary
OK, let’s jump into the itinerary. The goal here is to be as strategic as possible with your time, but I don’t want you to get too tired. You are on holiday, after all.
If you are spending just one day in Malacca, I suggest sticking to the tourist centre and covering the museums and landmarks in that area. But if you have 2 days in Melaka, we can branch out a little bit and see some of the attractions on the outskirts of the city.
Remember, this is a two-day itinerary. If you only have the day in Melaka, I suggest following Day 1 of the itinerary. You can ignore Day 2 or save it for another time.
Melaka Itinerary Day 1
Discover the Tourist Centre & Significant Landmarks
- Windmill Dutch Square
- Cheng Hoon Temple
- St Pauls Church
- Street Art
- River Walks & Cruises
Windmill Dutch Square
Your first stop on this Melaka itinerary is Windmill Dutch Square. The square is arguably the most famous spot in the city, thanks to its terracotta colonial architecture which is a prime spot for photography. You’ll find many significant attractions surrounding the square, including Stadthuys. Historically, Stadthuys served as the official residence of the Dutch governors. Today, it houses a collection of museums.
We didn’t go inside Stadthuys. You’ll soon realise you have to be picky when it comes to the museums you visit in Melaka as there are so many. For us, the view from outside was enough. It’s not often you see such architecture in this part of the world, and it’s rather striking. It reminded me a little of the Franciscan Church in Ljubljana. Other significant structures around the square include the unmistakeable Christ Church and the Tang Beng Swee Clocktower.
St Pauls Church
St Pauls Church, or should I say the ruins of St Pauls Church is one of the most interesting places to visit in Malacca. The church was built in 1521 by a Portuguese Noblemen, who believed he owed the Virgin Mary his life after surviving a storm at sea. That’s pretty cool as it is, but it’s also the oldest church in Malaysia and South Asia.
As I say, the church is in ruins today, but this only adds to its appeal. Admittedly I have a soft spot for wrecks and remains and anything eerie, but I’m confident you will enjoy it just as much as I did. It won’t cost you anything to visit the church remains other than a little of your energy. Set at the top of a hill, you have to climb some pretty steep steps to get to it.
Street Art Hunting
One thing that surprised me about Melaka was the realm of street art that adorns several of the buildings. Of course, Georgetown in Penang is incredibly famous for its murals, but it seems Malacca is equally vibrant. In fact, hunting for street art turned out to be one of our favourite things to do.
You’ll find a lot of the street art down alongside the river, which is perfect as you can kill two birds with one stone. A stroll along the river banks is a gorgeous way to while away the hours and will help you to work up an appetite for lunch. As you walk, look out for the famous street murals such as the vibrant Kiehls wall pictured below. But don’t be afraid to take a detour down the backstreets, as much of the street art is hidden. Or you can check out this Melaka Street Art Guide to help with your quest.
Next up, it’s one of our favourite times of the day – the others being breakfast and dinner, of course. Mealtimes are particularly exciting in Melaka, however, as there is so much incredible food on offer. The hardest part is deciding what to have.
Your best bet is to find somewhere on or around Jonker Street, as it’s nearby our next stop of the day. Thankfully this area concentrates the majority of the best food spots as well, so it’s a win-win.
My first suggestion would be to check out one of the quirky cafes in the area. The cafe culture has grown immensely in this part of the city, and it’s a quintessential Melaka experience. One of our favourites is Kaya-Kaya Cafe, with its industrial decor and delicious food & coffee. But there are many others, as listed in this guide.
Don’t fancy a cafe, not a problem. Why not try the celebrated Malaccan dish of chicken rice balls at Kedai Kopi Chung Wah? Or sample traditional Nyonya cuisine at Nancy’s Kitchen.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
After lunch, you can take a gentle stroll along Jonker Street, checking out the cute boutique stores along the way. The stores in this area seem geared mainly towards tourists, and the prices reflect this. But if you’re looking to pick up some local souvenirs, this is the place to go. We aren’t big shoppers ourselves, but according to this Malacca shopping guide, there’s plenty of opportunities around the city.
Not far from Jonker Street is the Cheng Hoon Teng Buddhist Temple. The temple is one of the most notable landmarks in the city and a worthy addition to your Melaka itinerary. Like many other Buddhist temples we’ve visited, the ornate details and vibrant design are a sight to behold.
The temple feels like a mini-museum for Chinese culture and arts, and incense, colourful carvings & shrines give it a profoundly religious vibe. What’s even more impressive, however, is that it’s believed to be the oldest Chinese Temple in Malaysia.
Visit a Museum
We don’t consider ourselves museum buffs, but if it means we’re going to learn about the local history, why not. As I said earlier, you’ll have to be selective about the museums you visit in Malacca on a day trip, as there are several. Some such as the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum and Villa Sentosa are really popular, but there are some hidden gems as well.
Keen to learn more about the Peranakan culture in Malacca, we explored the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum. The Peranakans came from China and settled in Malaysia, where the combination of the two cultures resulted in a new and unique way of life. Admittedly, it isn’t the most exciting museum to visit, but for less than $6, we had a guided tour which provided an interesting insight into Peranakan history.
Another museum worth stopping by is the Sultanate Palace, which is an exact model of a palace belonging to the ruler of Malacca during the early 1400s. Inside is another cultural museum, and at less than $1, it’s incredibly cheap to visit. We also enjoyed the Maritime Museum set inside a replica of a Portuguese sailing ship. If you have the time, you can check out this list of other museums worth visiting in Melaka.
River Boat Cruise
One of the best ways to take in the sights of this picturesque city is to enjoy a peaceful cruise along the river. The river is the focal point of the tourist centre, and on both sides, you can enjoy the multitude of beauty that Malacca has to offer.
If you time the day right, the best time of day to take a river cruise is just as the sun is going down. The shops and bars alongside the river come to life during this time. And as it gets dark, you’ll get to see all the pretty lights.
As you sit back and enjoy the ride, look out for the vibrant street art that adorns many of the buildings, as well as popular landmarks such as the Clock Tower and Ghost Bridge.
Jonker Street Night Market
The Jonker Street night market is the number 1 things to do in Melaka. That’s why I strongly recommend you plan your visit for the weekend if possible, as the market is only on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.
Slap bang in the middle of the tourist centre, Jonker Street is a fun and energetic spot anyway. But when the night market is on, it really bursts into life. Dozens of market stalls set up shop, selling anything from clothing to accessories, and local souvenirs, and best of all, there’s an amalgamation of street food to enjoy.
We spent hours wandering around the market, sampling a realm of different dishes at unbelievably low prices. Grab an ice-cold Tiger beer to wash it down with, and you’re good to go!
After a long day of exploring, it’s time to rest your weary legs, and I suggest taking a tricycle ride back to your hotel. If you’ve travelled in South East Asia, you’re probably wondering what is so special about this activity, but when you get there, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
You see, each of the tricycles in Malacca is adorned in some kind of wild and wacky theme. Hello Kitty is the most common (Malaysians love Hello Kitty! Check out this Hello Kitty Hotel), but you’ll also see Pokemon, Disney, and other in-your-face designs. They often play jingles and are a fun thing to do in Melaka, especially if you’re travelling with little ones.
Malacca Itinerary Day 2
Explore Outside of the Tourist Centre
- Bukit China
- Visit Another Museum
- The Huskitory Cafe
- Melaka Straits Mosque
If you have a second day to explore Malacca, I suggest starting it at Bukit China. Bukit translates to hill, and it’s called Bukit China because it is home to the largest and oldest Chinese cemetery outside of China. The grounds date back to the 15th century and features a temple, burial ground, and a well.
To reach the starting point of the trail is around a 20-minute walk from Jonker Street, or you could take a taxi or tricycle. Once you reach the starting point, it’s around a 1.5km incline to the summit, where you can enjoy sweeping views over the city.
If you don’t mind the early start, we agreed it could be a nice spot to catch the sunrise before breakfast. Otherwise, try to set off before 9 am when it starts to get hot.
Visit Another Museum
To round off the morning, you could check out another museum such as Villa Sentosa or the Maritime Museum, which are both on the outskirts of the tourist centre. If you missed it earlier, here’s a list of the best museums worth visiting in Melaka. Our next stop is a cafe, but they don’t serve food, so grab yourself some lunch beforehand!
The Huskitory Cafe
Our next stop is often rated the best thing to do in Melaka, and for dog lovers like us, it’s easy to see why. We were beside ourselves when we learnt there was a husky cafe in Malacca. They are our favourite breed of dog, but unfortunately, our travelling lifestyle doesn’t allow for such a commitment just yet. So for now, we have to settle for cuddles with other huskies instead. Like the time we did a Husky Safari in Finland.
At The Huskitory Cafe, you can play, take photos, and spend time with this beautiful and lovable breed. Since our visit, I’ve seen some negative reviews regarding the well-being of the dogs and capabilities of the staff. But when we were there, the huskies seemed happy and healthy, and we saw nothing to cause us concern. Of course, any kind of animal tourism is never entirely perfect, but at least these dogs are cared for. That’s more than you can say for many dogs in Malaysia.
There’s a compulsory entrance fee to the cafe of RM18 which includes a drink, and to avoid disappointment, I would book in advance. It’s also quite a ride out of the city, so use the Grab app to order a taxi. They are super reliable and affordable – much cheaper than local taxis in the city.
Melaka Straits Mosque
Our final stop of the day is the Melaka Straits Mosque. An awe-inspiring structure set on the coast of the Malacca Strait – The stretch of water separating Peninsular Malaysia with the Indonesian island Sumatra – it is by far, one of our favourite spots in the city.
Built on a man-made island just off the coastline, when the water level is high, the mosque appears to be floating on the water. For this reason, it is often referred to as the ‘floating mosque’. With its striking white facade and golden dome, it’s appearance is truly enchanting. The view is even better during sunrise and sunset or at night when the mosque lights up, so try to time your visit wisely.
The view from outside alone is a wonderful experience, but you can visit inside the mosque for free. Just be sure to check the visiting hours on the day as they often change, and wear appropriate clothing. Legs below the knee and shoulders should be covered, but if there are any issues, the mosque provides the necessary gowns free of charge.
Tips & Advice for this Melaka Itinerary
Here I’ll list some of the travel tips that we accumulated during our stay in Malacca. Hopefully, they will help you have a hassle-free break in the city.
Getting to Melaka
If you’re travelling from within Malaysia, your best bet is to take a bus from Kuala Lumpur. The journey time is just two hours, and it’s super easy to organise. Just book your ticket in advance with 12 Go Asia here for the best prices, a guaranteed seat, and peace of mind. We booked all of our internal transport in Malaysia with 12 Go, and it made our lives a hell of a lot easier.
It’s also common for visitors to travel to Melaka from Singapore. It’s just a 4-hour bus ride including the overland border crossing, which is pretty straightforward as Malaysia offers a 90-day free visa to most nationalities.
If you wanted to head to Melaka on a day trip, without the hassle of planning everything yourself, you do have the option to travel with an organised tour group. This Full-Day Trip to Malacca from Kuala Lumpur includes transport to and from your hotel, a guided tour of the most famous historical landmarks, plus a traditional lunch. At less than $45, it’s also excellent value for money.
Getting Around in Melaka
You will spend a lot of time on your feet in Malacca. The tourist centre is rather small and easy to navigate on foot. For the few places further afield, you can take a local taxi or order through the Grab App, which we always found to be the cheapest option.
The Best Time to Visit Malacca
Since Malaysia is close to the equator, it has a tropical climate, sporting hot and humid conditions all year round. With this in mind, the best time to visit is between May to July and December to February when the humidity is lower and days are mostly dry.
Melaka Daily Budget
Below is a breakdown of what your daily Malacca budget might look like:
- Dorm Bed in a Hostel: $5-10
- Budget Private Room: $10-15
- Premium Hotel Room: $50-150
- Street Food: $2-5
- Local Restaurant Food: $7-15
- Beer: $2-4
- Taxis: $5-10
- Museums: $2-5
Melaka is a very safe place to travel; however, you should still have travel insurance to cover you for the unexpected. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. If the unlikely event that something goes wrong, you’ll want the best cover money can buy.
For this reason, we always recommend World Nomads for travel insurance. They are affordable, offer a variety of packages and add ons, and allow you to make amendments to your policy while travelling.
If you need further convincing, read our article on why you need travel insurance. Or get an on-the-spot quote from World Nomads using the form below.
Staying Connected in Melaka
If, like us, you rely on the internet when you travel (let’s face it, who doesn’t anymore), we have the perfect solution. TravelWifi’s portable pocket wifi allows us to quickly and securely connect when we need it the most. Click the link for more information on coverage, packages, and the latest offers.
Oh, and don’t forget a VPN. Using a VPN is very important these days to make sure that all your data is safe and secure. Also, it helps while travelling not only for safety reasons but also it unlocks geo-restricted content such as Netflix and helps to avoid demographic price discrimination while looking for a flight or a hotel.
Did you enjoy our Malacca (Melaka) Itinerary?
Let us know! That concludes Melaka Itinerary. We hope you enjoy your time in this beautiful city. If you have any questions or feel we have missed anything, please reach out to us in the comment section below, or through our contact us page. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram here, where we share further travel advice & inspiration.
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.
Charlotte & Natalie x
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