Valletta is more than just a vacation destination. Valletta, Malta, lies in the heart of the Mediterranean and is one of the most spectacular and beautiful cities in the world. A key player in the Golden Age of Piracy, this city became part of Malta only in the 16th century when the Ottoman Empire invaded the island nation. Valletta has seen everything from pirates to knights to British rule in its rich history. Still, this small capital city is more than just a pretty face – it’s full of museums, landmarks and churches that are not to be missed by anyone travelling to this part of Europe.
Best Time to Visit Valletta
The off-season months of May, September, and October are the best times to travel to Malta because the weather is nice, and there are fewer tourists. However, any month is an excellent time to visit the islands due to its fantastic climate, which features over 300 (three hundred) days of sunshine and more than three thousand hours of sunshine annually, along with mild winters.
A Few Facts About Valletta
- It took around 9,000 builders to construct Valletta – following the Great Siege in 1565, the Knights embarked on a massive construction effort to create Valletta, the reputed “city constructed by gentlemen for gentlemen.”
- There’s actually a system of underground tunnels in the city – It began in 1565, during the Great Siege of Malta.
- The Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, Jean Parisot de Valette, is honoured by having Valletta bear his name – sadly, he passed away in 1568 without ever seeing his city.
What to do In Valletta in 24 Hours
With so many sights to see in Valletta, Malta, it can be hard to figure out which places you should focus on when planning your trip to the city. To help you narrow down the options, we’ve come up with an itinerary that includes our top things to do in Valletta and a day in Valletta itinerary that will give you an idea of how much time you should plan on spending at each place. We hope you enjoy it!
Start Your Day at St. John’s Co-Cathedral
The church was built between 1573 and 1633 and has beautiful architecture and a stunning interior design. You will not regret stopping by this spot on your way around the city. When you leave the cathedral, stop by the Old University Building (1721) and Palace Square (1749). You should then head over to City Gate Square, where there are plenty of cafes, shops, and restaurants for you to explore! Have breakfast here and check in at Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel, just a 5 min walk from St. John’s.
Stroll The Upper Barrakka Gardens
One of our favourite things to do in Valletta is the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Located right on top of Fort St. Elmo, one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, these gardens have breathtaking views of Grand Harbour and Valletta. You can enjoy stunning views of St. John’s Co-Cathedral, City Gate, Mdina Bridge, and other magnificent architecture from this vantage point. You can also explore these gardens in warmer months via an aerial walkway that circles over them.
Check Out The Malta Experience
This fascinating and educational audio-visual tour combines a 45-minute historical documentary show with a 30-minute visit to La Sacra Infermeria, a former hospital constructed by the Knights of St. John. It reveals the turbulent and inspiring history of the Maltese Islands. If you want to learn about the Maltese Islands and travel back in time to see Malta’s past do not miss this tour. The cafe and gift shop are open every week, including Saturdays and Sundays, starting at 11:00 AM.
Explore The Grandmaster’s Palace and Armory
Grab lunch at SOTTO Pinsa Romana Valletta and visit The Grandmaster’s Palace and Armoury. It is a 16th-century palace and historical monument located in Valletta, Malta. The palace was built as a residence for Alof de Wignacourt, who ruled over Malta from 1551 to 1568. The structure became the headquarters of the Order of St. John after Wignacourt’s death until it moved its base to Birgu and later to Valletti.
In 1798, the palace was used by Napoleon as his main administrative centre on the island during his time in Malta. In 1800, it became a school for French soldiers, but this only lasted for about four years before being abandoned again. The building has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1980 and is open to public viewing all year round.
Visit Casa Rocca Piccola
Casa Rocca Piccola is a hidden gem of an attraction located at Pjazza San Gwann (aka St. George’s Square). This great little museum gives you a taste of what life was like for nobility during Moorish rule. They only allow around 30 people per day into Casa Rocca Piccola, and tickets are free but must be booked in advance. Make sure to book your ticket online, as there’s usually a queue! The hours vary from year to year, so check their website before you head over.
Pick One of The Museums
History lovers are sure to enjoy Fort St. Elmo’s National War Museum. The stunning grounds of Fort St. Elmo, which include the two chapels honouring St. Anne, are open to visitors, who can also take in their beautiful architecture. The National Museum of Archeology showcases all that is known about Malta’s ancient past. At the same time, The Inquisitor’s Palace explores what life was like when it served as a prison and torture site for those accused of heresy. Be sure to check out Il-Kantra Museums, which also have exhibits from various artists and give visitors an insight into everyday life. For art lovers, see the MUŻA – it houses a collection of works by Maltese and foreign artists mainly representing the major European artistic styles.
See the Sunset on Valletta Waterfront
Spend your evening watching one of Europe’s most breathtaking sunsets from Valletta’s waterfront. The views are magnificent, and if you arrive around dinnertime, it can also be a perfect date spot. Several restaurants along Strand Street offer indoor and outdoor seating—be sure to make reservations ahead of time!
In addition to having the option of eating inside or outside, some places also have live music playing, so you might even be able to catch a live performance on the pier! For a great dinner, try Browns Kitchen Valletta Waterfront! We recommend getting there about an hour before sunset for the best view.
Explore The Nightlife
If loud clubs, nonstop parties, and late-night dancing are your thing, head to Paceville in the municipality of St Julian’s, Malta’s most well-known nightlife area. It is a popular destination for tourists and young people because it has the island’s highest number of clubs and pubs. Queen Victoria, Fat Harry’s and The Pub are good pubs, and for cocktails, try Q Bar.
Where to Stay In Valletta
Palazzo Paolina Butique Hotel
Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel, 101, St. Paul’s Street, VLT 1216 Valletta
Just a 5-minute walk from St. John’s Cathedral in Valletta, the Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel offers complimentary WiFi in the rooms. Each has a private bathroom with a hairdryer, bathrobes, free toiletries, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and a work desk. The on-site bar is open to visitors, while modern and tasteful decor may be found in every room.
La Falconeria Hotel
62 Melita street , VLT 1122 Valletta
La Falconeria Hotel has a bar and a fitness centre. The hotel offers à la carte breakfast, automobile rentals and a 24-hour front desk. All areas offer free WiFi. This hotel’s air-conditioned rooms are tastefully furnished and include flat-screen TVs. City views can be seen from some rooms. There is a private bathroom in each room. You’ll find free toiletries, slippers, and bathrobes for your comfort.
Saint Paul Street 237, VLT 1215 Valletta
Paulos Valletta is only 300 m from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, and it takes 5 minutes to go to Casa Rocca Piccola. These units, which are all air-conditioned, come with a flat-screen TV, a lounge space, and a kitchenette. There is a hairdryer in the bathroom, and some units have balconies. Paulos Valletta is 300 meters from the National Museum of Archaeology, and Malta International Airport is a 20-minute drive away.
Day Trips From Valletta
It makes sense that you would want to take in as much as you can. Fortunately, there are several top-notch places you can see on day trips from Valletta, so you won’t be disappointed. Here are some recommendations:
Take the hour ferry to Pozzallo, and from there, grab a taxi or a bus for a little over half an hour, and you’ll be in the majestic Syracuse. This enchanting Sicilian city is fascinating and enchanting, stunning in its ageless grandeur. The old town of Ortigia, covered in layers of white stone, recounts the three thousand-year history of what was once the biggest city in the ancient world. While it may not seem like much, you can see all of Syracuse’s great sights and hidden jewels in a single day and still have time to take in its unique ambience. Read about our one-day Syracuse itinerary here!
Take the ferry to Catania and explore the gorgeous volcano city in Sicily. Catania is the undisputed master of living life to the fullest. This city is one of the most alluring Italian treasures because of the cuisine, the rich tradition, and the magnetic vitality. One day in Catania is more than enough to experience the local culture, sample some Sicilian dishes, and participate in the city’s vibrant nightlife. Read more about our Catania 24-hour itinerary here!
Cruise to Comino & Blue Lagoon
Take some time to savour this natural marine paradise’s unmatched beauty while swimming or snorkeling. The lagoon, which is situated between the islands of Comino and Cominotto, is surrounded by pristine white beaches and quiet, crystal-clear seas. The majority of the lagoon is only 1 to 15 meters deep. However, there are rare locations where depths above 10 meters are feasible. In fact, the sea is teeming with life if you look beneath the water’s surface while swimming in the lagoon’s perfect clarity.
Extra Tips for Visiting Valletta
- The Maltese language is one of the most complex in the world- It combines Italian, Arabic, French, and English. For example, you might hear Bongu ( Bonjour in French) for a good morning or Ciao (Italian) for a goodbye.
- They filter the ocean for their drinking water – because Valletta lacks surface waters like lakes, rivers, or reservoirs. Because of this, some tourists dislike the flavour.
- Driving – Always keep your wits about you if you’re driving in Malta!
- Maltese fruits – don’t eat the prickly pear cacti!
- Kinnie Drink is a Malta soft drink made of orange and bitters. It’s available everywhere in Malta. Our only recommendation is to drink it as cold as possible.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Romi is a llama coach from Split, Croatia. This sounds made up but it’s true. She lived in Toronto, Canada for about ten years, give or take, but she wasn’t working with llamas. She was working in PR, restaurants, daycares, one yoga clothing store. She doesn't know how she got that job as she has never done yoga at that point. She taught English in Colombia and Vietnam. Traveled the world for two years. Then she got into writing. Actually, she was always writing, but then someone paid her to write. Then more people paid because they saw she was making them money. Then it became a thing she does for a living. And here we are now. Specializing in travel, real estate, and digital nomad guides, familiar with SEO, and always ready to learn something new so she can branch out and take over the world.