A day in Malta’s city of Knights: 5 top things to do in Valletta

No visit to Malta can be complete without exploring Valletta. Europe’s smallest capital city is a World Heritage site and a true open-air museum. There’s plenty of history going around yet it remains a trendy and dynamic city.  The city is small – only 600 to 1000 meters – so you can easily visit everything by foot. Here are 5 top things not to be missed.

1. Enjoy the view over Malta’s Grand Harbour

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Malta’s Grand Harbour is often described as the most beautiful in the Mediterranean and it’s hard not to see why: the water separates Valletta from the three cities Senglea, Vittoriosa and Kalkara, making the view absolutely stunning.

For the best view over the harbour, head to the Upper Barrakka gardens, situated on the highest point of Valletta. They used to be the private garden of the Knights of Malta.

On the terrace below you will find the Saluting Battery. Every day at noon a salute is fired.

2. Visit St. John’s Co-Cathedral

 

 

This splendid Baroque church was built between 1573 an 1577 and is an architectural jewel. The Knights of St. John would gather here for communal worship and donated a fortune worth of artwork to the church. Admire the paintings, sculptures and marble flour (a patchwork of tombstones) and of-course the true treasure of the church:  Caravaggio’s painting: the Beheading of St. John the Baptist.

3. Meet the Knights  in the Grand Master’s Palace

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The Grand Master’s Palace was once the home of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St John and is now the official residence of the Maltese president. You can visit the State Apartments and the Armoury, packed with medieval amours (more than 6000!) and weapons belonging to the Knights. With a bit of imagination, it looks like the knights are still alive.

4. Go shopping

There’s a large variety of shops (both international brands and little boutiques) spread out on Republic Street and Merchants Street. If you’re looking for local products and authentic handmade craft, explore the smaller back streets of Valletta. For duty-free shopping head to the Forni Shopping Complex at the Valletta Waterfront, located on the Grand Harbour. Once a series of 19 Baroque warehouses, today a leisure complex with shops, wine bars and restaurants both for locals and tourists.

5. Eat and drink

Personally I find the Maltese cuisine one of the most tasteful in the world, with strong Mediterranean, English and Arabian influences. The national dish is fenkatu (stewed rabbit) and of course there’s always a lot of fish on the menu. And if it’s wine you’re into, check out the wine bars. These are booming all over Malta and are very popular.valletta008

And here’s an extra tip:

6. Go now and go back in 2018

There’s always something interesting going on in Valletta, whether is the Malta International Fireworks Festival, the Malta Jazz Festival or Notte Bianca. Have a look at the event calendar and make sure you don’t miss a thing.

If you have fallen madly in love with Valletta and Malta (and no doubt you will) than you definitely should go back in 2018, when the city is the European Capital of Culture. Check out all the details on www.valletta2018.org and start planning now.

38 comments

  1. I’ve been there already (long time ago), but next week I’ll be there again! Those winebars sound good. 😉

  2. So many cools things to do in Valletta! I have a friend that recently moved to Valletta with their job from England and he is loving his time there. Plus it’s a great location to head and experience other parts of Europe which is always a plus point.

    1. Yes, it is really worth a visit. Valletta is full of history yet it remains a trendy city. Tx for stopping by.

  3. Nice post and photos bring it back from visiting years ago. I like Malta and it has some great places to visit, the churches stand out for me. I think there was one that a bomb crashed through the roof and didn’t detonate and is still kept in the display. Valletta is a lovely place to visit

    1. Hi Kate, the churches are my favorite as well! Indeed there is a church that was bombed in World War II. It fell just before mass and more then 300 people were present, but luckily the bomb did not explode. This took place in the church Rotunda of Mosta, and there’s a replica of the bomb on display. Fascinating place to visit!
      Tx for popping by!

    1. Hi Bianca, Gozo is so beautiful. I stayed there only one night and that was definitely too short, such a relaxing atmosfere.

  4. That view from the harbour is incredible! I have a lot of Maltese friends who keep telling me that I need to go and visit! This post confirms that. Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos.

  5. I was in Malta 5 years ago and loved it! Valletta is such a picturesque capital! Your lovely colorful photos brought me back there for a few moments! Thanks!

  6. Malta is very high on my want list. St. Johns Cathedral is enough to make me want to go. Then add the beautiful scenery? Absolute bucket list item.

  7. Thanks for sharing. It looks like there is a lot more to offer than I had expected. I plan on going there towards the end of 2014 to do some WWOOF’n

    1. Thank you. Don’t hesitate and give it a go. It’s only a couple of hours flying, really not far from the UK indeed.

  8. Amazing photos guys, everytime I read a post of yours it makes me want to go there so bad! I love visiting cathedrals and Malta looks like it has so much history and culture! Hopefully I’ll get there by 2018!

  9. This looks great!!! I´ve never been to Malta but I guess once I´m back in Europe I should definitely give it a try! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Tx Milene. Yes, if you can you should definitely give it a try, it’s one of my favorite countries.

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