The best things to do in Valletta, Malta (including map)
June 27, 2017
City guide Valletta, Malta – Valletta is the capital of Malta and is definitely worth a visit when traveling to Malta. This travel guide will guide you through how to get there, the best things to do in Valletta, and where to experience the fascinating Maltese history.
Valletta is known for its beautiful skyline and the fascinating churches, museums, palaces, and forts. The city was built as a fortress to protect Christendom and is mainly surrounded by water. In 1980, UNESCO named Valletta a World Heritage Site, because of its cultural density and recently it is announced that Valletta will be hosting the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. So… Valletta is definitely a very interesting cultural place!
How to travel to Valletta?
The airport is only 5 kilometers away from Valletta. From the airport, and surrounding cities, it is very easy to take a bus to Valletta. The bus infrastructure is well developed, but the traffic is sometimes horrible and can slow your trip down.
When traveling from Sliema to Valletta, I recommend you to take the ferry. It is cheaper and faster than a bus and you will have a nice view of the Valletta skyline!
Within Valletta, you don’t need any public transportation. All the sights are easily reachable by foot.
The best things to see in Valletta, Malta
As mentioned before, Valletta is filled with many fascinating historical- and cultural sights. I selected around … sights and places that you should explore!
1. Visit the Grandmasters’s Palace Valletta
This palace dates back to the 16th century, and was once the residence of St. John, who ruled the island around his time. Nowadays, the Maltese president is living here. It is located on a nice public square. There are two guards in front of the building performing some acts (change of the guards etc.). When you walk around the building, you can enter the outside garden for free. It is a little garden, but very peaceful. I also just enjoyed sitting on the square and in the garden, watching other tourists. A part of the palace is open for the public. For a small fee, you can visit the inside.
2. Be amazed by the Basilica of our Lady of Mount Carmel (church)
Even when you are not religious, this church is definitely a must visit! First, because the in- and outside architecture of the church is truly amazing, and second, because it is part of the famous Valletta skyline. It is a Roman Catholic church and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Walk around the Lascaris war rooms
Explore the history of Malta in underground chambers and tunnels! The chambers and tunnels of Lascaris were used during the Second World War to defend Malta. You can learn everything about the how the chambers were used and were the war headquarters were located.
4. Enjoy Valletta’s skyline
When you take a ferry from Sliema to Valletta, you can truly enjoy the skyline of Valletta. You can also decide to walk up the hill to the right of ferry. If you have limited time in Valletta, make sure to go around the evening, so you can see the sun setting down. It will be a mystical and wonderful view for sure!
5. Go back in time at the Fort St. Elmo and the National war museum
If you are interested in the Maltese history, this fort is definitely worth a visit. You will pay one entrance ticket and have access to the museum and fort. The museum is located over different areas within the fort where you will get to know different interesting stories.
6. Relax at the Upper Barrakka Garden and see canons being fired off
This place is very relaxing! The Upper Barrakka Garden was created in the late 16th century and is still very beautiful! From the garden, you can overlook the Grand Harbour and enjoy a very nice view. From here, you can also see the canons, which are fired of every day at noon and at 4 pm. In the garden, you can find costumed guides, who can explain you how the cannon is loaded and fired. I have been here a couple of times during my stay in Valletta. It is a very good place to relax.
7. Visit Auberge de Castille
The Auberge de Castille is a beautiful building, dating back from the 16th century. It is located in front of the Upper Barrakka Garden and built in a Baroque style. It is known as ‘probably the finest building in Malta’ and now houses the office of the prime minister of Malta.
8. Go around the capital with a dgħajsa
Dgħajsa is a traditional water taxi from Malta and can be found in the Grand Harbour. It is fun to just take this little traditional boat and to ask the skipper to sail around the capital. You can take an elevator down from the Upper Barrakka Garden to the Grand Harbour (for free!!). Going up will costs you a small fee.
9. Visit St. John’s co-catherdral
This is another famous church in Valletta. The church is also from the 16th century and has a really nice interior.
10. Visit the Siege Bell War Memorial
This huge bell is a monument to commemorate those who fought during the Second World War. It is situated next to the Lower Barrakka Garden (which is also definitely worth a visit!), overlooking the Valletta harbor. It is a nice monument that gives you a special feeling when you stand close to the bell.
All the above mentioned places are highlighted on this map:
I think that Valletta is a nice fusion of culture and history, designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the European Capital of Culture in 2018. With the airport just 5 kilometers away, travel to Valletta is convenient, and the city’s attractions are easily accessible on foot, complemented by a scenic ferry ride from Sliema. From the Grandmaster’s Palace and Basilica of our Lady of Mount Carmel to the Lascaris war rooms and the daily cannon firing at the Upper Barrakka Garden, each site unfolds a piece of Malta’s intriguing past. Valletta stands as a testament to Malta’s resilience, with Fort St. Elmo, the National War Museum, and landmarks like Auberge de Castille showcasing beautiful architecture. Don’t forget to take a traditional dgħajsa ridewhen visiting Valletta. If you have any questions, please leave a comment in the comment section below. Safe travels!
This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.
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