visit Malta Valletta

Visitor's Guide to help you explore the capital city

Many foreigners call it 'Valletta Malta'. It is Malta's capital city 'the smallest city' from all European cities.

On this page you will find everything you need to know about Malta Valletta, the places you have to visit, cultural attractions, important streets and where to shop

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Pots of flowers at the entrance of Malta Valletta.

Facts About the capital city

  • The entire capital city is a World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO in 1980. UNESCO called it “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world.”
  • Population 6444 in 2014
  • Valletta is a walled city built by the Knights of St. John founder by the Grand Master Jean de Parisot Valetta.
  • The first stone for the construction of the fortifications was laid on 28th March 1566.
  • 8000 workers many from Sicily were involved in the construction of the fortifications for five years.
  • The smallest European capital with 0.61 square kilometres or 0.24 square miles or 55.5 ha.
  • It became the capital city of Malta in 18th March 1571 after Mdina was the capital city through the Middle Ages.
  • Valletta was the European Capital City of Culture for the year 2018 in conjunction with Leeuwarden a city and municipality within the Netherlands.

Top 4 Attractions In Valletta

1. Upper & Lower Barrakka Gardens

Visit the Upper Barakka Gardens. Meet tourists and locals all enjoying the spectacular views of the Grand Harbour. This is a definite must do when visiting Valletta. Anytime of the day is a great moment to visit. At 12:00 and at 16:00 every day from the Saluting Battery one of the eight replica guns fires for the ship-masters of the British Navy ship of the time to calibrate their clocks. Proceed from here to the Lower Barakka Gardens for a different experience of the harbour area.

The lower barrakka gardens.

2. St. John's Co-Cathedral, museum & Caravaggio

St. John's Co-Cathedral was the conventual church for the Knights of St. John until they were on the island. It is completely gilded with gold and marble. This splendid worship place is a must by all to visit as it is a unique treasure.

At the oratory you can see Caravaggio’s masterpiece of the ‘Beheading of St. John the Baptist’ described by Jonathan Jones as “one of the ten greatest works of art of all times”. With the same entrance ticket you can visit the museum containing the Flemish Tapestries.

3. Marvel At the Triton Fountain, City Gate & Parliament

City Gate is the entry point to the capital. It is the fifth design completed in 2014 by the Renzo Piano that replaced the previous ones. The new parliament building that is on the right side upon entering the bastion walls designed the same famous Italian architect. Just before entering the capital the large square with the triton fountain very popular for photos at various times during the day. Proceeding along the main Republic street with the old opera house on the right and classical buildings along the way.

4. Walking the Streets of Valletta

The unique design of the capital from the very start was to have all streets parallel to each other forming a grid like layout. It is undeniably true that this has an effect on everyone that visits. The landscape being hilly allows to produce an affect the perspective of the streets.

With varied architecture along the same streets at different stages of time, to multiple timber balconies that line the facades which tend to be very photogenic across the internet and the may churches that line the streets. At many corners one can see the Maltese catholic roots with niches dedicate to saints.

People having a snack at a restaurants in one of Valletta's narrow streets.

A few tips on what to do at Malta Valletta

  • See the famous Caravaggio painting at St. John's Co-Cathedral
  • Watch the gun firing at the saluting battery that happens twice daily, at noon and 4pm.
  • Witness the siege bell resonating everyday at noon overlooking the entrance of the grand harbour.
  • Visit many buildings that are still standing that were built by the knights of St. John. Find out what they are here.
  • Take a selfie with the "Funtana tat-Tritoni"
  • Grab a coffee at the 175 year old Caffe Cordina at Republic Square
  • Take the Barrakka Lift to the explore another part of Valletta
  • Cross to Sliema or the Three cities with the catamaran
  • Get lost in the smallest capital city where you can spot many historical and unique feature of our culture.
  • Capture unique photos of the city. Here are ours.

Top Museums and Attractions Of Valletta

Popular museums very much visited by tourists at the capital. Go back many many years where it shows how ancient people lived in Malta with their incredible culture which we can now admire. 

1. The Malta Experience & the Sacra Infermeria

Have a first-hand experience of our incredible multi language audio visual show splendidly showing the history of our county from the beginning to the glorious history of today. It is located within La Sacra Infermeria the Hospital of the Knights of St. John which was one of the best hospitals of Europe of the day with the Europe’s longest hospital ward of 155 metres. Take a tour to see this incredible location.

2. Fort St. Elmo & Museum

Fort St. Elmo withstood the attacks of the Ottoman Empire in 1565. Today it is restored and enhanced and surrounded by the massive unbeatable fortifications built by the Knights of St. John. They were further enhanced by the British Empire. During WW II to withstand aerial attacks. The War Museum is within. Take the tour and take photos of the incredible panoramic views of the surrounding harbours.

A view of the breakwater from Fort St. Elmo.

3. Palace State Rooms And the Palace Armoury

The Palace State Rooms should be one of your visits while at the capital. It was the official residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John. From the very beginning it was lavishly ornamented with collections of works of art. Today it is the seat of the President of Malta. The armoury is a great attraction with armour and weapons from the 15th to the 18th century with very well-preserved pieces to full parade armour.

4. Casa Rocca Piccola - The living museum

The 16th Century Palace of the 9th Marquis de Piro is a privately owned family home open to public. The marque and his wife conduct private tours. It is the first aristocratic Maltese family that opened its doors to the public. It is an amazing journey back to unique customs and traditions of the nobility on these islands. A palace with over 50 rooms most of which are open to the public richly decorated and the unique World War II air raid shelters that gives a feeling of those times.

5. The National Museum Of Archaeology

Malta offers an abundance of heritage. At the National Museum of Archaeology permanent exhibition of artefacts from the Neolithic period 5000 BC up to the Phoenician Period 400 BC. Some of the best exhibits, the Sleeping Lady from the Hypogeum, the Venus of Malta and bronze age daggers. It is housed in one of the best elaborately decorated Baroque buildings of the capital. Built by the Knights of St. John as the official residence for the knights from Provence in France.

6. 5D Cinema Malta

A new way of presenting the Malta story in 5D with an eighteen-minute visual show. It is great if you can take your children with you for great entertaining moment with effects of water spray, wind, seat movements and scent. With 19 languages you will surely find your language and get to know the Malta story. Located in one of the prominent Old Bakery street.

7. In-Guardia Parade

The In-Guardia Parade is held within the main courtyard of Fort St. Elmo. With a calendar of dates for this colourful parade highlighting the visit of the bailiff in order to see for himself the reediness of the soldiers read for any unpleasant attach from visiting enemies. A spectacle by itself where re enactors dressed in colourful time period costumes, with fire arms, canons and movements attract your full attention for quite some time. Photo genic ally for sure.

8. Fortifications Interpretation Centre

The most striking of all are the massive high fortification walls built with the abandance of Maltese lime stone found locally, deep moats, counterguards, covertway and a glacis. With the input of extraordinary military engineers of the time and later in time, made Valletta’s defences the best of the time. Get to know about them at the interpretation centre specifically dedicated to fortifications of the island.

9. Valletta Churches & Valletta Churches Mass Times

If interested in religious architecture you are for a feast of luxury. Valletta has 28 churches, small to big and massive. The earliest built was to Our Lady of Victories in 1566 dedicated to the Knights of Malta victory over the Ottoman Empire. The highest visible church is the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel completed in 1981 dominated the skyline of the capital. Several are open during the day to visitors. If wishing to hear mass see further details. Read about the churches before visiting.

St. Catherines Church.

Where to stay in Valletta

Choose from a wide range of properties comfortable and affordable which are not hard to find. Today the accommodation in Valletta has developed with great leaps to luxury 5 star hotels, boutique hotels, several apartments and townhouses.

All properties from palaces, century old houses to more modern apartments have a specific charm that has been specifically restored and retained to enable visitors to become part of this unique capital.

Restaurants & Bars In Valletta

It is not difficult to find your tastes and likes amidst the variety of resultants at the capital. We have dined at various restaurants as every time we could choose from varied cuisines and atmospheres at different areas of the capital.

Valletta Waterfront Restaurants

Valletta Waterfront is another area outside the capital. At the water’s edge with the Grand Harbour where the cruise liners anchor. A stretch of restaurants and bars line the shoreline, very popular all through the week especially the weekends where it is always recommended to book a take from days before.

Nightlife in Valletta

Valetta’s night life is not like that of Paceville and St. Julian’s. It is more of a dining experience and casual drinks with friends especially at the area around Strait street where for the weekend it is recommended to reserve a booking.

People eating at table at Republic Square Valletta.

It is the place where most tourists do not miss a visit during their holiday in Malta.

Valletta today is still a living city which was built in 1566. It is the centre for Maltese politics, government departments, law courts and many local and international businesses.

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Avatar By Albert and Benjamin Magro