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Valletta, Malta

Valletta is the capital of the island nation of Malta. A harbor city, Valletta preserves much of its 16th-century architectural heritage built under the Hospitallers.

Valletta was one of the earliest sites inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list.
Referred to colloquially as Il-Belt ("The City"), it takes its name from its founder, Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette.
With its large array of shops, catering establishments, entertainment venues, and culture, Malta's capital has what it takes to capture people's imagination.


The southernmost national capital in Europe, and sitting next to the Mediterranean, Valletta is one of the few places in Europe that has mild and warm weather around the year.
Nighttime lows are around +10°C in the winter, however, at that time of the year, it's comparatively rainy. During the summer, expect sunny and... Read more

Valletta, Malta

Valletta is the capital of the island nation of Malta. A harbor city, Valletta preserves much of its 16th-century architectural heritage built under the Hospitallers.

Valletta was one of the earliest sites inscribed by UNESCO on the World Heritage list.
Referred to colloquially as Il-Belt ("The City"), it takes its name from its founder, Grandmaster Jean Parisot de la Valette.
With its large array of shops, catering establishments, entertainment venues, and culture, Malta's capital has what it takes to capture people's imagination.


The southernmost national capital in Europe, and sitting next to the Mediterranean, Valletta is one of the few places in Europe that has mild and warm weather around the year.
Nighttime lows are around +10°C in the winter, however, at that time of the year, it's comparatively rainy. During the summer, expect sunny and hot weather.

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Valletta, Malta: Port Information

Cruise ships dock in a 20-minute steep walk from the city itself. There is an elevator close to the cruise terminal. It takes cruise passengers to the Old Town. Besides, there are many taxis in the port.

Get around Valletta, Malta

The Valletta peninsula is only a couple of kilometers in length and so the ideal way is to do everything on foot also allowing one to make use of the atmospheric stairs throughout this steep city. However, the city is built on a ridge and is steep in parts (requiring walking up and down stairs in some places), which can be tiring. The alternative would be doing it by car which is not ideal for visitors due to lack of parking space, direction signs and the fact that the streets are very narrow, often one way and confusing if unfamiliar. Most of the main tourist attractions are along the main street (Triq ir-Republika) which does not involve steep hills.

To get further historical information about the numerous places of interest through Valletta it can be useful to hire an audio guide. It is available in different languages (Maltese, English, Italian, French, Dutch, German and Spanish) from the Archaeology Museum in Republic Street. You can choose independently from the 24 stops and it is not necessary to follow the given order. Stops can easily be skipped or visited in another sequence when tired or full of the new information.

Another possibility is to rent one of the horse carts (Karozzin), but be sure to haggle over the price.

Bus routes 98 (clockwise) and 198 (counterclockwise) run around Valletta. They depart from Valletta Terminus at the following times:

Route 98: 6:30 am-7 am is every 15 minutes, then at 8 am, 8:20 am, 8:30 am, 8:50 am and 9:40 am after which buses run every 30 minutes until 5:40 pm

Route 198: M-Sa 9:30 AM / Su 8:30 AM - every 30 minutes - 6 PM

What to see in Valletta, Malta

In debatable order of importance:
  • St. John's Co Cathedral

    is unremarkable from the outside but incredibly ornate on the inside. Each of the different 'langues' (knights of a particular nationality had their own langue) has their own chapel lined along the side of the nave in which they try and outdo each other in splendor. The barrel-shaped ceiling is a single huge fresco, the lifework of famed artist Mattia Preti. And last but not least the floor is entirely taken by knight's graves all intricately inlaid marble in different colors, a recent book on the subject describes it as the 'most beautiful floor in the world.' This relatively unknown cathedral can count itself one of the most impressive in Europe. Open 9:30 am and 4:30 pm on weekdays and 9:30 am and 12:30 pm on Saturdays. Entrance is through the Carappechia Annex on Republic Street in between St John's Street and St Lucy Street, directly opposite the Law Courts. As soon as you enter you will be provided with an audio guide included in the entrance fee which leads you through the cathedral in 24 stops enabling you to get further historical information about the paintings and special parts of St. John’s Co-Cathedral.
  • The Cathedral Museum holds two works by Caravaggio who was briefly himself a Knight, one of them being his masterpiece the famous huge "Beheading of St. John the Baptist."
  • The Palace of the Grand Masters

    now is the President's office and the

    Maltese parliament

    . The staterooms, when accessible are quite impressive. It also houses the Knights' Armoury which is open to visitors daily from 9 am–5 pm. (However, all other parts of the palace are closed to visitors, so what they can see is limited.) At the entrance, you can receive an audio guide which is included in the entrance fee. It provides you with further historical information about the various armory of different eras beginning from the medieval chain mail up to the 17th-century armor.
  • The Malta Experience, despite not being entirely cheap visitors who have any interest in culture or history and who haven't exhaustively read up on the country before coming here would do well by starting their visit to Malta by going here as it is an excellent introduction to the country. It gives an impression of major events that shaped the country, but as it's only half an hour long and meant for first-time visitors one shouldn't expect an in-depth dry scholarly treatment of the subject. St Elmo Bastions, Mediterranean Street, Tel +356 243776 +356 251284
  • The Upper Barrakka Gardens at the upper south side of the peninsula offer a jaw-dropping view of the Grand Harbour. Go on a sunny day and bring champagne!
  • The National Museum of Archaeology Even though Malta has an impressive and unique ancient history this museum housed in the former Auberge de Provence in Republic street can be rather a disappointment. The museum is currently partially being renovated hopefully bringing something more worthy of its name. Auberge de Provence, Republic St, Tel: 2122 1623.
  • Fort St. Elmo was built at the tip of the peninsula by the knights after the Dragut Raid of 1551. During the Great Siege of 1565, the Turks made the mistake of choosing to first try and take this fort, for which they had planned a week. Instead, the knights and soldiers present fought desperately for a month, buying essential time. The knights in the fort knew they were fighting to the death, and so rather than being taken off the ramparts when wounded, knights would fight on while seated in chairs until they couldn't even lift their arms anymore. Today the fort houses the Police Academy and is only partially open on the weekend.
  • Manoel Theatre is 'La Scala' in miniature, a very beautiful 17th-century theatre in original state. One of the oldest active theatres in Europe, it is the place for many classical music performances but also, for instance, the hilarious Christmas Panto. Old Theatre St, Tel: 356/22-26-18.
  • The imposing defense walls and ramparts at the entrance to Valletta built by the Knights in the late 16th century are interesting to explore.
  • The National Library is an evocative old library on Republic Square, next to the Grandmaster's Palace. Only part of it is open to the public: you will need to take a Passport or other Photo ID to get in. The entire archives of the Knights of St. John from the Crusades in the 11th century until 1798 when Napoleon took Malta, are kept here, in true Maltese style in rickety wooden filing cabinets. They were proud to mention that recently a sprinkler system had been installed to protect this priceless collection.
  • The Sacra Infermeria was the great hospital built by the knights in the 16th century, open to everyone, it had the highest level of healthcare available in Europe at the time. It was mostly destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt and now functions as a conference center. It is rarely open to the public.
  • The Casa Rocca Piccola - a Maltese Noble Family House on Triq ir-Republika, a few hundred yards past the Grand Master's Palace on the right-hand side. Very enjoyable.
  • The National Museum of Fine Art. The biggest collection of paintings by Mattia Preti. Also found here are paintings by Ribera, Erardi and many well known Caravaggisti.
  • St. James Cavalier is a fortress opposite the Auberge of Castille (today the Prime Minister's office) which was built as part of the elaborate defense systems of Valletta. Today it houses a 'Centre for Creativity', with its own theatre, cinema, music room, and exhibition halls. Its twin, St. John Cavalier is currently the embassy of the Knights of St. John who are, like the Vatican, recognized by several countries as a sovereign entity.

What to do in Valletta, Malta

You can take a spectacular walk along the sea around the outside of the city walls. Valletta is a peninsula, with the sea surrounding most of the city. To the north of Valletta lies Marsamxetto harbor whilst to the south is the Grand Harbour, arguably one of the nicest natural harbors in the world. The scenery is just breathtaking and you can feel yourself immersed in history as you enjoy the magnificent views of the harbor with its many forts and marinas. A really good spot to take in the views is the Upper Barrakka Gardens but the vista spot does get quite busy at times and there is little shade. An even better spot is St. Barbara Bastion, a quiet, residential street lined with hundred-year-old olive trees which offer some respite on those sunny Maltese days. The views will soothe your mind.
If you go to the mooring place where the ferry for Sliema leaves on the Marsamxetto side, there is the possibility to walk over the rocks towards the tip of the peninsula and then around it coming back up into the city just next to the Malta Experience. This walk takes about 30 minutes and is done by virtually no-one. You may also opt to take one of the free walking tours around the city of Valletta organized by tour companies such as Colour My Travel.
All day and night in St George's Square, there is a lovely water fountain, with colored spouts of water which pop up and down - a fantastic play opportunity for children. They WILL get wet, so don't let them go near if they are wearing their best clothing. Great fun for kids and a great way to cool down on a hot summer's day!

What to eat and drink in Valletta, Malta


Valletta has a collection of decent restaurants, due to most of the tourists residing either in Sliema or on the north coast of the island there are fewer of the trashy variety, although it does have the ubiquitous fast-food places (Burger King, McDonald's, Pizza Hut). The Valletta waterfront is absolutely amazing especially at night, it contains different types of restaurants, from Chinese to the Hard Rock Cafe, there is also a book shop and jewelry shop in the same waterfront.

If you keep your eyes open you may run into one of the charming traditional bakeries tucked away here and there where the tourist economy hasn't forced prices up yet and one can get lovely steaming fresh bread for mere cents.
La Mere Restaurant situated in Merchant Street, Valletta, few meters down from the old market and very close to The Place. La Mere Restaurant offers a fusion of Mediterranean, Maltese, Indian and Arabian cuisine in a cozy and homey atmosphere and at wallet-friendly prices. Open for both lunch and dinner.

  • De Robertis (Roof Top Restaurant), Castille Square c/w St. Paul's St, +356 21 220173. The view is incredible and the food is very tasty.
  • Trattoria da Pippo is where locals go for lunch, they have an excellent selection of seafood dishes. 136 Melita St, 21-24-80-29.
  • Caffe Cordina on Republic square has a venerable history behind it and has a reputation to match. You can eat out in Republic Square at the Cordina tables, and this is the place to be seen having lunch although the food isn't as good as one may expect. The coffee bar inside is the best place for a quick Espresso whilst admiring the ceiling. 244/5 Republic St, Tel: + 356 234385.
  • Malata Restaurant, if one is looking for a place in Valletta to have dinner on a terrace, then this is a nice place to go slightly later in the evening when the square in front of the Grand Master's palace is almost emptied of parked cars. There is Live Jazz on Tuesday nights. Palace Sq, tel +356 233 967.
Pintonino Restaurant Tucked a few meters away from the Valletta waterfront, a fine restaurant that offers great food at reasonable prices, with a selection of more than 150 wines.


  • Trabuxu, No. 1d, Strada Stretta, 21-22-30-36. A charming wine bar in an ancient cellar serving light meals. It's at the beginning of a small alley parallel to Republic street, look for the wooden sign with the corkscrew.
  • Rampila Restaurant and Wine Bar, St. John's Cavalier, Valletta (Rampila Restaurant is located opposite St. John's Cavalier on a Valletta back street corner. Turning first left after passing into to the city through City Gate and then left again you find an olive tree, an antique stone bench and the railings around the entrance to Rampila), +35621226625. A Fine Maltese/Mediterranean Fusion Restaurant and Wine Bar in Valletta were the food is as magical as the ambiance. Situated in the impressive bastions of Valletta; a UNESCO World Heritage Site one can enjoy a fine plate of fresh seafood, meat, game, pasta or risotto. Alternatively one can indulge in an exquisite platter and/or dips accompanied by wine from an extensive selection.

Shopping in Valletta, Malta

The main street of Valletta is Republic street, a busy pedestrian zone leading down the middle of the Peninsula from the main gate down to Republic square, this is where many of the better shops are located, although it cannot quite compete with Sliema for clothing.
The best souvenir shop (the least worthless trinkets etc.) can be found at the Malta experience, but there are many other reasonable souvenir shops in Valletta. At the beginning of the Republic street, there are several reasonable souvenir shops but prices are far cheaper if you walk 20m down South street (turn left if you have the bus station behind you) which crosses Republic street very soon after you have entered through the city gates.
The best bookshop of Malta is definitely the one formerly known as Sapienzas (know Agenda Bookshop as of 2008) on Republic street but can be a bit more expensive.
There is a daily market selling cheap clothing in the parallel street to Republic street called Triq il-Merkanti, or Merchants street.

Safety in Valletta, Malta

Apart from some restaurants and bars open in the evening Valletta still has next to nothing happening in terms of nightlife, so apart from Republic street the streets are quite empty late at night. Most of the usual petty crime that travelers are confronted with may happen in Sliema and St Julians, but it's something to keep in mind.

Language spoken in Valletta, Malta

Maltese and English are official languages. 


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