You haven’t seen Malta if you haven’t seen Valletta. The Maltese capital is a veritable open-air museum, with over 300 historic buildings, churches and monuments, concentrated in just 33 hectares. Despite its small size, the city is one of Malta’s pulsating hearts: government offices, bars, restaurants and over 6,000 inhabitants reside within its walls. They look like small numbers, but should be compared with the available space: to give an idea, the density per inhabitant of Valletta is higher than that of the centres of Naples or Milan!
What to see in Valletta?
The Maltese capital offers numerous monuments of the highest order, it is no coincidence that the entire town is part of the UNESCO heritage.
Our first suggestion is to get out of the more touristy routes and lose yourself in the side streets, those that go down to the sea. A few steps away from the crowds of the central streets there are very quiet streets where time seems to have stopped many years ago. The second piece of advice we give you is to book a guided tour with us: Valletta is full of things to see, but its characteristic is its stories, without which the city is an empty shell. For more information write to our email address.
This is a short list, following each of the links you can find other articles with the history of the various monuments, what to see inside them, how to get there, schedules and costs, all of course accompanied by our photos.
Those arriving with cruise ships have only a handful of hours available: in this case, we advise you to visit at least the Concattedrale, bearing in mind that if you take the elevator up from the port to Valletta you will already come out in the Barrakka Gardens.
- The Barrakka Gardens and the Saluting Battery: a series of gardens built on the eastern ramparts of Valletta, with a unique view of the Grande Bay and the Three Cities. At 12:00 and 16:00 o’clock, a cannon shot is fired every day to mark the time. How to get there and what to see in the Barrakka gardens.
- The Co-Cathedral of St. John the Baptist: undoubtedly the most important church in Malta from the artistic point of view. Many go there to see the two paintings by Caravaggio, but the church is a jewel of Baroque art that will leave you speechless. History and information on the Co-Cathedral.
- Forte Sant’Elmo and the National War Museum: the fort alone would be worth a visit, but inside it also houses the National War Museum, which offers a glimpse into the modern and contemporary history of Malta. Information on Forte Sant’Elmo.
For those who have more time
Although a fairly detailed tour of Valletta can also be done in half a day, we recommend returning a second time around sunset and stopping until the evening, to appreciate the new colours taken by the Maltese stones. You will not regret it!
- The Palace of the Grand Master and the Armory: present headquarters of the President of the Maltese Republic, hosted in his time the Great Masters of the Knights of Malta and the British colonial governors. The visit also includes the Armory of the Palace, with a rich collection of Renaissance weapons. Information on the Palace of the Grand Master, and on the Armory of the Palace.
- Casa Rocca Piccola: among the peculiarities of Malta are the ancient noble palaces, perfectly restored and open to the public. Valletta hosts one of the best-preserved buildings, Casa Rocca Piccola, with a guided tour that explains in its own way many of the Maltese vicissitudes of recent years. History and visit to Casa Rocca Piccola.
- The National Archaeological Museum: the uniqueness of Malta is also due to its Paleolithic monuments, the testimony of an ancient civilization of which we know a lot. Some of the (few) artefacts produced by this civilization are housed in the Archaeological Museum, such as the Venus of Malta and the Sleeping Goddess, with over 5,000 years of age. What to see and how to get to the Archaeological Museum of Valletta.
- Manoel Theater: the second oldest theatre in Europe still in operation. Original furnishings, excellent acoustics, the Manoel Theater is worth a visit for all lovers of the genre. How to get to the Manoel Theater.
- Lascaris War Rooms: an unmissable place for all fans of the history of the Second World War! In these rooms, the furnishings and technical instruments used by the British strategic command during the last conflict are preserved, with which Malta managed to resist the siege of the Nazi-fascist forces, and from which some of the most significant operations of the great conflict were coordinated. History of the Lascaris War Rooms.
How to get to Valletta
Valletta occupies a peninsula, situated between two bays: the Bay of Marsamuscetto towards Sliema, and the Grand Harbor towards the Three Cities. In addition to the normal bus connections, you can reach Valletta with regular ferry services.
Valletta can be reached from any other city or village in Malta with a direct bus: in practice, all the double-digit bus lines – from 1 to 94 – have the terminus at the Valletta bus station, located in front of the door access to the city, immediately outside the walls. In principle, those who want to go to Valletta and those who want to move from the north to the south of the island (and vice versa) must always pass through the Valletta bus station.
The Valletta bus station is divided into three sectors, but there are signs that clearly explain where to go, and the various electronic signs always indicate the number of the departing bus, so you can’t go wrong.
Which bus to take? Clicking on the number of lines you will go to the page with timetables and route, on the name of the place instead to our article, with more details on the matter.
Arriving by car in Valletta
In practice, all the internal streets of Valletta, with the exception of the waterfront, are part of a single paid area. Technically it is not a ZTL, but for practical purposes, it is the same thing. We talked about it in detail in the article on advice for those who rent a car in Malta, so we refer you there. During the day it is not advisable to go to Valletta by car: parking is extremely complicated, we go there by bus or ferry, we advise you to do the same. The alternative is paid to park in front of the bus station, but there is no place. In the evening there are more hopes of finding a place, usually, we park in Floriana and continue on foot (about 200 meters from the access door), in low season or on a midweek evening we can also find a place on the seafront.
All cruise ships land on a dedicated pier, actually located in Floriana.
- To reach the Valletta centre, the easiest thing is to continue for 400 meters on foot up to the elevator: the ticket to climb costs a euro, instead of to go down the cost is free.
- Alternatively, there are several minibuses that take you directly to the front door: the price is contracted, but it should not cost more than a couple of euros. If you still want to get into the city without taking the lift or other means, the climb is less steep than Floriana than from the Victoria Gate on the Valletta waterfront.