Valletta is one of those cities that never was on our radar for some reason. Having now visited this amazing city we can attest to the fact that Valletta is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

Read more below about our travel adventure in the Maltese capital and our top picks for where you should go when visiting.


Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a vibrant blend of history, architecture, and culture. Founded in the 16th century, the city is a UNESCO World Heritage site, renowned for its well-preserved fortifications and stunning Baroque buildings.

It’s compact but packed with museums, gardens, and hidden gems that make exploring a delight. The cobbled streets, colourful doors, ancient fortresses, and panoramic views of the Grand Harbour are just some of the reasons why Valletta is an exceptional destination.

Whilst the Knights of Malta or as they are formerly known as the The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, commonly known as the Knights Hospitaller have long relocated their traces and legacy are still very much present.

At every turn and view you can see the Knights’ typical pointed cross guarding the ancient city as it once did in the past. You will also see many reminescent elements from the British colonial days with the characteristic post boxes and telephone booths similar to London ones still in place albeit more as tourist attractions than anything else.

Travel to and Around Valletta

Getting to Valletta is straightforward, with Malta International Airport just a short drive away. You can take a taxi, bus, or pre-arrange a shuttle to reach the city centre. Once in Valletta, we found that the best way to explore the city is on foot.

If you are looking for suitable flight options, make sure to check out this article with top tips on how to find cheap flights.

The city is small enough to walk around comfortably, and there’s a well-connected bus system for longer trips. Having said this there is a small bus which runs a circular service which follows this route here.

There’s also a ferry service across the Valletta’s Grand Harbour to the Three Cities or Gozo offering a unique perspective of Valletta from the water. Additionally, ferries are available from Sliema to Valletta stopping near St. Paul’s. You can find times and prices here on the official site.

What we also found is that the bus network is very well connected. Malta has an island-wide bus transportation network only. Tourists can buy a Talinja Card for tourists called Flex Card.

The Flex Card comes in different options depending on your stay and appetite for exploring the island, you can learn more about the different options here.

We chose the Gozo Standard add-on as it offered unlimited transport for 6 days including a return trip with the fast ferry from the Valletta Grand harbour to Mgarr harbour in Gozo and suited us well as we wanted to explore Gozo also.

As a word of advice, whilst visiting the whole island is perfectly do-able, we found that the southern routes have almost hourly services, so timing is key. Alternatively, if you prefer to explore Valletta and other parts of Malta, getting a Malta Hop-on Hop-off Bus might be a good option.

Where to Stay in Valletta

Valletta offers a range of accommodation options, from luxurious boutique hotels to charming guesthouses. We actually don’t necessarily recommend staying in the heart of the city, since Sliema/Gzira cities overlook Valletta and offer a better view towards the city than actually being in the city.

We also found accommodation in Valletta itself to be fairly pricey compared to neighboring towns and cities. You will find that distances are not that long and staying in a nearby city could mean less travel time than your daily commute to work.

If you prefer to stay in a hotel, we would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as or Agoda to get the best rates. Use the widget below to find the best accommodation in Valletta for your specific dates.

If you want to see where we stood in Sliema, read our review article here about 115 The Strand Hotel.

Another thing we would suggest is look for places that offer rooftop views as there is nothing better than enjoying your breakfast with a fabulous view of the marina and Valletta in the near distance. Some of these hotels (typically in Sliema or Gzira) might even have a rooftop pool with sun loungers.

We chose hotel 115 The Strand Hotel by NEU Collective which we booked via This is probably our favourite 3* hotel and we would totally recommend – great views towards Valletta, delicious breakfast, spacious rooms, excellent service and free access to Aqualuna pool.

Best Time to Visit Valletta

The best time to visit Valletta is in the spring or autumn when the weather is warm but not too hot, and the crowds are manageable. Summer can be quite busy and hot, which might not be ideal for everyone.

During these shoulder seasons, you can enjoy outdoor activities and explore the city without the intense summer heat.

We went during April 2024 and found that the temperature was good enough for a dip in the (heated) pool. During the day temperatures do go up to high 20s and so shorts and t-shirts are a must. So do go ahead and book with confidence.

Things to do in Valletta

Valletta is filled with historical sites and landmarks, we think if you are ambitious you could even see them all in one day. If you are short on time, you can join a walking tour to explore the main highlights of Valletta.

If you have a bit more time in Valletta, you can also join a scenic cruise of Valletta and the Three Cities.

Here’s our recommended list of must-visit spots in Valletta:

1. See the Triton Fountain

Located at the city gate, this iconic fountain is a popular meeting spot and a great place to start your journey through Valletta. Nearby is the Valletta bus stop where all buses stop. This is most likely where you will start your itinerary from.

2. Cross over the City Gate

Valletta’s modern entrance designed by Renzo Piano. It’s a stunning blend of contemporary architecture and historic surroundings.

3. Take a Photo of the Parliament of Malta

Nearby the gates on the right as you enter the city you will find the Parliament. This is also designed by Renzo Piano, the Parliament building is a striking example of modern architecture in Valletta.

The Parliament is meant to blend in with the old architecture and you will notice some of the stones being placed at a 45 degree angle. This is so it gives the impression of a timeless erosion to better blend in with the city.

4. Check out the National Museum of Archaeology

A must-visit for history buffs, this museum houses artefacts from Malta’s prehistoric temples and provides a glimpse into the island’s ancient past.

The Museum isn’t too extensive but does offer a good understanding of Malta’s history.

5. Enjoy the Views from Upper Barrakka

One of our favorite spots in Valletta, offering breathtaking views of the Grand Harbour and a serene place to relax. We went here a few times throughout our stay as the views and atmosphere are simply amazing and unique.

6. Take the Upper Barrakka Lift to the Valletta Water Front

The Upper Barrakka Lift is a modern elevator system located in Valletta, Malta, designed to connect the Upper Barrakka Gardens with the Valletta Waterfront.

This lift provides a convenient and accessible way to descend from the city’s historic upper level to the waterfront below, saving visitors a long walk or taxi ride through the steep streets of Valletta.

The lift is very similar to the Santa Justa lift in Lisbon which makes access very easy between 2 neigbourhoods.

7. Pay your Respects at the Saluting Battery

Located below Upper Barrakka Gardens, this historic battery still fires daily at noon and at 4pm, providing an authentic glimpse into Malta’s military history.

As a tip we would suggest you don’t pay the price to see the cannon fire from close, instead go at the Upper Barrakka gardens and just watch the ceremonial gun fire from above.

8. See the Auberge de Castille – Prime Minister’s Office

An impressive Baroque building that’s home to the Prime Minister’s office. It’s a great spot for taking photos and learning about Valletta’s political history.

Whilst you can’t enter the building it is one of the more impressive Auberge’s left by the Knight’s of Malta. The Auberges where typically split by the knights based on tongue/langues spoken within the order and formed the quarters for that Langue.

This particular one, was the Spanish Langue headquarter and showcases great architectural traits.

9. Immerse yourself in History at St. John’s Co-Cathedral

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is the crown jewel of Valletta and a testament to the city’s rich Baroque heritage. Built by the Knights of St. John in the late 16th century, this magnificent structure was designed to serve as the conventual church for the order.

The exterior may seem austere, with its simple limestone façade, but stepping inside reveals a stunningly intricate interior that takes your breath away.

The cathedral’s interior is lavishly decorated with gilded carvings, rich tapestries, and intricate marble floors. The ceiling, painted by Mattia Preti, depicts scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist, for whom the cathedral is dedicated.

Each of the eight chapels within the cathedral is dedicated to a different langue, or division, of the Knights, showcasing unique artistic styles and historical artefacts.

One of the highlights of St. John’s Co-Cathedral is the Oratory, where you can find Caravaggio’s masterpiece, “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.” This dramatic painting, with its vivid use of chiaroscuro and emotive detail, is one of the few works that Caravaggio signed.

To make the most of your visit, consider joining a guided tour or renting an audio guide. This will help you understand the history and significance of the cathedral’s many artworks and architectural features.

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is a must-see destination in Valletta, offering a glimpse into the opulence and religious devotion of the Knights of St. John.

10. Have a Stroll with a View at Lower Barrakka

The Lower Barrakka is smaller than the Upper Barrakka Gardens but equally charming, with stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere.

In the park you can have a sit on one of the many benches alongside the promenade. The view is equally stunning and makes it for a must see destination within Valletta.

11. Siege Bell War Memorial

A solemn memorial on the way to Fort St. Elmo that commemorates the fallen during the Siege of Malta in World War II. It’s an important site for history enthusiasts.

12. National War Museum – Fort St Elmo

Located in a historic fortress, this museum offers a comprehensive look at Malta’s military history, from the Knights of St. John to World War II.

The museum itself is a bit slim but offers a good understanding of the importance of Malta’s defenses against the Ottomans and later Nazi forces.

The highlight for us was the somewhat immersive projection of a video explaining from the Knight’s and the British perspective the importance of the defensive structures and weapons and how Valletta actually was founded more as a defensive measure to ensure the fort can’t be circled.

13. St. George’s Square

St. George’s Square is the central square of Valletta and a lively hub where history, culture, and modern life converge. Located in front of the Grandmaster’s Palace, this expansive open space is a key gathering point for both locals and visitors, hosting a variety of events and celebrations throughout the year.

The square has undergone several transformations over the centuries. Once a fortified courtyard during the time of the Knights of St. John, it has evolved into a bustling public space with a blend of historical significance and contemporary vibrancy.

Around the square, you’ll find cafes, restaurants, and shops, providing a perfect opportunity to sit back and soak in the ambiance. We took some time and enjoyed a refreshing ice cream whilst doing some people watching. We found it very relaxing and enjoyable.

Whether you’re grabbing a coffee or indulging in a leisurely meal, the bustling yet relaxed atmosphere of St. George’s Square is sure to enhance your experience of Valletta.

14. Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is one of Valletta’s most distinctive landmarks, instantly recognisable for its towering dome that dominates the city’s skyline.

Located on Old Theatre Street, not far from St. George’s Square, this magnificent basilica holds a special place in the hearts of the locals and is a significant site for visitors interested in religious architecture and history.

Inside, the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is a serene and contemplative space. The interior is spacious, with a simple yet elegant design. The central nave leads to the high altar, where a statue of the Virgin Mary, the basilica’s patron saint, is displayed.

Other Things to Do in Valletta

Here are some recommendations for other things to do in or around Valletta to maximise on your time in Malta:

Top Restaurants in Valletta

Valletta’s culinary scene is a vibrant reflection of Malta’s rich history and cultural diversity. As the island’s capital, Valletta offers an array of dining experiences that span from traditional Maltese cuisine to contemporary fusion dishes.

Maltese cuisine is deeply rooted in the island’s Mediterranean setting, with influences from Italy, North Africa, and other Mediterranean cultures.

The cuisine features hearty dishes with robust flavors, often using fresh local ingredients like tomatoes, olives, capers, and fresh seafood. Rabbit stew (fenek) and pastizzi (flaky pastries filled with cheese or peas) are iconic Maltese dishes that you can find in many local restaurants and cafes.

In Valletta, the culinary scene reflects this rich heritage while also embracing modern trends. The city has a mix of traditional bistros, upscale dining establishments, and casual eateries.

Consider joining a Maltese Food and Drink Guided Walking Tour around Valletta to explore more of the culinary delights in the capital.

You can enjoy a range of dining experiences, from sitting in a historic building with a centuries-old ambiance to enjoying a modern setting with innovative dishes.

Seafood plays a significant role in the Valletta culinary scene, with many restaurants offering fresh catches from the surrounding waters.

Look out for dishes like grilled octopus, seafood pasta, and fish soup, which are prepared with a Maltese twist. Meat lovers will find hearty options like braised lamb shank and roasted chicken, often served with local vegetables and aromatic herbs.

For dessert, you can indulge in traditional Maltese sweets like imqaret (date-filled pastries) or cannoli (pastry shells filled with ricotta cream). Many restaurants also offer a selection of international desserts for those who prefer a broader variety.

Bellow is a list of our top picks when visiting Valletta:

1. Feel the Pulse of Valletta at San Paolo Naufrago

San Paolo Naufrago is an alfresco restaurants which features Maltese inspired Italian dishes. Anything from home made pasta to crowd pleasers such as Burrata Pizzas.

We found the dining experience to be very relaxed, you are sat on stairs which lead to the main street. The décor of the location make the overall dining experience truly unique making you feel at one with the city.

The pizzas particularly are very good and have a crispy base unlike Neapolitan style pizzas and the food was very delicious and well presented.

We like it so much we went twice!

2. Try Al-fresco Fine Dining at Grain Street

Featuring on the Michelin Guide, Grain Street delivers fine dining with world class service. This restaurant is part of the Michelin starred Under Grain restaurant in Valletta.

We tried their taster menu an we were impressed of the quality of ingredients and also of the service. Whilst presentation could have been a bit better (for this price) we think overall it’s a great experience for anyone looking to try fine dining in Valletta.

The selection of wines is also good, but we were surprised that with such a strong domestic production of wines we struggled to find more than a few Maltese wines.

3. Try a Rabbit Stew at La Pira

If you are in the mood for a good and tasty Maltese meal then La Pira is the place to go to. We suggest you definitely go for the rabbit stew as it’s packed with flavor and a fairly generous portion leaving one full and happy.

4. Enjoy a Steak with a View at Chophouse

Chophouse is another great fine dining steak house offering a selection of meats but also a taster menu which they call Degustation Menu. Similar to the above mentioned Grain Street, this restaurant also features on the Michelin Guide.

We tried their taster menu and found the food to be good with the highlight being their Argentinian steak which was simply cooked to perfection.

Whilst there were some hiccups with the service and a fairly inconsistent approach to the explanations for each course, there wasn’t anything serious. At this price point we’ve got to be thorough 😉

Overall, the food was amazing but the view was simply stunning overlooking the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, if anything the view is one of the main reasons to come here.

5. Enjoy a Hearty Stew at Gozitan Restaurant

If you find yourself wishing to try a good Gozitan stew then the Gozitan Restaurant is the place for you! Whilst not particularly close to Valletta, this restaurant is not far from St. Julian which is 30 min away by bus from Sliema.

The journey is well worth their amazing stew and home made bread! As you arrive and you get seated you get a good chunk of their home made Maltese bread with butter and tomato paste.

To top it up you also get a free sausage stew to start off. Whilst these are complimentary and we found the waiter to be very accommodating when we asked for another bread portion, they are priced up in the mains, so don’t feel that you are getting a deal here.

We tried their swordfish which was a new fish for us, similar in taste to tuna, we also had their signature beef stew with baked potatoes. The addition of kalamata-style olives to the stew was a revelation to us and made the food even more interesting. The rich stew sauce is perfect for that freshly baked bread you get.

We also saw a few locals which is also a good sign! Definitely worth the trip!

6. Enjoy a Cannoli at Bella Sicilia

Bella Sicilia is a great pastry shop in Gzira, close to Sliema. It offers an impressive array of cakes and desserts including cannolis.

We tried their chocolate tarte and their pistachio cannoli which was divine. Definitely a place to visit on your way to the pool!

Final Thoughts

Valletta is a city that captures the heart with its rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re wandering through its narrow streets, exploring its historic sites, or enjoying its culinary delights, there’s something for everyone.

We hope you enjoy your visit and discover all the hidden gems this city has to offer.

Ready to book? Below are some recommendations to get your trip started:

  • Accommodation – would recommend booking your accommodation through an aggregator such as or Agoda to get the best rates. We also use TripAdvisor to read reviews.

  • Transport – consider for car renting or if you rely on public transport, you can use Omio for trains, coaches, ferries, airport transfers and even flights.

  • Activities – a great option is GetYourGuide, Klook or Viator for tours, excursions, experiences and tickets to many tourist attractions.

  • Travel money – we have Starling Bank accounts (UK residents only) with 0% fees on FX and a good Mastercard exchange rate. Revolut is another good option.

  • Internet abroad – with Airalo or Nomad you can access a wide range of eSIMs (digital SIM cards) available for different countries and regions.

  • Luggage storage – if you need to store your bags whilst exploring the destination, you can use Radical Storage to find your closest luggage storage and enjoy your journey until the very end.

As an Amazon Associate and member of various other affiliate programmes, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog by adding your email address below. You’ll be the first to hear about new destinations and articles we publish!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Are you interested in travelling? Check out our Facebook page and other social media for regular tips and recommendations on how to travel and where to go!

The Great Pyramid of Giza and camel ride

Join us for top travel guides, exclusive tips and more!

We keep your data private and share your data only with third parties that make this service possible. Read our full Privacy Policy.

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top