Updated: Jan 4
As a tourist guide, probably the question I get asked most after our daily walking tour in Valletta is: “what else do you recommend we see in this city?”
Most of the time, tourists would only have a few days in Malta, and with visits to other parts of the island already planned for the following days, would only have the rest of that afternoon in our capital. This is what makes answering this question difficult because, in my opinion, one could easily spend a few days just in Valletta itself. But I’ve decided to come up with a list of my 10 favourite places which definitely should not be missed.
Hastings Garden is the largest of the public gardens in Valletta, located only a stone’s throw away from the main entrance to the city. Located on top of the St. John and St. Michael bastions, which originally formed part of Valletta’s imposing land front defences, it not surprisingly offers fantastic views of the Tritons Fountain area on one side, and Marsamxett Harbour on the other. Remarkably, despite its charm, this garden is usually very peaceful, unlike the crowded Upper Barrakka.
An interesting feature is the large marble sarcophagus located in the central part of the garden, that is the last resting place of the 1st Marquess of Hastings, who died at sea in 1826, two years after becoming Governor of Malta. According to his wishes, his wife had his body returned to Valletta for burial, after cutting off and preserving his right hand, which was then eventually interred, clasped with hers, when she herself died years later!
Our Lady of Victory Church
Known to have been Valletta’s first church, this is believed to be the site where Grand Master Jean de Valette himself laid down the city’s foundation stone on the 28th March 1566.
De Valette was in fact buried in the crypt of this same church when he died two years later, as was his successor, Pietro del Monte, although both were eventually reinterred in the conventual church of the Order when that building was completed
Although the church suffered some damage during World War Two, it has been lovingly restored by Din l-Art Ħelwa, and a particular highlight is the set of beautiful frescoes that cover the whole ceiling. A work by the Maltese artist Alessio Erardi, they depict episodes from the life of the Virgin Mary, to whom the church is dedicated.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka is an absolute must-see when visiting Valletta. Although it can be a bit crowded, and it is usually very difficult to find an unoccupied bench here, the views from what is the highest part of the city, are absolutely spectacular. Some people like to sit down for a drink at the cafe on one side of the garden, but most just head straight to the viewing balcony, from where the entire Grand Harbour, with its sheltered creeks and historic fortifications, can be admired and photographed.