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Exploring Malta: The 10 best things to do in Valletta

Updated: Feb 19

This blog aims to invite you to an unforgettable exploration of Valletta, whether on your own or by joining one of our Valletta walking tours. Your first visit to Valletta promises to be an unforgettable journey.

Valletta is Malta's capital, and although small, it is full of history, culture and breathtaking views. What I mean by small is its dimension is 0.55 square kilometres, and within such area, there are 320 monuments. Sometimes, Valletta is called an "open-air museum", and in fact, it was chosen as the Capital City of Culture in 2018. Valletta is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 10 best things to do and must see landmarks and attractions in Valletta are:

10. Valletta City Gate and Parliament Building

Valletta city gate is the main entrance to Valletta. Upon crossing the bridge and entering Valletta, on the right-hand side, one can see the Parliament Building of Malta. This building is relatively new as it was constructed between 2011 and 2015 and designed by the renowned architect Renzo Piano. The construction of the Parliament House generated lots of controversy among the Maltese, mainly due to the modern design of the building and the cost of construction. Other constructive criticism included that this building looks like a cheese grater. Believe it or not, before this construction took place, this area was one ample parking space.

Did you know that Valletta city gate, next to the parliament building, is the starting point for all Valletta city walking tours by Colour my Travel? Check out the Free Valletta Walking Tour and the Original Complete Valletta walking tour to visit all the best things to do in Valletta with a local guide.

New Parliament Building in Valletta
New Parliament Building in Valletta

9. Triton Fountain

Beautiful fountain just upon entrance of Valletta city gate. However, another controversial topic is whether this is in Valletta or Floriana. This is a never-ending debate :D

This fountain consists of three bronze tritons holding up a vast basin balanced on a concentric base. This is a must-see landmark to take a photograph of. Don't forget to tag our Instagram account @colourmytravel

Triton Fountain in Valletta
Triton Fountain

8. Taste the best mouth-watering food from Valletta food stalls

There are several good restaurants in Valletta some of which are awarded a Michelin star, however we recommend that you also try authentic local food. Try the pastizzi and mqaret, from the vending stalls next to the bus station close to the Triton fountain (Thank me later :D ). Also, try a ftira biż-żejt (sandwich with oil and tuna) from pretty much everywhere but our favourite one is from Museum Cafe, simply authentic and divine. This place is to authentic to have a facebook page, however look out for it in Melita Street behind the MUZA museum.

Check out the beautiful, sweet displays at Camilleri tal-Helu and Cafe Cordina. Both are also authentic Maltese shops. (None of these links are sponsored or affiliated).

If you are interested in learning about the culture and cuisine of this unique Mediterranean island, join a food-filled 3-hour walking tour packed with curious and exciting information about Maltese gastronomy. The food sampling provided during the Valletta food tour is enough to replace lunch. The Valletta food tour is also perfect for visiting the must-see landmarks in Valletta while tasting mouth-watering food.

7. Go to the Upper Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens are public gardens that offer panoramic views of the grand harbour. If you are coming to Valletta with a cruise ship, upon exiting the cruise port, turn right and take the lift (elevator) directly inside the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Within minutes you will be in the centre of Valletta. This is our favourite spot during our Valletta walking Tours, as the views are breathtaking and refreshing.

Upper Barrakka Gardens
Upper Barrakka Gardens

Upper Barrakka Gardens Valletta
Upper Barrakka Gardens

6. Visit Castille square

Castille Square is located just outside the entrance/ exit of the Upper Barrakka Gardens. In this large square, one can find Auberge the Castille, now used as the prime minister's office. Other important buildings within this square are the headquarters of the Central Bank of Malta, the Malta Stock Exchange, and Saint James Cavalier. There are also several monuments and sculptures within Castille Square and various statues dedicated to Maltese personalities.

Castille Square in Valletta
Castille Square

5. St. John's Co-Cathedral

In the heart of Valletta, there is the magnificent co-cathedral dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. It was built by the Order of St. John between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière.

Its interior is adorned with intricate carvings, gilded decorations, and masterful paintings, including Caravaggio's masterpiece "The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist". This architectural gem not only serves as a place of worship but also as a treasure trove of art and history, making it a must-visit landmark in Malta's capital. As of the writing of this ticket, entrance tickets are sold at 15EUR per person. For the latest information, please check their website here.

Learn more about this masterpiece during our Valletta walking tours.

Facade of Saint John co-cathedral Valletta
Facade of Saint John's co-cathedral
Inside Saint John co-cathedral Valletta
Inside Saint John's co-cathedral

4. Visit the most photographed and Instagramable streets in Valletta

The Valletta city plan was based on a grid system – a bit like modern-day Manhattan – with parallel streets criss-crossed at right angles. This makes the streets all straight and beautiful. All streets are beautiful, but check out Old Bakery Street and St. Ursula Street.

Going back to a few decades ago, say the early 2000, Valletta was only visited by office workers and shoppers. After all offices were closed and shops were closed, Valletta was pitch dark. Indeed, this makes it spooky, with a lot of mystery and spooky stories to tell. Valletta is an old city full of ghost stories. If this topic interests you, check out the Valletta Ghost Tour.

St. Ursula Street Valletta
St. Ursula Street Valletta

3. St. George's Square

This is the heart of Valletta, in front of the magnificent Grandmaster's palace. Until 2015, the parliament was located here before it moved to Valletta city gate. This square has a large fountain in the middle and is also surrounded by beautiful restaurants. It is nice to spend some time here relaxing on the benches while soaking in some vitamin C. This square is the starting point of our Valletta Ghost Tour. It is also the ending point of the Valletta Free Walking Tour.

Saint George's square - Grandmaster's palace Valletta
Saint George's square Valletta

2. Siege Bell Memorial and Lower Barrakka Gardens

Once you are done from the northern part of Valletta, walk to the Southern part, which is more residential, less busy and more authentic. Here, you get to enjoy stunning views from the Lower Barrakka Gardens. Also, from the Lower Barrakka Gardens, you can get to view the Siege Bell Memorial. The Siege Bell Memorial is a simple monument symbolising the plight of the many people who fought and died for Malta during the Second World War. If you want in learning more about World War 2, check out our private Valletta World War 2 tours.

The Lower Barrakka Gardens is also the ending point of our Complete Valletta walking Tour.

Lower Barrakka Gardens in Valletta
Lower Barrakka Gardens

Bell Memorial WW2 from gardens in Valletta
Bell Memorial from Lower Barrakka Gardens

1. Visit Relieving Sacra Infermeria - Augmented Reality Museum

This museum explores the medical aspects of this military order, which started off in the Holy Lands during the 12th-century Crusades. Visitors are journeyed through the Knights (16th-18th centuries) and British periods (19th-20th centuries).

The whole museum is experienced through a cutting-edge mobile application. Visitors can use their smartphone or borrow a museum tablet. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to download the app before their arrival.

To make this experience more enjoyable, it is also available in multiple international languages, including Maltese, English, Italian, German, French and Spanish.

What makes this museum interesting is that you can relive historically accurate events that took place at the Knights Old Hospital through Augmented Reality scenes. You can find more information about the Reliving Sacra Infermeria Museum here.

AR Museum at Reliving Sacra Infermeria
Augment Reality Museum

AR at Reliving Sacra Infermeria MCC

BONUS TIP: Join a Valletta Free Walking Tour

If you are looking to immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture while keeping your travel expenses in check, consider joining our Valletta Free Walking Tour. Colour my Travel was the first to introduce the concept of free walking tours in Malta. These tours are led by knowledgeable, licensed local guides who are passionate about sharing the stories and secrets of the city.

The Valletta free tour covers most of the attractions mentioned above. While the tours are free, it is customary to tip your guide at the end to show your appreciation for their expertise and enthusiasm.  These tours are budget-friendly and provide a more intimate and local perspective of Valletta, making your visit even more enriching.

We hope that you found this blog post useful. Feel free to follow our Facebook and Instagram page @colourmytravel for the latest updates on the beautiful city of Valletta!


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