Malta is magnificent. It should come as no surprise that its impregnable walled capital city Valletta is the centrepiece of this splendour.
Listen to the ringing endorsements that famous people have lavished on Valletta for centuries, and you will begin to understand why this is the case.
Famed nineteenth-century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli called it the city built by gentlemen for gentlemen. Even the little Emperor Napoleon, the only person to ever capture Valletta (by trickery and not by force), proudly claimed that Valletta was the most formidable fortress city in all of Europe. Valletta is both of these things and so much more. Perhaps the most incredible and nearly perfectly preserved 16th century walled city on earth, you simply have to see this jewel on the Mediterranean to believe it.
The entire city of Valletta is most justifiably a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If it is attractions you are looking for, you have come to the right island nation and capital. The island of Malta is renowned for having the most historical, architectural, and art attractions per square mile/kilometre in the world.
Where would a person even begin in Valletta?
The Palace of the Grand Masters
The Palace of the Grand Masters was the nearly 300 year tenure office and headquarters of the Grand Master of the Crusader Knights of St. John.
Today, this present day castle office of the President of Malta houses the largest collection of Medieval weapons and armour on the planet, with about 5,000 pieces of swords, lances, axes, shields, helmets, suits of armour (one of them made out of gold), and cannonry.
National Library of Malta
Next to it sits the eighteenth century National Library of Malta, the impressive repository of the Knights’ thousand year old collection of priceless books and scrolls.
The Co-Cathedral of St. John’s
You have the Co-Cathedral of St. John’s, an austere looking Renaissance era church that houses priceless gold, renaissance era art treasures from the likes of Carravagio, and the tombs of all the Grand Masters of the Order of St. Johns during their 300 years ruling in Malta.
If that does not sate your desire for beautiful old churches, Valletta has another over twenty of them from which to choose!
Add to this the 1700’s era Manoel Theatre – second oldest presently used theatre in Europe, the almost 500 year old Hospital of the Knights, The Inns of the various nationalities of the Knights (Inn of Castile is the present day Parliament building), and you have a recipe for one unbelievable sightseeing extravaganza.
Did I mention that Valletta is only one of two UNESCO World Heritage Site Cities in Malta?
Things To Do In Valletta
Valletta offers more than simply amazing sightseeing. While it is not much of a nightlife spot, it does offer a variety of fine restaurants in and within twenty minutes taxi ride of the city walls.
Night life, shopping, and fine dining can all be found in Paceville, the resort town Malta built for its million plus tourists a year. This place is a mecca for entertainment as well, offering bowling, nightclubs, movie theatres, pubs, bars, and more.
Those who enjoy shopping can try their hand at the Mall at Tigne Point in Sliema. This six-storey round shopping emporium offers something for everyone at your usual high end mall prices.
The best time to visit Valletta and Malta is during the summer or at the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Summer time in Malta is Festa season, the famous Maltese celebrations of their patron saints complete with fireworks, bands, food, and huge crowds.
Valletta is beautifully lit up and decked out for Christmas and New Year’s, and there are concerts, fireworks, and other entertaining events all the time.
Getting to Valletta and Malta is easy, thanks to their national carrier Air Malta. The Malta Luja International Airport, or MLA, is the only passenger airport and it keeps busy year round bringing in around a million tourists per year.
Cruise ships are calling on the port of Valletta all the time, accounting for another several hundred thousand visitors.
You can also come by ferry boat directly from Catania, Sicily, or indirectly from Rome via Sicily.
Once you are actually in Malta, the easiest and cheapest way to get around is on their comprehensive bus network that services the entire island for around a Euro and a half for an entire day’s travel.
Taxis will take you any place you want to go, but they are much pricier at from 5 to 30 Euros per one way trip.
Valletta is a mostly pedestrianised city, so the best way to see this around one square mile gem of a city is on your own two legs.
Malta offers a stunning range of prices for hotels. Two, three, and four star hotels abound along the seafront promenade across the harbour from Valletta.