Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you may dine on the best natural harbours in the Mediterranean and see classic opera in one of Europe’s oldest theaters.
Whether you are an adventurer or a sightseer, an art-history enthusiast or a beachgoer, a backpacker or planning a weeklong high-end holiday, Valletta is a destination suited for every type of tourist, offering experiences as dynamic as its culture for every occasion and interest.
From the bustling streets of St John Street to a boat tour on the traditional dgajsa (a Maltese gondola, to 16th-century palace, hotels inviting you for a stay unlike any other, there are endless things to do and much more places to be. Here are some of the top things to see and do in Valletta on your next visit.
Investigate the Is-Suq Tal-Belt Victorian Market.
The Is-Suq Tal-Belt is a 19th-century Victorian-era masterpiece that spans the magnificent Saint John’s Co-Cathedral and is a great place to start learning about Valletta’s culture. Take a stroll through the food market, looking for indigenous artifacts manufactured by local craftsmen, and people watching. The Maltese name translates to ‘City Market,’ and that is exactly what this venue provides, along with al fresco restaurants, exhibitions, live music, and more.
Visit the St. John’s Co-Cathedral.
The Roman Catholic co-cathedral is one of Valletta’s most notable structures, paying homage to Saint John the Baptist. The Baroque description reflects the rise of this dramatic version of Renaissance architecture in the 16th century, as built by the Knights of St John. Take a walking tour through time or witness a street entertainment in the courtyard, which also serves as a setting for a colorful experience. Don’t miss out on seeing Caravaggio’s only signed masterpiece.
Brunch at the Harbour Club in a historic setting
This former ice house erected in the 18C not only offers a fine-dining experience and magnificent views of the Grand Harbour, but the cuisines prepared with local island goods take center stage at this sustainable-first restaurant. The French influence is apparent in their Mediterranean cookery, which goes wonderfully with their bespoke wine menu for brunch on their sunlit terrace.
A Maltese gondola ride transports you back in time.
A Dgajsa trip around the Grand Harbour after brunch may be the greatest way to relax and unwind for the afternoon, as it is synonymous with the Venetian gondola experience. The colourful rowboats transport you from coast to coast, dropping you off at The Three Cities—Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua—three fortified cities where timelessness has preserved history. Unlike in Venice, the Dgajsa rides are more cultural, affordable, and often the least congested place to be.
Trabuxu is a great place to wine and dine.
Trabuxu restaurant is a hidden gem and a dilemma, with muted wallpaper with a tinge of Parisian design and artworks that entice you in, eventually forcing you remain and eat just so you may linger a bit longer. It’s a secret that locals wish to keep to themselves while still sharing with the rest of the world. Sip a beautiful glass of red while perusing the Mediterranean menu, but stop at the rigatoni with wild boar cheek and order the lamb even if it is not on the menu.
A stroll around Republic Street will allow you to experience the essence of Valletta.
Every city has that one street, that one path that represents the spirit, knows the history, and captures the essence of the place. It is Valletta’s 1 kilometer long Republic Street, which runs from the City Gate to Fort St. Elmo. This bustling cobblestone is not only the city’s primary artery, but it is also home to innumerable businesses, restaurants, and cafes, providing a glimpse of Malta’s melting pot of cultures.
Relax at Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens.
The Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens near Siege Bell are the glory of eastern Valletta, where the bustle of the city seemingly ceases, bringing in the tranquillity of unobstructed panoramic vistas and extensive gardens filled with notable monuments.
The cannon fire event is held on the Upper Barrakka, near Castille Place, and the Upper Barrakka Lift connects the city center to the Grand Harbour. The Lower Barrakka Gardens are located right above the St. Christopher’s Bastion and offer a strangely calming experience of watching ships depart from the Harbour while snacking on traditional pastries from roadside shacks.
Visit the Toy Museum.
The Malta Toy Museum, located on Republic Street in Valletta, is a nostalgic museum that transports visitors back to the 1950s, when the toy revolution began. The collection of Vincent Brown contains everything from matchbox cars to toys. This museum’s founder founded it in 1998 after visiting a comparable museum in England and feeling motivated to develop his own collection.
Spend the afternoon in Valletta’s Waterfront.
The Valletta Waterfront is another stunning promenade that highlights Baroque architecture and its significance in the city, with 250-year-old warehouses and a trinity of landmarks: the Pinto Wharf, Forni Shopping Complex, and Church of the Flight into Egypt. The lush balconies and vivid venues are always buzzing with happy shoppers on their way to the mall. When it’s time to unwind after a long day, there are award-winning restaurants where you can savor a course of multicultural cuisine paired with exotic tipples.