Valletta is the tiny capital of Malta and known for its narrow streets, interesting history, good restaurants, museums and stunning palaces and churches. It is a great contrast to modern town of Sliema and located just a 10-minute ferry ride away from Sliema harbour. I live and work in Sliema. This town is a comfortable place to live in, it has a good selection of restaurants, hotels, shops and anything one would need for everyday life. But for some authentic Maltese life, you might want to head somewhere else. And for me Valletta is the most convenient option. Here are some tips on what to do in this small capital with a big personality:
Get lost in the streets of Valletta
Valletta is probably the best town to get lost in because sooner or later you will end up where you started. There are just a few main streets, a lot of steep stairs and amazing architecture. Valletta calls itself as a city “built by gentlemen for the gentlemen”, and while walking on the narrow streets, you can understand why. Everywhere you can see fine artworks, sculptures, fountains, churches and palaces. History is present on every corner and it lives hand in hand with modern life, cafes, tourist shops, gelatto bars, restaurants and international fashion brands.
Relax at Upper Barrakka Gardens
This public garden is like a peaceful sanctuary in the middle of the busy streets, and a place to escape from the noise and the burning August sun. The gardens were originally used as a recreational area for knights, but they have been open to the public since 1800. The gardens offer a great view over the Grand Harbour, and it is no wonder that this place attracts both locals and tourists. This is the place to get one of the best panoramic photos in the whole island.
Visit St John’s co-Cathedral
I have to be honest and admit that I haven’t visited this top rated church yet, but I will definitely do it on my next visit. I have heard that St John’s co-Cathedral is a gem of Valletta, one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the whole of Europe and a place not to miss during your visit in Malta. I can’t wait to see this place.
Stop for a coffee or lunch at one of the old cafés
I visited cafe Cordina, established in 1837 and relocated to Valletta in 1944. On a Saturday afternoon, the cafe and terrace were full of people, but the service was friendly, quick and helpful. If possible, enjoy your coffee inside and admire the amazing decorations and details – you really feel that you have travelled back in time. And don’t forget to try some of their delicious cakes!
Experience The National Library of Malta
This is a library where you are not allowed to borrow any book, not even hold one. The Library, called Bibliotheca, was founded in 1776, and it has a wide collection of old books. If you are a bookworm like me, you will be astonished by the smell of old books and the library interior and architecture. No photos allowed.
Visit The Grandmaster’s Palace
The Grandmaster’s Palace has been the administrative centre of Malta for some 350 years, and just recently, the first floor ihas been opened for the general public. The palace has been the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights, and it has served as the Governor’s palace during the British colonial period. Even today, the Grandmaster’s palace is the office of the President, where he hosts state functions. The frescoes in the hall are absolutely superb, as well as the Gobelin tapestries. For the same entrance fee, you can also visit the armoury collections, where you can see displays of European and Ottoman armour.
Enjoy a Aperol Spritz in one of the local bars
Finish your day in Valletta with a popular Aperol Spritz drink in one of the local bars. I can personally recommend the Bridge Bar that hosts a live jazz evening on every Friday. The place is super cozy and they have pillows on the stairs, where you can sit with your drink while the candles and lanterns light up the whole place after the sunset.