things to do in valetta

Last Updated on: 24th May 2024, 09:09 am

Imagine stepping into a city where every stone and every corner narrates a story of bygone eras. Valletta, Malta’s sun-drenched capital, captures this essence perfectly, offering a rich blend of activities and cultural experiences that are second to none. The city’s vibrant history, interwoven with the legacies of the Knights of St John and pivotal events from both World Wars, welcomes you with open arms. Whether you’re a history buff or a casual explorer, Valletta promises a captivating journey through its historic sites and attractions.

The city’s allure lies not only in its historical significance but also in its unmatched beauty. Wander through Baroque streets that echo with tales of yesteryears or gaze at the azure vistas from the Upper Barrakka Gardens—every moment in Valletta is an invitation to explore and admire. As you delve into these cultural experiences, you’ll soon realise why this UNESCO World Heritage city, with its picturesque landmarks and meticulously preserved museums, is a must-visit destination for all.

Things to Do in Valletta

1. Explore St. John’s Co-Cathedral

St. John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta stands as a Baroque architectural gem in the heart of Malta’s capital. This magnificent structure, built by the Order of St John, flaunts lavish gilded interiors and houses an array of treasured artworks. It offers visitors a glimpse into a rich historical tapestry interwoven with opulence and artistic grandeur.

St. John's Co-Cathedral Valletta

Rich Baroque Interiors

The cathedral’s rich Baroque architecture is a visual feast for any visitor. The interior brims with intricate details, from gilded walls to grandiose marble floors. Every corner reveals a wealth of artistry and meticulous craftsmanship that reflect the grandeur of the period. The ornate chapels and majestic tombs that adorn the cathedral are enriched with gold accents, further elevating the site’s lavish aesthetic.

Artworks by Caravaggio

A significant attraction at St. John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta is undoubtedly the collection of Caravaggio paintings, including his compelling masterpiece, ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’. This artwork, renowned for its dramatic intensity and masterful use of chiaroscuro, is prominently displayed within the Oratory. Caravaggio’s influence is palpable across the cathedral, adding to its historical and artistic significance.

Historic Tapestries and Chapels

St. John’s Co-Cathedral Valletta also showcases historic tapestries and chapels that imbue the space with a sense of grandeur and reverence. The chapels, dedicated to various nationalities of the Knights of St John, each tell their own unique tale through elaborate decorations and religious artefacts. Attending a full Latin Mass here immerses visitors in a resplendent atmosphere, surrounded by history and artistry.

2. Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens, located in the heart of Valletta, offer a tranquil retreat away from the bustling city streets. This beautifully maintained garden is famed for its breathtaking vistas, which provide visitors with panoramic views Valletta is renowned for.

Upper Barrakka Gardens

Stunning Views of the Grand Harbour

One of the most compelling features of the Upper Barrakka Gardens is its unparalleled views over the Grand Harbour. As you stand at the edge of the gardens, you can enjoy a sweeping vista that stretches out over the historic harbour, dotted with ships and surrounded by centuries-old fortifications. It’s an idyllic spot for Grand Harbour sightseeing and capturing unforgettable photos.

Popular Picnic Spot

The lush greenery and serene atmosphere of the Upper Barrakka Gardens make it a popular choice for picnics. Families and friends can gather under the shade of mature trees, next to classical fountains and neoclassical statues, to enjoy a leisurely meal while taking in the beauty of the surroundings. With its blend of natural beauty and historical significance, the gardens present a delightful escape for both locals and tourists alike.

3. Wander Through the Historic Streets of Valletta

Exploring Valletta offers an unparalleled journey through time, blending the allure of Baroque architecture with the charm of vibrant street life. As you venture through Valletta side streets, you are surrounded by historical buildings Valletta is famed for, each narrating tales of the past. This seamless synthesis of tradition and contemporary life creates a unique and enthralling atmosphere.

exploring Valletta

Open-Air Museum Experience

Strolling through Valletta feels akin to navigating a vast open-air museum. The city’s architectural treasures, from grand palazzi to intricately designed churches, stand as tangible reminders of its illustrious history. The streets are a testament to the city’s past glories, making every step an exploration of historical buildings Valletta is celebrated for.

Quaint Cafés and Shops

Alongside its historical marvels, Valletta’s side streets are dotted with quaint cafés and artisan shops. Here, you can pause to enjoy a cup of Maltese coffee or peruse local crafts. These establishments, found in the most charming nooks, make exploring Valletta not just a historical journey but a sensory delight.

4. Take a Boat Tour of the Grand Harbour

Embarking on a Grand Harbour boat tour is an unmissable adventure when visiting Valletta. These tours provide an exceptional way to explore the city’s fortifications and appreciate its extensive maritime history.

Grand Harbour boat tours

One of the most enchanting aspects of these tours is the opportunity to sail in traditional Maltese boats known as dghajsa. Resembling Venetian gondolas, these boats add a touch of romance and tradition to the experience.

For those passionate about history, these tours offer an intriguing insight into maritime history Valletta, revealing stories of the fortresses and iconic landmarks that have stood the test of time.

Highlights Details
Traditional Maltese boats Experience a trip on dghajsa, similar to Venetian gondolas.
Historical Insights Learn about the maritime history of Valletta and its fortifications.
Fortress Views Sail past Malta’s impressive fortresses and landmarks.

5. Tour the Grandmaster’s Palace

Among the renowned historical palaces Malta has to offer, the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta stands out as a symbol of grandeur and heritage. This magnificent palace has played a pivotal role in Malta’s history and continues to captivate visitors with its opulent interiors and significant historical artefacts.

Grandmaster's Palace Valletta

State Rooms and Armoury

The state rooms of the Grandmaster’s Palace Valletta are a true marvel, showcasing lavish furnishings and intricate decorations that mirror the elegance of the past. These rooms were once used by the grandmasters themselves and today offer a glimpse into the life of the Order of St John. Additionally, the palace houses an impressive armoury collection, where one can find an extensive array of weaponry and armour that dates back to the times when the Knights defended the island.

Ceremonial Halls

Another highlight of the Grandmaster’s Palace is its splendid ceremonial halls. These grand halls have witnessed numerous crucial events and ceremonies, reflecting Maltese heritage in every corner. From state banquets to important diplomatic gatherings, the ceremonial halls encapsulate the essence of Malta’s historical and cultural narrative, making them a must-visit for anyone interested in the island’s rich past.

6. Visit the National Museum of Archaeology

The National Museum of Archaeology Valletta offers a window into the rich cultural heritage Malta boasts. Presenting artefacts that span over 7,000 years of civilisation, the museum stands as a testament to Malta’s illustrious past. Located in an Auberge de Provence, this treasure trove of history beckons both locals and tourists alike to delve into the island’s prehistoric and ancient practices.

“For the traveller who wishes to understand the deep-rooted cultural heritage Malta proudly displays, the National Museum of Archaeology Valletta is an unmissable destination.”

The museum showcases extensive collections including the notable ‘Sleeping Lady’ and the ‘Venus of Malta,’ which provide fascinating insights into the island’s Neolithic period. The gallery layout, with its thoughtfully curated exhibits, guides visitors chronologically through Malta’s history, enhancing their understanding of the cultural heritage Malta is renowned for.

National Museum of Archaeology Valletta

Moreover, educational programmes and interactive displays cater to visitors of all ages, making the museum both an informative and engaging stop on any Valletta itinerary. From ancient tools and pottery to delicate jewellery and sculptures, the National Museum of Archaeology Valletta ensures that each artefact tells a story that contributes to the diverse cultural heritage Malta uniquely holds.

Exhibit Description
Sleeping Lady A Neolithic statuette believed to represent fertility or a deity.
Venus of Malta An exquisite prehistoric statue depicting the female form.
Tarxien Temples Artefacts Items discovered from one of Malta’s most important archaeological sites, showcasing temple builders’ skills and artistry.

7. Explore the Fortifications Interpretation Centre

The Fortifications Interpretation Centre offers a captivating journey through the history of Valletta’s fortifications. This centre is dedicated to illuminating the significance of Malta’s military history and the strategic defensive structures that protect Valletta.

Fortifications Interpretation Centre

Interactive Exhibits

At the Fortifications Interpretation Centre, visitors can engage with interactive exhibits that bring Valletta’s fortifications to life. These exhibits are designed to provide a hands-on experience, making it easy to understand the complexity and ingenuity behind Malta’s military architecture.

Learn About Valletta’s History

The centre also provides a thorough exploration of Malta’s military history. Through detailed displays and informative panels, guests can delve into the past and appreciate the strategic importance of Valletta fortifications over the centuries.

8. Walk Along the Valletta Waterfront

The Valletta Waterfront promenade presents an idyllic outing for those seeking scenic walks in Malta. Lined with vibrantly coloured centuries-old warehouses, this harbourside area has been masterfully transformed into a bustling locale brimming with stylish restaurants and boutique shops. Whether you’re looking to take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a delightful meal, the Valletta harbourside offers the perfect blend of history and modern amenities.

“A walk along the Valletta Waterfront is a journey through time, where the past meets the present in a picturesque setting.”

An enticing atmosphere permeates the promenade, partly due to its stunning seafront location. Here, visitors can relax and soak in the views while marvelling at the historical backdrop that has stood the test of time. It is an experience that effortlessly mingles relaxation with a touch of nostalgia.

For those keen on exploring, the waterfront area provides ample opportunities to discover the unique charm of the Valletta Waterfront promenade. The rejuvenated warehouses, now home to a variety of eateries and shops, create an inviting atmosphere perfect for both day and night time enjoyment. A walk along the promenade is distinctly one of the most scenic walks Malta has to offer.

Fun Things to Do in Valletta

Exploring Valletta reveals a plethora of fascinating experiences for every visitor. For those searching for unusual things to do in Valletta, starting a cultural walking tour is essential. Savour the incredible street food from local vendors while absorbing the rich historical narratives of the city. The Saluting Battery provides an enchanting evening spectacle where the traditional cannon fire is a must-see.

For those interested in things to do in Valletta at night, the city’s vibrant nightlife offers a perfect blend of modern and traditional entertainments. Dive into the local music scene at various venues scattered throughout the city, showcasing both contemporary and classical Maltese music performances.

Embrace the charm of Valletta without spending a fortune by seeking out the numerous free things to do in Valletta. The city’s museums and historic sites often have days where admission is free, making it possible to enjoy Valletta’s cultural treasures at no cost. The Quaint cafés and picturesque alleys further add to the free yet enriching experience of exploring this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage city.

8. Discover the Lascaris War Rooms

Hidden deep beneath the bustling streets of Valletta, the Lascaris War Rooms offer a unique peek into WWII history Malta. This intricate network of underground tunnels Valletta served as the nerve centre for strategic planning and operations during the war, providing crucial support to the Allied forces.

Visitors can walk through these corridors and observe firsthand the detailed plans and maps that were instrumental during critical wartime operations. These chambers, once bustling with the activity of military personnel, now stand as a poignant reminder of the past.

Not only are the Lascaris War Rooms a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of wartime efforts, but they also offer a compelling look into the fascinating underground tunnels Valletta. The experience provides a haunting, vivid portrayal of the challenges and triumphs faced during such a pivotal time in WWII history Malta.

Feature Description
Location 40m beneath Upper Barrakka Gardens
Historical Significance Allied headquarters during WWII
Key Highlights Strategic maps, wartime schedules

A visit to the Lascaris War Rooms not only enriches your understanding of WWII history Malta but also gives you a rare opportunity to explore the underground tunnels Valletta. It’s a deeply immersive experience that leaves a lasting impression on all who venture through these historic corridors.

9. Visit the Malta Experience

For travellers keen to delve into the rich tapestry of Maltese history, a visit to the Malta Experience is an unmissable activity. This remarkable attraction acts as an educational voyage that captivates audiences with its immersive audiovisual presentation.

Situated prominently on the edge of Valletta, the Malta Experience showcases the island’s storied past, from ancient times through to modern history. It stands out among the numerous educational attractions Valletta has to offer, proving to be both informative and engrossing.

Visitors are taken through a detailed journey of significant events that shaped Malta, making it one of the premier Maltese history exhibitions available. The audiovisual spectacle brings to life the tales of various eras, weaving historical narratives with stunning visual effects and soundscapes.

“An exhilarating excursion through Malta’s history where storytelling meets innovation.”

What makes the Malta Experience especially compelling is its ability to merge education with entertainment seamlessly. It’s not just about learning; it’s about feeling the pulse of history. From the Phoenician artefacts to the strategic exploits of the Knights of St John, every moment is meticulously curated to offer maximum engagement.

Guests are often left mesmerised by the authenticity and depth of the content, making the Malta Experience stand out even among the most celebrated educational attractions Valletta has to offer. This unique blend of history and technology ensures that each visitor departs with a newfound appreciation of Malta’s enduring legacy.

Experience Features Description
Audiovisual Presentation Engaging multimedia showcasing Malta’s history
Historical Scope From ancient times to modern-day events
Language Options Multilingual presentations available for diverse audiences
Accessibility Fully accessible for visitors with disabilities

Embark on a journey through time with the Malta Experience—a premier destination among the Maltese history exhibitions. Combining robust narratives and state-of-the-art technology, this show is destined to be one of your unforgettable educational attractions in Valletta.

Conclusion

Embarking on a journey through Valletta is akin to stepping into a living museum where history, culture, and modernity converge. Wandering through historic streets, visitors can explore a host of must-visit places in Valletta, each narrating a unique story of the city’s past. From the opulent St. John’s Co-Cathedral, adorned with Caravaggio’s masterpieces, to the tranquil Upper Barrakka Gardens offering breathtaking views of the Grand Harbour, the landmarks of Valletta each leave a lasting impression.

Enhancing the experience are immersive attractions like the Malta Experience, providing vivid insights into Maltese history, and the Lascaris War Rooms, which recount Valletta’s strategic wartime significance. The bustling waterfront, lined with renovated warehouses housing stylish eateries, offers a perfect retreat for those looking to relax after a day of exploration. These experiences underline why Valletta remains a highlight for any traveller seeking to delve into Malta’s rich historical and cultural fabric.

Ultimately, Valletta encapsulates the essence of Maltese heritage, making it an enchanting destination worth multiple visits. Whether you are uncovering the stories behind its formidable fortifications, cruising on traditional Maltese boats, or enjoying the vibrant local arts scene, the capital city ensures an unforgettable experience for every kind of traveller. In summation, Valletta stands out as a beacon of Maltese culture, resonating with charm and allure that beckons travel enthusiasts to its cobbled streets and grandiose landmarks time and again.

FAQ

What are some top things to do in Valletta?

Valletta offers a range of activities, including visiting historical sites like St. John’s Co-Cathedral, exploring the Upper Barrakka Gardens, and enjoying boat tours of the Grand Harbour. You can also explore the National Museum of Archaeology and the Grandmaster’s Palace.

What can I expect when visiting St. John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta?

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is renowned for its rich Baroque interiors, including gilded architecture and artworks by Caravaggio. You can also view historic tapestries and chapels within this architectural gem.

How can I enjoy the scenic views of Valletta’s Grand Harbour?

The Upper Barrakka Gardens provide stunning panoramic views of the Grand Harbour. The gardens are a serene oasis perfect for picnics and strolls amid lush greenery and neoclassical features.

What makes Valletta’s streets special for sightseeing?

Roaming through the historic streets of Valletta feels like wandering an open-air museum. You can appreciate the Baroque architecture, visit quaint cafés and shops, and discover the “most concentrated historic areas in the world,” as praised by UNESCO.

Are there boat tours available in Valletta’s Grand Harbour?

Yes, you can take boat tours of the Grand Harbour. Traditional Maltese boats called dghajsa offer a charming and romantic way to view Valletta’s historic fortifications and maritime history, akin to a Venetian gondola experience.

What can I see at the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta?

The Grandmaster’s Palace features opulent state rooms, armoury collections, and ceremonial halls. These exhibits provide insight into the splendour and historical significance of Valletta’s former rulers.

What is featured at the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta?

The National Museum of Archaeology displays artefacts that span Malta’s 7,000-year history. It offers educational insights into the archipelago’s prehistoric and ancient past, making it a must-visit for those interested in cultural heritage.

What can visitors learn at the Fortifications Interpretation Centre in Valletta?

The Fortifications Interpretation Centre offers interactive exhibits delving into the history of Valletta’s defensive walls and military architecture. Visitors can engage with exhibits to understand the strategic importance of these fortifications.

What can you do at the Valletta Waterfront?

The Valletta Waterfront is a scenic promenade perfect for leisurely walks. It features colourful centuries-old warehouses, now stylish restaurants and shops, offering a relaxing and entertaining seafront environment.

Are there any unusual or cost-free things to do in Valletta?

Yes, Valletta offers various unique activities and free experiences, such as sampling street food during cultural tours, watching traditional cannon fire at the Saluting Battery, and exploring historical sites without entrance fees.

What historical sites in Valletta delve into WWII history?

The Lascaris War Rooms provide a fascinating look into WWII history. Located 40m beneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens, this network of underground tunnels and chambers served as war headquarters and displays strategic planning maps and schedules from the era.

What is the Malta Experience, and why should I visit it?

The Malta Experience is an audiovisual show that takes visitors on an immersive journey through Malta’s history. It’s an educational and entertaining exhibit located on the edge of Valletta, bringing the island’s rich past to life through captivating storytelling and visual effects.