A city trip to Malta? Yes, that’s possible. Although Malta is mainly known as a beach holiday destination, this country consisting of several islands has much more to offer! And Valletta, the capital, is one of them. Valletta is a small, cozy and picturesque city located on a peninsula with breathtaking views over the large harbor and the Mediterranean Sea. With its beautiful historic buildings in Baroque style, Valletta has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980. Valletta was also declared European Capital of Culture last year. So many reasons to spend one day in Valletta and see it all for yourself.
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How to get to Valletta?
From Belgium or any other country you can travel by plane to Malta. You’ll arrive at the international airport on the main island of Malta. From there you can take the bus, taxi or hotel shuttle service to Valletta.
You can also opt to rent a car. You can find car rental companies in the terminal of the airport. It’s best to reserve a car online before you travel there.
Valletta isn’t a big city. So you can easily go everywhere on foot. If you would like to explore the area around Valletta, you can do this by bus. From the port of Valletta you can also rely on a traditional water taxi that takes you to the harbors of the surrounding towns.
When is the time to travel to Valletta?
The best time to travel to Malta is from April to October. Then you have the best chance of good weather. During the summer months it can get very hot and crowded here. Then it’s less pleasant to visit all Valletta sights in one day. That’s why I advise you to plan your city trip to Valletta outside the high season.
Where to stay in Valletta?
Would you like to stay in an authentic setting with a touch of luxury? Then opt for a night in the 17th-century restored palazzo Domus Zamittello in Valletta.
Photo credit: booking.com
The hotel with one of the most spectacular views of Valletta is definitely The Embassy Valletta hotel. This luxury hotel will literally lift your stay in Valletta to the next level.
Photo credit: booking.com
This gem can also be found in the centre of Valletta. You won’t only stay in an authentic palazzo, but you can also enjoy a rooftop swimming pool with phenomenal views.
Photo credit: booking.com
Are you looking for a place to stay at a different location in Malta? Then you can easily search with this handy map from booking.com. You will find a top stay at the location of your choice in no time.
How to spend one day in Valletta? The best things to do in Valletta!
1 – Fort Saint Angelo
I’m fully aware that Fort Saint Angelo is located just outside Valletta, in Birgu. It’s about 15 minutes with public transport from Valletta.
That is precisely why I recommend starting your one day in Valletta with a visit to Fort St. Angelo. From here you have the most phenomenal views of Valletta and the large harbor.
This building played a major role in Malta’s military past. Now it is accessible to the public for a fee. The turbulent past of the war and the role of Fort Saint Angelo are illustrated inside the museum of this castle. And that’s not all, you can still find impressive examples of artillery here.
2 – Sail with Dghajsa through the large harbor of Valletta
Take a dghajsa back from the Birgu waterfront to Valletta waterfront. This is a traditional water taxi. With the small authentic boat you’ll sail through the large harbor, a true experience in itself. You’ll enjoy first-class views of the city of Valletta and the large harbor.
Arriving at Valletta waterfront you’ll be overwhelmed by the beautiful architecture of the most stunning historical warehouses. Or either because of the impressive cruise ships that dock here. This neighborhood is also very pleasant in the evening. You can enjoy many cozy bars and delicious restaurants here.
3 – Get wonderfully lost in the Valletta streets
Getting lost on your Valletta walking tour won’t happen that quickly as the street plan is based on a checkerboard pattern. But nothing is more pleasant than strolling through those typical little streets and alleys and being completely immersed in the Maltese atmosphere. Enjoy the authentic scents and colors that the centre of Valletta has to offer.
4 – Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are public gardens where you can enjoy a phenomenal view over the large harbor and the 3 cities Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa
The saluting Battery is great a activity to attend. A cannon shot is fired every day at 12 noon and 4 pm. In this way, the tradition of indicating the afternoon still remains alive today. The only disadvantage is that it can be very busy around those times.
If you just want to relax in the gardens, the lower Barrakka Gardens are an equivalent alternative. They are located slightly lower and are much quieter. I personally found it much more pleasant to walk and relax there. Here you also have a magnificent view of the large harbor.
Besides, around the gardens there are cozy terraces where you can enjoy an aperitif in a great scenery.
5 – Saint John’s Cathedral
Unfortunately we were unable to visit St John’s Cathedral due to the holidays. Nevertheless, I would like to share this tip with you, because if I can believe the stories and photos, the interior is stunning and completely decorated in Baroque style.
There’s an entrance fee to St. John’s Cathedral and it can also get quite busy there. So be sure to check the opening hours and avoid peak hours.
6 – Grandmaster Palace
The Grandmaster’s Palace was built in the 16th century by Jean de la Valette. Better known as the founder of Valletta. This Palace was one of the first buildings in the city. Nowadays it is still a very impressive building. While the exterior looks sober, the interior consists of beautifully decorated rooms with a dazzling collection of tapestries and frescoes. You can even admire a very historical collection of weapons. The inner gardens around which the palace is built, are also enchanting.
Today the Grand Master’s Palace serves as the office of the President of Malta. You can see whether he’s present or not when the flag hangs. The facade of the palace is guarded by traditional guards.
The grandmaster’s palace is open to the public for a fee. Are you curious about the beautiful working environment of the president or would you like to bump into him? Then you have to plan a visit for sure!
7 – Theatru Manoel
Don’t forget to drop by theatru Manoel on your Valletta walking tour. Here you can enjoy a spectacular opera show. If you’re not really into opera you can just admire the breathtaking interior. You can visit the theater during the day for a fee. While you’re there you can take a look behind the scenes or imagine yourself being an opera star on stage.
8 – Renzo Piano City Gate Project
Entering Valletta, through an impressive city gate, you don’t immediately get that historical vibe that you get to experience in the city centre. The gate and surrounding buildings were only built recently as part of the Renzo Piano City Gate project.
Renzo Piano is one of the most famous architects who also designed Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Shard in London. The new parliament building and the renovated royal opera house that now is an open-air theatre, are also part of this project. Despite the modern character, I think the result fits in with the historical character of Valletta, even though many residents don’t think so. They call the new parliament building cheese grater. Be sure to include this ‘hot topic’ on your Valletta walking tour.
9 – MUZA
Are you a big art lover? Then you’ll definitely have to visit the MUZA. This newly opened museum houses a national art collection that is quiete impressive. From local paintings to the most beautiful and dynamic sculptures, you will be amazed by all that splendor.
10 – Shopping
You can also go shopping in Valletta. From the small authentic shops where you can purchase delicious traditional and local Maltese specialties.
To strolling through the main street where you can daydream along the large shopwindows of modern boutiques with the latest fashion collections.
11 – Tours in Valletta
You can also discover Valletta in one day in a unique way through Getyourguide. You can choose from different tours that take you along the most beautiful Valletta sights. View the offer below and book the best deals.
12 – Explore the surroundings
Would you like to see more of Malta, but are you limited in time? Then go down to Sliema where you can explore a bit more, but also have one of the most beautiful views of Valletta.
Also in the neighboring 3 cities you have beautiful views of Valletta. To discover the cozy, narrow streets and most beautiful places in the 3 cities, I can definitely recommend the tour with Rolling Geeks.
If you can, don’t forget to visit Malta’s former capital, Mdina. If you want to discover even more of Malta, be sure to check out our ultimate 7 days Malta itinerary.
These are my tips to plan one perfect day in Valletta. Valletta is a compact city with an immensely rich history that is still alive in many ways. Besides its beautiful location, it is all this that makes Valletta so unique. Therefore Valletta is definitely worth a visit!
If you like to read more about Malta, be sure to check out my other Malta blog posts.
- The ultimate 7 days Malta itinerary.
- Visiting Malta in april. Is that a good Idea?
- The most beautiful places to visit in Gozo.
Would you like to spend one day in Valletta? Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you for reading.
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