Insider tips: Explore Valletta like a local
Olly Gaspar is a professional adventure travel photographer and blogger known for his captivating visual storytelling and immersive travel guides. Olly has spent the last five years traveling full-time and posting about his adventures on We Seek Travel.
What should I do on my first trip to Valletta?
If you are visiting the city for the first time, one of the best things to do in Valletta is to visit the St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This ornate 16th-century Baroque church is one of the most famous in the Maltese Islands. Its stunning interior is adorned with intricate carvings, marble statues, and paintings by famous artists including Caravaggio. Another must-see destination is the Upper Barrakka Gardens. This is one of the best places to get breathtaking views of the famous Grand Harbour and across to the Three Cities. Visitors can also watch the Saluting Battery’s daily firing here, a traditional cannon-firing ceremony dating back to the 16th century.
What are some hidden gems to see in Valletta?
Situated on the opposite side of the Grand Harbour from Valletta, the Three Cities of Malta (Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua) are three amazing gems worth exploring. To get here, you’ll take a traditional luzzu or dgħajsa ferry, so you can really immerse yourself in Malta’s rich history before you even get there.
How much time should I spend in Valletta?
To make the most of your time in Valletta, spend at least long weekend in the city. In three days, you can easily see all the historical landmarks, like St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the Upper Barrakka Gardens, and the Grand Master’s Palace. This will also give you time to visit famous museums and art galleries, including the National War Museum and the National Museum of Archaeology. Valletta is also one of the best places to stay in Malta as you can easily take day trips to explore other parts of the archipelago, including the Blue Lagoon on Comino or the sister island of Gozo.
What food is Valletta known for?
Like most of Malta’s unique culture, its food reflects its rich history and broad cultural influences from Italy, North Africa, and the Middle East. If you want to try something traditional in Valletta, go for the rabbit stew (Stuffat Tal-Fenek in Maltese). The dish is a hearty, slow-cooked stew made with rabbit, tomatoes, red wine, garlic, onions, and various delicious herbs and spices. If street food is more your thing, you must try Pastizzi, a savory pastry filled with ricotta cheese or mushy peas.
What is the best way to get around Valletta?
Valletta is a small city and the majority of the city’s main attractions are located within the walled area, so it makes exploring in a few days pretty easy. The best way to get around the city’s narrow streets and scenic alleys is by foot. Alternatively, there are plenty of great walking tours in Valletta if you’d prefer to learn about the culture and history from a local guide.
What are the best months to visit Valletta?
May, June, September, and October are the best months to visit Valletta. During these months, the weather is warm but not as hot as the peak summer months. The crowds are also fewer compared to the peak visitor season. Alternatively, a good time to visit for cultural events is during the Maltese Feasts season (June to September). This is one of Malta’s most important cultural traditions and occurs throughout the year in various cities and towns across the island, including Valletta. Each feast is dedicated to a patron saint and is celebrated by colorful processions, music, and huge fireworks displays.
What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?
While Valletta doesn't have large shopping malls or department stores, it has some smaller, more unique shopping areas worth exploring. Republic Street is Valletta's main shopping street, where you’ll find high-end fashion boutiques. Nearby is also the famous Merchant Street, a narrow street lined with vintage and second-hand stores.
What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Valletta?
Stay in the city center if you can. Valletta is a small city, so you'll be within easy reach of all the main attractions.