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Valletta, the most beautiful city in Malta

Without a doubt, Valletta is the most beautiful city in Malta. This is due to the amazing architecture of the city, which is 500 years old. In Valletta, there is always something going on, and in 2018 it was the European City of Culture.

valletta map

Short History of Valletta

After the Great Siege of Malta, when the Ottomans attacked the island in 1565, the building of the new capital began. This was the first city built by plan, and it took 15 years to be finished. Grand Master la Vallette gave the plan for the city and it got its name because of him. It is said that it is "a city build by gentlemen for gentlemen", the knights of the Order of St John lived and ruled the island from here. All of Valletta is built in a baroque style, and I admire how something dating from the late Renaissance period is so well preserved.

history valletta
Statue of Jean Parisot de Vallette, a creator of Valletta who was a French nobleman and a Grand Master of the Order of St John. He did not live to see Valletta completed as he died at the age of 74.

Getting there

I've noticed that most of the people want to go to Valletta by ferry. I am talking here about those in Sliema. Since I used to work in a hotel, people used to ask a lot of questions and recommendations. But I always suggest going by bus. It is cheaper, the bus will leave you just in front of the main bus station, and you can still use the same ticket to go back, (in Malta you can buy a bus ticket from the driver on the bus and it is valid for two hours). The buses run very often, from different parts of the island. If you want to reach it by water you can catch a ferry from Sliema or from Birgu.

Walk down Republic Street in Valletta

Once you are about to enter the city, you can notice how big walls it has. This will tell you that it is definitely a defense city. I really think there is a whole underground city. For sure there are shelters from WWII, but I never managed to go there.

The main gate leads to the main street in Valletta which is called Republic Street. Most of the time it is crowded, especially in the summer when the cruses are stopping at the Grand Harbor. Sometimes it happens that there are four ships, and that means a lot of tourists.

The main entrance is on the right, on the left follows Republic Street

Just at the begging of the city, there is the new parliament, which fits very well in the old baroque architecture. After it comes to the old opera house, which was ruined during the war, and at the moment they are doing some restorations. There are many events and concerts going on there.

Parlament of Malta
The Parliament of Malta

The Royal Opera House. It was designed by a English architect Edward Middleton Barry and was erected in 1866. It was demolished during the WWII.

Down the street there are many restaurants, cafes and different types of shops. Many people stand outside the shops promoting different products, and you can also find many street artists performing for the tourists.

At the beginning of the main street.

Republic Street

As you walk enjoy the surrounding. After a while you will come to the Law Courts, a very big building with huge pillars. Opposite is the main entrance for the tourists at the Co-cathedral of St John. Over here you will notice a lot of stalls where you can buy hand made things. Don't forget to visit the mall called the Embassy.

Further down the road there is Republic Square, where you will be able to drink a cup of coffee in one of the oldest cafeterias in the city, Caffe Cordina founded in 1837. You will probably see the statue of Queen Victoria, and the big library behind it.

Republic Square, the sitting area of Cafe Cordina, the statue of Queen Victoria and the Library.

There is also the Grand Master Palace and the offices of the president, and St George's Square, where you can watch the changing of the guards.

St George's Square Valletta
St George's Square.

As you go further down the road passes near Casa Rocca Piccola and then it leads to forth St Elmo. A forth dating from 1417, and a place where the Great Siege of Malta took its place. On the sides of Republic Street, there are many other parallel streets and side streets. All of them hide something interesting, and it can take a while to explore every corner of it.

Other Streets

Other popular street is Merchant Street, the one parallel with the main street. Over here you can find the tourist information center, the open air market (which is currently on another location, near the entrance of the city), and again many other shops and restaurants.

Around Valletta

At the top of this street, there is the Auberge de Castille. The house of the knights build in 1570, today here are the offices of the Prime Minister of Malta.

Other known streets in Valletta are Straith Street, Zachary Street, Old Bakery Street, St Lucy Street and some others.

Gardens in Valletta

There are three wonderful gardens in Valletta. Upper and Lower Barakka Gardens, and Hasting garden on the left side from the entrance of the city. Upper Barakka Garden is one of the biggest tourist attractions. It offers a spectacular view of the three cities and the Grand harbor. Every day at noon there is a Saluting Battery. From there you can also reach Valletta Waterfront, an area at the port with many restaurants, and the harbor.

At Upper Barakka Garden

Lower Barakka Garden, on the other hand, is my favorite place in Valletta. For me, it is very romantic, silent, more private, and once again it offers a wonderful view and tranquility. It has a lot of flowers, trees and benches. This is a place where I have definitely taken all my guests.

The third garden is Hasting Garden. It offers a nice view towards Msida, Ta-Xbiex and the Royal Malta yacht Club.

Other highlights in Valletta

Among other tourist attractions in Valletta, you can find The National War Museum, The Malta Experience, National museum of Archaeology, Manoel Theatre, and the Roman Catholic Church, Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This is actually the amazing dome you see on the pictures of Valletta, and it is also a part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Valletta as UNESCO World Heritage Site

The city is obviously linked to the history of the military and charitable Order of St John of Jerusalem. There are 320 monuments in the area of 55 ha. This makes it one of the most concentrated historical areas in the world. It is an ideal creation of the late Renaissance and has a wonderful location in between to harbours.

I am sharing this post about Valletta with much love. I really hope it will be useful and I gave you some nice intro. For more of Malta check some other posts on Travel Story Post. If you have any questions or any comments don't forget to add it below.