A Quick Tour of Valletta
Cheap winter sun holidays to Malta are all the rage this autumn, and the frequency of Malta holiday offers in our Real Deals newsletter means that you can enjoy a trip to this small island for an equally small price. Most of the holidays are centred around the resorts, so you can spend plenty of time relaxing, swimming and sunbathing. But spare a thought for the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Valletta, the capital.
Valletta is a very small capital, since the name strictly applies to the walled citadel, where many of the buildings date back to the 16th Century. If you’re looking for a hotel in Valletta though, be aware that the whole urban area outside the city walls is also often known by the same name! So look out for one which says it’s in the historic centre to really stay at the heart of the action.
Alternatively, you could leave your sunlounger behind and head to the capital for a day trip. Just outside the entrance to the walled city is the central transport hub so whether you have a hire car or are jumping on a bus, it’s simple to get there. We’ve picked out a few must-see things you can squeeze into a day trip or use to help you plan a longer stay.
Visit The Grandmaster’s Palace
Image by UweF
Still the seat of the Maltese government, this palace was built in 1571 and it’s decked out in grand style. Sumptuous furnishings, beautiful paintings and even a huge collection of armour and weapons are on show. Seek out the Tapestry Chamber for its stunning tropical tapestries and you might even spot a few British monarchs on the walls in the State Dining Room. It’s the Throne Room though that most people agree is their favourite.
See the Views from the Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens – image by bazylek100
I’m not going to lie to you, Valletta is a hilly city, with narrow streets that are usually too full with people and traffic, so you’re going to want to see a bit of greenery and have a rest. You’ve just got to climb the hill to get there. These stunning gardens are totally worth it though, boasting panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and the surroundings. The gardens are filled with sculptures and littered with benches but if you really think this is a stretch to far, try the Lower Barrakka Gardens. The views aren’t as far-reaching but they are still very pretty.
Take a Quick Look in St John’s Co-Cathedral
Image by bazylek100
The ordinary-looking exterior hides a wonderful gilded and decorated interior. This Cathedral was built in 1578 and epitomises the grandeur of the Baroque period, with exquisite detailing and vibrant colours everywhere. Paintings by Caravaggio and Preti adorn the walls, and with eight stunning chapels along the sides there’s plenty to marvel at.
Pavement Cafes in front of the library – image by Charlie Dave
All that walking around will be sure to build up an appetite, so make sure you round off your trip with some typical Maltese cuisine in one of the restaurants in the historic centre. Stewed Rabbit is the national dish, but if you prefer to steer clear of such cute animals then try Aljotta, a garlicky fish stew. Also look out for Maltese sausages, which are popular in a wide range of dishes, but in particular kawlata, a vegetable soup, and ross il-fom, a baked rice dish.
If you’re tempted by the thought of a holiday here why not use our Valletta holiday tool to tailor your own trip.
top image by bazylek100