Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

This guide is all you need to plan a memorable stay in Malta’s capital Valletta. I list all the incredible things to do in Valletta, additional tips for your trip as well as restaurant, bars and accommodation recommendations.

Valletta is one of my top three favourite places in Malta (together with Gjajn Tuffieha beach and the island of Gozo). There is an undeniable charm about this smallest capital city in Europe and while I was living in Malta, visiting Valletta was one of my favourite activities. And I could never get bored of it.

Not only is the city beautiful and colourful, but it is also packed with plenty of things to do and wonderful just to walk around. With its narrow, charming streets and historic buildings popping up around every corner, fantastic restaurants, hip cafes, and great nightlife and quirky bars, Valetta is a great place to spend a day or even a whole weekend.

Things to know before travelling to Malta / Malta travel Tips

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has an incredible history. Malta remained under Roman rule for over 1,000 years, Valletta used to be a base for the Knights of St. John during the Crusades and defended itself against Ottoman invasion during the Great Siege of Malta, and every corner of this city has a story to tell. The city has over 320 monuments and is often referred to as an “open-air museum”.

Be sure to also read my guide to visiting the Silent City of Mdina and the picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk.  And here you will find a list of all the best coastal hikes in Malta!

There are many great things to do in Valletta, from sightseeing to having fun. Here is my comprehensive list of all the great things to do in Valletta, Malta.

I have divided this list into a few chapters to help you organise your visit depending on the length of your stay.

If you are planning just a day trip to Valletta, the chapter “6 Non-Negotiable Best Things to Do in Valletta” has a list of things you just cannot miss to get the full picture and a great experience. I have listed them in the form of a “Walking Tour”.

If you are planning a longer stay in Valletta, then read on for more activities and additional tips.

How Many Days Do You Need to See Valetta?

You could definitely spend just a day in Valletta and get a good sense of the city and enjoy its most important sights and landmarks. The city is very walkable and you could walk around in a day with all the sights being close by.

But for the full experience and if you want to see it all and enjoy Valletta’s vibrant nightlife I recommend spending at least one night. You could also base yourself just outside of Valletta. Sliema or St Julian would be a good option. It’s very easy to just hop on a bus or ferry and repeat the experience the next day if you didnt have enough after a day’s visit.

How to Get to Valletta From Malta Airport?

The cheapest way to get to Valletta from the airport is by taking the X4 bus costing just €2. The bus stop is located right in front of the airport and it will drop you at the bus station near the Tritons Fountain in Valletta.

You can also take a shared taxi like Bolt (similar to Uber). I recommend downloading the app anyway because you will for sure use it during your stay in Malta.

The ride from Malta airport to Valletta will cost you no more than €15.

6 Non-Negotiable Best Things to Do in Valletta

Tritons Fountain to City Gate – The Impressive Entrance to Valletta

You simply cannot miss the Tritons Fountain! Marking the entrance to the city day and night, the Triton Fountain impresses passers-by and makes it onto many Instagram posts. It is a must-see in Valletta!

The fountain was built in 1959 and features three bronze Tritons, the Greek gods of the sea, half man and half fish, holding a large basin of water. It’s a beautiful fountain that is lit up at night and makes a nice place to rest on a hot day.

Just in front of the fountain, you will see a pedestrian bridge spanning over the moat that surrounds the city fortifications and leads to the City Gate.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips
Awesome Things to Do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Both the gate and the bridge have been modified several times (five times to be exact) throughout the centuries and now form a modern-looking and bright entrance to the city.

As you cross the bridge and the city gate, you will notice an ultra-modern government building on your right with the famous ultra-photogenic stairs. I think this part of Valletta is a quintessence of Malta as a whole, where ultra-modern, historic, cute, charming and harsh blend into one confusing architectural concoction.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Walk the Republic Street

The gate marks the beginning of Republic Street (Triq ir-Repubblika), the main street of Valletta, which leads all the way to Fort Saint Elmo at the other end of the city.

Republic Street is lined with stores and restaurants, but this street definitely has more to offer than just shops and you will find many important Valetta sights along this street. As you continue your walk, you’ll have an opportunity to see several historic buildings and architectural wonders, as well as stunning balconies and incredibly carved and ornate walls of the buildings. It is a feast for the eyes.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

You will pass by the modern Parliament building and just a few steps later you will come across the open-air theatre of the Royal Opera House.

Keep walking and you’ll find yourself on St. George’s Square, where you’ll find one of Valletta’s most important historical buildings – the Grand Master’s Palace with the oldest balcony in Malta.

In the past, the Grand Master’s Palace housed the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John, who played an important role in the early development of the city. In addition, the Maltese Parliament was based in the palace until a new building was constructed in 2015.

Today, the palace is the official residence of the President of Malta. Currently, the interiors of the palace remain under regeneration works but it’s still a beautiful building to admire nevertheless.

Fort St Elmo 

St. Elmo’s Fort marks the end of Republic Street and is one of the most important places to see in Valletta. This magnificent defensive structure was strategically placed to defend the harbours on both sides of the city. St. Elmo’s Fort is perched at the tip of the peninsula on which Valletta was built. It has recently been beautifully restored and houses a fascinating National War Museum (more on that later).

Exploring St. Elmo’s Fort is one of the best things to do in Valletta, not only if you are a history buff, but also if you are a sucker for amazing views.

Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens

Visiting the Barrakka Gardens was one of my favourite things to do in Valletta, especially during the golden afternoon hours.

The Upper Barrakka Gardens overlooks the Grand Harbour and offers breathtaking views of the Three Cities. Here you will find beautiful and surprisingly peaceful gardens where you can rest and hide from the oppressive summer sun. The Upper Barrakka Gardens also offer great views from various corners.

At the front, you will find an arched area overlooking the Saluting Battery lined with military cannons fired every day at noon. This is one of the most famous attractions of Valletta. The Gun Salute is performed by members of the Malta Heritage Society dressed in authentic British artillery uniforms.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Take the Upper Barrakka Lift, which connects the upper and lower gardens, which is an experience in itself. The Lower Barrakka Gardens overlook the entrance to Grand Harbour. The beautifully landscaped garden is a spectacular place to watch the cruise ships and other ships entering and leaving the Maltese harbour.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

St Lucy and St John’s Street and the Waterfront

There are some streets in Valletta that cannot be missed if only for their aesthetic values.

St. Lucy Street is one of the most famous and most photographed streets in Valletta. It’s super cute with colourful windows and balconies and stairs lined with great restaurants and cafes. It was my friend’s and mine favourite spot for an evening dinner.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

St. John’s Street (Triq San Ġwann) is another beautiful cobblestone street that will leave you speechless. Be sure to walk all the way to the waterfront, where you’ll find the famous Bridge Bar. During the day it’s a peaceful place ideal for photo shoots, and at night the Bridge Bar comes to life. The best place for an evening drink in Valletta.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips
Bridge Bar during the day – Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta

After snapping a few photos in front of the Bridge Bar, be sure to take a walk along the Valletta Waterfront towards Victoria Gate and St. Barbara Bastion – one of my favourite places in Valletta.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Strait Street / Best Things to Do in Valletta

Finally, in the evening you should head over to the famous Strait Street (Strada Stretta).

This street actually has a very interesting history.

In the past, Strait Street was considered the heart of nightlife and had a certain “reputation’. International soldiers, mainly English, Italians and Maltese, who were docked in the harbour gathered at many bars here for a good time. Lined with bars and music venues, but also bordellos and various entertainment cross-dressing venues it was Valletta’s seedy underbelly. It was affectionately called ‘The Gut” by English visitors.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Today, the newly revived Strait Street once again hosts great bars and restaurants and comes alive at night, but in a little more cultured way. The street itself, however, has retained its former look and charm and has become a place to have a good time, but also to find alternative art, galleries and seasonal events.

Be sure you pop in!

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Are you wondering what is the best area to stay in Malta? Read my comprehensive guide to all the best areas and places to stay in Malta!

More Things to Do in Valletta (If You Have More Than One Day)

Museums, History and Culture

National War Museum

The National War Museum in Valletta, located in the lower St. Elmo, is a must-visit for anyone interested in military history. It offers a unique insight into the history of the war in Malta, with exhibitions covering a period from the Bronze Age all the way up until the Second World War.

The museum houses an impressive collection of artefacts, documents and photographs, as well as short, informative videos that will provide you with an immersive experience into the past.

I have exciting news to share with you, my travel friends!

I have just launched my own Backpacking and Budget Solo Travellers FB Group and I would love you to join me there! Travellers of all budgets and ages are welcome! I would like to create a community where we share tips and experiences and where you could ask me all travel and budget backpacking related questions!

I hope to see you there! Pati

National Museum of Archaeology

Did you know that Malta was already inhabited around 5900 BC? You can find evidence of this all over the islands. Some of the world’s most remarkable Neolithic and Megalithic ruins in the world are located on Malta and Gozo.

At the National Museum of Archaeology, you will get an insight into Malta’s prehistory, as the museum exhibits some of the world’s oldest archaeological findings from as far back as 5200 BC!

The museum is housed in the Auberge de Provençe, a building that was once home to knights of the Order of Saint John and dates back to 1571 and the building itself is worth visiting. You can also visit rare temporary exhibitions, so be sure to check what’s available at the time of your visit! This is one of the most fascinating places and things to do in Valletta.

National Museum of Fine Arts

The National Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta, also known as MUŻA, is a must-see for anyone who appreciates fine arts. It has an extensive and complex collection of artworks dating back to the early Renaissance. It also includes modern and contemporary art pieces from Maltese and foreign artists.

The museum’s collection on display also includes a prominent number of artefacts that originally belonged to the Order of the Knights of St. John and came from the Grand Master’s Palace and other Auberges in which the knights took up residence.

The Lascaris War Rooms

Learning about war and visiting war-related museums are some of the best things to do in Valletta, especially if you are a history buff.

The Lascaris War Rooms, also known as Malta’s WWII HQ, are an underground complex of tunnels and chambers from which the defence of Malta was coordinated for a successful victory over the Axis forces. They are considered one of the best-kept secrets of World War II

A tour of the tunnels is fascinating. It is said that during the war about 1,000 people worked in the rooms, all of which were breathing with mechanically ventilated air. Each of the fighting services had an operations room here. There are also two wartime tanks currently on display here. If you love learning about the history of World War II, this place is a must! 

The museum is located below the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

St John’s Co-Cathedral

St. John’s Co-Cathedral is one of the most important buildings not only in Valletta but in all of Malta. You will find it on every single list of things to do in Valletta and for good reason. It is so richly decorated that entering the cathedral for the first time is a striking experience.

Built between 1572 and 1577, the building served as a monastic church of the Order of St. John for over 200 years and was later redesigned in the Baroque style, giving it its current extraordinary appearance. It is in fact one of the most important examples of High Baroque architecture in Europe.

Inside you will find richly decorated walls and ceilings, but also Caravaggio’s masterpiece ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist”. In the church museum, you can find works of art by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens or Francesco Potenzano.

Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Perhaps one of the most iconic landmarks in Malta. If you were looking for any photos before your visit to Valletta, you have seen the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with its magnificent dome towering over St. Elmo Fort and overlooking the harbour. An iconic image.

With its majestic 42-metre dome, it is the tallest building in Valletta and the second tallest dome in the Maltese Islands. It’s not only the exterior that is impressive. The interior is adorned with eye-catching red columns and the pièce de résistance is a magnificent painting of Our Lady of Mt Carmel is pretty spectacular too.

The Casa Rocca Piccola

The Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century private palace that has been a residence of the Piro noble family. It is in fact still inhabited but It is now partially open to the public and is definitely a unique site worth visiting.

You will have the opportunity to discover some of the private rooms and art collections and even the largest private collection of antique costumes. Towards the end of the tour, you will see the bomb shelters which were used during the Second World War. The palace also boasts a charming courtyard garden, and a fine dining restaurant serving Sicilian cuisine.

Guided tours are included in the price ticket and are held every hour in English. 

More Experiences and Activities in Valletta

The Three Cities

Have you admired the view of Grand Harbor and the three cities from the Upper Barrakka Gardens? Dont stop there! Three Cities should be on your list of things to do in Valletta!

Although still slightly off the beaten path, the three medieval fortified cities of Birgu (Vittoriosa), Senglea (L’Isla) and Cospicua (Bormla) are incredibly picturesque and interesting little towns definitely worth visiting not only for their beauty and charm but also for the history hidden within their walls and cobbled streets.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

This is where the Knights of St. John originally settled when they arrived in Malta in 1530, and three cities were the first fortified cities they built. You’ll find that this area is much older than Valletta, and as you tour the many churches, forts and palaces, you’ll feel like you have stepped back in time.

Birgu is by far my favourite, but each of the Three Cities offers a slightly different experience. Birgu is the oldest and most popular of the three. Here you will find many beautiful medieval alleys, interesting sights, churches and fascinating architecture, as well as a magnificently restored fort, museums and a yacht marina.

In Senglea, be sure to visit the Senglea Basilica and the Gardjola Gardens, which offer spectacular views of the Grand Harbor. Also, be sure to explore Bormlas‘ impressive Collegiate Parish Church and its Oratory full of works of art.

You can take a small ferry from Valletta, just next to Lower Barrakka Lift (a small terminal near the Quarry Wharf) to Cospicua.

Take a Harbour Cruise

Another very pleasant way to experience the surroundings of Valletta and the three cities is to take a harbour cruise. There are a number of cruises that will give you an insight into the significance of Malta’s relationship with its waters from a historical and cultural point of view. And on top of that, you’ll have the opportunity to see the city from a completely different perspective.

Most popular are the harbours cruise departing from Sliema (by Captain Morgan or Luzzu Cruises) which you don’t need to book in advance. Just walk along the Sliema waterfront and book your ticket from there.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

You can also book this highly rated Three Cities guided tour and explore the area by foot, coach, and traditional ‘dghajsa’ boat, getting the lowdown on the knights and their historic rule along the way.

If you prefer, you can also take a night harbour cruise that will take you through Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour, ten creeks, located on both sides of Valletta, relax and enjoy the city lights from the water.

Malta 5D

This is a more interactive and technologically advanced alternative to the traditional Malta Experience (which is still available). 

An amazing 3D film which will take you through Malta’s riveting 7,000-year history, enhanced with leg ticklers, water spray, air blasts, scents and moving seats! Great experience o matter your age. 

It is located on Old Bakery Sreet, not far from Strait Street. The show lasts around 20 minutes and tickets cost €10. 

Watch a Show at Manoel Theatre – One of the Oldest Theatres in Europe

The Manoel Theatre was built in 1731 by one of the Grand Masters in order to provide entertainment for both the knights and the local population and is considered one of the oldest functioning theatres in Europe.

It’s a small but very beautiful theatre building, lavishly decorated with Viennese chandeliers, a marble staircase, three tiers of wooden boxes decorated with gold leaf, a wrap-around auditorium with velvet chairs and a pale blue trompe l’oeil ceiling.

The theatre is still in operation and you can enjoy a show or an opera here, but you can also take a guided or a self-guided tour with an audio guide. However, I’d definitely recommend attending an evening performance. It might be the only such experience you’ll have in a while.

Take Part in Seasonal Events and Festivals in Valletta

Valletta is a very lively and vibrant city at any time of the year, but there are a few events that take place throughout the year that add even more glamour and charm to this already great place. My favourites definitely include Notte Bianca and the Birgu Festival of Lights, which takes place in neighbouring Birgu (not in Valletta, but close enough to drop by for a few hours).

Here’s a full breakdown of all the great events and festivals that take place in Valletta throughout the year:

  • Malta Carnival – In February, Malta holds its carnival. The centre of the celebrations is in Valletta, but there are also similar festivities in the smaller towns. Here you’ll find people in colourful, extravagant costumes, floats, music and the great party which carries into the night and ends in Malta’s party district, Paceville.
Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips
Malta Carnival – Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta
  • The Malta International Jazz Festival – The festival is held in Valetta every July and is one of Malta’s most diverse musical celebrations in Malta. The three-day festival brings together some of the best Maltese and international jazz artists with events throughout the capital city. The main stage is at Ta’ Liesse on Valetta’s waterfront. But secondary events are also organised in Valetta’s bars and clubs of Valetta, offering a more cameral experience.
  • Notte Bianca – Another annual festival taking place in Valetta, a ‘White Night’ called a ‘spectacular nocturnal celebration of people’. This is one of my favourite Malta festivals. This event boasts a variety of events and entertainment. Various museums but also cafes, bars and restaurants remain open until late into the night, and the streets are flooded with a party-like atmosphere. Art exhibitions, open-air performances and concerts create a spectacular and unique night that can’t be missed if you are visiting Malta in October.
Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips
Notte Bianca – Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta
  • Birgu Fest (Festival of Lights) – This magical Festival of Lights is held annually in the town of Birgu, one of Malta’s oldest and most historic cities. Also held in October, the Fest is an all-day event bringing a blend of concerts, celebrations, food stalls and numerous activities. Yet, the festival’s highlight is Birgu by Candlelight, when all the streets and houses are illuminated by thousands of colourful candles.
Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips
Birgu Festival of Lights – Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta
  • Malta Fireworks Festival – One of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen. Malta is very famous for its fireworks displays throughout the whole summer. However, on the 1st of May, as a celebration of Malta’s accession into the European Union, the fireworks festival is held in Grand Harbor and must say, is extra spectacular. A number of Maltese and foreign fireworks factories are participating in this competitive event, presenting dramatic and music-synchronized fireworks.

Where to eat and drink in Valletta

One of the best things to do in Valletta is to stay for the evening and enjoy its culinary and cocktail scene.

Before you decide on a great restaurant or bar, there is one place you should definitely visit, whether it’s for a quick lunch, a snack or just for a sightseeing experience. It’s the Is-Suq Tal-Belt – Valletta Food Market.

This impressive covered food market is located on Merchant Street. It is filled with little shops, food outlets and stalls offering a variety of different dishes, such as traditional Maltese food, but also Italian, Chinese, Mexican and everything else.

There is a communal seating area in the middle of the hall. So if you come with a group of friends or a family, you can all order from different vendors and still sit together and enjoy delicious food while taking in the surroundings.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Recommended restaurants:

For a special taste of Maltese cuisine, visit Nenu the Artisan Baker or Adesso for a special dining experience.

My favourite restaurant for an intimate and delicious dinner is the Beati Paoli restaurant on Saint-Paul Street, serving mouthwatering Italian dishes, in a tiny but very lovely restaurant. Ideal for a date!

For the best Roman-style pizza in town, go to Casa Sotto. The pizza really meets all expectations.

I also used to go to Kantina Cafe a lot, both alone and with friends. I loved their Aperol Spritz and the octopus. The outdoor seating is a lovely place to people watch and the service was always great.

You cannot skip a visit to Cafe Cordina, Malta’s most famous cafe, in Malta. This family-run business was founded in 1837 and is renowned for its baked goods like pastries and cakes but they also serve meals. The interior is also unique with its striking marble staircase and decorative domed ceiling.

San Paolo Naufrago was another restaurant we frequented often, mainly because of its incredible setting on the steps of Santa Lucia Street and the delicious yet very affordable food and wine!

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Best bars in Valletta:

The Bridge Bar is one of those iconic bars that you have to visit, even if you do not feel like going to a bar. But I guarantee once you are there, you’ll stay for a glass of wine or even a meal.

Every weekend a jazz band plays on the outdoor terrace and people sit on the marble steps and cushions enjoying the evening atmosphere in Valletta. It’s a very special place that I will hold a special place in my memory for a long time. Many good evenings were spent there.

Awesome Things to do in Valletta, Malta + Practical Tips

Yard 32 Gin and Tapas is an awesome concept and a great place to hang out on a Saturday night. Located in a back alley off Strait Street, it serves a great selection of gin and tonic-style cocktails as well as delicious and creative tapas. It’s the kind of place where you can have a drink and hold your tapas while standing on the street talking to strangers or listening to live music.

Alchemy is another cocktail bar you cannot miss if you like a creative and unusual cocktail or two. It’s a place to go to for a mixology experience in the surrounding of the coolest street of Valletta – Strait Street.

And finally, if you want to experience a British pub on the streets of Valletta – visit Queen Victoria City Pub. I went there of course, with my British ex-boyfriend (already ex at the time, I just rock like this lol) and we really enjoyed it and it gained a seal of approval from a true British lad. But on a serious note, this pub has a great hectic pub-like atmosphere and a great beer. What else do you need?

You could also take a guided Malta Food and Drink walking tour during which you will have a chance to experience some of Malta’s most important landmarks while sampling its delicious traditional food. 

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Useful Malta Travel Resources and Tips:

Book your accommodation in advance, especially if you travel during peak season. For the best prices check out or Hostelworld for the best hostel deals. 

Check how to get the ExplorePlus travel card here! It will give you Unlimited Travel for 7 days, 2 free trips on the Valletta Ferry from Sliema or the Three Cities, 2 free trips on the Tallinja Bike and a few sightseeing options.

Take a free walking tour in Valletta! It’s an amazing way to learn the history of the city and Malta as a whole!

Book your experience or a tour via Get Your Guide or Viator. Those are two of the most popular tour marketplace sites featuring the largest selection of experiences. 

Keep some cash on you. Although in bigger cities you will be able to pay by card in the majority of establishments there are still a few smaller, privately owned shops that will only accept cash. 

Check out the Malta events calendar here!

All the timetables you will ever need:

Valletta to Sliema Ferry

Gozo and Comin Ferry from Sliema / Hop On Hop Off

Gozo ferry from Cerkewwa

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