An up-to-date travel guide featuring the 26 best things to do in Valletta, Malta! Plan your visit to Malta’s capital city today with these unmissable attractions and city highlights.
Valletta, also known as il-Belt, is the tiny Meditteranean city on the island of Malta. Awarded the European Capital of Culture just a few years back, visiting this beautiful city is a must when exploring the archipelago.
With attractions like the famous Upper Barrakka Gardens and its stunning Grand Harbour, there are so many fun and interesting things to do in Valletta. In this guide, I’ll reveal to you all the best places to visit and at the bottom of the post, a short guide on where to stay so you can form the ultimate Valletta itinerary!
- Malta Must-Do: The Top 3 Activities From Valletta
- 1. Museum Hopping in Valletta
- 2. Boat Trip to Comino Island (Blue Lagoon)
- 3. Upper Barrakka Gardens
- 4. Barrakka Lift & Lower Barrakka Gardens
- 5. Basilica of our Lady of Mount Carmel
- 6. Epic Malta Highlights Tour
- 7. Tritons Fountain
- 8. Take a Day Trip to Gozo
- 9. Valletta Highlights Walking Tour
- 10. Go Beach Hopping
- Car Rentals in Malta
- 11. Grandmaster’s Palace (St George Square)
- 12. Traditional Dgħajsa Grand Harbour Boat to the Three Cities
- 13. Lascaris War Rooms
- 14. The Saluting Battery
- 15. Valletta Waterfront (Grand Harbour)
- 16. St John’s Co-Cathedral
- 17. Streets of Valletta – Look up and Enjoy the Balconies (Gallarija)
- 18. Manoel Theater: One of the Oldest Theaters in Europe
- 19. Collegiate Parish Church of Saint Paul’s Shipwreck
- 20. The Fort St Elmo and the National War Museum
- 21. National Library
- 22. Casa Rocca Piccola
- 23. Nenu the Artisan Baker
- 25. Game of Thrones Sightseeing
- 26. Visit Malta’s Blue Grotto
- Valletta Travel FAQs
- After Valletta – Discover Malta in These Travel Guides
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
Malta Must-Do: The Top 3 Activities From Valletta
In a rush and looking for the top 3 Valletta activities you can book right now?
- Street Food Tour - one of the most popular tours in the city. Explore the cultural icons and taste some of the best street foods in Malta!
- Mdina & Malta Highlights Tour - visit the fortified city of Mdina, ancient catacombs of St. Cataldus, the impressive Mosta Church and the stunning views at the Dingli Cliffs.
- Gozo Full-Day Jeep Tour - Discover Malta's sister island on a private full-day trip from Valletta.
26 Best Things to do in Valletta, Malta
1. Museum Hopping in Valletta
Valletta is not only the political capital but also the cultural capital of Malta. Therefore, you'd expect to find some great museums here.
Some of the very best include:
- The National War Museum - located in lower St. Elmo & features exhibitions from World War I & II
- The Palace State Rooms - located in the Presidential Palace & is one of the first buildings of Valletta built during the 16th century.
- National Museum of Archaeology - my personal favorite museum exhibiting some of the world's oldest archeological findings from as far back as 4000 BCE!
- National Museum of Fine Arts - Nicknamed MUŻA, this art exhibition contains some excellent collections from Maltese & foreign artists.
2. Boat Trip to Comino Island (Blue Lagoon)
If there's one thing you don't miss while traveling in Malta, it's the magical Blue Lagoon on Comino Island.
Comino is the smallest island in the Maltese archipelago, and in my opinion, the most beautiful! Here, you can discover amazing clear-water lagoons for swimming and snorkeling, as well as some magical sea caves.
Unfortunately, there are no direct public transport options from Valletta. However, a budget tip is to book an island-hopping tour to Comino online and take a bus or private transport to Bugibba Harbour.
3. Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are a public garden offering arguably the best views in the fortified city over its famous Grand Harbour and Fort St. Angelo in the Mediterranean Sea.
You'll find the gardens located on the upper sections of St Peter & Paul Bastion near Castille Place. The Knights of St John constructed these gardens as early as 1661, serving as private gardens and exercise grounds.
If you're looking for the best place in Valletta to snap some holiday photos, this is the spot!
4. Barrakka Lift & Lower Barrakka Gardens
The Lower Barrakka Gardens is a twin of the Upper Gardens and feature a great view of the Grand Harbour and breakwater from the waterfront.
Connecting the Upper Gardens to the level of the Lower Barrakka Gardens is the Upper Barrakka Lift, which is another notable attraction in Valletta in itself. The city built this architecturally stunning lift in 2012 to replace the previous lift, operating between the gardens from 1905 to 1973.
The price is one euro for a return ride, which is great if you are touring Valletta and want to move between the main merchant street to the waterfront.
5. Basilica of our Lady of Mount Carmel
The Basicila of our Lady of Mount Carmel (Bażilika Santwarju tal-Madonna tal-Karmnu in Maltese), is a Carmelite Roman Catholic basilica located in the heart of Valletta.
This is one of the main churches in Malta, built with a classic dome top that is very impressive when viewed from the inside.
You'll find this basilica just around the corner from Republic Square, very close to other churches like St. Paul's Cathedral.
6. Epic Malta Highlights Tour
Valletta is an excellent place to base yourself in Malta if you are looking to go on an epic day trip!
One of the best bookable tours on the island of Malta is the Mdina & Malta Highlights Tour, departing from Valletta every day.
This tour includes:
- Visit Mdina - The former capital of Malta
- St. Cataldus Catacombs (Rabat)
- Dingli Cliffs - The highest point in Malta
- Artisan Village
7. Tritons Fountain
The Triton's Fountain is located at the entrance to the fortified city of Valletta (City Gate) and will likely be the first attraction you see. That's why it's commonly used as a meeting point or as a base for tours going to all the other fun things to do and see in Valletta.
As a country shrouded in history, the Triton Fountain is one of the country's most famous modernist landmarks, showcasing three bronze Tritons supporting a large basin bowl.
8. Take a Day Trip to Gozo
A trip to Malta simply isn't complete without visiting the beautiful and more relaxed sister island of Gozo.
This is my favorite island in the Maltese Archipelago and is well-known internationally for its beautiful beaches, impressive geological formations, and laid-back atmosphere.
Travelers short on time and visiting Valletta for a few days can book an awesome full-day Jeep tour of Gozo visiting some of the best sites with a guide.
Alternatively, to get to Gozo from Valletta, there is now a new fast ferry taking just 45 minutes from the Grand Harbour to the Mġarr ferry terminal. Note when you arrive on Gozo you will need to rely on the public transport system to get around or rent a car or ATV (quad bike) near the harbor.
I visited Gozo chasing adventure, and I certainly found it here, and I'm sure you will too.
9. Valletta Highlights Walking Tour
Valletta is a very walkable city, but the best way to see it is with a local guide, who'll not only point out the most historical monuments and cultural icons but also take you to the tastiest hidden gem street food vendors in Valletta!
The famous Valletta Walking Tour is one of the most popular in the country and is highly recommended!
#1 Rated Walking Tour in Valletta
The Valletta Street Food and Culture Walking Tour is one of the best ways to experience all of the best highlights & attractions in the city and taste local street food like pastizzi.
10. Go Beach Hopping
Malta is hard to beat when it comes to seaside Mediterranean destinations. In fact, its beaches are some of the most beautiful in Europe, with a large variety from soft, sandy shores to secluded rocky coves.
While there are a few places to swim in Valletta (more information below), I recommend renting a car or hopping on the cost-effective and reliable bus network and checking out some of the top beaches such as:
The ultimate Malta experience should always include at least a few beaches! Valletta is a good base to explore the coast since there is always a bus back to the capital!
Car Rentals in Malta
The best way to experience both Malta and Gozo islands is to rent your own car! I recommend booking well in advance using price comparison sites like DiscoverCars if traveling in the busy summer season.
11. Grandmaster's Palace (St George Square)
The Grandmaster's Palace in St George Square is one of the most significant monuments and places of interest in Valletta.
The Grand Masters built this amazing palace between the 16th and 18th centuries, serving as the main palace for the Order of St. John, the rulers of Malta from 1530 to 1798. Even today, this centrally-located palace houses the office of Malta's president.
Visitors will likely walk past The Palace on their exploration of the city even if you don't plan it!
12. Traditional Dgħajsa Grand Harbour Boat to the Three Cities
The Three Cities of Malta (Birgu, Senglea, Cospicua) are historical neighborhoods with beautiful narrow streets located across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. Here, you'll discover a place full of history, culture, and must-visit sites such as Fort St. Angelo.
The best (and cheapest) way to visit the Three Cities is to take a traditional luzzu or dgħajsa ferry across the harbour from Valletta's waterfront.
You can book a Three Cities tour directly from Valletta for around 35 euros, one of my top recommendations for things to do in the city!
#1 Rated Three Cities Tour
Looking to cut out all the hassle of organizing a day trip to the Three Cities on your own? Book this top-rated 3 cities tour which includes a traditional luzzu or dgħajsa harbour ferry and a walking tour run by a knowledgeable local guide.
13. Lascaris War Rooms
Accessible via the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the Lascaris War Rooms are a series of complex underground tunnels and war chambers that visitors are able to visit in Valletta.
This was where the Maltese coordinated their war efforts to defend the island during World War II but is now open as a museum. Tickets cost roughly 14 euros for adults.
14. The Saluting Battery
When traveling to Valletta, make sure to go and watch the Saluting Battery, a daily artillery battery display originating from the 16th century. This is the oldest of its kind in the world and arguably the most famous as well, stemming from the times of the Order of Saint John.
The tradition of firing the canons in salute occurs twice a day, once at 10:30 am and again at 13:00 pm. Head down to the scenic rampart below the Upper Barraka Gardens to watch for free, or pay a small ticket fee and watch it unfold up close!
15. Valletta Waterfront (Grand Harbour)
One of the best things to do in Valletta is simply taking a scenic walk by the waterfront overlooking the Grand Harbour. Make your way to the eastern side of the town for great views of the Grand Harbour and Three Cities.
Or, to the west and you've got yourself views of Fort Manoel on Manoel Island, as well as the luxury seaside resorts of Sliema across the harbour.
16. St John's Co-Cathedral
St John's Co-Cathedral in the center of Valletta is going to appear on almost all lists of things to do in Valletta. That's because it is the city's primary attraction.
This magnificent Roman Catholic co-cathedral in Valletta was built by the Order of St. John between 1572 and 1577, making it one of the oldest cathedrals in Malta.
While it looks regular from the outside, the inside is adorned in fantastic art from floor to ceiling. An adult entrance ticket will set you back €15.00, but this is well worth it. As part of the entrance ticket, visitors get an audio guide which I think is very well done.
Travel tip: walk up to the top of the cathedral near the exit for the best views of this grandiose structure.
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17. Streets of Valletta - Look up and Enjoy the Balconies (Gallarija)
Did you know that the entire fortified city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?
Walking through its narrow streets and vibrant lanes makes you feel like you're taking a step back in time. One of the most notable features of these historic streets are the Gallarija ornate wooden balconies. You'll often see these painted in vibrant colors, creating a beautiful contrast against the aged Globigerina limestone bricks.
If you're looking for picturesque streets, make sure to visit Merchants Street, Old Bakery Street, Republic Street (great for eateries and quaint cafes), and the waterfront area near Bridge Bar.
18. Manoel Theater: One of the Oldest Theaters in Europe
Manoel Theatre or Teatru Manoel is the most significant performing arts venue in Malta. You'll find this Valletta landmark between the Casa Rocca Piccola and Paul's Cathedral.
The theater is named after the Grand Master of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller, António Manoel de Vilhena, who was the man behind its construction as early as 1731.
19. Collegiate Parish Church of Saint Paul's Shipwreck
This is yet another beautiful Parish Church in Valletta that you should add to your itinerary. This one is even older than the St John's Co-Cathedral, with the Knights building it 2-5 years earlier!
You'll find it right near the Basilica of our Lady of Mount Carmel.
20. The Fort St Elmo and the National War Museum
Fort St Elmo is a heritage building situated on the northern tip of Valletta on what's known as the Sciberras Peninsula.
This fort dates back to the times of the Order of Saint John when they successfully held off the Ottoman armada. However, as you see it today it's mostly a representation of the extensive upgrades during the British rule.
This fort is also the site of the National War Museum. Visiting this museum is the best way to soak up the military history of the island nation.
21. National Library
Also known as Bibliotheca, the National Library of Malta is yet another central historical site worth adding to your Valletta itinerary.
This historical building is located in the heart of the city near Republic Square. Locals recognize this as one of the cultural icons of the Maltese Islands, holding many literary treasures rich in history and spanning from medieval times!
22. Casa Rocca Piccola
This 16th-century private palace is one of the most magnificent buildings in Valletta. This one is definitely a unique attraction, as it is a family home that allows travelers to open and tour!
Included in a visit to this palace is a guided or audio tour, to teach you all about this palace. Unfortunately, visitation was temporarily closed during my visit so I wasn't able to get any photos for you guys.
23. Nenu the Artisan Baker
After exploring all the landmarks and attractions in Valletta, I bet you're feeling a little hungry!
Nenu the Artisan Baker is one of the most famous traditional Maltese restaurants in the country and one that I highly recommend! It's located very centrally in the city and accessible on foot from the main street.
The bread here is cooked in a traditional, decades-old Maltese oven sporting a golden Maltese cross. This is a sight to see in itself, ask the chef if you can take a peak!
25. Game of Thrones Sightseeing
Did you know that Malta was the original filming location for the HBO series Game of Thrones?
If you're a fan like me, you'll want to check out some of the famous scenes filmed in Valletta.
- Fort Manoel
- Fort Ricasoli
- Eagle Street
26. Visit Malta's Blue Grotto
Regular readers of this blog will know that I usually stick to adventure travel. So, it goes without saying that there'll at least be one epic natural attraction on this list of things to do!
When in Malta, definitely make your way to the Blue Grotto. This is one of the most beautiful sea caves I've ever seen, and a boat trip inside is very cheap! Full information on how to get to the cave from Valletta is available in my Blue Grotto guide.
Where to Stay in Valletta - Accommodation in Malta's Capital
Below are the three best hotel picks in Valletta for those considering spending their Malta vacation in the Maltese capital.
- The Gomerino Hotel - perfectly located with an amazing rooftop pool overlooking the Grand Harbor
- The Embassy Valletta Hotel - one of the top-rated hotels in Valletta. Features beautifully decorated rooms and spa facilities on site.
- Iniala Harbor House - Perched atop Valletta’s stunning St Barbara Bastion, experience stunning views of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities from traditional Maltese balconies.
Travel tip: If you're looking for somewhere more unique to stay in Valletta, make sure to check out accommodations in the historic Three Cities as well (across the Grand Harbour).
Valletta Travel FAQs
Visiting the city of Valletta is a must for any travelers making their way to Malta and interested in history and culture!
There are multiple areas to stay in Malta. Valletta is a great place for those looking for historical and boutique hotels, while the busy tourist areas of Sliema/St Julians are great for nightlife and more modern resorts.
Wondering how many days is enough in Valletta? It's possible to tick off most of the things to do and main attractions in Valletta in a single day. However, if you'd like to see the Three Cities and visit sites like the St. John's Co-Cathedral, two days would be better.
Yes! The fortified city of Valletta is one of the most walkable cities in Europe! It takes less than an hour to walk around the city walls.
Valletta, and Malta in general, is a very safe travel destination.
The city is known for being one of Europe's cultural capitals, sporting amazing historical buildings and artisan food.
The quickest way is to get a taxi, which costs less than 20 euros from the International Airport. However, there's also a bus departing the airport every hour.
The cost of a vacation in Valletta is consistent with other neighboring Mediterranean nations like Italy. Expect to spend between 80-300 euros per night for accommodation, depending on your budget. Meals in a restaurant can also be pricey, between 15-50 euros. However, there is also delicious street food like Pastizzi in Valletta which costs less then 2 euros.
After Valletta - Discover Malta in These Travel Guides
I hope that you've enjoyed this comprehensive travel guide featuring 26 awesome things to do in Valletta, Malta.
See something that I missed? Make sure to let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, check out some of my other travel guides to Malta for more inspiration and to help plan your trip!