1. St John’s Co-Cathedral
Not only a place of worship but also an exuberant work of art, St John’s Co-Cathedral has an interior that can only be described as a definition of wealth. Gilded rooms with arched ceilings boast paintings donated by Grand Masters and knights themselves. Home to original paintings by Caravaggio, the Co-Cathedral attracts numerous visitors daily and a visit to Valletta wouldn’t be complete without popping inside this awe-inspiring church.
2. National Museum of Archaeology
Auberge de Provence on Valletta’s main Republic street was built in 1571 and was once the main house of the Knights of the Order of St John. Today this grand building is the base of Malta’s National Museum of Archaeology. Objects at the museum date back to Malta’s Neolithic period from an astonishing 5000 BC, with the main attraction being that of the carved figurine of the Sleeping Lady, originally unearthed at Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum.
3. Grand Harbour Cruise
Offered by Captain Morgan is a two-hour Grand Harbour cruise. Guests can take in the sights of neighbouring Sliema and Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens. The cruise takes passengers through the two main natural harbours, the Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour, and an additional 10 creeks. Accompanied by a detailed commentary along the way, there are several trips daily. A marvellous opportunity to take in over 7,000 years of Malta’s history with some excellent photographic opportunities included.
4. Upper Barrakka Gardens
The Upper Barrakka Gardens are a public garden in Valletta, Malta. Along with the Lower Barrakka Gardens in the same city, they offer a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour. The gardens are located on the upper tier of St. Peter & Paul Bastion, which was built in the 1560s. The bastion’s lower tier contains the Saluting Battery. The garden’s terraced arches were built in 1661 by the Italian knight Fra Flaminio Balbiani. They were originally roofed, but the ceiling was removed following the Rising of the Priests in 1775.
5. Fort St Elmo – National War Museum
Fort St Elmo – National War Museum The National War Museum houses a superb collection of items which takes us back to prehistoric times. The items are displayed in chronological order and start with the early phases of the Bronze Age around 2,500 B.C.
6. The Malta Experience
The Malta Experience Is Malta’s Premier Tourist Attraction. Discover the turbulent and inspiring history of the Maltese Islands with this unique and informative audio-visual tour that combines a 45-minute historical documentary show and a 30-minute visit of La Sacra Infermeria, an old hospital built by the Knights of St. John. This tour is an ideal first stop for visitors who wish to discover the Maltese Islands and step back in time to relive Malta’s history. The attraction is open daily including Saturdays and Sunday (from 11:00 AM every hour), and the cafe and souvenir shop are open daily.
7. Valletta Waterfront
The Valletta Waterfront, is a promenade in Floriana, Malta, mainly featuring three prominent buildings: a church in the middle, the Pinto Stores or the Pinto Wharf on the left, and the Forni Stores or the Forni Shopping Complex on the right.
8. Grand Master’s Palace
As its name suggest, it was originally the Grand Masters of the Order of Malta’s residence. Nowadays, the palace houses the President of Malta Office. It’s actually quite surprising that, although housing one of the highest authorities of the country, the palace can be visited freely. From the start, you will be surprised by the beautiful courtyards with fountains and statues: a bit of shade is more than welcome during the hot days. Inside the palace, you will have access to the State Rooms, which includes the Council Chamber and its magnificent drapes made by the Gobelins manufactory. You can also visit the official dining room, the Supreme Council Hall and the Page’s Waiting Room (the grand master had 16 servants!). Finally you can discover the ambassador’s room, the former Grand Master’s audience chamber. Today, Maltese presidents still welcome foreign guests here. In the part of the palace that used to be stables, you can also visit the armoury: it houses an impressive collection of weapons and armors. All of them are authentic and were used by the Knights and Grand Masters of the Order of Malta. When a knight died, his armour became the property of the order. That explains why there are so many to admire today!
9. Republic Street and Merchant Street
Republic and Merchant streets are the best places to find souvenir shops with magnets, postcards, “I love Malta” t-shirts and Malta’s iconic souvenir: a knight of the Order of Malta figurine. Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do have one of these in my living room now!
While walking along the street, you will also find a lot of jewellers: Maltese craftsmen are renowned for their gold and silver filigree. Some of the works are particularly impressive. In Republic Street, there are numerous cafes and restaurants with terraces: perfect for your lunch break! You will also be able to see some monuments like St Francis of Assisi Church, the Church of Saint Barbara or the Parliament
10. The Three Cities
You have seen them from the Upper Barraka Garden, it is now time to go visit the Three Cities! To go there, take the lift down from the garden (going down is free, going back up is also free if you show your Three Cities boat ticket), cross the street and continue on the left. You will arrive on the boat departure location. A round trip to the three Cities costs 2.80€ and takes about 10 minutes one way with the ferry. You can also opt for a traditional boat trip that lasts a little longer and is a bit more expensive. The ferry will take you to Vittoriosa (also called Birgu in Maltese), one of the Three Cities, along with Senglea and Cospicua. They all offer magnificent views over Valletta and can easily be visited on foot.