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Valletta

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Valletta or Il-Belt is the capital of Malta. It is both the southernmost and the least populated national capital in the European Union and one of only two without rail based public transit (the other being Nikosia).

Understand[edit]

A harbour city, Valletta preserves much of its 16th century architectural heritage built under the Hospitallers. Valletta was one of the earliest sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Referred to colloquially as Il-Belt ("The City"), it takes its name from its founder, Grandmaster Jean Parisot de Valette.

Valletta is a "European Capital of Culture" for 2018, an honour it shares with Leeuwarden.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 15.2 15.5 16.7 19.1 23.3 27.5 30.7 30.7 28.0 24.2 20.1 16.7
Nightly lows (°C) 9.2 9.3 10.1 11.9 14.9 18.4 21.0 21.8 20.1 17.1 13.9 11.0
Precipitation (mm) 89 61 41 23 7 3 0 7 40 90 80 112

Source: Wikipedia. Visit AccuWeather for a five-day forecast.

The southernmost national capital in Europe, and sitting next to the Mediterranean, Valletta is one of the few places in Europe that has mild and warm weather around the year. Nighttime lows are around +10°C in the winter, however at that time of the year it's comparatively rainy. During the summer, expect sunny and hot weather.

Get in[edit]

Valletta city walls

By car[edit]

Most bus routes and many arterial roads converge on Valletta. However, inside the city there are many one-way streets and some pedestrian zones. Parking can be difficult. There is a large multi-storey car park in Floriana, about half a kilometre from the City Gate entrance to Valletta.

By bus[edit]

In front of the main gate of Valletta is the 1 main bus station for the entire island, rather than buslines covering the island in a grid, most of them spread out from here and return to here.

By boat[edit]

Valletta from Sliema

For those opting not to fly to Malta, Virtu Ferries runs ferries from Pozzallo and Catania on the island of Sicily, Italy.

A much shorter journey can be done by Valletta Ferry Services across beautiful Marsamxett harbour from Sliema and past Manoel Island, for just €1.50. Considerably cheaper then paying for an harbour cruise.

Another little known way is to visit Vittoriosa by bus and then have the Maltese version of the gondola, the so called Dghajsa bring you back in style across the spectacular Grand Harbour to Valletta, and drop you off just by Victoria gate for €3.50.

By plane[edit]

The island's sole airport is 2 Malta International Airport (MLA IATA) (located in Luqa). The airport is the main hub for flag carrier Air Malta as well as a base for Ryanair with numerous flights all around Europe and the Mediterranean countries. The airport is also served seasonally by numerous European airlines from their respective hubs, but increasingly flights are available year-round Malta International Airport on Wikipedia Malta International Airport (Q672289) on Wikidata

  • The X4 bus runs from the airport to Valletta, with generally two buses per hour taking about 20 minutes, costing €2.00 in summer.

Get around[edit]

The Valletta peninsula is only a couple of kilometres in length and so the ideal way is to do everything on foot, which enables you to take many shortcuts via stairs. However, the city is built on a ridge, and is steep in parts (requiring walking up and down stairs in some places), which can be tiring. The alternative would be doing it by car which is not ideal for visitors due to lack of parking space, direction signs and the fact that the streets are very narrow, often one way and confusing if unfamiliar. Most of the main tourist attractions are along the main street (Triq ir-Republika) which does not involve steep hills.

Another possibility is to rent one of the horsecarts (Karozzin), but be sure to haggle over the price.

By taxi[edit]

  • A fleet of electric min-cabs operate during the daytime in Valletta, with a maximum fare of €5.00.

By bus[edit]

Bus route 133 operates a circular path around Valletta, departing from the bus terminus going round the peninsula including the Valletta Waterfront, Fort St. Elmo and many other locations. However, since most of Valletta is better accessible on foot, it may be advised to use this bus only to visit a particular location rather than for general sightseeing.

By lift[edit]

  • 1 Barrakka Lift (near the Saluting Battery). Nov - May: 7:00 - 21:00, Jun - Oct: 7:00 to 24:00. a two cabin lift between the waterfront and the main city level, taking 23s to cover 58m. €1.00.

See[edit]

St Johns Co-cathedral

In debatable order of importance:

  • 1 St. John's Co Cathedral. Is unremarkable from the outside but incredibly ornate on the inside. Each of the different 'langues' (knights of a particular nationality had their own langue) has a their own chapel lined along the side of the nave in which they try and outdo each other in splendor. The barrel shaped ceiling is a single huge fresco, the lifework of famed artist Mattia Preti. And last but not least the floor is entirely taken by knight's graves all intricately inlaid marble in different colours, a recent book on the subject describes it as the 'most beautiful floor in the world.' This relatively unknown cathedral can count itself one of the most impressive in Europe. Open 9:30AM and 4:30PM on weekdays and 9:30AM and 12:30PM on Saturdays. Entrance is through the Carappechia Annex on Republic Street in between St John's Street and St Lucy Street, directly opposite the Law Courts. As soon as you enter you will be provided with an audio guide included in the entrance fee which leads you through the cathedral in 24 stops enabling you to get further historical information about the paintings and special parts of St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Saint John's Co-Cathedral on Wikipedia St. John's Co-Cathedral (Q613619) on Wikidata
  • The Cathedral Museum. Holds two works by Caravaggio who was briefly himself a Knight, one of them being his masterpiece the famous huge "Beheading of St. John the Baptist."
  • 2 Palace of the Grand Masters, +356 21249349. daily 09.00 – 17.00 (armoury sometimes closed for functions). Now is the President's office and the Maltese parliament. The staterooms, when accessible are quite impressive. It also houses the Knights' armoury which is open to visitors daily from 9AM–5PM. (However, all other parts of the palace are closed to visitors, so what they can see is limited.) At the entrance you can receive an audio guide which is included in the entrance fee. It provides you with further historical information about the various armoury of different eras beginning from the medieval chain mail up to the 17th century armour. €10.00. Grandmaster's Palace (Valletta) on Wikipedia Grandmaster's Palace (Q1368885) on Wikidata
  • 3 The Malta Experience, St Elmo Bastions, Mediterranean St, +356 243776, +356 251284. Despite not being cheap visitors who have any interest in culture or history and who haven't exhaustively read up on the country before coming here would do well by starting their visit to Malta by going here as it is an excellent introduction to the country. It gives an impression of major events that shaped the country, but as it's only half an hour long and meant for first-time visitors one shouldn't expect an in-depth dry scholarly treatment of the subject. ​€16.
  • 4 The Upper Barrakka Gardens (at the upper south side of the peninsula). The gardens offer a jaw dropping view of the Grand Harbour. Go on a sunny day and bring champagne! Upper Barrakka Gardens on Wikipedia Upper Barrakka Gardens (Q7898477) on Wikidata
  • 5 The National Museum of Archaeology, Auberge de Provence, Republic St, +356 2122 1623. daily 09.00 - 18.00 (17:00 in Jan, Feb). Even though Malta has an impressive and unique ancient history this museum housed in the former Auberge de Provence in Republic street can be rather a disappointment. The museum is currently partially being renovated hopefully bringing something more worthy of its name. €5.00. National Museum of Archaeology, Malta on Wikipedia National Museum of Archaeology (Q2898298) on Wikidata
Fort St. Elmo
  • 6 Fort St. Elmo (National War Museum). Apr - Sep daily 09.00-18.00; Oct - Mar daily 09.00 - 17.00. Built at the tip of the peninsula by the knights after the Dragut Raid of 1551. During the Great Siege of 1565 the Turks made the mistake of choosing to first take this fort, for which they had planned a week. Instead the knights and soldiers present fought desperately for a month, buying essential time. The knights in the fort knew they were fighting to the death, and so rather than being taken off the ramparts when wounded, knights would fight on seated in chairs until they couldn't even lift their arms anymore. Today the fort houses the National War Museum and the Police Academy. The National War Museum is mainly focussed on World Wars 1 and 2, but covers the period from the Bronze age onwards. €10.00. Fort Saint Elmo on Wikipedia Fort St Elmo (Q1438745) on Wikidata
  • 7 Fortifications of Valletta. The imposing defence walls and ramparts at the entrance to Valletta built by the Knights in the late 16th century are interesting to explore. Fortifications of Valletta on Wikipedia Fortifications of Valletta (Q20671925) on Wikidata
  • 8 The National Library (Bibliotheca), 36 Old Treasury Street, +356 2123 6585. An evocative old library on Republic Square, next to the Grandmaster's Palace. Only part of it is open to the public: you will need to take a Passport or other Photo ID to get in. The entire archives of the Knights of St. John from the Crusades in the 11th century until 1798 when Napoleon took Malta, are kept here, in true Maltese style in rickety wooden filing cabinets. They were proud to mention that recently a sprinkler system had been installed to protect this priceless collection. National Library of Malta on Wikipedia National Library of Malta (Q1535341) on Wikidata
  • 9 The Sacra Infermeria (Mediterranean Conference Centre). The great hospital built by the knights in the 16th century, open to everyone, it had the highest level of healthcare available in Europe at the time. It was mostly destroyed during WWII, it was rebuilt and now functions as a conference centre. It is rarely open to the public. Mediterranean Conference Centre on Wikipedia Mediterranean Conference Centre (Q16894983) on Wikidata
  • 10 The Casa Rocca Piccola, 74 Republic St., +356 2122 1499. A Maltese Noble Family House on Triq ir-Republika, a few hundred yards past the Grand Master's Palace on the right hand side. Very enjoyable. Casa Rocca Piccola on Wikipedia Casa Rocca Piccola (Q2044132) on Wikidata
  • 11 St. James Cavalier. A fortress opposite the Auberge of Castille (today the Prime Minister's office) which was built as part of the elaborate defence systems of Valletta. Today it houses a 'Centre for Creativity', with its own theatre, cinema, music room and exhibition halls. Its twin, St. John Cavalier is currently the embassy of the Knights of St. John who are, like the Vatican, recognised by several countries as a sovereign entity. Saint James Cavalier on Wikipedia Saint James Cavalier (Q7401400) on Wikidata
  • 12 Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Triq Ic Cimiterju, Paola (Reachable by any bus route to Paola (e.g. Route 1,2,3) and a short walk from the bus stops.), +356 2142 4231, fax: +356 2124 4231. Eight tours are conducted daily, starting on the hour from 9AM till 4PM (last tour).. The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a subterranean structure excavated c. 2500 B.C. Thought to be originally a sanctuary, it became a necropolis in prehistoric times. It is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world. To ensure its conservation, the site’s microclimate is strictly regulated. For this reason, the site is open to a maximum of 80 visitors each day. Each tour is limited to ten visitors. A tour of the site starts with a brief introductory exhibition and multilingual audio-visual film focusing on the temple building peoples and the Hypogeum’s relationship to Malta’s temple sites. Booking in advance on the Heritage Malta website is highly advised. If unable to book in advance, tickets for tours the next day at 12:00pm and 4:00pm are sold at the Valletta Museum of Fine Arts the day prior. They are sold at a first come, first serve basis. Depending on the season, lining up prior to the opening of the museum is a necessity for purchasing tickets. Plan on lining up anywhere from half an hour to an hour and a half in advance to ensure ticket purchases. €30.00 available from website, €35.00 from the museum. Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum on Wikipedia Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni (Q755514) on Wikidata
  • 13 Tarxien Temples, Triq It Tempji Neolitici, Tarxien. 9AM-5PM daily, last admission 4:30PM. This site, dating from 3600 to 2500 BC, is the most complex of all temple sites in Malta and consists of four megalithic structures. €6.00. Tarxien Temples on Wikipedia Tarxien Temples (Q1064331) on Wikidata
  • 14 Lascaris War Rooms. daily 10:00 - 17:00. Underground complex which was used as the British HQ during the defence of Malta in World War 2 €10. Lascaris War Rooms on Wikipedia Lascaris War Rooms (Q1648164) on Wikidata
  • 15 St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Independence Square. daily 10:00 - 15:00. Anglican cathedral built in 1844, with memorials to the World War 2 defence of Malta. St Paul's Pro-Cathedral, Valletta on Wikipedia St Paul's Pro-Cathedral (Q1280848) on Wikidata
  • 16 Malta Postal Museum, 135 Archbishop Street. Mon - Fri 10:00 - 16:00, Sat 10:00 - 14:00. Museum run by Maltapost, including a working post office. €5.00. Malta Postal Museum on Wikipedia Malta Postal Museum (Q24896494) on Wikidata
  • 17 City Gate (Porta di terra). The fifth incarnation of the main entrance to the city was built between 2011 and 2014 to design of the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The first gate on this site was built in 1569. City Gate (Valletta) on Wikipedia City Gate (Q2044535) on Wikidata
  • 18 Parliament House. Malta Parliament building built between 2011 and 2015 at a cost of €90 million to a design by Renzo Piano. The building's design of two large stone blocks on stilts is controversial, but it has low emissions with solar panels on the roof. Public access to the building is restricted. Parliament House (Malta) on Wikipedia Parliament House (Q19882533) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

St George's Square
Saluting Battery
  • 1 Coastal Walk. You can take a spectacular walk along the sea around the outside of the city walls. If you go to the mooring place where the ferry for Sliema leaves, there is the possibility to walk over the rocks towards the tip of the peninsula and then around it coming back up into the city just next to the Malta Experience. This walk takes about 30 minutes and is done by virtually no-one.
  • 2 St George's Square. At night in St George's Square, there is a lovely water fountain, with coloured spouts of water which pop up and down - a fantastic play opportunity for children. They WILL get wet, so don't let them go near if they are wearing their best clothing. Great fun for kids.
  • Audio Guide. To get further historical information about the numerous places of interest through Valletta it can be useful to get an audio guide. It is available in different languages from the Archeology Museum in Republic Street. You can choose independently from the 24 stops and it is not necessary to follow the given order. Stops can easily be skipped or visited in another sequence when tired or full of the new information.
  • 3 Saluting Battery, Battery Street. A gun is fired twice a day, at noon and 16:00. Saluting Battery (Valletta) on Wikipedia Saluting Battery (Valletta) (Q19508900) on Wikidata
  • 4 Manoel Theatre (Maltese: It-Teatru Manoel), +356 21246389. Is 'La Scala' in miniature, a very beautiful 17th century theatre in original state. One of the oldest active theaters in Europe, it is the place for many classical music performances but also for instance the hilarious Christmas Panto. Old Theatre St, Tel: 356/22-26-18. Manoel Theatre on Wikipedia Manoel Theatre (Q576800) on Wikidata
  • 5 Pjazza Teatru Rjal (Open Air Theatre), Casa Cassar, Triq il-Vittorja, +356 22478100. Open theatre on the site of the former Royal Opera House which was destroyed by a bomb in 1942. The outdoor theatre was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2013. Royal Opera House, Valletta on Wikipedia Royal Opera House, Valletta (Q576808) on Wikidata
  • Valletta International Baroque Festival. Annually in January. Festival of baroque music concerts and operas. Valletta International Baroque Festival on Wikipedia Valletta International Baroque Festival (Q33100022) on Wikidata
  • Valletta 2018 events. Valletta is European Capital of Culture for 2018, and various events are being held. Events range from exhibitions lasting several months to concerts on a single evening. Events happen all over Valletta and some elsewhere in Malta.

Learn[edit]

Several of the Maltese English language institutes are in Valletta.

Buy[edit]

The main street of Valletta is Republic street, a busy pedestrian zone leading down the middle of the Peninsula from the main gate down to Republic square, this is where many of the better shops are located, although it cannot quite compete with Sliema for clothing.

The best souvenir shop (the least worthless trinkets etc.) can be found at the Malta experience, but there are many other reasonable souvenir shops in Valletta. At the beginning of the Republic street there are several reasonable souvenir shops but prices are far cheaper if you walk 20 meters down South street (turn left if you have the bus station behind you) which crosses Republic street very soon after you have entered through the city gates.

The best bookshop of Malta is definitely the one formerly known as Sapienzas (known as the Agenda Bookshop as of 2008) on Republic street but can be a bit more expensive.

There is a daily market selling cheap clothing in the parallel street to Republic street called Triq il-Merkanti, or Merchants street.

Eat[edit]

St. Paul's Pro-Cathedral

Valletta has a good selection of decent restaurants, especially along the waterfront. Since most tourists stay in Sliema or on the north coast of the island there are fewer of the trashy variety, although it does have the usual fast-food chains. Look out for traditional bakeries, with steaming fresh bread for mere cents.

Budget[edit]

  • 1 La Mère Restaurant, 174 Merchant Street (very close to old market), +356 2122 3256, e-mail: . Mon-Sat noon-2:30 pm then 7:00pm-10:30pm, Sun closed. Indian restaurant with a dash of Maltese, Med and Arabian in a cosy and homey atmosphere.
  • Luciano, 21/22 Merchant Street (Adjacent to St. John’s Cathedral), +356 2123 6212, e-mail: . Good food for reasonable prices in a charming location near cathedral - big portions. On 3rd floor of Luciano Hotel.

Mid-range[edit]

  • De Robertis (Castille Hotel Roof Top Restaurant), Castille Square (corner of St Paul's St), +356 2124 3677. Daily noon - 2.30 pm, 7 - 10 pm. Great view and tasty food.
  • 3 Caffe Cordina, 244/5 Republic St, +356 2123 4385. 8 am - 7 pm Mon-Sat, to 4 pm Sun. Venerable cafe, popular for lunch or for pastries & coffee in the coffee bar. Mixed reviews of the food.
  • 4 Malata Restaurant, St Georges Palace Sq, +356 2123 3967. If one is looking for a place in Valletta to have dinner on a terrace, then this is a nice place to go slightly later in the evening when the square in front of the Grand Master's palace is almost emptied of parked cars.

Splurge[edit]

  • Pintonino Restaurant, Waterfront, Floriana, +356 2122 7773. Tucked a few meters away from the Valletta waterfront, a fine restaurant that offers great food and a selection of more than 150 wines.

Drink[edit]

Auberge de Castille at sunrise
  • 1 Trabuxu Wine Bar, 2 Strait Street, +356 2122 3036. Tue-Sat 7 - 11 pm. A charming wine bar in an ancient cellar serving light meals. It's at the beginning of a small alley parallel to Republic street, look for the wooden sign with the corkscrew. The bistro is opposite, on South Street.
  • Rampila Restaurant and Wine bar (Rampila), St John's Cavalier (Enter city via City Gate, first left then left again, you'll see an olive tree, an old stone bench and the railings around the entrance to Rampila.), +356 2122 6625. daily noon - 10.30 pm. Maltese / Med fusion restaurant and wine bar in the impressive bastions. One can enjoy a fine plate of fresh seafood, meat, game, pasta or risotto there or enjoy a platter and/or dips accompanied by wine from an extensive selection.

Sleep[edit]

Ships passing the Saluting Battery

Budget[edit]

  • 1 Asti Guesthouse (Casa Asti), 18 St Ursula St, +356 2123 9506. Small guesthouse. Rooms not en-suite, but three double bathrooms between nine rooms means there is no problem with accessing facilities. Price includes breakfast in a lovely room with a huge chandelier. 20€.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 4 Valletta G-House, 60 North St (near Fort Elmo), +44 7765 4321, e-mail: . Artist's private townhouse, sleeps two. Large bedroom with striking floor tiles and traditional 'galleria', rustic kitchen with all mod-cons and lounge. €150 / night.

Splurge[edit]

  • Casa Ellul, 81 Old Theatre Street, Valletta VLT 1429, Malta (central, on block between West St & Old Mint St), +356 21 224 821, e-mail: . 4-star boutique hotel on a quiet street in central Valletta. Has eight suites (most with balconies) ranged around a central courtyard, with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars, as well as tea and coffee-making facilities.
  • 6 The Phoenicia, The Mall, Floriana, +356 2122 5241, fax: +356 2123 5254, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. 5-star luxury Art-Deco hotel located just outside of the main gate. 250€ per room per night. Hotel Phoenicia on Wikipedia Hotel Phoenicia (Q21563450) on Wikidata
  • Valletta Suites, St Lucia St, +356 7948 8047. Boutique hotel with 3 self-contained suites within a 17th C townhouseː Maison La Vallette, Valletta Nobile and Lucia Nova. €140 / suite / night.

Stay safe[edit]

Apart from some restaurants and bars open in the evening Valletta still has next to nothing happening in terms of nightlife, so apart from Republic street the streets are quite empty late at night. Most of the usual petty crime that travelers are confronted with happens in Sliema and St Julians, but it's something to keep in mind.

Connect[edit]

Cope[edit]

Embassies[edit]

  • Germany Germany, Whitehall Mansions, 3rd floor, ix-Xatt Ta'xbiex XBX 1035, +356 2260 4000. M-W & F 09ː00-12:00 and 13ː15-16ː15 W; closed Thur, Sat & Sun.
  • United States United States, Ta' Qali National Park, Attard (10 km west of centre), +356 2561 4000 (for regular and emergency service), fax: +356 2124 3229, e-mail: . Mon & Wed 2-4 pm, Tu & Th 9-11 am.

Go next[edit]

Almost all of Malta's bus routes start from the large roundabout just outside the main gate, making everywhere in the country accessible.

There is also the ferry which goes to Sliema.

Valletta is itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site but two more can be found in the suburb of Tarxien, in the form of the Megalithic Temples and the Hypogeum


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