Valletta, Malta is an awe-inspiring city that is a must visit on any Mediterranean cruise. The city is a cultural hub for Baroque art, museums, and historic sites, surrounded by the year-round temperate sun of the Mediterranean Sea. Valletta is the perfect place to relax and unwind, while also being intellectually stimulating. In 2018, the EU named Valletta a “European Capital of Culture,” a well-deserved recognition of its rich heritage.
Despite there being more than a day’s worth of activities, the historic downtown is easily walkable, allowing you to get a sense of Valletta’s elegance in a short time. One of the must-visit sites is the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, an intricate structure built between 1572-1577 that still maintains its elaborate Baroque architecture. For breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, take a walk along the Grand Harbor. There you can also find outdoor cafes and wine bars where you can enjoy some refreshments. Another great option is to take a ferry to the island of Gozo, where you can enjoy hiking, swimming, and sunbathing along the area’s striking red-sand beaches.
Embark on a journey through the intricately decorated church to uncover its historical importance in Valletta. For those who appreciate art, a stop in Valletta during a cruise will not disappoint. Once inside this 16th century Baroque cathedral, you’ll be greeted by a collection of Caravaggio’s most renowned masterpieces, including The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, which are sure to leave you in awe and wonder.
If you’re a history enthusiast particularly interested in military history, Fort St. Elmo is a must-see attraction in Valletta. The site also houses the National War Museum, where you can explore different military memorabilia and take an audio-guided tour of the exhibits. You’ll learn about the fort’s role in protecting Valletta’s harbor, including its brave resistance during the traumatic siege by the Turkish army in 1565. The admission fee is very reasonable at just €10 for adults.
Valletta owes a great deal of its progress to its coastal placement and its strategic significance throughout the ages. The blue waters are speckled with white limestone and distant ships, making for an unbeatable sight.
If you’re looking for a peaceful and inspiring experience, the Valletta waterfront is an excellent destination to consider. You can take a leisurely walk along the promenade, which boasts a charming and atmospheric ambiance. The old warehouse buildings have been creatively repurposed, adding to the area’s unique charm. If you feel peckish, there are many restaurants located along the Marsamxett Harbor where you can indulge in delicious cuisine while admiring the beautiful scenery.
Take a leisurely stroll through the Upper Barrakka Gardens to soak up the breathtaking panoramic view of the Grand Harbor from the well-groomed terrace of these beautiful public gardens. You can enjoy the gardens any day, from sunrise to sunset, as they are open from 7am until 10pm. The best part? Entrance to the gardens is absolutely free!
Once you have completed your visit to St. John’s Co-Cathedral, make your way towards the Grandmaster’s Palace, which is located just a few blocks away. While the exterior of the palace is impressive, the interior is truly magnificent. Until 2015, the Parliament of Malta conducted its business within these walls. Take a stroll through the palace and its surrounding grounds to experience a glimpse of the opulence and grandeur of the 16th century.
If you’re looking for a fun day trip filled with outdoor activities, Gozo is the perfect destination. Whether you enjoy scuba diving or hiking, this Maltese island has something for everyone. To get to Gozo from Valletta, where your cruise ship docks, you can take a car or bus to Cirkewwa and then hop on a half-hour ferry ride. Once you arrive, you can explore the breathtaking 100-foot tall limestone arch known as the Azure Window or take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of Blue Lagoon.
The city center of Valletta is conveniently located less than a mile away from the Valletta cruise port. Once you arrive at the port, you’ll find a range of standard amenities such as restrooms, information centers, duty-free shops, and transportation services, all available within the cruise terminal. As the Valletta cruise terminal has the capacity to accommodate multiple ships at once, you’ll likely encounter other passengers from various ships exploring the city center alongside you.
If you’re looking for great places to eat and drink near the Valletta cruise port, you’re in luck. Valletta is home to some of the best restaurants and bars in Malta. Below are some of the top food and drink spots to explore.
If you want to relax and enjoy a glass of wine in cozy surroundings, Legligin is the perfect place for you. The bar is known for its unmatched wine selection and ever-changing menu. It offers a wide range of dishes, including octopus and steamed mussels.
For a quick lunch with an Italian twist, Piadina Caffe is a must-visit. Although seating is limited, the restaurant offers a quick turnaround time. You can also take your food to go and enjoy it while admiring St. John’s Co-Cathedral.
Zero Sei Trattoria offers no-frills Italian food. It’s a great place to try classic dishes like carbonara, cacio e pepe, and veal. The restaurant aims to bring a taste of Rome to Malta.
If you’re looking for a romantic bar to enjoy wine and cocktails, The Rootz Bar is the place to be. Although it doesn’t offer a full dinner menu, the bar has a variety of cheese and charcuterie boards to satisfy your appetite.
Finally, Noni is perfect for a fancy night out. The restaurant is known for revitalizing classic Mediterranean dishes in exciting new ways. You’ll find plenty of creativity on the menu, including local rabbit with roasted garlic puree, slow-cooked octopus tagine, and chocolate and orange mousse.
Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its government, music, and public art. Despite its small population of under 7,000 residents, Valletta boasts of a rich history that attracts visitors from all over the world. The city was founded in 1566 by the Knights of Malta, who introduced a new grid plan that still stands today. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, Valletta witnessed numerous occupations by the Ottomans, French, and British, each leaving their unique mark on the city’s culture.
Unfortunately, Valletta also suffered significant damage during World War II from German and Italian air attacks, which destroyed several buildings, including the Royal Opera House. Nevertheless, the city’s architecture still exudes its heavy Baroque influence, and today, Malta is a major art destination, boasting of numerous museums, including the National Museum of Fine Arts. Every January, the city celebrates the annual Valletta International Baroque Festival, which attracts music lovers from around the globe.
During your visit to Valletta, Malta, you can explore an array of charming boutiques in the city center which are mostly owned and operated by families. The stores offer a wide variety of products including leather, gold and silver jewelry, and souvenirs for tourists. However, do note that most of the shops remain closed on Sundays. Moreover, lace is one of the most popular goods in Malta and you can easily find them in the local shops. If you are looking for shopping centers and malls, you may have to travel a bit further from the city center and plan your trip by bus or car accordingly.
When traveling to Valletta, Malta, it’s important to note that the primary currency used is the Euro. To easily access cash during your trip, there are numerous ATMs located throughout the city for your convenience. In terms of tipping, it’s customary to leave anywhere between 5-10% at restaurants, bars, and hotels. If a service charge is already included in your bill, it’s not necessary to leave an additional tip. When taking a guided tour, it’s encouraged to tip 10% for their service, and for porters or bellhops, it’s best practice to tip one or two euros per bag. For taxi rides, rounding up to the nearest euro is sufficient, but if your driver provides you with recommendations, it’s thoughtful to tip a little more. Valletta is a wonderful destination, and following these tipping customs will ensure a positive experience for both you and the locals.