Every year, the island of Malta attracts 2.6 million tourists. The bulk of these tourists spend their Malta vacation in Valletta. Valletta is Malta’s capital city. It also holds the distinction of being the smallest capital city in the European Union. It comes in at just 0.61 square kilometers!
Despite its small size, Valletta offers an abundance of activities for tourists and locals to enjoy. These vary from a simple afternoon of sunbathing to museums, concerts, markets, and more.
In today’s article, we’re going to be looking at the top 29 Valletta things to do. Read on for your ultimate guide to the little city that could!
© Majjistral Park
1. Golden Bay
Malta is famous for its beaches, so we would be remiss if we began this list of Valletta things to do any other way. Golden Bay is perhaps the most beloved beach on the entire island.
Easily accessible from Valletta, it boasts the perfect conditions for swimming and sunbathing. The waters are particularly calm here, making Golden Bay a great place to visit if you’re holidaying with children who are still learning to swim.
2. Ramla I-Hamra
Ramla I-Hamra is a little more removed from the action than Golden Bay is. For many travellers, this is part of the beach’s charm. Small and framed by rocky cliffs, this beach is the perfect getaway for adults hoping to escape the noise and crowds of more popular beaches.
Despite being relatively remote, Ramla I-Hamra can be reached from Valletta with minimal effort.
3. Paradise Bay
© ken 898
If you’re looking for a wild night out, Paradise Bay is the place to be! Paradise Bay is regularly the scene of beach parties. During one of these events, you can expect loud music, lots of dancing, and streams of alcohol to boot.
On calmer days, the beach offers the perfect environment for a spot of quiet sunbathing.
4. Mellieha Bay
Mellieha Bay is one of our favourite beaches for swimming in all of Europe. We say this because its waters are shallow even 50 meters from the shore. This makes it ideal for swimming, particularly if you have young children by your side.
Mellieha Bay also holds the distinction of being Malta’s longest beach, so you won’t have any trouble finding somewhere to kick back and relax when you’re not in the water.
© Frank Vincent’s
5. Lascaris War Rooms
Valletta isn’t all about sunbathing. Along with its many beaches, the city boasts multiple historical sites. Take, for example, the Lascaris War Rooms.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the Lascaris War Rooms served as the war headquarters of the British during World War Two. From within its underground walls, soldiers defended the island.
Today, the Lascaris War Rooms operate as a museum and offer a fascinating glimpse into what life was like in Valletta during the Second World War.
6. St. John’s Co-Cathedral
© Mike McBey
St. John’s Co-Cathedral is one of the leading Valletta things to do and it isn’t hard to see why. Even secular tourists can’t help but be awed by the cathedral’s magnificence.
From the outside, this 16th century cathedral is deceptively simple. Once you enter, however, your breath will be taken away by the marvellous works of art that line its walls.
The centerpiece of the cathedral is its altar, which is ordained in gold and silver and flanked by images of John the Baptist.
Today, St. John’s Cathedral is open Monday to Friday from 10:30 to 14:30. Although it is closed on Sundays, tourists can visit on Saturdays between 09:30 and 12:30.
7. National War Museum – Fort St. Elmo
Fort St. Elmo was constructed all the way back in 1552. It would be impossible for us to cover its extensive history in a single paragraph, so let it suffice to say that it played a major role in the development of Valletta and Malta as a whole.
Most notably, it was instrumental in the 1565 Great Siege of Malta. In the early 2000s, the fort fell into a state of disrepair.
Thankfully, it has since been renovated and is now operating as Malta’s National War Museum. It houses an extensive collection of wartime artifacts and is a great way to educate yourself on the island’s history.
8. Tritons’ Fountain
© K B
Just a few minutes outside of Valletta sits Tritons’ Fountain. Constructed in 1959, Tritons’ Fountain can rival the great fountains of Europe when it comes to beauty and history.
Over the course of its construction, the fountain saw three separate governing bodies. Later governments were unconcerned with the fountain and allowed it to deteriorate for several decades.
It was finally restored in 2017, with its triton statues being returned to their original magnificence.
9. Parrocca San Pawl Nawfragu
Valletta’s Parrocca San Pawl Nawfragu is often overlooked in favour of the more famous St. John’s Co-Cathedral. While St. John’s Co-Cathedral is undeniably magnificent, Parrocca San Pawl Nawfragu is remarkable in its own right.
The church’s interior is marvellously decorated and houses some of the finest works of art in all of Malta.
Its connection with St. Paul is impossible to forget, as much of the church’s art revolves around him in some way. Visitors can even gaze upon St. Paul’s wrist bone, which is on display in the church!
10. Malta Postal Museum
When you first hear about it, the Malta Postal Museum doesn’t sound all that exciting. After all, it is a building that houses old newspapers, stamps, and bicycles.
Within five minutes of entering, however, it becomes impossible not to get sucked into the surprisingly compelling story of Malta’s postal service.
Interactive exhibits allow visitors to immerse themselves in the postal world, making this one of the most hands-on of Valletta’s things to do.
11. Saluting Battery
Valletta’s Saluting Battery is thought to be the oldest operational saluting battery in the world. But despite remaining active, it also serves as an interactive museum.
Visitors are granted the rare opportunity of seeing history unfold before their very eyes, as soldiers fire restored gunpowder cannons (see video above).
Guided tours of the battery are offered three times a day. However, those who would rather explore the area at their own pace can choose an audio guide instead.
12. National Museum of Archaeology
Modern history is fascinating, there’s no doubt about that. But for those who want to venture even further back in time, there is the National Museum of Archaeology.
This museum houses artifacts from countless eras of human history. In fact, some even date back to prehistory. The oldest items in the museum date back all the way to 5200 BC. These Neolithic treasures include figurines, pottery, and ancient tools.
13. Valletta International Baroque Festival
Malta is home to a number of music festivals, but none is more famous than the Valletta International Baroque Festival. This is the largest music festival on the entire island and has been running since 2013.
As its name suggests, it focuses primarily on early music. While we understand that isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, we encourage those who can arrange their trip to coincide with the Valletta International Baroque Festival to do so.
With only the world’s finest baroque museums gracing the festival stage, it’s virtually impossible not to fall in love with the genre.
14. Notte Bianca
If you’d rather a more varied display of musical talent, Notte Bianca is the festival for you. This is a one-night celebration of Valletta’s finest singers and musicians.
It’s also a good chance to catch some local theatre, poetry, dance, and even digital arts. Notte Bianca is free to attend, so you can enjoy a whole evening’s entertainment without eating into your holiday budget.
15. International Choir Festival
Continuing our look at Valletta’s musical celebrations is the International Choir Festival. This festival is held every second year, with the next installment scheduled to take place in 2021.
During the 2021 International Choir Festival, music lovers can catch some of Malta’s most renowned choirs, as well as newer groups that are sure to go on to big things.
You’ll also be able to see international choirs, with countless global groups travelling to Valletta for the occasion.
16. International Fireworks Festival
© Anthony Sacco
If you want to experience something a little bit different during your stay in Valletta, be sure to hit up the International Fireworks Festival.
Every year, villages around Malta come together to determine which village can orchestrate the best fireworks display.
The festival’s final takes place in Valletta, with people descending upon the city from all over the country and, indeed, the world.
17. Malta Fashion Week
For the fashionista in your holiday party, there is Malta Fashion Week. The week-long event is centered around the Malta Fashion Awards, which celebrate the most iconic figures in the island’s style industry.
Along with the awards ceremony, visitors can expect exhibitions, workshops, pop-up shops, and luxury kiosks.
During Malta Fashion Week, one can be forgiven for thinking they accidentally boarded a plane to Milan!
18. Changing of the Guards
One of the best things about the Changing of the Guards is that it happens on a monthly basis. This means you won’t have to go to any great lengths to arrange your trip to coincide with it.
The event takes place on the last Friday of every month and sees the Armed Forces Band march to the city’s Main Square. There, you can observe an official changing of the guards, with duties being handed over to fresh guards before the Armed Forces Band performs once more.
19. Stuffat Tal-Fenek
Malta’s traditional cuisine is as mouth-watering as it is famous. There is no better example of the country’s delicious native dishes than stuffat tal-fenek. This is a rabbit stew in which the meat has been marinated in wine and herbs.
There are countless restaurants serving stuffat tal-fennel in Valletta, but our personal favourite is Nenu. This is an artisan restaurant that specializes in rabbit dishes, so you can explore far beyond stuffat tal-fennel should the mood take you.
Pastizzi is not a single type of food. Rather, it refers to a variety of traditional Maltese pastries. These pastries typically feature a flaky outer shell and a savoury interior of peas, cheese, sweetcorn, or any similar substance.
They can sound a little off-putting to the uninitiated, but we assure you they are delicious.
Pastizzi pastries can be found all over Valletta, with restaurants, cafes, and even street vendors offering them.
© Slganado Wikimedia
The ftira is the best example of Malta utilizing its Mediterranean location. Ftiras are made from hard yet thin slices of bread. They generally feature a fresh fish filling. This filling can vary from anchovies to something a little more familiar, like tuna.
Like pastizzi pastries, ftiras are available throughout the city.
However, we suggest you only purchase them from an established restaurant, as fish is always a risk when bought from a street vendor.
Kannoli sounds very similar to “cannoli” and there’s a good reason for that. This Maltese favourite is heavily inspired by its Italian predecessor.
Very similar to cannoli, kannoli comes stuffed with ricotta and is enough to make even the proudest Italian consider a move to Valletta.
© Brigette Bourger
23. Malta Surf School
Not far from the city is Malta Surf School. The school is operated by Valerie Cicconi, who is quick to remind potential clients that he is the only ISA certified surf instructor in Malta.
Past students of Cicconi testify that he puts that certificate to good use, transforming total novices into near-professionals over just a couple of lessons!
24. Upper Barrakka Gardens
© Andrey Sulitskiy
For nature lovers, Valletta offers the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The gardens house some of the most beautiful plants and trees in all of Malta, along with plenty of walking and hiking space.
They also boast a historical dimension, having originally been used exclusively by the Knights of the Order of Saint John.
The Saluting Battery is mere seconds away from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, so you can tick both destinations off your must-see list in one afternoon.
25. Hastings Garden
Hastings Garden is another of Valletta’s gorgeous walking areas. Throughout the garden, visitors can expect to see jaw-dropping trees and plants, as well as playful animals.
The gem of the garden is the monument to Lord Hastings, which serves as a fitting tribute to the former Governor of Malta.
26. The Pub
© Ted Richards
It may not have the most creative name, but The Pub is one of Valletta’s most beloved watering holes. The pub serves a wide selection of beers, wines, and more at affordable rates.
For film buffs, this is a must-visit. The Pub is known for being Hollywood hellraiser Oliver Reed’s final drinking spot.
According to local legend, Reed once drank eight pints of lager, 12 shots of rum, multiple shots of cognac, and then washed it all down with a bottle of whiskey!
He died shortly after, leaving behind an unpaid bill which hangs in The Pub to this day.
27. Trabuxu Wine Bar
If you want something a little more classy, try visiting Trabuxu Wine Bar. Though it has been in business for just 15 years, it operates out of a 400-year-old cellar.
In its short history, it has established itself as Valletta’s leading wine bar and it isn’t hard to see why.
Customers delight in the bar’s high-quality wines and low prices, along with its regular live music performances.
28. Q Bar
If you’re not ready to end your night after the pub closes, why not try visiting Q Bar? This is a late night bar located in the heart of Valletta.
Along with live bands, DJs, and scores of alcohol, you can enjoy Asian and Maltese food into the wee hours of the morning at this bar.
29. Maestro e Fresco
Maestro e Fresco has long been a champion of Valletta’s music scene. In fact, the argument can be made that the establishment provided the foundation for live entertainment in the city by booking local musicians almost every night of the week.
Along with these live performances, visitors can enjoy a wide selection of affordable wines and beers to round out their evening.