By Soren Rivero
Planning a trip to Malta? Consider the country’s vibrant capital city of Valletta! From visiting historical monuments to enjoying a walk through beautiful gardens, this is one destination you’ll absolutely love to visit. Here are some of the top things to do in Valletta to make your vacation all the more memorable.
Grand Master’s Palace
Otherwise known as simply “the Palace”, Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta is a Renaissance era palace that formerly served as the royal residence of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John. Historians believe that the palace was built somewhere between the 16th century and the 18th century. The palace originally hosted Malta’s government and held meetings for distinguished visitors, such as ambassadors from other countries. Today, it is home to the President of Malta Office.
Many visitors say that the Grand Master’s Palace is one of the best attractions to see in Valletta. You’ll learn a bunch of history and get the chance to admire beautiful architecture. Put this at the top of your list if you’re wondering what is there to do in Valletta for fun!
St. John’s Co-Cathedral
Considered the best thing to do in Valletta, the stunning St. John’s Co-Cathedral was built in the 16th century and is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Gorgeous baroque architecture lines the entirety of the building, which itself houses dozens of unique paintings and other artwork dating back to the Renaissance era. Some people call this the “Crown Jewel of Valletta.” Visit St. John’s Co-Cathedral and you’ll learn why this is ranked as the number one can’t miss place in Valletta.
When you’re planning how to spend a vacation in Valletta, you’ll want to reserve some time to soak in the city. You can do this easily by taking a stroll around Grand Harbor. The actual harbor is pretty large, but ironically only takes up a small portion of the Grand Harbor experience. In reality, the bordering neighborhoods and ports are also a part of the public attraction. Walking around the ports and taking pictures would be one of the easiest ways to incorporate cheap things to do in Valletta while on vacation. You might also want to take a boat tour through the actual harbor itself – you’ll learn more about Malta and get even better views!
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Similar to visiting Grand Harbor, a fun thing to do when you travel to Valletta is to walk around the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The gardens are absolutely beautiful; The intricate attention to detail of the pristine grass, trees, and flowers will astound you. Glistening fountains, marble archways, and cobblestone pathways add to the overall serenity of the gardens. Wandering the gardens is also one of the best free things to do in Valletta! The Upper Barrakka Gardens are just a few minutes walking distance from Grand Harbor, so combining these two top things to do in Valletta is super easy.
Thespians, artists, history lovers, and pretty much anyone with an eye for beauty will love to see the Manoel Theatre in Valletta. The building was commissioned in 1731 and is one of the oldest standing theaters in Europe. It was originally planned to be Malta’s focal point of all things opera, theater, and live performance acts, and is still open for visitors to watch shows.
Republic Street is Valletta’s most prestigious street. Previously known as Kingstreet, this half-mile long street is filled with a little bit of everything. You’ll find judiciary buildings and museums right next to churches and other historical buildings, as well as restaurants, shops, and cafes. Visiting Republic Street is great if you’re looking for quick things to do in Valletta in one place. Even if you don’t visit any of the buildings, simply taking a stroll around is more than worth the time.
Collegiate Parish Church of Saint Paul's Shipwreck
Also known as the Church of St. Paul’s Shipwreck, this is one of the oldest churches in Valletta. Two things make this church particularly iconic and recognizable. One, the dome shaped building (originally constructed in the 1570s) is a magnificent work of architecture that leaves visitors in awe. Second, the church is dedicated to the father of Christian practices in Malta, Apostle Saint Paul. A giant wooden statue of Saint Paul (from the church itself) parades through Valletta’s streets annually on February 10th, the same day Saint Paul had a shipwreck en route to Rome.
When looking for things to do in Valletta with family, you'll certainly want to explore the Valletta Waterfront. Historically, this is where almost all Malta ships have docked for years. Now it's one of the top attractions in Valletta, not only for its fantastic range of restaurants and bars but also for the amazing sea views.
This bustling area is where you’ll find the best things to do in Valletta at night. Bars, restaurants, lounges, pubs, and more can all be found here, as well as some street performances. What’s great is that Strait Street is just right across from Republic Street, so you can experience two fun activities in Valletta all in one day!
Museum of Fine Arts (MUZA)
Just two minutes walking distance from St. John’s Co-Cathedral is the Museum of Fine Arts (MUZA). The museum was previously located at a building called the Admiralty House, but moved to Auberge d'Italie in late 2016. Inside the building are artworks from the 12th century to the 20th century. Most of the pieces in the museum are paintings, but there's also a grand staircase leading up to the museum that's a fascinating work of art by itself.
Game of Thrones Tour
If you're a fan of this hit HBO show, then you'll definitely want to visit the Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta. You can see plenty of the sights from the show spread across Malta in Valletta, Mdina, and Gozo. Discover where Arya was mistaken for a street urchin when trying to re-enter the Red Keep, marvel at the impressive Gate of King's Landing, and explore where Ned Stark and Jaime Lannister had their epic street fight.
Catch a Festival
Don’t leave Malta without attending a festival or two! Luckily, Valletta has no shortage of public events that take place throughout the year. Here are a few recommendations:
- Notte Bianca (arts and culture festival)
- Malta International Arts Festival
- Malta Jazz Festival
- Feast of Saint John the Baptist
- Malta International Fireworks Festival
If you need more help figuring out what to do in Valletta, let us help you! We offer affordable Valletta vacation packages) that come with flights, hotels, a recommended itinerary, and more – so you can just enjoy the best things to do in Valletta!