Valletta is the capital city of Malta, an island located in the middle of the mediterranean sea. Valletta is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its works of art.
Valletta lives up to its reputation as a city built by gentlemen, with its romantic and enchanting streets and a designated world heritage site. Blessed with the most beautiful harbour in Europe, stunning architecture and a rich history, it is a definite must see while visiting Malta. Here are five attractions you should visit during your stay in Valletta.
1. Upper Barracca Gardens – The best view in the city overlooking the Grand Harbour and the three cities across. One of the most spectacular spots dating back to 1565. The grand balcony and arched walkway juts over the harbour at vertiginous hight, this breath breathtaking bit of craftsmanship incorporates part of the bastions which surround the whole of the city and has become an iconic image in Valletta. Adding to its charm is the small romantic mediterranean garden at its entrance.
2. Grand Master’s Palace – Built in 1571, it was one of the first buildings in Valletta. It served as the official residence for the Grand Master. It houses a Throne Room, an Armoury with one of the finest collections of weapons of the period of the Knights of Malta. A Tapestry chamber where you can still admire ten tapestries of the cycle ” Les Tentures des Indes” (The Indian Hangings), which were produced at the Royal Gobelin workshop of Louis XIV. in 1700.
3. Piazza Regina and the adjoining St. George square – On the grounds just in front of the Grand Master’s Palace and also at its side, is probably Malta’s most magnificent public urban space and piazza. The plaza sits lined with charming cafes, including the oldest coffee shop in Valletta – Cafe Cordina and its rival Cafe Premier, beautiful historic buildings and a swarm of pigeons. Meanwhile the neo classical Bibioteca overlooking Piazza Regina, still houses to this day one of the best collections of 16th century books dating back to the Knights of Malta. Walk inside and view the priceless collection of books which line the walls of the main hall.
4. Back streets – Although Valletta’s side streets is usually not part of many tourists’ itineraries, it certainly should be. Able your way through some of the narrow streets of this fascinating city lined with Maltese balconies, a typical feature of local architecture. A host of small restaurants beckon you in. The most popular with locals – Rubino for the national dish Rabbit stew. For a more romantic experience, the city is best explored at night when it quietens down and the dimly lit streets evoke a feeling of times gone by.
5. A Carriage Ride – So what if it seems like a tourist trap? A horse ride inside one of the Victoria carriages is an essential experience while in town. Although the city can be easily viewed on foot, a carriage through the streets gives you back the intimacy and grace of the past. A romantic ride remains the ideal way to end your vacation in Valletta.