Malta Tourist Guide on a Budget – What to visit in Valletta
Malta’s capital city and known as a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen no other than Valletta. It named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette who headed the defense of Malta from the Ottoman invasion in 1565. Today, we will give you a Malta tourist guide to know more about Valletta.
Some other famous nicknames of Valletta are The Fortress City, a working city, the commercial heart of the Islands, a European Art City, and a World Heritage City. The entire city of Valletta declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the southernmost capital of Europe.
Reading a lot of information about Valletta, this city has always on the front pages of every magazine that I’ve read. So I’ve decided that it’s time to make a special Malta Tourist Guide with a twist of course on a budget.
And let’s see how can we spend our day in Valletta without losing control of our expenses.
Welcome to Valletta, Malta
Today, it is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. Located in the southeast of the island, between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the east has a population of just over 6000 people.
Valletta people are proud of their many buildings from the 16th century. Mostly baroque architecture built by the Knights of St. John. Amongst them is the majestic St. John’s Cathedral, several auberges, the bastions surrounding the city, and several gardens.
Some of Valletta’s features that became my favorite are the grid-like shape streets, museums, plenty of cafes, wine bars, theatres, exhibitions, and other cultural events, and don’t forget plenty of shopping opportunities.
Having one day to visit Valletta was a great surprise since I didn’t expect it to be very captivating up close. Honestly, at first, our main plan is to visit all the Game of Thrones filming locations which I have already published.
But since we have some time to visit this enchanting city. We decided to make it into a different level. Yes, On a budget! So let’s see how far can we go and what did we do to spend our day in Malta’s capital city.
St. Publius Parish Church
Arriving at Valletta by car, the first thing that you’ll see is this huge church just in front of the Valletta gate. We went to Valletta with a 20-minute ride from our hotel place in San Pawl il-Bahar.
Getting by car is the most convenient to do. We landed into a parking space near St. Publius’ Square (The Granaries) just before the entrance to the main city of Valletta. The first interesting landmark to see is the St. Publius Parish Church.
If you’re a neoclassical architecture, this Church would be your favorite place to go. St. Publius Parish Church is also known as the Floriana Parish Church. A Roman Catholic parish church in Floriana, Malta, dedicated to Saint Publius. Constructed at several stages between the 18th and 20th centuries.
One of its best highlights is ceiling frescoes and its façade that consists of a neoclassical portico topped. Sad to say we didn’t have the time to visit it, I was thinking of saving it on the last but time was so fast and it was closed in the end.
The Triton Fountain
The Triton Fountain a fountain located on the periphery of the city gate of Valletta, Malta. It consists of three bronze Tritons holding up a huge basin, balanced on a concentric base built out of concrete and clad in travertine slabs.
Looking at it closely, it consists of three bronze figures are of mythological Tritons holding up a platter. Two of the Tritons are sitting, while the third one is kneeling, and they balanced on a seaweed base.
The fountain is one of Malta’s most important Modernist landmarks. Designed to blend in with Kingsgate. Figuring out the statue’s posture, it actually means a sense of strength as well as spiral movement, which contribute to the fountain’s monumentality.
This landmark represents Malta’s links with the sea, and their design inspired by the Fontana delle Tartarughe in Rome. If you’re going to enter the city gate of Valletta, you’ll definitely won’t miss this monument.
The New Parliament the meeting place of the Parliament of Malta located right after the entrance gate in Valletta, Malta. The building constructed between 2011 and 2015 to designs by Renzo Piano as part of the City Gate Project.
Which also included building a new City Gate and converting the ruins of the Royal Opera House into an open-air theatre.
For sure you’ll be captured by this wonderful architectural design of the parliament house. You can check out the nice dessert place just near the building.
Ruins of Royal Opera House Site
Ruins of Royal Opera House Site found in Republic Street right after the parliament building. Also known as the Royal Theatre designed by the English architect Edward Middleton Barry. Considered as one of the most beautiful and iconic buildings in Valletta
It was an opera house and performing arts venue in Valletta but now, its ruins redesigned by the Italian architect Renzo Piano.
St Catherine of Italy
Commonly known as the church of St Catherine of Italy or Santa Katerina tal-Italja in Maltese. Church of St Catherine of Alexandria is a Roman Catholic church situated in Valletta. The church serves as the parish church of the Italian community of Malta.
St. Catherine of Italy is your next spot to visit if you love baroque style arts and paintings. It emphasizes the cupola of the church which was painted by Preti.
Auberge de Castille
Auberge de Castille was originally built to house knights of the Order of Saint John from the langue of Castile, León, and Portugal. It is probably the finest building in Malta. And now houses the Office of the Prime Minister of Malta.
The name Castille (or Kastilja in Maltese) often used to refer to the Prime Minister and his office.
Indeed, I would say this is one of the finest buildings in Malta. Its allure is different from other buildings. It has a mix of baroque and Spanish style.
You should definitely do a stop here and take a lot of photos.
For this Malta tourist guide, I absolutely recommend you to take this way first to visit the east side of Valletta, and eventually spend some time in Upper Barrakka Gardens.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
One of the best places that I would recommend you to go to is Upper Barrakka Gardens a public garden in Valletta. Lower Barrakka Gardens twinned with the Upper Barrakka Gardens. These two gardens offer a panoramic view of the Grand Harbour.
I have seen many people here relaxing, strolling, reading books, or just drinking or eating snacks. This is an ideal place for you to unwind, even before your flight or another visit. It’s a great place to spend your time for yourself not to mention the view which I will show you after.
The Saluting Battery
The Saluting Battery a History Museum mainly used for firing ceremonial gun salutes and signals, but it also saw military use during the blockade of 1798–1800 and World War II.
The battery remained an active military installation until its guns removed by the British in 1954. Restored and opened to the public in the early 21st century, and it is now equipped with eight working replicas of SBBL 32 pounders which fire gun signals daily at noon and 4:00 in the afternoon.
The Saluting Battery located below the Upper Barrakka Gardens. However, there’s an entrance fee to get to the Museum, so I recommend you to stay at the Upper Barrakka Gardens and get to see the same overlooking view of Fort St. Angelo and the rest of the Grand Harbour.
Panoramic View from Upper Barrakka Gardens
Astonishing streets of Valletta
Valletta named a World Heritage site described it as one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. Aside from that, Valletta offers a gorgeous view of streets equal to Mdina.
One my favorite part of this Malta tourist guide is to show everyone the beauty of the streets in Valletta. If you were charmed by Mdina’s narrow streets, Valletta has another sort of charm that will surprise you and give a sparkling positive impression about its place.
After having our break for lunch in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, we ended up continuing the march in Valletta up to the place of National War Museum but getting were we first awed by how artistic the streets of Valletta are.
St. John’s Co-Cathedral
St. John’s Co-Cathedral contains two masterpieces by Caravaggio. Described as the place where the Knights would gather for communal worship
It is s a gem of Baroque art and architecture. One of its greatest treasures is a huge painting of John the Baptist by Caravaggio.
The interior of the Cathedral is extremely ornate, standing in sharp contrast with the façade. And was largely decorated by Mattia Preti, the Calabrian artist, and knight, at the height of the Baroque period.
Roaming around Valletta’s main road, we bump into a place where there were many people taking photos, so I was curious and did take some photos as well.
From the time I searched where were we, I realized were in the Grandmaster’s Palace.
Grandmaster’s Palace officially known as The Palace. Originally built as the palace of the Grand Master of the Order of St. John who ruled Malta. It eventually became the Governor’s Palace, and currently houses the Office of the President of Malta.
Other Places to see in Valletta
St. Elmo Lighthouse
St. Elmo Breakwater Bridge
National War Museum – Fort St Elmo
Siege Bell Memorial
War siege Memorial
Palace Square or St George’s Square
After the whole day of the stroll in the city of Valletta, I conclude that it was a great experience visiting this city. Learning about its history and even knowing that Valletta was one of the most heavily bombed cities in Europe during WWII and a lot of interesting story about this city.
To let you know a bit what really happened after we reach the bottom of the city we decided to visit one of the museums which is the National War Museum of Fort St Elmo. And then, finishing our day we went back wandering in the streets and ate some desserts. I’ll surely feature that maybe after the Museum tour.
See you in my next blog post, and I hope you like this guide. Tell me which one is your favorite?
My favorite part would probably the overlooking fantastic view of Grand Harbour from Upper Barrack Gardens and of course the shining splendid streets of Valletta.
I’ll leave a short google map guide if you wish to visit the same places as we did.
If you are planning to visit Gozo Island feel free to read about my Malta tourist travel guide – Things to do in Gozo Island.
Malta Tourist Guide on a Budget