What to do in Valletta – a Complete Self-Guided Tour Map

What to do in Valletta - View of Valletta from Sliema

Valletta is a small city with a big personality. This UNESCO-listed capital is full of history and character, making it one of the unique places to visit. The setting of Valletta is nothing short of breathtaking, with the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the city from three sides. Thus, the views are spectacular from almost any vantage point. Are you planning a trip to Malta and wondering what to do in Valletta? Then look no further!

This guide will give you all the information you need to make the most out of your stay in Valletta. From top attractions to hidden gems, I’ll tell you all the best options for what to do in Valletta. I’ll also provide a self-guided walking map to explore the city at your own pace. And if you need a break from sightseeing, I’ll give tips on finding lovely places to relax. With this guide, you’ll be able to make the most of your time in Valletta! So check out this blog and put on your walking shoes. You will be amazed by all that this ancient city has to offer.

You can jump to the section you are interested in using the table of contents below.

The Self-Guided Tour Map

Below is a self-guided walking map that will show you what to do in Valletta. You can fit in and see all attractions in one day. But if you don’t want to rush, you can also break it down into a two-day tour. If you have little time, visit the top 5 must-see spots marketed by red pins.

The tour is 4.2 kilometres long, and the walking should take over one hour.

Please note that most attractions close around 5 pm, so it’s best to start early.

  1. Triton Fountain
  2. Upper Barrakka Gardens
  3. War HQ Tunnel and the Saluting Battery
  4. Lascaris War Rooms
  5. Lower Barrakka Gardens
  6. Fort St Elmo – National War Museum
  7. Casa Rocca Piccola
  8. Teatru Manoel
  9. Republic Street
  10. St. John’s Co-Cathedral
  11. The National Museum of Archaeology

Prefer exploring with a local guide? Check out this 3-hour guided tour around Valletta, where you’ll learn its rich history and stunning sights firsthand. Alternatively, join a food and walk tour, where you’ll savour the flavours of Valletta while exploring its charming streets.

Triton’s Fountain

The self-guided tour starts at Triton’s Fountain, just outside the City Gate of Valletta. The fountain consists of three bronze tritons that hold a large basin on the top. 

You can admire the beauty of Triton’s Fountain day and night. During the day, it flickers in the sunlight, and at night its lights add a magical touch and make it look majestic.

What to do in Valletta - Triton's Fountain Valletta
Triton’s Fountain Valletta

Upper Barrakka Gardens

 


Opening times: daily, 7 am to 10 pm
Entrance fee: Free
Location: Google Maps


After visiting the fountain, head to the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
 
The gardens are one of the most popular attractions in Valletta. Located on the top of the Valletta bastions, they offer stunning panoramic views of the Three Cities.
 
The Upper Barrakka Gardens were built in the 16th century by the Knights of St John. The gardens were used as private gardens by the Grand Master and the Knights of St John.
 
What to do in Valletta - Upper Barrakka Gardens
Upper Barrakka Gardens
 
Today, upper Barrakka Gardens are a must-see for visitors to the city. Visitors can enjoy the views from the gardens and be part of the historic gun salute. This place is also reached by a lift, making them accessible to all visitors. The ride goes from the ground level to the top of the gardens.
 
The gardens are also home to the Saluting Battery, which I will discuss in the next section of this post.
 
 

War HQ Tunnel and the Saluting Battery

 


Opening times: Monday to Sunday, guided tours at 10:30 am and 1 pm (more details)
Guided tour fee: €17 for adults
Location: Google Maps


The Saluting Battery is a historic landmark that dates back to 1565. It was used to announce the opening and closing of the city gate at sunrise and sunset and to fire a signal shot at noon. It also served a ceremonial purpose, saluting ships and special guests as they arrived and departed.

In 1954, the British Royal Navy closed the Battery and removed the cannons. In 1965, after Malta gained independence, the former Battery was converted into a public garden. Eight replicas of 32-pounder cannons were installed in 2011. Since then, there have been regular salute shoots at 12 noon and 4 pm daily and for special state guests.

The British military built the War HQ Tunnels beneath the Saluting Battery as early as 1940 and used them for strategic functions during the Second World War.
 
During the Cold War, British and NATO forces used them to track Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean. The War HQ Tunnels also played an essential role in Suez Crisis and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 

The most interesting rooms are:

  • Anti-Aircraft Gun Operations Room. In this room, the Royal Artillery controlled the anti-aircraft guns. It coordinated the operation with the air defence system.
  • Filter Room. The radar data was combined from several stations to get accurate incoming aircraft information.
  • NATO Operations Rooms. NATO used this secret room to track Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean.
 
After the British military left Malta in 1977, the War HQ Tunnels were closed. They remained untouched for a long time. In 2009, a non-profit Heritage Foundation, Wirt Artna, started restoring the site and offering guided tours. To visit the War HQ Tunnels, you must book a tour. The price includes visiting the Saluting Battery.
 
 

Lascaris War Rooms

 


Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 4:30 pm (more details)
Entrance fee: €14 for adults
Location: Google Maps


The Lascaris War Rooms are not far from the Upper Barraka Gardens and the Saluting Battery. The War Rooms are an underground labyrinth of tunnels and chambers. They served as Britain’s War HQ in Malta during the Second World War. The military was planning and managing Malta’s defence in this ultra-secret complex. The army also used these rooms to coordinate other operations in the Mediterranean. At some point during the Second World War, more than one thousand people worked in the War Rooms.

The tunnels have many rooms. Some of the important ones include the RAF sector fighter control room. It was used to monitor and manage all air and sea operations. The artillery fire against air raids was organised in the anti-aircraft gun operations room. Some rooms housed encryption machines for secret communications. 

Lower Barrakka Gardens

 


Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 8 am to 9 pm
Entrance fee: Free
Location: Google Maps


The Lower Barrakka Gardens are only 15 minutes on foot from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. They are a charming part of the history and culture of Valletta. The gardens are quieter than the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Yet, the views are breathtaking! They are on the top of the Valletta bastions. So, you can see the Valletta breakwater and the Three Cities – Senglea, Birgu and Cospicua.

It would be best if you walked through St Barbara Bastion to get there. On the way, you’ll see an old British phone boot and a house with red balconies that are very Instagrammable. You’ll also see old houses that have been beautifully restored.

Visiting the Lower Barrakka Gardens is a beautiful way to break from sightseeing. You can also have some food from a cafe nearby. So, get there and enjoy a peaceful retreat from the hustle of Valletta’s streets.

If you like parks and gardens, visit my guide to the best gardens in Malta.

Fort St Elmo – National War Museum

 


Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 9 am to 4:30 pm
Entrance fee: €10 for adults, discounts provided for seniors, students and children (more details)
Location: Google Maps


Fort St Elmo, also known as the National War Museum, is another must-see museum in Valletta. Don’t miss it if you want to learn more about the island’s rich military history. The fort is located in the eastern part of Valletta. It was built in the 16th century to protect the harbour from foreign invasions. It has since been restored and maintained to its former glory. 

Upon entering the fort, you can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of the harbours and the Three Cities. Inside the fort, you will find a variety of exhibitions about the many battles that took place in Malta.
 
The museum is split into six parts. It chronicles 7,000 years of Malta’s military history, from the Bronze Age till the 21st century. It houses various weapons and uniforms, photographs, and documents from different eras.
 
Many events are organised in the fort throughout the year. They include re-enactments of famous battles, living history weekends, and guided tours. These events give visitors a unique opportunity to learn more about Malta’s military history in a fun and engaging way.
 
The fort can be reached by bus or on foot. And it only takes about an hour to explore the entire site.
 
 

Casa Rocca Piccola

 


Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee: €9.50 for adults, discounts provided for students and children (more details)
Location: Google Maps


Casa Rocca Piccola is a must-see for history buffs. This privately owned house has a fascinating history that dates back to the 16th century, the time of the Knights of St John. Today, it’s an important historical site and a popular tourist destination. The palace has more than fifty rooms, including two libraries, two dining halls, multiple drawing rooms, and a chapel. Most of these rooms are accessible to the public.

Casa Rocca Piccola Valletta
Casa Rocca Piccola in Valletta

Credit: Photo by No Swan So Fine, licenced under CC BY-SA 4.0

If you are eager to learn the customs and rituals of the Maltese aristocracy, then Casa Rocca Piccola is the place to go. It is filled with beautiful furniture, silver, and artwork from Malta and Europe. Additionally, it has the most extensive private collection of antique garments in Malta. Moreover, visitors can get an exciting experience by visiting the World War II air raid shelters.

Those wanting to explore Casa Rocca Piccola should expect to spend an hour. I also recommend taking a private tour.

Teatru Manoel


Opening times: 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm Monday to Thursday, 10:30 am, 11:15 am, 12 pm on Fridays, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 12:30 pm on Saturdays
Entrance fee: €5 for adults (more details)
Location: Google Maps


Baroque-style Teatru Manoel in Valletta is one of the oldest theatres in use. Its name comes after Grand Master Fra António Manoel de Vilhena. He commissioned the construction of the theatre in 1732. The Maonel theatre is a beautiful gem, but not that popular with tourists. However, tours are available, taking visitors through the theatre. You will also visit the museum attached to the building of the theatre. It displays the history and other interesting information about the Teatru Manoel. Part of the museum is also devoted to the Royal Opera House, which was ruined in a WWII air raid.

Republic Street

Republic Street in Valletta is a must-see for anyone visiting Malta. The street is home to stunning Baroque buildings, churches and other architectural wonders. In addition, it is a great place to explore and appreciate the history of Malta. The Grandmaster’s Palace and the Auberge de Castille are famous buildings on Republic Street.

Apart from admiring the architecture, there are plenty of other things to do on Republic Street. Stroll down the street and explore the many shops, cafes and restaurants.
 
One of the best things about Republic Street is the atmosphere. Locals and tourists are often out and about, enjoying the street’s lively vibe. During the summer, there are plenty of street events such as concerts, open cinemas or art exhibitions.
 
 

St. John’s Co-Cathedral

 

Opening times:  Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
Entrance fee: €15 for adults, discounts provided for seniors, students and children (more details)
Location: Google Maps


St. John’s Co-Cathedral is located in the heart of Valletta. Don’t miss it if you appreciate art and history and art. This stunning church was built in the 16th century and has been a place of worship ever since. Once you step inside, you’re surrounded by beautiful marble floors and walls. It has eight magnificent chapels. Each chapel is decorated with works of art, giving you a glimpse into the church’s history. The ceilings are also adorned with intricate paintings, adding to the beauty and grandeur of the place. The entire visit usually takes around an hour, so make sure you take your time and enjoy the experience.

Whether you’re religious or not, St. John’s Co-Cathedral is sure to leave you with an appreciation for the beauty and history of the church.

The National Museum of Archaeology


Opening times:  Monday to Sunday, 9 am to 4:30 pm
Entrance fee: €5 for adults, discounts provided for seniors, students and children (more details)
Location: Google Maps


The National Museum of Archaeology is in the Auberge de Provence on Valletta’s Republic Street. It is a superb example of Baroque architecture, constructed in 1571 as per the design of an architect Ġilormu Cassar.

The National Museum of Archaeology boasts an impressive array of artefacts. They span from the Neolithic period (5900-2500BC) until the early Phoenician period (8th – 6th Century BC). You can find an exhibition of tools, coins, human and animal figures, pottery, and jewellery. You can get a glimpse of how people lived in pre-historic times. Some of the museum’s most famous objects are the “Sleeping Lady” from the Hypogeum of Hal Saflieni. Also, there is the ‘Venus of Malta’ from Ħaġar Qim.

Credit: “Venus of Malta” by Hamelin de Guettelet, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0; “Sleeping Lady” by Jvdc, licenced under CC BY-SA 3.0

Strait Street – Visit After a Long Day of Walking Tour

Valletta’s Strait Street is also known as Strada Stretta in Maltese. It has a long and fascinating history. Strait Street was a nightlife hub in the 19th and mid-20th centuries. American and British military men, often accompanied by Maltese, spent their nights there. Over time it evolved into an iconic representation of multi-culturalism in Valletta.

Strait Street was a bustling hub of activity and culture during its heyday. Live music, especially jazz, was a popular attraction.

Unfortunately, the street’s reputation was tarnished by drunkenness and prostitution. With time, its popularity declined. But don’t let that put you off because today, Strait Street is just as vibrant as it ever was!

Thanks to renovations, Strait Street was revived about a decade ago. It is home to some of Malta’s best restaurants, cafes, and pubs. The street’s revival has also seen a resurgence of live music. You can listen to jazz, folk, and even rock music playing in the many bars and restaurants. After a full day of sightseeing, Strait Street is perfect for a great night out.

Accommodation in Valletta

Staying in Valletta is unforgettable. The city’s historic houses, many hundreds of years old, have been converted into charming guesthouses and boutique hotels. Imagine waking up within thick, stone walls, then stepping out onto a balcony overlooking narrow streets teeming with history.

Also, staying in Valletta is very convenient for many reasons. Firstly, the city brims with dining options, ranging from charming local cafes to world-class restaurants. This means you’re never too far from an excellent meal or a cosy spot to unwind after a day of exploring.

Secondly, Valletta is a hub of activity. There’s always an event taking place, be it a music festival, art exhibition, or historical reenactment. Valletta is not just a place to stay, but a place to experience.

Thirdly, Valletta serves as a well-connected transport hub, making it easy to venture beyond the city’s walls and explore Malta. Frequent ferry services can whisk you away to Sliema, the Three Cities or even Gozo.

There are many unique accommodations in Valletta, each with its own personality. The houses have stayed the same, some have been modernised for a contemporary feel, but all have a story to tell. Get a great deal on a hotel in Valletta by searching below.

Authentic Places to Stay in Valletta

La Falconeria Hotel: Modern, spacious, and well-located in Valletta with a fitness centre, bar, and baby-friendly amenities. Book here.

Palazzo Jean Parisot Boutique Suites: Elegant apartments with a rooftop terrace and hydromassage tub. Book here.

Casa Ellul – Small Luxury Hotels of the World: 19th-century boutique hotel with authentic Maltese décor. Centrally located, and spacious. Book here.

I am sure you will have a wonderful time in Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also, don’t miss the opportunity to admire its grandeur from a different perspective. Click here to book a harbour cruise

If you have time, would you like to visit other parts of the islands? If so, check out the guide to Blue Lagoon and Comino, Three Cities, explore the best beaches, visit Gozo and go on hikes. Also, learn about the best time to visit Malta.

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