If you’re even a casual reader of this site, then you probably will remember that my visit to Malta was the culmination of years of pining. It neared the top of my travel bucket list and, for the most part, the experience was just as great as I had hoped. The highlight though for me was exploring the beautiful city of Valletta Malta for the first time. The capital of Malta quickly became a personal favorite and I understood instantly why so many people rave about this city perched above the harbor. It’s hard though sometimes to explain exactly why a place is special and so I decided to share the experience by looking at a few of my very favorite moments in the grand city of Valletta, Malta.
1. First walk down Republic Street – Many first time visitors to Valletta come from the bus terminal and enter onto the seemingly always busy Republic Street. This central road really is the heart of the touristy side of Valletta, a fact not lost to any visitor based on the huge numbers of people I always found there. But the frenetic pace of walking down the long, straight boulevard was part of the experience, at least for me. It was also a fantastic way to get to know the city a little bit better and to get my bearings during that first hour or so in the city.
2. St. John’s Co-Cathedral – I love history and for a variety of reasons, the history of the Knights of St. John – otherwise known as the Knights of Malta – has been a passion of mine for nearly 20 years. So to walk through the main door of the massive St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the home church of the knights for centuries, was almost too much for this nerdy traveler to take. From a purely cosmetic level, the church is stunning and hours could be spent admiring the golden apse and chapels, each representing different regions from which the knights hailed. But once you start to add in the little bits of history found throughout the massive church, that’s when things start to get really interesting. It was here that Caravaggio was defrocked as a knight, at the same spot where his famous painting The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist now rests. Even if you’re not as much into the Knights of Malta as I am, I have no doubt that you’ll love exploring what is truly one of the most beautiful churches in the world.
3. Upper Barrakka Gardens – This isn’t a hidden sight or a special tip, nearly every tourist spends some time in the Upper Barrakka Gardens, and with good reason. It’s from here that one of the best views of the Grand Harbour and the massive fortifications that kept this island nation safe for so very long can best be seen. Across the harbor are the Three Cities, Cospicua, Vittoriosa, and Senglea, and the views from the gardens are so iconic and famous that it feels like you’ve stepped into a postcard. Every day the watch canons are fired, a hokey but surprisingly interesting experience if you happen to be there at the right time. Like most things in Malta though, expect the show to start late.
4. Getting lost – This is easily done in Valletta, which, while a planned city, can at times be a labyrinth of streets and alleyways. But that’s part of the great charm of the city and why I fell so very deeply in love with it. The hills in Valletta are legendary, and walking down the imposing stairways to the waterfront below is daunting physically, but rewarding aesthetically. Plus, you never know what you’ll find until you get lost. I wandered into churches, museums, shops and cafes I would never have found had I actually tried to find them.
5. Coffee and people watching – Relaxing at a café and enjoying a coffee and maybe some cake isn’t just popular in Malta, it may just be the national sport. Luckily there are plenty of places to practice this culinary pastime and enjoy some excellent people watching at the same time. It’s touristy and goes against my normal travel advice, but I recommend grabbing a coffee at any of the many outdoor cafes along Republic Street. The luxuriously shaded cafés are gorgeous and worthy of a visit in their own right, but their key position along the town’s major thoroughfare means an almost endless gallery of people to watch and inwardly judge.
6. Looking at it from Senglea – My very favorite moment in Valletta though didn’t actually happen in the city proper. No, it happened right across the Grand Harbour in Sengelea, one the Three Cities. There I sat, enjoying a relaxing and appropriately slow-paced Mediterranean dinner and watched as the sun began to set, turning Valletta into a golden city. It was a moment that I know I will never forget, it was that beautiful and that special. This is what people want when they visit Mediterranean Europe; this is the moment of complete satisfaction and contentment that is so very hard to find almost anywhere else in the world.
Have you been to Valletta? What was your favorite moment?
This campaign was created and sponsored by Malta Tourism Authority in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.
11 thoughts on “My 6 Favorite Moments In Beautiful Valletta Malta”
Wow, I had no idea Malta was so beautiful. The shot of that cannon firing is also incredible, you’ve settled it, Malta trip for 2015!
Really great place to see & you motivated me to see it by describing so beautifully. Probably my next holiday destination will be the Malta. Your photographs are so gorgeous.
I haven’t been to Valletta, but this and other blog posts that I’ve read this year make me want to go so bad!
Beautiful photos on all your blogs. Really enjoying. May I ask you what type camera and editing program you use? Your photos have a unique look to them. I’ve seen this “look” one other person’s photos on Instagram and am curious what you use. Is it HDR? Almost gives a 3D aspect or something? Anyways, beautiful!
If you are on a cruise, and only there for a day, what do you recommend seeing?
a day is enough time to really see the best of Valletta. But that’s what I would do, I wouldn’t try to visit other parts of Malta.
Enjoyed the comments about the Knights of St. John and the fact about Caravaggio. I have wonder if going to Malta was worth it and you have convinced me. Thanks.
Fantastic article Matt! I was contemplating a visit to Valletta in August but these photos have sealed the deal. It looks wonderful!
Did you go on any trips around Malta by any chance? Would love to see more of the island and coastline so I’m looking for advice!
I just hear about Malta today and I found your fabulous article. This is one kind of my fav vacation, to spend the day in small beautiful country, just for relaxing in cafes and spending the day in the classic harbour style.
A man after my own heart Matt. I love Malta so much I bought a house there, and the only way to describe Valletta is magnificent. My favourite view is when you go in the gate, just turn left and walk a few yards to the top of Strait Street (the next one along from Republic Street) then just look down it.
I’m not sure why this particular view has the affect it always does on me, I think it’s the slope down, then the rise on the other side, with a glimpse of the sea at the end.
We entered another world via MSC Poesia. The mist magical entrance to a city I have ever experienced. I was in total awe! I only had 3 hours and my travelling companions were unable to come with me so I took a taxi up into the main city and walked in total hypnotic awe. I walked and walked the many stairs, simply exploring every side street I could. Everything was so ancient. Fantastic photo ops. British influence (I’m a British citizen)’ changing of the guard, colour, gold, red, jewel tones. “Steeped” in history. I have to go back.
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