Tour the capital of the Mediterranean island of Malta. This medieval fortified citadel has spectacular churches, palaces and religious art.
Valletta is the ancient fortified capital of Malta and one of the smallest capitals in Europe. The city is bounded on three sides by the sea. Behind its ancient walls, find palaces, churches, forts, monuments and museums. See art treasures, domed churches and historic fortifications.
Walk along Republic Street, Valletta’s main thoroughfare, a pedestrianized avenue running the entire length of the capital. Browse the shops and stop at a café for a pastizzi, a popular Maltese savory pastry snack.
The city was founded in 1566 by the Knights of St. John, a Christian military order. Learn about the history by touring some of Valletta’s old buildings. Visit the 16th-century St. John’s Co-Cathedral, one of Valletta’s most popular attractions. The interior is a lavish display of baroque art and architecture with frescoes, gilded arches and columns. See the Beheading of St. John the Baptist by Caravaggio. The painting was completed in 1608 and is signed by the artist.
Go to the Grand Master’s Palace, the seat of the island’s president and the Maltese parliament. The rooms and passages are furnished with tapestries, coats of arms and suits of armor. Look around the 16th-century Fort St. Elmo which also houses the National War Museum.
Spend hours exploring the artifacts in the National Museum of Archaeology and the paintings of the National Museum of Fine Arts. The collection features artworks from the early Renaissance to modern times.
The best way to see Valletta is on foot because all the main sights are close to each other. However, the city is built on a ridge and some of the steep streets can be tiring. Alternatively, rent a scooter or bike. If you want to rent a car, be aware that parking spaces are very limited.
While visiting Valletta, explore some of Malta’s other main attractions. The shops and restaurants of Sliema are just across the bay and the Blue Grotto cave system is less than an hour away by car or bus.