Valletta, capital city of Malta, is an ancient fortress citadel brimful of must-see sights and historical attractions. I would advise spending at least two days in the city to explore its beautiful churches, palaces and sandstone buildings. You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time while wandering its streets, although there are many high-end shops and local craftsmen to satisfy those less interested in the sights and more inclined towards some retail therapy.
Here are some of our favourite must-see attractions of Valletta:
St John’s Co-Cathedral
Austere and imposing on the outside, magnificent and majestic on the inside, St John’s Co-Cathedral is not to be missed if you’re at all interested in Baroque architecture and lavishly decorated churches. It’s one of the most beautiful cathedrals that I have ever visited and well worth the entry fee.
The Grand Master’s Palace
Today this 16th century palace is the office of the president and Maltese parliament, but for 200 years it was the residence of the Grand Master, the head of the Knights of the Order of St John. Inside you’ll find exquisite tapestries, stately halls filled with beautiful furniture and decorations, and an armoury that provides hours of entertainment if you like looking at old weapons and suits of armour.
St Paul’s Shipwreck Church
The coming of the saint in AD 60 has had a profound impact on the island and you’ll see religious icons wherever you go. Inside this small, tucked-away church you’ll be able to see a fragment of the pillar on which St Paul was beheaded, as well as a piece of his wrist bone.
National Museum of Archaeology
Malta is the location of some pretty impressive prehistoric temples, some of them even predating Stonehenge. A visit to the National Museum of Archaeology is a good place to learn about these ancients sites before you visit them. One of the highlights is the “Sleeping Lady” figurine recovered from the Hal-Saflieni Hypogeum in Paolo.
The Grand Harbour
No trip to Valletta would be complete without a visit to the imposing Grand Harbour. We took one of the ridiculously overpriced horse-drawn carriages on a trip around the walls and ended with a fantastic view of the harbour. You can also take a boat cruise (which I really wish we had done!) to see the city from the water.
Have you visited Valletta? What must-see sights would you recommend? What was your favourite thing to do in Valletta?
For more posts in the Malta 2008 series, click here.