What to see in Valletta, Malta

What to see in Valletta Malta including a stay in a Valletta Boutique Hotel, Saint John's Co-Cathedral, Casa Rocca Piccola, Palace Armoury, Saluting Battery, Lascaris War Rooms, Siege Bell War Memorial, Fortification Interpretation Centre and the St. Augustine Church before exploring the rest of Malta and Gozo by public bus

What to see and photograph in Valletta

Valletta is the capital city of Malta, the smallest country in the EU.  Valletta is the smallest capital city in the EU.  Points of interest in Europe’s smallest capital are;

  • Saint John’s Co-Cathedral
  • Casa Rocca Piccola
  • Palace Armoury
  • Saluting Battery
  • Lascaris War Rooms
  • Siege Bell War Memorial
  • Fortification Interpretation Centre
  • St. Augustine Church

I stayed at the Saint John Hotel which is within walking distance of all the Valletta points of interest.

Saint John’s Co-Cathedral

St John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta Malta

From the exterior St John’s Co-Cathedral is an impressive example of Baroque architecture.  The interior of St John’s Co-Cathedral reminded me of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City.  There was one huge difference to my experience in the St John’s which was that there were very few people.  I recommend visiting at around 9 am, the entrance fee is 10 Euros.  The reason you must pay to enter this cathedral is to contribute to the maintenance of it and it’s in pristine condition.

The most famous piece of artwork in the cathedral is The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio.

Casa Rocca Piccola

The Casa Rocca Piccola is a well maintained 16th century palace.  It’s the home of the noble De Piro family.  You can take a tour of their house from Monday to Saturday.  In 1918 and again in the second world war huge air raid shelters were added under the building.  You will visit these huge bunkers as part of the tour of the palace.

Palace Armoury

Palace Armoury, Valletta Malta

Located in the Grandmasters Palace is the Palace Armoury.  The armoury was built in in the 17th century.  The collection of arms and armoury is one of the largest collections in the world which is still located in its original location.

If you do not wish to go inside you can appreciate the building from the huge St George’s Square in front of it.  There are many restaurants in this square where you can sit out and relax.  From time to time you can see the guards marching in front of the building.

Saluting Battery

Saluting Battery, Valletta Malta

A short walk from the saluting battery is the cruise ship terminal of Valletta Malta.  In fact the cruise ship docks virtually in front of it.  The saluting battery was mainly used for gun salutes.  During the second world war it was used for military purposes.  The guns are fired everyday at midday and 4 pm.

Lascaris War Rooms

Located below the saluting battery and the upper Barrakka gardens are the Lascaris war rooms.  In the 1940’s the British made a secret underground in Valletta.  During the second world war over 1000 people worked in the secret underground.  Strategic operations were planned here such as the invasion of Sicily.  The rooms were used during the Suez crisis and cold war.  They are no longer used for military purposes.

Auberge De Castille

National Museum of Archaeology, Valletta Malta

The office of the Prime Minister of Malta is located in the Auberge de Castille.  The Baroque style building is located at the highest point of Valletta.  Adjacent to the Auberge is the Stock Exchange of Malta.  Around the corner you’ll find the Valletta city gates which were undergoing a huge makeover when I visited.

Museums of Valletta

National War Museum - Valletta Malta

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to museums in Valletta.  The most important museum you must visit in Valletta is the national war museum (above).  In the war museum you’ll learn how important the strategically placed Malta was during the world wars.  The war museum is located in Fort St Elmo at the end of the peninsula.  The following are notable museums in Valletta;

The Toy Museum might be of interest if you’re traveling to Valletta with kids.

St. Augustine Church

St. Augustine Church, Valletta, Malta

As you walk from the Sliema ferry terminal to the center of Valletta you may pass St. Augustine Church.  If you pass on a Sunday you could be in for a treat.  There are fireworks and the scene looks like it could be from a movie.

Siege Bell War Memorial

Single Bell War Memorial, Valletta

The siege bell war memorial is was built in 1992 to commemorate the allied forces victory during world war 2.  It commemorates the victory of the second siege of Malta from 1940-43.  The single bell located inside the belfry is the largest bell in Malta.  Adjacent to the siege bell are the lower barrakka gardens from where you’ll have an incredible view of the harbor.

Grand Harbor

Grand Harbor View from Valletta, Malta

The view of the grand harbor from Valletta is stunning.  I found the best place to view the harbor from was the upper barrakka gardens.  If you are arriving on a cruise ship you’ll get a good view from there too.  The grand harbor has been chosen to film many movies.  Movies which have featured the Grand Harbor are Troy, Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Black Eagle, Munich, The Da Vinci Code, Captain Phillips and World War Z.

How to travel to the rest of Malta and Gozo from Valletta

Local bus to get around Malta, Valletta bus station

Travel around Malta is easy.  Outside of the city gates is the Valletta bus station.  From here you can take the local bus service to anywhere on the Island and to the ferry to Gozo.  There are over 2000 bus stops throughout the Islands of Malta and Gozo.  The cost of a ticket is €2 and the tickets can be used on any bus within 2 hours.  If you plan on using the service often then you can buy a 7 day pass for €21.  If the local bus sounds too complicated then there is also a Hop On Hop Off bus service around Malta and Gozo.

Check out the Valletta boutique hotel, the Saint Johns. What to see on the rest of the Islands of Malta and Gozo.

2017-10-10T17:43:57+00:00 October 8th, 2017|Malta, Western Europe|24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Dominic October 9, 2017 at 5:56 am - Reply

    Malta is one of the places in Europe I would like to visit. Didn’t realise there was so much to see and do there either. Nice use of the fish eye lens – is that a GoPro or a separate DSLR lens?

    • James Smith October 9, 2017 at 7:17 am - Reply

      Hi Dominic, I used a separate DSLR lens, the Canon Fish Eye.

  2. Barry October 9, 2017 at 8:11 am - Reply

    There is so much to do in Valletta! I’ve been thinking of going to Malta for a while now and it seems that I need to allocate quite a few days. Just to see the capital must take 2-3 days. The prime ministers building is beautiful, I’d love to photograph it at night.

  3. Lynne Sarao October 9, 2017 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    I am pretty unfamiliar with Malta but I’m surprised to see there is so much history there. I’d absolutely want to see Saint Johns’ Co-Cathedral but I’d probably spend most of my time down at the Grand Harbor. It looks incredible. Did you get to visit any beaches while you were there?

  4. Heraa Farooq October 9, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    It’s the first time I am hearing about Valletta. Looks like a historical place with a good museum and culture. I would love to visit gran harbor the view is looking really amazing.

  5. Hang Around The World October 9, 2017 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    We are not so far from Malta but we have to confess you that we haven’t visited it yet… We always wanted… This place has lots to offer and now we’d like to plan a trip for the next year! Love the Saint John’s Co-Cathedral!!

  6. Abigail Sinsona October 9, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

    What a great roundup of sights to see! Valletta is a UNESCO WHS so I would love to visit it. I heard it has the distinction for having the most dense concentration of historical sites in one area given how small this city is! So, that means more sites to explore!

  7. Faith Coates October 10, 2017 at 8:24 am - Reply

    I visited Malta many years ago and fell in love with the place, I managed to see a few of the areas you pointed out and am looking forward to my next trip. I found the food, the people and the sites really impressive. What I particularly loved about the place was the cat hotels down the hills. I found it really cool that the islanders take care of the feral cats by feeding and housing them. We were on a cruise ship and we took a lovely walk from the ship up to the city and I really enjoyed the market that was on that day.

    • James Smith October 10, 2017 at 3:00 pm - Reply

      I didn’t notice the cats, I’ll keep an eye out next time!

  8. Swati Jain October 10, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Amazing pictures. IMalta has been on my list but I didn’t know that it has so much to offer. I will bookmark your blog for I want to visit it the soonest 🙂

  9. Suzanne October 10, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Malta looks like my kind of European getaway. The weather looks awesome. I would love to check out the cathedral/churches and walk around the city streets.

  10. Thomas October 10, 2017 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Valletta looks like such a picturesque city! With the stat that it’s the smallest capital city in the EU gives me a little more reason to visit. I love little details like this. I would love to see the inside of St Johns Co-Cathedral for myself and see the artwork of Caravaggio, he’s one of my favorite artists.

  11. Bhusha October 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    That would be not including Vatican as a country, right?!
    I wanted to visit Malta last time when I was in Europe, but the flight costs were so high, so I just gave up.
    The frescoes in the cathedral are just stunning. The Fort is interesting.

    • James Smith October 10, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Vatican City isn’t an EU country so doesn’t qualify. You would love the frescoes in the cathedral, I’d imagine you’d write a huge blog about it!

  12. Diana October 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    I had no idea the war history here would be so strong – shows you how much I know about Malta. I love your photo of St. Augustine Church with the fireworks outside. I can’t believe they do that every Sunday – it just seems like so much would go into it that it’d be difficult to pull off every week. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to visit Malta one day!

  13. Abhinav Singh October 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    Malta sure is offbeat. My interest grew in Malta ever since I met a witty lady from the country few months ago. It would be great to see it. I prefer offbeat destinations like Malta. Casa Rocca Piccola will definitely be on my list when I do plan to visit.

  14. Manjulika Pramod October 13, 2017 at 7:07 am - Reply

    I can already see that I will love Valleta for its Musuems and the St. Augustine Church. National War Musuem looks interesting and those celebrations in the Church. The Grand harbor view is nice.

  15. Sandy N Vyjay October 14, 2017 at 4:01 am - Reply

    Valletta is such a charming city with so much of history and heritage. I too had a sense of deja vu, looking at the pictures of St. John’s Cathedral. I have not visited the place but have been to the Sistine Chapel and this looks so similar. The city of Valetta has all the old world charm that I assocoate with European towns and cities.

  16. Jordan October 15, 2017 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I’ve never been in Valletta, and I didn’t know there’re so many things to do and see! It’s amazing there’s all this to see and do in the EU’s smallest capital, all the world war history is interesting too. I would love to photograph the narrow streets and traditional Maltese houses / Baroque buildings.

  17. Joel October 16, 2017 at 12:57 am - Reply

    Wow! Valletta is indeed a beautiful place. I like the way they were able to preserve the historical and cultural treasures of the city. In many other modern cities, these are already destroyed or defaced. It looks super easy to get around on foot being the smallest capital in the EU.

  18. Chiera October 16, 2017 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I absolutely love your style of photography James!! Malta seems like such a beautiful place. I would love to visit there one day!

  19. Benjoe VIdal October 18, 2017 at 8:01 am - Reply

    I really love your shot at Saint John’s Co-Cathedral. Valletta looks really impressive and historical. It seems like an ancient preserved city. Thanks for your post James! 😀 your photos are great!

  20. Agness October 19, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Valletta seems like an awesome travel destination and its architecture is breathtaking. How many days would be enough to explore the whole island of Malta?

    • James Smith October 19, 2017 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Agness. I was there for 5 days but could have easily stayed 5 more!

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