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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

10 Best Free Things To Do in Valletta, Malta

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

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Valletta is a unique capital city in Europe that was built up from almost nothing in the 16th century as a response to the Ottoman attacks on Christendom. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta attracts millions of visitors a year and despite its small size there are a lot of interesting things to see in Valletta to keep you busy for a day or more. And as an added bonus it’s a very walkable city meaning most of the main attractions in Valletta are within a 20 minute walk from one another.


If you’re looking for free things to do in Valletta you may be pleasantly surprised to find that the Maltese capital is quite budget friendly. Even dining at the best restaurants in Valletta will fit within a small budget. We spent 3 days in Valletta walking around its streets and visiting the various points of interest but if you only have time to spend 1 day in Valletta that should be enough time to see the main attractions.

1. Upper & Lower Barrakka Gardens

Sandstone arches at the end of a garden in Valletta.
Upper Barrakka Gardens

One of the top free things to do in Valletta is to visit both the Upper and Lower Barrakka Gardens. These public gardens are located a 15 minute walk from one another and look out across the Grand Harbour to the Three Cities. The Upper Barrakka Gardens is where you’ll find the Saluting Battery (a cannon is fired here twice a day except Sundays) as well as a lift leading down to the harbour. The Lower Barrakka Gardens on the other hand are less visited and offer a tranquil space to watch the ships enter the harbour from.


2. Pjazza Jean de Valette

Statue of the man that Valletta is named after in a square.
Pjazza Jean de Valette

Pjazza Jean de Valette features a statue of the Grand Master who the city is named after and is home to the Museum of Fine Arts. It’s a beautiful square located a short distance from the Royal Opera House and is also where you’ll find other attractions such as the Church of St Catherine of Italy and the Auberge de Castille which is a nice spot to take photos. Many free walking tours of Valletta pass by this area too in case you were planning to join one.


3. Triton Fountain and City Gate

A large water fountain in Valletta with mythical beings.
Triton Fountain

One of the more unique places to visit in Valletta is the Triton Fountain located just before you enter Valletta through the city gate. There are three large bronze tritons holding up a basin in the centre of the fountain and it has been deemed one of Malta’s most important examples of modernism. As you make your way through the city gate and onto Republic Street don’t forget to admire the impressive city walls on either side too.


4. Take in the views from Hastings Garden

View looking at a harbour from Valletta city wall.
Hastings Garden viewpoint

Many people who visit Valletta don’t realize that there’s a beautiful garden and viewpoint just inside the city gate that’s completely free to visit. Hastings Garden is located at the top of St John’s and St Michael’s Bastions and is named after a governor of Malta in the 19th century who is buried here. From this garden you can get a beautiful view of areas such as Sliema and Floriana and grab a quick snack or drink.


5. Watch a religious procession

Statue of a saint being presented to entrance of church in Valletta.
Statue being presented to a church

If you happen to be in the capital during a religious holiday then you’ll be treated to at least one procession. Valletta is one of the best places to visit during Easter due to their Holy Week celebrations, and these processions are a great way to learn more about the history and culture of Malta. You’ll find that many places may be closed during Easter holidays though so make sure you check opening times if you want to visit certain attractions.


6. Go church hopping

Inside of an historic church with domed ceiling in Valletta.
Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

With just under 30 churches inside the capital alone, it would be a shame if you didn’t visit at least one. The majority of the churches in Valletta are free to enter, with the big exception being St John’s Co-Cathedral which costs €15. You can however visit during mass for free but you’ll be required to stand at the back of the church. Other notable churches worth visiting are St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral and the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


7. Explore the streets of Valletta

A hilly street in Valletta with Maltese balconies.
Street in Valletta

The streets of Valletta really are incredible with many of them featuring impressive Maltese balconies. If you have some spare time in your schedule then one of the best free things to do in Valletta is to wander around its back streets and see what hidden gems you can find. Streets such as Strait Street and St Lucia Street are two of the most popular but the closer you get to the tip of Valletta the quieter the streets become.


8. Siege Bell War Memorial

A stone war memorial with a bell hanging in the middle.
Siege Bell War Memorial

Sitting across from the Lower Barrakka Gardens is the Siege Bell War Memorial. Visiting this memorial is one of the top things to do in Valletta in a day and climbing to the top of it will provide you with a beautiful view across the harbour. The memorial commemorates the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the George Cross to Malta as a thank you for their services during World War II so it’s a very important point of interest in the city.


9. Victoria Gate

A large stone gate with Victoria Gate words on the top.
Victoria Gate

If you plan on walking along Valletta’s waterfront then you can’t miss the chance to take a photo in front of Victoria Gate. This city gate was built in 1885 by the British and was named after Queen Victoria. It’s the only city gate within the fortifications to survive, other than the main gate near the Triton Fountain, and was originally built as the main entrance from the harbour area. The road here isn’t too busy so it’s very easy to snap a quick photo as you make your way to the ferries lined up to take you to the Three Cities.


10. Walk along the Grand Harbour

View of the Grand Harbour in Valletta from lower gardens.
Grand Harbour

One of my favourite free things to do in Valletta is to stroll along the Grand Harbour. The harbour has seen a number of important battles throughout Malta’s history including the Great Siege of Malta and the Second Siege of Malta during the second world war. When the British military withdrew from the harbour it became much quieter so the city is in the middle of revamping it in certain areas. The Grand Harbour is a must-see in Valletta, especially if you’re planning on spending more than 48 hours in Valletta.


Where To Stay in Valletta

Palazzo del Pazzo

The best area to stay in Valletta is around the Valletta Food Market, which is where you can find the stunning Palazzo del Pazzo. The building that this holiday house is located in has a history of more than 400 years and is connected to an Italian “mad man” that used to throw lavish parties here. Much of the original features of the building have been preserved and with only three rooms available this luxury accommodation in the heart of Valletta is always in high demand.


All of the rooms have been designed with modern furnishings that only add to the traditional charm of the building itself. Each room features a king size double bed, a Maltese balcony with seating, a gorgeous modern bathroom, a large TV with Netflix, air-conditioning and heating, and a Bose speaker system. Breakfast isn’t offered as this isn’t your typical hotel, but you have full use of the kitchen downstairs and can relax in the evening in the library and gaming room. Make sure to visit the rooftop as well where you’ll be treated to unrivalled views of Valletta and the Three Cities.


Palazzo del Pazzo is a beautiful boutique accommodation in Valletta with unique furnishings that give you the modern comfort you’ve come to love but with a nod to the building’s history still shining through. A self check-in service is available here and you’ll be sent all of the details about how to access the building and your room prior to arrival. If you love staying in places with history then you won’t be disappointed with Palazzo del Pazzo.


>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Palazzo del Pazzo <<


If you’re still on the fence about whether or not to add Valletta to your Malta itinerary, hopefully my small list of the best free things to do in Valletta has enticed you to visit. If you plan to make Valletta your base, you can easily access places such as Gozo, Comino, Rabat, and Mdina using public transportation or by renting a vehicle from the airport. Valletta is a very unique city to visit that’s bursting with history and it won’t put a massive dent in your wallet like some European capitals will.


If you have any questions regarding your trip to Valletta or about visiting Malta in general please don’t hesitate to get in touch using the contact form, by leaving a comment below, or by reaching out on Instagram where you can follow along with my travels as well.


 

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