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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

How To Spend 3 Days in Valletta, Malta

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

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Valletta may be one of Europe’s smallest capital cities but that doesn’t mean it falls short on attractions. Spending 3 days in Valletta is more than enough to see the main points of interest as well as some hidden gems, and you may even have time to do a few day trips from Valletta too. Valletta is a very navigable city by foot but some areas can be quite hilly so make sure you bring appropriate footwear. You can also take advantage of the Valletta tourist train that will take you past the main attractions.

Valletta’s history dates back to the mid-16th century when the Knights of Malta set out to construct a modern fortified city that was “built by gentlemen for gentlemen” with the aim of defending Christendom from the Ottomans. Valletta was constructed in a grid system to allow for proper air circulation and it was one of the only European cities to be built on a completely new site rather than evolve from preexisting settlements.

Most of the top things to see in Valletta have historic significance so you’ll have to go further afield if you want to party in Malta or relax on one of the many beaches near Valletta. I would recommend spending more than 24 hours in Valletta if you can but if you’re only spending a weekend in Malta you’ll probably want to visit other places such as Gozo, Rabat, or Mdina too. Here’s how to spend a full 3 days in Valletta, including where to eat in Valletta and where to stay.

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Top Things To Do in Valletta

If you’re planning on renting a car in Malta then you should know that driving in Valletta isn’t worth it and parking in the historic capital is a pain. We decided to use the MCP parking garage which is located 5 minutes from the city gate and costs a maximum of €20 for 24 hours.

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts 320 monuments within its walls making it one of the most densely concentrated historic areas globally. There are plenty of things to do in Valletta whether you’re visiting for some sightseeing or simply want a relaxing getaway.

Admire the views from the Upper Barrakka Gardens

View of the three cities from Valletta saluting battery.
Saluting Battery

One of the best free things to do in Valletta is to visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens. This is where you can find an incredible view of the Three Cities across the water and is also where the Saluting Battery is located. Every day except Sunday at 12:00 and 16:00 there’s a ceremony at the Saluting Battery where a cannon is fired.

For easy access to the Grand Harbour below you can take advantage of the Upper Barrakka Lift which costs only €1.00 per person for a round trip. This lift is perfect if you’re short on time or aren’t able to walk up and down steps.

Lower Barrakka Gardens

Greek temple with columns in centre of garden in Valletta.
Lower Barrakka Gardens

A short walk from the Upper Barrakka Gardens will bring you to the Lower Barrakka Gardens. You’ll find that it’s significantly less crowded here as most tourists frequent the upper gardens instead. The view from the Lower Barrakka Gardens offers visitors a different angle of the Three Cities as well as a great vantage point to watch ships come into the harbour.

Siege Bell War Memorial

A large war memorial with columns and hanging bell.
Siege Bell War Memorial

Directly next to the Lower Barrakka Gardens is the Siege Bell War Memorial. This is one of the most popular places to visit in Valletta and the Lower Barrakka Gardens offers a nice view of it from across the road. The memorial was erected to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the country’s presentation of the George Cross for bravery during World War II. It was unveiled in 1992 by Queen Elizabeth II and is a simple yet touching tribute.

Hop on a dgħajsa to the Three Cities

Traditional Maltese fishing boat used for passengers in Valletta.

Spending 3 days in Valletta will give you more than enough time to hop on a traditional Maltese boat to the Three Cities. For just €2 each way you can ride on a dgħajsa in Valletta that will take you across the harbour to Birgu. This is a very unique thing to do in Valletta and is much better than going on the modern tourist boats. If you go near sunset you can get some fantastic photos of Valletta on the way back.

Fort St Elmo

Small iron gate leading into a fort in Valletta.
Fort St Elmo

One of the top things to do in Valletta is to visit Fort St Elmo. This 16th century star-shaped fort was built by the Knights of Malta in only four months and it saw a lot of action during the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottomans. It also played an important role in the defence of Malta during World War II. Today visitors can walk around the fort and learn more about the history of Malta in the National War Museum. Entry costs €10.00 so it’s not the cheapest attraction in Valletta.

City Gate

View of the city walls in Valletta from the entry bridge.
Walls of the city

As you make your way into Valletta you’ll pass by the impressive city gate where you can get very nice views of the old city walls. The gate that stands today is a modern construction and is the fifth gate to stand on this location. Just in front of the city gate is a beautiful water fountain known as the Triton Fountain which is worth taking a photo at before you head down Republic Street into the heart of Valletta.

Republic Street

Main street in Valletta with people walking along it.
Republic Street

Republic Street is one of the main streets in Malta and is where you’ll find a lot of popular clothing shops, eateries, and the National Museum of Archaeology. As you pass through the city gate you’ll also find the Parliament House and the Royal Opera House on the right hand side. Republic Street stretches all the way down to Fort St Elmo and is extremely busy compared to other streets that run parallel with it.

St John's Co-Cathedral

Inside the cathedral in Valletta with gold trimmings.
St John's Co-Cathedral

By far one of the best things to do in Valletta is to visit St John’s Co-Cathedral. It’s dedicated to St John the Baptist and was built in the late-16th century. It’s known as the crown jewel of Valletta not only for its golden opulence but also the amount of rare artworks inside from artists such as Caravaggio. At €15 per person it’s quite pricey to enter, but if you don’t want to pay you can pop your head in during a mass. You’re required to stay at the back of the church and have to stay silent but it’s the perfect time to snap a quick photo and enter for free.

St George's Square

A large open square in Valletta with historic buildings.
St George's Square

The largest square in Valletta is St George’s Square which you can easily find at the far end of Republic Street. At one side of the square is the very popular Grandmaster’s Palace which was unfortunately closed when we visited for refurbishment. There are also a number of other important historic buildings located around this square and it sits just a short distance from the famous Casa Rocca Piccola.

St Paul's Pro-Cathedral

View of a cathedral dome from the top of a hilly street.
St Paul's Pro-Cathedral

There are many churches in Valletta to visit as well as a couple of impressive cathedrals. One of these is St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral which is an iconic landmark along Valletta’s skyline. It dates back to the 19th century and was commissioned by Queen Adelaide. The undercroft has been completely renovated and is now home to a pizzeria which isn’t something you’d normally associate with a cathedral and could be a unique dining experience.

Auberge de Castille

A large government building in stone with flags in front.
Auberge de Castille

Not far from the city gate is the beautiful Auberge de Castille. It sits at the highest point of Valletta and was once the official seat of the Knights of the Langue of Castile, León and Portugal. Nearby you’ll also find the Church of Our Lady of Victories and Pjazza Jean de Valette who the city was named after. This area gets very busy during the day so if you want a photo without people in it you’ll have to arrive early.

Visit some Game of Thrones filming locations

An historic street with steps lined with plant pots.
Eagle Street

Did you know that Game of Thrones was filmed in Valletta? Malta in general was heavily used in different seasons but Valletta in particular had a number of notable filming locations. The photo shown above is of Eagle Street but Fort St Angelo, the Upper Barrakka Gardens, and nearby Fort Manoel were all used. Eagle Street is a hidden gem in Valletta so you won’t find it full of tourists.

Look up at the Maltese balconies

Colourful Maltese balconies on an old street in Valletta.
Maltese balconies in Valletta

Maltese balconies, or gallarija, can be found throughout Valletta and each one has its own unique features. This type of balcony has a long standing history that predates the creation of Valletta but their purpose remains the same - to allow someone to look onto the street without being seen. Most of these wooden balconies are painted to match the colour of the door and as a statement of personality by the owner.

Explore Valletta at night

Pedestrian street with steps lined with restaurants and bars.
St Lucia Street

Looking for things to do in Valletta at night? Valletta isn’t a big party city but there are certainly a lot of bars in Valletta to choose from and some great restaurants too. St Lucia Street is one of the most vibrant streets in Valletta at night but don’t forget to check out the Is-Suq Tal-Belt as well as Strait Street.

Where To Eat in Valletta

There’s no need to wonder about where to eat in Valletta because this small city is filled with incredible eateries that cater to everyone. From fantastic Italian food to fresh seafood and modern dining experiences, Valletta really is a paradise for foodies and you won’t have to walk far from your accommodation to find some of the best restaurants in Valletta.

Trattoria Romana Zero Sei

Some of the best food in Valletta that we tried was at Trattoria Romana Zero Sei. This was the first Trattoria Romana in all of Malta and they’re famous for their traditional Carbonara which you absolutely have to order - it tastes amazing and the portion is very generous.

There are of course other pasta dishes such as Cacio e Pepe and Amatriciana on the menu too. Everything is homemade and fresh including their starters and desserts such as tiramisu. Zero Sei is a relatively budget friendly place to eat in Valletta but make sure you either arrive when it opens or book a table in advance because it’s always fully booked by locals and tourists. We loved it so much we came back twice in one trip!

The Black Egg

Although The Black Egg is located in Ta' Xbiex, it’s less than a 10 minute drive from Valletta (which you can see across the water). This modern brunch spot has a unique menu of traditional brunch dishes with a twist. In all honesty you can’t visit this restaurant without trying their signature dish - The Black Egg.

The sourdough toast is topped with avocado, pomegranate, and bacon or salmon if you desire. But the main component is the black poached egg on top! They wouldn’t give me their secret recipe but it was a very cool dining experience and the black colouring didn’t take away from the taste of the egg.

You can also try their Duck & Waffle with a side of truffle fries if you’re not feeling the black egg dish. We had just driven down from Gozo when we visited The Black Egg so we made sure to treat ourselves to the Triple Chocolate Cookie Dough for dessert. If you like modern eateries then you’ll want to take the short trip from Valletta to eat here.

Banh Mi

The Valletta Food Market is home to a great selection of places to eat. If you want to try traditional homemade Vietnamese cuisine though you have to head over to Banh Mi. They were the first eatery in Malta to introduce Vietnamese food to the island and their popularity has only grown in recent years. Their latest food stall is set up near the entrance of the market and their small but delicious menu is sure to get your taste buds flowing.

We had a selection of their bao buns (made using a family recipe), including a tofu one which was packed with flavour. We also couldn’t resist trying their summer rolls which are very refreshing in the warm weather and the massaman chicken curry. Banh Mi is street food at its finest and you won’t find anything else like it in Valletta.

Casa Sotto

For the best pizza in Valletta you need to dine at Casa Sotto which is located next to St George’s Square. They have a fantastic selection of Romana pizzas available which are cooked slightly different than Neapolitan pizzas but taste just as good - if not better. There are traditional pizza options on the menu such as funghi and diavola but if you’re feeling adventurous you can try one of their white or gourmet pizzas.

To kick things off I would recommend ordering the supplì which are deep fried rice balls and for dessert you can't go wrong with pistachio tiramisu! Casa Sotto is set within an intimate and traditional dining space and will definitely be one of the best meals you have in Valletta.

Naan Bar

Curry may not be something you associate Malta with, but Naan Bar is definitely staking its claim as the best modern Indian restaurant in the country. Located along Old Bakery Street, this Indian restaurant in Valletta has all of the traditional dishes you’ve come to love but they’ve added a few modern options too. And their cocktails aren’t half bad either!

The Chicken Korma is always a nice option if you don’t like spicy food or you can try their Awadhi Chicken Biryani which is served mixed into the rice. If you’re ordering a side of rice for your curry the portions are very large so unless you’re sharing I would recommend asking for a half portion. The same can be said with the naan bread which is large enough to share between two or three people.

I don’t normally order starters at Indian restaurants because curry is quite filling but I couldn’t resist trying the Aloo Tikki which are essentially potato pancakes covered in a tasty sauce. Naan bar is a great option for dinner in Valletta and is another restaurant that gets booked up very quickly so plan in advance if you want to visit.

Where To Stay in Valletta

Hotel Pjazza Merkanti

Boutique hotels in Valletta don’t come much better than the newly opened Hotel Pjazza Merkanti. Located in an historic building directly opposite the Valletta Food Market, this beautiful hotel boasts a number of elegantly finished modern rooms, many of which have balconies where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Valletta from.

We stayed in the Presidential Room which featured a beautiful large double bed, a private bathroom with a walk-in shower hidden behind a mirrored wall, a walk-in closet, a large TV, and a writing desk.

Our bedroom was very comfortable and tranquil despite it being in a vibrant and busy part of Valletta. The addition of a Maltese balcony accessible from the bedroom and a second smaller balcony that was accessible from the bathroom were both very unique features of the room which is why it’s such a popular choice with guests.

Have you ever had breakfast on a roof before? Well at Hotel Pjazza Merkanti you can! As long as the weather is agreeable breakfast is served outside on the rooftop where you can enjoy breathtaking views of Valletta below. The food is oriented around a traditional Maltese breakfast so it offers you the perfect opportunity to try something different. There are plenty of options available at breakfast so you should have no problems finding something suitable for you.

Part of the hotel is still under construction and is set to be opened as an innovative eatery concept so we can’t wait to come back and see how it turns out. Hotel Pjazza Merkanti is a beautiful boutique hotel in Valletta situated in a prime location and staying here will only elevate your 3 days in Valletta.

>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Hotel Pjazza Merkanti <<

Valletta is a beautiful capital city to visit and is a haven for people interested in history. Although many people visit Malta for its beaches it’s certainly worth visiting Valletta for at least a day so you can see some of its main attractions. To see it in its entirety though I would suggest spending 3 days in Valletta so you don’t find yourself rushing around too much. If you have spare time you can always plan a day trip to the Three Cities, Gozo, or Rabat too.

Have you travelled to Valletta before? If you have any questions about how long to spend in Valletta or what to see in Valletta in one day please get in touch using the comments section below, via email, or through Instagram and I’ll reply as quickly as possible.


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