Valletta
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Valletta

By Amy Adejokun Amy Adejokun Section editor

Our Editorial team's advice

The capital of Malta, Valletta, has preserved the traces of its past: the island was in the hands of the Soldiers of Christ and it was one of the bastions of Christianity. Its baroque architecture and the geometric checkerboard layout of its streets dominate your impressions of the city. On both sides of Republic Street, the city's main street, the major monuments are grouped, between luxury boutiques and souvenir shops. Valletta does not only offer its own cultural richness, as it is quite close to the Three Cities and the famous prehistoric site of Tarxien. An essential stop for all lovers of history who want to learn more about the mysterious knights of the Order of Malta.

There are many monuments and museums in Valletta such as the Grand Masters' Palace, historic inns, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Archaeology and Saint John's Cathedral. Stroll to the Manoel theatre on Merchant's Street, which has a very pleasant market in the early morning on weekdays, to better appreciate all of the architectural treasures of the city. Do not forget to look around the ramparts, to enjoy the Upper Baracca Gardens in the late afternoon and tour around the port by boat.

To see

Saint John's Cathedral and the palace of the Great Masters. The first monument is located on St. John's square, the second on Palace Square. Built up in the 16th century, the Saint John's Cathedral is remarkable for its interior (marble, gilt and paintings abound). Dating back to the 16th century, the palace of the Great Masters is full of rooms decorated with tapestries and furniture of that time.

To do

A walk along the fortifications of Valletta, one of the few defensive walls that still exists in the world. Starting from the City Gate the walk takes about one hour and a half. Also go to the side of the Three Cities, on the other side of Grand Harbour, to admire the architecture of Valletta. It offers a superb view at sunset. Strolling in Vittoriosa, you will see a sort of miniature Valletta.

pros

  • +  A beautiful city and a good size to fully visit it.
  • +  Its historical and cultural sites.
  • +  The main passage of bus routes is through Valletta.

cons

  • -  There are no sandy beaches nearby.
  • -  The influx of tourists during high season.
  • -  The cost of living is more expensive than elsewhere.

To think about

As for the traffic, it is slow everywhere. Avoid renting a car. Instead, take the local bus (very cheap) or a taxi (for semi-rural areas poorly served by public transport). Also, know that the rainiest month is February. There should be good weather (with exceptions) for the rest of the year.

To avoid

Choosing Valletta for a holiday resort. There is no beach near the port, and opposite, in Sliema, hotels have only rocky terraces equipped with a ladder to descend into the water. The closest sandy beach is located in St. George's Bay, which is only 9 miles away, but with the traffic it takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get there. Rather, book La Valette as a cultural destination.

To try

Try a typical dish, such as rabbit civet (rabbit stew), Octopus in garlic or fish soup. Less adventurous eaters should choose the antipasti (though be aware that recipes are not the same as in Italy) or pasta with seafood. Several good restaurants welcome you to try their cuisine in Valletta, especially on Republic Street. However the best destination on this street remains the Cordina café for its pastries.

To bring back

Maltese wine (red or white). There are three main wineries that produce wines that are very light to drink; the grape is of Italian origin. As for crafts, there is handmade lace (which adorns handkerchiefs, doilies or blouses), decorative objects made of glass and works of art. Ask for more information in the hotels where exhibition sales are offered very often.
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