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10 Things to do in Malta’s Capital City Valletta

When visiting Malta on a family holiday, a trip to the island’s capital is an absolute must! Here are our 10 top things to do in Malta’s capital city Valletta.

Malta's capital city Valletta - Upper Barrakka Gardens

Before stepping foot and buggy wheels on the number 45 bus to go and visit Malta’s capital city, I had very few expectations of Valletta. I knew it was a walled city and there was a modern gate, but I knew nothing else really.

So, when we all stepped off of the number 45 bus, Valletta did nothing but dazzle!

My eyes couldn’t take it all in quick enough! My low expectations had done a marvellous job of allowing Valletta to truly astound me.

I do not know why Valletta is not on the tip of more travel talking tongues! The views out over The Three Cities are to rival those of Venice and its history is as long as it is colourful!

City Gate of Valletta – Malta’s capital city Valletta

The entrance gate to the city sits in stark contrast to the rest of the cities architecture. It is the fifth gate to be constructed on this site and was built between 2011 and 2014.

City Gate of Valletta - Malta's capital city Valletta

If you catch the bus into the city it will drop you off at the steps leading up to the Triton Fountain, which you have to walk around to get to the gate.

The Fountain was completed in 1959 and was recently refurbished in 2018 – just in time for Valletta to enjoy being European Capital of Culture. It is absolutely huge and makes a very grand impression before you get to the city gate!

Triton Fountain in Valletta - Malta's capital city Valletta

Upper Barrakka Gardens – Malta’s capital city Valletta

When visiting Valletta with the kids you must make a stop at the Upper Barrakka Gardens. You will find them to the right of the city gates and have been public gardens since the 1800s.

You enter the gardens through an arched doorway and instantly you will find yourself transported to a Mediterranean world of serenity and beauty!

Upper Barrakka Gardens

The gardens themselves are full of trees that tower high above your head and throw down lashings of shade from the hot sun. Enjoy the calming sound of water from freshly painted white fountains and a friendly place to sit underneath the gardens famed arches that frame the stunning views out over The Three Cities and the Grand Harbour.

Visit the arches of Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta with kids

It’s a wonderful place to take in the very essence of Valletta.

The views are stunning and i’m sure you’ll find it difficult to pull yourself away!

It’s a great place for a picnic or just to escape the hustle and bustle of the other sightseeing guests. It is a place to let your kids roam a little more freely and allow them to be a little more independent. When visiting Valletta with kids, it really is a must see!

There is also the opportunity to hear the cannons being fired over the Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka Gardens at noon and 4pm every day.

Hear the guns fire at Upper Barrakka Gardens - Malta's capital city Valletta

The Three Cities

The Three Cities can give you a true Maltese experience. They have been largely unvisited and undeveloped and give a unique peek into an authentic Maltese way of living.

From the Upper Barrakka Gardens you can take an elevator 262 feet down to the waterfront of the Grand Harbour. Then you can catch a ferry over to The Three Cities.

Elevator 262 feet down to the waterfront of the Grand Harbour - Malta's capital city Valletta

Once there you can visit churches, forts and bastions that are all much older than those of Valletta and discover the history and stories of the Knights of St, John.

There are also various boat cruises and tours you can take to explore this ancient neighbour of Valletta. This means you have lots of opportunity to experience an authentic slice of this intriguing and inspiring place.

St. Elmo’s Fort – Malta’s capital city Valletta

You can walk along part of Elmo’s fort for free or you can pay to explore the whole thing. This is exactly what we decided to do!

Elmo's Fort - Malta's capital city Valletta

Elmo’s Fort is right on the tip of the Valletta peninsula and gives great views out over the Three Cities and the Grand Harbour.

The star shaped fort was built in 1552 and is best known for its role in the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.

Inside Elmo's Fort. A great place to visit when in Valletta with kids
Elmo's Fort in - Malta's capital city Valletta
Elmo's Fort - Malta's capital city Valletta

As you walk around the fort you can learn all about the characters from history that bring this for to life. And for any English literature buffs you can also learn the part famed British poet Samuel Coldridge played in Malta’s colourful history!

View from Elmo's Fort
View out to the north from Elmo's Fort

St Elmo’s National War Museum

The National War Museum is a great place to learn some of Malta’s history, starting from the first found relics of man on the island to Malta becoming a republic.

The National War Museum is set out in six parts and we throughly enjoyed all of it! It kept our attention all the way around and had enough to keep younger hands, eyes and ears busy too.

We saw the George Cross medal and accompanying letter from King George II which he gave to the residents of Malta for their bravery in 1942.

It was at this time Malta became the most bombed place on earth. Across the island, Malta lost over 29,000 buildings during World War Two.

Plaque on the Palace - Malta's capital city Valletta

We learnt about Malta’s rule from the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the French and British until it finally became a republic in the 1970s and declared itself a neutral zone.

In this new capacity, Valletta held the first face to face meeting between George Bush and Gorbachev putting an end to the Cold War.

Siege Bell War Memorial

The Siege Bell Memorial was constructed to commemorate Malta receiving the George Cross and the lives lost in this period of Malta’s history.

It’s a nice stop off if you are walking from Upper Barrakka Gardens to St. Elmo’s Fort (or vice versa) and it offers some great views out over the water. When visiting Valletta with kids the Siege Bell is a good talking point and the bell is the biggest in Malta, and kids love anything that’s big!

Siege Bell War Memorial - Malta's capital city Valletta
Siege Bell War Memorial

St John’s Cathedral

St John’s Cathedral sits in the middle of Valletta and it is vast! Vast in its history and size!

Every inch of the inside is decorated in 16th and 17th century art and the floor is covered in marble commemorations to the dead knights, much like St Pauls in Mdina.

Entry to the Cathedral is €10 for adults and under 12s can enter free if accompanied by an adult.

St John's Cathedral - Malta's capital city Valletta

Palace Armoury – Malta’s capital city Valletta

Here you can visit one of the worlds biggest collections of armoury still housed in its original place. There is also the opportunity to see the state rooms of the palace and the building itself.

Palace - Malta's capital city Valletta
Inside Palace Armoury - Malta's capital city Valletta

National Library of Malta

The National Library of Malta is located on Old Treasury Street. In front of the entrance there is an impressive bronze statue of Queen Victoria, so it’s easy to spot!

You can even have a look inside! Entrance is permitted by simply registering with some identification and then wearing a visitors badge.

This includes an exhibition of bibles from across the world and some seriously old volumes. However, photographs are strictly prohibited. This is a brilliant cultural stop when travelling to Valletta with kids and a good excuse to treat them to some amazing history!

National Library of Malta - Malta's capital city Valletta

Parliament Buildings

The parliament buildings are just to the right of the entrance gate to the city.

Parliament buildings - Malta's capital city Valletta

Once you spend some time learning about Malta and its history the parliament buildings become a great example of Malta’s emergence from centuries of rule into being its own republic.

The buildings location and design could be seen as a symbol of how Malta is merging its history together with its undefined and exciting future!

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Pin Valletta with kids for later!

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Looking for more information on Malta? Take a look at:

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10 things to know about Malta

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Leah

    Beautiful! You’ve convinced me that we need to go here! 🙂 Looks like a great places for kids too!

  2. Sarah Wilson

    Wow, such a beautiful and historic city. Love the architecture and water.

  3. Karen

    Valletta looks amazing, we haven’t made it to Malta yet but I think we need to!

  4. Liona

    Valletta is such a beautiful city. I definitely need to take the kids to Malta!

  5. Parenthood4ever

    Sounds like an amazing time. I love your detailed posts on Malta, definitely need to pin it for the time when we reach Malta.
    Three Cities sounds so interesting, I think this place should be visited first.

Comments are closed.