Valletta is a city surrounded by a sea, not a city by the sea. And that is because most of Valletta is built on high ground and it is almost completely surrounded by walls. So maybe it's not a place for a family beach holiday by the Mediterranean, but it's a great choice for a city break for adults.
Valletta is full of history and beautiful architecture, as a result, it's selected as a Unesco World Heritage Site and the European Capital of Culture in 2018. Distances from site to site are short in the tiny city, namely, the smallest capital in the European Union.
Even though there aren't any beaches in Valletta, Malta is a small country and it's easy to get around the island and hit the beaches elsewhere. Most of the beaches are located in the northern part of the island. The closest beach near Valletta is in St Julian's.
Where to stay in Valletta
Valletta is extremely small in size, so inside the city walls (east of the City Gate) it doesn't matter much where you stay. The City Gate can be found by the picture 10 on the map below.
The only thing you have to think about is the terrain in Valletta, which is far from flat. The highest ground is in the middle of the city and the surrounding areas are either uphill or downhill, sometimes with good a number of stairs. Climbing up and down can be very irritating during the extremely hot summer days of Malta. So, for everyone who likes to walk around with minimal effort, staying right in the middle of the city is recommended.
If you are looking for a hotel with swimming pool and enjoy strolling along a seaside promenade, and would just like to visit the sights in Valletta, one option is to stay in Sliema across the bay. There's a ferry running across the bay from early morning to late in the evening (late only in the summertime).
The ferry from Sliema to Valletta takes 15 minutes one way and adds a small cost to the trip, but the hotels in Sliema are cheaper than in Valletta, so the cost of ferry tickets is compensated by the lower room rates. A word of warning, at times there are long queues to the ferry and the ferry doesn't operate in heavy winds.
Things to do in Valletta
Lascaris War Rooms
Secret underground tunnels and rooms that were built for the Second World War and used as War Headquarters. They were used later as a strategic Communication Centre by NATO and for other military purposes as well before closing down. Later opened again as a museum. Admission fee of 12 Euros (July 2018) includes a 45-minute guided tour, or you can visit the rooms on your own.
- Location: Near Upper Barrakka Gardens
- Website: lascariswarrooms.com
Fort St Elmo and the National War Museum
Fort St Elmo is a star-shaped fort, built just before the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. It now hosts the National War Museum. One needs a ticket to access the fort area, and the museum is spread in six different locations across Fort St Elmo, all designated to a specific period of time in Malta's history.
- Location: In the northeast corner of Valletta
- Website: heritagemalta.org
Upper Barrakka Gardens and the Saluting Battery
Upper Barrakka Gardens is a park that has great views to the three cities over the Grand Harbour. On the lower tier there's a battery of cannons, and a show of firing one takes place daily at 12.00 and 16.00. They don't really fire the cannon, it's a fake one, but producing the sound and the smoke nevertheless. I tried to get a perfect picture of the firing with flames and smoke, but like the little girl I am, I got frightened of the loud bang and never pushed the button on time. You can watch the Saluting Battery for free from the upper tier. From the lower tier, closer to the cannons, only with a ticket.
- Location: Southside of Valletta near the City Gate
- Website: salutingbattery.com
The Grandmaster's Palace now serves as the Presidential Palace. You can visit the small courtyard for free, and the State Room and Armoury for a fee.
Casa Rocca Piccola
16th Century Palace of a Maltese Noble family that has been partly opened for visitors.
- Location: Republic Street 74
- Website: casaroccapiccola.com
St John’s Co-Cathedral
- Location: St. John's Square
- Website: stjohnscocathedral.com
From Malta airport to Valletta
Luqa airport is the only airport in Malta. It's located about 8 kilometers southwest from Valletta.
There are no railroads in Malta, so bus is the only option besides taxi or other private transportation. Bus line X4 is the one to choose. The journey between the airport and Valletta city takes 25 minutes and costs 1,50€ during winter months and 2,00€ during summer months. The easiest way to figure out the quickest way is to use the journey planner of public transport.
Taxi from Malta Airport to Valletta takes around 15 minutes and costs between 15-20€, depending on the company. It's possible to get a taxi for a fixed price by paying it at the taxi booth in the arrivals hall. You will get a receipt with your taxi number, which you have to find outside the terminal building. You will pay the taxi fare with that receipt.
Prices for different destinations can be found here. An administrative fee of a few euros could be added to the price.
Taxify works in Malta, and it's cheaper than traditional taxi companies. You can pay the fare with either by their mobile app or directly to the driver.
Weather in Valletta
In all, Valletta is one of the most sunshine guaranteed places in whole Europe throughout the year.
Winter: The winter months from December to February are often rainy and the average temperatures go around 10-15 °C
Spring: From March to May the rains stop and it sun is out often. The average temperature climbs in March is around 15-20°C but in May the average is already at 20 °C. May is often the first month the locals hit the beach as hot days are possible.
Summer. From June to August sunshine is pretty much guaranteed. The temperature climbs up to 30 °C and over.
Autumn: September is still a hot month and it’s often beach weather still during that month. The temperature in September stays clearly above 20 °C In mid October the weather cools down to 20 °C on average and it starts to rain more often. In November the temperature is around 20°C and less and the rainfalls are more frequent than in October.