Ah, Malta. The country that started to stoke my passion for unexpected travel. I simply love exploring countries the local way and Malta is no exception. Particularly in its capital city: Valletta!
An old English guidebook once recommended Malta as the ‘jewel of the Mediterranean’, if Malta is the jewel, then Valletta is what makes it shine. Steeped in history and jam-packed with fun events for every intrepid traveller, no stay in Malta can be called complete without a quick visit to the Capital City.
Even if you’re not a fan of museum-going, or a food fanatic, Valletta is the kind of tourist hub that just makes sense. Crisscrossed with narrow roads and hidden little side-streets, Valletta’s treasure-trove of discoveries leave nobody feeling like they’ve wasted a day.
Want to sample some of Malta’s 7000 years of history?
You can’t go wrong by stopping at the National Museum of Archaeology, featuring everything from Bronze Age daggers to a Phoenician sarcophagus. Interested in something a little more “recent”? The Palace Armoury has a stunning display of 16th century armaments, used to defend the islands during the Great Siege of Malta.
Maybe you want to look at some modern creative works? St. James Cavalier showcases up and coming, and established, Maltese artists.
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to food – there’s everything from tiny, intimate little Italian restaurants to sprawling Chinese behemoths, and hole-in-the-wall bars only big enough for just three people and maybe their drinks – but whatever you do, don’t miss out on coffee at Cafe Cordina, or lunch at Nenu the Artisan Baker.
Shopping-wise, there’s a blend of high-street and luxury brands, perfect for those who like to window-shop beyond their means.
If you want to see a bit of a comprehensive guide, Choice Holidays have created an ultimate guide to the capital city of Malta.
But, if all of this might seem a little daunting, so we’re going to give you a local’s idea of the perfect day in Valletta, starting with breakfast:
1. Breakfast at Dolci Peccati
St. John’s Street has a few hidden secrets on either side of the main-street, but as you’ll need food to fuel your Valletta wanders, breakfast is a priority, and there’s no better place to go than Dolci Peccati, a tiny local spot that attracts people from the second the lights flick on.
If you’re looking for a full English, continental French, or pancake-stacked American breakfast, this might not be the place for you, but don’t knock it before you try it!
Dolci Peccati specialises in made-with-love pastries served piping hot with your choice of filling, delicate sandwiches with multiple flavour combinations, and perfect coffee. For less than €8, you can dine on half the breakfast menu available, and take away a couple of pastries for a mid-morning snack.
2. Wander around Casa Rocca Piccola
Valletta has no shortage of museums; from the history of the Maltese postal service to the Second World War war rooms that saw the islands through to victory, you can learn almost anything you want about the Maltese islands.
To whet your appetite, take a rarified look at how Maltese nobility live at Casa Rocca Piccola, a working historical palace residence. The Marquis and Marchioness de Piro run the tour themselves, feeding visitors facts about the family house, the gardens, and the attached World War II shelter.
3. Shop at Cekcik and the Chocolate District
Located within ten steps of each other, Cekcik – Ethnic Bazaar and the Chocolate District shop are two distinctive, but excellent, hole-in-the-wall shops to visit for a present with a little bit of a difference.
Cekcik – Ethnic Bazaar has a little bit of everything in its tiny shop, whether you’re looking for a vintage leather satchel to carry around everything you buy when you’re in Valletta, or a t-shirt made by local Maltese brand Souvenirs That Don’t Suck emblazoned with the favourite Maltese buzz-word ‘Mela’.
If you’re looking for pieces to take home with you that are even bigger, Cekcik – Ethnic Bazaar also sells upcycled furniture for the discerning collector.
Meanwhile, Chocolate District sells only the finest, most exclusive, chocolate available in the world, specialising in bean-to-bar goodness, pralines, and chocolate of every different percentage. If the sight of the chocolate makes you hungry, Chocolate District also has an attached cafe that provides amazing pastries and coffee to its shoppers.
4. Wander around the side-streets of Valletta
They say not all those who wander are lost, and that’s definitely true in Valletta! The best way to see the city isn’t by tram, tiny train, or taxi: it’s walking.
When the stretch of the main-street becomes too crowded for you, go off the beaten path and into one of the side-streets and see what you can discover there.
Whether you’ll find your new favourite go-to coffee place, or a local artisan shop selling handmade jewellery, you’re bound to come across something in the Valletta side-streets that the main-streets definitely won’t have.
5. Grab a drink at Ollie’s Last Pub or Cafe Society
This depends entirely on what you would like! On paper, both places are bars, both places have a wide selection of wars, both places are affordable, easy to get to, and have an inimitable atmosphere.
Both places are completely different.
Ollie’s Last Pub is Oliver Reed’s final hurrah, with an impeccable collection of spirits and on-the-tap beers to power you through your nostalgia. Decorated in Reed paraphernalia, Ollie’s Last Pub is a cheerful, effervescent, crowded little nook where everyone’s your best friend, and shots flow freely.
Cafe Society, on the other hand, is the island’s first coffee-bar, and we do mean that literally! Amazingly priced cocktails sit side by side with standard, and speciality, coffees, providing a drink for both you and your designated driver. Cafe Society also has live music playing most nights, with an eclectic mix of rock, jazz, Maltese, and foreign artists. Plus, the view is amazing: stand on the steps, and look right down into the Harbour.
Bonus: Take the ferry to the Three Cities
Getting around Malta is challenging sometimes; the buses run frequently, but the high amount of cars on the road means that traffic is almost inevitable.
However, what better way to get around the island than by one of the two ferry hubs in Valletta? Take your pick from going to Sliema or going to the Three Cities, pay for your day ticket, and climb aboard to let the wind and the sea water soothe you on your way to something different.
The good thing about Valletta is that no matter whether you choose to follow along every step in this blog, or go beyond and explore on your own, Valletta is easy to get around, impossible to get lost in, and an eclectic collection of the best of the best Malta and abroad has to offer.
If you’re excited to get to Valletta and start exploring, book a trip through Choice Holidays, accommodation and flights included!
So, what are you waiting for! Let’s get exploring!
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For more information on Malta: Visit Malta