10 reasons to visit Malta’s capital, Valletta
For such a tiny place – it’s the smallest capital in Europe – Valletta has a lot to shout about. There are more than 350 historical monuments within a third of a square mile, so it’s not surprising that UNESCO, when it named the walled city a World Heritage Site, described it as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world”. And if that’s not enticing enough, Valletta has also been awarded the accolade of European Capital of Culture 2018, so now’s definitely the time to go.
Here’s our must-visit list, covering where to eat and drink and what to see and do in this Lilliputian capital built by the Knights of St John…
1. Triq ir-Repubblika. The main street in the heart of the city stretches from City Gate to Fort St Elmo and is lined with boutiques and cafés.
2. Ambrosia. Not a type of custard, but a cosy restaurant that serves a delicious rabbit stew, the national dish.
3. The Grand Master’s Palace. The former residence of the Grand Masters of the Order of the Knights of St John is filled with opulent paintings, tapestries and armoury from the islands’ history.
4. Pjazza Teatru Rjali. The open-air theatre was built within the ruins of the neoclassical Royal Opera House and designed by the same architect as the Royal Opera House in London's Covent Garden.
5. Valletta’s picturesque waterfront. Drink and dine al fresco, and sample the local delicacies.
6. Fortification walls. Start at City Gate and walk the 1km circuit around the edge of the city to spot Fort St Elmo, the only building here that predates Valletta.
7. Hidden gardens. There are plenty to choose from, but from the Upper Barrakka gardens you can see the Saluting Battery and take the lift down to the Grand Harbour.
8. St Barbara's Bastion. The perfect spot for watching the sun rise over the Grand Harbour.
9. St John’s Co-Cathedral. This Baroque building is home to tapestries by Rubens and Poussin, and paintings by Caravaggio.
10. Karozzin. This is the Maltese word for a horse drawn cab – we think it’s the best way to ride around Valletta.
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