Best city break 2019: Valletta
Compact Valletta’s coronation as European City of Culture 2018 has brought a burst of fresh energy to its historic streets.
Why go in 2019
Valletta is on the up. Long famed for its feast of architecture, the city has welcomed a rise in hotel options and flights thanks to its glittering array of crowd-pleasing arts events housed in snazzily renovated spaces.
It’s more accessible for British travellers, too, with new routes added from Exeter and Cardiff. With near year-round sunshine, improved access and renewed zest, Valletta is a no-brainer for a city break this year.
Valletta is known for
Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, packs an abundance of beautiful buildings into its small area. From the Baroque opulence of St John’s Co-Cathedral (complete with a splendid Caravaggio) and the sumptuous Grand Master’s Palace, to the ultra-modern stone Parliament building and remodelled limestone city gates, it’s a pick-n-mix through the ages. Stroll past the colourful balconies that line Valletta’s characterful streets and head for the harbour where 16th-century Fort St Elmo houses the National War Museum. If food is your thing, Valletta’s nosh reflects its multi-cultural past, with Maltese, Italian and British influences all playing their part.
When to Go
Valletta is pleasantly warm in spring, and crowds are smaller than in summer. The countrywide International Fireworks Festival comes to Valletta’s Barriera Wharf at the end of April, while music lovers drop by for the Isle of MTV festival in June. If heat isn’t a problem for you, then get your fill of culture in July at two major events – The Malta Arts Festival and the Malta Jazz Festival. Don’t forget about autumn, either. Temperatures can still be balmy into October for Notte Bianca, when museums and galleries open for free until late and live music rings throughout the city.
Just a 15-minute taxi drive from Valletta stands the ancient site of Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, an archaeological marvel with a touch of the macabre. This underground complex is a prehistoric necropolis and you can take an eerie trip through its limestone-hewn halls, chambers and corridors, where about 7,000 people were buried. If you fancy a guided tour, it’s best to book ahead as spaces fill up quickly.
How to get there: regular flights leave from all over the UK to Malta International Airport, about 20 minutes’ drive from Valletta.
Currency: the euro.
Visa: none required.
Plugs: type G, the same as the UK.
Average cost of a pint of beer: £2.22.