We only spent a few hours in Valletta and I can tell you straight away that a few hours was NOT enough. I loved Valletta; it was my favourite place in Malta. Unfortunately, we left our visit to Valletta until our last day on the island so didn’t have the opportunity to return to explore further. Valletta is the capital of Malta and possibly one of the most beautiful capitals I have ever visited. Because of the size of Malta (it is tiny), getting to Valletta from any part of the island won’t take you too long. We were based in St Julian’s and used the handy and frequent hop on, hop off bus to get to there and a public bus, which cost only 2 euros each, to get back and took around 30 minutes.
So a few facts about Valletta – it is the southernmost Capital of Europe, the historical city has a population of approximately 6,500 and it is a UNESCO World Heritage site (and it’s easy to see why!). Valletta is so-called after Jean Parisot de Valette, the Grand Master who led the knights of St John to victory over Ottoman rule in 1565
We stepped of the bus into the blistering midday sun and even though it was mid-October, temperatures were up in the high 20s. We were eager to find shade and lucky for us, we didn’t have to hunt for long. We headed into the city via the City Gate and directly onto the main street in Valletta – Republic Street, and into the shadows of the beautiful buildings. The architecture predominantly found in Valletta is that of a Baroque style (with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern mixed in too) with some buildings dating back to the 16th Century. One of the first things I noticed was the distinctive British influence which has reminded even though Malta gained its independence from Britain in 1964. I found a red letterbox and telephone box and almost squealed when I spotted Miss Selfridge!We wandered up and down the narrow streets admiring the buildings, especially the doorways, we came across. With no plan of what to do we happily just let our eyes drink in our surroundings. As the morning turned into afternoon we decided to find somewhere to grab some lunch and we were certainly spoilt for choice. In the majority of the piazzas we found restaurants with the opportunity to dine alfresco, something we certainly weren’t going to pass up. We eventually deciding upon Luciano and enjoyed a yummy pizza and obligatory lunch time beer.
After lunch we continued our exploration of Valletta enjoying the afternoon hubbub in the city. With people enjoying the sunshine, shopping and sightseeing it dawned on me what a fantastic city it is. Even though we didn’t have any time to visit the main attractions (churches, museums etc) we still had a lovely time in Valletta, simply by just being there. The streets are laid out in almost a grid formation, therefore it would have been quite difficult for us to get lost. Which was great as it meant we didn’t have to look at a map once. The majority of Valletta’s centre is pedestrinanised, which made walking around all the more pleasant. It’s important to point out that some of the streets are quite steeps and/or have a number of stairs to climb up or down. Therefore, people who are not confident on their feet may struggle. We did however see a number of cute, and handy, little cabs whizzing around taking people between different points in the city.
It is easy to see why Valletta has been chosen as the European City of Culture 2018 and with a brimming cultural programme it looks like it could be the THE place to visit over the next couple of years. Not having more time there during our visit is something I’ll never stop kicking myself about.