• Valletta -  - © Flikr user Paul Stephenson
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user Christine592
  • Valletta -  - © flikr user The Gentle
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user h-angele
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user Cebete
  • Valletta -  - © flikr user The Gentle
  • Valletta -  - ©
  • Valletta -  - © flikr user Joonas L.
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user Cheeky needle
  • Valletta -  - © flikr user Daniele Pesaresi
  • Valletta -  - © flikr user Sbisolo
  • Valletta -  - ©
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user
  • Valletta -  - ©
  • Valletta -  - © Flikr user Zoonbar

Key information: Valletta

  • Easy walk round a tiny capital city which, in its entirety, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Breathtaking views over the magnificent Grand and Marsamxett Harbours, the Three Cities, and fortifications leading to the Mediterranean.
  • 320 historic monuments in 50ha of space; one of the world's most concentrated historical sites.
  • Unique blend of cultures at the crossroads of the Mediterranean: as Arabic as it is European, as British as it North African.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating84
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest6
  • Human interest17
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points3
  • Total rating84
  • Note: crowding; extreme heat in high Summer

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 2-3km
  • 1-2 hrs
  • Maximum Altitude: n/a
  • Level of Difficulty: Straightforward
Valletta -  - © flikr user The Gentle


Malta's history is as bloody and courageous as one can find. These desertified islands' position at the epicenter of the Mediterranean, and its possession of a deep-water harbor large enough to accommodate the largest ships, has made it a prime target for every strategy-minded empire-builder to ever work the Med. The islands are a miraculous cultural hodgepodge of, among others, the Phoenician, Greek, Carthaginian, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and, most recently, British Empires. And, of course, the Knights of St John, who settled here after being kicked off Cyprus.

Not Valletta, however. Valletta belongs to the Knights alone. Built with an eye to withstanding prolonged and ferocious Turkish sieges in the 16th century, it crams an entire capital city into a peninsula just over a kilometre long and three-quarters wide. And this baroque gem was largely completed in 15 years, between 1566 and 1581, the work of military engineer Francesco Laparelli and Maltese architect Gerolamo Cassar. It was reconstructed, stone by stone, in considerably less time after the Luftwaffe were done bombing it: you would never be able to tell that the entire city had been razed to the ground with massive loss of life.

Valletta is a place of contrasts: ringing silences and sudden crowds; mindblowing vistas and claustrophobic alleyways; elegant fascias festooned with TV aerials; Rococo campery and martial grimness. It is a city at once like, and unlike, any other, a true meld of Mediterranean cultures: as Middle-Eastern as it is Italian, as North African as it is British. Circumnavigation of the peninsula can be done in an hour or so, but all routes are so crowded with historical and architectural marvels and foot-slowing viewpoints that youll have to wear blinkers to do it in that time.

Recommended and written up by the magnificent Serena Mackesy.

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Valletta -  - ©Flikr user h-angele

share your experiences

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