One of the best things about staying at 19 Rooms is that our boutique hotel is a short walk away from all Valletta’s main attractions. The capital city is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque of cities on the Islands. It oozes charm and character, which is in part due to the Mediterranean light, that reflects and bounces off the limestone architecture, giving it a honey-coloured glow and textured vibrance.
Valletta may be small, but it is absolutely jam-packed with chapels, churches, monuments, shops, cafes and quirky corners. One can literally walk right across the city (it’s a peninsula), in under 15 minutes. And yet, as small as it may be, the city keeps transforming and revealing itself to those possessing a keen and observing eye.
We’ve listed our top 10 city spots, which will certainly pique your interest:
I. St Barbara Bastions
Overlooking The Three Cities, the stretch of road known as St Barbara Bastions is laden with gorgeous builds. It is an idyllic and easy to reach spot, and just a short distance away from the hustle and bustle of the main roads in Valletta. Moreover, it offers breath-taking panoramic views of the Harbour.
Works are currently underway for an extension of the Co-Cathedral to be constructed, which will house the tapestries of St John.
II. Upper Barrakka Gardens (can also be found as Barracca)
Just off Castille Square, one finds the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Positioned on higher ground to the Bastions, here, one can enjoy uninterrupted views of the Grand Harbour and Breakwater. The Saluting Battery as well as the stunningly-designed Barrakka Lift, which leads to the Waterfront, are also accessible through the Gardens.
III. Republic Square (where the monument to Queen Victoria is located)
Located midway through the main axis of the city, is Republic Square, which hosts the prominent statue dedicated to Queen Victoria, hence the reason why the square is commonly known as Piazza Regina. The square is surrounded by important landmarks, such as The National Library, the Palace of the Grandmaster as well as the Casino Maltese. Many gather in the square to enjoy a spot of sunshine and a coffee from one of Malta’s oldest cafeterias, Café Cordina.
IV. St John’s Co-Cathedral
If there were a word that could define the Cathedral, it would be opulence. Built in the late 16th century, by the Order of the Knights of St John, the interior, considered to be one of the finest examples of High Baroque architecture in Europe, was largely decorated by Calabrian artist, Mattia Preti. The Oratory to the Cathedral, houses one of Caravaggio’s only signed paintings: The Beheading of St John the Baptist, together with a smaller work, depicting St Jerome Writing.
V. Tritons’ Fountain
Located just outside the main entrance of Valletta, (better known as City Gate), and adjacent to the Bus Terminal, is this imposing feat of sculpture, designed by the late Maltese sculptor, Vincent Apap and draughtsman Victor Anastasi. The sculptural group was recently restored, and inaugurated at the beginning of January 2018, to celebrate Valletta’s title as European Capital of Culture.
VI. The Parliament House
Designed by the Renzo Piano Workshop, the Parliament occupies the site previously known as Freedom Square. Constructed between 2011 and 2015, the Parliament forms part of The City Gate project which also includes the entrance, bridge (including the ditch), as well as the conversion of the Old Opera House ruins, into an open-air theatre. The Parliament is the only contemporary architectural build in the city.
VII. Strait Street
Dotted with small bars and quaint restaurants, Strait Street, which is also known as The Gut, is one of the narrowest, yet most popular areas of Valletta, most especially because of its vibrant nightlife. Until the mid-20th century, it was a notorious area frequented by military men in search of ladies of the night and cabaret shows; today, the street is abuzz with people and live music.
VIII. St Lucy Street
Stretching from one end of the city to the other, St Lucy Street is one of the most picturesque and sought after of areas by locals and tourists alike. Many small lunch bars and eateries can be found here, with seating punctuating the wide stairways. St Lucy also hosts a few galleries and art spaces, where you can while away your time.
IX. St. George’s Square
The Main Guard and The Grand Master’s Palace are located on St George’s Square, which is a stone’s throw away from Republic Square. The spacious and sun-kissed piazza, is the ideal place to stop and relax and maybe snack on a light lunch. The largest open space within the city, the square hosts innumerable events throughout the year.
X. Victoria Gate
Victoria Gate is another point of entry (or exit) to the city. Also named after Queen Victoria, the gate is located in the Grand Harbour area, closer to the waterfront. Passing through the gate leads to a flight of stairs that takes you towards the main city streets. A narrow bridge, traditional townhouses and palazzini, plus plenty of charming bars, cafes and eateries will have you camera ready.
Get in touch with us if you are planning to come and visit Malta’s charming capital city, and the 19 Rooms team would love to help you plan your itinerary so that you can get the best out of your holiday.