Things to do in Valletta. The Top 10 Must-See Attractions


Valletta is both the capital of Malta and an exceptional place. This walled city, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is filled with historical and cultural riches. Exploring its labyrinthine alleys, you can immerse yourself in a vibrant past full of stories. Here we present 10 essential places to visit in Valletta.

Planning a trip to Malta

#1 St John’s Co-Cathedral

The country of Malta is famous for its churches and chapels scattered throughout the nation. There’s a saying that you could go to a different church every day of the year. Of all the religious buildings on the island, the St John’s Co-Cathedral is the most emblematic and a must-visit for any traveler to Valletta.

The St. John’s Co-Cathedral is part of the national wealth of this small island state. It was constructed between 1573 and 1577, under the grand mastership of Jean L’Evesque de La Cassière. To appreciate the magic of the place, you’ll need to step through the doors to discover an exceptional monument.

The cathedral floor is made of marble and consists of commemorative plaques (cenotaphs) representing 405 knights of the Order of Malta. The cathedral and its magnificent baroque decoration also houses a crypt with the tombs of the masters who marked the Order of Malta. The tombs of Philippe de Villiers de L’Isle-Adamn and Jean de Valette are present in the cathedral. Finally, an oratory in the co-cathedral preserves the famous work by the painter Caravaggio: The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.

The visiting hours are Monday to Saturday, from 09:00 to 16:45; closed on Sundays and public holidays. The entrance fee to St John’s Co-Cathedral is €15 for adults and free for children under 12 years of age. It is advisable to plan your visit for early morning or mid-afternoon to avoid the numerous guided tours.

St John's Co-Cathedral Malta

#2 The Grand Master’s Palace

The Grand Master’s Palace, which served as the official residence for 21 Grand Masters during the era of the Order of Malta, is notable not only for its history but also for its size. With a rectangular layout, the palace extends over 97 meters in length and has a width of 83 meters, making it the largest building in Valletta in terms of surface area.

Today, the Grand Master’s Palace houses the office of the President of Malta and also serves as the home of the Maltese Parliament. Parts of the palace are open to the public, including various rooms that house important collections of armors, tapestries, and artwork dating from the time of the Knights of St John.

The Palace Armoury is notable for being one of the most impressive globally, housed in what were formerly the palace stables. This unique collection consists of approximately 7,000 pieces, including suits of armor that were used by high-ranking knights, as well as armors specially designed for their horses. In addition, one can admire parade armors, war trophies, ceremonial swords, and cannons, among other artifacts.

The centerpiece of the collection is the parade armor of Grand Master Alof de Wignacourt, inlaid with gold. A must-visit for all lovers of a chivalrous era.

The Grand Master’s Palace is open daily from 9:00 to 17:00 hours, with admission fees of €12 for adults (18+), €10 for youth (12-17) and seniors (60+), €8 for children (6-11), and free for infants (1-5).

Grand Master's Palace Armoury

#3 Barrakka Gardens

In Valletta, you will find the Barrakka Gardens, divided into two levels: the Upper Barrakka Gardens and the Lower Barrakka Gardens. The Upper Barrakka Gardens were constructed in the 16th century by the Knights of St John, a medieval military order, to provide recreation for the knights. Later, in the 19th century, the gardens were opened to the public.

These gardens offer visitors a stunning panoramic view of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities: Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (L-Isla), and Cospicua (Bormla), making them a must-visit in Valletta.

One of the most interesting parts of the Barrakka Gardens is the Saluting Battery, an ancient artillery platform dating back to the 16th century. Historically, this site was used to protect the city from potential enemy attacks and to fire ceremonial salutes to visiting dignitaries.

The gardens are open to the public every day and admission is free. Additionally, visitors can witness a traditional cannon firing ceremony performed daily at noon and at 16:00.

Saluting Battery Valletta

#4 National Museum of Archaeology

The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Provence, a magnificent example of the Baroque style that flourished in Malta during the era of the Knights of the Order of St John. The museum hosts artifacts from prehistory to the Phoenician period, as well as a notable numismatic collection.

One of the museum’s most significant pieces is the “Sleeping Lady”, a prehistoric statue of a female figure believed to represent a fertility deity. This sculpture is a testament to the artistic skill and creativity of ancient Maltese civilizations.

The National Museum of Archaeology has the following admission fees: adults (18+): €5.00, youths (12-17), students, and seniors (60+): €3.50, children (6-11): €2.50, infants (1-5): free. Open Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 18:00 hours.

The National Museum of Archaeology

#5 Casa Rocca Piccola

Casa Rocca Piccola was built in 1580 by the Maltese nobleman Don Pietro La Rocca. It has been home to several generations of the La Rocca family and, more recently, to the descendants of Maltese nobility, the Marquises of Piro.

Inside Casa Rocca Piccola you will find an impressive collection of art, antique furniture, textiles, and period objects that narrate the history and lifestyle of its illustrious residents over the centuries. Additionally, Casa Rocca Piccola houses a curious network of underground tunnels dating from the Second World War, which were used as air-raid shelters by the family during bombings.

Most of the palace is used as a private museum and is a popular tourist attraction in Valletta, but some rooms have been restored to provide accommodation for discerning travelers visiting Valletta.

Casa Rocca Piccola is open from Monday to Saturday, from 10:00 to 17:00 hours. Admission fees are 9.50 euros for adults, 6 euros for students (including university students), and free for children under 14 years of age.

Casa Rocca Piccola Tour

#6 Teatru Manoel

Teatru Manoel, Malta’s national theatre and home to the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Malta, is a must-visit venue. Built in 1731, it is the third oldest theatre in Europe. Despite its unassuming facade, behind it lies a fascinating history tied to the Order of Malta. Once the Ottoman threat receded, Valletta transformed into a festive and lively city. Teatru Manoel was one of the first buildings constructed to meet this new entertainment need.

Today, Teatru Manoel remains a vibrant venue. You can visit the wooden parterre boxes decorated with gold leaf and immerse yourself in the magic of the place. But ideally, come and enjoy a live performance to experience all the excitement this historic theatre has to offer.

Guided tours of the National Theatre Teatru Manoel are available Monday to Friday at 11:00 and 15:00, and Saturdays at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30. The cost of the tour is just €5 and lasts between 30 to 40 minutes.

Teatru Manoel

#7 Fort Saint Elmo

Fort Saint Elmo has witnessed numerous conflicts throughout its history. One of the most notable events was during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, when it bravely withstood attacks by Ottoman forces for months before falling. This battle is considered a crucial point in Malta’s history and in the struggle against Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean.

The construction of Fort Saint Elmo began in 1552 under the reign of Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette, the founder of Valletta. It was designed by the Italian military architect Francesco Laparelli and completed in 1565.

The fortifications of Valletta were built after the Great Siege, making Fort Saint Elmo one of the oldest buildings in the fortified city.

Admission fees to Fort Saint Elmo are €10.00 for adults, €7.50 for youths and seniors (60+), and €5.50 for children (6-11); infants (1-5) enter free. The fort is open every day from 10:00 to 18:00 hours.

Fort Saint Elmo Malta

#8 MUŻA – National Museum of Art – Auberge D’Italie

Auberge D’Italie, originally built as a residence for the Italian knights of the Order of St John, has been transformed into a space that houses an impressive collection of Maltese and international art. The museum presents a wide variety of works ranging from antiquity to contemporary times, including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and much more.

The National Museum of Fine Arts has different opening hours depending on the season: in January and February it opens from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00 hours (last entry at 16:30 hours), while from March to December it opens every day from 10:00 to 18:00 hours (last entry at 17:30 hours), except Tuesdays when it remains closed. Admission fees are: €10.00 for adults (18 to 59 years), €7.50 for youths (12 to 17 years), seniors (60 years and over), concessions and students, €5.50 for children (6 to 11 years), and free entry for infants (1 to 5 years).

National Museum of Art - Auberge D'Italie Malta

#9 Republic Street

Republic Street, also known as “Triq ir-Repubblika”, is the main artery running through the heart of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. This iconic street is not only the hub of activity in Valletta but also a vibrant symbol of Malta’s rich history and cultural heritage.

Walking down Republic Street is like taking a journey through time. There are many shops, cafes, and interesting places along the street. You will see old buildings, such as the Grand Master’s Palace and the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, that tell stories about Malta and its people. It’s like an open-air museum where you can learn a lot about the history and culture of the island as you stroll.

Republic Street - Valletta Malta

#10 The Three Cities

From Valletta, the capital of Malta, we recommend you visit the Three Cities: Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua. These fortified cities are located on the eastern shore of the Grand Harbour of Malta and are a historical treasure worth exploring.

Vittoriosa, also known as Birgu, is the oldest and features landmarks such as the Fort Saint Angelo and the Maritime Museum. Senglea, also called Isla, is known for its majestic church and picturesque waterfront promenade, as well as the charming Gardjola Garden. Lastly, Cospicua, known as Bormla, is the largest and boasts a rich naval history, highlighted by the World War II Museum and the picturesque Garden of Corners.

You can easily reach the Three Cities from Valletta by ferry. The journey takes about 15 minutes, offering you the opportunity to enjoy unique panoramic views of the coastline and the city from the sea. The Valletta Ferries fares are €2.00 for adults for a single one-way trip, and €3.80 for a round trip, while for children the fares are €1.00 and €1.50, respectively.

The Three Cities Valletta