City Orientation Walk, Valletta (Self Guided)

Valletta, the capital of Malta, is a World Heritage destination and one of the key historic centers of Europe housing a number of quality museums, palaces and grand churches. Among them is a Baroque landmark St. John’s Co-Cathedral. The abundance of well-preserved ancient structures in Valletta attracts crowds of tourists every year. Follow this orientation walk to explore the most popular sights of the city.
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City Orientation Walk Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk
Guide Location: Malta » Valletta (See other walking tours in Valletta)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 21
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 km
Author: kane
1
Palace Square (St. George's Square)

1) Palace Square (St. George's Square)

Palace Square is a picturesque pedestrian area featuring modern lighting, lava paving and a fountain with synchronized music. Visitors can also enjoy a traditional Maltese horse-drawn carriage ride, known as a karozzin.
2
Palace Armoury

2) Palace Armoury (must see)

Open to the public as a museum since 1860, the Palace Armoury is an arms collection housed at the Grandmaster's Palace in Valletta. It was the main armoury of the Order of St. John in the 17th and 18th centuries, and as such it was the last arsenal established by a crusader military order. Although today only a part of the original armoury still survives, it is still one of the world's largest collections of arms and armour still housed in its original building (although not the original location).

The Grandmaster's Palace is built around two courtyards, one of which is dominated by a statue of Neptune. The armoury runs the width of the back of the palace. From actual suits of armour found on the battlefields of Malta when it was attacked by the Arabs or Byzantines to swords and cannons, this is definitely a trip back into history!

Tip:
The armoury can also be visited on a joint ticket with the nearby Palace State Rooms, which are full of history and beautiful to look at. To get to the rooms, there are four flights of stairs or a lift to take.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am–5pm (last admission: 4:30pm)
Sight description based on wikipedia
3
Queen's Square

3) Queen's Square

Queen's Square, also known as Republic Square, is located right next to the National Library. It contains a statue of Queen Victoria, for which the square was named. Open-air cafes, such as the popular Cafe Cordina, can be found here.
4
Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck

4) Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck

The Church of St. Paul's Shipwreck is one of Valletta's oldest structures, dating back to the 1570s. It is famous for the wooden statue of St. Paul, which is paraded on the streets of the town on February 10, during the celebration of St. Paul's Shipwreck Day.
5
St. John's Co-Cathedral

5) St. John's Co-Cathedral (must see)

St. Johns Co-Cathedral was built by the Knights of Malta between 1573-78, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière as the conventual church of the Order of the Knights Hospitaller of St John, known as the Knights of Malta. The Church was designed by the Maltese military architect Glormu Cassar who designed several of the more prominent buildings in Valletta.

The severe exterior of the Cathedral, built immediately after the ending of the Great Siege of 1565, is reminiscent of a military fort.

The interior, in sharp contrast with the facade, is extremely ornate and decorated in the height of the Baroque period. Preti designed the intricately carved stone walls and painted the vaulted ceiling and side altars with scenes from the life of St John. Interestingly, the figures painted into the ceiling next to each column initially appear to the viewer as 3-dimensional statues, but on closer inspection, we see that the artist cleverly created an illusion of 3-dimensionality by his use of shadows and placement. Also noteworthy is the fact that the carving was all undertaken in-place rather than being carved independently and then attached to the walls.

Tip:
Get there early! This is a very popular attraction and the groups and cruise ship passengers are already starting to descend by 10:30 or so.
Be sure and stop by at night if you visit during the day, and ideally check the schedule as the church also has various concerts throughout the year.
As a place of worship, please dress accordingly. Shoulders must be covered and high-heeled shoes are not permitted.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9:30am–4:30pm; Sat: 9:30am–12:30pm
Ticket office closes 30 mins earlier
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Auberge de Provence

6) Auberge de Provence

Construction of this auberge on Republic Street began in 1571. It is one of the first buildings to be erected in Valletta after the Great Siege in the late 16th century. It was originally a palace, used by the Knights of Malta. It now houses the National Archaeology Museum of Malta, containing fine exhibitions of prehistoric figurines, pottery and other astonishing artifacts.
7
National Museum of Archaeology

7) National Museum of Archaeology (must see)

The National Museum of Archaeology is housed in the Auberge de Provence, in Republic Street, Valletta. The building, an example of fine Baroque architecture, was built in 1571 and followed a plan by local architect Ġilormu Cassar. The Auberge de Provence was house to the Knights of the Order of St John originating from Provence, France and displays beautiful architectural features. Of particular note is the Grand Salon, with its richly painted walls and wooden beamed ceiling.

The Museum exhibits a spectacular range of artefacts dating back to Malta’s Neolithic period (5000 BC) up to the Phoenician Period (400 BC). On display are the earliest tools used by the prehistoric people to facilitate their daily tasks and representations of animal and human figures; elements which not only show the great artistic skills of the first dwellers of the island but also gives us an insight of their daily lives.

Highlights include the ‘Sleeping Lady’ (from the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum), the ‘Venus of Malta’ (from Ħaġar Qim), bronze daggers (recovered from the Bronze Age layers at Tarxien Temples), the Horus & Anubis pendant and the anthropomorphic sarcophagus, both belonging to the Phoenician Period.

Why You Should Visit:
Malta is just so rich in history that dates back to 5000 BC and it is important to have a base of information before you go sightseeing.
The temples prove to be a whole lot more captivating after a visit to this museum.

Tip:
An audio guide that provides good insights and explanations is included in the ticket but you have to pay a refundable deposit.
The museum can be crowded with the tour parties from the oversized cruise ships: try to go early or late to avoid them.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Jan-Sep); Daily: 9am-6pm (Oct-Dec)
Last admission 30 mins before closing
Closed on 24, 25 & 31 Dec, 1 Jan & Good Friday
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
Republic Street

8) Republic Street (must see)

Republic Street, Valletta's central road, runs from the Triton Fountain outside the City Gate to Fort St. Elmo. It is frequently closed to traffic due to the number of tourists visiting its shops and boutiques. There are also many cozy cafes and specialty restaurants on this street.
9
Auberge d'Italie

9) Auberge d'Italie

Auberge d’Italie, built in 1574, is located on Merchants Street. The building was constructed around an arcaded courtyard and is famous for the ornate arms above the entrance, designed for Grand Master Gregorio Carafa by renowned architect, Girolamo Cassar. Today it houses the Ministry of Tourism of Malta.
10
Auberge de Castille

10) Auberge de Castille

Auberge de Castille is currently used as the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. The auberges were intended mainly as the residences of knights who did not have a home of their own in Malta. Auberge de Castille was the official seat of the Knights of the Langue of Castille, Léon and Portugal, one of the most powerful of the Order. It is located at the highest point of Valletta and originally looked out on the rolling countryside, giving it a unique view unsurpassed by any other building in the city.
Sight description based on wikipedia
11
Upper Barrakka Gardens

11) Upper Barrakka Gardens

The Upper Barrakka Gardens is a public garden in Valletta. The garden is built on the top of a bastion. A number of statues and monuments can be found there. Also the Upper Barrakka offers a good view of the harbor.
12
Putirjal

12) Putirjal

Putirjal is the city gate of Valletta. It was inaugurated during the Independence celebrations in 1964. The gate is designed in an Italian modernist style and is very controversial.
13
The City Gate

13) The City Gate

City Gate - also known as Putirjal in Maltese - is the main entrance to Malta's capital city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is most commonly called Bieb il-Belt, "Door to the city".

The original gate, known as Porta San Giorgio, was designed by military engineer Francesco Laparelli de Carotona, and was erected between April 1566 and 1569. It was replaced in 1632 by a more ornate gate designed by Maltese architect Tommaso Dingli.

In 1853, at the height of British rule over Malta, a new gate designed by a certain Col. Thompson of the Royal Engineers was erected, consisting of two central arches with two smaller ones. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, City Gate was known as Porta Reale.

The fourth City Gate was inaugurated in 1964 and it was part of a project that never materialised, that of redeveloping the entrance to Valletta and the Royal Opera House.

The present City Gate (currently under construction) will be the fifth to have stood at the entrance to Valletta.

"(The above description is based on Wikipedia under Creative Common License)"
Sight description based on wikipedia
14
Hastings Gardens

14) Hastings Gardens (must see)

Hastings Gardens is a public garden located on top of St. John's and St. Michael's bastions on the west side of the City Gate. The garden is fairly plain but has a marvelous view of Floriana, Msida, Sliema, and Manoel Island. Inside the garden is a monument placed by the Hastings family in honor of Francis, Marquis of Hastings, who was a governor of Malta. Lord Hastings died in 1826 and is buried in the garden.

It is also a Maltese legend that the Gardens took only 4 hours to be built. This legend comes from the fact that the Maltese people are hard workers. Adriano DeVina is the only known architect of the gardens.

Why You Should Visit:
To enjoy beautiful views, take panoramic pictures, and get to really understand the scale of the city walls.
There are benches under some trees where you can just sit, relax, and enjoy the breeze on a hot sunny day.

Tip:
Be sure to be here during the Marsovin Wine Festival – 2nd or 3rd weekend of July every year. They always have a great atmosphere with fantastic bands and food stalls.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-10pm
Free admission
15
Manoel Theatre

15) Manoel Theatre (must see)

The Manoel Theatre is reputed to be Europe's third-oldest working theatre and the oldest working theatre in the Commonwealth of Nations. Now Malta's National Theatre and home to the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, the theatre is a small, 623 seat venue, with an oval-shaped auditorium, three tiers of boxes constructed entirely of wood, decorated with gold leaf, and a pale blue trompe-l'oeil ceiling that resembles a round cupola.

Hidden behind an austere facade that is fully in keeping with Valletta's Mannerist architecture, is a richly adorned, glorious Rococo interior. Despite numerous alterations over the years, it retains many of its old architectural features, such as the white Carrara marble staircase, shell-shaped niches, and Viennese chandeliers. Two water reservoirs beneath the floor create an acoustic environment that is so precise, that the hushed page-turnings of an orchestra conductor can be heard clearly throughout the auditorium.

Why You Should Visit:
Once you are in this theatre, it seems you flew back in time. There is also the theatre museum just next door which is worth a visit.

Tip:
You can get a good view from almost every position – just avoid the gallery seats as these are not very comfortable and are often behind some column. The boxes, however, are very good.
Sight description based on wikipedia
16
Carmelite Church

16) Carmelite Church (must see)

Built in 1570, this church was severely damaged during the Second World War and re-built to compete successfully with its nearby Anglican rival. Fortunately, much of the contents of the original survived, including Maria de Dominici’s late 1670s Beato Franco, high up in the middle on your left. This marvelous building is often wrongly assumed to be a cathedral because of its huge 42-meter dome that can be seen from all over the city. Like other Maltese churches, its interior design is also impressive and one can observe the exquisite marble floor as well as the beauty of the huge oval dome construction from the inside.

Why You Should Visit:
You can't really grasp the size of the place until you get inside. Even for the non-religious, it's a good quiet spot to come and rest in between travels and enjoy some cool air.

Tip:
While at it you can also visit the Anglican cathedral across the road – a quite simple but also lovely church.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7am-7pm
17
Auberge d'Aragon

17) Auberge d'Aragon

Auberge d'Aragon, located right by Independence Square, was designed by Girolamo Cassar and built in 1571. It was initially a residence for Spanish knights. It is one of the two auberges that has had its original architectural design preserved throughout time. The exterior is rather plain and simplistic, but has an ornate renaissance touch inside.
18
Casa Rocca Piccola

18) Casa Rocca Piccola (must see)

Casa Rocca Piccola is a 16th-century palace in Malta, and home of the noble de Piro family. Its history goes back over 400 years to an era in which the Knights of St. John, having successfully fought off the invading Turks in 1565, decided to build a prestigious city to rival other European capitals, such as Paris and Venice. Palaces were designed for prestige and aesthetic beauty in most of Valletta's streets, and bastion walls fortified the new 16th-century city.

Casa Rocca Piccola has over fifty rooms, including two libraries, two dining rooms, many drawing rooms, and a chapel. It houses Malta's largest private collection of antique costumes (both formal and informal wear from the 18th to the 20th century) as well as the largest private collection of Maltese lace, which was used in different ways for different occasions, both religious and secular. There are daily tours of the palace.

Why You Should Visit:
This palace is well maintained and strikes a balance between traditional formality and more relaxed family spaces, and the bomb shelter that you can go in at the end is amazing for a little adventure.

Tip:
Conducted tours are on the hour (last tour starts at 4pm) but get there early to beat the crowds.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
19
National War Museum

19) National War Museum (must see)

Located in Fort Saint Elmo, the National War Museum is one of the most popular museums in Malta. From 1975 to 2014, its collection mainly focused on WWI and WWII. Since its renovation in 2015, the museum contains artifacts relating to the military history of Malta ranging from the Bronze Age to Malta's entry into the European Union in 2004.

There are various photographic panels showing life in Malta during WWII, especially the hardships of civilian life and damage from aerial bombardment. One of the highlights includes the fuselage of a Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520, the only survivor from the Hal Far Fighter Flight. The museum also contains a Willys Jeep 'Husky' used by Dwight D. Eisenhower before the invasion of Sicily and also by Roosevelt while visiting Malta. The George Cross that was awarded to Malta by King George VI in April 1942 is also on display at the museum. The collection also contains wreckage from crashed aircraft, captured German machine guns, a torpedo, trench mortars and other weapons.

Why You Should Visit:
The history of Malta through the ages and tickets are valid for a month.
Very well displayed museum and worth a couple of hours.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm (Jun-Oct); 9am-5pm (Nov-May)
Sight description based on wikipedia
20
Fort Saint Elmo

20) Fort Saint Elmo (must see)

Fort Saint Elmo is a star fort in Valletta, Malta. It stands on the seaward shore of the Sciberras Peninsula that divides Marsamxett Harbour from Grand Harbour, and commands the entrances to both harbours along with Fort Tigné and Fort Ricasoli. It is best known for its role in the Great Siege of Malta of 1565 when it withstood massive bombardment from Turkish cannons.

Though the fort was reduced to rubble during the bombardments, when the Ottomans abandoned the siege the fort was rebuilt and reinforced, becoming partially incorporated into the seaward bastion of the fortress city of Valletta. New restoration work was completed in 2015. Lower Saint Elmo has been cleaned from the waste that accumulated over the years, and the Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation is making plans to begin restoration.

From 1975, part of the fort houses the National War Museum which closed in September 2014 and reopened in May 2015 having a larger collection.

Why You Should Visit:
Not only can you see the fortifications built up over centuries, but also get a clear sense of history and the repeating yet differing cycles of invasion and civilizations.
The views from the ramparts are also hard to beat and if one imagines trying to invade then it becomes quite evident what a challenge there was to overcome.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm (Jun-Oct); 9am-5pm (Nov-May)
Sight description based on wikipedia
21
Siege Bell War Memorial

21) Siege Bell War Memorial (must see)

Located on Mediterranean Street, the Siege Bell is rung every day at noon. It is a memorial to those who fell during World War II when Malta was continuously bombed by Axis forces. For visitors, it's a great viewpoint to look out over the harbour and towards Fort Ricasoli. Well worth the steep climb and beautifully designed.

Tip:
The place can get quite busy particularly around midday before the saluting battery so try to arrive early.

Walking Tours in Valletta, Malta

Create Your Own Walk in Valletta

Create Your Own Walk in Valletta

Creating your own self-guided walk in Valletta is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Valletta Landmarks Tour

Valletta Landmarks Tour

Valletta proudly boasts a number of breathtaking landmarks and monuments that will impress even the most well-traveled visitor. This huge city, rich in culture and history, offers marvelous sightseeing. Here is a rundown of spots you should definitely visit during your time in Valletta.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 km
Valletta Remarkable Places of Worship Tour

Valletta Remarkable Places of Worship Tour

Valletta has an amazing collection of religious buildings. Renowned for their architectural beauty and cultural value, they attract a huge number of tourists. Take this tour to see the best of these stunning masterpieces of craftsmanship, creativity and devotion.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.3 km
Museums Walking Tour

Museums Walking Tour

Valletta is a city that is proud to share its heritage with visitors. Due to the small size of the town, there are only a few museums in Valletta. However, the historic and art exhibitions offer a fascinating glimpse into the local culture.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.1 km

Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Valletta for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Valletta has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Valletta, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.