24 hours in Valletta and The Three Cities, Malta
My next destination for this year was Malta and my trip started with 24 hours in Valletta and The Three Cities. I think I planned a little too much walking because at the end of the day my feet were killing me, but I am sure not everybody is like me. The bus system around Valletta and the “big” cities in Malta is really good, so you can always make it easier for yourself and with only 21€ you can get an Explorer card that give you unlimited travel for 7 days.
Valletta is the capital of Malta and it’s a UNESCO heritage site, having 320 monuments in an area of 55 ha, making it one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. The beauty of its streets is created by these old buildings, that kept its original look, not like the other capitals of the world, where you can only see new buildings, skyscrapers and huge hotel chains. The city is surrounded by water on three sides, so anywhere you go you have an amazing view of the vintage city and the sea. The streets of the city are up and down on the hills, creating perfect spots for admiring it and restaurants and pubs put outside tables to give the customers a great place for food and drinks.
My hotel was in St Julians, so I took the bus in the morning and stopped at the Valletta bus station at the entrance of the city. The city is protected by a fortress, so the entrance is very unique, having a big piazza with a fountain and then the actual entrance to the city. My itinerary included most of the must-see places in Valletta and the Three Cities and it was as follows:
The fountain is an impressive work of art, but what I liked the most was that it created, along with the piazza and the fortress, an incredible entrance to the city. It is a very touristic place and can be easily observed by the number of tourists around, taking photos and enjoying the weather.
A very traditional and unique café shop, that was there since 1837, where I stopped first for coffee and cakes. I needed my morning coffee and I decided to pair it with a Maltese speciality, the cannoli ricotta cake. I loved the cake, so much that I had to try it again, but the one from this café was the best that I tried in the country.
Streets of Valletta
After I had my coffee, I was happy and ready to start exploring this city. I started walking around the city between the streets and admired all the beautiful balconies and doors that Malta is famous for. Everywhere you turn, there is a beautiful street that you want to walk on so it may take you more than you think to go around.
Fort St Elmo, the Marina and the sea views
Going around the streets, I finally got to the end of the city at Fort St Elmo and decided to go on the shore side, from the Fort to the Marina. It is impressive how you can see three different cities (Sliema, Gzira and Ta’Xbiex) on the other side, only on this short walk. The walk is completely worth it!
The three cities: Vittoriosa (Il Birgu), Cospicua (Bormla) and Senglea (L’Isla)
My walk on the left side of the city, brought me back to the Triton fountain where the bus station was, so I decided to take the bus to Vittoriosa, explore the Three Cities and come back in time to see the sunset in Valletta. The bus left me at the entrance of Vittoriosa, so I started walking into the city and then around the Marina. Each of the Three Cities has a mix of forts, bastions and churches to explore, and great views back across the harbour to Valletta. Going around the Marina, I passed from Vittoriosa to Cospicua and Senglea.
Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens
Coming back to Valletta I first went to the Lower Barrakka Gardens, where you have a great view of the open sea, harbour entrance and the War Siege Memorial. Going from Lower to Upper Barrakka Gardens, I stopped for a pizza and a glass of wine at Cibo, a great Italian restaurant in the heart of the city. I was planning to take some nice sunset photos at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, but my plans changed when I arrived there. The place is amazing for a picnic and for the views over the grand harbour but was not what I had in mind, so I decided to go to the Marina and take the ferry to Sliema, this way catching the sunset on the boat, and the result was exactly what I hoped for.
I would recommend doing all of this in two days or two afternoons, don’t be like me and walk the whole day without stopping, but it was completely worth it. Living in Birmingham or anywhere in the UK, you will feel just like home in Malta, but in a good way. The traces of the British rule are very prominent, but you can count on good weather and great views. Check the next post to see the complete itinerary for 5 days in Malta.