The English-speaking Maltese Islands are always a hit with us Brits – they’ve even been named as one of the top countries to visit in 2018 by many of the top travel publications, including Lonely Planet. But don’t just take their word for it – just a three-hour flight away, it’s the perfect choice for a city break this winter (yes, you’ll still feel the warmth on your skin)! Read on to find out more…
Valletta, 2018’s European Capital of Culture and Malta’s capital is flourishing in culture. As you explore you’ll see why – there are over 1,000 local international artists, curators, performers, writers, designers, choirs and film-makers in over 400 spectacular events. Quite incredible eh? We certainly think so! They’re held throughout the Maltese Islands; Malta, Gozo and Comino – so be sure to take a boat trip to Malta’s sister islands whilst you’re there too.
Many of the beautiful heritage sites, museums and cultural centres are in fact free to the public in October – great value we think. Or if you’d prefer to visit in November, make sure you go to the Three Palaces Festival – it boasts incredible performances set in historical buildings, it’ll be sure to amaze (both the performance and the setting)! The fun doesn’t stop in December either. Be lucky enough to be in Valletta on 15 December and you’ll see spectacular live shows and music – all to celebrate the year that’s just been. If it all sounds great and you’re struggling to know when’s best for you, take a look at Malta Tourist board’s events calendar here, which we hope will help you out!
Dating back to the 16th century and built by the Knights of St John, Valletta is a masterpiece of the Baroque and is in fact a UNESCO World Heritage Site and European Art City. Today, it’s got an impressive 320 historical monuments within Valletta alone, which will be sure to keep you busy – so if you’re a history buff, Valletta’s the place for you. We recommend meandering through the elegant, winding streets and exploring the city’s impressive history at your own pace; it’s just 80 hectares in size so is easy to explore on foot.
If you seek luxury in your short break, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Valletta. The city has an array of stunning boutique hotels offering 6-30 rooms, all with their own quirky personality. Valletta’s a foodie destination too – sit back, relax and take in the waterfront views in some of the many outdoor restaurants. There’s also an abundance of chic wine bars to try out, especially within Valletta’s walls – our favourite is Bridge Bar which has the best jazz music in the city and a great selection of Maltese wine.
Whether you’d like to visit alone, with friends or with your loved one, Valletta’s got something to offer for all. Take a look at our suggested day itinerary of Valletta which will give you a real taster for Europe’s sunniest city…
Pass through City Gate, designed by architect Renzo Piano; the door to the city of Valletta which marks the beginning of Republic Street. Wander through the streets of Valletta and marvel at the New Parliament Building and the Royal Opera House, also designed by Renzo Piano.
Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens; a beautiful public garden in Valletta dating back to 1661 – back then it was a private garden for the Italian Knights, so there’s plenty of history to uncover. Make sure you bring your camera, as the garden offers breath-taking views of the Grand Harbour. It’s a must in our eyes! Don’t miss the Lower Barrakka Gardens either, marvel at the Bell Tower and view the entrance of the Grand Harbour here.
No visit to Malta would be complete without trying a traditional Maltese pastizzi; a delicious savoury filo pastry filled with either rich ricotta cheese or mushy peas. Stop by at St John’s Square for lunch where you’ll find these on the menu for lunch.
After lunch, pay a visit to the impeccable St John’s Co-Cathedral. The impressive interior is elaborately adorned in gold – it’s one of the best examples of Baroque style in Europe and is also home to the only signed work and largest painting by Caravaggio.
Before dinner, head to Casa Rocca Piccola, the home of the aristocratic de Piro family. The 16th century palace will give you a real insight into the customs and traditions of the Maltese nobility over the last 400 years. You’ll see a network of tunnels, which were used as bomb shelters back in World War Two, a real eye-opener.
Surely it’s time for another traditional meal? Our recommendation is to try Malta’s national dish Fenek (or more commonly known as rabbit stew). Ravioli packages filled with cheese are also worth a try!
After dinner, visit Bridge Bar for an enjoyable evening with live jazz music and an incredible range of Maltese wines. There’s plenty of other pubs and bars to try too – visit East Street and Straight Street and you’ll be spoilt for choice!
To book your Malta city break or to find out more, contact us today.