Europe’s hid­den gem

Malta’s long-over­looked cap­i­tal pro­vides the recipe for a per­fect week­end break

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Val­letta re­ally has it all. A for­ti­fied city with hun­dreds of mon­u­ments, this Unesco World Her­itage Site is con­sid­ered one of the most con­cen­trated – and walk­a­ble – his­toric ar­eas in the world. Val­letta of­fers a heady mix of cul­tural stim­u­la­tion, Mediter­ranean wa­ter­front liv­ing and ur­ban city buzz.

Built on a penin­sula – pri­mar­ily by the Knights of St John – Val­letta’s 16th-cen­tury grandeur re­mains in the form of baroque build­ings, colour­ful fres­coes, pretty gar­dens and or­nate palaces and churches – in­clud­ing the sump­tu­ous Grand Master’s Palace and St John’s Co-cathe­dral. But it’s not with­out mod­ern flour­ishes: shop­pers will be im­pressed by Val­letta’s retail scene and, while the city is per­fect for solo trav­ellers and cou­ples, there’s also plenty on of­fer for fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing the in­ter­ac­tive sci­ence cen­tre and Seg­way tours.

Ev­ery sea­son in Malta is full of events. Jan­uary kicks off with the In­ter­na­tional Baroque Fes­ti­val, and in February Val­letta dons its danc­ing shoes for the Mal­tese Car­ni­val, one of the is­land’s old­est tra­di­tions. Don’t miss the float pa­rade – a stream of colour and cos­tume wind­ing its way through the city’s his­toric streets. In spring, Val­letta’s Green Fes­ti­val cre­ates a car­pet of 80,000 sea­sonal flow­ers in the main Pjazza San Gorg, and later in the year there is Malta Fash­ion Week, the In­ter­na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val, Val­letta Film Fes­ti­val and the Jazz Fes­ti­val.

Val­letta’s el­e­gant nightlife of­fers the chance to bar hop around char­ac­ter­ful streets. En­joy a post-siesta cock­tail over­look­ing the wa­ter at the Panorama bar, be­fore head­ing to The Har­bour Club for fresh fish. When night falls, there’s no short­age of stylish sleep op­tions in the city’s wide ar­ray of bou­tique ho­tels.

En­joy great cul­ture, food and nightlife in the heart of his­toric Val­letta

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