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