Valetta in Malta has been the home port for the cruise ship I am working on for a month or so. As I have been here a few times now, I have got a feel for the city and have been able to see and do some great things. In this post, I have made a list of all the things I have done during my time in Valetta, and have said whether I think they are worth doing or not.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
A short walkway from the cruise ship port you will find a lift that takes you up into Valetta’s city centre. At the top of this elevator ride, you will find The Upper Barrakka Gardens. The gardens once belonged to the Italian nights, but now they are open to the public. Within the gardens, there is a little cafe, lots of benches, fountains and great views which make this a great place to have a picnic and look over the city. Most likely you will see the gardens on your way into the city, but you should definitely stop and have a look around instead of just passing through because the views are truly amazing.
Valetta, like any big city, has a main high street full of all the shops that you could want. H&M, ZARA, Dorothy Perkins, M&S, etc. The prices aren’t much different from anywhere else, but it is a great place to shop till you drop. If you are a crew member you will know it’s essential that you have a port in your itinerary that is good for stocking up on the essentials, and Valetta is that port. You may end up with more than the essentials though if you’re anything like me.
St John’s Co-Cathedral
Having been to a lot of cathedrals in my time, I thought I knew what I was going to see when wandering into St Johns, but I was blown away. The Cathedral is rich with gold, and beautiful priceless artworks including Caravaggio’s masterpiece, “The Beheading of St John”. The structure is mainly filled with artwork done by Mattia Preti who was an Italian artist who worked in Italy and Malta. From the outside, it looks like any old Cathedral, but oh my, the inside is a feast for the eyes and I would definitely recommend going.
The Cathedral is open Monday to Friday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Check the website before going, as times may vary.
If you fancy a beach day, any beach you go to will be about 30 minutes away from Valetta in a taxi.
Saint Julian’s bay
This is a small, lively beach surrounded by cafes and bars. This is a little rocky and because it is small it gets crowded quickly, but it is the closest to the port if you don’t have much time.
This is on the North West of the island. It’s a long drive from the port, but it’s worth the drive. This is a very popular beach, as the sand is wonderful as well as the clear sea. It is very accessible using public transport if you don’t want to take a taxi. Just be mindful that during Summer this beach is very busy.
This is on the West coast and is not really frequented by tourists, therefore it’s a quieter option if you are looking to relax. This sandy beach is great but transport connections are limited so if you get dropped off here, ask your taxi driver to also pick you up to ensure you get back to the ship on time.
There are of course many more beaches in Malta, but these are the three that I managed to visit. The golden bay was my favourite.
Only 4 miles from Valetta you will find the city of Mdina. Mdina means “city surrounded by walls”. In its prime, this city was the wealthier part of Malta. The stone houses have been passed down through generations, but now is a big tourist attraction as the buildings are so unique. Mdina is also known as ‘the silent city’ due to its quiet streets. Very few cars are allowed into the city which makes it feel like you are stepping back in time. Within the walls of Mdina, there are a few things to do besides just walking around, like a visit to Saint Pauls Cathedral or go to the National History Museum or visit the Mdina dungeons. I loved Mdina and look forward to returning one day.
St Julians is a compact busy little place, filled with bars, restaurants and shopping. There is something for everyone. Being right on the water, it has a lovely breeze that sweeps through the streets, cooling the hundreds of tourists that visit here daily. If the ship is there overnight this is the place to go for a night out.
Malta is a great place and if you get to come here be sure to make the most of your time here because there really is loads to see. If you happen to have only one day, then I suggest going to Mdina as there is really nowhere else like it in the world, and if you still have time after that then St John’s Cathedral is your second in priority.
I hope you find this post helpful. Let me know if you do any of the things I have suggested, and what you think of them.