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Valletta may be small but it packs a very big punch; there’s plenty to see and do if you book a hotel here. The capital of Malta was built by the Knights of St. John on a peninsula that is less than half a mile squared. This hasn’t stopped it becoming the European Capital of Culture for 2018 and its newfound status has catalysed the addition of several new cultural attractions, museums, bars and restaurants. At its heart though it remains an elegant example of a 16th century city - and that is its charm.
Valletta - Malta's capital, Valletta, is wonderfully small yet it manages to feel rather expansive. Built by the Knights of St. John on a peninsula that is little more than half a mile squared, the capital nonetheless offers plenty of 16th century elegance amidst a newly created layer of cultural excitement thanks to its new Opera house, museums, galleries, cultural spaces and hotels. Indeed Valletta has made such an impact that it has been nominated the European Capital of Culture for 2018.
The Three Cities - A short boat ride from the charms of Valletta will take you to the historic fortified cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. Refreshingly off the beaten track for the majority of tourists, a tour of these will introduce you to Malta’s history as well as offering you the chance to experience a slice of authentic Maltese life. Everyone who has settled in Malta has made their home in these three cities: they are both the cradle and crucible of Maltese history.
Vittoriosa - One of the Three Cities, also known as Birgu, you will find Vittoriosa’s alleys bedecked with flowers and its waterfront a wonderfully atmospheric place for a stroll.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum - Things get all prehistoric at this site located not far from Paola. Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a unique underground burial site that is today a UNESCO World Heritage site. First used in 3600 BC the workmanship of the carving progressively improved until caverns were being sculpted in a clear imitation of the temple architecture that can be found above the ground.
Mdina - Book a hotel in the Arabic walled city of Mdina, situated just twenty minutes away by car from Valletta. This historic city is packed with hidden lanes and golden-stoned walls. The city’s history actually goes back as far as the Phoenicians who settled here in 1000 BC but its present architecture and structure is unmistakably Arabic.
The stunning subterranean prehistoric ruins just outside Valletta are a must-see but visitor numbers are limited so do make sure you book your tour ahead. The Arabic walled town of Mdina is a reminder of the different cultures that have made their home in Malta as is the layered history, best appreciated on a tour, of the Three Cities. Regardless of historic significance it is impossible to deny the contemporary beauty of flower-filled Vittoriosa.
Valletta is the cultural capital of Malta, and of Europe for 2018, and a night at its Opera House or days spent browsing its museums and galleries offer a welcome break from the sun. There are many festivals and events taking place in the capital and you should also keep an eye out for what’s on in Mdina, whose moat is now lawned and hosts regular cultural shows. The fine Maltese cuisine in the restaurants of Valletta fuses the influences of the different cultures that have settled on the archipelago. From the sandy beaches of the bays there are plenty of watersports to enjoy and some truly wonderful dive sites waiting for you just beneath the turquoise waters.