Purple Hearts: Valletta destination guide

Finally climbing its way out of a reputation for being old fashioned, Malta is picking up the pace as a place to party, soak up the sunshine and eat great food. Of course, its relaxed atmosphere is a huge part of its charm, but, where blue rinsers once gathered, now you’re more likely to bump into ravers and all without the inflated prices of other Mediterranean destinations.

Early spring is the best time to hit the capital Valletta. The weather is one of the best bits, found tucked away between Sicily and Libya, right now it’s the perfect time to soak up the sun while shaking off the crowds. It gets very hot in summer, so it’s ideal for an early-in-the-year-break to get that golden glow. Valletta might be the smallest capital city of Europe, but it’s location on the sea, and atmosphere make it the beating heart of Malta. Find out more in our expert Valletta destination guide and make your holiday to Malta one to remember.

Valletta MaltaImage via @ Victoria Peckham

What to do in Valletta

Valletta is a charming capital city that is seriously beautiful to boot. Head for the main street the Triq ir-Republika for a coffee, and a great view, with water left and right.

Visit St John’s Co-Cathedral Although it’s not a lot on the outside, inside it’s a breathtaking experiences. The interior is lined with spectacular chapels, baroque frescoes and even a Caravaggio, The Beheading of John The Baptist and the floor is inlaid marble and known as the most beautiful floor in the world.

Al fresco clubbing at the likes of Gianpula are giving Ibiza a run for its money and ensures there’s somewhere for party animals to hang out after dark. A little down the road in St Julian’s you’ll find the nightclub hub on the island, which has already played host to the likes of Tiesto, Deadmau5 and David Guetta. On the next door island of Gozo, you’ll even find a nightclub built into the side of a cliff at La Grotta.

For culture vultures, you couldn’t ask for a better place, with the Museum of Fine Art and the National Museum of Archaeology and right next door you’ll find the Grand Master’s Palace. The seat of Malta’s parliament is filled with lavish decoration, marble and artwork. And then there’s the National Library, partly open to the public it’s well worth the trip, as it’s filled with archives spanning the Crusades in the 11th century to when Napoleon took Malta in 1798.

Valletta by nightImage via @ Zoonabar

With its beaches, beaches, beaches, scorching summer sun, long stretches of golden sand and perfect blue waters, Malta is made for sunshine holidays. Grab that bucket and spade and head for ocean’s edge to soak up the sun. Valletta itself doesn’t have beaches, but the island itself is so small, you can get to a gorgeous secluded seafront in just 30 minutes. A trip to Golden Bay, Bugibba or out on Gozo Island are our top choices.

An evening out at the Knights Spectacular 1565 might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is good form. With horses and performers chasing around the arena in costume and a fun atmosphere, it’s a night that all the family can enjoy.

The best views of the city are to be found at the Upper Barrakka Gardens. On the top side of the peninsula, with a glass of bubbly on a sunny day. Absolutely blissful.

A day trip to Malta’s little city island Gozo will leave you gasping for more. The rural villages, cosy cafes, and souvenir shops make for an excursion that’s so laidback it’s horizontal. Watch out for the ‘Azure Window’ a huge archway to opens out onto a blue lagoon.

Just a regular day in VallettaImage via @ Know Malta by Peter Grima

Carnival Around February or March, Valletta comes to life with its huge carnival. A riot of colour, dance, masks and decadence, it’s a great choice if you fancy partying with the locals as the sun goes down.

Where to stay in Valletta

On the pricey side: the Excelsior Grand is serious luxury and comes with all the mod cons you’d expect – a spa, great location and wonderful rooms, at a surprisingly reasonable price.

Best budget:The 3 star Osborne Hotel has its own rooftop swimming pool! Need we say more?

Family fun: Just outside the city, the Bayview Hotel and Apartments are overlooking the harbour at Sliema. It’s a great choice for families who want to hit the beach, take a couple of day trips or pop into Valletta for the day.

Perfect for lovers: you’ll find Valletta House a haven where you can retreat after a hard days tanning and snacking.

Irregular choice: Valletta Boutique is a family run guest house is a quirky stay, with antique toys and photos inside each room. It’s got views of the Cathedral and Square and offers a full English breakfast each morning.

Traditional favourite: The Hotel Phoenicia Malta, a 1920s style hotel where you’ll find live piano music in the lobby, relaxed atmosphere and comfortable spacious rooms. A great base to explore the city.

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