Locations in Valletta, and surrounding areas. There is so much to see in Malta!
Lower & Upper Barrakka Gardens- A great walk with gorgeous views of the harbor through both gardens. If you go at 12:00 or 4:00 to the Upper Gardens you can see the cannon firing. A perfect spot for photos and to get a grasp on Malta.
Tarxien Temples- UNESCO World Heritage site. Temples dated to approximately 3100 BC that were used extensively for rituals, which most likely involved animal sacrifice. These are the temples with the spirals! An easy bus ride from Valletta.
Ghar Dalam Cave- Ghar Dalam means 'Cave of Darkness'. Close to the Tarxien Temples, so a good idea to do them on the same day. A prehistorical cave where the first signs of human habitation have been discovered in Malta, dating from 7,400 years ago. Contains bone remains of animals that were stranded and became extinct at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum. There is a fun museum that you enter prior to exploring the cave with many remains of animals that once lived there. I was lucky enough to walk through the cave alone, and it was a special experience to stand in the quiet and imagine the animals and humans from the past living in the cave.
Mdina- The gate that was used in "Game of Thrones," as King's Landing gate: Yes, please! It's also the old capital of Malta, and where St. Paul lived after being shipwrecked. It's a small and enchanting town to explore.
St John's Co-Cathedral- I was most excited to visit this church and see Caravaggio's The Beheading of St. John, this is the only painting to bear his signature, and is considered his masterpiece. Caravaggio had such an interesting life, which you can learn more about in Sicily and Malta. Even without the painting this cathedral is quite amazing. It was redecorated in 17th century in the Baroque style, and oh boy, is it ornate! In every corner of the cathedral there is a painting, statue, or some elaborate design to look at. I recommend you take a break from looking up, and look down at the fantastic marble tomb series in the floor of the cathedral, housing about 400 knights, where skeletons and skulls are prevalent. Home to the Knights of Malta, this cathedral truly is awe-inspiring.
Blue Grotto- A natural wonder with stunning views, and a perfect place to relax and contemplate life. Scenes from the movie Troy were shot here.
Haga Qim & Mnajdra- Among the most ancient religious sites and Earth, and well worth a visit. When you are there you can hear the sea and listen to the birds chirping happily, and it really is an otherworldly experience.
Gozo- Take a ferry to the island of Gozo and see even more beauty and ancient sites. Here is one of the oldest freestanding temples in the world, preceding the pyramids and stonehenge, The Ggantija Temples. There is also another Game of Thrones location at the Azure Window. Make sure you plan your times with the ferries and busses unless you are okay waiting for a while, or you want to cab it. On weekends the busses only run hourly.
La Pira- This is hands down the best Fenkata (rabbit stew) I tasted in all of Malta, and I tried it at many different places. An extra added bonus was that I had the Octopus stew here too, and it was also fantastic! This is the type of food that you dream about for the rest of your life. That is how good it was. It's also right across from St. John's Co-Cathedral, so a perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner after visiting the cathedral.
Rampila- How often do you get to eat in a tunnel from the 1500s? If you visit Malta you can do just that. The restaurant is a little on the pricey side, but the atmosphere is romantic, the service is great, and the food is good. I had the mussels and of course more rabbit stew. Definitely worth checking it out for dinner. They also have a great terrace, but it was raining the day we went.
Crystal Palace- (located in Rabat) Want to eat with the locals? This is the place you go for pastizzi, and wow it is delicious! Fresh, cheap, and hot out of a stone oven! You huddle around crammed tables with locals, and watch as the people just keep piling in for the perfect pastizzi.
Trabuxu Wine Bar- A wonderfully decorated wine bar housed in a 400 year old stone cellar. I went for the cheese and charcuterie board with a bottle of wine, and I was very happy at the end of it all. Great prices too.
Cafe Society- An inviting artsy bar with a laid-back bartender and good music.
Caffe Cordina- A grand antique cafe founded in 1837, and it is gorgeous in all it's splendor. A good place to relax, write postcards, and imagine what life was like in the 19th century.
Fontanella- (located in Mdina)- A bar/restaurant/tea house with amazing views. I didn't try the food, because I had to catch the bus back to Valletta, but I hear it's wonderful. I was lucky enough to see a rainbow while I was there. Such a great view!
Locals and tourists alike seemed surprised when I told them I was staying in Valletta. I guess people visiting tend to stay in Sliema and St. Julians area. I was very happy with my decision. Good points about staying in Valletta: It's close to where the ferry docks if you are coming by ferry, it's close to the main bus terminal, which is how you get around the island, the architecture is striking (so many of the buildings are made out of limestone, but then you get these brilliant pops of color on the doors and windowsills), it's calm and relaxed, and you can feel the history of the city. It is not a late city, like others have said, but because I was doing so many treks during the day (sometimes the bus rides are very long) I did not mind that at all. Besides, it's not like they don't have late night options. They have some bars that stay open late; Tico-Tico, Gugar, and Bridge Bar are just a few.
Palazzo Consiglia- A stylish boutique hotel located in a traditional Maltese townhouse. The room was extremely comfortable with one of the best beds I've ever slept in, perfect room temperature, quiet, wifi worked great, shower was hot. The breakfast was varied and tasty, and the staff was super friendly. I would stay here again in a heartbeat.