Cruise Port Atlas | Valletta, Malta Day Trips | Attractions

Valletta, Malta Day Trips | Attractions

With limited time in port, planning is the best way to make the most of your time. Should you strike out on your own? Should you hire a local guide? Or should you book a shore excursion offered by the cruise line or an international tour company? Below we have listed the attractions and activities that many other cruisers have enjoyed. This information should help you plan.

The advantage to cruise line tours is that they are timed for your visit and give you flexibility to change your mind after your trip begins. The advantage of using a large international firm is that tours are often less expensive than cruise sponsored tours. The advantage to using a local tour company or guide is that prices can be significantly lower or you may be able to get a customized trip just to see the attractions that interest you most.

Cruise lines that visit Valletta: Star Clippers, Voyages to Antiquity, Windstar, Azamara Club Cruises, Compagnie du Ponant, Crystal, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, SeaDream Yacht Club, Silversea, Celebrity, Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Viking River Cruises

Key Attractions: Grand Masters Palace, St. John Co-Cathedral, St. Elmo's Fortress, Casa Rocca Piccola, Barrakka Gardens, Luzzu (boats), Vittoriosa, Senglea, St. Angelo's Fortress, Malta Maritime Museum, Senglea Basilica, Mosta, Mosta Rotunda, Ta'Qali Crafts Village, Mdina, St. Pauls Cathedral, St. Pauls Catacombs, Rabat, Megalithic Temples, Hagar Qim, Mnajdra, Tarxien Temples, Gozo, Ggantija Temples, Victoria, Gozo Cathedral, San Blas Beach, Malta Beaches, Comino, Blue Grotto, Marsaxlokk, Sliema

Valletta

Valleta Cruise Terminal to Grand Masters Palace - 1.4 KM, 3 minutes
Valleta Cruise Terminal to Lower Barrakka Park - 1.3 KM, 1 minute
Valleta Cruise Terminal to St. Elmo Fortress - 2 KM, 3 minutes
Valleta Cruise Terminal to St. Johns Co-Cathedral - 1.2 KM, 2 minutes
Valleta Cruise Terminal to Archaeological Museum - 1.5 KM, 3 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The small city of Valletta is one of Malta's nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of the beautiful Baroque buildings built during a short period just after the Ottoman siege. The Grand Masters Palace and the Auberge de Castille are functioning government buildings and can only be viewed from outside. The city is filled with churches, both large and small, the most famous of which is St. John's Co-Cathedral, which also houses a museum and the remains of the cities namesake knight, the Grand Master Jean Vallette. At the end of the peninsula is St. Elmo's Fortress, which houses an important military museum that features displays from the Ottoman siege and the World Wars. Of the many palaces built by various knights and sub-orders of knights the Casa Rocca Piccola is the only one open to the public. Besides the military museum, there are two others well-worth visiting. The Fine Arts Museum contains a painting of the Grand Harbor by the British artist Turner. The Archaeological Museum offers an extensive collection which includes many prehistoric artifacts from the period of the great temples and before. The Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens offer stunning views and walks that were originally designed for the private enjoyment of the knights.

              

   

Photo of Grand Masters Palace by Jean-Christophe Benoist

Mosta, Mdina and Rabat

Valletta Cruise Terminal to Mosta - 9 KM, 15 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Mdina - 11 KM, 20 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

In the center of the island are the historic cities of Mosta, Mdina (capital before the Knights arrived) and Rabat. Mosta is most famous for the Rotunda of Mosta, a 18th century church which has the world's third largest unsupported dome, with a design inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. It was almost destroyed when a German bomb fell on it, but the bomb failed to explode. Nearby is the popular Ta'Qali Crafts Village. Mdina is a small walled city which during Phoenician times was a cultural center for the population. The Arabs built the wall and a moat around the city which were strengthened by the Normans. Within the walls are buildings of the Norman and later periods, many from the Baroque period. While many of the cities buildings are privately owned, the evocative medieval atmosphere and the beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral make this a great place to visit. Outside the walls is the larger city of Rabat, named for the Arabic word for suburb. The most famous attractions in Rabat are the catacombs, where the persecuted Christians of the Roman era buried their dead and met to hold mass when it was not possible to do so publically. Legend has it that Paul (of the famous letters) stayed in these catacombs for 60 days when the boat in which he was sailing was wrecked nearby.

        

   

Photo of Mosta Dome by bulbul

The Three Cities and Malta Traditional Boats

Valletta Cruise Terminal to Vittoriosa - 7 KM, 12 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

From historic Valletta many tourists travel by boat across the Grand Harbor to the area known locally as the Three Cities, situated on two peninsulas that jut into the harbor. The boats that are used for this transport across the Grand Harbor are Luzzu and Dghajsa, which are ancient designs based on Phoenician models. These colorful boats feature multi-colored hulls and eyes on their bows. The three cities are Vittoriosa (now called Birgu), Senglea and Cospicua, which is inland from the other two. Vittoriosa became the capital of Malta when the Knights arrived. They built the huge St. Angelo Fortress to protect the harbor. A Casino housed in a Knights Palace and the Malta Maritime Museum are the city’s other attractions. The most famous attraction in Senglea is the Basilica, with two famous statues of Christ the Redeemer and Our Lady of the Center. Cospicua is where the Knights constructed their navy and is famous for its boatyards.

        

   

Photo of Fort St. Angelo by Karsten Guenther

Prehistoric Temples on Malta

Valletta Cruise Terminal to Tarxien Temples - 5.5 KM, 10 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Hagar Qim / Mnajdra - 13 KM, 21 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The most important and oldest Megalithic Temples on the island of Malta are on a hill overlooking the southern coast and are called Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, first discovered in 1839 and 1840 by British Engineer JG Vance. They are about 500 meters apart and part of the same UNESCO park. While they are often called temples, their actual purpose is uncertain. Animal bones, flints and rope holes were found at both, indicating sacrifices. Human bones were not found, so they were not burial grounds. The earliest temples are from the 4th millennium BCE (Ggantija period) while two in the Mnajdra complex are from the early to mid 3rd millennium (Tarxien period). The alignment of some of the buildings indicates astronomical functions. Two lesser known ruins in the northwestern part of Malta are Ta' Hagrat and Skorba. The ruin nearest to Valletta is Tarxien which are from the Tarxien period (mid-3rd millennium BCE) and were discovered in 1914. At the site were stone rollers, which helped confirm how the large stones were moved.

        

   

Photo of Hagar Qim

Gozo Island Attractions

Valletta Cruise Terminal to Gozo Ferry Terminal - 23 KM (roads) + 5 KM (ferry), 1 hour 15 minutes
Gozo Ferry Terminal to Victoria - 6 KM, 6 minutes
Gozo Ferry Terminal to Ggantija Temple - 8 KM, 10 minutes
Gozo Ferry Terminal to San Blas and Ramla Beaches - 6 KM, 10 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

The smaller Maltese island of Gozo is the location of the most renowned of the Megalithic temples, Ggantija. (Access between Gozo and Malta is very easy and involves a drive and a ferry which runs every 45 minutes throughout the day - about 5 Euros one-way.) Two temples sit side-by-side on the site and are both laid out in a clover design that was followed for many of Malta's temples. The older was built around 3600 BCE which makes it the 2nd oldest man-made structure discovered so far. (The oldest is in Turkey.) Small spherical stones have been found nearby suggesting that the huge slabs of rock were rolled to their present location. The site was discovered in 1827, but was not studied until the early 20th century. Other attractions on Gozo are the capital city of Victoria (called Rabat by locals) and its old city which includes the stunning cathedral. Inside there appears to be a dome, but this is a trompe l'oeil illusion. The rocky island also hides some of Malta's finest beaches including the red sand beach at San Blas on the north coast.

              

  

Photo of Gozo's Azur Window by Myriam Thyes

Other Malta Attractions

Valletta Cruise Terminal to Mellieha - 23 KM, 35 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Golden Beach - 20 KM, 30 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Marsaxlokk - 10 KM, 13 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Sliema - 6 KM, 11 minutes
Valletta Cruise Terminal to Comino Island - 23 KM (roads) + 4 KM (ferry), 1 hour 15 minutes
Link to Full-Page Google Map

History and architecture are the banner tourist attractions of the islands of Malta, but the islands also offer water and beach activities in dramatic settings. The beaches at Mellieha, Golden Bay, Ghajn Tuffieha and St. Thomas Bay are popular and offer the amenities you would expect. The island of Comino, the smallest of the 3 primary Maltese islands, is mostly and nature reserve and a great place to get away from the crowds. The Blue Grotto is actually several caves accessible by water. Local traditional boats are used for tours. The fishing village of Marsaxlokk is a nice way to connect with the local Maltese culture. North of Valletta is the city Sliema, the shopping district for Greater Valletta. Scuba is popular year-round because of the warm waters.

              

   

Interests Key:

Art Architecture Beach Children Wild Animals Local Cuisine Flora Gardens-Parks Geology

Diving UNESCO Views Wine Dance Music Shopping History Hiking

Walking & Wheelchair Accessibility:

No Walking Easy Walking Normal Walking Difficult Walking Accessible Limited Not Accessible