I’ve lived and worked all over Europe, so when I went to Malta and Valletta for a short trip, I was excited to make the most of my time there.
Unfortunately, I found that it was hard to find good information on what to do in Valletta for 3 days. That’s why I’m writing this article – as someone who’s been there, I can share an itinerary based on my experience that will help you make the most of your time in Valletta.
The itinerary includes all the classic sites like St John’s Co-Cathedral, visiting Mdina (the old walled city), and walking around Marsamxett Harbour.
But it also includes some lesser known gems such as the amazing street art and unique museums. And of course no trip to Valletta is complete without trying out some local cuisine!
So if you’re looking for a comprehensive 3 day plan for your visit to Valletta, here’s what I recommend!
Valletta is the charming capital city of Malta, a small island country in the Mediterranean made up of an archipelago. The fortified city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historical and cultural heritage, as well as its architectural beauty.
If you’re beginning your trip planning, or are only now learning about Malta, you may be curious about how long to spend in Valletta and unsure of how many attractions there are to see.
While Malta as a whole is a different story, you can see most of Valletta in 3 days. However, a 3 day itinerary for Valletta is definitely recommended to make sure you see the very best of what this incredible city has to offer.
Valletta showcases a unique mix of Baroque, Mannerist and Neoclassical elements, which can be seen in its palaces, churches, gardens and public squares.
The city was founded in the 16th century, and its waterfront location provides gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Grand Harbour. As a small and compact city, it’s also incredibly walkable, so you can explore most of it on foot.
The city tends to be busiest during the summer months, especially when cruise ships dock in the nearby harbour, so it’s best to visit in spring or autumn when there are fewer tourists around.
Yet, since Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate, the winters are mild and can be a pleasant escape if you’re coming from somewhere much colder.
During your 3 days in Valletta, you will, of course, need somewhere fabulous to stay. There are plenty of four-and-five-star accommodation options within the city walls, such as the Embassy Valletta Hotel, Palais Le Brun and the Gomerino Hotel.
Now that you know the when and where, it’s time to start learning all about what to see in Valletta in 3 days. To make your trip as stress-free as possible, the following itinerary also includes places to stop and eat during the day. So, let’s get into the perfect 3 days in Valletta itinerary.
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Overview Of 3 Days In Valletta Itinerary
Day 1 in Valletta
- Breakfast at Elephant Shoe
- The Lascaris War Rooms
- Upper Barrakka Gardens
- Triton Fountain
- City Gate
- Lunch at Browns Kitchen Valletta Waterfront
- St John’s Co-Cathedral
- MUZA – Museum of Fine Arts
- National Museum of Archaeology
- Dinner at Kaiseki
Day 2 in Valletta
- Breakfast at Lot 61 Coffee Roasters
- National War Museum – Fort St Elmo
- Lower Barrakka Gardens
- Siege Bell War Memorial
- Lunch at Valletta St Paul’s AFT
- The Malta Experience
- Casa Rocca Piccola
- Dinner and a stroll along Strait Street
Day 3 in Valletta
- Breakfast at Museum Cafe
- Diving among the HMS Maori Shipwreck
- Lunch in St George’s Square
- Merchant Street
- St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
- The Basilica of Saint Dominic
- Dinner at Nenu the Artisan Baker
- Offbeat Music Bar
Day 1 in Valletta
Breakfast at Elephant Shoe
Begin your 3 day trip to Valletta with a delicious breakfast at Elephant Shoe, one of the top brunch spots in the city.
The food here is to die for, with menu items like bagel sandwiches, smashed avo on sourdough, acai bowls, waffles, house-made muesli and so much more. There are vegan and gluten-free options available as well, and drinks are served in funky glassware.
Note that Elephant Shoe opens at 9 am on Saturday and Sunday instead of the usual 8 am on weekdays. The interiors are very modern and trendy, though there is also comfy outdoor seating. As a bonus, it is only a two-minute walk to the first attraction on this itinerary…
The Lascaris War Rooms
Once you’re done with breakfast, walk over to the Lascaris War Rooms, a historic military command centre.
Also known as the Lascaris Underground Complex, it was made up of a vast network of tunnels and chambers carved out of solid rock, extending over an area of 6,000 square metres.
Though it was originally built in the late 1930s for the Royal Navy, it became an important centralised location for the British Armed Forces during World War II.
Since then, the Lascaris War Rooms have been transformed into a museum and tourist attraction. Learn about its vital role during the Siege of Malta from 1940 to 1942, explore the tunnels, and view the original equipment and artefacts.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Nearby, you’ll find the Upper Barrakka Gardens on top of St Peter and Paul Bastion. This space was originally built in the 16th century as a private area for the Knights of St John, a military order, to relax and enjoy views of the Mediterranean.
Fortunately, in the mid-19th century, the gardens were opened to the public and quickly became a popular spot for locals to enjoy panoramic views of the Grand Harbour.
Among the lush green lawns, vibrant flower beds and neatly trimmed hedges are several statues and monuments scattered around.
You can’t forget the Saluting Battery too, a historical artillery battery which fires cannons daily at 12 pm and 4 pm as part of a ceremonial tradition.
The Triton Fountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Malta. It is located just outside of the City Gate, which serves as the main entrance to Valletta.
The concept for the fountain was inspired by the mythological sea god Triton, known for his role as a messenger of the sea and son of Poseidon.
There are three bronze Triton statues standing on a large circular base, each holding a conch shell which spouts water into the air.
The base is adorned with marine motifs, like dolphins, seahorses and shells, further emphasising the city’s connection to the sea.
As mentioned earlier, the City Gate is the entrance to Valletta from the neighbouring town, Floriana.
The original gate was built in the 16th century and was a simple entrance featuring a drawbridge and a wooden gate. In the early 19th century, it was replaced by a Neoclassical structure, featuring a monumental stone arch with two towers.
The current gate, however, was built quite recently in 2014 and takes the form of a modern steel construction with two pylon-like structures on either side.
It is intended to reflect the modernisation and progress of Valletta, while still paying homage to its rich history and heritage.
An underground passageway known as the Valletta Entrance was also constructed at the same time, connecting the Old Gate to other parts of the city, including the new Parliament House.
Lunch at Browns Kitchen Valletta Waterfront
Situated along the picturesque Grand Harbour, Browns Kitchen offers a delightful dining experience with a stunning waterfront view.
The restaurant is open daily from 10 am, so you can head here for an early lunch if you’ve already breezed through the morning itinerary. The interior of the restaurant is warm and inviting with a rustic feel, though you should absolutely opt for outside seating if available.
The menu at Browns Kitchen features a diverse selection of dishes inspired by both Mediterranean and international cuisine.
Whether you’re a seafood lover, a fan of grilled meats, or prefer vegetarian options, there is something for everyone here. Be sure to ask the staff about their well-curated wine list and find out what pairs best with your meal of choice.
St John’s Co-Cathedral
Built by the Knights of St John in the 16th century, St John’s Co-Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of High Baroque architecture in Europe. While the exterior is quite understated, you will be amazed as soon as you step foot inside.
The interior of the cathedral is decorated with marble, gilding and elaborate stucco work. The intricately-carved side chapels feature unique decorations, including intricate frescoes, marble tombs and ornate altarpieces.
The most notable chapel is the Oratory of the Sacrament, which houses Caravaggio’s incredible painting, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist.
The mesmerising floor is paved with tombstones and marble slabs commemorating the knights and other prominent figures from the Order’s history. You could spend hours here admiring all of the details and still not see everything!
MUZA – Museum of Fine Arts
Established in 1974, MUZA is one of Valletta’s best museums and aims to showcase and preserve the artistic heritage of Malta.
It is housed in a historic building called Auberge d’Italie, which is an attraction in itself. Constructed in the 16th century, the architectural masterpiece blends elements of Baroque and Mannerist styles.
The museum has an extensive collection of over 20,000 pieces, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics and other forms of visual art.
The collection mostly focuses on Maltese art from the late mediaeval period to the contemporary era, and is an amazing resource for understanding the artistic traditions of Maltese people.
National Museum of Archaeology
Continue learning about the history of Malta at the National Museum of Archaeology. As one of the most significant cultural institutions in the country, it is dedicated to showcasing Malta’s rich archaeological heritage.
Housed in the Auberge de Provence, a historic 16th-century building, the museum spans over 7,000 years of history across different sections.
One of the museum’s highlights is the collection of artefacts from the Neolithic period, including the famous figurine known as the Sleeping Lady.
This small stone sculpture is considered one of the most iconic representations of prehistoric art in Malta. You can also learn about the Phoenician and Punic periods here through intricate jewellery, tomb decorations and religious figurines.
Dinner at Kaiseki
For dinner, take a short walk over to Kaiseki. This place is particularly ideal if you’re with a group of people who struggle to agree on what cuisine they feel like. On the menu, you’ll find traditional Maltese cuisine, pasta and salads, as well as Asian fusion dishes.
You can also opt for the taster menu. Kaiseki prioritises sophisticated dishes with a range of influences, so you can expect an incredible culinary experience. The restaurant is quite small, so be sure to make a booking in advance so you don’t miss out!
Day 2 in Valletta
Breakfast at Lot 61 Coffee Roasters
Lot 61 is considered one of the best coffee shops in Malta, with coffee beans sourced both locally and from around the world. A cappuccino and some baked treats from here will certainly get you excited for the day ahead!
Lot 61 offers non-dairy milk and some vegan cake options for those with dietary requirements, and there’s plenty of outdoor seating if you want to relax for a little bit before you start exploring more of Valletta.
Lot 61 Coffee Roasters opens at 7:30 am, Monday to Friday, and at 8 am on weekends.
National War Museum – Fort St Elmo
Located in the historic Fort St Elmo is the National War Museum, where you can learn about Malta’s military history, particularly the island’s role in various conflicts and wars.
Fort St Elmo itself played a crucial role during the Great Siege of Malta in 1565 by successfully defending the island against the Ottoman Empire.
Inside the museum is a diverse collection of artefacts, memorabilia and exhibits spanning several centuries, with displays including weapons, artillery pieces, naval vessels and more.
One of the highlights is the reconstruction of a World War II underground air raid shelter, giving you a realistic sense of the conditions endured by the Maltese people during the war.
Lower Barrakka Gardens
Much like the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the Lower Barrakka Gardens were originally created as a private garden for the Italian Knights of St John in the late 16th century. Later, they were opened to the public and became a popular spot for both locals and visitors to enjoy the serenity and greenery.
The main feature of the gardens is the Monument to Sir Alexander Ball, a large Neoclassical temple with a small fountain in front. From the terraces, you can see sweeping views of the Grand Harbour, including the historic fortifications, the picturesque waterfront, and the many ships that sail past.
Siege Bell War Memorial
Opposite the gardens is the Siege Bell War Memorial, a monument dedicated to the victims of the Great Siege of Malta and World War II.
The centrepiece of the memorial is a large bronze bell, known as the Siege Bell, which represents both remembrance and resilience.
The Siege Bell is rung daily at noon, along with a recorded audio presentation that recounts the history of the Great Siege and the experiences of the Maltese people during World War II.
Lunch at Valletta St Paul’s AFT
Valletta St Paul’s AFT is the perfect place to indulge in a big, delicious meal after a morning of walking.
This delicious and authentic Sicilian restaurant is family-owned, serving up homemade dishes like seafood pasta, octopus salad and prawn linguine, as well as fresh oysters. Although the serving sizes are more than generous, if you still have room afterwards, share the tiramisu for dessert.
The vibe here is far from touristy, and if you’re visiting during the summer, the covered outdoor seating offers a cool and refreshing breeze. The restaurant is open daily from 10 am until 8 pm.
The Malta Experience
The Malta Experience is an audio-visual show that provides an immersive and educational experience about the history of the country.
Housed in the historic Mediterranean Conference Centre, the show combines multimedia elements such as film, sound effects and narration to bring Malta’s history to life.
The main show lasts about 45 minutes, covering the Neolithic period, the arrival of the Phoenicians, the Roman era, the Arab period, the arrival of the Knights of St John, the Great Siege of Malta, and Malta’s role during World War II.
Casa Rocca Piccola
Casa Rocca Piccola is an amazing historic palace that offers a glimpse into the life of the Maltese nobility.
The palace dates back to the 16th century and has been owned by the de Piro family for over 400 years. Fortunately, visitors are able to explore the opulent rooms and beautifully maintained gardens.
The palace features a combination of architectural styles, including Baroque and Mannerist. The interior of Casa Rocca Piccola is adorned with elegant furnishings, valuable antiques, and an extensive collection of artwork.
Be sure to admire the intricate frescoes, stunning chandeliers, and beautifully crafted furniture, all of which provide a sense of the luxurious lifestyle once enjoyed by the noble residents.
Guided tours are available, led by members of the de Piro family, who can provide personal anecdotes and insights.
They will personally take you through the private quarters, dining rooms, chapel, underground air-raid shelter, and the small museum containing historic documents and photographs.
Dinner and a stroll along Strait Street
Strait Street, also known as Strada Stretta in Maltese, is a historic pedestrian-only promenade in Valletta that dates back to the 16th century.
It has undergone numerous changes over the years, becoming a popular nightlife destination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries before a period of decline and neglect.
In more recent years, however, the street has been revitalised and is now a trendy destination, with older buildings being refurbished and becoming new restaurants, bars and shops. As you stroll down the street, you can admire the Baroque and Art Nouveau exteriors.
In terms of dinner options along Strait Street, Kennedy Bar and Bistro is a great choice. It’s towards the northwestern end, so you can walk off your meal by wandering the entire street.
Dig into some dishes like nachos, chorizo mussels, lamb kofta, or a burger and fries. The cosy, intimate atmosphere here will definitely make you want to stay for a drink or two after eating.
There are some local craft beers and an excellent cocktail menu to choose from, and the bartenders are super friendly and helpful if you can’t decide! There’s typically some blues music playing in the background that adds to the relaxing vibe, and the bar stays open until around 1 am.
Day 3 in Valletta
Breakfast at Museum Cafe
Get a great start to your day at Museum Cafe, another amazing breakfast spot in the city. Fitting with the name, the interior is filled with antiques, and you could easily lose track of time looking at all of the details on the walls. It feels very much like a local gem with plenty of character.
You can expect to find home-made pastries and pies, baguettes and focaccias, fresh salads, and even a big English breakfast.
Note: If you are spending the weekend in Malta and your third day in Valletta happens to be a Sunday, when Museum Cafe is closed, you can pick up a quick and easy breakfast at Gambrinus on the opposite side of the street.
Diving among the HMS Maori Shipwreck
Going scuba diving in Valletta offers a unique and captivating experience for both beginner and advanced divers. The diverse underwater landscapes include stunning reefs and caves, full of gorgeous marine life that include colourful fish, seahorses, moray eels, and even barracudas.
Fortunately, the Mediterranean climate in Malta means mild winters and warm summers, making diving possible year-round.
One of the most popular dive sites in the area is the HMS Maori Shipwreck. This Tribal-class destroyer was hit during a World War II air raid in 1942, with the wreckage now laying just off the northern coast of Valletta.
The site is well-preserved, and you are able to explore various parts of the vessel. The wreckage is about 42 metres long and sits at a maximum depth of 16 metres. You’ll find the intact bow of the ship in the shallower waters, while the stern is a little deeper.
Many schools of fish, including bream and damselfish, have found a home among the wreckage, as well as a few octopuses and other fascinating creatures.
Even if you’re a beginner diver, the shallower end of the shipwreck is easily accessible. Your best option is to book with a reputable dive centre like PADI or Abyss Diving Club, as their competent instructors will help you feel safe and confident.
Lunch in St George’s Square
St George’s Square is a historic and bustling public square located in the heart of Valletta. It’s a popular spot for locals to meet up, relax and enjoy a meal together.
Taking its name from the neighbouring St George’s Parish Church, the Baroque structure adds to the charm of the square. Other beautiful architectural wonders surround the square too, including the Grandmaster’s Palace and the Neoclassical Malta Stock Exchange.
There are also plenty of quaint cafes, restaurants and shops around to pop into. Stop for lunch here at Palazzo Preca Restaurant for Maltese cuisine, or Casa Sotto Valletta Pizzeria Pinsa Romana if you’re craving some pizza.
Enjoy your time here sipping on a coffee or a glass of wine before or after your meal, people-watching and taking in the atmosphere.
It’s worth spending some time walking around Merchant Street, which stretches from the City Gate all the way to St John’s Square. The street has a long history dating back to the 16th century, and was renamed due to the number of merchants and traders who set up shops along the road.
These days, the street is still a bustling hub of shops, boutiques, cafes and restaurants. There are also plenty of traditional Maltese craft shops here, where you can purchase local handmade products like lace, filigree jewellery, ceramics and more.
St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral
Constructed in the 19th century, the architectural style of St Paul’s Pro-Cathedral includes a mixture of Baroque and Neoclassical elements.
This elegant structure features a grand portico supported by six Corinthian columns, with an equally impressive interior.
Once you step inside, you can admire the ornate carvings and decorative elements of the main altar, the beautiful stained glass windows, and the marble mosaic floor depicting various biblical scenes.
It’s also worth appreciating the incredible craftsmanship that has gone into creating such a stunning landmark.
The Basilica of Saint Dominic
Dating back to the 16th century, the Basilica of Saint Dominic (also called the Saint Dominic Church) is a significant religious landmark in the city.
The architecture of the basilica is mostly Baroque, with its ornate facade, elaborate details and intricate stonework. Due to the various renovations over the centuries, however, you will also see elements of Rococo and Neoclassical styles.
The interior features a spacious nave adorned with beautiful frescoes, gilded altars and intricate sculptures. The centrepiece of the church is the high altar, which showcases a magnificent statue of Saint Dominic.
Dinner at Nenu the Artisan Baker
After you’ve finished exploring the basilica, walk around the corner to Nenu the Artisan Baker for dinner.
The main courses here are hearty Maltese dishes, which are heavy on the meat and baked potatoes. Other dishes available include rabbit ravioli, Maltese timpana and traditional fish soup. The grilled eggplant with date pate is also recommended as a starter.
Lastly, you won’t want to skip dessert here! Nougat mousse, sweet ricotta tart, fig ice cream, and “date diamonds” are some of the mouth-watering options you can pick from. This highly-popular eatery can get busy, particularly during holidays, so reserve a table on their website.
Offbeat Music Bar
If you don’t have an early flight the next morning, you can wrap up your three days in Valletta with a bit of fun at the nearby Offbeat Music Bar. This alternative spot typically has musicians playing jazz, and there’s a great selection of spirits at the bar.
The atmosphere here is very laid-back, and you can easily find yourself having a chat with some locals or even fellow tourists who have discovered the place too.
Tour Ideas for 3 days in Valletta
- The Original Valletta Walking Tour
If you want to explore Valletta with a local guide while also meeting some other travellers, this guided three-hour group walking tour is perfect.
You’ll also get to see some additional attractions, including the New Parliament, Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Our Lady of Victories Church, Il-Berga ta’ Kastilja, Auberge d’Italie, and Palazzo Parisio.
- Valletta Private Walking Tour
Would you prefer having a private guide that can give you local info and answer all your questions about Malta? This personalised three-hour tour is ideal for you. You’ll explore a mixture of the top attractions as well as a few that are less visited by tourists.
- Gozo and Ggantija Temples Full-Day Excursion
Assuming you have a few more days in Malta to explore the rest of this amazing country, you simply must book a day trip to Gozo. Gozo is a magical island in the Maltese archipelago, and the second-largest after Malta itself.
Not only does this full-day excursion include a 30-minute ferry cruise to the stunning Dwejra Bay, but it also gives you an opportunity to explore Ggantija, the oldest among the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
The limestone temples within this complex date back to the Neolithic era and are even older than the pyramids of Egypt, making them more than 5,500 years old.
- Comino and Blue Lagoon Cruise
Another incredible full-day trip if you have extra time in Malta is a cruise to the neighbouring island of Comino.
The highlight of this tour is getting to swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Lagoon, as well as seeing the Ahrax and Santa Maria caves.
Note: You will have to make additional transport arrangements to the Bugibba Jetty in San Pawl il-Bahar, about 18 kilometres north of Valletta, which is where you will depart from.
Final Thoughts: 3 days in Valletta itinerary
Valletta is an amazing city full of beauty and culture. There are many things to see and do and the 3 days itinerary provides a great overview of some of the best spots in Valletta.
It’s an ideal way to get some insight into the city and create your own mix-and-match itinerary tailored to your interests and unique style.
Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply looking for a break from daily life, Valletta should be at the top of your list! So pack your bags and come explore this gorgeous Mediterranean city, it’s worth it!
Recommended tours in Valletta
- The Original Valletta Walking Tour
- Valletta City Walking Tour
- Malta: Comino Cruise and Gozo Jeep Safari Tour
- Three Cities guided tour including harbour boat tour of the harbour creeks
- Half-Day Malta Highlights
- An Exclusive Private day trip around Malta
- Valletta Half-Day Guided Tour with Optional Cathedral Tour
- Casa Rocca Piccola palace & museum entrance ticket
- 24-Hour Hop-On Hop-Off Pass Bus + Harbour Cruise
Read more about Malta:
- 10 Places You Need To Visit In Malta
- 10 of the Best Beaches in Malta
- Where to Stay in Valletta
- Budget Travel Guide to Valletta
- Ultimate Travel Guide to Valletta
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