Valletta on a Time Crunch: The Ultimate One-Day Itinerary

Photo credit: Nick Fewings

If you are on a time crunch and you only have a single day to explore the capital city, we got you covered. To save you some time and irksome planning, OhMyMalta is here to provide you with a plethora of things to do, places to see, sights to view, and restaurants to visit during your day trip to Valletta

Valletta, Malta’s capital city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see for anyone visiting the Maltese archipelago. It was founded by the Knights Hospitaller in 1566, following the end of the Great Siege of Malta in 1565. It was named after Grand Master of the Order Jean Parisot de Valette, who commanded the victorious defence of the island against the Ottoman Turks. 

If you are on a time crunch and you only have a single day to explore the capital city, we got you covered. 

Upper Barrakka Gardens

Photo credit: Lonely Planet

We recommend that you begin your day at the Upper Barrakka Gardens, one of Valletta’s most popular attractions. The view from this garden of the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities is undeniably arresting. The garden is free to enter and is open every day from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. You might even catch the daily fire of the cannons at noon if you’re lucky, so time it wisely!


Photo Credit: Jonathan Look Jr

From Upper Barrakka Gardens, make your way to St John’s Co-Cathedral. This cathedral is a masterpiece of Baroque art and architecture, including some of Malta’s best pieces of art. The cathedral is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with admission costing €15 for adults and €10 for students.


Then, proceed to Valletta’s main thoroughfare, Republic street, for some shopping and a quick inexpensive lunch. Republic Street is lined with stores ranging from high-end boutiques to souvenir shops. Café Cordina, a typical Maltese café that has been open since 1837, is a great place to have an affordable lunch and a nice cup of coffee. The restaurant also sells pastizzi, a typical Maltese pastry filled with ricotta or peas. (You might find a pastizzeria or two that sells pastizzi filled with chicken. We highly recommend you try this too!)


After lunch, make your way to the Grand Master’s Palace on St. George’s Square. The palace was constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries and functioned as the Grand Master of the Order of St. John’s dwelling. The Palace State Rooms are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and cost €10 for adults and €5 for students to enter. 

Casa Rocca Piccola

Porphyry Room at Casa Rocca Piccola

While you’re close to the St. George’s Square, we also recommend you visit Casa Rocca Piccola, commonly known as the Piccola Rocca, a 16th-century mansion owned by the de Piro aristocratic family. It was significantly refurbished and made into a museum in the twentieth century. Furniture, paintings, and cutlery from the de Piro family’s collection are on display in the museum.


Once you’re done visiting the palace, head to the Lower Barrakka Gardens for a different view of the Grand Harbour. These gardens, located on Valletta’s lower level, provide a panoramic view of the harbour. Entrance is free.


After completing a hectic itinerary like this one, you will probably be exhausted and in need of a nice cocktail (or two). Thankfully, you’re in luck, as Valletta boasts a plethora of eating and drinking options. In recent years, the city’s food sector has seen a rebirth, with the development of numerous new restaurants and cafés. Traditional Maltese cuisine combines Sicilian and North African elements and is famed for its substantial stews, fresh fish, and sweet desserts. You can end your day at Strait Street, a historic street that was once the entertainment hub of Valletta. Strait Street is now home to a number of pubs and eateries. For a cool drink, visit Tt he Kingsway Pub for live music.

Ultimately, Valletta has a rich past as well as a lively present. Exploring the city in a single day is a wonderful opportunity to see everything it has to offer. Whether you’re interested in art and architecture, panoramic views, or delicious food, Valletta has something to offer for everyone.