We’re all fans of the long-weekend in a beautiful European city, whether we spend it strolling the romantic streets of Paris, marvelling at the ancient sites in Rome, or dancing through Barcelona. But one less-spoken-about destination is Valletta, the capital of Malta, a tiny island sat just below Italy in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.
Valletta has everything you want from a European city break: fascinating history, delicious food, warm sunshine, and friendly locals, but the city offers so much more beyond this – it even topped The Times ‘Best City Break in Europe’ list. Built in 1566, the sunniest city in Europe is much smaller than other capitals, meaning it’s easy and relaxing to walk around. The entire city of Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage City, dotted with ornate cathedrals, grand mansions, cobbled streets and honey-hued buildings, and surrounded by two natural harbours.
We’ve put together the perfect itinerary for a weekend exploring Valletta, based almost entirely on the fabulous experience our digital marketing manager had in the city last month. Read on to be inspired…
Begin with a direct flight with Air Malta from London Heathrow or Gatwick to Valletta, approximately a 3 hour journey.
On arrival, check in to the exceptional Rosselli AX Privilege – one of the finest properties in the world – where the team will greet you with champagne and canapés before welcoming you to your luxurious room in the city centre.
Get unpacked and head out for a traditional Maltese tasting menu at Legligin, a hidden gem of a restaurant 5 minutes from the hotel. Go hungry as you’ll be served between 6 and 9 delicious courses! Expect fresh Maltese bread, traditional rabbit stew, oysters and divine cheeses, among endless other treats.
The following day, head down to the hotel’s Grain Street restaurant for a 3-tiered delightful breakfast of pastries, fruits and eggs done any way you like. Then, meet your guide for a walking tour of beautiful Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. See the Grandmaster’s Palace, visit the magnificently ornate St John’s Co-Cathedral, have a tour of the traditional 16th century Maltese hour Casa Rocco Piccola by the owner and watch the 12-noon gun salute over the coast at Barrakka Garden.
For lunch, drive slightly out of the city centre and arrive at Pippa Mattei’s house. A well-known Maltese chef, Pippa and her family host homemade lunches and cooking classes at their beautiful house. You’ll be treated to their eccentric humour, treasured tips and fabulous food as you spend a couple of hours basking in the warm sun in her alluring garden. If you’re lucky, she might even let you try a sip of her iconic ‘mandarincello’ – a (very strong) liqueur made freshly from their homegrown oranges.
After lunch, venture to the port to cross the Grand Harbour on traditional Dghajjes (gondola-style rowing boats) just as the sun sets. In the beautiful early evening light, you can truly appreciate the stunning golden glow radiating from the honey-coloured buildings across the city.
Freshen up and sit down for another delicious meal at Rosselli’s Grain Street restaurant, a fashionable and convivial eatery, offering flavour-loaded plates designed to share in stylish interiors or al fresco in the heart of Merchants Street. Tuck into colourful and appetising spreads, worthy of the MICHELIN Bib Gourmand accolade and tailored by the very same team that brought you MICHELIN-starred Under Grain, paired with the finest of wines all served by the glass or by the bottle. Make sure to try the black squid lasagne!
The following morning, after another delightful breakfast, drive out to the Blue Grotto. If the wind is calm enough, you can take a boat trip through the caves to experience the beauty of the natural area first-hand. Otherwise, you can view the waters from above, noticing how the waters look as though they are being lit up from beneath.
Continue the drive to the Megalithic Temples on the island. These temples of Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien are unique architectural masterpieces, given the limited resources available to their builders when they were constructed during the 3rd and 4th millennium BC. They rank amongst the earliest free-standing stone buildings in the world, standing as a witness to an exceptional prehistoric culture renowned for its remarkable architectural, artistic and technological achievements. However, the purpose of the buildings still remain a mystery. See if you can come up with a theory…
Finally, arrive at the stunning Ta’ Betta Wine Estates for a tour of their vineyard, olive grove and wine production process, followed by a divine lunch and tasting of their most popular wines. Sit down to a beautifully-laid table with fresh flowers, warm bread and various small Maltese dishes and listen to the experts describe their wines in an enchanting yet easy to understand explanation as you sample them for yourself.
Arrive back at Valletta airport ready to breeze through the check-in process (it’s a small airport) and relive your adventures through your phone’s photo library on your way home!
Have we sold the golden city to you? Are you ready to book your mini break to this unspoilt, historical Mediterranean island? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 1491 575 987 and we’ll get everything in place for you. Remember, our experts have access to rates you won’t see online and provide every step of the journey to make your escape entirely stress-free.
Speak to our team:
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Saturday: 10am – 4:30pm
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Henley-on-Thames, OXON RG9 2AH