The historic walled cities of Valetta and Mdina are home to a lion’s share of Malta’s attractions ranging from medieval streets and palaces to Baroque churches such as the cathedrals of St John and St Paul. However, Malta’s history goes back even further, as evidenced by the truly ancient Hypogeum at Paola and the megalithic temples at Qrendi.
Hal Saflieni Hypogeum
The Hal Saflieni Hypogeum is a complex of stone chambers and tunnels that are over 3,600 years old. The world’s only known prehistoric underground temple, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site open year round that can be reached by car or public transportation. For preservation reasons, access is by guided tour and limited to a maximum of 80 visitors per day. This is one of Malta’s most famous and popular attractions so it is a good idea to reserve tickets well in advance.
Address: Burial Street, Paola, Island of Malta PLA 03, Malta
Phone: +356 21 805 018
Mdina Old City
A walk around Mdina’s Old Town, also known as the Silent City, is like stepping back in time. Considered one of Europe’s finest ancient walled cities, the car-free streets are lined with ancient buildings, most of which were constructed in the Baroque style after the 1693 earthquake flattened most of the older dwellings. The Cathedral of St Paul is one of the more notable sites, with an ornate interior decorated with beautiful frescoes. Mdina was formerly the capital of Malta which, due to difficulties defending the area, was moved to Valetta. Visitors can listen to an audio guide or join an official walking tour to get a fuller understanding of the city’s history.
Address: Mdina, Malta
Upper Barrakka Gardens
This beautiful garden is one of the best parks in Malta. It sits at the highest and most impressive part of Valetta’s city walls so visitors can see all three cities and get a good view of the Valetta Grand Harbour. There are attractive gardens and several statues, including one of Winston Churchill, popular with photographers. At midday, the firing of the canons ceremony takes place by the Saluting battery.
Address: Battery Street, Valletta, Island of Malta, Malta
St John’s Co-Cathedral
One of Malta’s most impressive sites is the Baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral, which was commissioned in 1572 as the church for the Knights of St John. The extravagant interior includes arched ceilings decorated with frescoes and a floor made up of inlaid marble tombs. The cathedral houses several masterpieces including Flemish tapestries and paintings by Caravaggio. The cathedral is an active house of worship so visitors should dress and behave accordingly.
Address: St. John Street, Valletta, Island of Malta, Malta
Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum
One of the most popular museums in Malta, the Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum, is located in Mdina in one of the oldest buildings in the city. The two story medieval palace was formerly the home of Capt. Olof Frederick Gollcher who was an artist, philanthropist, scholar, and collector of art and antiquities. The museum houses the Captain’s extraordinary artifacts which includes a 17th century Isaac Hussius watch, an illustrated manuscript from 1636, paintings by Mattia Preti and Edward Lear, antique silver, furniture, armory, and jewelry. The museum is open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.
Address: Villegaignon Street, Mdina, Island of Malta MDN1191, Malta
Casa Rocca Piccola
This beautiful building was created in the 16th century for one of Malta’s Knights. Over the years it has been home to some illustrious families, including the Counts Sant Cassia. Today, visitors can tour this privately owned home to gain insight into Maltese aristocratic heritage. View the structure’s 50 rooms including the grand staircase, Palladian chapel, Chinese Room, library with its famous 17th century Lascaris Panels, old tunnels, and WWII bunkers under the house.
Address: 74 Triq Repubblika, Valletta, Island of Malta VLT 05, Malta
Mnajdra Megalithic Temples
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mnajdra Megalithic Temples are believed to be the oldest in the world, pre-dating even the Egyptian pyramids. The floor plan of Mnajdra is cloverleaf shaped and hewn from limestone. Another temple, Ħaġar Qim, is of a similar age and just 500 meters away. The sites can get very hot and crowded in summer so plan ahead. Mnajdra can be reached by car or bus and is open Monday to Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. year round, closing only for Christmas, Easter and New Year.
Address: Qrendi, Valletta, Island of Malta, Malta
Malta Classic Car Collection Museum
This extensive museum has an impressive collection of historic vehicles including a 1956 Ford Thunderbird, 1957 Austin Healey 100/6 and a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette. Despite its name, there is more than just automobiles to see, including clothing, prams, typewriters, jukeboxes, radios and a myriad of other interesting items from times gone by.
Address: Klamari Street, Qawra. Malta