Valletta tourist attractions – driving holiday in Malta
Valletta, the capital of Malta, is an absolute must see for any holiday-maker on the island. Valletta offers plenty of attraction to its visitors, including a valuable cultural and historic heritage.
The unique character of Valletta's Old Town, dating back to the 16th century and the ruling of the St. John Knights was recognised by the UNESCO, being Valletta one of the very first cities inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites. Maltese capital was also chosen to be the European Capital of Culture 2018.
Valetta, locally known as “Il-Belt” (meaning “the city” in Maltese) is located on the northeastern coast of Malta, in St.Paul’s Bay, in less than 4 miles distance from Malta Airport.
Compare Cartrawler prices: cheap car hire in Malta Airport
While car hire is a very convenient way of exploring Malta, in the Maltese capital you may want to consider leaving your rental car behind.
Find below, a few tips on what to look out for when visiting Valletta.
Driving in Valletta historic centre
Old Valletta is a fortified town built on a hill. All of the defence walls survived until today and the access to the strict historic centre of Valletta is still done trough the main City Gate and smaller lateral entrances.
Driving within the old city walls may be challenging: the streets are narrow and very steep at times. In many places, the traditional grid layout allows one-way traffic only. Several areas of old Valletta are closed for traffic and parking space is limited.
For the above reasons many tourist travelling in a Malta hire car opt for leaving their car safely parked in on of the city council parks. The most popular is the large, multi-storey park in Floriana area, just by the City Gate.
See the map of Valletta Old Town.
Valletta sights – St. John Knights of Malta
The capital of Malta is named after Jean Parisot de la Valette, Grand Master of the Knights of St. John Order.
The Knights of St. John, also known as Knights Hospitaller, a military order of Christianity, first came to Malta in mid 16th centuries and remained on the island until 1798, when they were defeated by the Napoleon army. Malta thrived under the ruling of the Knights and most of the important monuments of Valletta were build by the Hospitallers.
Although the imposing fortifications and the main entrance – the City Gate, are the most iconic landmarks of Valletta, it is worth to spend some time exploring within the city walls. Valletta Old Town, the UNESCO World Heritage site comprises an impressive number of 320 historic monuments.
Amongst the most important are:
- St John’sCathedral – rather modest from outside, the cathedral surprises the visitors with a lavish ornamentation of the interior and exquisite frescoes, carvings and paintings, including Caravaggio’s “The Beheading of John the Baptist”.
- The Grand Master’s Palace – once used by the successive grandmasters of the order, today the palace houses the Office of the President of Malta and the House of Representatives.
- St Elmo Fort – a witness to the dramatic Ottoman siege of 1565, St Elmo Fort is a classic example of a defensive architecture, designed to prevent the invaders from entering the city. The fort hosts Valletta War Museum with a splendid collection of military equipment.
Manoel Theatre – is a 17th century miniature of the famous “La Scala” theatre, beautifully preserved and still functioning. For the up-to-day agenda, visit
Valletta Manoel Theatre website.
When touring Valletta, be prepared to have to climb many stairs and quite steep roads with poor, or none sidewalks. Luckily, most of the important Valletta sites are located near Republic Street, the main avenue crossing in a straight line Valletta’s Old Town, from the City Gate to St. Elmo Fort. The Republic Street is a comfortable, pedestrian-only road, lined with shops, restaurants and cafes, perfect for a short stop.
Controlled Vehicular Access (CVA) – entering Valletta in a hire car
If you decide, however, to drive into the city of Valletta in your Malta hire car, get familiar with Valletta CVA (Controlled Vehicular Access) system.
In order to reduce heavy congestion of the Maltese capital, the access to the strict centre of Valletta is controlled and subject to fees.
All the entering vehicles are monitored and their number photographed through a developed technology and dedicated camera system. The total time of the stay of the vehicle in Valletta is automatically calculated and the respective bill is sent by post to the registered owner of the car.
Please advise with your Malta car hire company beforehand, how to proceed when entering Valletta vehicle access controlled area.
Valletta car hire – compare prices
Outside of high season, Valletta car rental offers can be very cheap – one of the cheapest in Europe – with prices starting from as little as around £30 for a week of Malta car hire.
During the busy summer months, the smallest city cars (such as a Ford Ka, a Peugeot 107 or similar), just enough to move around the island cost from approx. £80 for a week of Valletta car hire.
It may be well worth to shop around a little before booking your Malta hire car. Frequently, the best car hire deals are found online. The internet search engines of car rental offers, such as Cartrawler Malta, allow you to compare rates for car hire from many rent a car companies in Valletta, amongst them Budget, Avis Rent a Car, Thrifty, First Car Rental Malta or Aquarius Rent a Car.