Republic Street Valletta, looking toward the main gate.

Once inside the gateway you are now in a large open square, with Republic Street (once the Kingsway), immediately in front of you.


Looking back toward the bus terminal
(click for larger image)

At a slight angle to your right, is what remains of the old opera house and beneath it is a collection of small jewellery and watch stores. Malta is renowned for lace and silver filigree jewellery, and the prices vary from place to place, so try to avoid the heavy tourist traffic area's and go to


Inside of the Gateway, looking toward Republic Street

some of narrower back streets or towns and villages outside of the city. We found a great store, which is actually nothing more than a booth in Queens Square. It is tucked away at the back right hand corner, near the Malta experience and sells everything from silver and gold jewellery, to lace items, you will also get a good price from the owner on multiple purchases. 

Valletta has several cruise ships arrive throughout the week and when they disembark their passengers, the narrow Republic street is packed. Curiously the stores in Valletta close at about the noon hour and do not reopen until 4PM. It doesn't seem to make a lot of difference whether a new boat load of tourists turns up or not. I guess tradition is tradition.


Jewellery stores in front of the Old Opera House 

I really like Valletta, I find its myriad of small stores and narrow streets a labyrinth of places to explore, the only negative lies in the fact that you need to be a mountaineer, or goat, to negotiate some of the steep side streets. 

I am not going to make the mistake and trying to make this website a travel brochure of all the historic sites you should visit in Valletta, for that I would recommend "The blue guide of Malta and Gozo" by Geoffrey Aquilina Ross ISBN 0-393-32136-3, but from Republic to Merchant Street with its outdoor market, Valletta is alive with colour, culture and a history ranging back over hundreds of years, and it is here on Republic Street that you should visit St John's Co Cathedral with its magnificent interior going back to its foundation in 1573 (a must visit). 

At the end of the street is Victoria Square, now called Queens Square, used by several restaurants as a large outdoor bistro. Believe me, there is nothing more relaxing than


The famous Cordina Cafe


Maltese Parliament.
(Please click on above for larger image)

to sit with a cappuccino and watch the world go by at about 10:00 o'clock in the morning. One of these cafe's is the famous Cordina and I suggest you take a moment and go inside the cafe itself and look at the ceilings and décor, a truly elegant and stylish cafe to spend a quiet moment of relaxation.

While prices at the Cordina are rather expensive, and the cheesecakes (pastizzi's) are not made in the traditional Maltese style, tucked away at 29 Old Theatre Street (tel 21237827). just a few hundred yards from Queens Square you can find one of the best little bar/café's in Valletta. If you are looking for good basic Maltese food at very fair prices, then we suggest you visit the “Still Alive” Bar, owned and operated by Mr Anthony Zammitt, offering some of the best food (home made) and prices (pastizzi’s


Anthony outside of his uniquely named bar/cafe

are a specialty) to be found anywhere on the island. Another good place is a small cafe near the parking area outside of Mdina (on St Pauls street). I suggest a bottle of a local beverage called “Kinnie’ to wash them down.

If you visit, ask to meet Tony he is a very friendly guy and never seems to stop from the moment he gets up in the morning until he closes the restaurant.

 

When visiting Europe, we fly
Lufthansa Airlines

While you are in Queen Square, the only public washrooms located at this end of Republic Street are toward the back of the square. If you ask a waiter or waitress at one of the outdoor bistro's, you will be given a cursory nod followed by "Over there" and that’s it, but I could not see a single sign indicating a public washroom. If you look toward the back of the square, under the covered walkway you will see


Public restrooms in Queens Square

large wooden doors with the word "Premier" painted onto the glass over the top. (on the left of "The Maltese Experience") this is where the public washroom is located, and please note there is a resident washroom attendant in place and you are expected to tip them on your way out, or receive a stern frown of disapproval, if you leave without doing this. An easy stroll back up Republic Street toward the old Opera House and if you turn left up yet another hill and follow the road around to the right, it will bring you to the Auberge de Castille in Castile Place. It is worth pausing for a moment and looking at this magnificent building, now the offices of the Prime Minister of Malta, before continuing to Barrakka Gardens.


Looking down Republic Street
(Please click on above for larger image)


The entrance to Barrakka Gardens

As you look around at the gardens, you will find the walk up the long hill is well worth the effort. The scenery from here is another one of those spectacular views that Valletta is full of. The Grand Harbour lies at your feet and from here you can see the enormous size of this natural harbour and realize why so many nations fought for control of the island. Across the harbour from left to right is the fort of Ricosali, Vittoriosa and Senglea, each one magnificent in their own right. A harbour boat cruise is well worth the money and allows you get a different perspective of the imposing defences these cities offered. My last memory of Malta was of seeing Grand Harbour full of Royal Navy ships, as operation Musketeer was about to get underway. Now I think the view is better, tranquil waters and cruise ships, and while Malta has probably suffered economically from the loss of the RN and other British units on the island, I think it has found its niche as a major tourist attraction for Europeans in the summer and winter.   


Inside Barrakka Gardens


An interesting gate in Barrakka Gardens.


Grand Harbour from the Gardens
(Click above for larger image)


Steep street in Valletta

Page one

Page 3. Day trip to Sicily and Mt Etna

Page 4 boat trips

Page 5 Marsaxlok etc

Please visit some old photo's of Malta from the 1950's

Britannia bar
Above is what used to be the entrance to the Britannia Bar.

 

For badges, patches, heraldic and Scottish
Clan rings. Please visit sheba-imports.com

Sunrise over Valletta
Sunrise over Valletta November 21st 2006