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Valletta Cruise Port
- 1 Valletta Cruise Port
- 1.3 Introduction
- 1.4 Where do Cruise Ships Dock?
- 1.5 Transportation
- 1.6 Upper Barraka Lift
- 1.7 Valletta Attractions
- 1.8 Best Food In Malta
- 1.9 Good to Know
Founded in 1566 Valletta is Malta’s tiny capital. Built by the Knights of St John on a narrow peninsula between Marsamxett Harbour to the west and the Grand Harbour to the East, Valletta is one of the smallest and most southerly capital cities in Europe. Valletta may be small, only 1km by 600m, but it is packed full of interesting sights and this makes Valletta Cruise Port one of the most perfect ports of call in the Mediterranean.
Where do Cruise Ships Dock?
Built around a natural deep-water harbour, cruise ships dock at the Valletta Waterfront in the Floriana district of the city. There are 2 cruise wharves:
- Pinto Wharf
- Forni Wharf
There is a smaller 3rd berth but that is only used as an overflow if the port is busy. Entry & exit is almost always through the main Valletta Cruise Terminal entrance. Dependent on where your cruise ship is moored you may have a little walk along the pier side to get to/from your ship. From our experience, everything is well signposted and organised. Within the main cruise terminal some of the facilities you will find include:
- Bars & Cafes
- Taxi Station
- Post Box
- By Air: The Malta International Airport services major regional and international air carriers. Valletta Cruise Port is approximately a 15 minutes drive from the airport, where taxis are readily available.
- By Taxi: A booking office is available on the Valletta Waterfront promenade providing taxi services and tours at established rates.
- By Bus: Hop-On Hop-Off bus services are available offering transport to places of interest. Tickets are available from the coloured booths on the Valletta Waterfront promenade. Public bus services to Valletta (Route 133) are also available.
- By Horsecab: Available in the road adjacent to the Valletta Waterfront. These offer traditional horse cab rides to the City.
- By Traditional Dgħajsa and Water Taxi: Tours around the historic Maltese waters including the Grand Harbour, using traditional boats and also water taxis are available.
- On Foot: One may opt to stroll to Valletta which takes approximately 25 minutes through Crucifix Hill. However, this is a bit of an uphill walk so I would not recommend it on hotter days or for persons who do not walk on a regular basis. Better to walk along the waterfront and take the Upper Barrakka Lift
Upper Barraka Lift
The Upper Barrakka lifts opened in December 2012, linking the Grand Harbour to the Upper Barrakka Gardens and Valletta city centre. There are two lifts, which are 58 metres high. The journey takes around twenty-five seconds, making it the quickest way into the city from the Valletta Waterfront.
The lifts offer a practical alternative for the thousands of cruise ship passengers who disembark at the Valletta Passenger Terminal to reach the city with its shops, restaurants, churches and museums. It used to be free but a return trip (at time of writing) is €1. Lines can get long at peak periods, or when there are several cruise ships in but they usually move pretty quickly as each lift can take 21 people at a time.
You emerge from the lift into the Upper Barraka Gardens which in themselves are worth a visit. We sat and enjoyed the myriad of colourful flowers and watched people go about their day. Be warned that daily at 12 noon and 4pm the 8 guns of the Saluting Battery will fire. Trust me if you are not expecting it they can be quite loud and startling.
St Johns Co-Cathedral
Well worth a visit is St John’s Co-Cathedral which was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere to serve as the church for the Order of the Knights of St John. The work was completed by 1578.
The Cathedral is considered to be one of the most important landmarks for those seeking arts and culture in Valletta and is a real gem within the city. Apart from its rich Baroque art and relics, the Co-Cathedral also holds impressive Baroque frescos, ornate marble floors, three-dimensional statues, carved stone walls and breath-taking vaulted ceilings.
Don’t Miss- Caravaggio’s Beheading of St John the Baptist in the Oratory
Grand Masters Palace
This was once the residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St John. From Malta’s independence until 2015 the building was the seat of Malta’s parliament, The Armoury is housed in what was once the Grand Master’s stables. Originally, the armour and weapons belonging to the Knights were stored at the Palace Armoury (the Great Hall), and when a Knight died these became the property of the Order. There is a collection of more than 5000 suits of 16th to 18th-century armour remaining. There are also displays of some beautiful weapons, including crossbows, muskets, swords and pistols. In the State Apartments, five rooms are usually open to the public, although special one-off exhibitions mean some rooms may be closed. The Grand Master’s Palace remains the official residence of the Maltese president, so rooms are occasionally closed.
Adults €6, Youths €4.50, Children €3.00
A great way to see the city is from the Grand Harbor and the adjacent Marsamxett Harbour. See Valletta and the Three Cities Harbour Cruise. Includes informative commentary about the region from its history to the present. Keep your camera handy for amazing photo opportunities.
Fort St Elmo
Originally intended as a war machine, the fort was built in a strategic location to face and hold back attacks by the Ottomans. This dominant position now offers unobstructed panoramic views of the harbours and the surrounding towns and villages. The fort also hosts the National War Museum which houses a superb collection of artefacts that go back to prehistoric times.
The star-shaped fort was built by the Order of St John in 1552. The fort played a crucial role in the eventful Great Siege of 1565 which saw the mighty forces of the Ottoman Empire and the Order of St John come head to head. It resulted in a great victory for the Order.
During the British rule, the fort was modified to accommodate the new requirements of war. Right on the day when Malta became involved in the conflict of World War II, on 11 June 1940, Fort St Elmo suffered the first aerial bombardment on the islands.
Visitors at Fort St Elmo can experience the impressive grounds of the fort, including the splendid architecture of the two chapels dedicated to St Anne. Among the most notable artefacts in the Museum are:
- Military armour of the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks
- The Gloster Sea Gladiator N5520 FAITH
- Roosevelt’s Jeep ‘Husky’.
- Malta’s award for gallantry, the George Cross.
Adults €10, Youths €7.50, Children €5.50
National Museum of Archaeology
Housed at the Auberge de Provence, the National Museum of Archaeology is renowned as one of the most elaborately decorated Baroque buildings in the city. It’s richly painted walls and beamed ceilings of the Gran Salon showcase the elegance of the time. A visit to this museum offers a spectacular range of artefacts that date from Malta’s Neolithic Period up to the Phoenician Period. Some of the most notable artefacts are:
- Sleeping Lady (from the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum)
- Venus of Malta (from Haġar Qim Temples)
- Bronze Age daggers (from Tarxien Temples)
- The Horus & Anubis pendant
- Anthropomorphic sarcophagus
The museum provides the visitor with a good introduction to the prehistory and early history of the Maltese Islands.
Adults €5, Youths €3.50, Children €2.50
Lascaris War Rooms
An underground tunnel complex that lies over 40m beneath the Upper Barrakka Gardens. It housed Britain’s top-secret command in Malta during WW2. It was restored in 2009 with the rooms laid out exactly as they would have been. In July 1943, the War Rooms were used by General Eisenhower and his Supreme Commanders Admiral Cunningham, Field Marshal Montgomery and Air Marshal Tedder as their advance Allied HQ for Operation Husky – the invasion of Sicily.
Adults €13, Children €6, Seniors €11, Family €26
Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
The 42-meter high oval dome dominates both the city skyline and Marsamxett Harbour. The Carmelite Church (Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel) is a Roman Catholic church located in the centre of Valletta. Begun in 1570, the church was damaged during the Second World War and was rebuilt from 1958 to 1981. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Visit the Blue Grotto
A collection of naturally formed caves and a 30-foot arch make up the Blue Grotto. Attracting well over 100,000 visitors a year this place is very popular. With the waters leading in reflecting colours of cyan and emerald greens, the Blue Grotto is accessible to visit all year round, weather permitting. Boat trips are available and take around 20mins. We didn’t take a boat but experienced the Blue Grotto from a panoramic vantage point from the cliffs above as shown in the photo below. Catch bus number 74 from Valletta Terminus and stop at the Panorama bus stop. The viewpoint is a 2min walk away.
This is a small but very picturesque fishing village in the southeastern part of the island. It is the largest fishing harbour in Malta and has a popular daily open market where you will see a lot of the fresh fish that has been caught earlier that day. Grab an ice cream from one of the local vendors and enjoy a peaceful walk around the harbour. You can reach the village from Valletta by using routes 81 or 85 which takes around 45mins
Also known as the ‘Silent City’ (there are very strict noise and traffic restrictions) and former capital of Malta, Mdina is a joy to visit. Behind its high walls lies a city that dates back approximately 4,000 years. During medieval times, Mdina was known as the Noble City as it housed, unsurprisingly, many noble families. Mdina can be reached from Valletta by taking bus route 53 bus which takes around 30mins.
Best Food In Malta
I don’t know about you but we love to try some local foods whenever we go ashore in port. Hang on, I know what you’re thinking. “I’m on a cruise ship, I can get all the food I need there”, and whilst this is certainly true we think tasting the local cuisine is a large part of the cultural experience. By tasting we don’t mean a full sit down multi-course meal. Often times some simple snacks or street food is all you need to get a flavour of the place you are visiting. Below are some typical Maltese foods you can pick up easily and affordably.
Before McDonald’s and KFC, a typical Maltese fast food option would be Pastizzi which is a savoury cheese or pea cake. It’s still wildly popular and can be found almost anywhere. Just look for the long line of people waiting along the pavement near the local Pastizzeria.
Similar to pastizzi, qassatat is a delicious pastry filled with a variety of different ingredients, though ricotta cheese is the most popular choice. These pastries are so popular that they are one of the most consumed street food items on Malta.
Timpana is a pasta casserole originating from Malta. It’s prepared with a combination of puff pastry sheets, macaroni or penne pasta, beef, pork, chicken liver, bacon, onions, garlic, grated cheese, eggs, tomatoes, stock, and butter. The onions and garlic are sautéed in olive oil with the bacon, livers, and ground pork and beef.
Maltese people love this local bread and it’s one of the things they miss when away from home. It’s served with most meals, in fact no meal is complete without it. It is often used for mopping up leftover stew or other sauces and tastes best when fresh out of the oven. Ftira is a sandwich made from Maltese bread. Drizzle with olive oil and crushed local tomatoes makes for a tasty snack. It’s almost like a bruschetta but you can add other ingredients if you wish.
Good to Know
Malta is much safer than most countries in Europe (even at night). But as always be aware of petty crimes like theft and pickpocketing in busier tourist areas.
Traffic drives on the left. Bear this in mind when crossing roads or if you decide to hire a car.
- Currency: Euro
- Language: Malti, English
- Money: ATMS are widespread. Some smaller restaurants only accept cash.
- Visa’s: Not required for stays less than 90 days.