Why go to Malta (Valletta)?
From historical sites to botanical gardens and trendy shopping streets, Malta offers a bit of everything
Most shops, restaurants and attractions are closed or have limited hours on Sundays
Though Malta is rich in history and culture, its facilities are thoroughly modern
Malta (Valletta) Cruise Port Facilities?
The Valletta Waterfront pier area with its 19 historic 250-year-old warehouses makes this one of the nicest cruise ports in Europe. Filled with shops, restaurants and bars, the complex is also a destination for residents. On any given day, there might be a festival or musical performances like a jazz band conclave or classical recital. You can take your time reboarding while you relax at the Hard Rock Bar Malta, or pick up last-minute purchases at Mediterranean Ceramics, the Agenda Bookshop or a branch of Mdina Glass, one of Malta's top glass makers. There is an ATM in the center, as well.
Good to Know?
While crime rates are low, visitors should exercise caution in crowds, at beaches and at night. Also, if you are considering renting a car, keep in mind that the Maltese drive on the left-hand side of the road. In addition, if your ship docks in Malta on a Sunday, many stores, restaurants and attractions will be closed -- some all day and some until noon.
By Taxi or Horse-Drawn Carriage: These two methods are expensive, considering the short distance: about 10 euros to go up the hill in a taxi and about 50 euros to go on a horse and carriage ride (35 euros if you haggle a bit).
On Foot: Walking into town is good recreation for reasonably fit travelers but can be very difficult for anyone who is even minimally mobility-impaired, as it is a steep climb, and summer temperatures can be steamy. Additionally, it's a quarter-mile trek just to the port exit gate, and there are no benches along the way for resting.
By Lift: Perhaps the best way to get to the old city is via the Upper Barrakka lift (elevator) linking the harbor with the Upper city center, and it's a bargain at one euro for a roundtrip. The two lifts each carry up to 21 passengers at a time, which means they get a little backed up when cruise ship passengers are first allowed down the gangway. It's open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and it's best if you have a one euro coin ready, although there frequently is someone standing by to make change.
By Bus or Ferry: There are reasonably priced public buses that can take you to various spots on the island, including the ancient walled city of Mdina. There are also ferries that can take you to Gozo and Comino. The bus terminal area is just outside the upper town. (Ask a local or someone at the tourist information center if you can't find it.) Pay careful attention to return timetables so you don't miss your ship's departure time.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Currency is the euro. Visit www.xe.com or www.oanda.com for conversion rates. U.S. dollars are not accepted in many establishments, but major credit cards are good in most shops and restaurants. Most hotels and major stores will accept payment in dollars and pounds, although conversion charges may be applied.
Several banks in Malta are open Monday through Saturday, and you'll find several well-placed ATMs on the main shopping road and in the Valletta Waterfront complex at the cruise ship terminal.
Both Maltese and English are the official languages of Malta, and English is widely spoken. Maltese traces its roots to Lebanese and includes Arabic and European influences.