Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Valletta Waterfront

After the Freedom Day Regatta last Saturday we headed over to the Valletta waterfront for lunch at Tal Kaptan restaurant. We talked for hours over wine and a Maltese platter of bigilla (bean dip), broad beans, sun dried tomatoes, pita, galletti (water crackers), olives, and peppered gozitan cheese. Believe it or not, this was our first Maltese platter in the four years we've been visiting and living in Malta. I can't believe we had waited this long to try it! Highly recommended (but quite salty - hence the two bottles of wine).

The history of the Valletta waterfront stretches back over 250 years, when Grand Master Pinto built stores on this site used by the Knights of St John and merchants for unloading their wares. Pinto's Wharf, as locals called it, was heavily damaged during World War II. The area was recently renovated by a private company and now functions as Malta's cruise ship port. We met a couple in Canada last winter who had been on a Mediterranean cruise that stopped in Malta and they said it was the prettiest port they visited. It's not hard to believe.

Imagine gliding into the Grand Harbour on a cruise ship, past towering golden bastions and docking next to this quaint and colourful line of buildings. The 'vaults' of Pinto's Wharf house cafes, bars, restaurants, jewelry, book, and souvenir shops. Construction of an elevator on the Valletta Waterfront to Upper Barraka Gardens is still ongoing and scheduled to be completed later this year. Parking at Valletta Waterfront (discretely tucked behind the dummy facades of several stores) is just €2.50 after 6pm, but its much easier to access by taking the bus and walking through a secret tunnel. Sounds intriguing, I know. I'll explain below.

The Valletta Waterfront is also a great place to see the Malta International Fireworks Festival, which launched its 2012 programme and a brand-new web site last week. The festival is now one week long with events held throughout the island (not just in Valletta), but the biggest bang is still April 29th-May 1st over the Grand Harbour. I can't even begin to tell you how excited we are for this event. We have been travelling every year around this time and always manage to miss it, but not this year! Just look at these photos!

- Jess

pinto's wharf

the valletta waterfront

chapel at the valletta waterfront

local knowledge tip!
for easy access to the valletta waterfront from the valletta bus terminus, take the elevator in the MCP car park to the bottom floor (-6). enter the main square (it's open to the sky) and proceed towards the car tunnel to your left. this tunnel has a pedestrian path and leads directly to the valletta waterfront, saving you the long and winding walk to the waterfront above ground. the elevator in the MCP car park operates until early in the morning. and the tunnel is really cool, it's carved out of solid limestone!


  1. what a neat tunnel. you guys have been to so many amazing places - i've just added a ton more to my list while perusing your site.

    1. So have you! Hope you make it to Malta someday :)

  2. Your blog is chock full of information. We are on a fact finding mission. I know we would love to live here..but.. Wish l'd read your Comino post. It was so full of tourists like us, we did not enjoy it, and it was cloudy. The sun came out as we were leaving..;0( but it was still nice to see. We plan on going to Valleta today, so l came to check out your blog before unlike yesterday. We love this island. There really is a lot to see..


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