Perfect your timing
Over the course of the year, Valletta enjoys several carnivals, feasts and celebrations. If you time your date in Valletta correctly, a walk up and down Valletta’s Republic Street would be entertainment enough. For example, village feasts take place monthly around the island of Malta depending on which village you would like to celebrate with. Valletta usually celebrates its feast in October. With feasts boasting processions, street entertainment, dancers, live music, food stalls and spectacular fireworks, and carnivals also incorporating parade floats of true works of art, the vibrant city becomes an even more impressive date location just by sitting and taking everything in.
Experience history come alive
Malta 5D is a great place for a fun date. Although the show is relatively short, you can experience Malta’s history at a rapid pace in 3D from the (sort of) comfort of a moving seat. As well as taking in Malta’s vibrant and often turmoil-filled past, you will experience water sprays, blasts of air and even leg ticklers. Possibly not the longest date spent here but a fun place to either start or end.
Malta 5D, 7 Old Bakery Street, Valletta, Malta +356 2753 5001
Take in a performance at the Manoel
With a first performance taking place in 1732, shortly after it opened, the awe inspiring Manoel Theatre is still in full operation today. Initially built as a public theatre and to provide ‘honest’ entertainment, the theatre was the brainchild of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, António Manoel de Vilhena. Manoel de Vilhena personally funded the theatre’s construction. To be able to say you have seen a show at the Manoel in Valletta is quite something, especially in date terms. Their types of performance are quite broad so it is more than likely you will find something to suit your taste (and your date’s).
Manoel Theatre, 115 Triq it-Teatru l-Antik, Valletta, Malta +356 2122 2618
Drink to an icon
Though you are in the European Capital of Culture 2018, why not do something ‘British’ on your date? Just off Valletta’s Republic Street sits a little watering hole aptly named The Pub. This small place is a traditional, cosy English joint and is dedicated to British Actor Oliver Reed. While filming Gladiator in Malta, Reed made this his regular. Unfortunately in 1999 while filming, the infamous actor spent a night at The Pub where he downed pint after pint of lager, half a bottle of whiskey and 12 double rums while arm-wrestling with members of a visiting British Royal Navy Crew and insisting on buying all their drinks before collapsing. Oliver Reed passed away at The Pub. The place is now like a tiny museum, artefacts, news clippings, pictures, autographs and postcards from around the world adorn the walls and this makes a very notable place to enjoy a drink.
The Pub, 136 Archbishop Street, Valletta, Malta +356 7905 2522
Enjoy the open air
August 2013 saw the re-opening of Valletta’s open-air theatre Pjazza Teatru Rjal (Royal Opera House). Located at Valletta’s City Gates, the theatre was an enclosed space originally built in 1866 but in 1873 a fire completely destroyed its interior. Restored and reopened in 1877, World War II saw the theatre receive a direct bombing hit, which brought it to the ground. Today the open-air theatre stands among remaining ruins of where the original once stood and provides a diverse range of theatrical entertainment. With glorious weather nearly all year round in Malta and a bar situated below the theatre, you really can’t go wrong spending a date here.
A tour of the natural harbours
A relaxing way to take in the sights while enjoying each other’s company is on a harbour cruise. As if a date in Valletta wasn’t impressive enough, how about throwing a cruise into the mix? Local tour operators offer cruises of the Grand Harbour and Marsamxetto Harbour on the other side of Valletta alongside commentaries of Malta’s history, the two Great Sieges, the importance of both natural harbours and a first-hand closer look at the Three Cities of Cospicua, Senglea and Vittoriosa.
Take a karozzin ride
Traditional to Malta, a karozzin is a horse-drawn carriage and these are available across the island, in particular Mdina and Valletta. Dating back to the mid-19th century, the karozzin is the oldest method of transport in Malta, originally used for a variety of reasons from funerals to carrying servicemen to the ‘red light’ areas of Valletta. Today, the beautifully maintained carriages and well-looked-after horses are popular with visitors, and the driver will tell you the route you will take. More than likely including the outskirts of Valletta too, karozzin rides can be quite costly but the drivers are used to haggling, so don’t be afraid to do so to get the best price.
Valletta by train
For another great way to see the capital, head to the front of St John’s Cathedral to catch one of Malta’s Fun Trains. Located in most tourist areas across the island, these trains are an excellent way of seeing the the area. The train is trackless and runs on wheels through a set route around the city. A commentary plays along to coincide with the journey and the driver will stop for passengers to take some photographs should they wish. Valletta’s journey lasts 30 minutes and takes you through places you may not reach by foot.
Not just books
Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but don’t rule out Malta’s National Library as a possible date location. This grand building lies in the centre of Valletta and is a reference and research library. Aside from the museums and galleries, this one library holds fascinating artefacts relating Malta’s rich history and visitors are permitted access to numerous collections. From illuminated manuscripts to curiosities to archives of the Order of St John, the National Library makes a perfect location for history enthusiasts and curious minds alike. Also home to temporary art exhibitions, once you have finished looking around you can pop outside to the popular Caffe Cordina and enjoy some refreshments.
National Library, 36 Old Treasury Street, Valletta, Malta +356 2124 3297
Coffee and cake
Immediately in front of the National Library is Caffe Cordina. Extremely popular, the cafe has plenty of seating both outside and inside. Originally founded in 1837, the Cordina family started out in a small outlet in the Maltese village of Bormla and over the decades progressed to their flagship place in Valletta. Serving light meals, soft and alcoholic drinks, Caffe Cordina also specialises in Maltese sweet delicacies and is most renowned for its coffee, ice creams and extensive cake menu.
Caffe Cordina, 244 Republic Street, Valletta, Malta +356 2065 0400
Build into your date a trip to Valletta’s Upper Barrakka Gardens shortly after 11am. The gardens are the viewing point of the oldest saluting battery in the world, still in operation. A commentary precedes the gun firing at noon sharp every day. This has taken place for centuries. With views across Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, the guns are positioned as a defence but also used to welcome visitors into the harbour.
Comedy and jazz
Feel like mixing things up a bit or can’t quite decide where to spend that date? Pop along to Django Jazz Bar for entertainment to suit a range of tastes. Despite the name, Django’s offers, in addition to live jazz music, live mic nights, comedy, swing, samba and Gypsy jazz to name a few. An intimate venue, vibrant and full of all walks of life with the main priority being that patrons enjoy themselves.
Django Jazz Bar, Republic Street, Valletta, Malta +356 9994 4939
Strait Street is infamous in Malta for being the hub of live entertainment for English, American and Maltese servicemen during the war. Also referred to as ‘The Gut’ at the same time, it was known for its ‘scarlet women’ also providing nighttime ‘entertainment’. Today, although many buildings remain the same on the outside, Strait Street attracts many visitors to its quaint, bespoke wine bars and eateries laying behind the original exteriors. Trabuxu Wine Bar located in Strait Street not only has its regular visitors, but also tourists and theatre goers alike who are all attracted by the vast selection of wine and expertly planned cheese menu. Each cheese has been personally selected to accompany the wines and can either be purchased by the gram or as a platter. Beginners are assisted in their choices by the expertly trained staff. The wine, the cheese, the location and the eclectic clientele make this place a fantastic date experience.
Trabuxu Wine Bar, 2 Strait Street, Valletta, Malta +356 2122 3036