As the exploration of my new expat home continues, I opted for a free walking tour of Valletta with Colour My Travel. Colour My Travel offers a wide variety of tours in the area, including ghost tours and full-day private tours of the island.
Please note: I do not offer walking tours of Valletta! I took this tour and am offering a review of my experience. I get emails all the time from cruise shippers looking for a tour guide…please contact Colour My Travel instead 🙂
The walking tour of Valletta piqued my interest after I did a bit of wandering around on my own but knew I was missing stories and insights behind what I saw. As in all places, a cursory visit glazes over the best parts of history. That’s where a knowledgeable local guide comes in to save the day!
The view of Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, from across the bay in Sliema.
My local guide was Jennifer, a history teacher who plays tour guide to curious visitors in her spare time. As a child of two teachers, I loved seeing her passion for conveying her interests to newcomers. In my opinion, the best teachers are born teachers – they love to impart knowledge, to share their passion, and to display a bit of artistry in their presentation. Teachers who draw you in and inspire you to learn more…those are the ones born to be teachers. Jennifer is one of those people.
She led our somewhat large group on a two-hour walking tour of the city, stopping frequently to convey stories and to point out interesting sites for further independent investigation. Unless you’re on a full day tour of a place, it’s unlikely that you’ll enter museums or historical buildings during the tour. You’re encouraged to do so after the tour, but typically not during.
Walking tours are designed to show you the best points of interest, to explain in further detail the history behind each one, and to offer an overview of the city. They provide context for what you see and lay the groundwork for a better understanding of the place, including its history, culture, politics, and resources.
Walking tours are a great way to enjoy a glimpse into a place while visiting, and a fantastic way for me to learn more about my new expat home!
Free Walking Tour of Valletta
The route we took for our free walking tour of Valletta started at the Renzo Piano Steps just inside the city gate. We walked only 1.5km total, so this isn’t a hardcore walking tour that will leave you trailing behind. The points of interest are frequent and very close together. Considering the entire city is only 0.8 square kilometers, you couldn’t walk too far anyway!
The tour started at 5pm, which was ideal for avoiding the midday sun and offered plenty of opportunities to stand in the long shadows wherever we stopped. It was also very conveniently timed to watch the daily 4pm cannon firing at the Saluting Battery. I watched from the Upper Barrakka Gardens as the 4pm cannon shot, and then stuck around for the 4:30pm full gun salute as a VIP boat cruised under the battery below.
I recommend you do the same (although you’re not likely to catch a full gun salute since that was a special occasion) and enjoy relaxing in the beautiful gardens before meeting for the tour.
Once the tour started, we stopped by multiple statues and important buildings. We were told the history of each and what was represented – or missing – from their facades. We learned about the construction of the city and its many inhabitants since that time. Each group encountered their own issues, from Napoleon’s soldiers struggling against a Maltese revolt to locals suffering through bombing barrages during World War II.
We learned about prominent foreign visitors and even someone who never actually stepped foot in Malta but still has a statue in a central location. We learned some of the sordid stories of Valletta residents alongside stories of the famed artistry and architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
When in Valletta, remember to look up. The architecture is famously beautiful.
We learned so much that I took six pages of hand-written notes! Sure, you could call me a nerd I guess. But you know who benefits from all that note-taking? Not you, dear readers, because I never want to spoil the tour. I want you to come and take this tour with Jennifer to learn for yourself!
But, otherwise, my family and friends benefit because I’ll undoubtedly talk their ears off when they visit as I share all that I’ve learned. Again, child of two teachers right here, so I can’t help but continuously say, “Did you know…?” #Genetics.
Colour My Travel Tours in Malta
While I can’t personally vouch for the other tours offered by Colour My Travel in Malta, I am intrigued by their other offerings. Take a look at the various ghost tours and in-depth city tours they provide and be sure to check them out
if when you visit Malta.
Details for the Free Walking Tour of Valletta with Colour My Travel:
Tour Guide: My guide was Jennifer, whom I highly recommend!
Tour Timing: We started just after 5pm with a chat on the Renzo Piano Steps and we finished by the Grandmaster’s Palace just before 7pm.
Tour Meeting Point: The Renzo Piano Steps at the entry gate of the city. If you take a bus to Valletta, the terminus is just outside the gate. If you take the ferry from Sliema, follow the road uphill and turn right onto Triq Zekka. This leads you up to Hastings Garden, which is lovely to walk along for views over the city wall. You’ll find the long staircase heading down to the left of the garden.
Tour Cost: Free! But, as with all free tours, tips are accepted at the end. I always encourage you to reward a good guide for his/her time and expertise! It’s also important to note that some free walking tour companies charge their guides a per-person fee. That means the guide only keeps the balance after paying the company (payment is meant to cover advertising and administrative costs). I don’t know if that’s how Colour My Travel operates, but I do know other companies elsewhere in Europe do that. Even if you pay full price for a tour, please remember to tip for good service!
General Advice: Valletta is a hilly city so please wear good walking shoes. Dress appropriately for the weather. If you’re taking a midday tour, hats and sunscreen are your best friends! Since I took a 5pm tour in early May, when in the shade it was a little chilly. Several people were dressed for summer heat and ended up covered in goosebumps. Maybe this is a leftover from my time in Scotland, but I always have layer options with me. A scarf and a sweater fit nicely inside a small bag and both came in handy by the time I got home!
Check out Colour My Travel on TripAdvisor for reviews from other visitors.
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