Malta. Mdina by bus, and the best of Valetta.

The Phoenicians established a community in Malta in the 8th Century BC. However, evidence of older civilisations is still being discovered in Malta. Some digs are discovering a new history to mankind that challenges the dates used by conventional teachings as they date back some six thousand years. The Romans took it shortly after the Phoenicians, then throughout history, the uniquely strategic island has been subject to war after war, with invaders obliterating  indigenous people. The word genocide has been used as vast numbers were killed by invaders repeatedly. It means Malta has much history as well as Popeye Village and active film studios. It has an incredible scheduled bus service so you can visit beaches or places of interest or just enjoy Valetta. Jean takes you to Mdina which was the capital until 1530, when it was invaded by the order of St John who moved the centre. Then she shows you Valetta.

Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe. After the bus to Mdina, Jean walks around Valetta. Valletta has the deepest natural harbour in the Mediterranean and the fortifications show the importance of her strategic position. Just as it serves as a transit port for fly-cruise which is shown at the end of the film. Malta’s Grand Harbour earned her the George Cross in WWII. Sailing in or out of Valletta is a spectacular skyline of cultures and history.

If you want to walk off the buffet, the town is a 20-minute steep climb. At the end of the port road turn left up the hill and take the steps on the right. If you want the lift, turn right, past the hop on hop off buses and the elevator is as shown in the film, just a few hundred meters from the terminal. Valletta is a great city to stroll around. Print the map on left.

Valletta contains many buildings from the 16th century, built during the rule of the Order of St. John also known as Knights Hospitaller. We take you from the lift, the main square and Parliament building, down past the original palace and courts where Napoleon once stayed, down to St John’s Cathedral (separate film of the inside) down to the Grandmaster’s Palace, beyond to an older Palace in the terrace as you walk down to Fort St. Elmo at the port and the Knights hospital. We walk up via another route and find the Market and St Paul’s Shipwreck Church. Then up past the Roman Theatre to the Millennium Walkway and the new Square featuring Triton’s fountain. The bus garage is just at the side.




Valetta is an easy city to discover. There is a lot to see, and many places to eat and drink. Much of the fortress and bastion were built around the Grand Harbour. It dates to 1565, and the original fortifications were there earlier under the Ottomans.

If you are interested in why Malta is the Hollywood of the Mediterranean where films like Captain Philips were shot, then read our filming on Malta blog by movie director and stuntman Stuart St Paul.

Marella Cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean – click here for Marella Cruise’s own web site – Eastern Mediterranean Cruise deals page

Marella Tours are probably similar to other ships, these include – Malta Panoramic – This driving tour takes in some of Malta’s most famous sights – everything from bomb-proof buildings to natural wonders are on the agenda. First up, you’ll set off on the coach and head for the historic city of Vittoriosa, where you’ll get to see the Church of St Lawrence, which is home to the observation tower used by Grand Master La Vallette during the siege of 1565. From here, it’s on to Marsaxlokk, Malta’s largest fishing village, where you’ll have some time to explore before getting back on the coach. Next up, you’ll drive through some tiny villages before reaching the Blue Grotto – a cluster of picturesque sea caverns on the south coast. Then, you’ll pass through the town of Girgenti, home of the Prime Minister’s summer residence, before making tracks for the Dingli Cliffs – Malta’s highest point. From here, you’ll drive through Rabat, and around the edges of Medina, Malta’s old capital city. Lastly, there’s a stop in the town of Mosta, which is famous for its church, which was hit by a shell bomb in World War II. The bomb went through the property but, miraculously, didn’t explode.

Highlights of Malta – Your tour kicks off just a short coach ride from the capital with a visit to the ‘Malta Experience’ – a spectacular show bringing to life more than 7,000 years of history, followed by a visit to the Barrakka Gardens, Valletta’s most beautiful garden with a breath-taking view of the Grand Harbour and the old towns of Senglea and Vittoriosa. Afterwards, you will have the opportunity to walk the main attractions of Valletta like the exterior of the Grandmaster’s Palace, the House of Parliament and the outside of Castille Palace. You then make your way to Mdina, the ancient capital city, for a wander around the bastions and ramparts. You’ll also get the chance to go inside the beautiful St Paul’s Cathedral. Next comes Rabat, a town just outside Mdina, famous for its crafts and local trades. Here, you’ll make one last stop at the ‘Tales of the Silent City’, where you’ll get some free time to shop for take-home trinkets, before re-boarding the ship. 

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