Three cannons on the coast of Valletta, Malta
Despite its small size, Malta's history is pretty epic. The audio-visual presentation at Valletta's Malta Experience Museum takes less than an hour of your time and explains everything from the country's early origins as a trade hub to its role in the World War II resistance movements. Or check out Neolithic pottery and prehistoric art at the National Museum of Archaeology.
St. John's Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta
Valletta's streets tell a living history, from churches like St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral and St. John's Co-Cathedral, to military buildings such as Fort St. Elmo and the Lascaris War Rooms. Don't miss the Grand Master's Palace, with everything from 16th-century armor to 18th-century tapestries depicting the first expeditions to the New World.
If you still doubt whether Malta is the sparkling treasure it appears to be from afar, take a walk around Valletta's imposing city walls. Hike up to their highest point at Upper Baracca Gardens, where you'll be met with gorgeous views of the historic city and the sparkling blue Mediterranean.
Malta's culinary heritage is as eclectic as the rest of its history, with a mix of North African and European influences. Head to Valletta's port area to dine at one of the many seafood-focused restaurants for dishes like pixxispad, swordfrish fried in olive oil with lemon. Or seek out heartier fare like stuffat tal-fenek, a rabbit stew, or bragioli — thin slices of beef stuffed with bacon, egg and breadcrumbs and slowly cooked in red wine sauce.
If you're looking for postcards, keychains and other trinkets, check out the gift shop of the Malta Experience. For a more eclectic shopping experience, take a stroll down the city's Republic street, where vendors sell artisanal Maltese items like blown glass, filligree jewelry and pottery.
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