There is a wide choice, from small boutiques to department stores. Fine-quality gold and silver jewellery are good buys. There is a daily covered food market and open-air street market.
The daytime brings a mixture of historic and cultural sites, including the Grand Master's palace, St John's co-cathedral and museum, outstanding views of the Grand Harbour from Upper and Lower Barracca Gardens, a great many churches, and 16th-century Fort St Elmo.
A more sophisticated evening with a theatre and cinemas. A great choice of eateries, from cafes to burger bars and a few good restaurants.
Among Valletta's many fine gardens are the Upper Barrakka Gardens, originally the private gardens of the Italian Knights of St John, where you can get a magnificent view of Grand Harbour and the Cottonera. St John's Co-Cathedral and Museum presents an austere facade, but the interior is a baroque masterpiece, with a patchwork of marble tombstones set in the floor commemorating the knights of old. The museum houses a collection of outstanding Flemish tapestries and two paintings by the Italian master Caravaggio.
The city's other major museum, the Palace of the Grand Masters, is also the seat of the president and parliament. It's loaded with tapestries, frescoes and friezes commemorating the Great Siege. Fort St Elmo, at the northeast tip of the city, features guides dressed as knights and re-stagings of historic battles.
With 30m (98ft) of visibility, warm water and dramatic undersea vistas, Malta has great diving. Gozo has the best spots, including the waters off the northeast coast near Marsalforn. St George's Bay, on the southeast coast, is another good place for a plunge. Comino also has good dive spots, including a 40m (120ft) drop-off at Ras I-Irieqa on the southwest tip of the island.
Despite its rocky coastline, Malta has some good beaches. Gnejna and Golden Bays, on the northwest coast, and St George's Bay have warm, calm waters and good sandy strands. Ramla Bay has Gozo's best beach.
All the islands in the archipelago are excellent for walking. Gozo and Comino are small enough to be covered by foot in a day or less, and nothing is really very far from anything else on Malta.
Local excursions consist of cruises to creeks, harbours and fortifications. Island of Gozo, including Ggantija temples, the Citadel and fishing villages. Blue Grotto; boat trip inside sea caves with bright, clear water. Mdina; fortified medieval city, with catacombs just outside. Prehistoric temples and cave. Boat trip to Comino, a tiny island, with picnic and swimming. Full-day cruise around the Maltese Islands.