One of the most underrated towns in Malta for tourism is definitely Floriana probably overshadowed by its grand and popular neighbour, Valletta, Malta’s capital city. But ignoring Floriana and leaving it out of your itinerary would be a mistake. This town has a lot to offer and might be a good idea to include it in your plan for a holiday in the centre of Malta.
Why visit Floriana?
For starters, it’s history. Floriana has a rich religious and cultural history. It also makes part of the central grand harbour archipelago and it a stone-throw away from the beautiful capital city of Valletta. Floriana is home to popular hotels and accommodation. The granaries of Floriana are of impressive proportions and also offer an attraction on their own. The Granaries used to be used as huge store facilities for grain imported from Sicily. This site is where most of the major big concerts take place when a famous singer tours this part of the Mediterranean.
A Mecca for music festivals
One thing which definitely puts Floriana on the map of the world is its hosting of some incredible concerts by very popular artists. The main stage which is set up on the Granaries has welcomed big names such as Zucchero (who came to Malta on multiple occasions) and Maltese, world-renowned tenor Joseph Calleja who still holds a free concert every year. But that is not all. Over the past years (since 2007 to be exact) Malta and Floriana have been the hosts of the renowned Isle of MTV concert. The concert has brought with it top artists such as Lady Gaga, Snoop Dogg, Akon, Enrique Iglesias and Maroon 5 among many others. The concerts have been attracting crowds of all age and gender in their thousands and with every edition, the number simply grows stronger.
Originally known as Borgo Vilhena, Floriana has a long and deeply rooted presence in the history of this part of Malta. With a population of just about 2,000 people, this town has produced its fair share of Maltese icons. The composer of the Maltese national anthem Robert Sammut was born here as well as Dun Mauro Caruana a former Bishop and Maria Grech Ganado, the poet and politician Herbert Ganado. The name ‘Floriana’ is derived from the surname of an Italian Military engineer who designed this town, a certain Pietro Paolo Floriani. Floriana started to be slowly populated in the mid 1600s when the Floriana Lines were being built. Legend has it that St Publius used to live in Floriana and had received St Paul after the shipwreck in 60A.D.
In time Floriana became known as the host for grand festivities particularly the carnival floats parade in St Anne Street. The Granaries also played a role in its interesting history as twice it hosted Pope John Paul II.
Where is Floriana located?
Floriana is the entry point just before the capital city of Valletta. The two are in fact separated by a short walk. Floriana sits in the very heart of the Maltese islands with roads leading to all the bustling and major cities in Malta. It does not sit on the coast but the sea is still very much close by. The actual borders of Floriana have been the subject of much heated debate. There are those who argue that the Triton Fountain is part of Valletta while others think that the iconic entry to the capital is part of Floriana. For anyone visiting Malta on holiday this debate might not make much difference and for this reason, the Triton Fountain will be included in our guide to Floriana (With apologies to Valletta!)
How to get to Floriana
In general the rule is that all the busses that go to Valletta, are passing through Floriana.
Catch the X4 as your direct bus from the airport.
As explained earlier, Valletta and Floriana are literally touching so for this one occasion we’d invite you to walk to Floriana.
Things to do in Floriana
Being particularly small-sized, Floriana makes for a perfect walking trip. Here’s all you can do or visit:
- Walk next to the Triton Fountain. A beautiful, national monument which has been recently restored to former glory. If you go by bus, the fountain is impossible to miss as it sits just in front of the bus terminus.
- Visit the main monuments namely the Christ the King Monument and the Independence Monument. The two are very close to each other.
- Take a walk at the Mall Gardens. A 400-metre-long walk which used to be the knight’s recreation area. Now home to even more monuments and stray cats lying about in the sun.
- Visit the Granaries. Also known as Pjazza San Publiju.
- Visit the iconic St Publius church, patron saint of Floriana.
- Take a walk at the Argotti Botanical Gardens.
Where to eat and drink in Floriana
Like many towns in Malta, Floriana takes on a more vivid look after sunset. Going out for a drink in this part of Malta is an attraction of its own.
- Olive House – Offering Lebanese and Middle Eastern food inspired by true street food from around the region.
- Dinner in the sky – A unique culinary experience combined with exceptional entertainment and, since you’re literally in the air, amazing views. (location change every year so check their website for more information)
- Haywharf Restaurant and Clubhouse – Promising “a taste of Europe” this place offers Mediterranean Cuisine in its restaurant downstairs while upstairs is dedicated for a clubhouse overlooking the harbour.
- Tad-dulcier – An artisan bakery perfect for breakfast or lunch. Check out their homemade cakes.
- Il-Gazin Vilhena Band Club -This is the one place you must visit when looking for an authentic bar experience in Floriana. This is not a typical band club and having a drink here you’ll see exactly why. The bar offers a great selection of beers and drinks. They also have live entertainment weekly. The staff is friendly, drinks are amazing and make sure you try their amazing Maltese Ftira! Here is their Facebook page to check the schedule of live music events.
Don’t miss Floriana’s local religious feast St Publius which is celebrated two weeks after Easter!