Valletta and Leeuwarden ready to celebrate as 2018 European capitals of culture; Alex Butler; Lonely Planet

Malta – City of Valletta

Travellers looking to get off-the-beaten path in Europe this year should look no further than the cities of Valletta and Leeuwarden, which are both celebrating their role as a 2018 European Capital of Culture.

The Maltese capital and the Dutch city will hold the title for 2018, celebrating with cultural programmes that are sure to show visitors a new side of the lesser-visited cities.

The city of Valletta is a Unesco World Heritage Site, containing a staggering number of historic sites on a tiny peninsula. The entire Mediterranean country covers just over 300 sq km – but there is plenty for visitors to see and do while they explore the archipelago. Malta is currently holding a week-long celebration to kick-off its cultural programme, with huge crowds expecting to celebrate on Saturday. The Times of Malta reports that 100,000 people are expected to take part in celebrations in Triton Square, St George’s Square, Castille Square and St John’s Square.

But if you can’t make it there in time for this weekend, throughout the year there will be festivals like the Valletta International Baroque Festival, art exhibitions, film exhibitions and much more.

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