Decisions regarding the design, conservation and regeneration of urban areas are influenced by a number of factors. In cities that function as national monuments, matters of national identity and tourism are inevitably prioritized. While these objectives may be compatible, there are concerns that good planning practice and liveability of cities is compromised. This paper analyses these issues through a detailed analysis of Valletta, the capital city of Malta. The paper concludes that an over-emphasis on tourism and national projects has affected Valletta's liveability and, paradoxically, it has made the city less attractive to tourists and less representative of Malta.