Where to Stay in Malta
The masterful capital city of Valletta has drawn travellers to Malata from across the globe. And while the 16th century wall city - built in immaculate stone, with an eye for opulence - definitely deserves all the attention, the central Mediterranean island has so much more to offer! Starting from bustling resort towns to quiter coves to diving destinations to rustic fishing village settings, the list prospects of prospects are truly endless.
Malta is small and easily navigable island so no nook or cranny is off limits. That, however, widens your options in terms of choosing a base for your vacation quite a lot. But we have come up with just the sort of comprehensive guide that you need. Here, we have listed some of the best neighborhoods of Malta and what they might have in store for you traveler!
The cultural and administrative capital of the island nation, Valletta is the go-to choice for most first-time travellers flying into Malta. The city - much of its fortified part at least - was built in the 1500s following an Ottoman siege. The old-world quarters stand testament to the rich past; not to mention, they're an absolute sight to behold!
Republic Street is a great start on point for your city tours as it is the central thoroughfare, around which most of the major landmarks are located. The cityscape is mixed with old-world Rococo and Baroque buildings and modernist architecture offering a nice blend; rest assured, you're likely to come across a breathtaking facade at just about every turn.
Among some of the must-visit spots in Valletta are St. John's Co-Cathedral, one of the city's oldest landmarks and a standout example of baroque architecture; the Auberge de Castille and Grandmaster's Palace, now housing the Prime Minister and Parliament respectively; and the Barrakka Gardens, the highest points of the city walls known for the Saluting Battery and panoramic views of the harbour.
Valletta is also the centre of both performing and visual arts, with MUŻA (National Museum of Arts) housing some of the finest permanent displays of European art. The connection goes beyond museums as the St. John's Co-Cathedral is also home to the largest piece of art by Italian painter Caravaggio. Performance venues including the Manoel Theatre - one of the oldest in Europe - and the Pjazza Teatru Rjal only add to the appeal.
As the capital city, Valletta is one of the most accessible of all the towns in Malta. Hotels and accommodation options are in plenty and among some of the finest that the island has to offer.
And for all the talk about culture, historic quarters and old walled cities, Malta is after all an island holiday destination. And there are very few towns here that can quite match the seaside promenades on offer in Sliema, a small coastal town located just slightly north of the island's capital city.
The town's coastline, also referred to as the Sliema Front, is one of the most frequented parts of the island. Starting from waterfront restaurants to open-air barbecue spots to quieter trails, the stretch of shore here has everything that you could ask for. Drop by to discover all the options and then you can decide between the romantic dinners, casual drinks or evening strolls.
Also popular with travellers are some of the neighborhood shopping venues and rock beaches. The Point Shopping Mall and Pjazza Tigne have a varied mix of eateries as well as big brand stores bustling with activity, while Exiles beach and Tigne Point offer ruins of forts and quaint viewing points.
And for your time away from the shore, Sliema also has plenty of offer. The town is home to some of the most stylish and affluent quarters in all of Malta and there's plenty that you'll find worth marvelling at. Villas and mansions - especially the ones located around the central thoroughfares - are definitely worth a second look.
Sliema is just a short 15-minute drive from the capital city, so accessibility should really be a non-issue. The town’s affluent quarters offer a lot of fancy accommodation options and homestays; Sliema can be on the pricier side when it comes to hotels and resort options, but they are amongst some of the most luxurious.
The other seaside town known for its lively vibe is the St. Julian's, which sits atop the eponymously named St. John's Bay. The town, however, ditches it's neighbor Sliema'a overall affluent vibe in favour of a more free-spirited boho atmosphere and a 24/7 lifestyle that draws in a large chunk of the younger travellers coming into Malta.
When in St. Julian's, you'll have an endless list of restaurants and bars to choose from for your lunches and evening drinks, so make sure you explore all the options on offer before taking your pick.
The establishments in the southern sub-district of Paceville stay open till late into the night and offer the area an alternative appeal; streets in the vicinity also have a lot of nightclubs and casinos - Casino Malta and Portomaso Casino being the major draws - that really come alive after sundown.
St. Julian's is also home to some of the busiest beaches in Malta. Among the most frequented by travellers are the St. George's Bay, best suited for swimming, sunbathing and afternoon drinks as well as the Balluta Bay Beach, a small sandy offering incomparable views of the city landmarks in tye horizon. The beaches in and around St. Julian's can get crowded during the peak season, so make sure you plan your visit well.
St. Julian's lies practically adjacent to the sister two of Sliema. It is fairly easy to reach your hotel and most cabs would drive you right to the destination. Seaside resorts with ocean facing rooms are the go-to choice for travellers looking for a place in the busy town.
Next up on the list of neighborhoods is the eclectic Mellieha. With an appeal spread over masterfully repurposed film sets to some of the island's most pristine beaches to diving destinations and prospect of short trips to nearby islands, this northern town is really hard to box.
We'll get you started off with the beaches first then. If you are looking for coves that are relatively underexploited and grander in size, then Mellieha might just be the place for you. To make the best of your experience, though, you might want to stay clear of some mainstream names. Instead drop by the likes of Golden Bay and Riviera Beach, soft sandy strips sheltered by rocky mountains that make for perfect spots for long walks and sunset viewings.
Moving on to one of the most interesting attractions of the island, the Popeye Village is a theme park like you've never seen before. Built to serve as the set for the 1980 live-action film of the same name, the location has since been converted into its current state of a theme park.
Today, you can walk around the dreamscape of shackled cotton-candy coloured houses built atop the majestic-looking rocky cliffs, watch shows at make-shift theatres, take boat rides around the coast and even meet Popoye the Sailor Olive Oyl on your tour!
Mellieha is also one of the best locations to arrange for tours of nearby village and smaller islands. Ferry services to Gozo, Comino and St. Paul's Island can be availed from the Cirkewwa harbour. The harbor is also extremely popular with divers, who come to explore the debris of MV Rozi and patrol boat P29, both of which were scuttled into the artificial reef after being decommissioned.
The town of Rabat - one of the only names on the list that is located on the western coast of the island - is one that is the standout example of the Malta's rustic old-world charm. Old city walls meander along the border of the town, which in itself comprises a labyrinth of narrow alleyways and lamppost-laden cobblestone streets.
It goes without saying that Rabat is one of the most pedestrian-friendly of all the towns in Malta. A walk along the picturesque setting will have you come across such historic buildings as the 16th century palazzo Casa Bernard and the remains of a Roman villa at Domvs Romana as well as several others pictures-prefect mansions and hoses; and all of it comes across as even more dreamlike in the evening's warm lamppost lighting.
Rabat is also one of the best place to visit if you're looking to explore some of Malta's inland town. Mdina, the fortified ancient capital of the island lies on the western end: the quarters are guarded by the Baroque-styled Mdina Gate and exudes a certain historic character. Such exhibition halls as the Tales of Two Silent cities and Palazzo Falson - all housed in medieval-era buildings - house artefacts from antiquity.
The presence of famed catacombs - that served as cemeteries in the past - as well as extended fortifications that run deep into the forests only add to Rabat's historic appeal. You can get guided tours of the St. Paul's Catacombs, which is the most prominent in the region or choose to go on an expedition through the popular walk-in trails—Victoria and Dwerja Lines.
Rabat doesn't have the highest concentration of hotels or big resorts, but you might still enjoy a stay at one of the many intimate homestays and/or boutique hotel. The town is easily accessible by road and is only abouta 20-25 minute drive from both the airport and the capital city.
And for the last neighborhood on the list, we bring to you the small seaside town on the main island Marsaxlokk. Located in the southeastern end of the island and centred around the stunning Lady of the Rosary parish, this small village brings together all the small elements that make Malta such an endearing vacation prospect.
It all starts with the beautiful coast, one that has just the right mix of activity and calm. You'll find plenty of modern entertainment options to indulge in around the Port de Marsaxlokk, including restaurants (more on that a little later), sporting fields and ferry rides. But make sure to travel a little farther out as Marsaxlokk has some of the island's best viewing points and stunning land formations.
Chief amongst the sites to visit away from the city centre are the St. John's Pool, a scintillating naturally-created pool of water surrounded by rugged rock formations; the Il-Kalanka, a rocky beach and it's accompanying lighthouse complex; and the Forti Delimara, a bit of a hideout fort built by the British that doubles as a viewing point for the open sea!
And going back to the town's restaurants, they're some of the local favourites when it comes to seafood or even the must-try portions of the Maltese own version of a pasta dish—kusksu. Most of the establishments get the freshest possible suppliers from local fishermen and the seafront Marsaxlokk Market.
The Marsaxlokk market is fairly close to the city harbour, which in itself is a big draw for its several colourful luzzu and kajjik that are parked along it so make sure you drop by. It is also one of the major transportation hubs in the southern part of the island and most of Marsaxlokk's top hotel and accommodation options are centred around it.
And that's our complete list from Malta. Take a look and have a great time planning your next vacation; a Mediterranean getaway awaits!