Where to stay in Malta when visiting? Malta is quite small, smaller than you would think when exploring this fascinating island country. This is because every area is so different from the next. One question I have personally had and have seen often online, is where to stay when visiting Malta? This post will cover the areas that I have personally explored myself, hopefully the advice from my experiences will help a bit towards making the right decision on where to stay on your visit to Malta.
This area is very central for tourist activities with easy access to other parts of the island. It has a great selection of bars and restaurants with a relaxed atmosphere. It also has a lot of Maltese charm especially when you wander away from the seafront and into the narrow streets of the town. I live in Sliema and I absolutely love it, its walking distance to the seafront, also to neighbouring St Julian’s, Gzira and it even takes me only 20 minutes to walk to Ta’ Xbiex. Gzira is another area that is popular to stay in when visiting, it is also central for tourist activities and accommodation prices can be lower in this area.
Sliema’s streets are dotted with local stores selling everything from fresh vegetables, pet supplies, food, plants, clothing and even the kitchen sink. There are little cafes and bars which have a more local atmosphere, compared to the restaurants and bars closer to the seafront which are frequented by tourists. This area is popular to live in for expats but also has a very large Maltese community.
The capital of Malta Valletta, is a city packed with history and culture. It is buzzing during the day with locals and tourists shopping and visiting the many museums, cafes, bars and restaurants that the city has to offer. If you enjoy shopping then Valletta is the place to be. There are many independent stores and international brands along Republic Street and the side streets that run off of it. However I wouldn’t call Malta a shopping destination, as far as shopping destinations go, but there is definitely some shopping to do.
At night Valletta calms down a lot, so it is definitely not the place to stay if you want to party till the sun comes up. If you prefer something a bit more quite and relaxed then Valletta is a good place to consider.
St Julian’s is the party town of Malta with lots of restaurants ranging from cheap to expensive and many late night bars where you can get your groove on all night long. Many nightclubs close at around 6am so if you are staying around this area, especially in Paceville, don’t expect to get much sleep. If you choose not to stay in Paceville there are some quieter areas where you can get some peace, but you are still a short distance away from all the excitement. I lived in St Julian’s my first 5 months living in Malta and there is lots to do and lots to explore in this area, during the day and in the evening. It is walking distance from Sliema if you looking for a quieter night out and it comes with its very own sandy beach which is mostly a rare find in Malta. There are also some casino’s where you can go try your luck, and places selling 50 shots for a little as €19,50 if that is your kind of thing.
St Paul’s, Bugibba & Qawra
These 3 towns St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba & Qawra are next to each other and are located on the north side of the island. I have decided to list them together because if you stay in one you will most likely end up enjoying all of them. These areas are very popular amongst British expats and retirees. They also have a lot less traffic compared to Sliema, St Julian’s and their surrounding areas. Because of its large expat community there are many pubs and cafes with a UK theme, some owned by British expats and some by Maltese. This area is also quite a lot cheaper for accommodation and has a few all inclusive hotels. Food and drinks at restaurants are also a bit cheaper compared to the above mentioned areas. If you prefer to spend the day on a beach that is not too crowded, then these areas are good to visit. It is about a 40 minute bus ride to Sliema, but you are much closer to the ferry which takes you to Gozo.
Staying on the island of Gozo is a very different experience compared to staying on Malta’s largest island. If you are looking for some peace and the feeling of being removed from the rest of the world, then a stay on Gozo is for you. The island is 67 square kilometres and features many rolling hills, amazing cliffs and many historical locations. There is a lot to do and see on the island so you can either spend your whole holiday just exploring Gozo or take a ferry to Malta, which only takes 20 minutes. Gozo is also a bit cheaper for accommodation and if you like a more traditional stay there are many renovated farm houses which can be rented. Having a car is recommended when staying on Gozo but there are buses which can take you to where you want to go, with a bit of patience.
Of course Malta has a lot more areas to offer which aren’t listed here. These are the ones that I have had the pleasure of exploring the most, and can give my best advice and opinion on. I also feel that these are the best areas to stay in when visiting Malta, because they are all well located to explore the 3 islands.
Pictures by Schei Media – St Paul’s Bay picture by wikipedia