Last updated on January 8th, 2019 at 07:31 am
In this post you’re going to discover all the best areas to stay in Malta in 2019
This is not just a list. I will show the best places to stay in Malta based on what you are looking for. And it’s all updated to 2019 (no old stuff)
As a young bloke, I was looking more for nightlife. Once I started travelling as a couple, romantic beaches were more important. Now I am more for family accommodations, a villa or resorts all-inclusive. Different phases of the life 🙂
The great thing about Malta is that you can find all the options, at a relatively small distance from the airport, close to amazing historical towns and at a great value too. Basically, you will not get bored
And today I’m going to show you how and where you can choose your place
…but let’s start with a map and the most beautiful areas.
These are the best 10 areas to stay in Malta. Each one has the own identity and a different reason to book the own stay. My personal suggestion is to book a car or take a bus for a few day-trips.
Starting from Valletta and Birgu the description of the areas follow an anti-clockwise direction
Valletta is the capital city of Malta, in fact, the smallest capital in the whole of Europe with a population of just ~6,000 people.
The city is the centre for the administrative and commercial activities of Malta, facing the Grand Harbour and the Marsamxett Harbour.
UNESCO declared Valletta as a world heritage site in 1980, mainly due to a large number of historical buildings, the oldest ones being from the 16th century.
The city is well known for its baroque architecture and the great variety of Catholic churches, besides the new Parliament House, designed by Renzo Piano in 2011 and inspired by a fort surrounded by bastion walls.
The Upper Baraka gardens, located in the southern Valletta, is one of the unique spots to have beautiful views of the Grand Harbour while having a sip of coffee in the evening in its kiosk or terraces.
Merchant’s Street, one of the longest walks in the city, probably offers the best way to experience small churches, cafes and fancy little shops.
Unless you are deeply interested in the history of the Valletta and you really want to stay there, I would personally not suggest staying in the capital of Malta.
If you enjoy spending your time between the old lanes and alleys I would consider more Rabat and Mdina, which besides the beautiful baroque architecture typical of both towns, they are also close also to a few amazing beaches.
Birgu was the only town able to not surrender to the Ottoman invaders during the Great Siege of 1565. For this reason, it is also known as “Cittá Vittoriosa” (winning city).
The Knights of St John were based in the Fort St Angelo, overlooking the Grand Harbour, hosting still today the arsenal of the Order. A must-visit place to understand more of the history of Malta and for the great views over the bay.
Nowadays Birgu is developing into a boutique destination with elegant wine bars and restaurants hidden in the winding lanes and alleys of the tiny town.
The entire city is surrounded by ancient defensive walls, monuments, and incredible old building. Don’t miss out on the weekly Tuesday street market where you may be able to find old treasures.
Birgu can be the perfect place for a romantic stay, a weekend or just a few days. You can mix your time between exploring the city maze, enjoying the local cafes and spending some lazy time in on of the many tiny wine bars.
Birgu is becoming famous for its boutique accommodations and the Locanda La Gelsomina is definitely one to experience. Imagine a romantic and charming family run bed and breakfast, located peacefully between limestone buildings. Even the breakfast jam is homemade.
Sliema is one of the busiest localities on the Malta island. Finding a place to park the car can be really tricky and expensive too, considering the cost per hour ($3 and over).
On the positive side, Sliema is the best option for any kind of shopping with a few malls around, easily accessible, just walking through the town’s pedestrian area.
For drinks and nightlife, head to “the front”, the 10km long promenade that runs along the northeastern shoreline, from Gżira to St. Julian’s. The view is really beautiful.
Unfortunately, there are no beaches although you can still access the water through the rocks area. The water is however not the best. Basically, go elsewhere if you are after a swim.
Sliema was once just a fishing village outside Valletta. And surely it was beautiful. Nowadays the highrise buildings are dominating the landscape and you may feel overwhelmed by it.
I would personally not suggest staying in Sliema unless you travelled to Malta only for a shopping experience mixed with a restaurant and pubs nightlife.
Sliema can be visited on a day or half-day trip from anywhere on the island (by bus or organised tour).
If you are staying overnight or just visiting the area later in the day, I suggest checking the events at the Teatru Salesjan, a small boutique theatre right in the centre of the town. They usually have a great mix of local music as well as jazz and plays too.
St. Julian’s is located just north of Sliema (there is not a real demarcation between the two towns) and a few kilometres from Valletta.
As you may already know, St. Julian’s is the best hangout destination in Malta for the travellers who seek a good and long nightlife.
Paceville, an area in the centre of St. Julian’s, is well known for nightclubs as well as bars which offer a great hangout experience, till easily the early hours of the morning.
St. Julian’s is also renowned for its restaurants, both in Paceville and surrounding the Spinola Bay area, with its long promenade which runs all the way to Sliema.
Head to St. George’s Bay for the man-made beach. It’s probably not the best in Malta, probably not even a good one, but certainly walking distance to any accommodation.
St. Julian’s is undoubtedly the best place to stay in Malta for nightlife with a crowd mostly based on young couples and singles looking for a fun night, however still searching for an easy beach to access or a good accommodation with a pool.
The Hotel Valentina is one of the best options in St Julian’s, right in the centre of the action, however so well insulated that you will not hear any noise. There is also a pool on the rooftop which offers a great view. Although advertised with a 3-star hotel price, it definitely offers a 4-star service and facilities.
From St. Julian’s you can easily organise day tours, either by bus or boat, to some of the most beautiful beaches around Malta.
St. Julian’s options are just amazing, definitely the best in Malta, for both variety and quantity. Here below just a small selection:
Proceeding north of Valletta, around 30 minutes from it, St. Paul’s Bay is one of the favourite destinations for families with kids.
St. Paul’s Bay is actually a municipality organised in different villages and towns. A few of them are mostly inhabited by the local Maltese community.
Bugibba and Qawra are the two popular towns with tourism, that become quite busy during the summer months.
There is not a clear demarcation between the two towns. In fact, you can stay in either of them and you will not notice the difference. Moreover, you can walk between the two in just a few hundreds of meters.
You can clearly see that the area has been built in the last few decades with the total absence of the nice baroque style you can find elsewhere.
These towns are mostly catered for families, with resorts offering swimming pools and services with a particular attention for the kids.
There are a couple of beaches in the area. The Ta’ Fra Ben Beach and the Bugibba Beach. They are both reclaimed beaches with a rocky seabed. Take some sandals with you to enter/exit the water. They will make your life more comfortable.
St. Paul’s Bay is the best place to stay for families if you are looking for an organised resort including all the facilities for young kids and offering the possibility to explore Malta with single days trips, either pre-organised or with a rented car.
There is not much nightlife around. However, there is a wide choice of British pubs to have a beer and some live music. You can also take a bus to St. Julian’s if you plan to have a crazy night.
The Park Lane Boutique Aparthotel has to be one of the best value accommodations in Malta. True, it has a small rooftop swimming pool however the view is amazing and the apartments are just a perfect base to explore the island.
For a bigger size pool, a great view and a slightly higher price you can also check the AX Seashells Resort. Located right in front of the sea, it is in an unbeatable location. The breakfast is included, with a nice selection too.
If you plan to go for drinks and/or food you may want to check out these options:
Mellieha is a small town on top of a hill overlooking Ghadira Bay. It has a nice village feeling, lacking in other parts of Malta as the previous St. Paul’s Bay.
The bay’s sandy beach is one of the largest and most attracting places of Malta. It’s the perfect spot for families with small kids looking to spend most of the time sunbathing. It has also gained a blue flag for its amazing clean water.
If St. Paul’s Bay was quiet then Mellieha is super quiet, with no nightlife to talk about.
It’s more about an easy going experience, in a lovely village with a few restaurants and cafes to watch life passing by.
Being so quiet, you may want to consider renting a car to visit from here the rest of Malta and the two small islands of Gozo and Comino. The Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal is just 10 minutes away from Mellieha.
Mellieha is a great place to stay in Malta for a romantic getaway or for families looking to spend lots of time at the beach with the kids.
The Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa is a great choice for couples looking for a bit of quality time. It has two pools, indoor and outdoor, of which one on the rooftop where you can experience a great view and some lovely Thai food for dinner. The SPA is absolutely a bonus and the location is so central to Mellieha.
The db Seabank is the perfect spot for families with small kids that want to enjoy the pool and the beach nearby. They offer also a kid’s club which is perfect if you plan to have some time also for yourself.
Another alternative is to stay at Golden Beach at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa. The experience starts with the complimentary welcome drinks to continue to the fabulous rooms with amazing views, the great pools, the lovely beach, 5 restaurants to choose, the gym. Really all you need for a memorable stay.
These are two of the most attracting places of Malta, based on a mix of baroque and medieval architecture enclosed in fortified walls on top of a hill.
The history of Mdina dates back to 4,000 years ago and once you cross the gate of the city you may feel suddenly in a time machine, an open-air museum, so beautiful, so unique.
Mdina is also called the “silent city”, mostly because of the absence of any kind of noise. Even the cars are not allowed within the walls.
And this adds up to this idea of “impossible” place to find. You may actually think it’s a ghost town.
Also for this reason, Mdina has been added to the tentative list of the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Mdina and Rabat were once behind the same fortified walls. Following the Arab invasion, Rabat was separated and the wall destroyed.
Rabat was the film set of a few scenes of the beautiful film Munich in 2005. Here below a few seconds shot in a small town square.
Rabat (meaning “suburb”) is nowadays more of the commercial hub, more modern, much greener and with a bigger population too.
Interesting enough, Rabat is considered to be the birthplace of the Maltese Christianity. The Apostle Paul lived here in 60AD, according to tradition.
Both towns are also close to the beautiful sea cliff and the Golden Beach, making it an attractive place for sunbathing as well.
Mdina is a great place to stay if you are after a romantic or nostalgic stay. Most of the accommodations are in baroque buildings, making it a unique experience.
Here you can find the highest concentration of boutique accommodations. The Xara Palace Relais is a beautiful, warm and charming hotel, right on the edge of the wall, with a beautiful view of the Malta landscape. Book only the breakfast and try one of the few restaurants and wine bars in town instead.
This is another area to drive and experience in Malta. It’s not very touristy as there are not many beaches and the few existing ones, as Pretty Beach, are close to the Malta Freeport, a huge harbour for commercial boats.
The town architecture is a mix of 70s and baroque that somehow has the own distinctive style.
I would personally not suggest Birżebbuġa for a long stay, however, it is evolving as a seaside resort which is growing between Kalafrana and Marsaxlokk village.
Both islands have one thing in common, they are very well isolated and quiet and this is the main reason for a stay.
Another great reason is the sea, the most beautiful in Malta, with an amazing turquoise water which is perfect for both snorkelling and diving
They can be both visited on a day trip.
Comino is the perfect place to stay if you like trekking and camping on a hippy style adventure.
Gozo is more of a “Malta Island as it used to be”, with the main town, called Victoria, and a few small roads heading to the coast. Keep in mind that this is a tiny island, no more than 10km from coast to coast.
Gozo may be not the place you want to stay on the first visit to Malta, however, it can be the destination for a second or third trip.
Stef Ferro is the founder and editor of MEL365, a travel & photography website made to enhance the travelling experience and improve the photography work.
Stef is a professional travel photographer with past experience in the cycling and film industry.
Stef runs travel photography workshops in Melbourne and around the world.