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Best places to stay in Malta

Best places to stay in Malta 2019 [the 10 coolest areas]

Last updated on November 28th, 2018 at 02:14 pm

In this post you’re going to discover all the best areas to stay in Malta in 2019

In fact:

This is not just a list. I will show the best places to stay in Malta based on what you are looking for.

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.

The Grand Harbour of Valletta

The Grand Harbour of Valletta

Best area to stay in Malta

Best area to stay in Malta

Best area to stay in Malta

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: the capital city of Malta, declared by UNESCO as world heritage site with a large number of historical buildings, the oldest ones being from the 16th century. Perfect spot to stay if you want to get deeper in the history of the city, otherwise great destination for a day trip
  • Birgu: one of the oldest towns in Malta, facing the capital, right in the Grand Harbour. A walk through the small lanes and the little alleys is absolutely a must. Try to make it on Tuesday for the local market. A great boutique place to stay
  • Sliema: it is one of the busiest localities on the island, inhabited mostly by a mix of people with a Maltese and British background. Once a fishing village, it has been (over)built with apartment blocks. The number of pubs may make you think to be suddenly in the UK
  • St. Julian’s: nice marina and great dining options. This region is a perfect hangout destination for the travellers looking for bars and nightclubs open till the early hours of the morning. The place to stay for young couples and single looking for nightlife.
  • St. Paul’s Bay: located to the north of Malta, this region is divided into multiple villages and towns. Bugibba and Qawra are the most popular spots of this area which can get quite busy in high season (July and August). A great spot for families
  • Mellieha: it is one of the topmost northern villages of Malta. The place is famous for Mellieha Bay, also known as Ghadira. The bay’s sandy beach is one of the largest and most beautiful ones of Malta. It is a very quiet area, popular with couples, looking for a romantic stay, and families with kids
  • Rabat and Mdina area: these are two of the most popular places in the south-west of Malta. Both Mdina, the old capital city, and Rabat display one of the finest medieval-era architectures, still so well preserved to be featured in movies as Munich (2005)
  • Birżebbuġa and the south-east coast: it is one of the developing areas, located in the southeast section of Malta. It’s quieter than other parts of the island, it can be visited on a day trip.
  • Gozo Island: considered as the “sister” of Malta, much more rural than the main island. It’s a getaway destination with almost no nightlife, beautiful beaches, which do not get busy even in high season, and a lovely nature all around
  • Comino Island: a tiny island between Malta and Gozo. This is the perfect place if you are after some trekking in complete isolation. It can be visited also on a day-trip from Gozo or Mellieha.

Valletta, the historical capital to visit

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.

Beautiful lanes of Valletta

Beautiful lanes of Valletta

Birgu, the boutique destination of Malta

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.

Birgu on the Grand Harbour

Birgu on the Grand Harbour

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.

Other attractions are the St. Lawrence’s Church, the Inquisitor’s Palace, and the Notre Dame Gate.

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.

Check availability at La Gelsomina

Locanda La Gelsomina

Locanda La Gelsomina

Sliema, shopping and highrise

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 decide to drive there, you are better off parking in Floriana, just outside Valletta. From there walk 10 minutes to the Sliema Ferry and grab one of the frequently served ferries.

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.

Sliema cityscape

Sliema cityscape

St. Julian’s, the best place to stay in Malta for nightlife

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.

Entertainment in St. Julian’s has no limits with a bowling centre, a shopping complex and Malta’s largest cinema complex.

St Julian's

St Julian’s

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.

Check the bargain price at the Valentina

Hotel Valentina

Hotel Valentina

From St. Julian’s you can easily organise day tours, either by bus or boat, to some of the most beautiful beaches around Malta.

Places to dine in St. Julian’s

St. Julian’s options are just amazing, definitely the best in Malta, for both variety and quantity. Here below just a small selection:

  • Buffalo Bill: located in Portomaso Marina. The place has a warm lively atmosphere and is renowned for its meat selection, especially the slow-cooked beef as well as the different bbq options. It’s also well priced, although in a great central location.
  • Ir-rokna: it is more of a casual place, great if you have kids as well. The cuisine is mostly Italian, with a good and wide selection of pizza and pastas. From the upper level you can also get a nice view.
  • 1927: it is the perfect destination for trying out the local Maltese cuisines in Spinola Bay. Pan-fried local rabbits and potatoes marinated with rosemary and garlic seasonings are a must try.
  • The Dubliner: a great Irish pub right on the waterfront of Spinola Bay. Head to the second level for the best view. Good selection of beers and pub food. A nice place for a late afternoon drink.

St. Paul’s Bay, a family oriented destination

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.

Check the amazing price at the Park Lane

Park Lane Aparthotel

Park Lane Aparthotel

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.

Check availability at the AX Seashell

Seashells Resort – AX Hotels

Seashells Resort – AX Hotels

If you plan to go for drinks and/or food you may want to check out these options:

  • Made in Sud: one of the best pizzerias in Malta. It’s a tiny place and finding a table may take time. They also offer a takeaway service, which is a great option if you are in a serviced apartment.
  • Rudis Schnitzel Paradies: a German restaurant with some great food that will make you think you are at the Oktoberfest :). Of course, the beer selection is German too. Perfect place for kids
  • Bugies: another great value option to eat family and locally made food for a bargain price.

Mellieha, best places to stay in Malta for beaches

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.

Għajn Tuffieħa Bay in Mellieha

Għajn Tuffieħa Bay in Mellieha

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.

You will be spoiled by the selection of beaches in this part of Malta. Head north to the L-Armier peninsula for a few small sandy coves, go west to the amazing Golden Bay Beach

Golden Bay Beach

Golden Bay Beach

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.

 Check availability at the Maritim Antonine

Maritim Antonine Hotel

Maritim Antonine Hotel

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. 

Check availability at the db Seabank

db Seabank Resort

db Seabank Resort

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.

Check availability at the Radisson Blue

Radisson Blu Resort

Radisson Blu Resort

Rabat and Mdina area, the baroque towns

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.

Mdina medieval tiny lanes

Mdina medieval tiny lanes

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.

Check availability at the Xara Palace Chateaux

The Xara Palace Relais

The Xara Palace Relais

Two great alternatives, more affordable as well, are the Quaint Hotel Rabat and the Casa Azzopardi Guesthouse. They are both boutique accommodations with an amazing extersion and interion.

Check the price at the Quaint     Check the price at the Casa Azzopardi

Quaint Hotel Rabat

Quaint Hotel Rabat

Casa Azzopardi Guesthouse

Casa Azzopardi Guesthouse

Birżebbuġa and the south-east coast

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.

Marsaxlokk, facing Birzebbuga

Marsaxlokk, facing Birzebbuga

Its popularity is increasing also thanks to the presence of archaeological places as the Ghar Dalam caves and the Borg in-Nadur prehistoric site.  

Gozo and Comino Island

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.

Comino Island

Comino Island

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.

Victoria streets in Gozo

Victoria streets in Gozo

Travel Photography Stefano FerroStef 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. 

 

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Stefano Ferro
Photographer
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.

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