Once a quiet fishing village similar to many on Malta, Sliema drew the attention of wealthy Maltese and Brits through the 19th & 20th centuries. Sliema, originating from the Maltese word for peace, became a seaside holiday destination for the affluent.
Now a dynamic hub for shopping, dining, bar hopping and the café set, Sliema’s original coastal architecture has succumbed to contemporary condominiums with terraces and balconies making the most of the Mediterranean views. Explore further from the coast however and you’ll find traditional townhouses in varying states of repair.
Sliema is an ideal base for discovering the rest of Malta, but first, let’s explore Sliema.
#explore – Coastal beauty.
Encompassing the peninsula from the small town of Gzira to St Julian’s, Sliema’s promenade wraps the coast. Out for a walk, run or to avail the many restaurants, cafés and bars, locals and visitors delight in the promenade’s open space and sea views.
Swimming from the pier in the sheltered Exiles Bay is recommended as are the Roman Baths at the end of the peninsula. Years of sea and sun have softened the rocky coastline creating possies for sun worshippers to build their tans.
Simply select your bike, enter its number in the app or scan the QR code and a lock code will release the bike. Use for as long as you like and return to any nextbike location. In over 100 cities in 18 countries and expanding rapidly, check your Nextbike app wherever you’re travelling.
At the Strand, ferries to Valletta depart every 30 minutes. The 15-minute ride provides picturesque vistas approaching Valletta and back to Sliema.
Further exploration of the waterways surrounding Sliema and Valletta can be made through Luzzu Cruises. Their 90-minute 2-Harbour Cruise takes in all 10 creeks around Sciberras Peninsula.
Highlights include Manoel Island and its yacht-filled marina, Malta’s shipbuilding yards and the creeks separating The Three Cities (Senglea, Cospicua and Vittoriosa).
Valletta’s majestic architecture is spectacular from the water. Commentary shares Malta’s history and emphasises places of interest.
Luzzu’s day cruises to Gozo and Comino include a 3-hour tour of Gozo. Spend 3.5 hours in the crystal waters of the Blue Lagoon on their Comino & Blue Lagoon cruise.
On Sundays, a half day cruise to Marsaxlokk Market allows 2 hours amongst the fresh catch and the best place to see Malta’s fishing boats – the Luzzu – painted with mythical eyes on their bows.
Find Luzzu Cruises ticket booths on the Strand adjacent to Valletta Ferries. Save on ticket prices by combining multiple cruises across a few days.
Wandering inland, residential Sliema contrasts dramatically with the promenade and its sea views. Streets become quieter (unless you’re close to construction and renovations) and traditional architecture replaces high rise condos.
Maltese townhouses line narrow streets behind closed shutters and heavy doors. Step from the street into entrance halls that open to atriums, with stairs leading to the floors above. Ground level living areas continue to courtyard gardens or patios. Kitchens take pride of place central to the home and bedrooms are upstairs with bathrooms.
2 and 3 level townhouses plus mansion apartment conversions are typical in the streets of Sliema alongside spectacular schools, churches and quaint corner stores.
#eat – Fresh & Local.
Ta’ Kris Restaurant & Maltese Bistro (80 Fawwara Lane. Ph: +356 2133 7367. Open 11:30 am – 11:00 pm daily)
Highly recommended and extremely popular, Ta’ Kris is the real deal. Utilising in-season local produce and family recipes, Chef Kris Cassar produces hearty traditional dishes delivered to your table with genuinely friendly service.
This converted bakery hidden in Fawwara Lane is just off Triq Bisazza, a short walk from the Strand and the promenade. Reservations are essential for this value-for-money experience you’ll definitely want to repeat.
Be sure to try the Maltese sweet platter. The selection based on availability may include Imqarat – a date filled Maltese pastry, Helwa Tat-Tork – tahini and almond fudge or Gelat Malti – traditional Maltese ice-cream filled with candied peel and nuts.
Le Malte Restaurant (Tower Road. Ph: +356 2134 2242. Open 5:30 – 11:00 pm Mon – Thurs, 12:30 – 11:00 pm Fri – Sun)
Another option for traditional Maltese cuisine is on Tower Road across from the sea. Le Malte also expands their menu to include Mediterranean dishes. They still have their versions of rabbit, bragjoli (beef olives) and Gozitan cheese but you’ll also see pizza, pasta and perhaps snails on the menu.
With a great variety of local wines, knowledgeable staff and a relaxed vibe, a meal at Le Malte will have you feeling like a local.
#drink – Local pubs & sea views.
The Salisbury Arms (81 Triq Il-Kbira (High Street). Ph: +356 7986 8177. Open Tues – Sun 10:00 am until late)
What’s better when you travel (or any time) than sliding onto a bar stool and instantly feeling at home? Where there’s a menu of fresh delicious pub food served by friendly staff and the owner receives a tongue in cheek stern word for arriving late to his shift?
The Salisbury Arms is the local pub on High Street, Sliema. Here you’ll instantly feel at home in the unpretentious environment. Watch sport, write your blog 😉 or just catch up on the local gossip. If you’re anywhere near the Salisbury Arms Pub, pop in for a pint.
Paradise Exiles (Tower Road. Ph: +356 2134 4771)
In summer, you get two venues for the price of one. Paradise Exiles comprises the Beach Club and Panorama Lounge spring/ summer while the cooler months have the indoor Panorama Lounge.
Set just a few metres from the sea it won’t matter which season you’re here the views are stunning and the vibe is relaxed.
Pop in for lunch and a glass of wine, stay for a sundowner and finish with cocktails. Why not, you’re on vacation.
Paradise Exiles has been an institution in Sliema with its easy laid back approach. Some things have changed this summer with Chef Daniel Grech taking over the kitchen. Mixed reviews have surfaced, but with this amazing location, it’s worth seeing for yourself.
#shop – Til you drop.
The Strand (Triq Ix-Xatt to Tigne Seafront)
Sliema is Malta’s shopping hub. With the Strand’s residents, M&S, Matalan, Dorothy Perkins and more, you can get your fill of British retail.
It’s here, across from Valetta Ferries and Malta cruises, you’ll find sunnies, swimwear, sandals, beach towels, you name it, everything to do with the sun & sea.
The Point (Tigne Point. Ph: +356 2247 0300. Open 09:30 am – 07:30 pm Mon-Sat)
Malta’s largest shopping mall is along the promenade in Sliema. 70 stores over 4 floors house international brands. For the less retail inclined, the outdoor pjazza with views across to Valletta is perfect for panoramic photography.
Tower Road & Bisazza Street.
If your Euros are burning a hole in your pocket, head straight to Tower Road and Bisazza Street. This is strip shopping at its finest. You’ll find everything you could possibly spend your money on and more.
Gifts & homewares, fashion & accessories, books & music, lingerie & swimwear, health & beauty and of course, footwear. In between are cafés, restaurants and bars for when you need a breather from the retail itch.
#stay – At home or a palace.
3 Bedroom Maltese Townhouse (Triq Melita. Actual address provided from booking.com on confirmation of reservation)
If the earlier description of a traditional Maltese townhouse caught your imagination, then this is the place for you.
Centrally located between the Strand or Valletta Ferries on one side of the peninsula and Exile Bay on the other, this homely townhouse is in a perfect location to do Sliema on foot. 2 double bedrooms have ensuites upstairs while a sofa bed in the private lounge room and separate bathroom sleep 2 more on the ground floor.
This is a home away from home in Sliema. Visit the gorgeous family-run corner store a stone’s throw away for fresh bread, sliced ham and cheese of a morning and it might get you thinking about relocating to Malta.
The Palace (Triq Il-Kbira (High Street). Ph: +356 2133 3444)
One of the 7 AX Hotels in Malta, therefore sister to The St John in Valletta, The Palace offers a unique 5-star experience right in the heart of Sliema.
Comfort Rooms speak to the casual traveller who is out and about for the day. Deluxe rooms include balconies to enjoy a coffee or glass of wine overlooking rooftops of Sliema. Superior rooms on the higher floors open up to panoramic sea views.
No matter the room choice, make your reservation through their website and avail special rates, airport pick-up and more.
Check Malta’s Immigration website here and see if your city is listed in the countries offering direct flights to Malta International Airport.
Australia, USA and most of Africa, Asia and the Middle East will have at least one stopover.
Emirates Airline flies daily to Malta via Cyprus with a one hour stop over.
Purchase an ExplorePlus travel card online and it can be posted to you at home, sent to your accommodation in Sliema or collected from the Sales and Information office in the arrivals hall at Malta International Airport.
The ExplorePlus travel card provides unlimited public transport for 7 days including direct services from the airport to Sliema. Find the X2 bus at the airport and pay €1.50 in winter and €2 in summer through the day. Evening fare all year round is €3.
Taxis from the airport are plentiful. Register your destination at the booth, pay the fare and be allocated a driver. €20 includes 4 people plus 4 suitcases.
While in Sliema, book taxis through eCabs (+356 2138 3838) or Malta Taxi Service (+356 2099 3563 firstname.lastname@example.org).
When to go.
Travelling to Malta during a glorious European summer is ideal if you’re happy to share the experience with thousands of like-minded travellers.
Accommodation can be scarce unless you’ve booked far in advance and prices reflect availability. If it’s at all possible for you to travel outside the high season it is highly recommended.
April/ May and October/ November may not have you in the core of the swimming and sunbaking season but the timing is ideal for exploring, visiting museums, and getting to know the locals.
Malta’s largest Wi-Fi network, Melita WiFi, has more than 75,000 hot spots around Malta. Search and log on to MelitaWiFi and receive 10GB for €10. For further info follow this link.
Sliema’s combination of contemporary and traditional in a seaside setting offers something for everyone. The stretch of the promenade never grows old and those views out to sea will have you daydreaming for hours. Take advantage of Sliema’s cruises and see Malta from a different perspective.
Making Sliema’s acquaintance: it’s a thing we love….
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