Especially if it’s your first time in Malta (Tas–Sliema), Sliema is the best choice to stay in. It’s livelier, more affordable and nearly as well connected to public transport as Valletta.
Plus, there‘s quite the range of restaurants serving both local as well as international cuisine conveniently located along the harbourfront. So here are your essential Sliema travel tips.
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Sliema Travel Tips
Sliema vs Valletta
There is a lot to say in favour of each city. Budget-wise, you have more options in Sliema. There are plenty of seaside hotels here for different budgets. While Valletta has bars and restaurants too, which get busy during the day, nightlife certainly is more alive in Sliema and neighbouring St Julian’s.
Valletta has the central bus station in Malta, from where most buses start. Oftentimes, you have to make your way over from Sliema to travel across Malta.
Getting to Sliema
Most people who visit Malta stay in either Valletta, St Julian’s or Sliema. They are close to the airport, well connected and a great base for your trip. Sliema in particular is a central point for various bus lines. Right opposite, there is the ferry line to Valletta on top of that.
From the airport to Sliema, you can have your reception arrange a taxi, which should cost 20€ and take around 20 minutes. Be careful when you hail a cab off the street to not accidentally pick a private one. (A ‘Y’ in the license plate is apparently a sign for a private cab.)
Sliema is pretty walkable. However, you just have to be aware of steps and somewhat steep roads if you want to get from the promenade facing Valletta up to the North around St Julians Tower. It’s not like you need to walk around the district too much anyway. It’s not a sightseeing hotspot.
If you do want to use the bus, which follows the coastline, find the main bus stops in front of Marks& Spencer. There is a small information point, where you can buy your multi day tickets. Don’t forget to still tap on and off if you get that. Otherwise, you can pay in (exact) change with the bus driver.
A single ticket during winter costs 1,50€ and 2,00€ in summer. Should you stay multiple days, then the tallinja cards are good value. For 12 single day journeys, you pay 15€. For unlimited rides for 7 days, try the ticket for 21€, which I chose. (See official ticket info here.)
Of course you can also rent a car to get around but know that, like with buses, you will be stuck in traffic quite a lot. Plus, while there are official road rules, don’t expect people to follow them. Car drives in Malta can be quite… passionate.
Since Sliema is one of the most preferred spots for setting up base, there are plenty of Sliema hotels to choose from. It’s also cheaper than staying in Valletta, for instance, and you are closer to the nightlife in nearby Paceville.
Pamper yourself and feel all pampered at the Blanc Boutique Guest House. The stylish décor provides a super classy atmosphere. Rooms are spacious, beds comfortable and even though it’s located in busy Sliema, it’s usually quiet. Some rooms even have a hot tub.
There is Wifi throughout the hotel and a parking lot is available in the street. During hot summers, you can take advantage of the air conditioning as well as the minibar. For entertainment, there is a flat-screen TV in your room. Reserve your room here.
With a medium budget and balcony views over the rocky shores around North Sliema, try the Europa Hotel. Seaview restaurants and cafés will surround you and it’s the perfect spot for starting your harbour walk to St Julian’s.
If you are keen on a balcony, make sure you book such a room as not all offer this view. I love that the hotel offers single rooms for solo travellers. (And it comes with a balcony!) View the rooms here.
A Sliema stay as a backpacker is also possible. With prices for dorm rooms starting at 19€ per night in offseason, you can get a bed at The Seafront Tower. This means even if you are on a slim budget, you have the chance to wake up to seaviews.
Plus, there is a seasonal outdoor pool, air conditioning and free Wifi on site. The location is excellent as well with Fort Tigné, The Point Shopping Mall and central bus/ferry stops being only a short walk away. Reserve your bed here.
Where to Eat in Sliema
My absolute favourite place to dine is Margaret Island. The restaurant is centred around Hungarian dishes and boy does each and every of them look mouthwatering.
I didn’t go just once and can highly suggest trying the baked brie on a pears and walnut salad, the salty crepes with chicken and tomato filling as well as the parpadelle with roasted duck. For drinks, try the assorted wines and the delicious green apple lemonade.
Do you love cake? One of the best cafes in Sliema is Tiffany’s Bistro. It’s great for breakfast or tea time and you gotta try the snickers cake and creamy lemon cheesecake. Be aware that the cake portions are rather generous, so come hungry!
Do you enjoy Latin American-style food? Try Cuba restaurant. The quesadilla are quite a lot for a starter and they even serve fresh pesto pasta. Both totally yummy.
What to do in Sliema
1. Harbour Cruises
There are many different boat tour companies offering their services. A popular Malta boat tour is a day trip connecting all Three Cities, which are Valletta, Sliema and St Julians.
You can book right by the harbour, there are many stalls set up keen on selling their tours. If you want to make double sure that you get your desired tour on your preferred date, book in advance.
- Full day cruise to the Blue Lagoon – 9 hours, prices from $34.59
- 2 Harbours day cruise – 90 minutes, prices from $17.29
- Lazy pirate boats tour – 5 hours, prices from $57.65
- Nightly harbour cruise – 90 minutes, prices from $17.29
Take a ferry over to Valletta for the day. You can get a single journey for 1,50€ and a return ticket for 2,80€. That’s a great deal! The ferry will pass by Manoel Island, which looks stunning during sunset time as well. That’s a great time for your return journey.
In Sliema you will find a variety of international shops and big brands to excite fashion fans. There are two major shopping centres, which are The Point Shopping Mall at Tigné Point and the nearby Plaza Shopping Centre.
Plus, there are a few shopping streets and along the promenade there are various fashion and lifestyle stores.
If you bring kids along, have them play at Bonello Du Puis Garden (formerly Qui si Sana). Alternatively, hang out at Ġnien Indipendenza (Independence Garden).
There is a playground with swings and a slide as well. But even if there are no kids in the picture, check it out for the ocean view and hanging out with cats.
Malta is ideal if you love to diving. There are multiple glorious spots with underwater shipwrecks, plenty of fish and interesting caves around the shore. In Sliema, there’s no shortage of diving centres taking you out on a tour.
If you love cats, you mingle with the cats of the park. You can’t miss the spot as there is a giant cat statue on top of the public toilets adjacent to the cat hangout.
There are many stray cats just hanging around. Small homes and food are provided to them. And the cats aren’t disinterested in cuddles either.
Don’t expect sandy beaches. Here, everything is rugged coastline. Still, you have access to the ocean and you can chill on the warm stones. Some of these beaches are Exiles Beach or Sliema Chalet.
Sliema has quite a selection of small but beautiful churches. Many of these – as is typical in Malta – aren’t open all day. Your best bet is to come in the morning and check for mass times. My personal favourite is Parish Church of Jesus of Nazareth.
- Our Lady Star of the Sea
- Sacro Cuor
- Gesu’ Nazzarenu
- San Girgor
8. Sunset Views
From Sliema’s water front you can enjoy wonderful views over the harbour and consequently sunsets as well. From Fort Tigné, you can see the golden orb sink behind Fort Manoel next to Valletta. The promenade also offers great colour
In Sliema the main place to find food is along the harbourfront. Around the ferries, you can find plenty of restaurants with a range of Italian, Cuban, Hungarian and Asian fusion dishes.
Note though that these are geared towards tourists and not entirely authentic not inexpensive. Some are definitely better than others. I have tried a bunch of them and here are my personal recommendations.
10. Day Trips
From Sliema, you can easily travel across Malta. For many routes, you have to change in Valletta but not for all. Alternatively, you can walk over to the wonderfully quaint Spinola Bay.
Another walk can lead to Manoel Island with Fort Manoel, which is closed to the public. However, there are ruins of a former military hospital, which you can check out.
More Malta Day Trip ideas:
- 15 good reasons to visit Birgu
- Just next door: St Julian’s during the day
- Cute boats: Marsaxlokk Harbour in the South
- History lived: the temples of Tarxien
- Windwill town: What to see in Zurrieq
Is Malta’s Sliema Worth the Visit?
In case you aren’t staying in Sliema anyway, you might wonder if you should bother coming over when there is so much to see on a Malta trip?
If you want to go shopping, see the sunset next to Valletta or just enjoy promenade walks, Sliema is a good place to visit. For walking in nature and seeing historical landmarks, this isn’t the place to be.
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