So you’ve arrived in Malta, got your ride to the hotel, unpacked your beach towel and swimwear. Where’s the best beach to head for, if the hotel swimming pool just won’t do? Most hotels are situated close to the sea but only a few really offer a 2 minute walk to one of Malta’s beautiful sandy beaches. Here’s a guide to a few of Malta and Gozo’s best sandy beaches and how to get there!
Due to Malta’s small size, you’re never far away from the sea. While many people opt for the nearest sea-side locale — when the sun comes out, the grey rocks around Sliema and St Julians are colourfully transformed by a swathe of bright beach towels and bikinis – most people head to the north of the island where you can take your pick from several wide stretches of soft, sandy beaches.
Most Maltese beaches can become quite crowded in summer, particularly at the weekend. For a more secluded swim it’s essential to head off the beaten path and explore. There aren’t too many options but it is possible to find a quietish spot, especially if you don’t mind a long walk to get there. Set off across the rocks up from Ghadira Bay or alternatively, wander down the hills behind Selmun Palace and arrive at a small, quiet beach that by its very inaccessibility remains quite secluded, though there are plenty of boats that moor nearby. Walk along the paths that lead behind Ghajn Tuffieha and arrive at Malta’s only (unofficial) nudist beach, which lies well hidden behind the main part of the beach.
Beach guide advice
The advice given in this guide should be viewed keeping in mind that swimming is only advisable during the summer season (lasting from May until October). Directions on how to reach the mentioned locations are accurate and are usually direct bus route plans which bring you straight to the beach. In a few rare occasions small walks of up to 5 minutes will be indicated. There’s no way of getting lost really, no need to worry about that. Should you not be very confident about your navigational skills, the Maltese are very helpful and will surely point you in the right direction.
For more information on bus routes mentioned, visit the website of Malta’s Public Transport Authority.
By far the most popular of the Maltese beaches is Ghadira Bay in Mellieha (also referred to as Mellieha Bay). Easily accessible, with just a few steps or a ramped access down to the sand, and with seas that remain shallow for a good distance out, this spot is a firm favourite with families, who tend to camp out for the day. With sun beds and umbrellas for rent abound here, there is still space on this expansive beach for anyone wishing to bring their own gear. There are plenty of snack bars and small cafes as well as spots to indulge in some water fun — you can hire a pedalo, try parasailing or swim out to a large floating play area. Good fun, if very packed in the heat of summer.
How to get there
Bus lines 44 and 45 from Valletta or alternatively line 48 from Bugibba terminus.
Directions per location
St. Julian’s Route 70 to Bugibba and route 48 from Bugibba to Ghadira Bay. Travel time: 45 min
Sliema Route 70 to Bugibba and route 48 from Bugibba to Ghadira Bay. Travel time: 50 min
Bugibba/Qawra Route 48 from the Bugibba terminus to Ghadira Bay. Travel time: 25 min
St. Paul’s Bay Routes 44 and 45 pass by most, if not all, bus stops in St. Paul’s Bay. Take either to go straight to Ghadira Bay. Travel time: 25 min
Mellieha Both routes 44 and 45 pass through Mellieha on the way to Ghadira. Travel time: 5 min
Xemxija Routes 44 and 45 pass through Xemxija on the way to Ghadira. Travel time: 15 min
Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay
These two adjacent bays are situated on the West part of Malta and are reasonably popular. In particular Golden Bay can be busy at times, especially since one of the island’s largest hotels sits on the side of the bay. Ghajn Tuffieha could be described as a bay that has hardly been touched by human hand, with its beautiful scenery, gold coloured sand and clear waters.
Minutes from the village of Mgarr, you come to the adjacent beaches of Golden Bay and Ghajn Tuffieha. Like all of Malta’s large beaches, these are crowded during summer weekends, but well worth a visit. Both beaches have sun beds and umbrellas for hire, and water activities on offer. Golden Bay has the advantage of being beside a 5 star hotel – the Radisson Golden Sands – which means you can dine at a proper restaurant seconds from the car park. While both have a wide stretch of soft sand – perfect for children to play on – there are strong undercurrents in the sea, so limit swimming to shallow waters.
Being one of the most stunning views in Malta, it’s worth going early in the morning to Ghajn Tuffieha to stand at the top of the hill and appreciate just how beautiful it is with its turquoise seas and backdrop of craggy hills. Access to the beach is via some hundred-plus steps or along hillside paths, which continue out beyond the main part of the beach and offer the chance of a small hike before a swim. As a protected area, this beach has fewer facilities than Golden Bay but those in search of water sports can still find plenty to keep them amused.
How to get there
Route 47 from Valletta or alternatively route 652 from Sliema
Directions per location
St. Julian’s Route 652 straight to Golden Bay Travel time: 40 min
Sliema Route 652 Travel time: 45 min
Bugibba/Qawra Route 652 from Bugibba terminus Travel time: 25 min
St. Paul’s Bay Route 652 Travel time: 20 min
Mellieha Route 45 to St. Paul’s Bay and then route 652 straight to Golden Bay Travel time: 25 min
Xemxija Bus routes 44, 45 to St. Paul’s Bay and then line 652 Travel time: 20 min
Gnejna is a beautiful bay on the Western part of Malta, located nearby the town of Mgarr in one of the most serene parts of the Maltese islands. A sandy beach and shallow waters offer a family-friendly location for bathers and probably the biggest benefit of Gnejna is that it’s usually mostly locals who bathe. So if you prefer avoiding busy beaches this is probably your best bet, of the beaches mentioned here.
How to get there
There are no direct routes to Gnejna, but the nearest stop is in Mgarr, which is literally a stone’s throw away, meaning a 5 min. walk. It’s very easy to find when in Mgarr, with plenty of signs showing you the way. Bus route 47 takes you straight to Mgarr from Valletta, other direct routes below.
Routes to Mgarr, per location
St. Julian’s Route 65 to Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 45 mins
Sliema Route 65 to Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 45 mins
Bugibba/Qawra Routes 49 and 58 to Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 45 mins
St. Paul’s Bay Routes 44 and 45 towards Valletta, stopping at Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 40 mins
Mellieha Routes 44 and 45 towards Valletta, stopping at Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 50 mins
Xemxija Routes 44 and 45 towards Valletta, stopping at Mosta (“Mosta Technopark” stop), then route 47 from opposite side of road straight to Mgarr. Travel time: 45 mins
Just a few minutes drive away from Ghadira Bay is Paradise Bay, which is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. Smaller than Ghadira, it’s popular with a younger crowd, particularly at the weekend beach parties. Also a good place for snorkelling.
Paradise Bay is nestled in a more secluded place than most other bays, being situated in the most Northern part of Malta, close to Cirkewwa (where ferries to Gozo berth). The site offers a magnificent view, with rock formations on both sides and its lovely sandy beach. This is an ideal place to go for a relaxing swim on weekdays and very family-friendly. Plenty of facilities are available, despite its isolated location and this bay is also very easy to reach.
How to get there
Bus routes 45 and 145 (faster) from Valletta or alternatively route 48 from Bugibba terminus.
Directions per location
St. Julian’s Route 70 to Bugibba and route 48 from Bugibba terminus to Ghadira Bay Travel time: 45 min
Sliema Route 70 to Bugibba and route 48 from Bugibba terminus to Ghadira Bay Travel time: 50 min
Bugibba/Qawra Route 48 from the Bugibba terminus to Ghadira Bay Travel time: 25 min
St. Paul’s Bay Route 45 passes through most, if not all, bus stops in St. Paul’s Bay and takes you straight towards Cirkewwa. Travel time: 25 min
Mellieha Both bus lines 44 and 45 pass through Mellieha on the way to Ghadira Travel time: 5 min
Xemxija Both bus lines 44 and 45 pass through Xemxija on the way to Ghadira Travel time: 15 min
Gozo – Ramla bay and more
Gozo’s Ramla Bay or Ramla il-Hamra is considered to be one of Malta’s finest beach. A wide stretch of red-coloured sand, this is a much loved spot with families and the younger crowd. The usual snack bars and water activities are on hand here and parking is along the road leading to the beach. Smaller beaches are found at Xlendi and Marsalforn, both of which are flanked by a number of bars and restaurants, making them ideal for a full day at the beach.
For a quieter beach in Gozo, try San Blas Bay on the north east coast. Its access via a steep slope guarantees that only those wanting to avoid the crowds are found at this small, red sandy beach.