Sliema is one of Malta’s main seaside tourist locations. It is located on the Northeast coast of Malta, to the West of Valletta Grand Harbour. To the locals, Sliema is a popular area for shopping, hosts numerous businesses and also boasts some of the island’s most desired (and therefore costly) residential estates. Subject to heavy development over the past three to four decades (spurred by increasing tourism to the area), many of its characteristic seafront residences have made way to high-rise apartments and hotels, reshaping what once was a quiet fishing village into a busy tourist centre.
Nevertheless, Sliema still has a very distinct feel. A character found nowhere else and appreciated by locals and travellers alike. Offering various hotels as well as bars and pubs, Sliema is a good holiday location for couples of all ages. Neighbouring St. Julian’s, with its nightlife area known as Paceville is a stone’s throw away (for late night club visits), while capital city Valletta is nearby as well, offering plenty of culture, history and places of interest to appreciate.
The Sliema seaside promenade stretches almost 5km, starting in St. Julian’s and going into Gzira, Ta Xbiex and Msida. Two watch towers can be found along the Sliema coastline, one of which is was erected by De Redin in the 17th century (nowadays home to a small café) and another built by the British in the 1880’s.
History of Sliema
The name Sliema is derived from the Maltese word sliem, meaning peace. Peaceful is what Sliema, originally a fishing village, was until the mid-19th century when rapid development started to turn Sliema into a popular summer resort, for the wealthier citizens of Valletta. The area was a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, both for locals but also for the British who recognised the potential for holiday homes nearby Malta’s capital city, yet enjoying peace and quiet.
Few of the prestigious, Victorian and art nouveau residences remain in the inner streets of Sliema and a only a handful remain on the seaside which is a highly sought after area for further development of modern high rise construction. A few of these older seafront residences remain intact and untouched, now protected by law. A small cluster of such residences can be found on the Gzira side of Sliema, opposite the bridge towards Manoel Island.
In the 1950’s, development of properties in Sliema really kicked into high gear as tourism in Malta increased, making the town the first tourist resort on the island.
Beaches in Sliema
Sliema offers no sandy beaches but its rocky coastline is nevertheless suitable for swimming. A particular spot alongside the coast, referred to by the name of Exiles, is a popular bathing area for locals and tourists alike, with easy access to the sea and clear and clean waters. Although rocky, the shoreline is made up of mostly flat rock surfaces, which makes sunbathing perfectly possible.
Alternatively, direct bus routes to sandy beaches such as Golden Bay and Mellieha Bay (aka Ghadira) are also available, although you should expect a one hour ride to get to these beaches.
Nightlife in Sliema
Sliema offers plenty of bars and pubs, and a handful of nightclubs, spread alongside the coastal promenade over the St. Julian’s side of Sliema as well as the Gzira side. For the clubhoppers, Paceville (part of St. Julian’s) is only a stone’s throw away.
Annual Festa’s in Sliema
- Our Lady of Sacred Heart - 1st week of July
- Our Lady Star Of The Sea - 3rd week of August
- St Gregory The Great - 1st week of September
Read more: Maltese village feasts or festa
Popular Bus Routes
Routes 62, 64, 66, 67, 68 and 70, to:
- St. Julian’s/Paceville (5-10 min)
- Valletta (15-20 min – opposite direction)
Route 65, to:
- Mosta (20 min)
- Ta Qali crafts village (30 min)
- Rabat/Mdina (40-45 min)
Route 627, to:
- Bugibba/Qawra (35-40 min)
- Marsaxlokk (35 – 40 min, opposite direction. Fishing village on East coast of Malta)
Route 645, to:
- Mellieha (40 min)
- Mellieha Bay (45 min)
- Cirkewwa (50-55 min)
Route 652, to:
- Golden Bay (40-45 min)
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