If you’re planning a holiday to Malta or Gozo, the first question you’ll probably come to is whether you should stay in Malta itself or on the smaller island of Gozo.
Your choice will probably be determined by the type of experience you’re looking for. Most of the tourist attractions, restaurants, beaches and things to do are on the main island of Malta while Gozo offers a much quieter pace of life.
Whichever of the islands you decide to stay on, you will be able to reach the other very easily via a ferry.
Malta is often the preferred choice because there is more on your doorstep and you can then take the ferry over to Gozo for a day or 2 to experience the best of both.
The important thing to bear in mind is that although it’s a small country and it appears places are very close together on a map, the land is not easy to travel over. Steep hills, winding roads and rocky terrain makes what could be a 15-minute walk on flat land significantly longer.
Rather than walking or attempting to drive around the narrow streets, try the public buses as they are cheap, run regularly and travel to every corner of the island. The longer journeys also allow you to see more of the country which is off the usual tourist route.
If you decide to stay on Malta and use the public buses to get around, the big question is, of course, where should you stay in Malta? To help you make the right choice based on your preferences and interests, here is a guide to some of the most popular regions and cities.
Mellieha is a great choice when looking for accommodation for Malta & Gozo holidays It is a central town in the north which makes it ideal for venturing out and exploring the country.
It’s a less developed area which has not been as affected by the tourism industry as some other towns which give it a more relaxed and local atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, shops and bars.
It’s also far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the capital city of Valetta to feel like you’re out of the tourist hub, but close enough to the north where you’ll find Popeye’s Village, Fort Campbell, and the very popular beach just down the hill.
Valetta is the capital city of Malta and is a must-visit place for most tourists. The city is home to some of the most important historical and cultural points of interest, including the old town and modern city with restaurants and shops.
It’s a remarkably well-preserved city, but the result of this is that there has been very little development in terms of tourist accommodation and what exists has a high price tag. There are 4* and 5* boutique hotels as well as the opportunity to stay in some of the city’s most historic buildings if you’re willing to pay for the privilege. There are surrounding neighbourhoods which may offer cheaper accommodation.
For people who wish to be close to Valetta but without the high prices, the nearby neighbourhood of Sliema is a very popular choice. It sits on a large peninsula to the north of Valetta providing plenty of accommodation options, restaurants, shops, supermarkets, bus routes and the ferry to Valetta. There isn’t much to see or do in Sliema, but it makes a great base from which to venture out.
Next to Sliema is Gzira, which is much quieter. You’ll find more locals than tourists here, which means that there aren’t as many shops or restaurants, but you’ll find the essentials and are just a bus ride from Sliema. The neighbourhood does have a lovely waterfront as well as Manoel Island with its historical fort and beautiful views of Valetta.
St Julian’s Bay & St Julian’s Bay
For people looking for a traditional getaway, St Julian’s Bay is ideal. It is not the most cultural or historical areas, but you won’t find a better place for familiar foods, pubs, clubs and busy beaches. British tourists, in particular, will find a home-from-home with better weather and prettier views with plenty of accommodation to chose from. You’re also only a bus ride away from Valetta and the other historical areas, so you can have the best of both worlds.
St Paul’s Bay, including Qawra and Bugibba, is a similar area with hotels and pools but there is not much else to keep tourists busy. It is further to the north of the island and, although it is not far from Valetta, takes at least an hour by bus. On the other hand, you will be closer to the ferry over to Gozo, so if you plan to visit Gozo more than Valetta, it could be a good choice.
The Three Cities is an area made up of Senglea, Birgu and Cospicua. Together they are almost untouched by tourism even though they are actually older than Valetta. Here you can find a more authentic Maltese experience which is off the usual tourist path. With restaurants and plenty of places to stay as well as history and good transport links to Valetta, this area is a hidden gem.