Sliema is probably the number one go-to place for your holiday in Malta. If you’re a Maltese travelling around the globe and they get to know you are from this country, there is a high probability that they will mention Sliema before any other town or village. It is the home of lush restaurants, beautiful seaside cafes and beach clubs. Tourists here flock in their thousands for sun, food and fun.
Why stay in Sliema?
If you want to stay a few metres away from crystal clear water and the best pubs in Malta, Sliema would be your obvious choice. Besides being the place of fun, Sliema also enjoys some more traditional areas and walking the streets of this town you will be able to encounter some magnificent colonial houses. It’s the home of joggers and barbeque goers. In Sliema, you are also rubbing shoulder with nightlife hotspots such as Paceville and St Julian’s. At the same time, Sliema is one of the few places which enjoy a magical view of the capital’s fortifications in Valletta.
Despite being home to modern apartments and hundreds of clubs and restaurants, Sliema still enjoys some reputation for interesting history. This factor is what makes the towns in Malta so unique. It’s one of the only few islands in the Mediterranean where old meets new in such a banging clash.
What’s in a name? Well, in this case, a lot. ‘Sliema’ literally means ‘peaceful’ or ‘in comfort’. Until some decades ago, Sliema was a quiet fishing village (which is now very hard to imagine a laid back Sliema). Indeed, this part of Malta is not for peace and quiet. Development in the area started back in the late 1800s when the church in this town was declared as a parish.
Development in the area has always been a very hot point of contention on this part of Malta. Sliema always caught the greedy eye of aggressive developers due to its ideal location. In recent years development in the area has taken an unpleasant hype. Property prices on the market skyrocketed and traffic jams became the order of the day. Things are starting to stabilize more and more and thanks to timely intervention from NGOs and members of the public, areas of Sliema are still serene.
The Sliema stereotype
The people of Sliema (known as Slimizi) live under the pretence of one very particular stereotype. The Maltese refer to them as ‘tal-pepe’’ and the reason behind it is that many Sliema residents prefer to use English as their primary language. Those living outside of Sliema sometimes tend to target them as posh or high maintenance. It is true for some families but walking the streets of Sliema you’ll discover otherwise. With time, things have changed even further, especially since Sliema is nowadays home to a lot of foreigners.
How to get there
To get to Sliema from Malta Airport, catch the bus X2
By bus: Catch either of numbers 15 or 21.
By boat: Catch the Ferry departs from Valletta to Sliema every 30 minutes. Here is the schedule the location of the departure.
There is a direct bus which crosses from Cirkewwa (Gozo channel ferry) to the heart of Sliema. Catch the number 222
Where to eat?
Better ask, where do we begin? This is the restaurant hotspot for Malta and the selection is wide and varied.
Ta’ Kris – For something typically Maltese. A bistro which serves locally sourced food.
La Vecchia Napoli – A local favourite for mouth-watering pizza. Try their gigantic calzone!
The Chophouse – An absolute must for meat lovers.
Surfside – Locals and tourists alike flock to this place for a good old beer and some delicious food by the beautiful sea.
Kebab Ji – A Lebanese kebab king renowned for sizeable bites of pure goodness.
Mint Cafe – Great for homemade food and very tempting desserts.
Cafe Berry – Considered to be the coffee spot in Sliema offering a wide selection of colourful cappuccinos and lattes.
Where to drink?
Beverages in Sliema might cost a tad more than in any other area on the island. But one has to consider the fact that bars and clubs here are in a real hotspot for tourists and locals alike. If you want to check an ultimate guide on how much food and drink in Malta costs, check out our article on how much would a holiday in Malta cost.
Charles Grech Bistro – Closed down in the capital, Valletta to open on a more busy venture in Sliema. A favourite amongst many.
MedAsia – Besides serving a wide range of cocktails, this outlet also boasts itself for offering some delicious Asian cuisine. Check out their selection of sushi.
Hole in the Wall – Sliema’s oldest cafe-bar, offering a great selection of beers, live music and good vibes.
Plough and Anchor Pub – A homey, traditional pub.
The Brew – Unique for freshly brewed craft beer and gin.
Watch out for some good old local happy hours at Black Gold Saloon, a popular pub with a relaxed atmosphere.
Things to do in Sliema
Being so adequately located next to the sea, Sliema is an ideal place for strolling your days away in pure leisure.
- Take the ferry to the capital city (Valletta) and soak in the views which have inspired so many.
- Visit the Salesian Theatre (and watch out for the events showing at the time of your visit). Founded in 1908, its one of the oldest community theatres in Malta.
- Walk up and down the beautiful seaside promenade. Go towards the left to reach St Julian’s or right towards Ta’ Xbiex passing the town of Gzira.
- Go swimming at Ghar id-Dud
- Walk the old part of Sliema. Start your walk at Sir Adrian Dingli Street towards the core of the city and watch out for unique architecture.
- Join a boat party which leave from the promenade in Sliema Ferry.
- Visit one of the many churches, most importantly don’t miss the Parish Church of Jesus of Nazareth (Nazzareno as known to locals), Stella Maris and St Gregory the Great.
- Go buy a packet of local ‘galletti’ and a couple of beers and lie down at the beach next to Exiles, the most famous swimming hotspot in the area.
- Go find the wall mural ‘The Mediterranean Door’ (a graffiti-inspired by migration in Europe which starts in Malta and ends in Capri, Italy)
- Visit an art gallery, most notably Artitude Gallery, Christine Art Gallery and Lily Agius Gallery.
A little tip: If you are in Sliema in Summer, go to one of the local feasts.
July: Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
August: Our Lady Star of the Sea (Stella Maris)
September: St Gregory the Great