Where to Stay in Malta: Best places and Malta resorts
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to suggesting the best places and Malta resorts to stay, but I’ll do my best to guide you with a number of options based local knowledge.
Here’s what I’ve put together in this article:
- A guide to the different resorts in Malta
- Info on what it’s like to stay in different areas of Malta (and Gozo)
- Suggestions for different types of travellers and their general needs
Have any questions on where to stay in Malta that haven’t been answered in this article? Ask me a question by leaving a comment below!
Guide to Malta’s most popular resorts
Let’s kick off with a quick overview of the most popular resorts. I’ll be referring to all of these further down in my article and you can scroll back here to click/tap through for the articles with more info on each.
Map of Malta resorts
Bugibba and Qawra
St. Paul's Bay
St. Julian's and Paceville
Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay
- One of the most popular tourist resorts
- Busy in summer, quiet during the off-season. St. Paul’s Bay least busy during summer.
- Beaches: Artificial sandy beach at Buġibba, rocky beach at Qawra (referred to as Ta` Fra Ben) and several smaller spots in St. Paul’s Bay
- Accommodation: Mix of budget hotels and a few nice 4-star hotels. No luxury resorts. Read more: Top hotels in Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay.
- Suitable for: Couple of all ages, families (family-friendly location) and (except for the high season) seniors.
- Location: With local bus terminus, public transport can take you to pretty much anywhere. You’ll be well-located between the sandy beaches further up North and culture/history-rich places like Valletta and Mdina. You can also catch boat tours to Comino and Gozo from here.
- Note: Public parking very limited particularly in summer.
- Relatively few bathing areas. One (artificial) sandy beah
- Very little culture and not really offering a feel of life in Malta
- Busy during summer months, quiet in winter
Sliema is another popular tourist resort located along the northern coast of Malta, close to Valletta. Quick notes:
- Popular tourist location all year round. Known locally as a good location for shopping. Shark contrast between high-rises and busy coastline and the beautiful and mostly quiet streets of the quaint village core (which is sadly making room for greedy developers).
- Good choice of restaurants, also pubs.
- Beaches: Only rocky beach areas. Sandy beaches quite far away.
- Accommodation: Mostly budget and what’s advertised as 3/4-star needs refurbishment. Look for B&Bs or apartments here to get good value. Good hostels for budget travellers and backpackers. Read more: Accommodation in Sliema: Hotels, apartments and more.
- Location:Good location to explore Malta on a budget. Public transport connections are OK. Ferry to Valletta and boat tours around Valletta’s harbours and to Comino and Gozo biggest benefits. Look for accommodation on the Valletta-facing side for easy access.
- Suitable for: Couple of all ages and seniors. Family-friendly, but there are better options.
- Note: Big pain to get public parking, at any time of year. Often congested with traffic. Don’t stay if you’re looking to rent a car.
- Good choice of hotels
- Charming character in the old village core
- Easy to reach Valletta (ferry)
- Boat trips to Gozo and Comino easy to get from Ferries area
- Long promenade along the coastline for seaside strolls
- Touristy and built up. More modern than typically Maltese
- Bus connections good but long trips to popular places
- Notorious for traffic congestion and lack of public parking
- No sandy beaches
- Not much culture/history around.
St. Julian’s and Paceville
St. Julian’s is located to the West of Sliema and is a resort with two faces: The old seaside town with quaint features (which, like Sliema, features high-rise buildings too) and the nightlife centre referred to as Paceville. Quick notes:
- Popular tourist location all year round. Busy, more modern part of Malta, which is very popular with tourists and youths looking for nightlife and clubbing.
- Good choice of quality restaurants and some really great little bars even outside of Paceville.
- Beaches: Artificial beach at St. George’s Bay (not super clean, despite best efforts of local government). For decent rocky beach options: Sliema in walking distance. Otherwise: 1-1.5h bus rides to sandy beaches.
- Accommodation: Most varied mix of options from luxury 5-star resorts to affordable 3/4-star hotels, privately rented out apartments, B&Bs and also hostels for budget travellers.
- Location: Great for lazy resort-holidays, good dining out and nightlife. Not great for beaches and exploring. Public transport connections are good, which means you can get to Sliema Ferries in 10-15 mins. Hop on/hop off for quick day trips also an option.
- Suitable for: Mostly singles and younger couples. Families: Resorts on the western-most tip or edge of Paceville. Seniors: Be careful not to book in the Paceville area – noisy!
- Note: Looking to rent a car? Make sure that: 1) Private parking is available with place of stay and 2) You’re a confident driver – busy part of Malta!
- Great place for dining and relaxed/fun nights out
- Good choice of hotels – from value to 5-star luxury resorts
- Paceville is the place for nightlife in Malta
- Central location
- Busy and not really child-friendly
- One artificial sandy beach at St. George’s Bay, but not always clean in summer
- Little culture/history
- Incidents and petty crime are not uncommon in Paceville (mostly drunk brawls and pickpocketing).
Although it is a tourist resort as such, and it can get a little busy in summer, the village itself isn’t as busy as you’d think it would be. That could be caused by the beach-lovers looking to stay as close to Mellieħa Bay as possible, but also because of the limited accommodation available. My notes:
- Highly sought-after location for beach holidays and great overall option for families looking for that type of trip. The village itself still offers a view of daily village life in Malta, not being spoilt too much by tourism as some of the other resorts in this list.
- Good dining options and a few bars around, but not a place to expect great nightlife from. A car will offer more flexibility in that regard.
- Beaches: Despite the obvious Mellieħa Bay, you can easily get to other beautiful sandy beaches on the East coast like Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay.
- Accommodation: Focused on 3-star/4-star hotels and resorts. No luxury options and few budget options. Apartments and villa rentals can be found here as alternative options. More info here: The Best Mellieħa Hotels
- Location: Great for beaches but for exploration you will want to rent a car. That allows you to visit other places of interest around the country and even hop over to Gozo (separate island, part of the country) easily. If you decide to stay up in the village, keep in mind that you’ll need transport to get down to/up from the beach. Some hotels offer free shuttle buses.
- Suitable for: Younger couples and families with kids. Not suitable for people with limited mobility, since Mellieħa is built on top of a hill and has a few steep streets and many steps to get to different street levels.
- Note: Mellieħa Bay gets busy in summer, particularly on Sundays when the locals head to the beach.
- Great for beach holidays
- Good choice of hotels (although in limited numbers)
- Good selection of restaurants around
- Easy access to Gozo and Comino
- Good balance between tourism and village life in Malta
- Not as touristy as you’d expect, in the village itself primarily.
- Limited nightlife but several bars/pubs around
- A little remote – not ideal for exploring the rest of Malta, unless you hire a car
- Early booking required.
Valletta is Malta’s capital city and offers a high concentration of points of interest and museums/attractions. It’s not really a tourist resort, but it is still a popular place to stay and not as busy as you’d expect a capital city to be. Notes to consider:
- Unique place to stay all year round, full of history and hustle and bustle of a popular place of work for locals with a setting of Baroque architecture all around. Best place to stay off-season as well.
- Good choice of quality restaurants and you can easy spend 3 full days exploring what is actually a very small city. More info in my travel guide for Valletta here.
- Beaches: No beaches in Valletta, bar a few rocky places to take a dip. More info here: Where are there beaches in Valletta?
- Accommodation: Luxury 5-star resorts and boutique hotels most popular here and hard to find budget accommodation. Privately rented apartments offer affordable options. More info here: Best Valletta hotels, apartments and other accommodation
- Location: Best location for exploring and discovering Malta’s past and seeing its present. Main public transport hub (bus terminus) means you can literally go anywhere in Malta from here. Ferries to Sliema and The Three Cities. Also ferry to Sicily.
- Suitable for: Curious travellers of all ages whose primary aim isn’t lazing around at the beach or hanging out by the hotel pool all day. Budget travellers will have a hard time finding a place to stay here though.
- Centrally located, full of character
- Good holiday base to explore Malta’s history and culture, hub of local public transport
- High-quality (also luxury) accommodation available
- Good choice of restaurants and (wine) bars
- Accommodation limited, so early booking is recommended
- Nightlife limited to restaurants and bars
- No sandy beaches nearby – requires a trip by bus with pretty long travel times (1+ hours)
Gozo is the second-largest of Malta’s three islands (the third being Comino) and I like to describe it as “what Malta used to be like” – Quieter and more rural.
- Great option if you’re looking for a quiet holiday and touring the main island of Malta isn’t a must.
- No particular standout location on the island to stay. Perhaps Victoria is a little busier than other parts, but then it’s the best location if you depend on public transport.
- Beaches: Good choice and largely untouched by man. More info here: The best beaches in Gozo.
- Accommodation: Varied choice from luxury 5-stary to affordable hotels and a few budget options. Self-catering apartments and villa (farmhouse) rentals are popular options that can provide better value for money. More info: My top 25+ Gozo Hotels, Farmhouses, Villas and other accommodation
- Location: Great location for a quiet holiday, with plenty to see and do, lovely beaches that don’t get nearly as busy and a good respite away from busy everyday life. Downsides: Public transport isn’t very reliable/efficient and for accommodation it’s hard to get value.
- Suitable for: Couples of all ages and families (but probably not with teenagers – very, very limited nightlife).
- Note: Even if you might not be inclined to hire a car, I highly recommend you do so. Not only because public transport is so-so but also because driving there is pretty easygoing and it just offers so much more flexibility.
Other (quieter) places to stay in Malta
Looking to stay away from the busier tourist resorts? These are a few options to consider:
- Mdina and Rabat are a must visit to anyone’s who’s looking to get to know Malta, but it’s not always an obvious place to actually stay. Accommodation is limited but with Airbnb you can find some good deals and it’s pretty quiet (particularly Rabat and its rural outskirts).
- Marsaxlokk is one of the few remaining fishing villages in Malta and – except for Sundays when it’s a popular location for lunch – it’s quiet and quaint. Without a car it might not be ideal though, especially if you’d like to go sightseeing.
- Mġarr is a lovely little village on the western side of Malta, close to some of the most beautiful sandy beaches the country has to offer (Għajn Tuffieħa and Golden Bay). It’s a great location to experience village life in Malta and have a quiet base to explore its surrounding nature from (or to explore Malta by car). The locals are very friendly and helpful and you can get all the basics easily here. If Airbnb is an option for you, there’s no better person I can recommend staying with than Stephanie. You can view her Airbnb listings in Mġarr here and she’s the most knowledgeable person I know when it comes to hiking, diving and outdoor exploration. (Tell her Ed says hi if you decide to get in touch with her! 😉 )
Best places to stay in Malta for…
In this section I provide quick suggestions for specific types of travellers – to make your search a little easier.
Best places for couples
- Budget/affordable: The Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay area is a good option for a holiday:
- Good selection of hotels and other accommodation
- Decent choice of restaurants and bars/pubs
- Bathing options around: Artificial sandy beach and rocky bathing areas.
- Well-connected with public transport, boat tours and hop on/hop off.
- Downsides: Touristy and busy in summer, very limited public parking
- St. Julian’s and Paceville is a better choice for dining and nightlife, as well a resort holidays
- Mostly modern, small traditional village core
- Good mix of accommodation options, also best luxury resorts are here.
- Few places to swim in the sea and far from sandy beaches.
- Public transport connections good but there are better places to stay as a base for exploring
- Downsides: Construction projects ongoing and gets busy easily, also outside of the high season.
- Sliema is one of the oldest tourist hotspots around.
- Modern side with high-rises but still has quaint village core with colourful houses.
- Good for budget travellers looking for hostels and apartments. Hard to get value from 3-/4-star hotels.
- Rocky beaches and lidos with pools are good for swimming
- Good for exploring: Ferry to Valletta and boat trips to Comino/Gozo.
- Downsides: Sliema is one of the busiest places in Malta with heavy traffic congestion and notoriously difficult to find a parking spot in.
- If you’re looking to explore Malta and swimming/beaches are less important, consider staying at Malta’s capital city, Valletta. Drenched in culture and history, great restaurants and wine bars, good quality accommodation and well connected with other parts of Malta through public transport.
- Another good option for exploring the country is Mellieħa:
- Close to the best sandy beaches in Malta
- Still has character of traditional Maltese village.
- Relatively peaceful, although beach at Mellieħa Bay gets very busy in summer.
- A few nice restaurants and bars around, but not much nightlife.
- Downsides: For some might be too quiet.
Best places for Senior couples
- Although it’s Malta’s capital city, Valletta is not as busy as you’d expect and apart from good quality accommodation and great restaurants, there’s plenty to explore in terms of culture and history. All bus routes start and terminate in Valletta, meaning it’s an easy place to get around from.
- Mellieha is a charming, quiet village in the North of Malta, with good options for hotels and restaurants and several smaller (sandy) beaches where it’s quieter to swim if Mellieha Bay (largest beach) is too busy for your liking. I recommend hiring a car if you’re considering staying here.
- Mdina (old bastion city full of history) and Marsaxlokk (a quiet fishing village on the East coast of Malta) are alternatives to consider as well, although you’ll definitely need to hire a car if you decide to stay there.
- Gozo (smaller island) is also an option to consider. Quiet, largely rural, yet offering several places to explore, it’s a charming place to stay. Although public transport is available, it’s recommended to hire a car here as well.
Most places listed recommend hiring a car. Since these areas are relatively quiet, driving won’t be nearly as challenging as in the busier parts of Malta.
Best places for families with kids
- Without a doubt, Buġibba and Qawra are your best bet. There’s a good choice of hotels around with pool facilities, a good selection of family-friendly restaurants and it’s a safe area. Bathing areas (artificial sandy beach of Buġibba and Ta`Fra Ben at Qawra) are child-friendly and you can board hop on hop off buses and boat excursions in the area. There are also a large playground, the national aquarium, a cinema and other places of entertainment around.
- If you’re looking for something a little quieter, there are a few all-inclusive resorts close to the beach at Mellieħa you could also consider. Renting a car is recommended here, though.
Best place for nightlife and single people
If you’re looking for clubbing, pub crawls and nightlife, Paceville (St. Julian’s) is the place to be. If you feel adventurous or you’ve got your own transport, there are open air clubs located in the countryside (surroundings of Mdina and Rabat) that open during the summer months that are a must to party at.
One downside: Drunken brawls are not uncommon here, but as long as you stay out of trouble you’ll be fine.
Best place for beaches and sun/sea holidays
If hanging out on the beach and sunbathing are your top priorities, these are the options to consider:
- Staying at Mellieha means you’ve got Malta’s largest beach at your doorstep and smaller (sandy) beaches further up North. It’ll also be easy to cross over to Gozo to check out beaches like the beautiful Ramla l-Hamra beach.
- Want to combine a beach holiday with staying in a proper Maltese village? There are apartments rented out privately in Mġarr and Manikata that allow you to be close to some of the best beaches around and also give you a taste of Maltese village life. You’ll definitely want to rent a car, however.
- Super lazy and have spare cash to burn? The Radisson Golden Sands hotel sits right on the edge of one of Malta’s best beaches: Golden Bay.
Decided on where to stay in Malta? Next steps!
Great! Here are a few next steps with more tips and recommendations to: