The town is located in a more rural and quiet part of Malta and is a popular summer resort for locals, as well as tourists looking to enjoy a holiday in the sun.
Trying to decide whether to stay in Mellieħa or are you preparing for your trip to this destination? On this page, I’ll introduce you to the town, and tell you more about the best things to do, places to stay and where to eat!
This hilltop town has a lovely character and offers picturesque scenes that give you a glimpse of village life in Malta. You can also find whatever you need for a comfortable holiday here: Good hotels, a good choice of restaurants, supermarkets, a few (smaller) shops, and a community of locals, expats, and fellow tourists enjoying their time away.
Mellieħa is surrounded by fertile valleys providing beautiful panoramas and village scenes not seen frequently in the Maltese islands. In the area around the town, you can find various bays and beaches and for that reason, it’s the best place to stay if beaches are a priority on your holiday.
Mellieħa is known for its natural surroundings, and particularly its (mostly) sandy beaches. Apart from the largest sandy beach that Malta offers, Mellieħa Bay, you can also easily get to Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa (my personal favourite beach). Also nearby, to the North of Mellieħa Bay, you can find Armier Bay, Little Armier Bay and White Tower Bay. More info further down in this article: Beaches around Mellieħa.
One of the benefits of staying in Mellieħa is also that you’re close to Malta’s beautiful (and quieter) sister-islands of Gozo and Comino (the smallest and barely inhabited of the three Maltese islands).
There are a number of options you can choose from to spend a day at either (or both) of these islands:
Take a 15-minute bus/car ride to Ċirkewwa and hop onto the Gozo ferry for a 20-minute ride. If you’re renting a car, you can take your car onto the ferry as well. Their rates for a return ticket are €4.65 for adults, €1.15 for children and €15.70 for car and driver. You pay for your tickets on your return from Gozo.
Once you land in Gozo, these are a few recommended options for exploring the island:
Comino is practically uninhabited but is a popular destination for day visitors. The vast majority go there to swim at and admire the Blue Lagoon during the summer months, while others opt to hike outside of the hottest months of the year.
There are a few recommended options when it comes to Comino:
If you happen to be in Malta around the 8th of September, then you might want to visit the Mellieħa village feast. This religious celebration is dedicated to Our Lady of Victories and fills Mellieħa full of life during the feast. With lighting and decorations in the streets, musical concerts, fireworks, folk singing, food stands and art exhibitions, as well as religious processions, there’s plenty to take in.
Get my recommendations on the best day trips, boat trips, excursions and activities and book in advance!
Mellieħa is a very popular tourist destination and a great alternative to the busy, loud and fast life of St. Julian’s, Sliema or Buġibba/Qawra/St. Paul’s Bay. There are several options when planning your stay in Mellieħa, be it a hotel, holiday complex, or self-catering apartment.
You can find a full list of my recommended hotels here: The Best Mellieħa Hotels based on personal recommendations
Here’s a quick overview:
Have a look at two of Tony’s apartments in Mellieħa and rent direct from the owner. He’s one of the few holiday let owners in the area I recommend:
No availability at Tony’s? There’s plenty of choice on Airbnb in the area!
Although Malta’s pretty small, it can take a fair bit of time to travel from the airport, so an airport transfer might be a more comfortable option than taking the bus. The cost for a private taxi transfer is around €30 while a shuttle bus fare is around €14 for 2 adults (both one-way fees). (Taxis take up to 4 passengers, and that’ll work out at close to the cost of a shuttle bus.)
If you would like to hire a car, grab a taxi or take a look at what other transport options are available in Malta, I recommend having a look at another one of my articles: Public transport, taxis and other ways of getting around in Malta and Gozo.
Get more detailed info here: How to get from Malta Airport to Mellieħa.
The Mellieħa parish church is a 19th-century baroque style building built in traditional Maltese stone. It is dedicated to the birth of The Nativity Of Our Lady with a feast celebrated annually on the 8th of September. The church boasts five bells that were brought over from Milan. The major attraction within this church is the five paintings by the famous Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì.
Once a small Augustinian monastery, the sanctuary dates back to the 16th century. The crypt within, originally one of the many natural caves found in this area, was excavated by Mario de Vasi, a Sicilian wine merchant who contributed to the erection of the statue of Our Lady of the Grotto.
According to local legend, the cave was visited by St Luke and St Paul when they were shipwrecked on the island – two splendid marble sculptures of the two apostles are among the many items within the sanctuary.
Other religious items include letters from devoted visitors asking for a miracle, icons, frescoes, oil paintings dating as far back as the 17th century, as well as a small museum dedicated to Pope John Paul II, who visited this sanctuary in 1990. An impressive collection of votive prayers line the walls. The sanctuary opens every day from 08.00 to 12.00 and from 16.00 to 18.00. On Saturdays, a mass in English is held at 1000 hrs.
St. Agatha’s Tower, or as it’s most commonly known, the Red Tower stands guard over Mellieħa Bay. Like all other watchtowers along the coastline, it was built as a signalling post for communication, in this case with towers in Gozo.
It was capable of housing 30 soldiers. From the top of St Agatha’s Tower, the view is absolutely stunning. You can see right up to Gozo on one side and down past Mosta on the other. For a small entrance fee, visitors can climb to the top of the tower and also visit a small section with the history of the tower and the restoration process. The Red Tower is opened by Din l-Art Helwa volunteers as follows:
Built in 1658, the White Tower (Maltese: Torri l-Abjad) is a small watchtower overlooking Armier Bay. It is one of 13 watchtowers, built under the rule of Grand Master Martin de Redin to defend the Maltese coast. In 2009, it was passed on to the local council as part of the area’s cultural heritage.
The tower that guards Għajn Tuffieħa (Riviera bay) and Il-Mixquqa (Golden Bay) was built in 1637. It’s very similar to Lippija Tower, its close counterpart overlooking Ġnejna bay. The Għajn Tuffieħa Tower is longish in shape and the ground floor room is larger than the second floor one. It was armed with ½-pounder cannon and manned by four men, a captain and three men, who were paid by the University of Mdina.
The Għadira Nature Reserve, with its rare habitat, is one of the few places in Malta where you can go bird watching. Located inland from Mellieħa Bay, it has been in operation since 1978. Various species of migrating birds visit the wetland and the salt marsh each year and nature lovers can observe them from two hides opposite each other. The reserve is open from 7 November to May on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. Entry is free but donations help the volunteers maintain this unusual attraction in Malta.
The recently opened Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park offer miles of coastal walks across rocky paths with superb views of the cliffs and the sea. The wild habitat in the park offers a look at the typical arid Maltese countryside, with its variety of wild plants and fauna, like the common lizards and the not so common local snakes. They generally scuttle off in hiding when they hear you coming. Parking is available at several points, such as at Golden Bay. Sturdy footwear is recommended.
The Mellieħa air raid shelter is the largest of 46 shelters dug in Mellieħa during World War Two, reaching a length of over 500 metres. It was recently opened to the public by the Maria Bambina Choral and Orchestral Society of Mellieħa. The shelter includes waxwork characters in various rooms, showing how the Maltese took shelter during the bombing. The admission price is €2.40. You are left to your own devices to explore the tunnels in your own time.
Popeye Village is an entertainment park based on the real film set used in Paramount Pictures 1980’s Popeye movie starring Robin Williams is a great place for families with children. It offers great views of the bay and the on-site restaurant is quite popular. Within the set itself, one can enjoy various reenactments by actors. Visitors can also use the beach facilities to swim in Anchor Bay or just lie down by the beach. Entrance is at a fee, but the package includes a number of offerings, such as boat trips, entrance to the cinema on location, a drink and use of facilities.
A little interesting fishing museum with various exhibits and history. Originally a fort, the place was later used in the second world war as a defensive position. It has since been restored and converted into a museum by a number of local volunteers to explain the complex job of tuna fishing by Mellieħa fishermen.
One of the major benefits of holidaying in Mellieħa is that you’ll be close to some of the most gorgeous beaches of Malta within an area of a few square kilometres. If you choose to stay in this village, beaches like Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa are within easy reach by bus as well.
The most popular is Mellieħa Bay (or Għadira), also Malta’s largest sandy beach. Its crystal clear waters are very shallow which makes it ideal for families with little children. Public toilets and several snack bars can be found on the beach and for a couple of Euros, you can rent an umbrella and sunbeds for the day.
Paradise Bay is a small sandy beach surrounded by high cliffs and a view of Gozo in the distance. It lies over the hill beyond Mellieħa Bay, on the road towards the Gozo ferry which departs at Ċirkewwa. It is easier to reach if you’re renting a car. Public toilets, as well as a large snack bar, are available on location.
These are two popular beaches among locals especially and tend to be a little less busy, even at the height of summer. Armier and Little Armier (both at Armier Bay) are located on the Northside of Malta’s figurative tail fin. The minute you get up on the hill past Mellieħa Bay, take a turn to your right onto a long road and take a turn to your left when you see the sign pointing towards Armier Bay, or keep going a little further for the turn to Little Armier. Both spots offer beautiful sandy beaches, with clean sands and waters and a large snack bar at the edge of both beaches for refreshments. You can rent umbrellas and sunbeds at both too.
Please note: Buses don’t stop at the bay, and a walk in the summer heat will be too much to bear for both, so this is really only an option if you rent a car (or get a lift).
Further down the road from Armier and Little Armier, there’s another small sandy beach called White Tower Bay. Mostly frequented by locals (and temporary summer residents who park a caravan or own a so-called boathouse there), it’s another more secluded option. However, you won’t find any amenities here.
Slugs Bay is a small secluded beach off the beaten track. It lies on the same ridge as Armier bay, but on the opposite side. The name of the bay comes from the sea slugs found there. It is accessible from a winding path that takes you down through the cliff boulders to the bay. The clarity of the sea at this bay and the abundance of marine life make it very popular with divers.
Another secluded beach with clear waters is Imġiebaħ Bay, accessible from a narrow road opposite the Selmun Palace. It is not a popular beach and there are no facilities on-site, however, it is very peaceful and excellent for swimming and snorkelling.
On the opposite side of Popeye’s Village, one can find an excellent dive site, very popular amongst the local aficionados. Divers have a chance to see interesting caves and rock formations in the area and a wide variety of marine life such as octopus, groupers, parrotfish, moray eels, scorpionfish, and cuckoo wrasse and many other species. It’s also a great location for snorkelling.
Mellieħa’s history goes back quite a while. Evidence of Neolithic activity has surfaced many times in the area. Several megalithic remains, rock-cut tombs, pottery fragments and primitive tools were all found around the Mellieħa hill.
There are also many naturally formed caves around the base of the village which according to experts have been inhabited by troglodytes since 213 B.C. These caves seem to have been used not only as dwellings but also as a place for burial.
Like many other remote parts of the island, Mellieħa was abandoned during the late 15th century due to fear of corsair attacks. Mellieħa was repopulated in the 17th century when the Knights of Malta built several fortifications to protect the area. Its inhabitants settled in the area mainly for agriculture, taking benefit of the fertile valleys around Mellieħa as well as “tunny net” fishing.
In 1844, Mellieħa was established again as a parish and developed into a more modern town. Most of the buildings and streets in the centre of current-day Mellieħa date from that period.
Mellieħa is a laid-back village that offers a nice balance between being a traditional Maltese village and a tourist destination. This is the best place to stay for being close to Malta’s best sandy beaches and the town as all amenities for a comfortable holiday. Sightseeing options are also available, there’s a good choice of restaurants, but for buzzing nightlife look elsewhere.
There’s nearly 23 km between Mellieħa and Valletta. A number of buses take you directly between the 2 destinations, such as bus routes 41, 42 and 44, and others make a connection with other hubs.
Mellieħa is 22 km away from the Malta International Airport. Taxis are available from just outside the terminal, as well as the X1 Public Transport Bus which leaves at frequent intervals and takes just over an hour to get you there. More info here: How to get from Malta airport to Mellieħa.
Yes, there are a few supermarkets that are easy to find:
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