View of Mellieħa from next to the church.

Mellieħa travel guide and tips

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Mellieħa is one of the northernmost villages of main island Malta and overlooks Malta’s largest sandy beach called Mellieħa Bay, also referred to as Ghadira (pron. a-deera).

The village has a lovely character and picturesque scenes that provide you with a view of life in Malta as well as offering you all amenities for a comfortable holiday.

Mellieħa is situated on top of a hill, surrounded by fertile valleys providing beautiful panoramas and village scenes not seen frequently in the Maltese islands. It’s just a 5- to 10-minute drive away from Ċirkewwa, where you can easily hop on the ferries to Gozo and Comino.

Quick Facts

  • Mellieħa population: 10,000+
  • Mellieħa is about an hour’s drive from Malta International Airport
  • Mellieħa Bay is Malta’s largest sandy beach and everyone calls it Għadira (pron. a-deera, meaning stagnant water and referring to the nature reserve further inland)
  • The local village feast of Mellieħa is celebrated annually on the 8th of September, which is a public holiday nationwide.

Valletta travel guide for 2019!

Why stay in Mellieħa (and why not)?

Stay in Mellieħa if:

  • You’d like to get a bit of a feel for what village life in Malta is like
  • You want a good base to explore Malta from that isn’t busy, but offers good accommodation options
  • You’re eager to head to Gozo and Comino but you also want to do sightseeing in Malta.
  • You want a lazy holiday with sun and sea. (You can find some of the best beaches in Malta in this area)

Don’t stay in Mellieħa if:

  • You’re expecting a buzzing nightlife – there isn’t much around
  • You don’t like steep uphill walks (or you’re not as fit/mobile). The village sits on top of a hill so expect to climb steps and walk uphill.
  • You absolutely don’t want to hire a car. You CAN get by with public transport, but being a little remote, you’re definitely better off renting a car. Plus, it’s pretty quiet around the area so driving isn’t as tricky as in the busier parts of Malta. Always talk to your hotel/accommodation contact in advance to enquire about parking spaces, however.

How to get to Mellieħa

Popular Bus Routes

  • From Valletta bus routes 41, 42 and 44 take you directly to Mellieħa.
  • If you’re in the Sliema area, bus numbers 225 and TD5 can take you directly up to Mellieħa.
  • From Birkirkara, take buses 42 or 44.
  • Bus numbers 221, 223 and 225 will take you from Buġibba to Mellieħa in under an hour.
  • And if you need to go up to Ċirkewwa to catch the Gozo ferry, you need to hop on bus number 42.
  • Route X1 takes you straight from the airport to the centre of Mellieħa and terminates at Ċirkewwa (Gozo ferry) as well.

Airport transfers

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.)

Other forms of transport to Mellieħa

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.

Hotels in Mellieħa

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, being it a hotel, holiday complex, or a 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:

  • Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands – Located in the wider Mellieħa area, this is a five-star hotel well known for its unique location overlooking Golden Bay. It offers a number of excellent restaurants with great food services. Facilities include a private beach.
  • Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa – A 4-star hotel in the centre of Mellieħa, just a few minutes walk from the beach and close to a lot of restaurants on the same street. Facilities include 3 pools, gym and spa.
  • db Seabank Hotel – Resort & Spa – offering 4-star accommodation with plenty of bars and restaurants within the hotel. It is very popular with families with children, being so close to the beach right across the road and promising a great time for young ones with games rooms and bowling lanes.
  • Mellieha Holiday Centre – A resort boasting extensive grounds, large swimming pool, several restaurants, a tennis court, children’s playground, mini golf course as well as a well-stocked supermarket. Accommodation in spacious, well equipped self-catering bungalows with a private courtyard.
  • Ramla Bay Resort – Located in a beautiful bay overlooking Comino and Gozo and offering 280 spacious en-suite rooms, each with a balcony and unobstructed views of the sea or countryside. Featuring various restaurants and snack bars, SPA and 2 pools.
  • Pergola Club Hotel & Spa – Popular 4 star hotel with pools, SPA, nice rooms and a number of good bars and restaurants.
  • Mellieha Bay Hotel – Excellent location with 313 recently refurbished rooms offering a breathtaking view of Mellieħa Bay from a private balcony or terrace. Guests can explore the lush gardens, lie by one of four beautiful swimming pools, or relax on the private sandy beach.

Prefer a self-catering apartment?

Have a look at two of Tony’s apartments in Mellieħa and rent direct from owner. He’s one of the few holiday let owners in the area I recommend:

No availability at Tony’s. There’s a bunch of good options available on Airbnb (follow this link for a discount), also close to Mellieħa Bay.

Places of interest in Mellieħa

Parish Church of 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 are the five paintings by the famous Maltese artist Giuseppe Calì.

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mellieħa

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 Saturday’s, a mass in English is held at 1000 hrs.

The Red Tower

St. Agatha’s Tower, or as it’s most commonly known, the Red Tower stands guard over Mellieħa Bay. Like all other watch towers 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:

  • Winter Opening Hours – 16th September – 14th June: 10.00hrs – 16:00hrs
  • Summer Opening Hours – 15th June – 15th September: Mornings 10.00hrs – 13:00hrs
  • Summer Opening Hours – 15th June – 15th September: Afternoons 15.00hrs – 18.00hrs

Panorama view from next to the Mellieħa church.

The White Tower

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.

Għajn Tuffieħa Tower

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-pdr cannon and manned by four men, a captain and three men, who were paid by the University of Mdina.

Għadira Nature Reserve

The Għadira Nature Reserve, with its rare habitat, is the only place 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 10am to 4pm. Entry is free but donations help the volunteers maintain this unusual attraction in Malta.

Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park

The recently opened Il-Majjistral Nature and History Park offers 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 recommended.

Mellieħa Air Raid Shelter

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. Admission price is €2.80. You are left to your own devices to explore the tunnels in your own time.

Popeye Village

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.

Tunnara Museum

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.

Mellieħa Feast

If you happen to be in Malta around the 8th of September, then you might want to visit the Mellieħa village feast. The feast is dedicated to Our Lady of Victories and fills Mellieħa full of life during the feast with musical concerts, fireworks, folk singing, food stands and art exhibitions as well as religious processions.

Beaches near Mellieħa

One of the major benefits of holidaying in Mellieħa is that you’ll be close 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.

Mellieħa Bay

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

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.

Armier and Little Armier

This is a popular beach among locals especially. Armier Bay is located on the north side 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 bumpy road and take a turn to your left when you see the sign pointing towards Armier. Here you’ll find a beautiful sandy beach, with clean sands and waters and a large snack bar at the edge of the beach for refreshments.

Slugs Bay

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 which 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.

Imġiebaħ Bay

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.

Anchor Bay Dive Site

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, parrot fish, moray eels, scorpion fish, cuckoo wrasse and many other species. It’s also a great location for snorkelling.

History of Mellieħa

Mellieħa’s history goes back quite a while. Evidence of Neolithic activity has surfaced many times in the area. A number of 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.


Which beach is safe today?
Check out this useful map that marks safe beaches in green flags, telling which beaches are free from jellyfish and which are calm.

How far is Mellieħa from Valletta?
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.

How far is Mellieħa from the airport?
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.

Are there any supermarkets in Mellieħa?
Yes, there are a few supermarkets that are easy to find:

  • Valyou Supermarket is the largest one around and is located close to the roundabout coming up from Xemxija (drive into Mellieħa, first left, then immediately right.
  • At the top of the hill in the main road you can find a small supermarket called Kurt’s Discount Store
  • If you’re staying near Mellieħa Bay, the easiest (but not cheapest) option is the small supermarket at the Mellieħa Holiday Centre (entrance to the complex is located at the roundabout around the middle of the bay).

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  1. Hi. We are staying at the Mellieha Bay Hotel in August. Can you recommend any good restaurants within walking distance. We are a family of 4 with a 16 year old and 14 year old and like to try most things. Thank you.

    • Hi Karen, both Munchies and San Remo are on the edge of the beach and both serve good food. For other good options you’ll have to head up into the village.

  2. Hi Edward, can Valletta be reached by boat from Mellieha? Are there either private or organised boat trips?

    • Hi Neil, it’s undoubtedly possible but I’m not aware of any operators I’m afraid. I’d consider booking a sightseeing tour if you’re looking to a practical alternative to taking the bus. Pickup/dropoff to your accommodation is usually included.

  3. Hi,
    My partner and I are staying here next May. We will be staying at The Ramla Resort. Please could you tell me how long it would take us to walk to restaurants in the area please? Thank you.

    • Hi Sheridan, I’m afraid the Ramla Bay Resort is pretty secluded so you’ll have to walk in the direction of Cirkewwa along the private beach and hotel next door at Marfa to get on a bus at bus stop ‘Ahrax’ to catch a bus down to Mellieha Bay or Mellieha itself. Unless of course you’re up for a longer walk to work up a hunger that is, in which case it’ll be a 30-minute walk to Munchies at Mellieha Bay or an hour’s walk (partially uphill) to get to the centre of Mellieha. 🙂

  4. Hi,
    I will be staying in Mellieha with a group of friends. If we want to go out in St Julians, what the best way to get there and back? Would you recommend a bus/taxi? Sadly, renting a car is not really an option…

    • Hi Annelien, it’s quite a drive so splitting a taxi is definitely the best way. If ‘best’ is ‘cheapest’ it’ll be a night bus and relatively early trip back up to Mellieha. N11 is the route you need and buses depart from the St. Julian’s bus terminus (close to Paceville) from midnight to 3am (last trip departure time).

  5. Hi we’re staying at the Pergola Spa Hotel. Are there restaurants and bars close by? And how far from the beach are we?
    Thanks, Kerry.

    • Hi Kerry, yes, there are a few restaurants and bars close by – you’ll be staying a short walk away from the main street where you’ll find a few good options. Closer to Mellieħa Bay you can also find a few good ones. You’ll be staying up on the hill on which the village is set, so you’ll have to get a bus down to the bay, which shouldn’t take longer than 10-15 minutes. Having said that, it’s a popular route at this time of year so it might take a little longer. Often hotels in the area offer a shuttle service to the beach although I’m not sure whether the Pergola do the same. Worth checking in advance!

  6. Hi,
    We’re staying in Mellieha and looking for a fish monger. Can you help us?
    Best regards

    • Hi Nele, there used to be a fish monger in the centre called Tunnara but I believe they closed shop, so the only one I know of is at Valyou supermarket (on the lower floor I believe).

  7. Hi staying at Ramla Bay Hotel in September. Are there local places to eat on foot during the day or local supermarkets as not renting a car.

    • Hi Margaret, there’s usually a small supermarket on the main road that opens during the summer but I believe the hotel itself has a small grocery shop as well. You can find a few restaurants near Mellieħa Bay like Munchies but it is a little bit of a walk to get there I’m afraid.

  8. Hi we are staying at Pergola Spa Hotel in November, is the Valyou supermarket close by ?

    • Hi Ray, it’s about 15 minutes’ walk away on foot. It’s located on the edge of town, as you enter Mellieħa coming up from Xemxija.

  9. My friend and I will be staying at the Luna Holiday Complex from 5th September for 2 weeks. Any advice on nearby facilities and recommendations of restaurants & bars in walking distance would be great. We want to have some relaxing beach days and also do sightseeing all over the island. Is it walking distance to the beach? Also, are we near a bus stop for transport to other beaches and other places of interest.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Safiya, you’ll be staying very close to Mellieha Bay, like a 5-min walk from the beach. You can find a few nice restaurants nearby, including San Remo and Munchies (along the beach) and one80 further up the hill towards the village. There are bus stops right outside the hotel as well.

  10. Are there any Easter events in the village please?

    • Not that I’m aware of, sorry Sandy!

  11. Staying at the Seabank Resort in May. Are there restaurants and bars nearby if we decided to go for a walk in the evenings? Also how is the weather middle to end of may?

    • Hi Stacey, on the edge of the beach you can find San Remo Beach Club and Munchies – both are good options to try. Further up the road towards the village you can also find one80 which is nice. If you’re renting a car or don’t mind getting a taxi (Taxify/eCabs) you could also try Rebekah’s (also in Mellieha but you’ll need to drive for it to be practical). Hope that helps!

  12. Hi,

    I want to Travel to Mellieha in February, we are planning on stay at the Mellieha Bay Hotel, – how far is this hotel from the airport, as different sources are telling me different things. On google maps it says 25 mins with a car?

    • Hi Dilruba, it is a bit of a drive for an otherwise small island. I’d say 30-45 minutes by car, depending on traffic.

  13. How regualr are buses to Valetta? And what time is the last one back?
    Are there restaurants and bars in Mellieha?

    • Hi Scott, since Mellieħa is on the way to the Gozo ferry buses pass here regularly with different routes that can take you to/from Valletta. You can get more info on routes and timetables on the site of Malta Public Transport.

      Yes, there are several restaurants and also a few bars around in the village.

  14. Succinct web page with a range of useful information.

    • Thanks Chris, happy to hear you like it!

  15. Hi,
    We will be staying at the Seabank resort, Mellieha in July. Where and how far are the nearest supermarkets from the hotel?

    • Hi Peter,

      The closest option is the small supermarket at the Mellieha Holiday Centre, which is located near the roundabout further down the road in the direction of Gozo. Prices will be a little higher and they have limited choice. If you’re driving you’ll have much better choice at Valyou Supermarket, on the edge of Mellieħa as you enter the village coming from Xemxija. Pass the roundabout and take the first street to the left, then immediately right. Hope you enjoy your stay!


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