Where to stay when visiting Malta + How to get around

When booking accommodations in Malta, there are three main cities to choose from; St. Julian’s, Sliema, and Valletta. Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect in each.

  • St. Julian’s is where you will find a majority of Malta’s nightlife particularly in the district of Paceville which is heavily populated with nightclubs, bars, strip clubs, pubs, and restaurants. While this area has a lot of options for nightlife, it does have a “spring break party” vibe so if that’s not you’re thing, you’ll probably only find yourself visiting this area once or twice during your stay. There is also a tiny sandy beach nearby called St. George’s Bay but aside from these two “hot-spots”, there isn’t much to do in this area. 
  • Sliema is located south of St. Julian’s and has a much calmer atmosphere. There are a variety of sea-side restaurants, a large indoor shopping mall, grocery stores, shops, and boutiques. This is also where you’ll find the Ferries bus stops which have connections to almost anywhere on the island.  
  • Valletta is charming, filled with history, and is where you will find most of Malta’s museums and churches. During the day Valletta is where a majority of people visit since it has the most options of things to do which you can read about in this post, the evenings on the other hand are much quieter. The streets are often empty with people leaving to visit Sliema and St. Julian’s. You can find a few bars open but for the most part, Valletta becomes a bit of a ghost town at night.
how to get around
by bus but be warned they fill up fast!

When they say Malta is a small country, it’s small. You can travel from one end to the other in about an hour by car although most visitors get around by public bus which is extremely easy to navigate. As you can see from the map below, St. Julian’s is located furthest north then Sliema and Valletta. There is a transportation hub in Sliema where all of the main buses are located at Ferries 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. 

With buses being the only source of public transportation, they fill quickly. If you are staying anywhere between Sliema and Valletta south of the Ferries bus stops (blue markers on the map) when the bus leaves St. Julian’s with passengers then picks up passengers in Sliema, by the time the bus gets to you on its way to Valletta, there’s usually no room which means you will have to catch the next bus (hopefully!). 

The same can be said for anything between Sliema and St. Julian north of Ferries bus stops. If the bus leaves Valletta with passengers then picks up passengers in Sliema, by the time it gets to you on its way to St. Julian’s it’s full. For this reason, I found staying in Sliema near the Ferries bus stops perfect. It’s centrally located and offers access to a variety of bus options to get you anywhere you want on the island. 

There’s also a bus that goes directly to Ċirkewwa, the Ferry Boat Terminal (green marker on map) that takes you to the islands of Comino and Gozo although if you want to visit the Blue Lagoon, I suggest booking this amazing company. They offer a van/coach transfer with pick-up points near various accommodations so that you can avoid the long journey to Ċirkewwa on public transportation.      

tickets/passes
  • Single Two-hour ticket: These can be purchased with cash directly from the bus driver.
  • 12 single Two-hour tickets CARD: This card gives you 12 journeys totaling 6 round-trip tickets. 

Explore CARD – This card gives you 7 days of unlimited trips. It includes buses going to and from the airport and night buses.

I spent a week in Malta and purchased the Explore Card which allowed me to travel as much as I wanted without worry that I wouldn’t have enough cash on hand to catch a bus back to my accommodations, especially late at night. Cards can be purchased at public transport kiosks and there is one located in Sliema near the Ferries 3 bus stop.  

TRANSPORTATION APPS TO DOWNLOAD: 

  • Tallinga for android or apple
  • Meep for android or apple

    The public transport kiosk and my accommodations recommended the above apps and while I download them to my phone as a backup, more often than not, I found google maps the easiest.

where to stay?

If you’re in your early 20’s and looking to sleep in late, then spend your afternoons laying at the beach and your evenings partying, St. Julian’s may be a good fit.

If you only have a few days in Malta and are looking to stay somewhere filled with history and charm, then Valletta is a great choice.

Valletta is usually the type of place I would choose to book accommodations however the fact that it turns into a ghost town at night solidified my decision to book in Sliema and I couldn’t have been happier. Sliema is centrally located, has the Ferries bus stops which are great for exploring the island, and is the perfect mix of lively and laidback with options for things to do in the evening. It’s also much closer to St. Julian’s should you chose to have a night out on the town and hit a few bars and clubs. 

Need ideas for planning your Malta trip? Click here for the top things to do in Valletta, here for the best way to visit the Blue Lagoon and Gozo, and here for info about visiting Mdina The Silent City.

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