Sliema sits just over Valletta Harbour from the great UNESCO castles and cathedrals of the Maltese capital. It's a vibrant, lived-in area. You can find colourful apartments rolling down to coves and tidal pools where the Mediterranean Sea sloshes against the quaysides. The dramatic sights are partly what Sliema is most famous for. In the blocks behind the water are charming Baroque churches, flower-strewn cottages, and sidewalk cafés by the bucket load.

    The resort town has also garnered a reputation for being one of the nightlife and shopping hubs of Malta. Among the best things to do in Sliema are browsing the malls stringing the boulevards of Tigné Point, and fashion stores and boutiques cram the streets going north. Meanwhile, Saint Julian's Bay, Balluta Bay, and Spinola Bay combine to offer more cocktail joints and eateries than you could possibly need in a single weekend. 

    What are the best things to do in Sliema?


    Tigné Point Beach

    Cool off in the sky-blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea

    • Families
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    • Budget

    Tigné Point Beach runs around the edge of Sliema, beneath the walls of old Fort Tigné. You can reach it by following the concrete paths and steps that wiggle through the district straight to the shoreline. But don't come expecting a beach in the classic sense. This one's more of a rocky outcrop where the Med bashes into the coves and inlets.

    Crowds come to cool off around Tigné Point Beach during the summer months. The water is clear and refreshing between May and October. In the winter, you might also catch some daring locals taking the plunge. One thing that stays the same is the view, however, which includes a panorama of historic Valletta and the dome of St. John's Co-Cathedral over the strait.

    Location: Tigne Point, Censu Xerri, Sliema, Malta


    Sliema promenade

    Stroll against the sea breeze around the edge of Sliema

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    The Sliema promenade links up the whole of the town as it weaves around the coast from Tigné Point to the vibrant bays of Saint Julian in the north. The locals call it, simply, The Front. It's their main gathering spot, where joggers, dog walkers, café hoppers, and cocktail sippers meet after work and in the evenings.

    It's also a great place to go to seek out some of Sliema's more historic landmarks. The square-cut Torri ta' San Giljan looms high about halfway along the prom. It dates back to the 1600s and has seen hard-fought artillery battles in its time. Move a little to the south of that and you'll find the quirky Independence Garden. It's been commandeered by cats as a sleeping spot, but also has babbling baroque fountains and sweeping views of the sea.

    Location: Tower Road, Sliema, Malta


    Fort Tigné

    Stunning scenes and memorable sunsets

    • History
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    The walls of Fort Tigné have been keeping watch over the entrance to Marsamxett Harbour since the late 18th century. That's when this muscular castle was raised by the Knights of St John. They were soon glad they'd built it, too, because Napoleon attempted to grab the island in 1798, and this became a major point of resistance against the French armies.

    After the turn of the millennium, the whole area inside Fort Tigné was totally redeveloped. Chic apartment blocks peering over the Mediterranean Sea sprouted from the old barracks. Parks and promenades popped up on the stone walls. Head into all that to find a place for the sunset hour on the coast. The panoramic views of Valletta are second to none.

    Location: Tigne Point, Censu Xerri, Sliema, Malta


    Manoel Island

    A dash of yacht watching and historic remains

    • History
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    Manoel Island juts out into the middle of the harbour just south of Sliema. It's an unusual corner of the city that seems to have resisted modern development just a little better than its compadres on the mainland. For example, there are still steep slopes clad in scrub next to limestone boulders sprayed by the waves of the Med.

    Crowning the lot are the buildings of the Lazzaretto and Fort Manoel. The first was built in the 1500s as a place to quarantine victims of the Black Death. The second was an addition to the great fortifications of the Knights of St John, and later a British barracks in WWII. Other sights on Manoel Island include the curious Duck Village – for encounters with quacking residents – and the Yacht Yard – for glimpses of expensive catamarans.

    Location: Gzira, Malta


    Balluta Bay

    A Sliema hot spot for sunbathing and café-hopping

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    Balluta Bay on the northern edge of Sliema lets the clear waters of the Med roll over white-tinted pebbles. On one side, the Gothic filigrees of the Carmelite Parish Church draw the eye. Behind is a bustling piazza where you can sit with a coffee and watch the world go by.

    During the summer months, Balluta Bay is a favourite local swimming spot. More of a classic beach than the rocky headlands elsewhere in the town, it's got space for laying the towel and soaking up the rays. You might want to bring the snorkel along, too – there are some interesting fish-filled reefs lining the bay.

    Location: Balluta Bay, Saint Julian's, Malta


    Fond Ghadir

    Dip into bathing pools carved into the Maltese coast

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    The Fond Ghadir is a series of manmade bathing pools in Sliema. While locals refer to them as the Roman Baths, the pools actually date to the 1800s. They carve into the coastline on the northern edge of Sliema, just beneath the ramparts of Tower Road. Originally salt pans, they've now been commandeered by swimmers and sunbathers, at least for the summer.

    Head down with the towel and the trunks in tow. There are plenty of places to laze and relax. When things get too hot, hop into one of the square-cut pools. They're like a natural bubble bath with crystal-clear water and ample protection from the strongest waves.

    Location: Font Ghadir, Sliema, Malta


    The Point Shopping Mall

    Hit the boutiques for some fashion, Sliema style

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    The Point is hailed as the largest single shopping mall in all of Malta. It sits just behind the bulwarks of Fort Tigné, right in the downtown heart of Sliema. You'll find enough to fuel whole days of retail therapy, from high-street names to haute couture boutiques to sprawling sports emporiums.

    Then come the electronics shops and photography outlets, along with artisan bakers and casual coffee houses. There are also regular events held at The Point, including Christmas fairs and spring carnivals.

    Location: Tigne Point, Tas-Sliema, Malta

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 10 am to 7.30 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +356 2065 5550


    photo by GFDL (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Streets around the Parish Church of Sacro Cuor

    Be charmed by the hidden side of Sliema

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    In the backstreets that roll between Marsamxett Harbour and vibrant Spinola Bay, there are all sorts of treasures just waiting to be uncovered. A short stroll up the streets around Manwel Dimech and San Piju V reveals cosy cafés, Italian-style bread makers, jewellery stalls, and quaint cottages with painted shutters.

    Beyond that is the honey-coloured baroque face of the Parish Church of Sacro Cuor – one for avid photographers. Explore around that and you'll be further surprised by the big towers of the Parish Church of St. Gregory the Great, which keeps watch over piazzas and narrow alleys.

    Location: Sliema, Malta


    Eat stuffat tal-fenek

    Sample the national dish of Malta

    • Food

    There's no more iconic a dish on the island of Malta than stuffat tal-fenek. In essence, it’s a hearty, country rabbit stew, packed with game meat and rich Mediterranean tomato sauce, all infused with bay leaves and garlic. The best of them are prepared the night before eating, to allow time for the marinade to flavour the meat. Oh, and they're almost always served with a full-bodied Maltese red wine.

    You'll find it served in all the traditional taverns of Sliema, but regular plaudits go to Ta' Kris restaurant on Fawwara Lane and the kitchens of Gululu, which spills onto breezy patios next to the bobbing yachts of Spinola Bay.


    Saint Julian’s

    Hit the nightlife hub of Malta

    • Nightlife

    Saint Julian’s is one of Malta's most popular R&R hubs. Stretching along the shoreline of the island, a 20-minute walk along the main promenade to the north of Sliema, this is where the good-time vibes are at their strongest. Sleek champagne bars open on the terraces above the sea, while chic cocktail joints and hotels with pools huddle between the honey-hued old buildings.

    Nighttime is when Saint Julian really hits its zenith. After dark and during the summertime, crowds flock to the venues of Spinola Bay to clink wine glasses and eat Maltese mezze. Later, the action moves to Paceville, where raucous pub crawls and karaoke bars take over.

    Location: Saint Julian’s, Malta

    Joseph Francis | Contributing Writer

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