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Where to stay in Malta for first time visitors

A comprehensive guide on finding the best accommodation in Malta

Excited about finding our where to stay in Malta? Nestled between Sicily and North Africa, Malta is made up of three beautiful historic islands with a craggy coastline, rock-cut salt pools, and honey-coloured stone streets to wander. Malta has often been described as an open-air museum for the sheer volume of historic sites on offer. It’s capital city Valetta is a UNESCO World Heritage city and was named European capital 2018. Interestingly, it’s still off the radar in terms of mass tourism when compared to other historic cities, such as Rome or Athens, which makes exploring these laidback islands all the more thrilling. This is a place where you can spend the day visiting some of the oldest buildings ever created, enjoy ancient temples, then lounge by the beach eating local street food such as kebabs and pastizzis after. There really is something for everyone on this small but vibrant archipelago so your challenge is choosing which part of Malta to stay in.

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Where to Stay in Malta

Picking where to stay in Malta is one of the biggest decisions when visiting this beautiful archipelago, and can have a real impact on the kind of holiday you have. Malta is very much broken up into areas rather than clearly defined cities, and each of those areas blends into the next so you’re not entirely sure where one ends and the other begins. Then there’s the choice of which island to base yourself on – with many choosing the outstandingly beautiful Gozo island, a place which offers a real slice of a more traditional Malta. This is definitely one of those holiday destinations where you can escape modernity and travel back to a charming time before chaotic city life was the norm. Even the main city of Valetta, often tourists first thought and one of the busiest areas, has a relaxed vibe, with plenty of wine bars, and winding streets perfect for getting lost in. For those who are in Malta for he sunbathing and diving being based up north in Mellieha provides access to some of Malta’s best beaches and coastline. There really is something for everyone on this fascinating archipelago.

Where to stay in Malta guide

Valetta – The cultural capital worth getting lost in

Why stay in Valetta

Surrounded by Baroque architecture, this is the main cultural hub of Malta where you’ll find no shortage of museums to visit and historic palaces to explore. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, you’re also within walking distance of some of Malta’s best restaurants, wine bars, and cafes. There’s plenty to keep you occupied for several days before even considering day trips so if you’re looking for a city break where you can discover Malta’s history with minimal excursions then this is a wonderful choice. However, if you are looking to explore the rest of Malta then Valetta is a great hub as it has excellent transport facilities including the bus terminus and ferry facilities to Silema, The Three Cities, and even Sicily.

Why avoid Valetta

As wonderful as Valetta is, there are a few key reasons to avoid it, namely the lack of budget accommodation. Valetta is full of boutique hotels and luxury 5-star resorts and can even be short of those during peak season so booking early is key - this is a base for those looking to splurge. It’s also not ideal for those looking primarily to enjoy the beach as the nearby sandy beaches require travelling for over an hour or people looking to dance the night away as the nightlife consists mostly of restaurants and bars.

Where to stay in Valletta

Where to stay in Malta Valletta
Check Hotel Phoenicia Malta on Booking.com

Hotel Phoenicia Malta

This 1920s-style hotel welcomes you with live piano music in the lobby. Set in 7 acres of gardens, it is next to the Triton Fountain in Valletta's City Gate Square.

Hotel Phoenicia Malta is set just outside the ancient city walls, next to Valletta Bus Station. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from both the ferry terminal to Sliema and Barakka Lift, which links to Valletta Waterfront ferry terminal and promenade. A free shuttle service to a sandy beach in the north is available during summer. Prices start at £200 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel

One of our top picks in Valletta. Featuring free WiFi in the rooms, Palazzo Paolina Boutique Hotel offers hotel in Valletta, just a 5-minute walk from St.John's Cathedral. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar.

All en-suite rooms are modern and elegantly decorated. Each comes with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a work desk. Some rooms also have a private bathroom, provided with hairdryer, bathrobes and free toiletries. Rooms start at £150 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Paulos Valletta

Featuring free WiFi throughout, Paulos Valletta offers self-catering accommodation in Valletta, 350 yards from the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Casa Rocca Piccola is a 5-minute walk away. This luxury apartment offers a fabulous breakfast included in the price and a superior double room starts from £110 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Silema – An exploration hub with plenty to offer

Why stay in Silema

North of Valetta, Silema is the more affordable area that caters to everyone. You’ll find plenty of budget and mid-range hotels here. It’s also got get excellent transport links, much like Valetta but with the added bonus of boat trips to Comino and Gozo. If you’d like to be near the coastline for your trip, then Silema is an excellent choice with plenty of promenades and seaside walks to take. It’s also very quick and easy to get to Valetta on the main ferry meaning you can enjoy all of the culture there is on offer there. There are plenty of restaurants and good shopping in Silema so it really is the best of both worlds.

Why avoid Silema

It’s a popular tourist destination and it does very much cater to its visitors; lacking some of the charm, history, and typical Maltese life that other locations have. Fort Tigne is worth a visit but if you’re looking to be right in the middle of the historical sites, this won’t suit you as they’re mostly elsewhere. It’s also incredibly congested and difficult to park so not recommended for people who want to rent a car as you might spend a good portion of your trip in traffic. Finally, despite the lovely beach walks on offer in Silema there aren’t any sandy beaches so sunbathers look elsewhere!

Where to stay in Silema

Where to stay in Malta Silema
Check AX The Palace on Booking.com

AX The Palace

Just 550 yards from Sliema's bus terminus and Valletta Ferry, The Palace is a 5-star hotel with a rooftop spa with infinity pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Most rooms have a balcony with views of Valletta and the harbour. Prices at this luxury hotel start at £180 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Palazzo Violetta

Offering a year-round outdoor pool and terrace, Palazzo Violetta is located in Sliema, less than a 10-minute walk from the sea. It offers free parking, free WiFi and modern studios with a balcony and air conditioning.

Studios at the Violetta come with a kitchenette and a 40" flat-screen TV. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Some studios are split-level with a mezzanine sleeping area. Prices start at £108 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

AX The Victoria Hotel

Offering a rooftop terrace with pool, The Victoria Hotel - AX Hotels is a 4-star boutique hotel in Sliema centre, 0.6 miles from the Point Shopping Mall and just a 5-minute walk from the seaside promenade. It features a luxury spa and free WiFi is available throughout. Prices at this 4-star hotel start at £150 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Gzira – A quiet, local experience

Why stay in Gzira

Gzira is for people looking for a far more local experience but still want to be close to all the benefits of Silema since it’s a short walk or bus ride away. There are still some local amenities in terms of restaurants and bars and a pretty waterfront to walk along in the evenings. You can also visit Manoel Island with the remains of a Fort and a duck farm meaning you get off the beaten track a bit while still being very close to the popular parts of Malta. The congestion is also far better here if you’re looking to rent a car.

Why avoid Gzira

If you like being in the middle of the action then this isn’t for you; it’s a sleepy area with a laidback local vibe that largely serves as a quieter budget area to stay. There aren’t many local amenities compared to Silema and while it’s easy to get to and from there this could get tedious if you’re travelling every day.

Where to stay in Gzira

Where to stay in Malta Gzira
Check Azur Hotel by ST Hotels on Booking.com

Azur Hotel by ST Hotels

Situated within 1.6 miles of the University of Malta, Azur Hotel by ST Hotels in Il-Gżira features a number of amenities including a shared lounge and a bar. Boasting a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with a restaurant. The accommodation offers a concierge service and a tour desk for guests. Prices start at £91 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

115 The Strand Hotel and Suites

.115 The Strand Hotel and Suites offers self-catering apartments and hotel rooms on the Sliema waterfront at Marsamxett harbour, with spectacular views of Valletta. WiFi is free throughout.

A regular bus service to Valletta and other landmarks stops just outside the 115 The Strand Hotel and Suites. The ferry stop is also nearby. Prices start at £82 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Joy Apartments Gzira

Set in Il-Gżira, Joy Apartments Gzira offers accommodation with a balcony. Complimentary WiFi is provided.

Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with bath. An oven and coffee machine are also featured. Prices start at £136 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

St Julian's Bay – Party central that reminds of home

Why stay in St Julian's Bay

West of Silema, this is a great choice if you’re looking for a winter escape with plenty of resorts on offer. Also, those into the clubbing scene will be happy here as it’s very close to the buzzing nightlife of Paceville but away from the noise which generally puts people off staying there. Valetta is only a bus ride from here for some Maltese history and culture and Silema is a quick ferry ride away to enjoy all the amenities there so this a great base for travelling from. There’s a good range of luxury to budget accommodation and plenty of choice in terms of restaurants and bars.

Why avoid St Julian's Bay

It’s not the choice for people looking to learn about the Maltese way of life or those looking for local culture in general; it’s for people looking to unwind. While Valetta is a day trip from here there isn’t anything on your doorstep and the historical aspects of Malta you might be familiar with are instead replaced with clubs and casinos. There aren’t many beaches here, except St George’s Bay which is maintained but can be overcrowded and isn’t the cleanest at times.

Where to stay in St Julian's Bay

Where to stay in Malta St Julian's Bay
Check InterContinental Malta on Booking.com

InterContinental Malta

Set in the heart of St Julians, InterContinental Malta is 200 yards from its own free private beach on St. George's Bay. It offers spacious rooms with free WiFi access and balcony.

The elegant rooms offer satellite and pay-per-view channels, air conditioning, and a tea and coffee maker. Some offer a balcony or terrace with city views. Prices start at £197 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

The Westin Dragonara Resort

Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in St Julian's, The Westin Dragonara Resort offers 2 private beaches, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and 3 restaurants. Reception is open 24 hours a day.

The spacious, air-conditioned accommodation features a terrace with views of the sea. Each room comes with a minibar, tea/coffee maker, and LCD TV with satellite channels. Prices start at £213 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay

 Right on the waterfront of St. George's Bay, the Corinthia is a 5-star hotel with an on-site spa and 5 swimming pools set on luxurious sea-view terraces. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.

Corinthia Hotel St. George’s Bay features spacious, air-conditioned rooms with a large balcony, most overlooking the sea. Prices start at £182 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Three Cities - A fabulous trio of history and culture

Why stay in Three Cities

This is a more unconventional choice, which makes it perfect for those looking for a unique off-the-beaten-path place with plenty to offer. Three Cities is made up of Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua, three areas each with their own attractions. You can visit all three within a day so whichever part you choose you’ll be able to walk to the other two parts easily. Birgu is the old capital of Malta so there’s plenty of history to explore in Three Cities but if you need more cultural spots then Valetta is only a bus- or ferry ride away. There are plenty of opportunities to experience traditional Maltese life around the Grand Harbour and the choice of restaurants, cafes, and street food is more than adequate. This is the place for people looking for an authentic, cultural getaway.

Why avoid Three Cities

It’s at the opposite side of Valetta to Silema and St Julian’s so if you’re looking to explore those areas or would like to experience some of the more modern aspects of Malta this may be a bit out of the way for you. Also if you’d like to be close to Malta’s nightlife scene or beaches then this will be a bit out of the way for you.

Where to stay in Three Cities

Where to stay in Malta Three Cities
Check Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour on Booking.com

Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour

Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour features rooms in Senglea. Featuring a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with an outdoor pool. Staff on site can arrange airport transfers.

All rooms at the hotel are equipped with a seating area and a flat-screen TV. The rooms come with air conditioning, and certain rooms at Cugo Gran Macina Grand Harbour have a terrace. Prices start at £331 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Julesy's BnB

Set in the Maltese harbour city of Cospicua, Julesy's BnB offers free WiFi and suites set in a white stone-walled building from 1895.

Suites are spacious and include a flat-screen TV with cable and satellite channels, a seating area and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and a bath or a shower. Prices start at £179 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Casa Birmula Hotel

Offering a year-round outdoor pool and sun terrace, Casa Birmula Hotel is located in Cospicua. There is an on-site bar, and rooms feature free WiFi and a satellite flat-screen TV.

Rooms at the Casa Birmula are air conditioned and decorated in an elegant, eclectic style. Each comes wirh a modern private bathroom with soft slippers and free toiletries. Some rooms have a balcony or terrace. Prices start at £113 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

St Paul's Bay – A coastal hub with lots to see

Why stay in St Paul's Bay

If you’re looking to explore the northeast coast of Malta than this is one of your options. St Paul’s Bay is broken up into neighbourhoods like Buġibba and Qawra and provides a good base for exploring from. There’s plenty of mid-range and budget accommodation to choose from and it’s an excellent transport hub as there’s a bus station with access to the whole island. You’re also in a perfect location to access the beautiful sandy beaches and swimming further up north. If you’re looking to explore Comino and Gozo then there are lots of boat tours leaving so it’s a very convenient place to be for further exploration.

Why avoid St Paul's Bay

It’s very quiet during the off-season but extremely busy during the summer, and while it’s technically close to Valetta, it does take at least an hour by bus so if you’re looking to explore there for more than a day this may become an issue. There’s not much in the way of history, authentic culture, or local cuisine and the area is largely catered to the vast amount of tourism this part of the island gets. While this a great point to access the beaches of the north, there aren’t many local beaches except one artificial beach.

Where to stay in St Paul's Bay

Where to stay in Malta St Paul's Bay
Check Dolmen Hotel Malta on Booking.com

Dolmen Hotel Malta

Set on the seafront at St. Paul's Bay, Dolmen Hotel Malta offers panoramic sea views, a free private beach and 6 swimming pools. Its spa includes a hot tub, sauna and fitness centre. WiFi is free throughout.

All air-conditioned rooms at the Dolmen come with minibar, a satellite TV and complimentary water. Most of them have a balcony or terrace overlooking the sea. Prices start at £135 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Gillieru Harbour Hotel

The Gillieru Harbour Hotel is on the seafront in St. Paul’s Bay. It offers free Wi-Fi, a pool, and air-conditioned rooms with balcony, TV and private bathroom. Hotel Gillieru Harbour is a 5-minute walk from the shops, restaurants and bars of Bugibba. The casino is 10 minutes away on foot. Prices start at £135 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Salini Resort

Set on a gentle slope overlooking the Salina Bay and the Mediterranean Sea, the 4-star Salini Resort offers 2 outdoor pools. The spacious and stylish rooms come with either sea or countryside views.

All rooms and suites are air conditioned and include a balcony or terrace. The en-suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer and free toiletries. Prices start at £300 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Mellieha – Village atmosphere for exploring and swimming

Why stay in Mellieha

This is a great alternative for people who want to stay in the north but would like a less tourist-focused option than St Paul’s Bay. Also, if you love beaches then this is your spot because of its close proximity to Mellieħa Bay, which is Malta’s largest sandy beach, and its short distance to Gozo and Comino. There is a lovely village atmosphere and some spectacular views to be had here with the parish church being one of the highlights. There are plenty of bars and restaurants on the main road and a range of budget to mid-range accommodation options to choose from.

Why avoid Mellieha

It’s a little removed from the rest of Malta, meaning if you’re hoping to spend some time exploring Valetta and the other big sights and don’t have a car, you may find yourself spending a lot of time on public transport. While there are lots of accommodation options, there are few luxury stays due to its local vibe. There’s also little nightlife aside from the bars and restaurants.

Where to stay in Mellieha

Where to stay in Malta Mellieha
Check LABRANDA Riviera Hotel & Spa on Booking.com

LABRANDA Riviera Hotel & Spa

Offering a seafront location next to its free private beach, LABRANDA Riviera Hotel & Spa overlooks Marfa Bay and boasts 2 seawater outdoor pools, Thalasso Spa and fitness centre, as well as 4 restaurants and 4 bars. All designer rooms have a balcony or terrace, and free WiFi is available throughout.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands

Set into the rocky coast of Malta's Golden Bay, the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa includes a large swimming pool, a lagoon pool and a children's pool. It also offers a private beach and a spa. Rooms are large and luxurious.

Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands enjoys a quiet, private setting, with peaceful views of the sea and the surrounding countryside. It is a 10-minute drive from the harbour where ferries leave for Gozo.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Solana Hotel & Spa

Solana Hotel offers modern rooms and studios with free Wi-Fi access, a 10-minute walk from the beach on Mellieha Bay. The rooftop terrace with pool is a real highlight.

In your room or studio you will find satellite TV, air conditioning, and a tea and coffee maker. Studios come with a small kitchenette. Prices start at £82 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Gozo – a rural island paradise

Why stay in Gozo

The second-largest of Malta’s islands with Comino (home of The Blue Lagoon) being the third, Gozo provides a more rural and authentic vibe than the main island. Victoria is technically the centre but there’s no particular area that’s better due to the island’s relatively small size and convenience. The island is full of history and one of the must-see attractions is the Citadella, a fortified citadel nestled amongst the winding streets and alleys. The island is largely untouched and offers beautiful beaches and diving, the rock formation of the Azure Window is perfect for underwater exploration. It’s also very pleasurable to drive around if you’re thinking of renting a car. Gozo is ideal if you want to escape and have a quiet holiday.

Why avoid Gozo

Gozo is best avoided for those who want to be in the middle of all the action since this is more for your rural escape type trip or for those who want to explore a lot on the main island as this wouldn’t be a convenient base. Many people stay on Gozo for a couple of nights and then base themselves on the main island for the best of both worlds. Although Gozo is very popular, it doesn’t have a particularly wide range of accommodation options so it’s best to book early, especially during peak seasons.

Where to stay in Gozo

Where to stay in Malta Gozo
Check Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz on Booking.com

Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz

One of our top picks in San Lawrenz. Surrounded by 30.000-m² gardens, Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz features free parking and non-smoking-only, air-conditioned rooms on Gozo Island. This hotel on the westernmost area of Gozo in the small village of San Lawrenz has an on-site spa offering luxury treatments. Prices start at £131 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Hotel Ta' Cenc & Spa

One of our top picks in Sannat.Swimming pools, tennis courts, a private beach, and an excellent choice of cuisine for lunch and dinner; these are just a few reasons to choose Hotel Ta' Cenc.

This five-star hotel boasts an impressive list of sports and leisure facilities, all on the highest point of Gozo, overlooking the cliffs. Prices start at £164 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

Downtown Hotel

Downtown Hotel boasts a central location in the heart of Victoria, the main town on the island of Gozo. It features a rooftop pool and an excellent restaurant.

Most of the guest rooms come with a private balcony where you can relax after a busy day exploring Victoria. You are close to the bus station and the main shopping street. The historic Citadel and the gardens of Villa Rundle are also nearby. Prices start at £50 per night.

Compare prices and read reviews, check: Booking.com

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Where to stay in Malta for first time visitors
Where to stay in Malta for first time visitors

Originally from the UK, Jessica started working and living abroad in East Asia in 2014. She started her travel and culture blog a year ago and hasn't looked back. She now slow travels around the world with her partner working as freelance writers. You can read more about her on her blog, Books and Bao.

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