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Where to stay in Malta

By Ally Wybrew

3 May 202411 min read

Mdina Malta's 'Silent City' is a top choice for getting away from it all.

When it comes to historical kudos, the Mediterranean is a competitive place. Greece has sites so ancient they’re difficult to date, Italy boasts (among other things) a floating city and the Colosseum, Turkey houses some of the oldest relics in the world and North Africa’s offerings barely need introduction. It’s no wonder that Malta, a 27km-long (17 miles) spit of land sitting in the middle of this ancient melee, sports its own set of serious cultural credentials.

From Punic-Roman ruins and a UNESCO-listed walled capital to fortifications bearing half-century-old scars and hiding World War Two bunkers, the tiny isles of Malta, Gozo and Comino haven’t had a moment to themselves since inception. Add to that around 3,000 hours of annual sunshine, a world-class scuba diving scene, Michelin-starred astronomy and a series of set-jet-worthy filming locations and there really is little Malta doesn’t deliver. It might be small, but it is mighty.

Thankfully, there’s a host of great places to stay, whatever you’re after. Culture cravers will love the historic capital city of Valletta, romantic escapes abound in Gozo and families can have it all in Mellieħa. For party people, look no further than St. Julian’s.

Wondering where works for you? Read on…

1. Valletta

Best for culture vultures and history buffs

Without a doubt occupying the top spot on the list of Malta's best things to do, the walled city of Valletta is bursting with fascinating museums, delicious eateries, impressive galleries and thrilling nightlife.

Some of the country’s most significant moments happened here, so keen historians should plan at least three days in the city to take it all in (be sure to add the Lascaris War Rooms and an Underground Valletta tour to your itinerary).

Those happy to soak up the sloping sand-coloured streets, bar hop along Strait Street or indulge in Michelin meals at Noni, Aki or Under Grain can make a day trip work well enough.

Book tickets in advance for entry to St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which possesses not one but two Caravaggio paintings (among a host of other opulent artworks) and intricately designed flagstone floors.

In the summer months, Valletta is one big party, with various saints’ days, music and art festivals seeing streets flickering with flags and making it the place to be on the island (Carnival and the Fireworks Festival are particularly exuberant).

Where to stay in Valletta

Accommodation options are plentiful here, with hotels, apartments and Airbnbs in huge supply. For clean cut, apartment-style accommodation with no faff, opt for 1926 Le Parisot, a surprisingly quiet renovated palazzo in the middle of Valletta’s hubbub. Its rooftop dipping pool and dining tables come with superb Grand Harbour views. For pure luxury, splash out on Iniala Harbour House. Perched on the edge of Valletta’s imposing walls, this combination of four townhouses is a five-star spot mixing modern touches with 16th-century roots – and a Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant. Cheaper options, such as dorms, can be found throughout the city, though for a reliable, affordable option go for Mandera’s Suites & Dorms.

Grand Hotel Excelsior

  • Valletta, Malta
  • 23 September 2024
  • Room only
  • From Manchester

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£542

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2. Gharb

Best for quiet time and clifftop walks

Gozo is a different beast from Malta. Still busy and beautiful in the summer, it somehow manages a more relaxed pace than its big sister. Coastal villages buzz with live music, bustling restaurants, sun-worshippers and excited snorkellers. Even its capital, Victoria, oozes a sense of calm more palpable than any locale in Malta. But then, this is where the Maltese themselves come on holiday.

One of its strongest assets is its natural beauty, perfectly exemplified in the northerly region of Gharb. This unassuming town is just a stroll away from a stunning cliff-edge trail that loops the island, connecting towns via craggy paths and rough Mediterranean flora.

The central square is dominated (like all Maltese burgs) by a beautiful baroque church, though just 700m away visitors can marvel at the most famous place of pilgrimage for Maltese: the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu. Reportedly the site of numerous miracles, home to a 61m-high (200ft) bell tower and boasting the prestige of having been consecrated by Pope Pius XI, it’s one of Gozo’s most enchanting destinations.

The cherry on the cake? Gharb is kind on the wallet; it’s cheaper than Malta and most other places in Gozo.

Where to stay in Gharb

For morning coffee and a pastizz while watching the world go by, stay somewhere near the town square, such as Il-Gardjola B&B, which offers high-spec, modern rooms and a pool within a traditional Maltese home. If staying away from the (admittedly small) bustle is more your speed, try Grotto’s Paradise, a farmhouse B&B tucked away behind the main drag. For easy access to both handy amenities and captivating cliffs, stay closer to the coast at the likes of Ogygia Suites or Bebbuxa Farmhouse, both of which have rooms with pool views.

Cornucopia Hotel

  • Xaghra, Gozo, Malta
  • 2 July 2024
  • Bed & breakfast
  • From Edinburgh

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£520

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3. Paceville

Best for nightlife lovers and party people

If you like raucous and rowdy, head straight to Paceville, a suburb of the lively St. Julian’s district, known as ‘the entertainment capital of Malta’. Here, good times roll, with numerous bars, clubs, casinos, cinemas and plethora of other entertainment at your fingertips.

Music, chatter and general revelry fills the streets, particularly in the summer months, when many visitors prep for a big night out at the renowned Sky Club, home to a 330 square-metre dancefloor. Enjoy soul and hip hop vibes at Club Havana, or Latin American beats at Fuego Casa Latina, which blends infectious notes with an open air terrace and pool views.

Thanks to its popular reputation, food options are varied and plentiful. Eat like you mean it at Sciacca, a steakhouse often regarded as selling the best cuts in the city (it also has a branch in Valletta). Pick your preferred piece, then let the chefs choose how best to serve it up. Italian, Greek and Maltese restaurants (and more) make sure no one is left hungry, no matter the time of day or night.

Where to stay in Paceville

Paceville is as crammed with accommodation options as Valletta, so where you stay depends on what you’re after. Looking to roll out of the club at 7am and straight into bed? Pick a central hotel option such as The George Malta on Triq Paceville, which also sports a rooftop bar and pool and spa, perfect for restoring dance-weary limbs. For a more restful night, choose somewhere a little further away from the hubbub, such as the five-star Hilton Malta or the Cavalieri Art Hotel.

Valentina Hotel

  • St Julian's, Malta
  • 12 October 2024
  • Room only
  • From Belfast Intl

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£525

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4. Mdina

Best for calmer crowds and five-star food

With Valletta hogging the spotlight, Mdina often gets overlooked in the ‘pretty, walled city’ stakes, which is a shame, because it’s a supremely beautiful place.

Just west of Malta’s centre, Mdina is the ‘Silent City’, a narrow-street-clad, (mostly) pedestrian town that’s less about museums and galleries and more about stepping back in time. It’s got an entirely different feel to Valletta’s vibe, but still has its fair share of attractions.

Aside from stunning panoramic views from its bastion walls, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace, the Natural History Museum and the Mdina Dungeons are all well worth a visit. Wander the sunken gardens of the one-time moat, enjoy a gelato in the sun on the bastion walls and see the spot Ned Stark said goodbye to his wife in the award-winning Game of Thrones.

While it's known to be far less crowded than the Maltese capital, it still gets popular in the high season, so get out and about early to immerse yourself in the city’s unique atmosphere of echoing bell tolls and breathtaking sunrises.

Where to stay in Mdina

Mdina is small, so small in fact that there are only two hotels within the city’s walls: the Palazzo Bifora Boutique Hotel and The Xara Palace Relais & Chateaux. Both are luxurious and offer a quintessential taste of Maltese life, but we think The Xara Palace – a converted 18th-century palazzo built into Mdina's walls – has the edge. Antique furniture, bespoke rooms and a sun-dappled breakfast courtyard are just the start of a decadently relaxed stay. If Michelin stars were awarded for views, its rooftop restaurant, de Mondion would more than qualify. Fortunately, its superb blend of Maltese and French cuisine has earnt it one already. For more wallet-friendly options, look to Rabat, Mdina’s neighbouring town, which offers a wide variety of accommodation just steps away from Mdina’s main gates.

5. Xlendi

Best for couples and succulent seafood

Gozo’s coastal towns and villages have a melange of vibrant nightlife, sublime views and great gastronomy. Xlendi boasts all of these.

Tucked in a deep, cliff-edged bay on the island’s south west coast, its sparkling waters are filled with bobbing luzzus. Along the seafront, restaurants serve up various fare, including the freshest seafood – visit in late summer and autumn to taste lampuki, a fleshy white fish popular on the islands.

Book a table at Ta Karolina’s, a Maltese restaurant in the bay’s corner that allows diners to eat al fresco on the dock’s edge, or indulge in what’s widely regarded as the best Indian on the island at Sapana Restaurant. Front Bar is set just back from the waterfront and mixes cocktails with an infectious playlist.

After dinner, follow the stone pathway zig-zagging up the cliff’s edge to its natural end: a beautiful rock window made for capturing snaps of the setting sun.

Xlendi is also a great starting point for hikes along Gozo’s coastline – head east around the south coast to see Xlendi Tower (built around 1650), then along the Sanap Cliffs for breathtaking ocean views. Jumping off the bay’s diving platform into the crystal Mediterranean waters is a must, as is snorkelling in the bay where octopus, moray eels, crabs and all manner of fish are a common sight.

Where to stay in Xlendi

Book a sea view room at St. Patrick’s Hotel for four-star service with five-star views. Perched right on the seafront, this property puts Xlendi – and the rest of Gozo – at your fingertips. San Antonio Guesthouse has a swimming pool, coastal views and affordable rates, while Arzella Apartments makes up for a lack of ocean vistas with comfortable, clean rooms just steps from the sea.

6. Mellieħa

Best for families and scuba enthusiasts

Malta’s most northerly region is one of its most picturesque. Mellieħa sits on a cluster of hills overlooking some of the island’s most beautiful beaches, including its largest sandy stretch, Għadira Bay. This honey-coloured dune is packed with watersport options, snack shacks, sun-lounger rental spots and, in true Maltese style, marks of ancient history: 2,700-year-old cart ruts gouged into its southern shores.

It’s a great area for families to bed down, with plenty of accommodation options in close proximity to a host of fabulous beaches.

Three beautiful cove-tucked bays – Golden Bay, Għajn Tuffieħa and Qarraba Bay – are just a 13-minute drive away and make for great sunset-watching spots. They also tend to be quieter than their
better-known neighbour. If time allows, hike out to Malta’s northern tip, where the stunning Coral Lagoon cuts a hole into the earth straight down to the sea, connected by craggy rock arches.

Mellieħa is also where many of Malta’s diveable wrecks are, so it’s the spot for scuba pros. Highlights include the Um El Faroud, a 115m-long (337ft) oil tanker, the P29, a 52m (170ft) patrol boat and the 35m-long (115ft) tugboat, Rozi.

It’s also minutes from Comino, home to the impossibly cerulean Blue Lagoon, as well as a particularly shallow shipwreck – P31, an ex-minesweeper that can be seen by snorkelling, freediving or scuba diving.

Where to stay in Mellieħa

Mellieħa town itself has a variety of accommodation options ranging from under £50 a night to over £100. It’s a good location for those without a car, as the beach is a short walk away and taxis are easy to find (use the Bolt taxi app for ease). For something a little more remote but still within sight of the sparkling Med, check into Labranda Riviera Hotel & Spa, a pet-friendly, two-pool, spa-toting resort that looks right out to sea. Relax on your balcony or visit the on-site scuba diving shop to start your underwater adventures. For baby-sitting services, an outdoor play area and a kids’ only pool, head to the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa.

Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa Malta

  • Mellieha, Malta
  • 25 August 2024
  • Room only
  • From Stansted

Prices and availability shown can change. Always check pricing with partner before booking.

Prices from

£395

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