Where to Stay in Malta: Best Areas to Stay in Malta + Hotels

With its turquoise waters, colorful fishing villages, and rich history, Malta has become an increasingly popular Mediterranean destination. Deciding where to base yourself during your time on the islands can be overwhelming, as Malta has no shortage of charming towns and villages to choose from.

In this article, we break down some of the best neighborhoods and areas to stay during your Maltese escape, whether you’re looking to hideaway in a sleepy fishing village, sample Malta’s world-class dining scene, or use a central location to explore the island’s abundant cultural offerings.

We’ll outline the highlights, draws, and ambiance of each area, consider pros and cons, and provide accommodation recommendations ranging from luxury hotels to quaint B&Bs to help you decide where to hang your hat during your time in Malta.

5 Best Places to Stay in Malta: Quick Overview

🔥 Best for the first time Valletta
🏖 Best for beach holidays  Mellieha
👨‍👨‍👧‍👦 Best for families St. Paul's Bay
🍸 Best for nightlife St. Julian
💕 Best for couples Marsaxlokk

Best Hotels to Explore the Island

Best Areas to Stay in Malta on the Map

1. Valletta – Where to Stay in Malta for the First Time

🌄 Picturesque capital: Nestled on Malta’s scenic northeastern coast, Valletta offers visitors an immersive glimpse into the island’s rich history and culture. As the country’s diminutive capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this 16th-century stronghold packs impressive attractions into its pint-sized perimeter.

🚏 Well-connected: Centrally located and set on a hilly peninsula, the self-contained Valletta is highly walkable and easily accessible by public transportation, like buses and ferries, from other parts of Malta.

🗺️ Compact & navigable: Most major museums, historical landmarks, and places of interest are located a mere stone’s throw from the city gates. Plentiful signs point the way as you traverse the narrow maze of picturesque side streets, so it’s quite difficult to get lost.

🏛️ Must-see stops for any intrepid sightseer include the elaborately decorated St. John’s Co-Cathedral which houses Caravaggio’s massive masterpiece The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the impressive Grandmaster’s Palace, and the Malta Experience immersive audiovisual show at Saint Elmo’s Fort which provides an excellent primer on the island nation’s most pivotal events.

🍴 Authentic eats: For the most authentic local specialties like Rabbit Stew and Pastizzi filled pastries, drop into one of many «hole-in-the-wall» gems tucked away on the backstreets. Prefer a spectacular vista with your Bragioli Beef Roll? Grab an al fresco table atop the Saluting Battery.

Thanks to its intricate layers of history within a highly walkable footprint, Valletta offers visitors an ideal base to uncover Malta’s most compelling attractions.

All hotels in Valletta →

Where to stay in Valletta?

Expensive hotels:

  • Iniala Harbour House – an exclusive premium boutique hotel with panoramic views of Valletta harbour.
  • Rosselli AX Privilege – a luxury hotel located in a historic mansion with a high level of service.
  • The Cumberland Hotel – an elegant neoclassical style hotel with an excellent location in the city centre.

Medium price range:

  • Valletta Lucente Guest House – a guest house with a homely atmosphere and stunning views of Valletta.
  • Carmelita Valletta – a cosy, family-run, traditional Maltese-style hotel near the centre.
  • Ursula suites – apartments in a historic building with harbour views and facilities for longer stays.

Inexpensive hotels:

2. Sliema – Best Location to Stay in Malta for Sightseeing

🐬 Scenic seaside: The lively town of Sliema offers visitors gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Sea and easy access to some of the island’s top attractions.

🚢 Quick ferry ride: Sliema’s prime waterfront location puts you just a short walk from the capital city of Valletta, home to Baroque cathedrals and museums housed in ancient fortresses. Hop on one of the colorful ferry boats dotting the harbor for a quick ride across the water into the heart of historic Valletta.

🌆 Miles of promenade: The Sliema promenade stretches for over a mile along the sea, lined with cafés, restaurants, and shops. It’s the perfect spot for an evening passeggiata (stroll) while snapping photos of remarkable feats of architecture, from Stella Maris Church to the sleek high rises popping up along the skyline.

🏖️ Swim & sunbathe: The bay area also has excellent access to scenic walking trails, rocky coves for swimming in crystalline waters, and sandy beaches for sunbathing.

🍹 Bustling nightlife: When night falls, make your way down to the various pubs and clubs concentrated along the shoreline. Places like Raffles and Fuego offer bustling nightlife among other hotspots. And thanks to Sliema’s central location, even livelier options exist just a short ride away in neighboring Paceville.

Whether you’re looking to dive into history or simply relax along the Mediterranean Sea, Sliema’s convenience and wealth of attractions explain why it remains such a popular base for experiencing all that Malta has to offer.

All hotels in Sliema →

Where to stay in Sliema?

Expensive hotels:

  • AX The Palace – a premium luxury hotel with exquisite design, panoramic bay views and top-notch service.
  • The Sliema Suites – elegant apartments with modern design and sea views, with a high level of comfort and amenities.
  • Amery House – a colonial-style boutique hotel with sophisticated interiors, located in a quiet area of Sliema.

Medium price range:

  • Mr Todd Hotel – a cosy small hotel with a homely atmosphere and friendly staff.
  • Lady Todd – a comfortable modern style hotel with good value for money.
  • Cozy Rooms Hotel – a hotel with comfortable rooms and friendly staff, a great option for travellers.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Granny's Inn Hostel – a friendly hostel in a cosy building with simple but clean rooms at an affordable price.
  • Hostel On – a modern hostel with shared kitchens and lounges, suitable for young people and budget travellers.
  • Citizen Suites – reasonably priced apartments with spacious rooms and essential amenities.

3. Mellieha – Where to Stay in Malta for Beaches

🌊 Great shores: Mellieha is a charming coastal town known for its laidback vibe and stunning beaches. Hugging the hillsides overlooking Mellieħa Bay, this neighborhood provides visitors with a quieter and more local experience away from the busier parts of Malta.

🏖 Nearby attractions: Mellieha is ideally located close to some of Malta’s top attractions like Popeye Village, the Blue Lagoon, and Paradise Bay. Wandering the sloping cobblestone streets lined with colorful honey-stone houses, you’ll find little cafés, family-run restaurants, quaint shops, and fruit & veg stalls evoking a quintessentially Mediterranean scene.

⛪ Main square: The focal point of Mellieha is the picturesque main square, church and sanctuary built in the late 19th century. From here, roads meander down towards the coastline offering scenic viewpoints over the bright blue sea dotting with traditional fishing boats. The route leads to Għadira Bay, the island’s largest sandy beach with its sparkling clear waters perfect for swimming and watersports.

🍴 Local flavors: For dining options, Mellieha has several excellent seafood restaurants along the waterfront where you can soak in the ocean views. Inland a bit, be sure to sample local specialties like rabbit stew and Lampuki fish at cozy tavernas and wine bars.

🚶‍♂️ Walkable streets: Getting around Mellieha is delightfully walkable with most key sites no more than a 15 minute stroll away. And for venturing further afield, the main bus terminus offers regular routes across Malta. Drivers can navigate easily via the coastal road circling the town.

🛌🏻 Charming stays: Accommodation runs the gamut from modern resorts to traditional inns, like the Maritim and Pergola hotels up on the hill. While not overly crowded, booking early in summer is still advised.

Its relaxing local vibe, wealth of sights, and convenience make it an ideal homebase to explore this magical Mediterranean island from.

All hotels in Mellieha →

Where to stay in Mellieha?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • Solana Hotel & Spa – a comfortable hotel with a good spa centre and a variety of sea and garden views.
  • Victoria by Petit Chic – a cosy Mediterranean-style boutique hotel with friendly staff and a pleasant atmosphere.
  • Hotel VIU57 – a stylish hotel with a modern design, located in a quiet area close to the beach.

4. St. Julian – Where to Stay in Malta for Nightlife

☀️ Sunny days: Nestled along the northeastern coast of Malta, the vibrant town of St. Julian’s offers visitors a perfect blend of sun, sights, and entertainment. Boasting both sun-kissed days and electric nights, St. Julian’s energy entices.

🏖️ Beach bliss: Whether you’re looking to lounge on golden sand or dive into azure waves, St George’s Bay will delight. Its clear waters and lively beach clubs create an energetic vibe, while Balluta Bay provides a quieter escape perfect for swimming and snorkeling.

🍴 Tasty treats: When hunger calls after a day in the sun, St. Julian’s Paceville district tempts with trendy cafes and restaurants to suit every palate.

🏰 Historic sights: Venturing beyond the shore, St. Julian’s sits a short drive from historic treasures like the medieval city of Mdina and the Għajn Tuffieħa Bay’s towering sand dunes.

🕺 Lively nights: When the moon rises, St. Julian’s gives way to Malta’s premiere nightlife. Dance the night away in lively clubs and pubs overflowing into the streets, or try your luck at the island’s top casinos, like the lavish Dragonara.

Nightlife St. Julian, Malta
Gece Hayatı Julian, Malta
Nightlife St. Julian, Malta
Gece Hayatı Julian, Malta
Nightlife St. Julian
Gece Hayatı Julian, Malta
Nightlife St. Julian, Malta
Gece Hayatı Julian, Malta

With abundant activities just minutes apart, this coastal town lets visitors seamlessly bounce between relaxing and reveling in all that Malta offers.

All hotels in St-Julian →

Where to stay in St. Julian?

Expensive hotels:

  • InterContinental Malta – a modern premium hotel with panoramic views of the bay, a great choice for travellers looking for luxury and comfort.
  • The Westin Dragonara Resort – an elegant resort hotel with its own casino, private beach, swimming pools and fine dining restaurants.
  • Hilton Malta – a modern hotel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, known for its high level of service and luxurious rooms.

Medium price range:

  • be.HOTEL – a modern designer hotel in the centre with good value for money.
  • Holiday Inn Express – a modern hotel of a well-known chain with comfortable rooms at a reasonable price.
  • Hotel Shoreline – a small cosy family hotel with panoramic sea views and friendly staff.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Rotas B&B – a small guest house with a homely atmosphere and attentive hosts.
  • Casa Leon Malta – a charming boutique hotel in a historic mansion with an authentic interior.

5. Mdina – One of the Most Historic Places in Malta

🏰 Historic charm: In the heart of Malta lies the silent city of Mdina, an ancient fortified hilltop settlement brimming with medieval charm. As Malta’s former capital and one of its most iconic landmarks, Mdina gives visitors an enchanting glimpse into the island’s rich history, dating back over 4,000 years.

🚶‍♂️ Peaceful streets: Upon entering Mdina’s hushed streets through the imposing stone gates, one feels transported back in time. Cars are prohibited in order to preserve the peaceful atmosphere, allowing you to freely roam the narrow alleys on foot. Don’t miss strolling through Villegaignon Street adorned with elegant palaces and stopping by quaint shops tucked away in tiny piazzas.

🏛️ Top sights: When it comes to sightseeing, be sure to see the baroque St Paul’s Cathedral, which dominates Mdina’s skyline, and Carmelite church with its ornate decoration. History buffs will appreciate a trip to the Knights of Malta sites. And for sweeping panoramas over the whole island, take a walk along the city walls from the Greeks Gate.

👌 Compact size: Getting your bearings in Mdina is delightfully easy since it’s compact in size. All attractions are accessible within only 15 minutes, allowing you to experience the magic of this medieval stronghold stress-free.

As the country’s most impressive architectural gem, Mdina encapsulates the timeless allure of the Mediterranean. Wandering its peaceful streets is sure to be a highlight of your Maltese adventure.

All Mdina hotels →

6. St. Paul’s Bay – Where to Stay in Malta for Families

🧘🏻‍♀️ Tranquil setting: Known for its crystal clear waters, colorful fishing boats bobbing in the harbor, and winding cobblestone streets lined with cafés and shops, St. Paul’s Bay offers visitors a slice of authentic Maltese life.

📍 Conveniently located just 35 minutes by bus from the capital Valletta, St. Paul’s Bay serves as an idyllic home base to explore the island. The town itself exudes an intimate village feel with its small piazzas full of playing children, fruit stands peddling local produce, and neighbors chatting in rapid Maltese. Meander down Triq il-Korp tal-Pijunieri, the main street, dipping into family-owned pasticcerias for a cannoli or stopping to admire ornate 17th century churches.

💒 Rich history: St. Paul’s Bay got its name from the legend that St. Paul was shipwrecked on these very shores nearly 2,000 years ago, forever shaping Malta’s culture with the introduction of Christianity. Today a striking statue commemorates the site, drawing pilgrims and tourists alike.

🌞 Relaxation: When its time to relax, the Beaches in St Paul’s Bay offers soft golden sand for lounging and sparkling shallow waters that stay warm well into fall. For amazing local seafood and Mediterranean fare, head to the waterfront restaurants along Bugibba Square, where you can dine al fresco while people watching and soaking in sunset views.

With convenient access to the island’s top attractions combined with small town charm and scenic seaside beauty, this town is not to be missed.

All hotels in St Paul's Bay →

Where to stay in St. Paul’s Bay?

Expensive Hotels:

  • Seaview Hotel – an elegant hotel with panoramic views of St Paul’s Bay.
  • Dolmen Hotel Malta – a modern hotel with excellent facilities, located close to the beach in a picturesque bay.
  • AX ODYCY Hotel – a stylish boutique hotel with luxurious interiors and upscale service.

Medium price range:

  • Mayflower Hotel Malta – a cosy family hotel with a swimming pool and good value for money.
  • SunStone Court – comfortable apartments with kitchens and balconies, ideal for holidays with children.
  • Sunseeker Holiday Complex – a popular hotel with developed infrastructure, large pool and entertainment.

Inexpensive hotels:

7. Marsaskala – One of the Best Places on the Island to Feel Like a Local

🌊 Scenic seaside: This tranquil town boasts a scenic coastline overlooking the bright blue Mediterranean Sea. Its picturesque bay serves as the perfect hub from which to access some of Malta’s top attractions.

🚍 Well-connected: Marsaskala rests just 30 minutes south of the capital Valletta by car or bus, providing a quieter alternative to the bustling cities for accommodation. Public transportation connects the village to hotspots like the Three Cities and the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples. The bus stops and taxi boat landing along the Marsaskala waterfront facilitate stress-free day trips.

🛥️ Maritime heritage: Wander the narrow lanes and side streets to uncover Marsaskala’s fishing heritage. Visitors adore the vibrantly painted traditional wooden boats bobbing in the harbor that evoke the town’s maritime culture.

🍤 Seafood central: Be sure to sample fresh seafood along the promenade at one of the many restaurants serving just-caught fish from local fishermen.

🏖️ Beachy vibes: The long stretch of rocky beach allows sunbathers to bask in stunning views. For those seeking active endeavors, restaurants and dive centers along the water rent out kayaks, paddleboards and snorkeling gear.

Friendly locals happily provide recommendations to experience Marsaskala like one of their own.

All Marsaskala Hotels →

Where to stay in Marsaskala?

Medium price range:

  • Aquamarine Sea Front Apartments – modern sea-view apartments located on the first floor within walking distance of the beach.
  • Eldoris Boutique Living – elegant boutique-style apartments with private terrace and Wi-Fi, ideal for romantic holidays.
  • Cerviola Hotel – cosy family-run hotel with swimming pool and restaurant, offers comfortable rooms and good value for money.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Sunrise Creek – a guest house with simple and neat rooms, located in a quiet area close to the city centre.
  • TJ Boutique – a small budget hotel in the city centre offering clean and compact rooms at a reasonable price.
  • Sunrise Creek – a guest house with simple and neat rooms.

8. Rabat – For Those Looking for the Best Historic Attractions

🏺 Rich history: Nestled on a plateau overlooking the island’s west coast, Rabat serves as an ideal home base for visitors looking to explore Malta’s rich history. Though small in size, this provincial town packs quite a punch when it comes to historic attractions.

⛪️ Sacred site: For those seeking an orientation to the region, St Paul’s Church makes an excellent starting point. Dating back to the 17th century, this ornate house of worship stands on the site where Roman governor Publius was said to have welcomed the apostle Paul after his shipwreck on Malta. Excavations below the church reveal fascinating glimpses into Malta’s Paleochristian history.

🕍 Spiritual stop: Just a short stroll away lies St Paul’s Grotto, where the apostle himself once preached during his three-month stay on the island. Though now bare stone, entering the cave-like room still evokes a sense of history for visitors of faith. For an small admission fee, one can also tour the adjacent Wignacourt Museum with its impressive collection of baroque liturgical art and artifacts.

🏰 Knightly architecture: Architecture enthusiasts will delight in meandering through Rabat’s narrow alleys to view the carved stone balconies and decorative details on townhouses and churches built by the Knights of Malta.

St. Paul's Church, Rabat
St. Paul's Church, Rabat
St. Paul's Church, Rabat
St Paul's Grotto
St Paul's Grotto
St Paul's Grotto

With its rich mix of historic and religious Sites, Rabat offers an ideal base for travelers seeking to uncover the many layers of Malta’s storied past while avoiding the biggest crowds.

All hotels in Rabat →

Where to stay in Rabat?

Expensive hotels:

Medium price range:

  • 116Townhouse – a guest house in an elegant town house with a homely atmosphere and friendly staff.
  • 100 Boutique Living – modern apartments with panoramic views in the historic city centre.
  • My Travel House – cosy apartments in a traditional building with authentic decor and excellent location.

Inexpensive hotels:

  • D'Ambrogio Guest House – a guest house with basic facilities in a picturesque area, suitable for budget holidays.
  • Estrella Lodging – simple and tidy rooms at a reasonable price in the city centre.

9. Marsaxlokk – Where to Stay in Malta for Couples

💧 Picturesque fishing village of Marsaxlokk provides a pleasant escape from the busier tourist hubs. Known for its colorful traditional luzzu boats bobbing in the harbor and lively Sunday fish market, Marsaxlokk delivers an authentic local experience.

🌊 Coastal charm: The village spans around the edges of Marsaxlokk Bay, with much of the charm concentrated along the pedestrianized seafront promenade. It makes for a relaxed place to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of this coastal way of life.

🛕 Iconic landmark: Venturing inland just a short walk leads past Marsaxlokk’s most iconic landmark – the striking Church of Our Lady of Pompei, distinguished by its large silver dome rising high above the low-lying buildings. Beyond that sits a small main square fringed by restaurants serving the catch of the day. Local favorites include fried lampuki fish, slow-roasted octopus, and seafood pasta.

🏝 The compact size of Marsaxlokk makes walking the entirety quite feasible. It also ensures convenient access to the harbor front for boat trips around the bay or out to the Blue Grotto sea caverns.

Parish Church of Our Lady of Pompei
Pompei Meryem Ana Kilisesi
Parish Church of Our Lady of Pompei
Pompei Meryem Ana Kilisesi
Parish Church of Our Lady of Pompei
Pompei Meryem Ana Kilisesi

Just a 30-minute bus ride from Valletta, Marsaxlokk provides a tranquil base. This way, you can alternate between relaxing in the harbor and exploring Malta’s historic capital.

All hotels in Marsaxlokk →

Where to stay in Marsaxlokk?

Expensive hotels:

  • Quayside – an elegant hotel with panoramic sea views in a quiet location close to the harbour.
  • Dun Gorg Guest House – a traditional Maltese-style guest house overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Port View Guesthouse – a hotel overlooking the picturesque harbour and personalised service.

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

10. Gozo – Enjoy the Tranquil Atmosphere of a Neighboring Island

🏝️ Island getaway: Located just a 25-minute ferry ride from Malta’s main island lies the tranquil and picturesque island of Gozo. As the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago, Gozo offers visitors a more rural and laidback alternative to the busier main island.

🏛️ Ancient wonders: One of Gozo’s top attractions is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ġgantija temples, considered to be some of the world’s oldest surviving free-standing monuments dating back over 5,500 years. Adventurous travelers can clamber up the hilltop citadel in Gozo’s capital Victoria, wandering along narrow lanes and staircases to take in panoramic views over the red-roofed villages dotting the island’s landscape.

🥰 Relaxing stay: Gozo’s compact size makes it easy for visitors to explore during a day trip. However, spending a night or two allows more time to experience attractions at an unrushed pace. For example, rambling along the walking trails of Calypso’s Cave, where legend holds the nymph Calypso kept Odysseus as her prisoner of love for seven years. Or lingering over fresh seafood with harbor views in the fishing village of Xlendi, known for its excellent swimming and snorkeling opportunities.

Wherever you go around Gozo’s tranquil shores, traveling by public transport or rental car makes accessing sights convenient and affordable. From the iconic Azure Window rock arch in Dwejra Bay to the sandy beach haven of Ramla Bay, Gozo rewards visitors with a bounty of natural beauty begging to be explored.

All hotels on Gozo →

Where to stay in Gozo?

Medium price range:

Inexpensive hotels:

  • Forty Three #1, 2 – simple and inexpensive apartments with kitchen and all amenities.
  • Ulysses ApartHotel – an apartment hotel with comfortable apartments and friendly staff at a reasonable price.
  • Azure W B&B – a small hotel with a homely feel and a welcoming host.

«Three Cities» in Malta

The Three Cities refers to three fortified cities located in the Grand Harbour area of Malta – Birgu, Senglea, and Cospicua.

  • Birgu (also known as Vittoriosa) – this ancient maritime city has origins dating back to the Phoenicians. It was the base of the Knights of St John when they first arrived in Malta in 1530 and has many historic sites and buildings like Fort St Angelo.
  • Senglea (also known as L-Isla) – located on a narrow peninsula jutting into the Grand Harbour across from Valletta, Senglea has a long history as a harbor town and fortification. It withstood heavy bombardment in WWII. Sights include the Church of St. Philip, gardens, and fine harbor views from the bastion walls.
  • Cospicua (also known as Bormla) – originally a dockyard area, Cospicua makes up the largest section of the Three Cities. Historic Dock No. 1 dates from the time of the Knights. The city has winding streets lined with traditional Maltese houses and buildings. The Dock area has been regenerated with shops and restaurants.

The Three Cities have a joined history from the time of the Knights but each has its own distinct character and attractions. Together they form an important cultural and historic area of Malta.

FAQs about Visiting Malta

Where to avoid staying in Malta?

Certain areas of Marsa and Valletta can feel unsafe at night. I’d avoid wandering down dark alleys alone. Public housing projects are best avoided too. Overall though, Malta is quite safe.

Is it easy to get around Malta without a car?

Getting around without a car is very feasible. Buses go all over and are inexpensive. Ferries and water taxis transport between Valletta and the Three Cities. Rideshares, bikes, or walking work for shorter trips. Just allow extra time as buses can run infrequently.

Is Malta public transport free?

Unfortunately public transport is not free in Malta. You must buy bus cards or ferry tickets. But fares are reasonable – much less than taxis or renting a car. Many hotels offer free shuttle buses too.

Should you stay in Sliema or Valletta?

Sliema offers a livelier vibe and more dining options. But Valletta can’t be beat for charm, history and convenience. I’d recommend 3-4 nights in Sliema to enjoy the lifestyle then transfer to Valletta to immerse in culture.

How many days to stay in malta?

With limited time I’d spend at least 4 full days in Malta to see highlights of Valletta, Mdina and the Three Cities. A full week allows you to relax, explore smaller towns and squeeze in a day trip to Gozo. Add more days if you plan to spend time at beaches.