One question that the thousands of tourists who visit Malta every year will ask is, which is best, Sliema Malta or Valletta Malta for your holiday in Malta?
It is safe to say that both Valletta Malta and Sliema Malta have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to what tourists can see or do on their holiday in Malta.
In this article we shall elaborate on these and compare and contrast these, as well as giving examples to help guide tourists on where to go while on their holiday in Malta.
Sliema Malta got its name from a chapel dedicated to The Virgin Mary under the title of Star of the Sea, which served as a beacon and a reference point to the few fishermen who lived in that area.
It is also said that Sailors on Knights’ galleys would pay their respects to Our Lady as they set sail.
In a similar manner, local fishermen would pray for a safe return – a return ‘bis-sliem’.
These two traditions gave the town the name of Sliema Malta.
Thus, the name could be connected with the first words of the Hail Mary prayer, which in Maltese is “Sliem Għalik Marija”.
Sliem is the Maltese word meaning peace.
As opposed to Valletta, Sliema Malta is more well known for its massive shopping centres.
Although history plays a part in virtually every town in Malta, Valletta Malta is far more connected to this history than any other town.
As opposed to Valletta, the town of Sliema Malta began to develop predominantly during the British era, in the second half of the 19th century, later becoming popular as a summer resort for wealthier Valletta Malta residents.
Undoubtedly, the most important location for the British was Sliema Malta.
They would travel to their summer homes using the Valletta to Sliema ferry, and spend the days in their elegant villas.
They built elegant villas and townhouses adorned with colourful wooden balconies which then lined the inland streets.
There were also numerous stunning victorian buildings which graced its three kilometre promenade overlooking the mediterranean sea.
Later the British changed various areas into residential ones, mainly for the families of those who worked with the Navy and other British institutions.
Up until this day, you can still see the strong British influence on the architecture in Sliema Malta as well as in the neighbouring towns of Gzira and St Julians.
A few Victorian and art nouveau houses still remain in the inner streets, although only a handful remain along the shoreline, as there has been significant modern development of apartment blocks and hotels.
This is a great place to enjoy your holiday in Malta.
Attractions in Sliema Malta
Without a doubt, when one spends their holiday in Malta, they definitely have to visit Sliema Malta.
We shall elaborate on this further in the paragraphs ahead.
Sliema Promenade is, of course, one of Sliema Malta’s defining features.
This is a year-round attraction, and a walk (or ‘passeggiata’ in Maltese), on ‘the front’ was a real highlight, especially in summer when it would be packed with people.
It is the perfect activity to do in Sliema Malta while on your holiday in Malta, in order to see and be seen, to admire the beautiful sea views and the beautiful people.
This is truly an amazing place to visit during your holiday in Malta.
Tigné Point is a great peninsula in Sliema Malta to enjoy while spending your holiday in Malta.
The area was originally occupied by several a number of fortifications as well as a british barracks, until the early 21st century when the area was redeveloped.
The area now contains many modern buildings and is popular among both locals and tourists.
This is the perfect place to visit anytime you are spending your holiday in Malta, even if it is just a quick visit.
The Point Shopping Mall is currently the largest retail center on the island, covering around 17,000 square meters and hosting over seventy stores to browse.
Although, similarly to Valletta, this shopping centre also has its own history.
Before becoming a vital part of the vibrant city of Sliema Malta, the Tigné Point peninsula was the scene of a number of momentous historical events.
Fortunately, his attempts were stopped as the locals who were guarding this land managed to kill the Ottoman leader in a blazing fire exchange.
This is where the peninsula gained its current name of The Dragut Point.
Definitely worth a visit while in Sliema Malta, during your holiday in Malta.
You will also be able to shop till you drop, with fantastic designer outlets located in Sliema Malta’s highstreet known as Bisazza Street as well as in the Sliema Plaza Shopping Complex.
This is a stunning street which was originally constructed by the late architect Joseph Attard and opened in the 1950s.
However, it was in 2011 that Bisazza Street saw the biggest revamp.
This is when Bisazza Street became a widened pedestrianised area located in the heart of Sliema’s shopping district with views overlooking Manoel Island.
This is definitely worth adding to your list of what to do while on holiday in Malta.
Now serving as a private hospital in Sliema Malta, Capua Palace is one of the old Neo-Classical buildings that encompasses the architectural style of the British-built architecture from the nineteenth century.
It was around this palace that the wealthy Maltese professionals from The Three Cities (Birgu, Bormla, and Isla), and the British built their homes in Sliema Malta.
For the Maltese, these were not their main residence but a luxurious summer residence in Sliema Malta.
Zammit Clapp Hospital
The fusion of the Neo-Classical style with the local vernacular eventually bred an architecture that was to become a unique Maltese colonial style.
The majestic Zammit Clapp Hospital and its neighbour the Convent of the Sacred Heart are two fine examples of this Maltese colonial style at its best in Sliema Malta.
Valletta Malta is slightly different from Sliema Malta.
This is because, although both places are strong commercial destinations in Malta, Valletta Malta has stronger roots in Malta’s long and complex history.
In fact, when thinking of visiting a place such as this, it is wise to read up on the city of Valletta Malta to get a good context of what you are really walking into.
Valletta Malta is the capital city and is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities, as well as one of the youngest, having been founded a little over 450 years ago.
It was built by the Order of St. John on a peninsula between two natural harbours (Grand Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour), and named after the Grandmaster at the time, Jean de La Vallette.
The city sits perched on higher ground.
Hence, the Knights strategically chose Valletta’s location for its highly defensible position.
So they used it to fortify Malta as a stronghold for Roman Catholicism.
In its day, Valletta Malta was a fine example of modern city planning.
Valletta Malta was designed on a grid system.
Careful consideration was given when it comes to planning in order to accomodate water, and sanitation, and to allow for the circulation of air.
Interestingly, as opposed to most towns and cities who evolved and changed over the centuries, Valletta, in contrast, was one of the first European cities to be constructed on an entirely new site.
Historical places in Valletta
As you can imagine, being that Valletta Malta is the capital city of Malta, despite its small size, it is packed with sites of historical significance, with buildings dating back to the 16th century.
In fact, it is safe to say that the bulk of the historical landmarks exist predominantly in the capital, Valletta Malta.
So much so that the city of Valletta Malta as a whole has been an officially listed UNESCO World Heritage site since 1980 for its historical and cultural value.
This makes Valletta Malta the ideal place for any history buffs out there who really want to make the most of their holiday.
In fact, a holiday in Malta would be great for those history buffs.
We shall elaborate on a number of these below.
Among the many historical landmarks in Valletta, there are many top museums which are extremely popular with locals and tourists alike.
Grandmaster’s palace Armoury
This site is of great historical value, and is truly worth a visit while on your holiday in Malta. Having been originally built by the Knights of the Order of St. John, its purpose was to showcase their power and opulence.
Between 1530 to 1798, these knights were a unique brotherhood of resolute warrior monks who ruled Malta, defending the Catholic faith against the attacks of the Ottoman Turks.
The Palace itself hosts a number of tapestries, unique paintings, and political history of the Maltese islands spanning over 400 years.
During a visit to the Armoury’s collection during your holiday in Malta, you will see a vast array of breathtaking medieval wartime artefacts which shaped the history of Malta and the mediterranean.
National War Museum
The National War Museum is one of the top places of interest and amongst the most popular museums in Malta.
This is a must-see War Museum as it represents Malta’s important military role after 1800 under British rule as well as the pivotal role Malta played during both World Wars.
The museum displays items from the First World War as well as items from the two years of French Occupation.
Definitely worth a visit while on holiday in Malta
It houses a superb collection of artefacts that go back to prehistoric times.
Among the most notable artefacts in the Museum, one can find the military armour of the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks, Malta’s award for gallantry, the George Cross, and so on.
Fort St. Angelo
This is great to visit while on holiday in Malta
Without a shadow of a doubt, it is safe to say that for the past thousand years, this has been the fortress with the greatest potential of shaping Malta’s destiny.
Strategically located on a hill, at the end of the Birgu peninsula, the fort dominates the Grand Harbour.
The site first gained attention from the Phoenicians in antiquity.
By 1274, there was a stronghold which was known as the Castrum Maris (castle-by-the-sea).
By that time, it was known that whoever controlled this fort, essentially controlled the entirety of the Maltese Islands.
Hence, in the 1500s, the Order of St John named this military structure Fort St Angelo and turned it into their headquarters.
This was a step-up from the obsolete medieval castle that existed before.
The Knights also remodelled the building and decided on the construction of a series of artillery platforms which brought about the introduction of the bastioned system of defence into the Maltese Islands.
This is definitely a must-see place to visit while on holiday in Malta.
Fort St. Elmo
This fort was constructed by the Order of St John in 1552.
It is a famous star-shaped fort which was built according to the cutting edge of fortress design at the time.
The fort played a vital role in the Great Siege of 1565 as it was a war machine of a fort which was built in a strategic location to face and hold back the Ottoman attacks.
This position now offers some great unobstructed panoramic views of the harbours and the surrounding towns and villages.
Visitors can also experience the impressive grounds of the fort, which include the spectacular architecture of the two chapels dedicated to St Anne.
Perfect to add to your list of things to do while visiting on your holiday in Malta.
We hope that you have learnt about the differences between Valletta Malta and Sliema Malta in this article.
This will help you make an informed decision when it comes to visiting these places during your holiday in Malta.
Both cities have a lot to offer the locals and tourists out there.
Stay with Us
Looking for a great 4 star hotel option in Sliema, Malta for your holiday in Malta?
Hotel 1926 is located in this stunning village of Sliema.
It offers a wide range of great services for you and your family. These include, this lovely hotel, delicious dishes served in the amazing Margaux restaurant, as well as the refreshing spa experience by Resense.
Due to its convenient location, you will be able to visit more places than just Sliema Malta, in fact, you can see any corner of the island in a very easy way.
You can visit Valletta Malta especially, by means of a ferry which takes fifteen minutes from sliema and it is worth it as it is a very stunning boat ride.