Where to stay in Malta for first time: 6 Safe areas

Hi guys, on my website, I already wrote articles about staying in Malta without a car and for families (I will put the links to them at the end of this article). In today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Malta for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safe areas to stay in Malta for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map and things to avoid. I’ll also share where I stayed in Malta and recommend some of the best hotels for visitors with various budgets.

Malta is a small archipelago country located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily, Italy. It is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors with its picturesque beaches, ancient ruins, and charming towns.

Malta has been ruled by various powers including the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Knights of Saint John, French, and British. The island played a crucial role during World War II and was heavily bombed due to its strategic location.

Malta gained independence from Britain in 1964 and became a republic in 1974. It joined the European Union in 2004 and adopted the Euro as its currency in 2008.

Is Malta safe to visit?

Yes, Malta is generally a safe place to visit. But, as in any popular tourist destination, it is essential to be aware of pickpocketing and be alert to terrorism, especially in transport hubs and popular tourist spots. Avoid leaving your belongings unattended when swimming in crowded beaches.

I also advise avoiding walking alone at night, especially in nightlife hubs of Paceville and St. Julian’s.  Always sticking to well-lit and populated areas, try to travel with a group if possible. 

Road accidents are also common, so if you drive, do it carefully, keep to the speed limit, and remember to keep to the left! Malta has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers, so drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, and seek shade when needed to avoid heat-related illnesses.

Where to stay in Malta for the first time?

The best and safe areas to stay in Malta for first-timers and tourists include Valletta, St Julians/Sliema, St Paul’s Bay, Mellieha, Three Cities, and Marsaxlokk. Regardless of where you stay, it’s always essential to beware of pickpocketing, and be mindful that the nightlife hub of Paceville can be rowdy at night.

Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a popular base in Malta for the first time. This area is known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and cultural attractions. Staying here puts you within walking distance of major landmarks like St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Grand Master’s Palace, and the Upper Barrakka Gardens.

St. Julian’s/Sliema are ideal for those seeking central location, entertainment and a bustling atmosphere. These neighboring towns are only a few mins drive from the capital Valletta and are popular for their lively nightlife, waterfront promenades, and abundance of restaurants, bars, and shops. 

St. Paul’s Bay and Mellieha are great bases in the northern part of Malta, for a quieter atmosphere with easy access to beaches, outdoor activities, and boat trips to Gozo and Comino islands. These areas are close to popular attractions like the Ghadira Bay, Golden Bay, Popeye Village and the Red Tower. 

Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea, Cospicua) are great locations for those who want to stay in historic towns with easy access to the capital Valletta (5 mins ferry ride away). This area is known for its charming narrow streets, fortifications, and waterfront views. 

Marsaxlokk, a traditional fishing village on the eastern coast of Malta, offers a more authentic Maltese experience away from the main tourist hubs. It is known for its colorful fishing boats, fresh seafood restaurants, and Sunday fish market. Accommodations here are mostly guest houses, and B&Bs.

During my trip to Malta, I stayed at the mid-range Osborne Hotel in Valletta. It had a prime location, easy access to all major historical attractions including  Republic Street, Barrakka Elevator, the Grandmaster’s Palace, and St. John’s Co-Cathedral. It was also close to the bus stops and ferry port to explore the rest of Malta. My room was nice, comfortable and clean. 

Below is a map of the popular areas in Malta for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Malta first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Malta first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Malta, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Malta have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

6 Best/Safe areas to stay in Malta for first-timers and tourists:

1. Valletta 

Valletta, the capital city of Malta, is a top choice for first-time visitors and tourists due to its rich history, stunning architecture, and convenient location.

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts numerous historical landmarks, including the Grand Master’s Palace, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, and the Upper Barrakka Gardens. Exploring the narrow streets of Valletta feels like stepping back in time, with centuries-old architecture at every turn.

You can learn about Malta’s fascinating past at the National Museum of Archaeology, admire contemporary art at the MUŻA – Malta’s national art museum, or catch a performance at the Manoel Theatre, one of Europe’s oldest working theaters.

Valletta’s central location makes it a convenient base for exploring the rest of Malta. From here, you can easily take day trips to other parts of the island using bus, ferries, or guided tours. You can easily explore Sliema, the Three Cities, Mdina, and the Blue Grotto.

Valletta is home to a diverse range of restaurants, cafes, and bars, offering both traditional Maltese cuisine and international fare. You can sample local specialties like pastizzi (flaky pastries filled with ricotta or peas) or enjoy a gourmet meal with a view of the harbor. 

You’ll also find boutique shops, markets, and souvenir stalls scattered throughout the city, perfect for shopping enthusiasts.

With its strategic position on a peninsula overlooking Marsamxett Harbor and the Grand Harbour, Valletta offers some of the most spectacular views in Malta. Whether you’re strolling along the city walls, relaxing in a waterfront cafe, or taking a harbor cruise, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas.

Best places to stay in Malta in Valletta for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Grand Hotel Excelsior, popular 5-star hotel in Valletta, close to everything including Valletta’s main bus terminus, Valletta old town. The hotel has great views of Marsamxett Harbour, Fort Manoel Island and Sliema. It features both outdoor/ indoor pools, free parking, and very good breakfast. Just be mindful it will be a bit of a hike up via stairs and a hill to get into Valletta center.

Mid-range ($$): The Gomerino Hotel, 4-star hotel in central Valletta, featuring 2 swimming pools, a fitness center, 24-hour front desk, paid airport transfer, delicious breakfast, and breathtaking views of the Harbour. Easy access to major sights like the Upper Barrakka Gardens, The Malta Experience, and Manoel Theatre.

Budget ($): Jean de Valette Boutique Living,  3-star  beautiful and well kept apartment complex conveniently located close to the St. John’s Co-Cathedral, Upper Barrakka Gardens, and the City Gate. It has accommodation with a well-equipped kitchen. Close to bus stops, ferry port for services to Gozo and the Three Cities. Lots of restaurants, cafes and shops nearby.


2. St Julians/Sliema

St. Julian’s and Sliema are great areas for first-timers who want a vibrant atmosphere and central locations. They are neighboring towns, located a short drive from Valletta, both offering a lively atmosphere, stunning waterfront views, and convenient access to amenities.  

St. Julian’s, particularly the Paceville area, is renowned for its lively nightlife, with numerous bars, clubs, and casinos attracting locals and tourists alike.

Sliema is known for its shopping streets and malls, offering a plethora of retail outlets, designer boutiques, and souvenir shops. Visitors can explore The Point Shopping Mall, Tigne Point, and Tower Road for a diverse shopping experience.

These areas offer easy access to numerous nearby beaches, such as Balluta Bay, Exiles Beach, and St. George’s Bay, or take a boat trip to the nearby Valletta. 

Best places to stay in Malta in St Julians/Sliema:

Luxury ($$$): Malta Marriott Hotel & Spa, 5-star hotel located between St Julian’s nightlife area and the main shopping district of Sliema, easy access to Balluta Bay beach. It has a roof top outdoor pool, free parking, and comfortable rooms for couples and families.

Mid-range ($$): AX The Victoria Hotel, 4-star boutique hotel located in central Sliema, within easy distance from the seaside promenade, the ferry port, Spinola Bay, and beaches. It has a rooftop terrace with pool,a fitness center, and paid airport transfer. Take a note that it’s quite a hill down to the port.

Budget ($): Antoniel Suites, popular 3-star good value for money hotel in  a quiet street, easy access to the nightlife hub of Malta, Paceville district, Balluta Bay Beach and Love Monument, and Dragonara Casino. Close to the bus stop, restaurants, and many shops. It has an outdoor swimming pool and modern, spacious, soundproofing guest rooms.


3. St Paul’s Bay

St Paul’s Bay is a family-friendly destination on the northern coast of Malta. St. Paul’s Bay is a popular tourist destination, offering visitors a mix of beautiful beaches, charming harbors, and a variety of water sports and outdoor activities.

The town has a vibrant atmosphere with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars lining its waterfront promenade, making it a great place to relax and soak in the Mediterranean ambiance.

This area offers easy access to numerous attractions including Wignacourt Tower, Malta National Aquarium and Splash & Fun Water Park. 

You’ll also be close to beautiful beaches in the north such as Qawra Point Beach (rocky), Buġibba Perched Beach (with artificial sand), Għadira Bay (longest sandy beach in Malta), and Golden Bay (nice clean beach, safe for children).

Best places to stay in Malta in St Paul’s Bay for tourists:

Mid-range ($$): AX ODYCY Hotel, popular 4-star beachfront hotel located in Qawra, featuring both family-friendly pool and adults only rooftop swimming pool. Within walking distance to a rocky beach and a bus stop for further exploration. They have a wonderful breakfast with great choices of dishes. Great base if you want to stay in a more calm part of the island.

Mid-range ($$): Seaview Hotel – Adults Only 16 Plus, great 4-star modern hotel, great place to stay for couples and adults. It is within walking distance from Bugibba Perched Beach, Bugibba center, and various rocky and sandy beaches nearby. Many shops, restaurants and clubs are nearby. 

Budget ($): Mayflower Hotel Malta, 3-star hotel conveniently located in central St. Paul’s Bay, easy walk from a bus station, and the National Aquarium. Close to waterfront bars, restaurants, and shops. The breakfast is very good with a varied selection.


4. Mellieha

Mellieħa, located in the northern part of Malta, is known for its stunning coastline, sandy beaches, and rich history. One of its most famous landmarks is the Mellieħa Bay, also known as Ghadira Bay, which boasts crystal-clear waters and attracts sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts alike.

Apart from its natural beauty, Mellieħa is also home to historical sites such as the Mellieħa Parish Church, a Baroque masterpiece, and the Mellieħa Air Raid Shelter, which offers a glimpse into Malta’s wartime past during World War II.

The village itself is charming, with narrow streets, quaint shops, and welcoming locals. It’s a great destination for those looking to relax by the sea, explore historical sites and local culture. 

Plus, Mellieħa serves as a convenient base for exploring other nearby attractions, such as Popeye Village, the Red Tower, the picturesque village of Mgarr, the ancient city of Mdina and the island of Gozo.

Best places to stay in Malta in Mellieha for travelers:

Mid-range ($$): Pergola Hotel & Spa, 4-star hotel in Mellieha, offering beautiful views of the villages, the bay, Gozo and Comino islands. It has self-catering apartments with balconies. Easy access to a small village with many shops, bars and restaurants. Short drive to the red tower and the Popeye Village.

Mid-range ($$): Maritim Antonine Hotel & Spa, 4-star hotel in the hillside village of Mellieha, short bus ride from Malta’s largest beach. Great base for a relaxing holiday, away from Velleta’s overcrowding area.  easy access to Gozo and Comino islands and various beaches and attractions like Golden Bay, Popeye Village, and The Red Tower.

Budget ($): Hotel VIU57, 3-star hotel in Mellieħa, at the back of Mellieha Sanctuary and Church, close to Mellieha Bay Beach, Ghadira Bay Beach and Santa Maria Estate Beach. It has a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, an outdoor pool, and a beautiful view from the balcony. A short walk/bus ride to the beach.


5. Three Cities

The Three Cities, also known as Cottonera, are a collective term for three historic fortified cities located across the Grand Harbour from Valletta in Malta. They consist of Vittoriosa (Birgu), Senglea (Isla), and Cospicua (Bormla).

Highlights include the Fort St. Angelo in Vittoriosa, the Gardjola Gardens in Senglea, and the Santa Margherita Lines in Cospicua, all of which offer panoramic views of the Grand Harbour and Valletta.

You can learn about the islands’ maritime history at the Malta Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa, explore traditional Maltese crafts at the Malta at War Museum in Birgu, or admire contemporary art at the Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Bormla.

Best places to stay in Malta in Three Cities for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Cugo Gran Macina Malta, 5-star accommodation in Senglea, 5 mins ferry ride to the capital Valletta Waterfront. Fantastic location for exploring Malta. It is nestled amongst the yachts on the marina’s edge, a short stroll to numerous restaurants. They have reasonable price airport transfer service  and amazing city views from the rooftop pool. 

Mid-range ($$): BOCO Boutique Hotel, 4-star accommodation centrally located on a quiet quaint cobbled street in Cospicua, only a 5 mins walk from the port. It has stunning views of the Grand Harbor and Valletta. Easily accessible from the airport by Bolt.

Budget ($): Marina Studios, 3-star accommodation in Cospicua, featuring air-conditioned rooms with  a fully equipped kitchen, an elevator and luggage storage space, and a bicycle rental service. Close to a bus stop, and a ferry that you can take to Valletta. You’ll find a convenience store, many cafes and restaurants nearby.


6. Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is  a popular destination for tourists seeking an authentic Maltese experience. It is a picturesque fishing village located in the southeastern part of Malta. 

It’s known for its colorful traditional fishing boats called “luzzus,” which are adorned with the iconic eye of Osiris motif believed to protect fishermen from harm. 

The village is famous for its Sunday fish market, where locals and visitors can buy fresh fish straight from the fishermen’s boats. 

Marsaxlokk also boasts charming waterfront restaurants serving delicious seafood dishes. Additionally, the area around Marsaxlokk offers beautiful coastal walks and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.

From Marsaxlokk, you can easily explore the attractions and beaches on the eastern coast of Malta. These include Marsaskala, St. Peter’s Pool, Għar Dalam Cave, Blue Grotto, and Ħaġar Qim Archaeological site.

Best places to stay in Malta in Marsaxlokk:

Budget ($): Port View Guesthouse, 3-star  family-run guest house in Marsaxlokk, a 15 mins drive from Valletta, a short stroll from the waterfront promenade with many seafood restaurants and bars.  The breakfast is nice and the view from the terrace is breathtaking.

Budget ($): Dun Gorg Guest House, popular 3-star accommodation in the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, close to Il-Ballut Reserve Beach. Easy access to the village center, the seafront promenade, colorful boats, seafood restaurants, shops and bus stops. The breakfast area has stunning views. Excellent base if you are in Marsaxlokk for the fish and seafood.

Budget ($): South Wind Guesthouse, 4-star  guest house located Marsaxlokk near Il-Ballut Reserve Beach and Qrejten Beach. It has air-conditioned units and all the facilities you need. Although Marsaxlokk is very small, it is very well situated at the bay.


In conclusion, Valletta , St Julians/Sliema, St Paul’s Bay, Mellieha, Three Cities, and Marsaxlokk are the safe and best places to stay in Malta for first-timers and tourists. It’s always essential to take standard precautions like keeping your belongings secure, and being cautious in crowded places wherever you go.

You can continue reading about Malta in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Malta. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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