Sliema is a town located on the northeast coast of Malta. It is a center for shopping, restaurants and café life. Sliema is also a major commercial and residential area and houses several of Malta's most modern hotels. If you are a hardcore tourist looking to live in the centre of things happening in the island, we suggest you book a hotel in Sliema. Most hotels (even budget hotels) are just a two minute walk from the sea and the main shops and bars in Sliema.
Although Sliema has no noteworthy historical sights, it has a commercial bustle due to the affluence of its inhabitants, to a concentration of tourist traffic and to people coming from out of town for shopping and entertainment. In summer, Sliema witnesses an influx of foreign students studying English at the numerous language schools in the area.
The town has been associated with the bourgeoisie since its beginnings in the early 19th century when the British rulers and wealthy Maltese started building villas -in the neoclassical and baroque styles - around the fishing hamlets that at the time existed in the area. English is very widely spoken by the inhabitants of Sliema, possibly because of the influence of British residents. Sliema takes its name from the Maltese word sliem which means peace -appropriate then, hardly so today.
Over recent decades Sliema has undergone a change in its urban fabric: only a handful of the early villas survive since most have been demolished to make way for high-rise apartment blocks, especially along the coastal strip. Most apartments are spacious, luxurious and expensive, and an address on Tower Road remains one of the most prestigious.
Sliema extends from Manoel Island in Marsamxett Harbour to the beginning of Balluta Bay in St Julian's and most of its hotels, restaurants, shops and cafes are situated along the coast. The commercial hub is concentrated around the Sliema Ferries area, Bisazza Street and Tower Road, lined with trendy boutiques and some cafes. On the northern shore, facing the open sea, shops thin out on Tower Road and give way to the high-rise apartments. Tower Road offers a wide and long promenade which locals refer to as the Front, perched over a strip of rocky coast, with a lovely vista of the Mediterranean sea and pretty bays. It's a pleasant spot after sunset when the locals practice their end of day ritual called passiggata, a leisurely stroll. The rocky coast also fills with bathers in the summer; it's a convenient spot for swimming if you don't fancy venturing to the beaches on the north-west coast.
Sliema, which means 'peace, comfort', was once a quiet fishing village on the peninsula across Marsamxett Harbour from Valletta, but now Sliema and the coastline up to neighbouring St. Julian's constitutes Malta's main coastal resort. The city of Sliema began rapidly developing in the 19th century and later it became a popular summer resort for wealthier Maltese citizens. Villas and town houses started to be developed in front of sea in the quiet and orderly streets. The 3 kilometer sea promenade and belvedere started to attract the first tourists and many started to look for places where to spend their vacation and many hotels emerged as a result. A very important and centre place is the Independence Garden near a small sandy beach on the coastline.
Sliema can be considered as pretty much a suburb of Valletta - but a suburb with a lot of history. Sliema is located between the Valletta city where you find most of the historic sights and St Julian's where you find the best nightlife of the island. Sliema is a perfect place to explore both. Here you find many hotels, shops and tourist spots. It's probably the best base for exploring the capital region.
At a glance
To shop, swim, wine, dine and sleep without having catch any form of transport.
An early morning walk along the promenade.
If you're after history culture and the arts.
WHAT CAN I GET?
To see Malta's hip crowd strutting their stuff at the outdoor cafes or parading their polished cars along the coast road.