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Blick auf Sliema in Malta, Bild: Ingus Kruklitis / shutterstock

Sliema – the transformation from fishing village to holiday paradise

The pearl of Malta has six letters: Sliema. And if you pronounce the name of this tourist stronghold of the island in the Mediterranean fluently, you will get a first impression of the elegance of this shopping mile, which is so popular with holidaymakers. In Sliema, there is little left to indicate that this was once a tranquil fishing village, as the place has long since been transformed into a centre with flair and charm. And with a beach promenade that is unparalleled in Malta .

The view across the bay to Valletta

Baroque church in Sliema
Baroque church in Sliema, Image: FredP / shutterstock

From the shores of the Mediterranean, Sliema offers views all the way to the island’s bustling capital, Valletta. But the small town on the other side of the bay has now conquered a permanent place in Malta’s rankings. If you set off on a flying visit to Valletta, you book a place on the ferry in the port of Sliema. There, numerous offices also offer harbor tours and all-day island tours. Anyone who has registered in one of the pretty hotels and guesthouses in Sliema should know that English is the colloquial language in this part of Malta. This is also common among the inhabitants and is in contradiction to numerous other regions of the island. Sliema was the preferred destination of wealthy islanders a century ago, who built their summer residences here. A few have been preserved on the promenade and bear witness to the Victorian splendour of yesteryear.

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An 18th-century three-masted ship

However, the historical past of Sliema, when Moors, Romans and the members of the Order of St. John gathered there, is only presented in a few ruins. At the bay that separates the city from the metropolis of Valletta, there is hardly anything left to see of the former fortress of Tigne. Rather, modern residential complexes were built on the peninsula, where the local militia maintained a guard post as early as the early 15th century. The so-called “Fort Cambridge Apartments” are among the most striking buildings in Malta. In the bay, however, you should visit the replica of a three-masted ship from the 18th century. The “Black Pearl” has repeatedly served as a backdrop for various films and is now home to a restaurant.

Over ladders to the cool waters

The water on Sliema’s doorstep is clear and clean, but you won’t find sandy beaches in the immediate vicinity of the pretty little town. If you want to take a cool bath there, you can go to the ladders that lead directly to the floods. Almost everywhere the beaches have a rocky subsoil. There are hardly any water sports on offer in the bay, as it is teeming with sailing yachts. St. George’s Bay, on the other hand, offers everything that pleases the heart of bathers: surfing, water skiing, jet skiing, diving and snorkeling. There is a small island in the bay, which can be reached via a bridge. On Manoel Island, at least one historic fortress has been preserved in ruins.

Safe bathing in stone pools

Very popular with holidaymakers and locals is the beach of Fond Ghadir. It is located between the Tower of St. Julian and Battery II Fortizza. There, bathing in stone pools is possible without danger, even in stormy winds. The infrastructure on the beach has recently received a considerable boost. There are shower cabins and a sufficient supply of sun loungers and umbrellas. However, if you shy away from the short drive to Fond Ghadir, you can switch directly from the Bizazza shopping street to Qui-Si-Sana beach. The beach promenade of Sliema leads to neighboring St. Julian’s and is equipped with numerous benches. Many locals meet here in the morning hours. If you have chosen St. Julian’s as the domicile of your Malta holiday, you should know that it can be a bit louder here at times. In the district of Paceville there are several bars, discos and clubs.

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To the “Blue Lagoon” in Gozo

Gozo, Blue Grotto
View of the blue grotto of Gozo, Image: ZGPhotography / shutterstock

Gourmets in particular feel very much at home in Sliema, as the restaurants there have always enjoyed the reputation of being a kind of mecca for gourmets. An experience of a special kind is a boat trip from the harbour of Sliema to the famous Blue Lagoon. It is located on Malta’s sister island of Gozo. The fourteen-kilometre-long island was once home to the Neolithic Gganthija Temple. Today, however, only ruins of it can be seen. The legendary “Blue Gate”, a rocky window in the sea, also no longer exists. This sight of nature collapsed some time ago. But what has remained are the wonderful and quiet bays and the crystal clear waters of the Blue Lagoon. It is definitely worth visiting on a holiday in Sliema.