The Sliema beaches and promenade from Qui Si Sana to Exiles are incredibly beautiful, albeit sans any sand. Of course, Malta is not where you go for a European beach vacation to rival Hawaii, but it is a top notch city beach in the Med though. Saying city with Sliema, is a bit odd – but the endless construction over the years has changed the makeup of this little part of Malta.
more flesh on display than Cancun
People watching along the Sliema beaches is consistently an interesting mix of Mediterranean cool with the rest of the Continent. Sliema is home to a number of language schools for European university students to learn English each summer. No matter how conservative this sunny little island might be, this city beach has more flesh on display than Cancun.
Limestone Sliema Beaches
The best sandy beaches in Malta are located on the island’s north side facing Gozo. The Sliema beaches are limestone and slightly uncomfortable. Don’t let that put you off. The swimming is great and there are tons of kiosks and cafes to get a cold beer or a bite to eat. The water is dead calm all summer. Since shade can be at a premium, don’t forget your sun block. At a couple places along Tower Road, you can pick up a floatie for 20 euros or so. It is highly recommended.
What they lack in soft silky sand, these limestone beaches make up for in the quality of swimming and ease of use. Getting to the sandy beaches of Malta is frankly a hassle from Sliema (civilization). If you are staying on that side of the island, its a different story.
Walk the Sliema Promenade in Summer
Sliema, and to a lesser extent, St. Julian’s is many things for many people. All of them, good if you don’t mind fighting crowds occasionally. There are a couple spots to grab food along the promenade connecting Sliema and St. Julians. Your options range from the cheap national pastry dish, pastizzi, to fairly complicated dishes. If you are looking for something easy on the beach in Sliema, you have a good amount of options for a quick espresso or a leisurely beer. Walking the entire length of the promenade should take about an hour.
There are a few great beach spots and clubs to while away the day in the sun. Most of the kiosks are pleasant for informal gatherings along the Sliema promenade. In the heat of July and August, everybody is out on the promenade every night from about 6:30 until shortly after dark. For the Maltese, its a time to see and be seen. You might find a breeze as well, but probably not. It’s hot. Its a lot of fun, but its hot.
Sundays during soccer/football season (in the fall), the promenade is packed with people watching the games, yelling at the big screens and having fun. Malta knows how to party, that is for sure. I saw the Gli Azzurri, the Italian national team, eliminated twice from the World Cup on the promenade. Afterwards, there were thousands of crying men.
Cooling off is not a problem. You can get in the safe water nearly everywhere. Young people will be jumping into the water directly from the promenade. It is about 25 to 30 ft. It is not recommended, because the depth of the water is only about 8 feet. Over the course of many years, I jumped in a few hundred times until I snorkeled the landing area.
Parasailing, Scuba diving, and Jetskis are all available.
Sliema is in the process of transitioning from traditional Maltese to more upscale and pan European. The service and amenities have improved dramatically. Yes, it’s still a great bargain for a holiday and incredibly affordable. Crime has increased to negligible from none. The Sliema locals speak English with a sing song cadence that rest of the island considers arrogant. I thought it was cute.
The island has draconian laws re: drugs. You probably won’t be offered, but do not smoke hash, weed, etc.
Unfortunately, the area is rapidly losing a bit of its charm as the island modernizes. All things considered, the limestone beaches of Sliema aren’t a bad place to be.