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Sliema Walkaround: Attractions and Impressions
For my stay on Malta, I picked Sliema as my base - it's well-situated and there were lots of hotels to choose from.
Despite Sliema not being home to any particular major attraction, it has intriguing streets with nice architecture... ah, those Maltese balconies!
Virgin Mary statue at the corner of a house
So, this is about my Sliema street ramblings... the looking around, the contemplation and photographing all around...
Again - it's my obsession for architecture that will dominate the article...
At first I set off for a short "reconnaissance mission" to see the area around my hotel (I stayed at Hotel Roma right near the beach where the angry waves hit the rough shore).
Already on my first humble walk I was stunned by the beauty of the (seemingly ordinary) houses found behind the larger more modern buildings.
Indeed, to see the best of Sliema, you have to wander on its narrower streets, more inland... I am referring to the area north of the port where the boats sail to Valletta.
It was this area that gave me a strong infusion of Malta's dry rocky look and feel... I'll go into more details about it here.
The materials used to build most of the country's buildings are the rocks extracted from local quarries. They have this "desert colour" and attribute this rough feel to the buildings.
Of course, Sliema is full of these buildings...
The Maltese balconies are characteristic to the Maltese urban environment
The "rock" houses usually have unpainted walls and many of them boast with traditional Maltese balconies - as you see on the picture above.
They're wooden enclosures with characteristic straight shapes, usually painted in a single colour. Dark or medium colours are most often used.
But not all of them are made of wood, just their large majority. Some balconies were made using bricks and concrete.
Shapes and forms vary too, but pretty much what you see here is what I encountered in Sliema.
Some streets have dozens of these balconies!
When walking on the streets in the hot sun, I saw very few tourists in these hidden parts of the town, yet there is plenty to see...
Sliema felt relatively quiet when compared with Valletta.
Even the name of the town's name means "peace, comfort".
Sliema used to be a quiet fishing town, but today it's filled with modern housing blocks, hotels. It's a major residential area on Malta. Also: some of the best hotels on the island are found in Sliema.
The town's population is around 17,000.
But Sliema is almost completely stuck to the neighbouring towns.
It feels as if there would be a single large city with different neighbourhoods, but in fact these are different towns.
I chose Sliema mainly because the hotel I picked there had a very good location - near a bus station and short walk away from the mentioned ferry port through which I later reached Valletta and, the Sliema Bus Terminal is also in (southern) Sliema.
Sliema seen from Valletta, from across the harbour
Hotel prices on Malta vary, but it is not among the most expensive Mediterranean destinations. There are hotel rates in the 30-35 EUR range for a single traveler.
Of course, I was there off-season, in May.
Parish Church Jesus of Nazareth
Sliema is a perfect place for accommodation on Malta, have no doubt.
Just in case you're wondering which part of the main island is the best place to stay - I'd vote for Sliema for its strategic location: the nearby port and the Sliema Bus Terminal are its most important assets.
As for attractions...
I encountered the following: the Parish Church Jesus of Nazareth (behind the ferry port), Parish Church of Stella Maris, the waterfront, a series of fortifications along the shore, the traditional Maltese balconies and a large number of vintage buses at the bus station found behind the ferry port.
Sliema doesn't boast with imposing attractions, but it's a nice place for urban wanderings...
It's also a great place for eating out and there are several large shopping malls in the area as well.
The waterfront is another place worth checking out. because my hotel was a stone's throw away, I came out every day to watch the waves crush against the stone walls.
The beach here is extremely rough, rocky...
Weird washed-out rough stone formations make up the entire beach
There's not good place for swimming and the waves are brutal at times...
No sand, it's all just rock. It looks like the surface of the Moon!
Some of the rock formations have cracks, holes in which it's easy to twist your ankle or remain stuck.
Look: Malta's only skyscraper (that's in St. Julian's)
Particularly pleasant were the walks I took along the shore towards St. Julian's.
The northern and western shores of Sliema have those odd Moon surface-like rocky areas, as depicted on the photos above...
Parish Church of Stella Maris
But, there are green park-like retreat areas as well, washed by the waters of St. Julian's Bay.
As I mentioned earlier, Sliema has a profusion of bars and restaurants. Some which serve (traditional) rabbit meal-containing meals.
I did the beer tour, checked out a few local beers, but I skipped the rabbit meat...
There are some things... sorry! Cuddly creatures I just couldn't eat.
Nearing the end of this article, I must say that although I never intended Sliema to be among my primary targets for urban explorations, I did find my wanderings fruitful.
Sliema can give you a little taste of Malta (before you start digging deeper to discover the major attractions).
See more Malta travel adventures, suggestions, photos, reviews to plan your trip to the tiny country.
Dry hard elegance
A playful decorative motif above a window
High density of apartments, but few people on the streets
Notice the white one. It's modern, glass and plastic. But blends into the view rather smoothly.
A tiny fort near the waterfront
Lots of balconies. I wonder how they feel from inside.
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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