It’s a small island but where you choose to stay may influence the type of holiday you'll have.
OK, so Malta is not a big place. At just 27km (16.7 miles) long and 14.5km (9 miles) at its widest, it’s safe to say you can technically stay anywhere on the island and you’re still within 30 minutes’ drive from anywhere else. However, hotels are clustered in particular areas and this can affect the type of holiday you prefer. Your choice of accommodation might also depend on who you’re travelling with.
The capital city takes centre stage this year as it is crowned European Capital of Culture so it is quite natural that everyone will want to stay here. The seat of government, Valletta is packed with history and has a bustling nightlife with top restaurants and trendy wine-bars. Several of the centuries old palazzos and townhouses have been converted into boutique hotels, all exquisitely decorated and some boasting designer furniture and real antiques. In Floriana, just outside Valletta’s bastions, there are two luxury five-star hotels.
Stay here if: you are travelling without children; you want a romantic city break; you’re on your honeymoon; you want to be right in the heart of all things arts and culture; you are a gourmand; you love people-watching while sipping a proper coffee.
St Julian's and Sliema
©viewingmalta.com - (Gergely Vas - Gregory Iron Photography)
The picturesque former fishing village of St Julian's, just 25 minutes drive from the airport, is now the entertainment hub of the island with numerous trendy bars, nightclubs and a plethora of restaurants crowned by the landmark Portomaso yacht marina which renews the town’s maritime tradition. Linked via a delightful seaside promenade to the upmarket residential town of Sliema and its many shops, St Julian's is also home to a large cluster of hotels, seven of them in the five-star category.
Stay here if: you love nightlife; you are travelling with children (they will love the playgrounds along the promenade); you are travelling with teenagers; you want to enjoy some retail therapy; you want to be within striking distance of Valletta (only 10 minutes by ferry from Sliema).
©viewingmalta.com - (Richard Kalina)
Malta’s northern coast retains its natural rugged beauty with lush fertile valleys, small farming villages, the island’s largest sandy beaches and the popular holiday resort towns of Mellieha, St Paul’s Bay, Bugibba and Qawra. Children will love the Malta National Aquarium and you can even go bird-watching at the island’s largest nature reserve.
Stay here if: you want a beach holiday (yes, even in winter); you are travelling with children; you are renting a car to tour the rest of the island; you want to include Gozo in your itinerary as a day trip.
©viewingmalta.com - (Rene Rossignaud)
Away from the hustle and bustle of the capital and the bright lights of the main tourist resorts, the quieter centre of the island is largely residential but is dominated by the medieval walled city of Mdina. And yes, you can stay in this noble city, in its one and only luxury boutique hotel, the Xara Palace. Just 10 minutes drive away in the quiet town of Attard is the elegant Corinthia Palace Hotel, right on the doorstep of the official residence of the President of Malta at San Anton Palace with its beautiful public gardens.
Stay here if: you are travelling without young children; you want a quiet break; you are more interested in history than anything else; you are hiring a car; you’re not on a tight budget.
©viewingmalta.com - (Baron Group Farmhouses)
A 20-minute ferry crossing from Cirkewwa transports you to Malta’s sister island, where life moves at a calmer pace, revolving around the seasons. Gozo has some of the best dive sites in the world. Accommodation on Gozo is as unique as the island itself. Hotels are designed to reflect local architecture and heritage and are furnished with inimitable character and charm. Or you can go self-catering and rent out an authentic centuries-old farmhouse, albeit kitted out with all the mod cons.
Stay here if: you are travelling as a family; you want to get away from it all; for pure R & R; you’re into outdoor sports such as hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or biking; you love diving.