Both Sliema and Valletta are among the busiest and most attractive cities in Malta. Valletta is the capital city of Malta and the European Capital of Culture 2018. Sliema, on the other hand, is a commercial hub and popular tourist destination and is located to the West of Valletta, across the Grand Harbour. While both localities are considered to be busier than any other in the surrounding area, neither come close to the kind of chaos of larger European cities and both have their own distinct character which is loved by both locals and tourists alike.
Like most historic regions, living in Valletta offers locals a sense of wonder. Like most capitals people tend to be accepted and absorbed easier. The mix of cultural, historical and commercial is a good balance, and every day could be filled with exploring and discovering new wonders.
The capital of Malta is home to just under 7,000 residents. Life here is a little like living in Rome; everywhere you look you see a piece of history. The city was founded after the Great Siege of 1565 (when an invasion of the Ottoman Empire was successfully defeated) in the time of the Crusades by the Order of St John. It was originally designed as a refuge for Knights returning from the Crusades and throughout history became known as a ‘city of palaces built by gentlemen for gentlemen.’
St John’s Co-Cathedral is one of Valletta’s crown jewels, housing a few fine works by the famous Italian painter Caravaggio, active in Malta in the early 17th century. It features attractions often given as donations from Knights and Grand Masters, and boasts beautiful marble floor and tombstones, making the cathedral of high historical and artistic importance.
Another popular Valletta attraction is the Lascaris War Rooms. During the Second World War the defence of the island was conducted in these underground bunkers by the British, when Malta played a key role with its strategic location between Europe and Africa. Having been restored recently, it is an attraction which offers some fascinating glimpses into an era when the Maltese (and the British stationed there) faced the toughest of times.
Sliema is where a lot of local residents love to live, despite being one of the busiest localities in Malta. This is partly due to the shopping and nightlife the place affords. It is currently home to 17,000 residents, and is a commercial hub for many industries on the island, as well as a shopping destination. Though Sliema does not have the cultural punch of Valletta, its coastal resort and related activities have proved popular with tourists.
During British rule over the islands, Sliema rapidly developed from a small local community to a village with stately residences for wealthier Valletta residents. Although some of these houses remain, most have made way for high-rise buildings, with sea view property in this area being in high demand among locals as well as foreigners looking to relocate.
Having few true attractions, Sliema is not one of the more historically and culturally significant localities in Malta, although its long seaside promenade and large choice of restaurants and pubs make it one of a kind, especially during the summer months.
Valletta and Sliema offer everything a person who wishes to locate to the island could want. As well as a community and good city living, they’re also a cultural feast which simply has to be experienced and admired.
And if you want something close to the two cities but slightly quieter, there’s a small town called Ta’ Xbiex with a population of just about 1,835. Ta’ Xbiex is known for the number of foreign embassies it houses and for the luxury apartment buildings overlooking its Yacht Marina and gorgeous view of the Valletta Grand Harbour; amongst other beautiful houses and buildings in the area.