Sliema is set on a headland between Marsamxett Harbour and the open sea, Sliema is Malta’s number one tourist area. It is also the island’s most densely populated town. A century ago this was a quiet area, with a few houses, the odd tower and a small chapel. Then wealthy Vallettans came and built their elegant Art Nouveau residences along the promenade. The introduction of the bus service in the 1920s accelerated development, and Sliema became a fashionable address. Today, it is the largest and the most expensive residential area in Malta.
With the rash of high-rise development now dwarfing what remains of old Sliema, the town could hardly be described as beautiful. Along Triq it- Torri (Tower Rd) the few surviving old fa9ades look distinctly forlorn. In some cases there is literally no more than a facade, waiting to be demolished and replaced by faceless modern block.
On the plus side, Sliema is a lively resort, with excellent facilities and location. Valletta lies just across the water, its dramatic skyline seen clearly from the Sliema Creek waterfront. The capital is easily reached by bus or ferry. Sliema is also the starting point for cruises, and is well placed for touring the island. All visitor destinations are within a 40-minute bus ride.
There are no sandy beaches, but the coastline shelves gently to the water, and the smooth rocks and lidos on the north side afford good swimming. A promenade runs all the way to St Julian’s Bay, passing gardens and playgrounds. On the south side of the headland, the
Strand is the livelier of the two promenades. Here you can watch cruisers steam across Sliema Creek, and ferries on their way to Valletta. A dual carriageway separates the promenade from a commercialised strip of souvenir shops, cafes, and restaurants.
The shopping centre, where you can find everything from toasters to high fashion, lies between the two main promenades, where the road cuts across the headland. The two steep streets here are lined with banks, travel agents, and smart boutiques. The Tigne peninsula, jutting towards Valletta, is a quieter area, with good swimming and facilities on the Qui-si-Sana waterfront.
The GZira area of Sliema is primarily residential. A bridge links it to Manoel Island, home to the Royal Yacht Club and the Phoenician Glassblowers. Fort Manoel, dilapidated for years, is to be part of a 6-10 year tourist development plan, incorporating Manoel Island and Tign£ Point. All historic buildings on both sides are to be restored. Courtesy boats from Sliema take visitors to the Phoenician Glassblowers.