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Sliema is a modern town on Malta’s east coast with beaches and bustle. It has decent infrastructure as well as water sports, shopping and restaurants, while it is close enough to the capital, Valletta, and other popular beaches for visitors to reach these areas by car. Rentals here are cheap by any standard and driving is the best way to get about since public transport is limited.
Who to Book With
Malta International Airport is served by several well-known car hire companies, such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Active and First. Cars are best booked online via our comparator site and picked up at the airport or in town. The drive from the airport to Sliema is just over five miles, or 20 minutes, albeit via a semi-convoluted route.
Best Time to Go
The climate is Mediterranean, with dry, hot summers and wet and windy, though mild, winters. Be aware that it gets humid in summer when many locals head out of Sliema for holiday at this time. Most roads are small and winding so take care, especially in winter, when driving around the coast or across the island. Off-season rates are available from October to April.
Need to Know Essentials
When collecting car hire, the following documents must be shown:
- A United Kingdom driver’s licence
- A passport
- The credit card used to make the reservation
- A printout of the reservation
For more info, read our FAQs.
Sliema itself is very small and comprised of one-way streets and junctions, such that it’s best to leave your car at the hotel when taking in the sights. The road network in Malta as a whole is staggered though improving all the time. It’s busiest around Sliema and Valletta (the capital), where parking can be tough.
Our Guide to Malta contains more detailed driving information.
Sliema is small and busy, and best negotiated on foot. You only really need to use the bus when travelling to Valletta, although going by ferry is actually quicker and easier. The higgledy-piggledy road network makes getting about the island by bus a pain, so having car rental is by far the best method of travel for seeing Malta.
Arriva buses run around the coast in Sliema, from St Julian to Valletta, taking in the ferry terminal. Services are frequent but can become very crowded in summer. Fares are cheap but it’s best to go with a day or weekly ticket.
The ferry journey between Sliema and Valletta is fast and frequent, taking just five minutes and running every 30 minutes between 08:00 and 18:00. Fares are £1.30 one way. The ferry terminals are along Tigné road in Sliema and Boat Street in Valletta. Ferries are cheaper and faster than buses. To get to Gozo Island, ferries leave from the terminal at Äirkewwa in the northwest of the island.
Taxis are expensive in Malta, even though they have rarely-used meters. Try to avoid the white taxis; instead phone for a black cab, like Active Cabs or Peppin Transport. Taxis are not needed for travel within Sliema unless it’s overly hot or late at night when coming back from St Julian or Valletta.
Sliema is well situated mid-island, making for easy visits to just about any spot on Malta. While there are no motorways, the quickest way to get about is by car and some of the best beaches are off the beaten track and passed over by bus. By car, you can check out old fishing villages, the capital city and family attractions.
Valletta - The Maltese capital is about a 20-minute drive from Sliema and is certainly the main attraction after the beach. Valletta boasts a huge collection of ancient buildings and is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list as a result. Be sure to make a beeline for the car park at Floriana as parking here is tough.
Marsaxlokk – Head for this traditional fishing village in the south of the island for a look at a Maltese open market. The picturesque harbour at Marsaxlokk is presided over by a laid-back town and opens out into St Thomas Bay, which is complete with a couple of small beaches.
MellieÄ§a – If you really want the beach, this peninsula in the north of the island has some of the best. Main highlights include pretty MellieÄ§a Bay, the fun Popeye Village and the Il-Majjistral Nature Park. Ferries run from this area to Gozo. MellieÄ§a is one of the longest drives from Sliema on Malta by car rental and you can go direct via Mosha on the way out and loop back via St Julian’s Bay on the way back.