Where to Stay in Malta Without a Car: 2 Best Bases for Exploring the Island

If you’re wondering where to stay in Malta without a car, I assume you’re eager to explore this unique island by public transport, just like I did.

Malta is small, but there’s a lot to see, and considering the local bus system, you’ll need to pick the ideal city or town to base yourself in, so I’m here to introduce you to your best options.

*This post may contain affiliate links from which I earn a commission (for more info, read my disclosure). As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

*I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.

Where to stay in Malta without a car
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My favorite carb in Malta: Pastizzi, phyllo-like street food pastries filled with ricotta cheese or peas.



Must-Know Tips Before Booking Your Accommodation

Your biggest advantage is that you don’t need to worry about parking, but here are a few other things I’m sure you’d like to know about Malta:

1. Plug type: Malta uses type G plugs and operates on 230V at 50Hz. Hotels may have C, E, and F plugs, but bring a power adapter and a voltage converter.

2. Minimum nights: Certain accommodations may require a minimum booking of 2, 3, or even 4 nights.

3. Not every hotel is located on a picture-perfect street, even central and highly-rated ones in Malta’s most popular cities and towns. 



Quick Suggestions for Where to Stay in Malta Without a Car

There’s no doubt that if you want to explore Malta by public transport, the two best cities to stay in are Valletta (the capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Sliema.

Both are busy cities located roughly 10 km from the airport. They provide direct buses to the island’s top tourist spots, offer plenty of dining options, and are connected by a 5-minute ferry ride.

Valletta is a historic city that boasts a large variety of landmarks, museums, and beautiful streets, so there’s always something to do, though it has no beaches.

You can stay at the highly-rated:
1. Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse (mid-range)
2. Ursulino Valletta (mid-range)
3. 66 Saint Paul’s & Spa (luxury)
4. Le Parisot Boutique Suites (luxury)

Sliema is much less pretty and is only home to 1 or 2 monuments, but it has a few rocky beaches, as well as a lovely promenade and a unique free-of-charge coastal attraction called the Roman Baths.

You can stay at the highly-rated:
1. Amery House (mid-range)
2. Marea Boutique Hotels (mid-range)
3. Giorgio Boutique Hotel (mid-range)
4. Seafront Duplex Penthouse (apartment)

decorated street in Valletta
Valletta
a street of Valletta lined with restaurants
Valletta
Roman Baths of Sliema in Malta along with the sea views
Roman Baths of Sliema


Valletta

It was impossible for me not to love Valletta, an intriguing historic city founded by the knights of the Order of St John in the 16th century.

It had many other rulers, each leaving its impact, which is still notable today (especially in terms of landmarks and atmosphere), making it feel like an open-air museum.

No matter where you choose to book your accommodation, Valletta is a must-take day trip.

Pros and Cons

Pros of staying in Valletta:

  • If you love sightseeing, museums, and other attractions, you’ll be spoiled for choice. My favorite must-visit spots were St. John’s Co-Cathedral, the Lower and Upper Barrakka Gardens (overlooking the Grand Harbour), Casa Rocca Piccola, and the Grandmaster’s Palace.
  • You’ll love roaming its charming streets with colorful balconies, restaurants, cafes, and shops.
  • You can also try other experiences like a walking tour of Valletta or a street food tour.
  • Direct buses go from Valletta to most (if not all) of Malta’s points of interest.

Cons of staying in Valletta:

  • For some time under the Maltese sun, you’ll have to take a ferry to Sliema or a bus to another area, as there are no beaches in Valletta.
  • It is one of the most popular cities amongst travelers, so prepare yourself for being there with a lot of other people, not only in summer (though I did manage to find some tranquil corners).
Views of buildings and churches in Valletta in Malta

Places to Visit with a Direct Bus from Valletta

  • Mdina (51, 52, or 53)
  • Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples (81 or 85)
  • The fishing village of Marsaxlokk (81)
  • The cave complex of Blue Grotto (74) 
  • Ħaġar Qim Temples (74)
  • San Anton Gardens (56)
  • The Limestone Heritage, Park and Gardens (62)
  • Ta Qali National Park (56)
  • Dingli Cliffs (56)
  • Golden Bay (44)
  • Għadira Bay (41, 42, or 250)
  • Birgu (2)
  • Rotunda of Mosta (41, 42, or 47)
  • Cirkewwa, from where you can take a ferry to the islands of Gozo and Comino (41 or 42). Alternatively, you can take the Gozo Fast Ferry from Valletta.

As you can see, it’s convenient to get from Valletta to so many interesting places across the island, making it the best place to stay in Malta without a car.

Views over the Blue Grotto cave in southern Malta
Blue Grotto

Highly-Rated Accommodations in Valletta

Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse (mid-range): This bed and breakfast is housed in an 18th-century building with an ideal location. It offers rooms and suites (with a balcony) for up to 4 people, and the shared terrace overlooking the sea and the Three Cities has a hot tub.

Ursulino Valletta (mid-range): Looking for a bed and breakfast with modern rooms and suites for 2-4 people, a rooftop terrace overlooking the harbor, and a convenient location? This B&B has it all, flaunting a rating of 9.4!

66 Saint Paul’s & Spa (luxury): Beyond its modern double rooms and suites (some with sea views), this hotel boasts a variety of amenities and services, including a 24/7 reception, on-site bar, high-end spa with unique treatments, and rooftop pool & terrace.

Le Parisot Boutique Suites (luxury): Situated just steps away from the Upper Barrakka Gardens, this hotel offers modern yet cozy suites equipped with everything needed for 2-4 people. Guests can enjoy breakfast, access to a rooftop terrace, and an outdoor hot tub.

old street with red phone booth in Valletta the capital of Malta
an old church in Valletta


Sliema

I chose Sliema as my base because of the hotel rate I found in the peak season, so even though there wasn’t much to do in Sliema itself, it was still a good option for me. I also enjoyed having access to its beaches and Roman Baths.

Pros and Cons

Pros of staying in Sliema:

  • On and near Sliema’s coastal roads, you’ll find more than enough restaurants and bars.
  • Although they’re rocky and not sandy, Sliema’s beaches are still a nice place for soaking up the sun.
  • It also has a promenade that stretches all the way to the nearby town of St. Julian’s. You can even take a cruise around the harbors in the area.
  • Direct buses go from Sliema to many of Malta’s tourist spots.

Cons of staying in Sliema:

  • Except for the Tigné Point that overlooks Valletta and a couple of shopping malls, you won’t find a lot of attractions in Sliema itself.
  • Some of its streets are quintessentially Maltese and have colorful balconies, but overall, it’s not a picture-perfect city that entices you to explore it freely on foot.
A rocky beach in Sliema in central north Malta

Places to Visit with a Direct Bus from Sliema

  • Valletta (lines 13, 14, and 16 or a 5-minute ferry ride)
  • Mdina (202)
  • Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples (X2)
  • Golden Bay and Riviera Beach (225)
  • Ta Qali National Park (202)
  • Għadira Bay (222)
  • Rotunda of Mosta (202 or 203)
  • Cirkewwa, from where you can take a ferry to the islands of Gozo and Comino (222). Alternatively, you can take a cruise to Comino and the Blue Lagoon directly from Sliema.
door facade with flowers in Mdina in Malta
Mdina

Highly-Rated Accommodations in Sliema

Amery House (mid-range): This boutique hotel is located very close to the rocky beach of Fond Għadir and offers cozy double rooms or suites with a terrace and a hot tub. The prices include a highly-rated continental breakfast, and the reception desk works 24/7.

Marea Boutique Hotels (mid-range): This 4-star boutique hotel offers comfortable modern double rooms or suites with a private terrace that provides an excellent view of the city. You can also enjoy a continental breakfast. Note that the ferry and buses are a 10-minute walk away.

Giorgio Boutique Hotel (mid-range): Offering rooms for 2-3 people, some of which have a private terrace with a hot tub, this hotel is one of the best-rated in Sliema. It is located only a few minutes from Fond Għadir Beach as well as a couple of bus stations.

Seafront Duplex Penthouse (apartment): This spacious penthouse apartment might be a bit pricey for two people, but it can be great for a group of 3 or 4. It is fully equipped and has a terrace overlooking the sea and the city of Valletta. The ferry and some of the bus stations are a stone’s throw away.

A rocky beach in the city of Sliema on the island of Malta


Tips for Getting Around Malta by Public Transport

While the Mediterranean island‘s public transport system isn’t perfect and has disadvantages like buses getting full quickly and inconvenient routes between two close cities/sites, I was still pleased about my decision not to rent a car (traffic and driving culture can be an issue).

Here are my best practices:

  • You can buy your bus ticket directly from the driver, but consider purchasing a 12-journey card at the ticket office or machines in Valletta or Sliema (see all sales points here).
  • If you need to get from Sliema to Valletta (or vice versa), use the ferry – it only takes 5 minutes!
  • Planning your car-free Malta itinerary, you’ll see that sometimes, you have to switch buses to get from one place to another, which can be very time-consuming, so use licensed taxis instead (other options are Uber or Malta’s eCabs app).
  • Read all of my Malta travel tips for more in-depth info on getting around.
Boats at the port of Marsaxlokk fishing village in Malta
Marsaxlokk


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* I haven’t stayed at every hotel I mention in this post, but each one is well-researched (by me), has high ratings of 8.8+ on Booking.com, and is a place I would book for myself. That said, you should always read the reviews and see if the facilities and services match your needs and preferences.

About Or Amir

Hey, I'm Or! I'm a passionate traveler with a severe coffee, chocolate, and pastry addiction (or any other carb for that matter). I'm always planning my next trip to Spain, Italy, or any other country in Europe, and my goal is to help you make the most of each destination.

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