Last Updated on 08/05/2022 by secretmoona
Once a colourful fishing village, St Julian’s has been transformed into a resort, popular with tourists and young locals. The town boasts one of the island’s few sandy beaches, but it is also known as Malta’s party capital. The neighbourhood of Paceville is where the Maltese nightlife occurs. St Julian’s still combines historical monuments and old architecture with modern buildings despite its transformation.
Saint Julian’s is located North of Valletta along the coast between Sliema and Pembroke. The town is close to Valletta, making exploring the capital an easy job. Saint Julian’s is also close to Sliema, which you can reach in 30 minutes via the beautiful seafront promenade.
History of St Julian’s
St Julian’s (San Ġiljan in Maltese, Saint Julian’s / St. Julian’s) used to be a fishing village named after Saint Julian, the patron saint of hunters. Nowadays, the town is a famous resort town. The fishing houses located near the rugged coasts have long gone. The area known as Paceville slowly transformed itself into the island’s entertainment district. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs have sprouted ever since, surrounded by international hotels. St Julian’s has still managed to retain some aspects of its fishing days as you can still see some fishermen at work or admire the traditional fishing boats, especially in Spinola Bay.
Discover the beaches and walks to do in Saint Julian’s
Walk along the waterfront
The best way to explore and discover St Julian’s and Sliema is by walking along the promenade connecting both cities. The 7km long path stretches from St Julian’s to Gzira, passing by Sliema.
There are lots of restaurants, cafes and bars along the promenade. We took our time walking and often stopped to sit on one of the many benches to take in the views of the sea. The atmosphere is peaceful, with locals jogging or walking their dogs. During the walk, you can stop for a coffee from one of the ‘Gabbanas’ (kiosks) lining the promenade for a break.
During your walk, you will notice several historical buildings, including a British military installation, which is now a restaurant known as Il-Fortizza (The Fortress). If you are travelling with kids, stop a little while at the Independence Gardens, one of Sliema’s largest parks. Kids will love playing with the slides and swings while you enjoy the sea in front of you.
Enjoy St Julian’s beaches.
The coast of St Julian’s is rocky, and sandy beaches are found everywhere. They are very small. While exploring the city, you will encounter three small bays that serve as beaches.
Saint George’s Bay Beach
Saint George’s Bay is the most famous of the three and is surrounded by luxury resort hotels. The sandy beach is located on the north side of Paceville, so it might not be the most peaceful. However, the proximity to hotels makes it an excellent beach for sunbathing.
Spinola Bay leads to Balluta Bay Beach, a smaller inlet on the promenade. Balluta Bay is very busy during the summer months, with people flocking to the beach. On our visit, the dark tiny sandy beach was nonexistent. I suppose they clean it come summer to welcome the tourists. Nonetheless, the bay area was lovely, surrounded by the famous Balluta buildings. These buildings in art nouveau style are some of the town’s architectural treasures.
Spinola Bay is a more calm bay than St George’s Bay and a fantastic place to spend a lovely afternoon. The waterfront promenade, which takes to Sliema, is the perfect place for strolling while enjoying the sea view and people-watching. There are lots of nice cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces. You will also be able to see a few traditional Maltese fishing boats.
Nearby, you can see the love monument with the word “Love” written upside down. It can be read-only if you look at the reflection of the letters in the water.
Enjoy a fun night
Paceville, the area in the north of St. Julian’s by the bay, is known as the entertainment hotspot. It is lively with restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels for every budget. Paceville can be extremely busy and noisy like any entertainment district, especially at night or at weekends.
Touristy activities to do in St Julian’s
Visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Mount Carmel, located on Balluta Bay, is an impressive church. It is worth a visit to admire the beautiful interior.
Bay Street Shopping centre is one of the largest in Malta. Located in the heart of Paceville, it offers a mix of international brands, local shops and restaurants. If you want to take home something a little fancier, head to the posh Portomaso, which has many luxury boutiques and high-end restaurants overlooking the Portomaso Marina.
St Julian’s is home to some scuba diving classes. St George’s Bay is among the best places in Malta for scuba diving.
Relax at the beach
While in St. Julian’s, take the opportunity to enjoy an afternoon by the beach. The city has three bays: Spinoza Bay, Balluta Bay, and St George’s Bay. Although small, these sandy beaches are part of some of the best beaches on the island.
Besides sunbathing and relaxing, people can take up other activities such as windsurfing, playing beach volleyball or scuba diving. Both St. Julian’s and Sliema are great diving spots.
Things to do around St Julian’s
Visit the neighbouring Sliema
One of the top things to do around St. Julian’s is to visit the city of Sliema. It’s a famous town busting with activities. As the island’s commercial capital, Sliema is where you would go to do some shopping (from high street brands to designer brands). Like St Julian’s, it has many excellent restaurants (fine dining and casual). From Sliema harbour, people have the picture-perfect postcard image of Valletta. It is possible to get on a ferry to the walled city.
The capital of Malta is a charming walled city with lots of history. The streets of Valletta are hilly, and the town is easily recognizable by the typical baroque architecture and colourful Maltese balconies. Strolling the streets is the best thing to do there as you will be able to see the many charming restaurants and cafes. One of the smallest in Europe, the capital is just a peaceful place to be. The highlight of the visit to Valletta is, without a doubt, the views of the Three Cities you get from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
Getting to St. Julian’s from Malta Airport
Taxi: The best way to reach St Julian’s from Malta International Airport is by taxi. You can pre-order your taxi via your hotel’s concierge for a hassle-free trip. Alternatively, you can grab one directly outside the airport. A taxi will take about 20 minutes for a cost of €22 (flat-rate). A cheaper option would be to use Bolt or eCabs.
Public transport: Taking a bus to your accommodation in St Julian’s is the cheapest option; however not as convenient and fast. With Malta’s transport system, you can take buses with a single ticket which costs €2 in summer (€1.50 in winter). The journey on the X2 or TD2 from the airport takes about 65 minutes. Check the official Malta Public Transport website to plan your trips.
Rental car: If you plan to travel around the island at your leisure, hiring a car would be the best option. Bear in mind that you will need to factor in the parking cost at your hotel. If you are not staying in a hotel and need to park on the street, you might have some difficulties finding spaces.
Getting to Vallette from St. Julian’s/Paceville
A trip to Malta would be incomplete without a day spent in the capital city. The UNESCO Heritage Site city of Valletta has lots of amazing things to do and see. The best would be to take a Sliema ferry to get there quickly. Sliema is not far from St Julian’s and can be reached via buses 13, 24, 31 and 32. The ferry only costs €1.50 or €2.80 for a return ticket
Getting to and around St Julian’s
St Julian’s is ideally located for the bus service with many neighbouring cities like the capital Valletta, Sliema, Mdina, St Paul’s Bay or Cirkewwa for the ferries to Gozo and Camino. Getting around is, therefore, pretty straightforward. It is worth noting that the buses are not very frequent; therefore, if you are in a rush, I would recommend taking eCars or Bolt. We have used Bolt for most of our trips.
Where to stay in St Julian’s
Budget: Holiday Inn Express Malta, part of the IHG Group is a nice hotel with modern and clean rooms. It is located right in Paceville so perfect for those who want easy access to bars and restaurants.
Mid-range: be.Hotel is located in Paceville within short distance to St George’s Bay. it has a nice panoramic rooftop pool. The modern hotel is located within the Bay Street Complex with shops, restaurants and a bowling alley close by.
Luxury: Hyatt Regency Malta is the ideal base to enjoy Valletta and St Julian’s. The hotel is very modern with a nice decor. It features a restaurant, a small outdoor swimming pool, as well as a wellness centre with indoor pool. Rooms are spacious and comfortable. The staff are friendly yet professional and went above and beyond to provide great service.
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19 thoughts on “Best Things to Do in St Julian’s and Paceville, Malta”
I never heard of this former seaside village but I definitely want to visit after your articles on Malta. It is charming.
Thanks! I hope you get to go soon!
Malta is high on my travel list, so it was interesting to read your insight. I’m glad to hear that even though St Julian’s is considered a party spot, they still benefit from a lot of the history.
Thank you so much Elena! Malta is such a lovely island!
St Julian’s seems to have a lot of interesting things to see! Great guide
Thank you so much Katy!
I’ve been to Malta but not to St Julian’s. I’ve always said I needed to come back. Thanks for inspiring my Maltese wanderlust again!
Thanks Bea – Hope you get to visit St Julian’s next time!
What a beautiful European waterfront destination. Love seeing the historic archtecture lining the waters edge. Adding it to the list!
Thank you so much Kathryn!
I haven’t been to Malta yet, but it’s on my to-see list. An excellent guide to St Julian’s and Paceville. I will definitely use your valuable tips when planning a trip to Malta.
St. Julian’s sounds like a fun place to visit in Malta. I would prefer the beaches, but it’s great that there is a lot of entertainment and “party” places for the younger generation.
Thanks. St Julian’s is a lively and lovely place for all kind of traveller.
Malta remains on my wishlist, as I’m really drawn to the architecture and culture of the island. St Julians always comes up as one of the places I think I’d like, and your post confirms that for me! That waterfront looks like a lovely place to enjoy a walk, and Balluta Bay looks so pretty. Sliema and Valleta are very much my kind of places too, and I’ve heard the food is great!
The waterfront is amazing. Not only you have amazing views but also lovely places to eat and relaxing spaces too.
We stayed in Holiday Inn Express in Paceville, not that near to Valetta.
Malta looks so amazing. We had considered visiting it this year and after reading your post, I wish we had added it to our itinerary. Maybe next time. Thanks for the great tips. I will be saving this for future reference.