Indiguide: Sliema

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Malta doesn’t have a good reputation amongst students. Worshippers of party holiday destinations imagine it dull, and it seems even more unappealing to gap year kids. It’s no Malia, but Malta really doesn’t deserve these stereotypes. Sliema in particular is somewhere you can enjoy yourself during the day and night, without being consumed by a tourist jungle.

Get there

Since it’s an island, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that you’re going to have to take a plane. Ryanair and Easyjet remain the best options, and flights cost about £100-£150 for a return trip. When booking transfer from the airport to the hotel, don’t be conned by any ‘helpful’ suggestions on holiday websites. You can easily find cheaper, more efficient transfer elsewhere on the net.

Sliema (2)

Sleep

For those who love a good hostel, there are a variety on offer. Hibernia Residence (£9 pppn) and Corner Hostel (£12 pppn) are the cheapest options. Two Pillows (£15 pppn) is arguably the best hostel in Sliema however, and is both well situated and wonderfully furnished. There are some decent hotel options too. The Sliema Marina Hotel (£22 pppn) offers rooms which are a far cry from the ugly furnishings of many budget Mediterranean hotels. They are however still a matter of taste. Think jacquard wallpaper and silver furniture. Rocca Nettuno Suites (£25 pppn) is my favourite hotel in Sliema. The suites are perfect for groups, offering spacious sleeping and dining facilities. Rocca is particularly worth the price for the pool situated on the sixth floor, which has stunning harbour views, especially at sunset.

Eat

Maltese specialities include rabbit, maltese sausage, bragioli (beef rolls), timapana (pasta pie) and lampuki fish. Fans of Greggs may also note that their cafes are filled with pastizzi, which is essentially a pasty with a cheese or mushy peas filling. The good for students is that it’s very easy to avoid extortionately priced restaurants in Sliema. If you fancy dining out, you can easily have dinner with a shared bottle of wine for £10-£15. Sliema’s favourite restaurant is Ta’ Kris. Tucked away in a side street, the food is absolutely delicious. However, be warned, it’s so popular that you may need to reserve a table.

Sliema (1)See

Sliema (3)Sliema is the perfect place to stay because of its view of Valletta, the Maltese Capital. The Tigne Pedestrian Bridge offers one of the best views, and it also sports its own collection of love locks, perfect for any lovebirds. A return journey to Valletta costs no more than €2.80 by ferry, and is worth visiting for its history and shopping opportunities. The Point shopping mall in Sliema is also worth seeing. Advertised as ‘the coolest shopping mall’, its air conditioning does make for a pleasurable experience. Admittedly it is full of familiar shops from home, but there are some alternatives, with Stradivarius and Yamamay (especially during the sales) being personal favourites. All along the harbour people will try to flog you trips. Ignore them. The trips are worth it, but it pays to do research ahead of time. My personal favourite is Hera Cruises, which offers a student rate of €45, including really good food served throughout the day.  Their gorgeous wooden yachts make for the perfect nine hour cruise around Malta with pit stops at Comino and Gozo for snorkelling, swimming and exploring opportunities.

Nightlife

Now, to the meat of this article. Surprisingly, Malta isn’t actually dull, by my standards anyway. Sliema is host to a good array of bars. Black Gold Saloon has a particularly good atmosphere and with two-for-one cocktails available from 3pm till 10pm it’s definitely a winner. If boat parties are your thing, a couple of companies also offer some which conveniently depart from Sliema. Sliema is situated near two nightlife districts. St Julians and Paceville are roughly a half an hour walk or ten minute cab drive away. The convenient thing about the walk is that you can follow the well-lit coastline, so you aren’t walking through lonesome, residential areas if you’re cheap and like stumbling home at night rather than taking a taxi. Malta’s nightlife districts appeal to many because they are home to students from all around the world as opposed to a flood of British tourists.

Malta (Mariam Hayat)

Cost

Just a little over £500 should cover a one week holiday in Sliema. This estimate does assume that you’re being a wise student and avoiding August so there aren’t tonnes of families with kids running around who will ruin both the experience and price of your holiday.

Photographs: Isabelle Culkin, Illustrations:

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