For those looking to escape the city of Valletta and its surrounds, Northern Malta is often the popular choice. This part of the island is far less busy or built up than around the Maltese capital and offers visitors a quieter getaway. The style of tourism here may not appeal to everybody, as it lacks much in the way of cultural and historical sites. Instead it tends to cater to British holidaymakers looking for familiarity, but still I was able to find a few spots that held my interest.
Despite much of it being the kind of places I tend to avoid, I found visiting Northern Malta to be an interesting experience. The parts that I enjoyed during my time there made up for the rest. With that in mind, here’s what there is to see in Northern Malta.
Situated on the top of a hill, the town of Mellieha is gifted with superb views across much of Northern Malta. Besides its views of the countryside and coast, the town has a number of sights worth seeing. The town features the impressive Parish Church of Mellieha and also some old Air Raid Shelters.
Mellieha would be my choice for where to stay for those looking to spend some time in Northern Malta. It’s also only a short bus trip down the hill to the beach that rests on Mellieha Bay. The beach did look to be one of the nicer I saw on Malta, even in winter.
Having first spotted Selmun Palace from across St Paul’s Bay, I was curious to visit given the chance. So when I was across the bay, I decided to walk out to see it up close. Located just outside the town of Mellieha, this tower-like palace was built in the 18th century by an anti-slavery institution the Monte della Redenzione degli Schiavi.
For a time it was part of a hotel here, but has been abandoned for a few years now. While a nice looking building, there is ultimately very little to do there now. It is surrounded by quite rural countryside and some examples of historic village life.
If abandoned places interest you, or you’re after some stellar views, then Fort Campbell is worth a visit. Sitting on the point of the Selmun Peninsula across St Paul’s Bay, this large former British fortification lies on the same road past Selmun’s Palace. Now just a pile of ruins, it’s still quite interesting to wander about and definitely has a bit of an eerie atmosphere.
Particularly worth noting is that from the fort you can get the best views of St Paul’s Island, which lies just off the coast. It is here that local folklore says St Paul washed ashore after his shipwreck. There are also some great views back along the farmland on the peninsula and of course over to the town of St Paul’s Bay.
St Paul’s Bay
Made up of the Bugibba and Qawra neighbourhoods, St Paul’s Bay is the largest town in Northern Malta. I have to be honest, St Paul’s Bay is not my kind of place. My idea of a good time in Malta isn’t being surrounded by Brits, Irish Pubs, Indian restaurants and nursing homes. Nothing about that screams Malta to me. Instead it feels like it’s been designed to be as familiar as possible for British tourists.
The town also looked like it had seen better days. As for attractions or sightseeing spots, there really aren’t many. There are a few cute marinas and an old foritified tower; that’s about it. My favourite place there had to be the rocky coastline along the bay and its view to the unusually modern Malta National Aquarium.
The story behind the Popeye Village, one of Malta’s most popular tourist attractions, is a strange one. It’s out of the way and its history is relatively brief. You may, or maybe not, know about an 1980 live-action Popeye movie starring Robin Williams as the popular cartoon character.
Well for the movie, a small set village was constructed on a small bay, its over-the-top design true to its cartoon origins. After the movie was finished with it, the set was left behind and turned into a theme park of sorts. I knew it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, but I went anyway to say I’d seen it. Thankfully, you can see the entire village from the cliffs opposite, it like me that’s all you’re after. Entry costs 10.5€ for adults.
If, once you’re done with the Popeye Village, you’re looking for something to do then I suggest exploring the nearby cliffs. From the cliffs opposite the village, you follow the path towards the coast and it will soon bring you to the cliffs along Malta’s west coast. From the barren cliff tops, you get superb views looking both along the rocky coastline as well as north to the cliffs of Gozo, another island of Malta. I think it’s a special reward for such a short walk.
- St Paul’s Bay, Mellieha and the Popeye Village are all accessible by Malta’s bus network;
- Visits to Northern Malta as a day trip from Valletta are certainly doable, but while it may seem only a short distance, remember that travel takes longer on the island’s roads;
- Your best bets for accommodation in Northern Malta are in St Paul’s Bay and Mellieha. You’ll find quite a range, including very affordable budget accommodation.
Have you had the opportunity to visit Northern Malta? Where were your favourite places? Otherwise, which of these places most appeals to you?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I may make a small commission, but at no extra cost to you.
Why Not Pin It for Later