With its reputation for fine hotels, a beautiful marina, and high end services, St Julians in Malta has carved itself a niche with travellers from around the world seeking entertainment and a little luxury. Located on Malta’s East coast, St Julians is just along from neighbouring Sliema, and is an ideal base from which to explore the island.
Originally an agricultural area, modern St Julians has only really developed into the entertainment capital of Malta over the last few decades, as new developments and new developers seem to have chosen the area for luxury international hotels such as the Hilton and Intercontinental among others. It’s a small area relatively, but then nowhere is that far away on an island measuring just 27km by 14km. You can break St Julians down into several smaller areas – namely Spinola Bay with its pretty waterside walkway, Portomaso – the location of the Portomaso tower and marina, Paceville – the centre of Malta’s clubbing nightlife, and St George’s Bay which has a man-made sandy beach as well as shopping and cinemas in Bay Street. The residential part of St Julians covers a much larger area, but is largely left unvisited by the town’s many visitors, as the shops, cafes, restaurants and bars are all located away from the oldest residential zones.
The Portomaso area of St Julians is actually a more realistic centre of the town as regards visitors, The Portomaso tower being the tallest structure on the island and an easy landmark by which to navigate your way around the rest of the area. Spinola Bay, one of the oldest areas of town is right next to it, and Spinola Palace still stands overlooking the hill down to the bay which leads on to Sliema via a long waterfront promenade which is popular with tourists and locals year round. On the other side of Portomaso, the area known as Paceville really comes alive after dark, when the clubs and bars spill out into the streets and the music and lights all jostle for your attention as you walk through. Bars and clubs stay open until around 4 or 5 on the weekends, and during the summer months, it’s an all-night every-day kind of place. Bay Street, which is next to Paceville is home to the Bay Street shopping centre with its fashion outlets, restaurants and cafes, and this area also plays host to Malta’s largest cinemas.
There are two beaches in St Julian’s, although people swim from every patch of coastline during the summer. One of the beaches, located directly at the bottom of Paceville’s main Street – Wilga Street, is rocky and very popular during summer, when it’s full of people both night and day. The other beach is just along the coast at St George’s Bay, near Bay Street, and is a man-made small sandy beach which is absolutely packed with locals and foreign students for five months of the year. If it’s space and seclusion you’re after, it’s the wrong place, but if people watching and a quick swim’s what you’re after, it’s ideal.
St Julians has more five star hotels than anywhere else in Malta, with the Corinthia, The Hilton, The Intercontinental and The Westin Dragonara all attracting luxury travellers, but there are plenty of 2,3,and 4 star hotels if that’s what you’re looking for, as well as some self catering properties and even hostels. Getting to St Julians isn’t really a problem, as there are many buses travelling through the town all the time. Taxis are plentiful, but maybe check a couple of different prices before deciding as not every taxi uses a meter to work out the cost of the trip.
There are plenty of restaurants around as well as cafes and fat-food places, so it’s not too hard to find something to eat, whatever your tastes, and prices are pretty reasonable apart from in some of the more exclusive restaurants where the prices reflect their status and quality. The Paceville area is mainly fast-food, Bay Street has a couple of fine-dining restaurants and a tapas restaurant, Portomaso has quite a few restaurants on either side of the stairs leading down into the marina, and from Portomaso down to Spinola Bay, there are some great places just off the main road, and all the way down the hill.