Many visitors to Malta tend to base themselves in the St Paul’s Bay area, which also encompasses Qawra and Bugibba, with all three villages being so close they are pretty much one! With accommodation to suit all budgets, and plenty of restaurants to suit all tastes, there is something for everyone. Here I have put together a guide on some of the best things to do in St Paul’s Bay!
Unless you arrive by boat, all visitors will enter Malta via Luqa airport. The X1 and X3 buses will stop at St Paul’s Bay if you arrive during day time hours. These are public buses and so they take a little longer, but only cost 2 euro per person. A private taxi costs 25 euros. There is a coupon system as soon as you step of arrivals, so prices are fixed, and you need not worry about getting scammed.
Where to stay
If you are coming from the UK, there are some good package holiday deals to be had, which is not a statement I have ever made about anywhere else. It can be very hard to beat the price of some of these deals. The big resorts and hotels in the St Paul’s area include Seashells resort, the Dolmen and San Antonio. These kinds of resorts are used by the big holiday companies. For those who prefer a little independence, there are plenty of air bnb’s that offer great value in the area. Use my code here for a discount! Tucked down side streets, you will find locally run guesthouses. Some of my family visited recently and really enjoyed 1930’s Maltese residence, a nice little guesthouse on the quitter side of town. I wouldn’t worry about where exactly you are staying in terms of location. Some people become confused between Qawra, Buggiba and St Paul’s bay. In fact, the actual borders of these 3 villages are disputed, and so they are all pretty much one town. You can easily walk around all three.
Malta is less than 500 miles from Italy, and the influence in the cuisine can be easily seen. I have had some amazing pizza and pasta in Malta! There is a Pizza Hut in the main square, which I suggest you avoid and enjoy some of the more authentic Pizzerias. My personal favourites include “Made in Sud”, a tiny little place where you watch the pizza being prepared (extremely busy, I recommend making a reservation), and “Portobello”, which is slightly elevated and offers a great view of the bay particularly at sunset. If there is one place you simply must visit in the area, it is “Sottozero”. Find this shop in a street just off the main square for the best gelato I have ever tasted! Flavours change regularly, but my personal favourites in Kinder Sorpresa and the vegan Black Orange! Down in the square, there are plenty of places to dine al fresco, and watch the world go by.
There are so many bars in the area, from the big bars in the square, to the slightly stranger bars down the side streets that pretty much look like some one has converted their living room into a tiny bar. Fat Harry’s is a popular choice for tourists, with its prime location, friendly staff and big menu. From the square, take a walk along the sea front towards the aquarium, and about half way you will find a kiosk, with a small garden decorated with fairy lights. This little gem is one of my favourite places, the beer is cheap, the views are good, the fairy lights add a certain kitsch cuteness, and they regularly have live music. For those who prefer a more polished experience, continue up past the aquarium to Café Del Mar, the perfect hangout for those who wish to sip expensive cocktails and take pictures for Instagram in the crystal-clear infinity pool. Not to my taste, but plenty of young, beautiful people around if that is your style!
There are several places to rent jet ski’s, ride banana boats or attach yourself to one of them big parachutes that get pulled along by boats! You can also buy snorkel sets pretty cheap if you fancy seeing what is going on beneath the waves. Diving is very popular in Malta, and a great place for beginners thanks to the crystal-clear water and calm conditions. There are plenty of shops around that can organise courses for you. If you are already certified, as about guided dives that sit your level and interests!
There is a small jetty where you can hop on boat trips to Comino and The Blue Lagoon. There are also several sunset cruises and fishing trips. Many include drinks and food too. All along the promenade, particularly in high season, people will try to sell you tickets. I would suggest talking to a few, making sure you know exactly what is included in the price, maybe bartering a little, then making a decision!
Ok, so Malta is certainly not known for long sandy beaches, but around St Paul’s Bay you can find a couple of man made “beaches”. If you are not desperate for sand, then you can just as easily head to the very tip of the peninsula near the aquarium and find a patch on the rocks. The bay here is shallow and calm, and there is also a natural pool near the island. If you are craving a typical beach, catch a bus to Ghajn Tuffieha and visit Golden Bay, but be warned, weekends are busy!
Things to do in St Paul’s bay when it rains
Luckily Malta experiences very few rainy days, but occasionally there is a down pour! There is the cinema if weather is really shoddy, at least you can spend a few hours there. You may also like to visit the Classic Car museum, or just wander around the many jewellery, glass and souvenir shops.
There are plenty of things to do in Malta, and due to the small size most can be done in a day. As mentioned above you may wish to visit the Blue Lagoon at Comino. Mdina is also easily reached by local bus, and is a beautiful little city worth spending the day exploring. Don’t miss out on a visit to the capital Valletta, with its interesting architecture and small winding streets.
Possibly the most cost-effective way to travel around Malta would be by bus. There are many bus stops in St Paul’s Bay, and you can even go to the main Bugibba Bus Terminal (which confusingly is technically in Qawra) if you want to speak to someone face to face for information. Bus journeys are always 2 euros, irrespective of length. There are some pre-paid cards, used to “tap on” buses, which can work out cheaper. Go to the terminal for information about these. Many visitors also choose to rent a car. There are many international car rental agencies around Malta, and your hotel most likely can organise this. If you walk along the promenade near Buggibba Square, you will find many tourist offices. Here, you can rent cars for as low as 30 euros, but you will have to pay a cash deposit. I have used them myself and had no problems, I would just suggest making a note of all existing scrapes and scratches on the car with whoever you deal with. Be aware that in Malta, driving is on the left-hand side, and drivers are notoriously impatient and frankly, awful. You will also see the Hop On – Hop Off tourist buses advertised. Frequenting the most popular tourist spots on the island, they could be a good choice. I have not used them personally and have heard mixed reviews.