Sliema is unique. It is Malta’s most cosmopolitan town with a local population of 15,500, a large number of ex-pats from all over Europe and beyond, and an influx of visitors over the summer months. It is situated on a long rocky peninsular on the North East coast across the Marsamxett harbour on the left hand side of the capital city Valletta – which is itself another peninsular flanked by two important harbours. Sliema is defined by its long coast line, its sea views and its promenade which begins in St Julians and goes almost unbroken all the way to Valletta.
The Sliema promenade is, in many ways, the heart and soul of the town. At all times of day people are walking, running or simply sitting on the many benches along its length. The Ferries, or Ix-Xatt, with its pedestrianized street full of shops offering top European brands, the cafe life on the pavements always full and bustling no matter what the season, and the large new shopping mall at the rocky point – is the commercial centre of the town. It is set against a backdrop of one of the most spectacular views in Malta: the Valletta skyline, breathtaking at any time of day and beautifully lit up at night.
Sliema came into its own after the Second World War when many families left their homes in Valletta during the years of heavy air-raids. The damaged city was difficult to move back into and many of these families chose to live in the sea-side village of Sliema, where many already had a summer residence. They never moved back. The town grew rapidly and many large and beautiful houses were constructed along its coast. Today these houses have largely given way to apartment blocks with guaranteed sea views all the way from the Ferries, through to Qui-Si –Sana, and along the rocky beaches all the way to the restaurants, bars and clubs in Spinola and St Julians.
Two of Malta’s high end developments, Tigne` Point and Fort Cambridge, are both located along the Sliema coast line. These recently completed residential areas, just as appealing to local as well as to foreign buyers, are the last word in luxury living in Malta. Both offer views of Valletta on one side, and open sea views on the other. They are well served with all amenities such as private or shared pool areas, terraces, underground parking – surrounded by piazzas, cafes, restaurants, beaches and the shopping area a stone’s throw away. Apartments vary in size and price from 280,000 Euro for a spacious one bedroom apartment all the way to penthouses with private pool areas and spectacular views from the tops of the buildings.
Sliema was a town full of families and children by the 1950s. Life was busy but also easy and safe, rocky beaches with clear water perfect for swimming only minutes away, space for children to play outdoors, and social life along the promenade in the evenings. Although busier today, Sliema continues to provide its typical way of life to locals with everything that is needed in close proximity. It is also the only town in Malta where English tends to by spoken by locals among themselves. In the side streets seasonal fruit and vegetables are sold on the backs of trucks, the smell of fresh bread wafts from bakeries which have been there for years, small grocer shops and butchers are found at almost every corner. There are quite a few large churches in Sliema – their festas fill the summer months and their bells provide a familiar and comfortable background to life in this town.
The shady Sliema side streets offer the buyer the possibility of small town houses starting from around 300,000 Euro or apartments of various sizes going from 170,000 Euros for a 90 square meter apartment. These streets are minutes away from the sea, the promenade and the shops. Nothing is far in Sliema. Everything you need is walking distance and although the town is busy with cars, residents can comfortably leave theirs behind in the garage.
Written by George Vassallo
Manager of Frank Salt Sliema Branch with over 28 years of experience in the property market