The Essential Mellieha Travel Guide - 9 Essential Tips for holidays in Malta

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Mellieħa - 9 Essential Travel Tips and Things to do during your stay in Malta

Mellieħa is the northernmost village in Malta, after Cirkewwa. Its altituous position allows it to look over the most beautiful panoramas of the island as well as the many sandy beaches the north has to offer. Whether it’s beaches, restaurants or modest hotels you’re looking for - Mellieħa has it all.

Mellieħa is a diamond in the rut. Its sequestered location defeats locals from visiting it often but its stunning nooks make for the perfect touristic destination.

If you’ve been to Gozo at one point or another, you’ve passed Mellieħa whether you’ve realised it or not. In fact, Mellieħa is about a 5 minutes drive to Ċirkewwa and will serve as the perfect pit stop on your way to Gozo. As you bid farewell to St. Paul’s Bay, you will be greeted by It-Telgħa ta’ Selmun, which serves as the gateway to Mellieħa. From there onwards, 22.6 km² of pure beauty will extend before you.

If you're curious about the name "Mellieħa" - it derives from semitic origins of the word "melħ" which is the Maltese word for salt - because - can you guess? 
 
It's pretty easy to figure out this location, given it's closeness to the sea was one of the regions were salt was collected from the sea for use, from the salt pans which once existed at Mellieħa bay - hence the name!
 
Incidentally, did you know that Malta, derives from the word "Meli", and the island was known as "Melita" by the ancient greeks because the island was the source for honey, produced by an endemic species of bees. As you can see, names of places, in ancient times were often derived by food stuffs, or raw materials derived from the location - you'll find this a common reoccurance in the names of places on the Maltese islands.

1. Explore Mellieħa Square

At the center of Mellieħa, lies the square on which the central parish church stands. The square is surrounded by fortifications and can be seen lying on the top of a hill from the lower parts of Mellieħa. The parish church dates back to the late 1800s and was dedicated to the nativity of the Virgin Mary.

Behind it, the Sanctuary of Our Lady stands strong. The sanctuary was a center for devotion during the raids but remained a popular destination for the faithful till many years later. The grotto is an absolutely beautiful gem of a place - even if you are not religious at all - you must visit the grotto.

World War II left many ramifications on the square, though. In fact, the Air Raid Shelter found in the square, is a select favourite and makes for an interesting visit. The shelter was the biggest of the 46 instituted during the war and was recently inaugurated for public visitation in 2004.

Seeing as the square is located at the top of a hill, the view from the location makes for a spectacular experience. One can choose to enjoy the view from the play area located at the far end of the square or the panoramic bar called Sea View. Tiny place with majestic views of the Mellieha Bay and the peninsula hugging the bay.

Sanctuary of Our Lady - Mellieha

2. Hotels in Mellieħa, Malta

While Mellieħa doesn’t feature a long list of hotels, the village hosts the most beautiful of accomodations. Each hotel is located at a walking distance away from the beach and features stunning, unobstructed views.

Use the search below to find a suitable hotel in Mellieħa which suits your budget. Choice Holidays can guarantee the cheapest package prices so grab yourself a bargain now. Here's our pick of a range of hotels which are ideally located.

1. Solana hotel and spa (Low-range)

Solana is a 4-star contemporary hotel which combines luxury and comfort to create the ideal package deal. The hotel is situated 12 minutes away from the beach but features an indoor pool with a hydromassage corner for those looking to relax indoors. The hotel promises better value than ever with its free wifi and professional spa treatment.

Check for availability

2. Maritim Antonine Hotel (Mid-range)

Another 4-star hotel, Maritim Antonine is located at a walking distance away from the beach. The hotel offers a rooftop pool and spa as well as a modern state-of-the-arts gym. If you’re looking to spoil yourself throughout your vacation, look no further - Maritim Antonine Hotel is the ideal choice for you.

Check for availability

3. The Pergola (High-end)

The Pergola is built on the sides of one of the valleys in Mellieħa - offering beautiful views of the island. At the Pergola, guests can choose between booking hotel suites and self-catering apartments. The hotel features a gorgeous lounge you can spend your weekends at, listening to live music.

Check for availability

4. Radisson Blu Resort & Spa Golden Sands (Luxury)

Set on the rocky coast of Golden Bay, Radisson Blu is literally 2 minutes walk away from the beach. The hotel owns a private beach which is especially reserved for its customers. Should you wish to treat yourself, the hotel also features a spa which extends over 1000m² of space.

Check for availability

5. Riviera Premium Resort & Spa (High-end)

250 guest rooms, 3 restaurants, 2 bars - Labranda Riviera Premium Resort & Spa makes for the perfect location for unwinding. The hotel is strategically located on a beach, offering exclusive entrance to the Hola Beach Club. Labranda offers various entertainment for its guests, including scuba diving and water sports.

Check for availability

6. db Seabank Resort + Spa (High-end)

Located at just 2 minutes from the beach, the db Seabank Resort offers an incredible spa experience in the quiet location of Ghadira Bay. The db Seabank Resort promises an all-inclusive experience - offering free use of the sauna, Turkish bath and hot tub as well as a lavish buffet breakfast.

Check for availability

7. Ramla Bay Resort (Mid-range)

The 4-star hotel is considered to be one of the best in its category. Located at a stone throw away from the Gozo ferry terminal, the Ramla Bay Resort offers its own private beach as well as fantastic views to all its customers. It’s one of a kind!

 

3. Apartments, Bed and Breakfast, Hostels and Guest houses

If a hotel is not what you're looking for, there are plenty of other accomodations with a wide range of prices available. Have a look at all self-catering available options in the area.

Check for other accomodations

If you're still not happy with the above, use our generic search facility below to find an accomodation which suits your needs.

 

4. Top Bars, Restaurants and nightlife

While this area is not particularly reknown for its nightlife, as opposed to such places as Sliema and Paceville, there's still quite a few places which are bustling with activity

1. Bouquet Garni

Bouquet Garni is rated as the top restaurant in Mellieħa. The restaurant holds a certificate of excellence and is widely acclaimed for the seafood on the menu. Food items are moderately priced at Bouquet Garni making for an affordable dinner out.

2. Rebekah's Restaurant

Rebekah is based in a restored house of character which makes for a wonderful experience for tourists. Customers swear that the restaurant offers fine dining in an atmospheric setting. Rebekah treats its guests like royalty, making for the ideal destination for your next celebration.

3. one80 Kitchen & Lounge

One80 prides itself of its quality assured seal. The loft is situated at the top of the hill - offering a 180 view of Mellieħa Bay (thus the name). The restaurant markets itself for a quick lunch or a romantic dinner accompanied by the setting sun. The lounge boosts of its relaxed, stylish ambiance - perfect for all millenials out there.

4. Commando Restaurant

Commando is a restaurant located at the hilltop of Mellieħa. The restaurant doubles as a wine bar in the evening. Its beautiful stone building makes for a rustic environment - worthy of the Maltese title.

5. Mitħna

Mitħna is a restaurant set in a classic stone windmill that dates back to 1700s. Its prices definitely falls on the higher end of the spectrum but its dishes are worth every penny. You may choose to dine both inside or outside, regardless of your choice; you’ll be dining in a piece of heritage - quite literally.  

6. Sea View Bar

Fancy a milkshake? This bar serves 50 varieties. That’s right, regardless what your favorite flavour of milkshake is, Sea View probably serves it. This tiny, cute cafe, perched on the edge of the Mellieħa hill has been serving people for 65 years now. Just order yourself a milkshake and get lost in the beautiful view it offers.

7. Grand Slam Chilidogs

Feel like pigging out? Grand Slam Chili is the nook for you! Offering lovely service and jam packed dogs, the kiosk is THE pitstop for an authentic American-style hot dog. Prices are reasonable while the portion is abundant. What could you want more?!

8. Reflections

Reflections is a cosy sports pub which serves dinner as well as pub snacks, accompanied by top quality drinks. The pub shows all kind of live sports on their 12 big screens. So fear not, if your favorite English team is playing during your stay in Malta - there’s no need to miss the scoring shot.

9. Munchies

If you fancy grabbing a munch during your day at the beach in Mellieħa bay, Munchies makes for the ideal spot. The restaurant is spacious and comfortable - the perfect place to catch up with friends. Whether it’s a light meal, refreshing drink or the ultimate dining experience you’re looking for - Munchies caters for all.

10. Debbie’s Cafe

Debbie’s Café is the tea room the north had been asking for. Set in the main road of Mellieħa, the rustic nook caters for breakfast, light eats, cakes and desserts. Stumbled upon Debbie’s with a sweet tooth? They’ve got a section in their menu for that too!

5. Getting there

Given the fact that it is such a popular destination, getting there is very easy in reality and there are various options.

1. Malta Airport to Mellieħa

Mellieħa is located 21km away which translates into a one and a half hour of a bus ride. You may choose to catch the X1 from the airport which will take you directly to your destination, right up to Cirkewwa. Alternatively, if you’re craving a taste of the island; you may choose to hop on the 73 which will take you to Valletta, the capital of Malta. From there, you can catch the 49 which will drive you into Mellieħa and down to Għadira bay.

The X1 (or any other public transport fare) costs €1.50 in winter, €2.00 is summer, and €3.00 for the night service (which operates between 11pm and 3:20am) if you buy vash tickets. Prepaid cards turn out to be cheaper in the long-run, so if you're planning to do a lot of exploring by bus, you might want to check out the cards on the Public Transport website.

Taking a cab is faster, but pricier option, with standard fares starting at about €32 with pre-booked private cabs such as eCabs. Alternatively, you can catch a Taxi directly from the stand at the airport, but you'll find that at peak hours you might find yourself waiting, so booking beforehand is recommended.

Shuttle services such as those offered by MaltaTransfer from the airport to Mellieħa cost about €24.00 and should also be booked beforehand.

You can also get to Mellieħa by private car (if you've hired one from the airport). While a parking space in Mellieħa is assured, it is advisable to ask for parking at the hotel or accommodation where you are staying.

A car park by the church and the police station is available free of charge, but comes with limited spacing. Parking spaces will, of course, vary according to the season you choose to visit as Summer is peak season in Mellieħa.

Other than from the airport, getting to Mellieħa is fairly easy, with most tourist services offering transport to and from your hotel.

2. Hop-on/Hop-off bus

You'll find that Hop-On, Hop-off are a regular feature in Malta. In fact, open top buses are a great way to discover Malta and visit the most interesting places if you don't have much time on the island, given that most of the year you'll be able sit outside comfortably - you're actually more than likely to get a sun-tan even just by staying on the bus.

While none of the tours cater for Mellieħa just yet, all bus tours offer free return transport from all Mellieħa hotels.

You can also get to Bugibba, where the CitySightseeing Malta tours stop regularly.

A full day ticket costs about €20 or alternatively, you can opt for a 2 day ticket for €37.

3. Gozo Ferry

If you'd like to visit Gozo during your stay, you may choose to catch an 8-minute bus to the ferry. All buses from Mellieħa go to Cirkewwa so catching a ride won’t be an issue.

Once at the terminal, hop on board the 20-minute ferry to Mgarr. Don’t worry about not seeing any conductors at the terminal, you pay for your ride on your way back from Gozo!

Standard tickets will cost you €4.65 during the day or €4.05 after 8pm if you’re travelling on foot. If you choose to travel by car, tickets will cost you €15.70 during the day and 12.80 after 8pm. Discounts for 60+ apply on presentation of senior card. You can find the travel schedule over at the Gozo Channel website.

Alternatively, you may choose to visit Comino and the Blue Lagoon during your visit. English Rose Cruises take off from Mellieħa Bay daily (except for Wednesdays) at 10:40 from Tunny Net Jetty.

The cruise takes its passengers into the caves of Mellieħa’s coastline and into Blue Lagoon. The cruise leaves its passengers on land to enjoy Comino. On departure, the cruise passes by the Mgarr Harbour in Gozo for a scenic trip.

Approaching Gozo from the sea, you will be charmed by the welcoming landmarks of the Lourdes Chapel, Fort Chambray, and the Ghajnsielem Parish Church. On your return, the boat will moor at Crystal Lagoon for 45 minutes for a quick swim and snorkel.

6. Beaches in Mellieha

As Mellieha is hugged by the sea on all sides, you'll find that access to the sea is very easy. There are a number of swimming spots, with the most popular being the Għadira Bay (also known as: Mellieħa Bay) - a sandy beach which welcomes families and solos alike.

Sunbed rental is available from the bay but make sure to get there early to grab a spot - the beach is bustling during peak hours.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for quiet and solitude, head out to Imġiebaħ Bay. The bay is mostly frequented from the locals as it requires a fond knowledge of the area to be found. The path down to the bay offers beautiful scenic views which make for great Instagram moments. Due to its secludedness, the beach makes for an ideal bay for camping, dog walking, barbecuing and the occasional party. (Caution: getting to this bay requires you to go on foot so it is not ideal for anyone with mobility impairment).

If you’d like more options, check out the other beaches located in Mellieħa:

1. Golden Bay and Għajn Tuffieħa

Golden Bay, or Il-Bajja tal-Mixquqa is arguably the most fmous and surely most beach in Malta. Given the Blue Flag status a few years back, this beach is popular with locals and visitors alike. In winter, the beautiful bay is an absolute heaven, while in the summer months, it gets quite busy, both during the day and in the evenings. Deck chairs and umbrellas can be rented on site while a few restaurants can also be found in the area.

Besides the famous Golden Bay, there is also the less popular, although not less beautiful Għajn Tuffieħa, which some translate to Apple's eye, although the word for eye (għajn), also means spring or a source of fresh, running water, which is more likely the reason from where the name originated.

2. Armier and Little Armier Bay

Armier is one of the more popular beaches in the North. The area is also home to a shanty town of mostly illegally built summer boathouses, but the bay is a beautiful one nonetheless.

3. Paradise Bay

This is a relatively small bay at the very tip of the island, very close to the Gozo ferry. The bay gets very popular during the summer months.

4. Anchor Bay

This is more known as the home of the Popeye Village Theme Park, but the bay, looking like it was carved into the rock is a beauty. Not particularly popular for swimming, it's more of a scenic location.

5. Coral Lagoon

Alternatively, if you fancy some diving, you may choose to visit Coral Lagoon, a natural beauty in the outskirts of Mellieħa. Coral Lagoon is a hidden cave located next to Little Armier. Years ago, the ground in the area toppled, creating a hole in the cliffs. The breath-taking cave, now makes for an adrenaline junkie’s dream - the perfect cliff diving nook.

Diving into the Coral Lagoon

6. Other smaller beaches

There are a few other bays and beaches in the area. Truth be told, with much of the area being coast, you're never to far from water, and most areas which are not cliff faces are accessible for swimming.

  1. Slugs Bay - secluded bay, not very accessible, making it very quiet most times

  2. Mistra Bay - more of a harbour than a bay, but very pretty

  3. Ramla Bay - today it's an area which is mostly for the hotel and resort which shares the name

  4. Ras Il-Waħx

  5. Mgieħab - secluded but an absolute gem.

7. Things to Do

Once your tan is on fleek and your tummy is satisfied and happy, you might eventually find some time for culture.

Just walking around in Mellieħa, taking in the winding roads, the traditional Maltese architecture and balconies and just getting lost in its beauty is an experience in itself.

If you're looking for specific places to visit there are also a number of places and landmarks you might want to stop at.

As with most towns in Malta, you'll find that churches in Mellieħa are found at almost every corner.

The following are some of the landmarks you can opt to visit, but these are mostly landmarks, rather than places such as museums or attractions.

1. Popeye’s Film Set

Quite a while back, in the late 70's, a young Robin Williams had played Popeye in the movie which bears the same name. The movie was shot completely in Malta, partially in a constructed movie set known as Popeye Village. Besides the actual movie set, now a theme park for all the family, it is located in a picturesque bay known as Anchor Bay. 

Sunsets in this area are absolutely stunning, so get yourself down here as the sun is on it's way down and marvel at the natural beauty that this bay has to offer.

2. The WWII Shelter

This is one of the many shelters the Maltese used to use when bombing air raids over the islands were in full-force. Given the brunt of bombings the populated areas had to endure, the shelters had to become a literal underground living area for the population.

3. Sanctuary of Our Lady, Our Lady of the Grotto Shrine and the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary

If you still haven't heard, religion and Christianity has had quite a large influence on previous generations of the Maltese and their culture, although these days, most people are pretty ambivalent.

Yet, religious influences remains strong and besides the churches and chapels which are literally in every corner of the island, sometimes you'll find these gems, which are a great experience, irrespective of whether you are religious or not.

Without hinting any further of what you'll find, just make sure you visit all three of these.

They're literally within metres of each other and we're sure you'll find them amazing - they are one of the top attractions of the area.

When you are in the Sanctuary, and if you have time, try to read about some of miraculous interventions by Our Lady retold by some of the stories, we're sure you'll understand the reverence that the Melliehin (people of Mellieha) and the older generations of Maltese in general have for their religious icons.

The church which can be seen in the photo at the top, is the local parish church, which is another beauty, both inside and out.

4. Saint Agatha’s Tower (it-Torri l-Ahmar)

This is a fortified watchtower, built by Grandmaster Lascaris to strengthen Malta's defences by having a good view of potential enemy landing sites in the North.

It is known as the Red Tower because it is painted a fiery (albeit faded) red, and lit in a blood-red floodlights in the evening making it a scenic view visible from miles away.

The location has recently become quite famous in the local and international clubbing scene for being an excellent backdrop for the Annie Mac, Lost and Found Festival, of whom Choice Holidays are proud partners.

Lost and Found Festival with the Red Tower as a backdrop

 

5. Il-Majjistral Nature & History Park

Il-Majjistral, (which is Maltese for North West, or Maestrale, derived from Italian) is a part in the North Western part of the island. It is Malta's first natural national park. 

The area includes a stretch of about 6km of protected coast designated as part of a larger Special Area of Conservation of International Importance within the Natura 2000 network of sites.

The Majjistral Park contains a number of both historical and archaeological sites. Whilst some areas still have agricultural activities, most areas consist of natural habitats. The park organises regular outdoor activities which aim to encourage an active lifestyle while becoming aware of the natural heritage of the area.

6. Selmun Palace

This is an 18th century Baroque villa or Palace which used to rented out to the knights of St. John as a hunting ground for wild rabbits. Besides the beauty of the villa itself, the location itself, being a good high-vantage point enjoys stunning views of the St. Paul's Bay area and on the opposite side, towards the northern-most part of Malta up to Gozo and Comino. 

A walk in the area, particularly in winter is Malta's beautiful nature at it's very best.

7. Għadira Nature Reserve

The Ghadira Nature Reserve used to be salt pans which gave the area Mellieħa (deriving from melħ, or salt), is today a nature reserve. Given that is a wetland, the area enjoys plenty of resting migratory species, especially during migration season (March / April and September / October). 

8. Tunnara Museum

As one would expect, an area so close to the sea, would have plenty of association with fishing and fishermen. Although the area is know more of a tourism strongpoint, it still has a legacy of fishing and this is what the Tunnara museum is all about. The location is actually a battery built by the knights of Malta, and eventually was used as a beach post in the Second World War. 

The museum however talks mostly about the story and history of the Tunnara, or the bluefin tuna fisherman.

8. Interesting Facts about this location

  • The word ‘Mellieħa’ (mɛˈlːɪːħɐ) derives from the Semitic root of the language and means salt. The name was given to the village for the salt pans which lie in Mellieħa Bay.

  • Mellieħa was first inhabited in around 3000 BC, we know this as remains (such as tools and pottery) of the time were found in several caves and tombs.

  • Mellieħa was one of the first ten parishes in Malta.

  • Our Lady of Victories is the patron saint of Mellieħa.

  • The Mellieħa air raid shelters are some of the largest shelter complexes in Malta. They were dug by hand and reach over 500 metres.

  • In 2009, Mellieħa was awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence due to its sustainable initiatives.

9. Frequently Asked Questions

As somebody who is looking to visit, here's are some common questions you might have.

  • Should I stay here as part of my holiday? Yes, if you prefer mostly ‘quiet’ and the hustle and bustle of places like St. Julian's and Sliema. The location is in the northernmost part of Malta but there's always a lot going on. It is very well connected and popular with tourist operators so you're bound to find all you need as a tourist. If, on the other hand, you're looking for a continuously bustling area, you'll be better served elsewhere.
     

  • What's the weather like? Malta has a relatively small area so you'll find that the weather does not vary much from one place to the other. In all likelihood, if the weather reports say it's going be nice and sunny throughout the day, that's what the weather will be like in Mellieħa. (Why not have a look at our weather breakdown by season in our Best Time to Visit Malta article?)
     

  • Is it safe? Malta has few if any no-go areas which are not safe. The crime rate is very low and generally speaking the country remains one of the safest, but it's never a bad idea to keep an eye out for your and your companions' safety. If you find yourself in an area or situation which looks and feel dodgy, get yourself to more popular areas quickly.
     

  • Can I find free Wi-Fi? As with most places you'll find that most bars, restaurants and cafes offer free connectivity. Nowadays, all hotels cater free Wi-Fi too. The Maltese government also has a program of providing free Wifi in squares and public gardens - so look out for MCA Free Wifi to get connected for free.
     

  • Can I eat cheaply? Absolutely, if you go to the right places. There are ways and means of shopping around for the right prices. Visiting any of the small kiosks, pizza stands and other such food stalls should result in a good bargain and any very local eatery will provide snacks and food cheaply (and yes, it is very safe to eat there, despite the fact that they might look grubby). Alternatively, you can do some shopping at grocery stores or supermarkets such Valyou and Jevons.

If you've still got questions, we'd love to hear from you!

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