With more than 155 miles of coastline, 300 days of sunshine a year, dry hot summers and warm autumns, Malta is undoubtedly a wonderful place for sun and sea. 'Beach' here is a broad term meaning anything from the traditional bucket-and-space sandy shore to a coastline of roughish rocks dropping directly into deep blue waters perfect for a proper snorkel. Both can be glorious – but it helps to know which you are getting! Malta has some of the clearest waters in the Mediterranean and beaches with full facilities as well as untouched coves.
Below you will find our beach and swimming recommendations with advice on how to access each location – we also have guides devoted to spending a weekend in Valletta, Malta's top hotels, the island's finest restaurants, greatest attractions, and the best of the bar scene.
A broad sandy beach well described by its name, Golden Bay is flanked by pristine cliffs to one side and a modern five-star resort hotel – Radisson Blu Resort and Spa, Golden Sands – to the other. There's plenty of space for beach games, except on summer weekends when it can get very crowded. Clear blue Mediterranean waters lap a shore that shelves smoothly but fairly steeply allowing for a proper swim close to the beach. It's perfect in fine weather (which it mostly is in Malta, especially mid-June to mid-September) but beware currents after bad weather. In peak season flags and a lifeguard ensure the safety of the sensible. Watersports and all the works make this a great spot for a beach-centred holiday.
Getting there: Bus to Golden Bay – numbers 44, 223, 225
This tucked-away tract of Blue Flag red sand is a favourite of those in the know. Though just one bay along from Golden Bay (with similar concerns after bad weather), it is quite different. Away from roads and modern construction, a long flight of steps from the parking and bus stop keeps the crowds at (the other) bay. Ghajn Tuffieha is protected and managed by an environmental NGO, though they do allow a small kiosk renting sunbeds and watersports equipment. A lovely spot to relax and swim.
Getting there: Bus to Golden Bay – numbers 44, 223, 225
800m of soft yellow sand gently sloping into transparent waters makes this one of Malta’s most popular beaches – especially for families. Also known as Ghadira Bay, it has all the facilities – cafés, bars, loos, sunbeds, umbrellas and watersports from windsurfing to banana boats – and it’s close to several resort hotels too. The main road runs along behind the beach – less scenic than the view out to sea, but it does mean you can get here easily by public transport. Sandy and shallow, the water stays warm well into the autumn.
Getting there: Bus to Mellieha Bay – numbers X1, 41, 42, 221, 222, 101
The best of the beaches along Malta's northern 'hammerhead' and the Gozo channel, Paradise Bay, is a stretch of golden sand beside clear blue waters, with a pleasant café and attractive views of Malta’s smaller islands of Comino and Gozo. It's a little close to the Gozo ferry terminal, but it is nonetheless backed by vegetation. It's also convenient for the resort hotels along this coast, and attracts a local crowd on summer weekends.
Getting there: Bus to Paradise or Arax – numbers 41, 42, 222. The stop is about 10 minutes' walk from the beach
Bugibba Perched Beach
This rocky Blue Flag 'beach' is in the heart of Malta's main mass-market resort area. Sunbathers gather all along the rocks here in summer and there are plenty of places to get into the clear deep water. Swimming is safe and popular in good weather; though not advisable if the sea is remotely rough, which it almost never is in summer.. Backed by a long parade of shops, dodgems, fast-food, pubs, and restaurants, this ‘beach’ is also the home of Malta's excellent National Aquarium. The Bugibba Water Park provides fun fountains and spouts for children to play in, and the trendy Cafe del Mar is beach club by day, nightclub come evening. There is also a tiny patch of man-made sandy beach next to the Dolmen Hotel.
Getting there: Bus to Bugibba (multiple services)
Sliema / St Julians / Paceville
St George’s Bay
In the heart of Malta’s party capital, Paceville, this Blue Flag beach is the closest sandy beach to the resort area of St Julian’s. It is topped up periodically with imported sand, and is kept clean and tidy by the Intercontinental Hotel, which reserves one end for its own guests. The rest is public and as it is backed by bars, clubs and fast food outlets, it can become very busy in summer. The water, though, is as silky and transparent as anywhere else in Malta. The place for a beach day with a cocktail in your hand.
Getting there: Bus number 14 to St George's Bay Beach, Paceville
Running the length of Sliema's two-mile seafront promenade, this rocky shore is the centre of Sliema life in summer. Sunbathers set up camp wherever there’s a flattish bit of rock or close to the steps into the water that dot the coastline. Swimming here is straight into deep blue water, great for confident swimmers and snorkelers. For safety, take your lead from where the locals are swimming and don’t swim off rocks in windy weather. Plenty of cafés, bars and restaurants flank the waterfront as well as a couple of beach clubs and lidos. The promenade – once elegant, now backed by modern apartment blocks and hotels – is the place for a summer passeggiata and Maltese couples and families stroll up and down as the air cools into evening.
Getting there: Ferry from Valletta and a short walk across the Sliema Peninsula or bus to Tower Road, Sliema (multiple services)
South / Southeast Coast
Tucked away on the Delimara Peninsula near Marsaxlokk, this once semi-secret hideaway has recently become popular as a get-away-from-it-all swimming spot. It's a nice little suntrap, a five-minute walk from the road (signposted) through tiny agricultural fields along a path fringed with caper bushes. Once there, expect a small enclosed bay with rock pools and easy access (in calm weather) into inviting clear deep water. Rocks are flat enough for sunbathing though some can be sharp so water shoes are useful. There are no facilities so be sure to at least bring water.
Getting there: No nearby public transport: best come by car or taxi
A favourite with locals, this rocky swimming spot on the south coast is a perfect stopping place for lunch and a dip if you have been visiting Mnajdra and Hagar Qim temples or the Dingli Cliffs and 'Clapham Junction'. The rocks here form little protected lidos perfect for a cooling dip in calm weather (it is not safe to swim here if there are waves). The stretch of concrete shore is less attractive but the water is still perfect. A couple of restaurants overlook the bay as does a popular route for rock climbing. You can laze on the beach and watch the tiny figures spidering their way up the shiny grey rock.
Getting there: Bus 109 to Ghar Lapsi
The Blue Lagoon
Malta's top swimming spot, the luminous Blue Lagoon, lies between the tiny island of Comino and the even tinier cave-pitted islet of Cominotto just off the north coast of Malta. Most people daytrip here by boat but stay at The Comino Hotel and you'll benefit from uncrowded early and late swims in the lagoon. The swimming is glorious – in perfectly transparent water above white sand, snorkelling over seaweed or at the entrance to caves. In summer the tiny amount of land becomes sardine-tin packed and shade is at a premium so come prepared or visit with a boat that stays all day.
Getting there: The departure point on Malta closest to the Blue Lagoon is Cirkewwa. Return trip about €15 (£13), children under 13 half price or less, under fives free; reserve online at busy times, but you can just turn up. Day cruises also run from Sliema, Mellieha and Gozo
Red sand Ramla bay with its beacon-like white Madonna rising from the sand, is one of Malta’s best beaches. Over on the gentler island of Gozo (half an hour by ferry from northern Malta, 45 minutes by fast ferry from Valletta), it’s a glorious stretch of untouched beach backed by protected dunes and a couple of tucked-away cafés. Maybe start with the cliff-top panorama of the bay from the platform of now-collapsed Calypso’s Cave (who could blame Ulysses for a seven-year stopover here?!) before heading down to sea level and diving into the clear blue water.
Getting there: From Gozo’s Mgarr port, where both ferries arrive, bus 322 will drop you a few minutes' walk from the beach. Buses are generally a bit less frequent on Gozo than on the main island.