The best things to do in St Julian's (San Giljan) highlight the town’s beautiful bays and beaches, along with its many baroque, art nouveau and Balluta structures. Located on the north-eastern coast of Malta, this seaside town has a 7-km-long promenade that connects it with coastal areas like Sliema, Gzira and Ta’ Xbiex. Summertime brings crowds to Balluta Bay, which has a Blue Flag beach with excellent swimming and sunbathing spots.

    St Julian's has a rather luxurious side, with high-end casinos, international hotels, and apartments within walking distance of Portomaso Marina. A stroll past the town’s harbours often results in views of yachts and traditional fishing boats bobbing in the Mediterranean. There are also several historical landmarks, including a neo-gothic church and Balluta-style apartment blocks. Whether you’re visiting for the beach or the history, make the most of your holiday with our guide of the best things to do in St Julian’s.

    What are the best things to do in St Julian’s?

    1

    St. Julian’s promenade

    Take in views of the Mediterranean and Balluta Buildings

    St Julian’s promenade stretches from Spinola Bay to Balluta Bay, passing through many resort towns on the east coast of Malta. Start your day with a stroll along this coastal road for views of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a little touristy but taking a photo of the LOVE sign in Spinola is one of the most popular things to do in St Julian’s.

    If you need a break or refreshments during your walk, there are many food kiosks lining the promenade. You can also stop by Sliema and Gzira to find excellent cafes and beachfront restaurants. When you’ve arrived in Balluta, you’ll see the historic Balluta Buildings – these 20 apartments are among the few remaining Art Nouveau buildings in Malta.

    Location: St Julian’s, Malta

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    2

    St George’s Bay

    A Blue Flag beach near St Julian’s nightlife hub

    St George's Bay is a Blue Flag beach that’s very popular for swimming and sunbathing in St Julian’s. It also attracts a younger crowd as it’s close to Paceville – the town’s busiest nightlife hub. During summer, the beach often hosts events such as demonstrations on marine life rescue and first aid, as well as beach cleanups.

    St George's Bay has a 7-km-long promenade that connects St Julian to nearby resort towns such as Gzira, Sliema and Ta’ Xbiex. You can find many cafes, food kiosks, and restaurants lining the promenade as well, making it convenient to grab a snack or enjoy a full meal while enjoying the clear waters and soft sands of St George's Bay.

    Location: Il-Bajja ta' San Ġorġ, St Julian's, Malta

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    photo by Continentaleurope (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    3

    Portomaso Marina

    Dine at high-end restaurants with views of St Julian’s Bay

    Portomaso Marina is an eco-friendly complex with several high-end hotels, casinos and apartments overlooking its 3 basins. It has around 110 stern-to berths that regularly service luxury yachts throughout the year. The marina is within a 10-minute walk of several landmarks, including Portomaso Business Tower (Malta’s tallest building) and the 17th-century Spinola Palace.

    Portomaso Marina offers a nice sheltered walk with excellent views of the ocean and berthed yachts. In the evening, you can make your way to Paceville – where you can find St Julian’s most popular restaurants and bars. The Portomaso Business Tower has a wine lounge – Level 22 – that lets you unwind and enjoy expansive views of St Julian’s Bay.

    Location: Portomaso Marina, St Julian's STJ 4011, Malta

    Phone: +356 2138 7803

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    4

    Spinola Bay

    Take a photo of the LOVE statue

    Spinola Bay is part of the larger St Julian’s Bay on the east coast of Malta. The main street has many sculptures, including the Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Fisherman and the Cat. A very popular landmark for photos is the LOVE sign, which couples often secure love locks as a symbol of their love.

    Spinola Bay also has a small harbour where you can see luzzu (traditional Maltese fishing boats) and modern yachts bobbing in the Mediterranean Sea. The surrounding promenade also has excellent restaurants with open-air terraces for you to enjoy a nice meal and admire views of the bay.

    Location: Spinola Bay, St Julian’s, Malta

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    photo by Boguslaw Garbacz (CC BY 3.0) modified

    5

    Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

    A 19th-century parish church in Balluta Bay

    The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Carmelite Church or Balluta Parish Church) occupies part of a waterfront in Balluta Bay, between St Julian's and Sliema. This neo-Gothic building serves the local Roman Catholic community by hosting Sunday masses, traditional Maltese weddings, and parish feasts year-round.

    You can see the Carmelite Church’s grand exterior from Balluta Bay Beach – at night, the church is illuminated with colourful lights, with its reflection in the still waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The church is open to the public, though it’s liveliest during the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in July.

    Location: 261 Tower Road, Sliema, Malta

    Phone: +356 2134 4306

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    6

    Fort Manoel

    The 18th-century fort on Gzira’s Manoel Island

    Fort Manoel is an 18th-century structure by the knights of Order of Saint John, which protected Valletta’s main bastions from the Isolotto in Marsamxetto Harbour. The star-shaped fort is located on Manoel Island in Gzira, around 2.5 km southeast of St Julian’s. It’s an excellent example of baroque architecture in Malta, housing historical buildings like the Chapel of St Anthony, Polverista, and Couvre Porte.

    Fort Manoel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s free to enter. It’s also featured in the Game of Thrones TV series. Guided tours often take place inside the fort, giving you more in-depth information about its history and significance.

    Location: Manoel Island, Gzira, Malta

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    photo by Frank Vincentz (CC BY 3.0) modified

    7

    Spinola Palace

    Take a break at its baroque gardens

    Spinola Palace is a 17th-century retreat by Fra Paolo Raffaele Spinola, an Italian knight of the Order of St John. It has elegant baroque architectural stylings with a sculpted clock in the centre – the first of its kind in Malta. There are also several ancillary buildings within the palace grounds, including a belvedere, a chapel, boathouses, and stables.

    Spinola Palace is partially owned by the Maltese government, so public visits are limited to 2 areas – the back and front gardens. You’re free to take photos while exploring these gardens, which are decorated with a couple of fountains and flower bushes. The palace also has an onsite restaurant – Milano Garden – that serves authentic Italian cuisine.

    Location: Church Street, St Julian's, Malta

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    photo by Continentaleurope (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    8

    Balluta Bay Beach

    A picturesque bay on the northeast coast of Malta

    Balluta Bay Beach is a family-friendly swimming spot that’s part of the larger St Julian’s Bay. You can easily get there by following a 7-km-long promenade from Spinola Bay. This long sandy beach is busiest during the summer months, so it’s a good idea to get there early to book your spot on the sand. You can also enjoy diving in the clear waters – its rather sheltered bay makes it safe for beginners to paddle out into the sea.

    Nearby the beach is Balluta Square, where you can find plenty of cafes and restaurants with terraces overlooking the town’s historic buildings. Must-sees include the art nouveau Balluta Buildings and Georgian-style terraced townhouses. From Balluta Bay Beach, you’ll get a nice view of the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

    Location: St Julian's, Malta

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    photo by Liza284 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Casinos in St Julian’s

    Try your luck with a round of poker or at slot machines

    Casinos in St Julian’s are luxurious venues offering a wide range of card games and slot machines for those looking to strike it rich. One of the town’s most popular spots for gambling is Dragonara Casino, located around 1 km north of Portomaso Marina. It occupies a former summer residence that was built in the 1800s and offers around 250 slot machines and 14 table games. Its onsite restaurant has an outdoor patio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

    You can also find several casinos – Portomaso Casino and Casino Malta – in Paceville, Julian’s main nightlife hub. These venues are open 24/7, making them excellent go-to spots during unfavourable weather conditions in St Julian’s.

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    End the day in Paceville

    St Julian’s busiest nightlife hub

    Paceville is the main nightlife district of St Julian’s, with dozens of bars, nightclubs and discos packed with partygoers until late. The area is spread over several streets near St George’s Bay, which is one of the many Blue Flag beaches of Malta.

    Some of Paceville’s busiest nightlife spots include BarCelona Lounge, Sky Club and Shadow Lounge. Most clubs don’t have cover charges, making them very popular among younger crowds. If you’re not a fan of loud music, you can try your luck at St Julian’s premier casinos – Portomaso Casino and Casino Malta – or catch the latest movies at Eden Cinemas.

    Location: Paceville, Saint Julian's, Malta

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    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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