Avoid Bugibba and avoid Paceville and St Julian’s.
That’s what I picked up from some travellers talking about Malta online.
These completely different personalities of Malta were disliked for reasons on both ends of a very wide spectrum. Noisy and tightly packed, vs calm, quiet with wide open spaces.
Should you avoid either of these places?
Well it depends what floats your boat – there’s no simple answer really.
Snapshots of St Julian’s
Fiirst impressions of St Julian’s started with the bay and Spinola Bridge – it’s scenic, plenty of pubs and restaurants – nothing to be alarmed about, so far so good.
Keep walking and eventually you end up in Paceville – the Ibiza of Malta apparently, the Maltese party capital. Well that’s what people seemed to be saying in their blogs, vlogs and trip adviser reviews “avoid Paceville like the plague (unless you’re a party animal) – but during low season it might not be that wild” 🐯
Paceville: Party Animal and Booze Cruiser Zone!!
Well that’s the image that’s painted by some travellers when they feedback about their time here.
I was there during the low season and it didn’t seem that wild to me, in fact it was fairly quiet, hardly any people around – maybe that changed around Christmas Eve through to the New Year.
Paceville struck me as very dark during the day and tightly packed, with lots of dark looming buildings that feel like their closing in on you as you walk through – definitely not one for the claustrophobes and definitely not one for the charm and character seekers – this was severely lacking, though I guess that’s not really the aim.
Paceville is set up to draw the party goers, night clubbers and gentleman’s club seekers, bar propers, boozers etc.. you’ll get plenty of this in highly concentrated doses if that’s what you’re after 🍻
There’s a mini shopping mall in Bay Street, but its nowhere near on a par with Sliema’s ‘The Point’ shopping mall – that’s a much bigger mall.
You’ll find Malta’s oldest casino in Paceville, and Maltese citizens have to be 25 years or over to gamble, while the rest of us are welcome to gamble away from the age of 18. I guess foreigners take their gambling problems (debts etc ) home with them, so no need to hold us back.
Some of the hotels looked quite fancy, in fact there were quite a few all very tightly packed and clustered together – they also squeezed in a budget Holiday Inn. I wonder if Travelodge will be popping up next – the rate they’re going at with new hotels being built.
Personally, I didn’t think there was anything ‘tourist-wise’ that’s worthy of note in Paceville, but the walk along St Julians bay and Spinola Bridge is quite nice.
Not So Busy, Bugibba
It was calm, quiet and the pace was noticeably slower than that of Sliema, Valletta and Paceville in St Juilian’s.
I came across a blogger who advised first timers to Malta to avoid Bugibba, and that side of the island altogether because she thought there were “too many English” people there, and for that reason, she didn’t feel like she was abroad – she’s English too.
Popular with Brits
I did read somewhere that Bugibba is popular with UK expats – not that I really noticed, maybe it’s more apparent during high season if that’s the case, even my Marco Polo guide book seemed to imply this was the case, and that you notice it more in the evenings, socially.
Good old Marco Polo also pointed out that most Maltese locals go ‘elsewhere’ to socialise in the evening!!! Ouch!!
This really shouldn’t stop you wanting to go and see the area – whether you choose to stay there as a base or not is another thing.
The coastal views and proximity to the popular aquarium are probably what draw some curious tourists in.
Bugibba is pretty far out in the North – it’s not exactly a quick five minute ride down to Valletta or Sliema.
Over on this side of the island seems to get a thumbs up for cheaper souvenirs – I bagged a bargain fridge magnet to help back up the claim.
There isn’t a huge amount to see in Bugibba, it’s very quiet tourist-wise, (well it was in December) but if you love walking peacefully and being near the coast it might well tick these boxes.
The Malta National Aquarium is walkable from Bugibba if you’re interested and there’s also a Classic Car Museum tucked away on a side road, which you’d probably miss if it wasn’t for the bright bold classic car parked a stones throw away from it.
When you stop to admire the car, the staff come out of the ‘almost hidden’ museum to entice you in.