Sliema's 2km-long promenade edges the bright blue Mediterranean Sea with views of Malta's capital Valletta, with its honey-coloured houses, across the bay. It's dotted with architecture that adds to its character, from the 18th-century Fort Tigné to the ornate Stella Maris Church. Some sections of Sliema have more of a contemporary feel, as it's developed from a tiny fishing village into a popular beach town, but you'll find plenty of traditional rows of colonnaded homes with brightly painted Maltese balconies.
Many hostels in Sliema are in the old limestone Art Deco and Art Nouveau townhouses that are scattered across this part of the island. You can stay in Malta's first boutique-style accommodation or a place with authentic tiling in the dorms and a rooftop terrace to chill on. Try a Sliema hostel with common areas covered in colourful murals or a spot with glittering sea views from the rooms. If you want to treat yourself, look for somewhere with a bubbling outdoor hot tub overlooking the water.
Sliema Front is a promenade on the waterfront, where people stroll along the shore and dive into the Roman bath-style pools carved from the rocky coast. Many locals live in Tigné Point, a modern peninsula area with apartment buildings, a shopping mall and a cinema. Sliema extends along the seafront into St Julians, where Paceville is known as Malta's party hub. Head here to spend the evening strolling streets lined with bars and nightclubs.
Go back in time with a trip out to Manoel Island to visit the star-shaped Fort Manoel. It was built in the 18th century by the Knights of St John, who created much of Malta's old architecture. You can get a taste of modern Maltese culture with a show at the renovated Teatru Salesjan – a 100-year-old theatre with plays and live music – or check out the creative works at the Christine X Art Gallery.
Malta has an extensive bus network that serves Sliema well, and the town itself is compact enough to explore on foot. To see things from a different angle, jump on the water taxi towards Valletta across the bay or skipper yourself over by renting a self-drive boat. Flights land at Malta International Airport in the middle of the island. Sliema is about a 20-minute drive away, or you can take a bus which takes about an hour.