Birżebbuġa is a seaside resort in the southeastern part of Malta. The town is at the coast of Marsaxlokk Bay and has one of the largest shipping ports in the Mediterranean Sea. Birżebbuġa is also a hotspot for Maltese holidaymakers with the large beach of Pretty Bay at its center. The population of the town has today passed 13.000 inhabitants, that is human inhabitants. There are also plenty of fossils and ancient remains that tell a much older story. These lands have been inhabited by humans for a very long time and the megalithic temple Borġ in-Nadur is a prominent sign of this. Prior to the humans, these lands were inhabited by dwarf elephants and hippopotamuses, animals whose fossils have been found in the Għar Dalam Cave.
Our blog posts about Birżebbuġa:
The History of Birżebbuġa
Birżebbuġa is home to some of the most important historical findings in Malta. The Għar Dalam Cave hid the earliest known evidence of humans on Malta, but also fossils of animals such as dwarf elephants and hippopotamuses. In addition to the cave, the town also has an old megalithic temple, Borġ in-Nadur.
The current town of Birżebbuġa shows signs from many of the previous rulers of the island. There are batteries and entrenchments from the centuries when the Order of Saint John ruled Malta. The order was replaced by Napoleon and France in 1798 and then eventually the islands became a part of the British Empire in the year 1800. Under British rule, Birżebbuġa continued to develop in regards to military use of the area. New fortifications were built and later also two bases for the Royal Air Force appeared. RAF Hal Far was the first permanent airfield in Malta when it was built in 1929.
The second airbase, the RAF Kalafrana, was in 1988 replaced by the international shipping port Malta Freeport. The port has grown into becoming one of the largest shipping ports in the Mediterranean Sea. This former fishing village has also changed course and has become a seaside resort town.
Sights in Birżebbuġa
There are many sights to explore in and around Birżebbuġa, a few of which offer adventures and nice views while others act as a scar on the landscape. Either way, these are the sights that we have identified in the area.
Birżebbuġa Fuel Depot
Let’s start with the ugly truth. The fuel storage facilities in Birżebbuġa are not a nice sight so close to the other main attractions. Birżebbuġa Fuel Depot is to be closed in 2022 after having served as a place for fuel storage for about 120 years. The last fuel truck left the depot in July 2021 and the site will be replaced by the new depot at Ħas-Saptan next to the airport. As tourists, we will have to see what the scar will look like once it has healed.
The megalithic temple of Borġ in-Nadur is just a short walk from St. George’s Bay. This is an archaeological site with remains from the Tarxien Phase of Maltese history. It is open to the public with combined tickets available at the Għar Dalam Cave Museum.
End of Cold War Memorial
Between Pretty Bay and Saint George’s Bay is the End of Cold War Memorial. It is right in front of the old fuel storage facility and memorates the end of the Cold War. It was during the first weekend of December in 1989 that the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union met onboard the Soviet cruiser SS Maxim Gorkiy that was anchored in the Marsaxlokk Bay. So this is close to where George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev marked the end of the Cold War.
Fort San Lucian
Fort San Lucian, or Forti San Luċjan in Maltese, is a watchtower at the headland that separates Birżebbuġa from Marsaxlokk. The Order of Saint John built the tower in the early years of the 17th century. Several additions were made to the tower in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is the second-largest watchtower in Malta after Saint Thomas Tower in Marsaskala.
Għar Dalam is a cave but also a museum at the outskirts of Birżebbuġa. The cave is famous for its many ancient remains, including fossils of mammals that once lived on the land that is today Malta. The cave is today a part of the museum and it is possible to access it. The museum has in addition a large collection of many of the fossils that have been found within the cave. These include the bones of dwarf elephants and hippopotamuses as well as several more species. And yes, għar is Maltese for “cave”.
Għar Ħasan is another cave, this one is closer to the sea. It is famous for its rock formations. This is also the site of a not-so-nice story of the past. According to local legend, the cave was used in the kidnapping and imprisonment of a Maltese girl.
Malta Freeport is one of the most prominent sights when visiting Birżebbuġa. It is right next to the famous Pretty Bay. The port was opened in 1988 and it was built on the location of the former Royal Air Force seaplane base RAF Kalafrana.
Playmobil FunPark Malta
Playmobil FunPark Malta is a theme park for kids outside the town. This is a small park focused on the world of Playmobil with its small figurines. Here the kids get to play.
Pretty Bay is at the center of Birżebbuġa. It’s a long sandy beach with a surrounding park. The park itself includes space for many outdoor activities such as a playground, a beach volleyball field, and a skate park. Visitors will find many of the restaurants and hotels of the town along the nearby streets. Surrounding the beach is also the Mgr. Ġużeppi Minuti Garden.
Saint George’s Bay
Saint George’s Bay is another small bay that acts as an alternative small center for Birżebbuġa. This bay might not have a beach, but there is a park with a playground and plenty of fishing boats. If you are lucky you might also be able to spot one of the colorful traditional luzzu boats that are so common in Marsaxlokk.
Finding something to do in Birżebbuġa is far from a challenge. There are places in many of the town’s corners and once you are running out of sights, there is always the possibility to enjoy the view of the sea.
Beaches in Birżebbuġa
Many people associate a visit to the Mediterranean Sea with swimming and sunshine. Birżebbuġa has been centered around these activities for a long time and it can thus be considered as a seaside resort with Pretty Bay at its center.
Pretty Bay Beach
The largest sandy beach in the area is directly in the center of town. The Pretty Bay beach is long and sandy, and it offers a view of the Malta Freeport. Furthermore, it has several outdoor activities right in its vicinity.
Hiking to and from Birżebbuġa
Hiking from Birżebbuġa will within a short time take you to the more rural coastal landscape with great views of the cliffs and the sea.
To Marsaxlokk and Marsaskala
If heading to the northeast of Birżebbuġa you will soon be on your way towards Marsaxlokk and possibly Marsaskala if you decide to walk a bit longer. These paths will take you by several of the fortifications in the area and there are plenty of nice views to enjoy.
Along the Southern Coast
The southern coast is still undiscovered for us. But it looks like it should be possible to continue along the coast after Malta Freeport and enjoy the more rural landscape of Malta. The southern coastline is still far from as developed as it is in the northern part of the country.
Shopping in Birżebbuġa
Birżebbuġa doesn’t have as many shops of the international brands as some other towns in Malta. There are a few smaller shops and then there is the weekly market on Thursdays.
Excursions from Birżebbuġa
There are plenty of places to explore also in neighboring towns. So here are a few examples of places within reach when visiting Birżebbuġa.
Marsaskala is another coastal resort town located to the east. This former fishing village has grown into one of the larger towns in South-Eastern Malta.
From our visits:
- Marsaskala – Exploring Malta
- Malta Highlights – November 2021a
- Marsaskala, Malta – Sant’Antnin Family Park
- Marsaskala, Malta – Exploring the Playgrounds
Marsaxlokk is an old fishing village and famous for its traditional colorful boats and the daily market. This is one of the main tourist attractions in the eastern part of Malta. The colorful fishing boats, known as Luzzu, are an addition to the Maltese culture dating back to the early 12th century.
From our visits:
The Three Cities – Birgu, Cospicua, and Senglea
The Three Cities of Birgu, Cospicua, and Senglea are famous for their fortifications and marinas. This is where you will find Fort St Angelo and several places to view the marina, the Grand Harbor, and Valletta itself.
From our visits:
Valletta, the capital of Malta, is one of the places that most people visiting the country will try to see at least once. Its high walls and other fortifications make it an impressive sight and the view of the sea is never far away.
From our visits:
- Valletta – Exploring Malta
- Valletta, Malta – A Carnival in Town
- Valletta, Malta – A Kid Re-discovers the Island
Birżebbuġa with a Kid
There are many activities in Birżebbuġa for kids. If it is the beach at Pretty bay or the theme park Playmobil FunPark there are probably happy kids around. There are also a few playgrounds to explore and even the museums can be interesting.
Read more about Malta with kids:
Playgrounds in Birżebbuġa
We have encountered two playgrounds in Birżebbuġa, but there are most likely more of them. Here are the ones we know of.
Pretty Bay Playground
The largest playground that we have encountered in the town is the one at Pretty Bay. It includes most of the activities that can keep a kid going for hours, such as slides and swings.
St. George’s Park Playground
This is a smaller playground that has seen better days in St. George’s Park. The small park protects the area from the nearby road.
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