Gzira, Exploring Malta

Gżira – Exploring Malta

Gżira is a seaside town in the central region of Malta. It neighbors the commercial districts of Sliema to the north and has a view of the capital Valletta on the other side of Marsamxett Harbour. The town had a population of around 11.700 inhabitants in 2019. In addition to the small piece of land making up the urban area of Gżira, the town also includes Manoel Island. Manoel Island is a fortified island that has seen many uses over the centuries and is in most parts not accessible to the public.

Gżira has twin cities in both Greece and Poland. In the Greek region of Attica is Glyfada and in the Polish Lower Silesian Voivodeship is Wałbrzych.

Our blog posts about Gżira:

The History of Gżira

Gżira is a fairly new addition along the coast along Marsamxett Harbour. The first villa was built here in the mid-19th century and is seen as the starting point of the development of Gżira. The new village became a suburb of nearby Sliema, mostly inhabited by the working class. The name, which when translated from Maltese means “island”, comes from the nearby Manoel Island.

The area was hit hard when the British left the island in the 1970s, with many bars along the waterfront struggling. But Gżira has in more recent decades seen a rebirth with many new establishments, many spilling over from nearby Sliema and St. Julian’s. Hotels, restaurants, and bars have been opened while other businesses within finance and betting have also been founded here.

Sights in Gżira

Gżira is so small that it is hard to fit many sights within its territory. There are a few cozy streets and plenty of sights in the surrounding area.

Manuel Island

The large island in the middle of Marsamxett Harbour is Manuel Island. Formerly known as Bishop’s Island, this island has seen several uses over the centuries. In 1592, Lazzaretto was built on the island, a quarantine hospital that had the purpose to protect Malta from epidemics.

Lazzaretto was joined on the island in 1723 by Fort Manoel. Both the hospital and the fort were used into the 20th century. The fort was used as a naval base during the Second World War and both the fort and the hospital were damaged during the war.

A more recent addition is the yacht marina at the island and especially the large yacht yard on the island. So parts of the island are today a large storage space for large yachts.

One of the best ways to view the island is from the many cruises around the bay.

The Strand

The Strand is the waterfront of Gżira that also includes a wide promenade. Along the building front are several restaurants and bars, while along the waterfront and the promenade, there are a few smaller kiosks and plenty of park benches. Across the bay, on the other side of Manuel Island, the capital Valletta is visible.

Gżira Activities

Gżira might be best known for its bars and restaurants. Walking along the waterfront promenade is another popular activity for anyone visiting the town.

Beaches in Gżira

There are supposed to be swimming spots at Manuel Island. Sadly we have been unable to confirm their accessibility, so please feel free to leave a comment if you have more information.

Gżira Hiking

Gżira offers great hiking possibilities in at least two directions. Either along the waterfront to the north or to the south. Both options will at least initially be through urban areas of Malta. It is quite far before more rural areas are reached.

Toward Sliema and Saint Julian’s

Walking to the north from Gżira will soon take you to Sliema and Tigné Point. Following the coast will take you toward the tourist resort town of Saint Julian’s. You will have to continue past Pembroke before you will reach more rural areas. The waterfront along this part of the coast is, however, worth it even when in urban areas.

Toward Ta’ Xbiex and Valletta

Walking south will take you around Marsamxett Harbour. The hike will take you by several of the small towns in the area before you reach the capital Valletta. Ta’ Xbiex is the first and it is followed by Msida, Pietà, and Floriana. This option also gives you the option to take the ferry back from Valletta, making it possible to create a loop once the ferry drops you off in Sliema.

Shopping in Gżira

There are plenty of small shops along the narrow streets of Gżira. For anyone looking for more options, there is just a short walk to Sliema and even more stores and also the Point Shopping Mall.

Excursions from Gżira

The best thing about visiting Gżira is that the whole country of Malta is within your reach. Even the island of Gozo is reachable with ferries from Sliema.


Birżebbuġa is a town in the southeastern part of Malta. It is not only the home of the large Malta Freeport, but it is also the home of a few historical sites. You will mainly find two interesting archaeological sites here, Għar Dalam and Borġ in-Nadur. This is also a popular summer resort for the local Maltese.

From our visit:


Gozo is the second-largest island in Malta and is considered to have its own culture without the stress of the main island. Day trips are possible from nearby Sliema. The main city, Victoria, is at the center of the island and it is home to the impressive Cittadella.

From our visit:


Marsaskala is another coastal resort town in the eastern part of Malta. This former fishing village has grown into a resort town with beaches, playgrounds, and plenty of cafés and restaurants.

From our visits:


Marsaxlokk is an old fishing village 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:


Mdina is the former capital of Malta and is today a small fortified town. It is one of the most impressive sights on the island and it is just a short bus ride away from Gżira. Mdina is also neighboring the town of Rabat, a town that is possible to combine in the same visit.

From our visits:

Saint Julian’s

Saint Julian’s is one of the towns nearby and the main tourist resort in Malta. This is where many of the hotels are located and it is popular for its restaurants and shopping. It is also the home of Paceville, an area that is both loved and hated for its many bars and nightclubs.


Sliema is within easy reach as it is only a short walk away. This is one of the busiest towns in Malta and a modern commercial center. For anyone looking for shopping or other urban activities, then Sliema is usually among the options on the island. Together with Saint Julian’s, Sliema makes up one of the main tourist resorts in Malta.

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. It is easy to reach by crossing the two bays with the public ferries.

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. The capital is just a short ferry ride away from nearby Sliema, the arrival is however at the waterfront, resulting in a fairly steep climb to the main streets of Valletta.

From our visits:

Gżira with a Kid

Gżira might not be the most kid-friendly place as there is plenty of traffic and not many activities for children. It is, however, easy to reach most of Malta from here making it possible to find activities for kids in the surrounding area.

Read more about Malta with kids:

Playgrounds in Gżira

We have found one small playground in Gżira, but do keep in mind that there are short distances to neighboring Sliema and other areas with larger playgrounds.

Gnien Il – Kunsill Ta L- Ewropa

Gnien Il – Kunsill Ta L- Ewropa is a small park area close to the border with Ta’ Xbiex. It looks out over the yacht marina and includes a small playground for the smaller kids.

There are more towns and villages to discover. Join us in Exploring Malta >>

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