Xemxija – Exploring Malta

Xemxija is a village along the western shores of Xemxija Bay, a small bay within the much larger St. Paul’s Bay. The village is today considered a suburb, making up the western parts of the town St. Paul’s Bay, a popular seaside resort town in the northern part of Malta. The bay shores are home to a number of hotels and restaurants, but there are also normal residential areas along the slopes of the hill.

For anyone wondering how it is pronounced then Wikipedia has the reply that it is “shem-shee-ya“, we will leave it up to you if it’s helpful or not.

Our blog posts about Xemxija:

The History of Xemxija

Xemxija is home to several archeological sites telling the story of the people that lived here since prehistoric times. These include megalithic temples and a Roman road, as well as several more ancient remains.

The more modern history starts with the construction of Arrias Battery by the Order of Saint John in the early 18th century. The name Xemxija is supposed to have come from the battery. The name translates to “sunny” and the battery received the nickname due to it being located on the sunny side of the bay. The military purposes of the battery were discontinued a long time ago, today the building houses a restaurant.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that Xemxija developed as a residential area. This was a time when several apartment blocks were constructed, eventually turning the village into a small seaside resort.

Sights in Xemxija

With the heritage trail as the main attraction, it is easy to forget that there are plenty more to see in and around Xemxija. The number of historical fortifications might be a bit more limited than along other parts of the Maltese coast. However, there are Roman remains and birds to explore around the small community.

Is-Simar Nature Reserve

At the bottom of Saint Paul’s Bay is the Is-Simar Nature Reserve. This is an area of artificial wetlands created in the 1990s. The area is since 2006 a protected bird sanctuary.

Mistra Battery

Mistra Battery is part of the former fortifications of the island. It was built in 1761 and did originally include tree 24-pounder and six 8-pounder canons. The number of canons was reduced already during the first decade and the battery was empty by 1785. A new canon was added before the final decommissioning of the battery in 1798 during the French blockade of the island.

The Thousand-Year-Old Carob Tree

Along the Xemxija Hill Heritage Walk is a tree that might actually be the oldest tree in Malta. Measuring around 7.25 meters in circumference the tree is estimated to be around 1000 years old. This is a carob tree, which is an indigenous tree in Malta.

Xemxija Heritage Trial

This is one of the main areas of historical sights in and around Xemxija. The Xemxija Hill is home to two megalithic temples, a Roman apiary, ancient cave dwellings, and even a Roman bath. The path partly follows an old Roman road, also known as the Pilgrims Way. It is along with this trial that the Thousand-Year-Old Carob Tree can be found. Other places of interest include:

  • The Galley Cave (Għar ix-Xini), is a former tomb and cave-dwelling with a galley ship carved in the rock inside the cave.
  • The Roman Apiary, a rock wall with several small rooms, or cavities, was previously used to house bees that were kept for their honey.
  • The Burial Cave (Għar Il-Midfna), is a former burial cave used in ancient times.
  • Roman Baths, a cave that during Roman times was used as a bath complex with different rooms for bathing cut out into the rock.

Xemxija Activities

Hiking along the ancient remains on the hill overlooking the village or heading to of the many swimming locations seems to be a few of the more common activities in Xemxija. So what else is there and which excursions are within reach?

Beaches in Xemxija

The Mediterranean Sea is never far away when in Xemxija and the swimming possibilities are many. There are most likely good possibilities for swimming also along the shores of Xemxija Bay, but here are two other options that we have found on the map when researching the village.

Fekruna Beach

Fekruna Beach is a beach with very mixed reviews. It is in the north-eastern part of Xemxija and its accessibility is questionable. It is a small secluded bay with cliffs and plenty of small rocks. Do not expect to find a sandy beach, those are quite rare in Malta.

Mistra Bay Beach

Mistra Bay Beach is a bit further to the north along Mistra Bay. It is a small sandy beach with a nearby restaurant.

Shopping in Xemxija

Shopping in Xemxija is limited. There are a few stores in nearby Mellieha to the west. Otherwise, it is mainly in the center of St. Paul’s Bay and in Buġibba to the east where there are more shopping opportunities. The distance to the larger shopping centers in St. Julians and Sliema is for most Europeans quite short.

Excursions from Xemxija

Buġibba

Buġibba, together with St. Pauls’s Bay, makes up the second largest tourist destination in Malta, after St. Julians and Sliema. This is a seaside resort town that is within easy reach of Xemxija and acts as a center of many of the tourist activities in the area.

Comino

Comino is the third-largest island of Malta and a popular summer destination for many boat trips from Buġibba. The island is the home of the Blue Lagoon, located between the islands of Comino and Cominotto. There are also a lot of hiking paths to explore.

Gozo

Gozo is the second-largest island in Malta and is reachable by several possible day trips from Buġibba. The main city, Victoria, is located at the center of the island and it is home to the impressive Cittadella.

From our visit:

Mdina

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 is about a one-hour-long bus ride away from Xemxija. The need to change bus along the way makes the option of a taxi or similar more tempting. Mdina is also next to 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 the main tourist resort in Malta and it is also along the northern coast. This is where many of the hotels are 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

This is one of the busier 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:

Valletta

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:

Xemxija with a Kid

The slower pace in Xemxija compared to the much busier areas of Buġibba, St. Julian’s, and Sliema makes it a more relaxed visit when traveling with kids. The problem is the lack of easy-to-find activities for kids, but the short Ancient Heritage Trail is a possibility also when exploring with kids, as long as it is not too hot outdoors.

Read more about Malta with kids:

Playgrounds in Xemxija

We have so far been unable to find any public playground in Xemxija. There might be some smaller playgrounds hiding from our explorations, but we will update here in case we find any in the future.

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

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