||Sliema, one of Malta’s main resort towns, is, according to Lisa Audino, Sales & Marketing Manager at Linguatime School of English, a place that appeals to visitors of all ages. “You can have a refreshing swim in the clear blue Mediterranean Sea, ‘shop till you drop’, relax in an open-air café and watch the world go by, or simply enjoy a walk along the lovely promenade.”
Situated across the bay from Malta’s historic capital, Valletta, Sliema which means “peace” started life as a sleepy fishing town, but by the early 20th century it was already transforming into a popular resort, attracting increasing numbers of rich Valletta residents during the summer months. As a result, Sliema became studded with grand villas and townhouses, which are still a feature of the town today.
Its attraction as a popular holiday destination has not diminished with time. According to John Dimech at LAL Malta, Sliema “still has the feel of a quiet seaside resort” despite its burgeoning growth. “Sliema is a major commercial and residential area, and houses several of Malta’s most recently built hotels,” he adds. Sliema is a popular shopping location and is home to Malta’s largest shopping centre, The Plaza (1). It also boasts Malta’s biggest group of hotels, a casino and many beach clubs offering all kinds of water sports.
Marthese Marsden from Homestay One-to-one English in Malta, who teaches English in her own home in Sliema, says, “Sliema is an ideal location because all the amenities [are] available within walking distance. My apartment is 10 minutes’ walk from the seafront [where] there are cafés, restaurants, shopping centres and a lovely beach. The nightlife and cinemas are a 20-minute walk from here, so it is a very convenient location.”
Because, among the Maltese people themselves, Sliema is a popular place to live, language schools in the town can usually offer accommodation nearby, either in host families, student residences or hotels and guesthouses. Dimech explains one of the many advantages of this. “As our host families and student residences are located close to the Sliema promenade, students can join the locals as they enjoy the daily evening stroll along the promenade and around Balluta Bay (2) to lively St Julian’s and its multitude of restaurants, bars, [pavement] cafés and discos.” For more nightlife, Audino suggests, “[You] can try your luck at the casino or have some fun in one of the numerous bars and clubs in nearby Paceville.”
Louiseanne Mercieca, School Manager of the English Language Academy, argues that Sliema is “the most ‘complete’ of Malta’s locations”. She explains, “[The] beautiful seafront promenade [and] a lovely rocky beach [are] only a few minutes away from our school. There are many cafés and restaurants, and Sliema is very central [for getting round the island].”
For those wanting to try the local cuisine, restaurants serving up a mouth-watering range of delicacies are aplenty around the town, as Dimech confirms. “There are many restaurants and cafés in Sliema that serve traditional Maltese food, such as bragioli (beef olives), fenek (rabbit) and timpana (baked macaroni), as well as Mediterranean and international cuisines,” he says. “One can also find steak or seafood restaurants and a number of international fast-food chains.”
Because of Sliema’s coastal location, beachside activities feature heavily in most students’ stay. “In the afternoon, students enjoy sunbathing with other international students and enjoy swimming in Sliema’s crystal-blue waters,” says Mercieca. Lorinda Theuma from Inlingua Malta adds, “Students enjoy beach lidos and rocky beaches, the swimming possibilities all along the seafront, designer shops and quality cafés.“ There are also plenty of other activities that appeal to all types of students, continues Theuma. “Older students are more interested in cultural activities, teenagers prefer a party and the beach atmosphere, and [younger] children enjoy outdoor activities like treasure hunts and beach trips.” Language schools in the town are keen to provide their students with a wide selection of organised activities, while also making the most of the surrounding attractions. At the English Language Academy, for example, they arrange regular beach parties and barbecues for language students as well as scuba diving, water skiing and paragliding.
Marsden ensures her students have the opportunity to do “whatever [they] are interested in”, from a day trip to the island of Gozo to watching local and European football games, attending yoga classes or taking up tennis lessons.
Sliema is also well connected for exploring the rest of Malta, which is compact enough to be easily accessable to all. Mercieca points out that students find it easy to travel further afield. “It is very easy to travel to St Julian’s and Valletta from Sliema [and] there are also direct buses to the north and south of the island, as well as to the very popular sandy beaches,” she says.
In addition to all this, Sliema hosts some lively festivals, which are very popular with visitors and locals alike, according to Jeremy Cassar Torregiani at AM Language Studio. “There is the annual Sliema Festa that students enjoy going to. They like the fireworks, the food and the whole celebration,” he says. “[There is also] the Power Boats Grand Prix in May and an annual air show.”
All in all, the town of Sliema promises language students a highly memorable experience of Malta.
“Sliema is one of the busiest places in Malta, surrounded by the sea and within easy reach of other famous Maltese towns like St Julian’s and Valletta. Malta is not a big country and students can see everything if they stay in Sliema some of our students walk all around Malta, some travel by bus or with an organised group of students. Students like the idea of studying in a school near the sea, centrally located, with good standards of teaching and value for money these two are the most important things and both can be found in Sliema much more easily then in any other part of the world! Sliema is certainly a place where students can relax and feel they are in good care. Many of my students extend [the length of] their courses after they arrive.”
Mikhail Kudryavtsev, Study Flight Education, Russia
“Sliema nowadays [attracts] a great deal of expatriates, which creates an international atmosphere, ideal for learning English. Sliema is a centre for shopping, restaurants and bar life. The promenade, which runs just south of Sliema to St Julian’s, is ideal for our walkers and joggers. And, of course, they love to have a dip in the nice warm Mediterranean Sea. The seafront is a very sociable meeting place. According to our clients’ feedback, Maltese people are described as friendly and especially helpful. About food, Gbejniet cheese and Kapunata are [highlights] not to be missed!”
Marcelo A. Cuestas, EduQuality.Net, Spain
“Sliema is a very nice place [with appealing] architecture, restaurants, people [and a great] sea view. Compared to Paceville, Sliema is tidier and friendlier. Students in Sliema enjoy sea cruises, going to the beach, swimming, shopping, strolling along the streets, [sitting at] cafés and restaurants, and jogging along the fabulous embankment. They are usually surprised at the size of Sliema it is really so small and cosy and the architecture, with the flat-roofed limestone houses. They find the people to be very friendly and openhearted, and the atmosphere is very slow, calm and nice. The food is fabulous.”
Natalia Chetchueva, CDC Moscow, Russia
“Sliema is quiet [for] its residents but students looking for fun can find restaurants, bars and cafés [close by] and then when it comes to study they turn back to the peaceful Sliema. The seaside view in Sliema is worth seeing a student [can] read and relax while sitting in the bay. Our students find the people kind and helpful.”
Hafize Cevik, Cevik International Educational Services, Turkey