Ah Marsaxlokk, Malta’s fishing village: pretty and packed with plenty of things to do. From staring out at those iconic fishing boats, sea-sawing atop brilliant turquoise waters to hopping on one for a ride. You have the option to take a stroll through Marsaxlokk’s market along the harbour. But there’s also seeing all the sights, hiking, visiting beaches – secret ones too. Oh and there’s an opportunity for you to stay in a lighthouse. How’s that for a cool thing to do? (Or even just see). There’s oodles of attractions in Marsaxlokk. So, consider this your guide, helping you explore Malta’s most iconic fishing village. So, let’s start shall we?
By the way, Marsaxlokk literally translates to “South East Port” for that reason, you’ll find it on the most southern tippy top of the island.
Marsa is the Arabic word for “Port” (Language is a legacy from the Arabs that ruled from 950BC to the 1300s).
xlokk is the Maltese word used to describe the easterly sirocco winds that blow over from the Sahara Desert.
In case you’re staring at the word “Marsaxlokk” wondering how an earth to pronounce it…
lemme help you out…
it’s pronounced Marsa – shhlock.
Now we have got that out of the way…
Welcome to Malta’s Largest Fishing Village
Facts and History of Marsaxlokk, Malta
Fun fact: Home to 4000 (mainly Maltese) residents, Malta’s brilliant technicolour village is instantly recogniseable on account of having the most iconic fishing boats in its harbour. If you’ve seen a postcard of Malta, I’m almost willing to bet the featured photo was shot in Marsaxlokk. A curious fact for you, about these iconic fishing boats or luzzu (as they’re known locally) is they’re as ancient as the harbour itself. Marsaxlokk is the first place on the island the Phoenicians occupied during the 9th century and the luzzu is a legacy inherited from them.
Reasons to Visit Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is perfect for day-trippers and holiday makers eager to stray far from the beaten track. Oh and if you’re a fan of neoclassical architecture, than Marsaxlokk is your definitely your sort of spot. The village beautifully combines old-world charm with a traditional Maltese culture. If, you’re not already packing your bags and hotfooting it to Marsaxlokk.. here’s (7) quick reasons why you should:
- Picture-perfect fishing village
- Local authentic experiences
- Uninhabited hamlets and stunning coves
- To Immerse yourself into Maltese life
- Culturally and historically rich
- High concentration of fantastic restaurants
- Close to both well-known beaches as well as lesser-known ones
Things to See (and Do) in Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is a laid-back seaside village, surrounded by lush vegetation, beautiful beaches, and historical landmarks. Keep reading to discover more of what’s on offer for you to see and/or do.
Visit Marsaxlokk Market (Sunday’s are best)
Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Meghan Markle have all rocked up here. But, the main star of Marsaxlokk is the open air market. Visiting ranks highly on my list of things to do. Although open everyday and well-stocked with authentic goods from honey to jam amd local sweets and wines. Sundays is the best day of the week to visit Marsaxlokk Market.
Originally a fish market, Marsaxlokk is home to over 70% of the islands fishermen. And Sundays, is when the market transforms into a colourful display, bustling with herds of activity from daybreak to around 13:30. Whether you’re window shopping or after a bargain, Marsaxlokk market is well worth a visit just to catch all the bartering and haggling customers.
Visit Marsaxlokk Parish Church
Thanks to Marquess Rosalia Apap Viani, Marsaxlokk Parish Church (in honour of Our Lady of Pompeii). was built in 1890 having promised a fishermen who saved her from a violent storm. You’ll find Marsaxlokk Parish Church smack dab in the main square. Make sure you stop by to get a good look and a snap or two. Do you appreciate art? Perfect! Head inside for a chance to see Maltese art – most notable are paintings iby famous Malta painter – Giuseppe Cali.
Explore Marsaxlokk (and beyond) by Luzzu Boats
One of the best things to do in Malta, and especially for those seeking a unique experience. Is to take a traditional (luzzu) boat ride. And since you are in Marsaxlokk with many boats already waiting for you in the harbour, why not take a ride? What’s more, you can get a better view of Fort Delimara from the sea, or visit one of the nearby beaches.
Talking of which…
Visit St Peters Pool (and other beaches) in Marsaxlokk
When it comes to things to do, no trip is complete without a visit to a Marsaxlokk beach. Over this side of the island, beaches are rocky, (except for Pretty Bay & Thomas) making it perfect for seeing the beauty of the sparkling crystalline waters.
St Peter’s Pool is the most touristic of them all. Irrespective of the time of year, you’re bound to encounter other excited travellers trying to get there.
But I discovered or rather stumbled upon Kalanka Bay and Xrobb l-Għaġin. As you may imagine, these beaches are lesser-known by tourists and frequented more by locals.
- St Peters Pool*
- Kalanka Bay*
- Xrobb l-Għaġin
- Birzebuggia (Pretty Bay)
- Delimara *
- Kalanka Sea Cave*
- St Thomas Bay
Tip*: Limited or next to no facilities at this beach. Bring your refreshments (don’t forget your sunscreen, even during “winter”) Take your rubbish with you!
Other Places to Visit in Marsaxlokk
Other places of interest to visit in Marsaxlokk are the Victorian fortresses dotted around.
Along with the lighthouse (see more below, Fort Delimara was commissioned by the Brits. And used during their rule to protect the harbour.
Fort San Lucian
Another point of interest to check out if you’re in Marsaxlokk is Fort San Lucian. If, like me, you love folklores and legends, let me tell you this.
Legend has it that Fort San Lucian was initially built following a dream involving a bit of as we Brits call “Chinese whispers”
The story goes:
One night a lady had a dream about St John (strictly PG). During her dream, St John instructs her to tell the Grand Master to fortify Marsaxlokk and get on with it because any day now… the Ottoman Turks will attack.
The lady did the only thing she could do and told the parish priest.
He told the bishop.
Word eventually reached the Grand Master (who at the time was Alof de Wignacourt).
But, he dismissed it as “just a dream”
But guess what?
That summer… the Ottoman Turks attacked
The moral of the story. Women are always right! (Ha!)
After the attack, St Lucian was immediately commissioned by Wigmore and built in 1611. Since then, it’s fair to say the tower has undergone several structural changes (following subsequent rules by both the French and Brits)
Nowadays, it is used as the Aquatic Research Centre Facility.
Wander Marsaxlokk Village for a Real Taste of Island Life
Curious about traditional island life? Then simply wander Marsaxlokk Village for a taste of authentic Maltese life.
Marsaxlokk is a small village characterised by narrow streets and huge splashes of colour. Walking along Marsaxlokk harbour, you’re bound to see weary fishermen, returning from their latest fishing trip.
Marsaxlokk is home for many working fishermen, so you will likely see them painting or even repairing their fishing boats.
You’re 100% guaranteed to see colourful fishing nets out on the pier left out to dry and adding to the scenery that epitomises Malta.
Grab an ice cream or a drink and just mindfully stroll along, drinking everything in.
Enjoy the feeling of getting lost (don’t worry you won’t) amongst the narrow streets or the lush greenery.
The houses are a mixture of Malta
’s traditional gallerijas and low rise houses. Always in the distance, the sea is a stone’s throw away and tall swaying palm trees line the streets.
Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park
For another place to see that is completely off the beaten track, don’t skip a visit to Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park.
Head here for mind-blowing views over Marsaxlokk, the entire South East of the island and the white cliffs of Munxar.
Xrobb l-Għaġin is run by Malta Nature Trust, which also offers guided walking tours. (dependent on staff availability).
Tip: You can also check out Ta Silg Chapel as it’s on the way!
Places to Stay in Marsaxlokk
Looking for hotels in Marsaxlokk? You won’t find any. Well, not in the traditional sense. But, there are plenty of affordable guesthouses and accommodation. And If you’re looking for a unique and affordable experience… read on.
Xrobb l-Għaġin Hostel
Set in the middle of a nature park surrounded by 155 sq metres of the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. This 30-bed hostel is a rare find and completely off the grid. Not to mention the usual tourist trappings. The Nature Trust Malta run hostel promises a unique experience. Whilst you may associate hostels with backpacking students, the hostel is suitable for all. From aspiring yogis, students to older people. The overarching theme here is the simplicity of nature! Prices start at 18per person, per night. (breakfast included)
Address: Xrobb l-Għaġin Hostel, Xrobb l-Għaġin Nature Park, Limits of Marsaxlokk, MXK 4080
Have you ever stayed in a lighthouse? Well, not only can you visit the only lighthouse in the whole of Malta, here in Marsaxlokk… You can also stay in one! More on that, later.
As I mentioned above, the lighthouse was built during British rule in 1850. During which, the lighthouse was used to keep watch over the islands. Nowadays, it allows you to keep watch and offers stunning views over the cliff edge of Marsaxlokk and the neighbouring villages of Marsascala and Birzebuggia.
So as I was saying, for a unique experience, you can stay in a lighthouse.
The light-keeper quarters have been beautifully restored and are now available for stays, and sleep up to 5 people. Send an email to: email@example.com for more info/availability.
Where To Eat in Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is blessed with restaurants (by the way, many are closed on Mondays). One might consider this a foodie’s dream. You may be left wondering with it being a fishing village, that this is all there is to
Completely not the case. There are many restaurants here that serve a good variety of food. From pizza, meat to pasta and even traditional foods. Rest assured you won’t go hungry!
Although, you might on a Sunday if you haven’t pre-booked!
Here are my top 3 places to eat in Marsaxlokk
Located directly on Marsaxlokk’s charming harbour. La Capanna serves up mouthwatering seafood dishes beautifully prepared. The service here is faultless too!
Though they serve fantastic fish dishes here too, they also have a varied menu that includes meat (try the Angus Steak) and pasta dishes.
A family-run business and slightly cheaper than the other two. Ir-Rizzu can also be found along Marsaxlokk harbour. Furthermore, there is more variety on the menu. Serving seafood, pasta and meat dishes (try the pork), you can not go wrong here!
Tip: There are also super chilled places to stop and have coffee, a glass of wine or even a light bite.
Getting to Marsaxlokk
From Malta International Airport to Marsaxlokk
Take bus route 119 from Bus Stop Airport 3
From Valletta (Main Bus Terminal) to Marsaxlokk
Take either bus route 85 or 81 from Bus Stop A6.
From Sliema/St Julians to Marsaxlokk
Take either bus routes 13, 13A, 14, or 16 from Bus Stop: Spinola/Chalet/Ferries 4. Get off at Valletta Bus Terminal and take bus route 82 or 85 from bus stop A6.
Do you need a car to get around Marsaxlokk?
Buses serving Marsaxlokk stops around 7pm. Therefore if you want to travel around later than this, you’ll need to consider alternatives. I.e. rental car or cabs.
Tip: Download Malta Cool App for cheap(er) cab rides