Vibrant fishing boats, scents of salt and sea take hold of your senses, whilst the peace and quietness of village is broken by the splish sploshing of the emerald green waters. These are only a few things Marsaxlokk has to offer you!
In case you’re looking at “Marsaxlokk” and wondering how to say it, you pronounce it Marsa -shlock.
Now we have got that out of the way…
Welcome to Malta’s largest fishing village.
Home to only 4000 (mainly Maltese) residents, Malta’s distinct vibrant and colourful village is instantly recognisable by the swathes of blues, reds and yellow of the fishing boats. Over in the harbour, boats bob up and down in unison to the slow pace of life here.
Known locally as luzzu, these fishing boats are as ancient as the harbour itself, a legacy inherited from the Phoenicians. According to history books, Marsaxlokk is thought to be the first place on the island the Phoenicians occupied during the 9th century.
Given that a visit here features in many a “Top 10 must-do list” you could easily mistake Marsaxlokk for the usual touristy trappings.
Bar a rise in restaurants and mass migration to the area on Sundays (for those looking for a bargain and a tasty bite to eat), Marsaxlokk is as authentic as the name itself!
So now you’ve established there’s plenty to eat here. Let’s peel back Malta’s picture-perfect vibrant fishing village and uncover the charm that promises an authentic experience.
Why should you visit Marsaxlokk?
If you’ve ever been to Malta, you’ll know that it is a country with a lot of contrast: the ancient architecture of the capital city of Valletta, for example, contrasts sharply with the neoclassical cathedrals built by the British and other colonialists. And then there are parts of Malta like Marsaxlokk – where time seems to stand still.
Marsaxlokk stands out because it combines old world charm with a traditional Maltese culture that has survived for centuries in this part of the Mediterranean
If you’re not already packing your bags and making your way to Marsaxlokk, here’s (7) quick reasons why you should:
- Picturesque and vibrant fishing Village
- Local authentic experiences
- Uninhabited hamlets and stunning coves
- To Immerse yourself into Maltese life
- Home to mostly locals
- High concentration of fantastic restaurants
- Close to both well-known beaches as well as lesser-known ones
What Type of Travellers is Marsaxlokk Best For?
Marsaxlokk is perfect for a day trip, backpackers and slow travellers alike. If you’re visiting in search of buzzy nightlife, then let me save you a trip.
Though there are bars around, you’re much more likely to discover more about yourself and the Maltese way of life than you are a nightclub.
Things to 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 Parish Church
Bang, slap in the middle of Marsaxlokk village is where you will find the 19th century Parish Church (in honour of Our Lady of Pompeii).
Churches in Malta, are known for their fantastical architecture, and this parish church is no different. Take a gander inside and you can also see paintings by a famous Malta painter – Giuseppe Cali.
Did you know parish churches are the archetype of Maltese culture and the heart of the community?
So for those of you wondering where is the best place to hang out with locals? Allow me to take you to church!
Or more specifically in bars and restaurants around the village square.
Tales shroud the church too. This one was built by Marquess Rosalia Apap Viani in 1867. After being rescued at sea by a fisherman during a sea storm, she pledged to build this church. And here, stands that promise.
Tip: When visiting the church please be respectful and dress appropriately!
Explore Marsaxlokk (and beyond) by Luzzu
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 waiting 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.
Visit a Marsaxlokk Beach
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, whilst walking aimlessly admiring the scenery. 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 See in Marsaxlokk: Victoria Fortresses, Towers & a Lighthouse
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” (broken telephone)
The moral of the story. Women are always right! (Ha!)
Following 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 the subsequent rules of the French and the British.
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, I see a few 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.
It’s nice wandering and people watching. Not in a creepy way mind.
Last time I was in Marsaxlokk, I saw a group of old Maltese men hanging around the harbour, exploding into fits of laughter. Standing hunched together by a trunk belonging to one of them, they looked more like cheeky schoolboys. As I strolled past, I managed to catch the he tail end of their conversation, where one of the men was regaling tales of times gone by, followed by another fit of their infectious laughter.
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.
Meander through Marsaxlokk’s Local Market
Marsaxlokk’s bustling open-air market is open Monday -Saturday from 8am-4pm, selling authentic souvenirs crafted by locals.
You can buy honey, jam, wines and other foods produced and sourced on the Maltese islands.
Sunday is the ultimate market day for locals in Marsaxlokk and the village becomes a throb of colour and constant activity from daybreak to around 13:30.
The sea is a main source of livelihood, passed down from generation to generation for many of Marsaxlokk’s locals You can watch the bartering commence (and/or buy) as the fisherman proudly display their catch of the day to the haggling customers.
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
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?
Bus 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