Senglea, also known as Isla, is one of the “Three Cities” of Malta. The other two are Bormla, also known as Cospicua and Birgu, also known as Vittoriosa. Confusing? Yes, now you can see why everyone refers to them as the Three Cities.
Where is Senglea?
Senglea is located in the Cottonera area in the east of Malta just a short ferry ride across the Grand Harbour from Valletta, the island’s capital. Although the Maltese name comes from the word L’isola meaning island, Senglea is actually a peninsula that stretches out into the harbour. With an area of just 0.2kms, it is the smallest town in Malta, and one of the most densely populated, with around 3,500 inhabitants plus two new residents Jonathan, me and our dog, Angel.
Why Should I Visit Isla?
Like most of Malta’s walled cities, the best way to truly explore Senglea is on foot. Many of the streets in Senglea have steps which lead down to the waterfront and the marina. You can explore the large churches located at either side of the peninsula. Step back in time as you walk down Senglea’s High Street with its tiny local shops. But don’t head to the shops between 12-4, everything is closed. It’s hot, especially during the summer months and that means it’s time for a siesta.
For incredible views of Valletta, the Grand Harbour, the nearby dockyard and watching the cruise ships enter and leave the port, head to Gardjola Gardens. The gardens are located at the tip of the peninsula and feature a stone watch-tower or vedette that is a beloved Maltese icon. The park is free to enter. It’s not a huge park by any means, but it’s a charming oasis of calm with a few shady spots to take a rest.
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We have only explored a little bit of Malta so far, but we love this side of Malta. Although heavily bombed during the Second World War, the town of Senglea dates back to the 16th century. Many of the narrow streets still have many grand old buildings that were built during the time of the Knights of St John. Senglea was named after Claude De La Sengle, the grandmaster who founded it.
And be sure not to forget to look upwards as you wander and see the delightful and colourful Maltese balconies or ‘gossip balconies’ as they are referred to. There are also some pretty impressive religious statues or icons on street corners.
Where To Eat In Senglea?
As evening approaches, head down on the picturesque waterfront. Here you will find a number of simple kiosks or restaurants. It’s a great place to sit, enjoy the local beer or wine, and admire the harbour views. At night, it’s lovely to see the lights of Valetta and Fort St Angelo in Birgu. What we love, yes there are tourists here, but the majority of people enjoying a meal are the friendly Maltese locals.
How To Get To Senglea And The Three Cities
- The most beautiful way to get to the Three Cities is to take a trip across the Grand Harbour.
- The Three Cities Ferries runs half-hourly and takes around 10 minutes to cross. The fare is €1.50 one way or €2.80 return.
- Feeling brave, you could take one of the local water taxis to Senglea, which is only €2 per person and run on demand. Not being comfortable on the water, I prefer the larger ferries and sit close to the life jackets lol.
- Local buses 1,2,3,4, depart from Valletta Bus Station near Valetta Gate.
- The Hop On, Hop Off Southern Route also makes a stop in the Three Cities.
Have you visited Malta? What was your favourite place?