Marsamxett Harbour sits on the north-west side of Valletta and, along with a series of major creeks – Sliema, Msida and Lazzaretto – provides calm mooring for boats as it is protected by the plug of land at Dragutt Point and by rocky Manoel Island, now connected to the town of Gzira by bridge. Marsamxett is separated from the Grand Harbour by the Valletta peninsula but together the two inlets make up the biggest natural harbor in Europe.
The towns of Sliema, Gzira, Ta’xbiex and Msida sprawl into each other along the northern edge of the harbor, while the southern side is lined with the battlements of Valletta and Floriana. A vast, slowly decaying 18th-century fortress stands on Manoel Island as well as the ruins of an isolation hospital that was used in the 17th century to quarantine sailors suspected of having the plague. Marsamxett Harbour is also home to Malta’s biggest yachting marina, which stretches right up Msida Creek to Ta’xbiex.