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Malta has completely amazed me. From the unique vibe of Europe meets the Middle East to the food to the views, it’s not like any other European destination I have visited. It has a lot of surprises up its sleeve, so I’ve gathered the best Malta travel tips to help you make the most of your time on this gorgeous island.
Check out my Malta photo diary for some extra inspiration!
A FEW THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MALTA
- Capital city: Valletta.
- Geographic size: 121 square miles, 316 km².
- Population: Over 440,000.
- Language: Maltese.
- Religion: Roman Catholic.
- Currency: Euro.
ESSENTIAL MALTA TRAVEL TIPS
WHERE TO STAY IN MALTA
It all comes down to what you’re planning to do on your vacation in Malta. If all you want to do is relax and soak up some sun (which is totally legit) consider staying in one of Malta’s popular resort towns – Marsaskala in the east, St. Julian’s in the north, and St. Paul’s Bay and Mellieha in the northwest of the island.
If you want to travel around Malta (which I fully recommend), Both Sliema and Valletta are cities from which you can take day trips as they are pretty well-connected to other parts of the island. In Sliema, you can also find a few nice beaches. They’re rocky and not sandy, but they’re still a great spot where you can relax and enjoy the sun and beautiful crystal-clear water.
I stayed at Slimiza Suites, a cute little hotel in Sliema. It’s located only two minutes away from the promenade where you can find the ferry to Valletta, all the buses, and many shops and restaurants. It offers clean and comfortable rooms and a nice breakfast, and the staff was very welcoming and helpful. I had a really great time there, and I would certainly go back to this hotel. Check out Slimiza Suites’ latest prices and availability.
WHEN TO VISIT MALTA
Ideally, you’ll want to visit Malta in late spring, early summer or early fall to enjoy the best weather and avoid the summer crowds. If your only options are July and August, visit in July when the temperatures and the number of tourists are still bearable.
TRAFFIC IS AN ISSUE
No matter how you choose to get around Malta, be prepared for a lot of traffic. And more traffic. And some more traffic. This is a known issue in Malta and one of the reasons I didn’t want to drive there.
Although you shouldn’t panic too much about it (because there’s nothing you can do), but it is something to consider when planning your Malta itinerary. Getting from one point to another will take longer than it should, and you should just be aware of it.
IF YOU WANT TO GET AROUND MALTA BY CAR – THEY DRIVE ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ROAD AND SLIGHTLY DRIVE LIKE THE ITALIANS
Sometimes there’s nothing like a good old road trip. You have utter freedom and flexibility to go wherever and whenever you want. Yet in Malta, there a few things to consider before deciding to get around the island by car.
Beyond the traffic issue, you need to be ok with driving on the left side of the road and driving alongside Maltese drivers (which requires some courage). If you haven’t taken a road trip yet, I personally think you should save it for another European country.
If you do want to hire a car in Malta, you can compare different car rental companies’ prices here.
GETTING AROUND MALTA BY BUS
Even though Malta’s bus system is not perfect, getting around Malta by bus is one of your best options. Here are a few things you should know.
Annoying things about buses in Malta:
- There are too many people and not enough buses. It means that if you’re not one of the first people to go on the bus, you might have to wait for the next one.
- The most popular places to visit in Malta are not all directly connected by public transportation. Depending on your itinerary, there’s a chance you’ll need to switch buses and take a longer route to travel between two places that are fairly close to each other.
- Buses timetables can be unexpected, so be sure to consult them on the website of Malta’s public transportation.
Good things about buses in Malta:
- The buses themselves are clean and air-conditioned.
- You can buy your ticket from the driver.
- In both Sliema and Valletta, you can buy a 12-ride chargeable card at the ticket office (which is right next to the bus terminal) for 15 Euros. It saves you some money, and multiple people can use it.
Overall, I think anyone should use public transportation in a new destination at least once. It lets you experience the everyday life of the locals and allows you to see things from a different angle.
It can also lead you to places you wouldn’t have seen otherwise, which is exactly why I enjoyed my bus rides in Malta so much. We went into towns and streets I probably wouldn’t have visited, and I got to enjoy some pretty charming views.
GETTING AROUND MALTA BY FERRY
From Sliema to Valletta (and vice versa) and from Valletta to the Three Cities, you can (and should) take a ferry instead of a bus since it only takes about 5 minutes to get from one point to another. The ferries leave once every half an hour, and you can buy a round trip ticket which is slightly cheaper than two one-way tickets.
GETTING AROUND MALTA BY TAXI
Sometimes comfort and saving time is more important to me than saving money on my travels. While taxis in Malta are not nearly as cheap as buses, I have used them a few times when I didn’t want to take two buses to get from one place to another. If you don’t mind spending some extra Euros to save you a few hours on the road (and possibly a headache), taxis are a valid option.
Tip #1: You can negotiate the price and lower it by a few Euros.
Tip #2: Take a taxi from a taxi station if possible.
MALTA HAS SUCH AN INTERESTING MIX OF CULTURES
I was excited to visit Malta and get to know its culture because it seemed like such a unique European destination. Throughout the years, Malta was ruled by the Romans, Arabs, and Brits to name but a few, and you can feel the mix of cultures in everything and everywhere.
Maltese sounds like a combination of Italian and Arab, the food will remind you of Italy, the cities look Middle Eastern, the churches look Roman and Greek, they drive on the left side, and red phone booths are scattered around (mostly in Valletta). Combine all these cultural bits and pieces, and you’ve got yourself an explosion of uniqueness.
ENGLISH IS THE SECOND OFFICIAL LANGUAGE
Driving on the left side of the road is not the only influence of 200 years of the British ruling. You’ll be happy to know that the majority of the locals speak decent English since it is another official language in Malta. A language barrier can be frustrating to deal with when traveling, so that’s one thing less to worry about in Malta.
THE ATMOSPHERE IS (VERY) LAID BACK
The Maltese lifestyle is relaxed and laid-back, which can be positively contagious if you want to learn how to take things easier (Who doesn’t?). It also means that some things like getting your food at a restaurant can take a little longer than what you’re used to.
PLUG TYPE USED IN MALTA
Malta uses plugs of type G (yet another British influence) and operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. You can consult your country’s plug type and voltage here to see if you need to pack a power adapter and a voltage converter. My hotel also provided power sockets that work with plugs C, E, and F, but it’s best to have an adapter with you.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE YOU’LL FIND A PLACE TO GET IN THE WATER
Some beaches in Malta are sandy, some are rocky, and some are not even beaches. In fact, one of my most favorite things about Malta is that you might find a handrail to help you get into the beautiful water where you least expect it.
Whether it’s in Sliema, the famous Blue Grotto or other places in Malta, you should always have your bathing suit with you, and you should always be prepared to take a dip.
MALTA IS SMALL, BUT THERE’S A LOT TO SEE
Like I just mentioned, there’s quite a lot to do and see in Malta, so even though the island is small, don’t let it fool you. Malta deserves at least 4-5 whole days and a week would be even better. Taking into consideration the fact that getting around from one place to another does take some time, you also don’t want to squeeze too much into your daily itinerary.
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT BEACHES
I have much respect for Malta’s beaches because they are seriously gorgeous, but there’s SO much more to this island. From fishing villages and UNESCO cities like Valletta and Mdina to archeological sites and cave boat tours, Malta is a lot more diverse than what people think.
PASTIZZI ARE THE DEFINITION OF HAPPINESS
Oh, pastizzi, you wonderful flaky pastries.
If you want to experience true joy, you absolutely must try some pastizzi in Malta. These phyllo-like pastries are usually filled with ricotta cheese or peas, but there are a few other fillings you can try, and some places even serve sweet pastizzi.
When they’re freshly baked, and you bite into them while they’re still warm, you get a taste of what I can only describe as heaven. You can find these drops of happiness in special bakeries called pastizzerias or in cafes around Malta.
ATTEND SOME FESTAS
Did you know that there are 365 churches in Malta? Each one is dedicated to a different saint, and each saint gets its own celebration! Instead of having 365 days of celebrations (which sounds awesome), most of these festivals take place during summer, and they include decorated streets, fireworks, band marches, and more. For more information and tips for visiting Malta’s festas, read here.
VISITING GOZO AND COMINO
We can’t talk about visiting Malta without mentioning the two other islands, Gozo and Comino. While the uninhabited Comino is famous for the Blue Lagoon, some of Gozo’s popular attractions are the Citadel in Victoria, Dwerja Bay, and Ramla Bay.
There are a few ways to visit these islands:
- Cruises from Sliema – you’ll see plenty of signs in the ferries area promoting these cruises.
- Boat tours from the northwestern part of Malta (you can compare all itineraries and prices here).
- Take a bus to Cirkewwa (bus 222 from Sliema or bus 41 from Valletta) and take the ferry from Cirkewwa to either Gozo or Comino. When getting to Gozo, you can explore it by car, taxi, bus, or sightseeing bus.
ALL THREE ISLANDS ARE A PARADISE FOR DIVERS AND SNORKELERS
Malta’s crystalline water is heaven for both snorkelers and divers. From St. Peter’s Pool to the Blue Hole (Gozo) to the Crystal Lagoon (Comino), there are more than enough places on all three islands to take an adventurous dip.
When are you planning to visit Malta? Tell me in the comments below!
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