I’d like to officially declare Malta, a beautiful Mediterranean island, as visit-worthy. From the unique vibe of Europe meets the Middle East to the food to the views, Malta is not like any other destination I had visited. To help you make the most of your time in this gorgeous country and plan your itinerary, here are some essential Malta travel tips.
*I try to keep the information on this blog as updated as possible, but I still recommend consulting the latest prices, opening hours, and other details on the official website of each site, hotel, and tour, as well as checking the updated public transport routes and timetables.
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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
When choosing where to stay on this island, 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 towns like Marsaskala in the east or Mellieha in the northwest of the island.
If you want to travel around Malta (which I fully recommend), both Sliema and Valletta (the capital) are cities from which you can take day trips. They are well-connected to other parts of the island by public transport, which is why many travelers choose to base themselves in one of the two cities.
For more info, you can also read my full Malta accommodation guide.
I stayed in 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, bus stops, and many shops and restaurants.
It offers clean and comfortable rooms and a good 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.
If you prefer to base yourself in the capital Valletta, check out hotels like Tano’s Boutique Guesthouse and Paulos Valletta.
VISITING GOZO AND COMINO
We can’t talk about visiting Malta without mentioning its 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 ferry area promoting these cruises (and don’t forget to use these helpful cruise apps if you choose to take one). You can also book this one online.
– Day tours from Valletta, Sliema, and St. Julians, such as this sightseeing tour of Gozo or this Gozo & Comino tour.
– Boat tours and cruises 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.
WHEN TO VISIT MALTA
Ideally, you’ll want to travel to Malta in mid or 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, choose July when the temperatures and the number of tourists are still bearable, but visiting Malta in April, May, June, and September is better.
Considering the weather during these months, some of the most important things to pack for Malta and Gozo (and Comino) include sunscreen, sunglasses, and a reusable water bottle that will actually keep your water cool (I love Corkcicle’s canteen).
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), 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.
GETTING AROUND MALTA BY CAR
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 are 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 like Spain or Portugal.
If you do want to hire a car in Malta, you can compare different car rental deal 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.
GOOD THINGS ABOUT BUSES IN MALTA
– The buses themselves are clean and air-conditioned.
– You can buy your ticket directly from the driver (unlike many big European cities in which you need to buy it in advance and the bus driver won’t even look at you).
– In both Sliema and Valletta, you can buy a 12-ride rechargeable card at the ticket office (which is right next to the bus terminal) for 15 euros. It saves you a bit of money, and multiple people can use it.
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.
Overall, I think everyone should use public transportation when visiting 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.
There’s also the option of getting around Malta by a hop-on-hop-off bus, but I haven’t tried it myself.
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 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 or more buses (and travel for 90 minutes instead of 15) to get from one place to another.
If you don’t mind spending a bit more money 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: If possible, look for a taxi station instead of catching one on the street.
GET READY FOR 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 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 of 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 150 years of British rule. 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 less thing 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?).
On the other hand, it also means that some things like getting your food at a restaurant can take a little longer than what you’re used to, so be patient.
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 worked 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 favorite things about Malta is that you might find a pool ladder 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
As I’ve 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 to 5 whole days, and a week or two would be even better.
Taking into consideration the fact that getting around from one spot to another does take some time, you also don’t want to squeeze too many places 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 people think.
ATTEND SOME FESTAS
Did you know that there are more than 350 churches in Malta? Each one is dedicated to a different saint, and each saint gets its own celebration!
Instead of having almost a full year 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.
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.
ALL THREE ISLANDS ARE A PARADISE FOR DIVERS AND SNORKELERS
From diving in Gozo‘s Blue Hole and Comino’s Crystal Lagoon to snorkeling in Malta’s St. Peter’s Pool, all three islands provide more than enough places to take an adventurous dip.
Check out my Malta photo diary for some extra inspiration and consider Malta for your next girls’ trip!
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2 thoughts on “18 Must-Know Malta Travel Tips for First-Time Visitors”
I enjoyed reading this guide, thanks for sharing. I visited Malta a couple years back but I wish I spent more time on Gozo rather than just a day trip. I also found the waters around Malta had a lot of jellyfish, it might’ve been to do with the time of the year I was there (July).
Slow travel is always better, so I also hope to go back to spend more time in Gozo. I also visited in July and didn’t come across any jellyfish, so I guess it depends on the area you explore.
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