The tiny island of Malta sits in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea and it is the most southerly European country. Comprising of a strategically important group of islands (Gozo, Comino, and the uninhabited islets of Kemmunett and Filfla), Malta has played a critical role in a series of power plays for the domination of the Mediterranean. Because of this, Malta has been molded by various foreign rulers, from Romans, Greeks, Arabs and Normans, to the French and the British, lending to the islands interesting architecture and history. Roman Catholicism is a major influence on the Maltese culture but there is full freedom of religious beliefs and the locals are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. Valletta is the capital city of Malta, a walled city steeped in history and culture and classed as one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. But Malta’s offering doesn’t stop there. For a small archipelago, Malta packs a lot in! From prehistoric temples and catacombs, to fossil rich cliffs, winding streets, walled cities, bright blue seas, hidden coves and hilltop towns, Malta is a little country with a BIG impact.
Useful Maltese Words and Phrases:
No: Le (Lay)
Thank you: Grazzi
How much? Kemm?
Kif Int: How are you?
Climate in Malta
The climate in Malta is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers, warm and relatively wet autumns and cooler winters with heavier rainfall.
Temperatures vary, with an annual average of 19°C (60’s °F) and monthly averages ranging between 12°C (50’s °F) and 29°C (mid 80’s °F).
The summer months from June-August are high season and often very busy with tourists. The weather can also be incredibly hot and humid during these months. The shoulder months of April, May and September are a great time to visit if you like warm weather less crowds. Accommodation will also be less expensive at this time.
Currency in Malta
Since January 2008, Malta now adopts the Euro. At the time of writing (September 2019) the conversion rate from euros to pounds and dollars is as follows:
€1 = £0.92 / $1.11 USD
ATMS are plentiful in Malta in the populated areas (bank branches, supermarkets, shopping malls), however if you are heading off the beaten track to somewhere more rural or to one of the less populated islands, it is worth carrying cash on you.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Avoid ATMs in the airport - the transaction and withdrawal fees are very high here.
Visa and Mastercard tend to be the most common network in Malta, but in larger, higher end locations, AMEX should also be accepted. However, please remember that ATMs do charge foreign cards. If you have a daily withdrawal limit set up with your home bank, these will apply in Malta too, so make sure you check before you leave. If you don’t have a limit set up then the ATM provider’s rules will apply. There may be limits per transaction, as well as daily limits. For example, APS bank in Malta sets a daily withdrawal limit of €1,000. If you are from the UK, we advise getting a Monzo card, which offer a free withdrawal of £250 and minimal fees there after.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Always let you bank know beforehand that you are travelling abroad. This will notify the bank and prevent them from freezing your card which they will do if they think it has been stolen. And when withdrawing cash, or paying for something using your card, always choose to pay in the local currency (not your home currency) to avoid hidden charges from inflated exchange rates.
Getting Around Malta
Malta’s public transport system is operated by one main company, set up in 2014. This company operates buses in Malta and Gozo. The services generally operate daily, between the hours of 5.30am and 11pm. There is a total of 80 different bus routes in Malta, linking the major hubs such as Valletta and the airport. On Gozo, there are 15 different routes, primarily from the central hub of the Victoria Bus Station on the island. Generally speaking, one or two digit routes (1, 2, 3; 11, 12, 94) denote mainline routes operating to and from Valletta to various localities. Thos buses with an “X” are express routes - with limited stops. These tend to run to and from the Airport from different localities around Malta. Three digit routes, link different localities together and in most cases, do not serve the capital city of Valletta. Timetables for the different routes can be found here.
Bus stops can be found at the roadside. Make sure you stick your hand out when you see one coming so it stops for you! You will also often find the bus times at the stop if you wanted to double check. You pay for your ticket when you board the bus - make sure you have the right amount, drivers often don’t have the right change and will refuse large notes. A single bus fare costs €2 in the summer months and €1.50 during November - March and it is valid for two hours after you have purchased it. Meaning that if you hold on to your ticket, you can use it for as many bus transfers as you like within the two hour period.
If you are staying in Malta for a week or longer, purchasing a week long travel card is the most budget friendly option, especially if you are planning on travelling by bus frequently whilst you are in Malta (and Gozo). The card costs €21 for adults and with that, you will have unlimited access to the bus network for 7 days.
Renting a Car:
Renting a car is the best way to explore Malta as you can easily reach the off the beaten path places - and there are plenty! All road signs are in English and driving is on the left. Most international brands and local car hires are located on Malta and Gozo with daily rates ranging from €16 - €28. International and national driving licenses are accepted. You can also rent a car from the airport when you first arrive, however we suggest arranging this in advance to get the best rates.
Go Travel and Talk Top Tip: Whilst you can easily rent a car in Malta, they are not always in good condition. Make sure you do a indepth check before you take it away. The speed limit on open roads is 50mph and 30mph, you will be ticketed if you are caught speeding and the fine will be added to your rental bill. Traffic drives on the left and parking can be a problem. Make sure you only park in areas you are suppose to, to avoid getting a fine.
Official Maltese taxis are white (usually Mercedes with a taxi sign on top) and you will see plenty of them in Malta, especially in the larger towns. They can pick passengers up from anywhere, except bus stops. By law these taxis much run on a meter but it is advised to check before you get in. UBER is not available in Malta, but a similar app-based service called eCABS is.
You will find the white taxis by all major attractions and in the major towns of Malta. In Valletta, Smart Cabs, provides an electric powered taxi service for a flat fare of €5-8 for three people in and out of the city walls.
Taxis to and from the airport are based on a fixed tariff depending on where you are going. Click here for more information.
As an alternative to the official Maltese white taxis, black taxis that are owned privately, more often than not, offer cheaper set fares. To order a taxi in advance, ask at your accommodation for the number of a preferred service. There are several companies that offer a 24 hour service.
Ferry & Water Taxi's:
Malta’s ferry and water taxi services are a great way to explore the beauty of the islands. You can take a ferry or water taxi between:
Malta and Gozo
Malta and Comino
Gozo and Comino
Valletta and the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea)
Valletta and Sliema
A single journey costs €1.50 and a return ticket will cost €2.80 for the journey between Valletta and Sliema or the Three Cities. And whilst you do not need to pay anything for a trip to Gozo, passengers are required to pay the €4.65 far upon returning to Malta.
Travel Insurance for Malta:
You can buy and claim online, even after you've left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries and it is the only travel insurance we will ever use! It is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong and specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support. The WorldNomads.com prices are some of the most competitive online and if you need to change plans, you can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you're already travelling. They also offer travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub and WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
Medical Considerations For Malta:
When planning a trip to Malta, make sure you visit your doctor beforehand to discuss travel vaccinations. They will go through your travel plans and suggest the appropriate vaccinations. Some of the vaccinations may just be boosters for you (if you have had them before) which will bring the overall cost down.
In the UK, some of the vaccinations will be free of charge through your doctor’s, and some will cost. To keep the cost down, you can always visit a travel centre instead, where the injections are slightly cheaper. When thinking about vaccinations for your trip, the following website can be really helpful: Fit for Travel.
What to Pack for Malta:
- Dresses / shorts / light clothes
- Swimwear / beach items / quick dry towel
- Good walking shoes / sandals / trainers
- Jumper or light jacket for the evenings for when it cools down
- Jeans / trousers for the evening
- Packing cubes
- First aid kit
- Battery pack / electronics
- Zip lock bags – perfect for carrying food that has been opened or protecting liquids from spilling
- Money belt
- Padlocks x2
- Ipod / music for the long bus journeys
- Sunscreen and bug spray
Safety Advice For Malta:
Malta is incredibly safe to explore as a solo traveller. The locals are super friends and there is a large British expat community who are equally welcoming. However, as always, it is important to take precautions when travelling abroad:
- Always keep your valuables hidden or locked away. Don’t wander around with your expensive Iphone in hand or leave your Ipad in full view when travelling on long bus journeys.
- Always keep your valuables in your small backpack and wear it on your front, with your big backpack on your back and padlocked if walking around in crowded places.
- Choose an ATM inside of a bank rather than on a street. Put your cash in your money belt, under your top straight away. If you feel really nervous about withdrawing money, go with someone else.
- If you are travelling on buses, do not store your backpack overhead or in the back of the bus, keep it on you at all times. For extra security: put your passport, money and phone in a money belt around your waist, under your clothes.
- Do not walk around at night on your own, always take a taxi, even if it is a short distance.
- Always ask your hostel about the area and for safety advice.
- Keep your two bank/credit cards separate, so if anything does happen, you have access to a second source of money.
- Always have at least one photocopy of your passport, again, so if you lose your passport, you still have a copy of it and bring another form of identification with you (driver’s license).
Budget For Malta:
Your budget for Malta completely depends on what type of trip you are taking. There are definitely budget options available, with a few hostels offering beds between €15-20 per night. You can also rent a room through Air bnb, which would cost around €20-30 per night and with this you get the added bonus of hanging with the locals and getting a real insight into Malta. If you would rather stay in a hotel, you can find rooms in the mid-range for around €40-60 per night.
Bus transportation is cheap and very accessible but they often don’t run to time, so if you are limited on time and want to explore off the beaten path places, then hiring a car is best, but this does bring the price up of the trip.
For food prices, it depends on where you are eating out. Malta has many exceptionally high range restaurants but there are also plenty of budget eats and mid range restaurants to enjoy. Expect to pay around €10 for a meal in a mid range eatery.
Whilst a lot of the great activities are free, you will have to pay for some - and museums cost too.
Depending on what type of trip you are wanting, your budget will vary. However, we suggest that in order to enjoy the occasional treat and nice meal, budget for around €50 per day - although you could absolutely do that cheaper.