Malta is an amazing little island nation in the heart of the Mediterranean. One thing that surprised me about about the island is just how much there is to see, and how diverse it is!
While Malta’s capital, Valetta, is a top area to stay in and explore, you’ll want to venture further out into the island to experience everything it has to offer. Outside of the capital’s hub on the Eastern side of the island, you can also explore small fishing villages (like Marsaxxlok), St Peter’s Pool, the Blue Grotto, salt pans, the fortified city of Mdina, the Popeye Village and so much more. And it’s all within a 45km stretch of land in the middle of the Mediterranean! That’s also not to mention Malta’s sister islands, Gozo and Comino with its infamous Blue Lagoon.
Phew! You might be wondering what the best way to get around Malta is, so I thought I’d share some advice on the different transportation options from our experience.
How to Get Around Malta
While Malta is small, it’s highly unlikely you could get around and see everything you want to see in a day. Which means that hiring a car is probably my top transportation pick for visiting the island. With a hire car, you can explore and enjoy it at your own pace.
Driving is on the left in Malta, but don’t let that scare you off. Once you get out of the metropolitan areas, the roads are fairly quiet and well-maintained. Plus, it’s an island – so there’s no chance you can get lost! Make sure your accommodation has parking options if you plan on hiring a car for more than a day.
Malta has quite a good bus system. You can definitely get anywhere you want to go on the island via bus, including all the tourist sights and scenic stops! If you’re like me and want to start planning your trip straight away, this map of Malta bus routes gives you an idea of where you can go.
However, there are some downsides. The main bus terminal is based in Valetta, so unless you’re staying nearby, you may have to catch a connecting bus to Valetta before departing to your end destination. As we were in Sliema, we caught the ferry to Valetta, walked to the bus terminal and then caught the bus. While this worked fine, it does add a little time to your day trip! It also meant paying for a return ferry ticket as well as a return bus ticket to our destinations. The tickets are reasonably priced, around 3-4 Euro return, however this does add up.
Another thing to consider is that there isn’t any type of island circum-navigating bus. Most of the lines go out to a destination and come back to Valetta, making it tricky to go from one attraction to the next. For us, this meant we kept our sightseeing to one attraction or village per day – as it can take up to an hour on the bus to get there.
Malta Sightseeing Bus
Hop-on, hop-off busses are a great alternative for those wanting a more stress-free approach to travel. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are a tourist bus company that allows you to get on any of their busses, that do a set route around the island. They often have commentary on board or earphones so you can hear about the locations you’re passing. You can get on and off as you please at their dedicated stops, which are generally the sights you’re wanting to see.
The Malta City Sightseeing Bus covers every stop you could possibly want to go to and the tickets are valid for 2 days. As that may not be enough time to explore the whole island, I’d consider visiting the furtherest away parts on the bus and walking to central locations in your own time.
We often used these bus systems on some of our first trips, before I began to really plan everything out myself. Most major cities have these busses and they often include extra’s such as discounts on attractions or boat cruises.
Ferries & Boats
If you’re staying outside of Valetta, you’ll want to make your way there at some point in your stay. The Sliema-Malta ferry runs around every 15-20 minutes and it a convenient way to visit the capital. On the other side of Valetta, there’s also a ferry that can take you to the three cities across the harbour.
Another big attraction on Malta is the northern islands of Gozo and Comino. Gozo is the larger of the two and hosts scenic spots, a craft village and salt pans. Comino is smaller and is mostly known for the infamous Blue Lagoon. There are multiple cruises that depart daily from Sliema to explore Gozo and Comino. I’d do your research before you go to decide if water transport is your best option to visit these islands, as some of the operators have mixed reviews.
You can also make your way to the top of Malta island and catch the ferry over to Gozo with your car or on foot. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to find a way around Gozo, whether that’s by bus, taxi or other.
Of course, you can travel by taxi on Malta if you prefer. But with so many other easy and cheaper options, you really can get around Malta without needing to catch a taxi. Even the shuttle bus from the airport is a great inexpensive option. It’s around 2-3 Euro per person!
If you’re traveling to Malta, I hope this post has helped you decide how you’ll get around the island. And if you have any questions about traveling to Malta in general, let me know in the comments below! Don’t forget to read my other posts on Europe Travel for more info.