Until July 2011, one of Malta’s joys was the wonderfully antiquated public bus system, consisting mainly of 1950s-era exports from Britain usually kitted up with more chintz than a Christmas tree plus icons of every saint in the Bible and then some. Since 2011, buses have been modern, comfortable and all air-conditioned.
The Malta Public Transport website can be found here: http://www.publictransport.com.mt
Single ride fare is €2.00 (€1.50 in winter) and you can buy the ticket directly from the driver. It allows you to travel within a two-hour period including changing lines (but doesn’t allow returns) until you reach your destination.
If you plan to stay and travel around Malta for one week or more the purchase of a week ticket for €21 is recommended. You can buy it in kiosks close to Valetta terminus and some bus stops. You can no longer buy it directly from the driver or from vending machines (as of October 2015). More information available here.
Many lines depart from Valletta, which makes it almost always necessary to transit there. Buses are often full, especially on weekends, on the lines passing by the tourist spots. Hence, it is almost always impossible to board at another station than the first station — the bust won’t even stop. With very low frequencies (most lines pass every 30, 60 or 90 minutes), you need to wait for the next bus… that will be most probably full too. So it is advised to first head to the bus station (e.g., Valletta), even if it is your opposite direction, and then take the line in the direction you wish. For example, to go to Gozo from St. Julian’s, first go back to Valletta (or Sliema Ferries, if using line 222), and then head towards Gozo.
At an end station, buses often change lines. Don’t watch the bus number before it is fully stopped and empty from its passengers, as it can change its number at that time (e.g., a bus can arrive to Valletta numbered as 51, but then depart as number 53).
The bus system is notoriously slow, with bus lines doing many detours and buses often stuck in traffic jams, especially around 6PM.
Malta’s white taxis are the ones that can pick you up off the street. Figure on €15 for short hops and not much more than €35 for a trip across the island. There are now government approved fares for taxis from the airport ranging from €10 to 30.
For cheaper airport transfers and local taxis try using one of the local “black cab” taxi firms such as eCabs, Peppin Transport (cheaper online prices), Malta Transfer airport shuttle, Transfers Malta, any.cab Malta Airport Transfers or Malta airport transfers with a high quality of service and online booking available. Their rates are normally lower than white taxis but their services must be prebooked (at least 15 minutes notice).
If you would like a taxi tour, it is a good idea to book it in advance with an agreed price and arrange to be picked up from your hotel or apartment. The tours are best kept short, around 3 to 4 hours should do it. In a car you will be able to cover Mdina, Rabat, Mosta, Valletta and the Blue Grotto. However, some people say that when visiting historical sights it is best to also hire a licensed tourist guide (who will wear their licence while on tour) and accuse taxi drivers of often giving inaccurate information.
Renting a car in Malta is a fine way to see the country, since it’s cheap and driving conditions have steadily improved greatly. Having your own car allows you to make a lot more of your trip and discover the many hidden charms these small islands have to offer.
Prebook your car rental online as this works out cheaper than booking when you arrive. According to the Mediterranean markets, Malta has very low rates for car rental. Any driver and additional drivers must take with them their driving licenses in order to be covered for by the insurances provided by the local car rental supplier.
Car hire is available also at Malta International Airport with many leading brands such as Avis, Hertz, and Europcar having a car hire desk inside the airport.
There are also a number of local rental companies that operate on a meet & greet basis at the airport. Most of the times these companies provide more of a personalized service to the clients.
Following is a list of local companies which previous users have recommended:
- JS Car Hire – Renowned for their excellent service and fair policies
- Aquarius Rent a Car
- Percius Car Hire
There is GPS coverage of the island by popular brands; however, do check with your rental company as to whether they make this available to you or not. Popular opinion states that the GPS mapping of Malta isn’t altogether that accurate, where certain routes planned on the GPS, will send you up one way streets without warning, best to use common sense in conjunction with this technology. Also the Maltese can be a very friendly bunch of people when giving directions are concerned.
There are several ferry lines within Malta, in particular linking Valletta to Sliema, and Valletta to Birgu (Vittoriosa – part of the Three cities).
Between Malta and Gozo:
There is the regular ferry service between Ċirkewwa on Malta and Mġarr on Gozo, it goes every 45 minutes in the summer and almost as often in the winter (with lower frequencies in the evening, and very low frequency at night). You buy a return ticket at the Gozo end for €4.65 (no ticket required in Malta, though you can buy your return ticket from there, and save time in Gozo). The ferry is not strictly on time, and it can even depart before schedule.
There are tourist services to Comino. Some of the boats depart next to the terminal of the larger ferry, offering a return ticket for €13 (April 2019). One boat brings passengers to the Blue lagoon, then there is a choice – either return back to the same ferry terminal or take another boat to Gozo. Both options are included in the ticket. There is no return trip from Gozo to Malta – use the regular ferry. Each trip takes around 10-15 minutes. The departures are hourly, from 09:00 to 17:00.
Scheduled helicopter service between Malta and Gozo has been terminated.
Renting a bike in Malta is not a very common and popular practice but it doesn’t cost much, and offers enough flexibility to explore. Bicycle rental shops are present all over the island but it is always better to book them from beforehand via their websites so as not to be disappointed.
Cycling is an original and fun way of discovering Malta and Gozo, known for their very small size. It is a good idea to cycle on the west of Malta, in the areas of Dingli Cliffs and Fomm ir-Rih as they are far from congested cities and offer a pleasant view.
However, most roads in Malta are dangerous for cyclists; most Maltese motorists are not friendly towards cyclists and there are no bicycle lanes. It is best to stick to country roads making sure to rent mountain bikes as country roads can get bumpy and uncomfortable for city bikes. In summer, do not go cycling between 11:00 and 16:00 as the heat is unbearable.
BY CHARTER BOAT:
The boat charter industry has grown considerably in Malta over the last few years. Malta’s favourable tax regime for commercial yachting and its central location in the middle of the Mediterranean sea has meant that large, famous charter yachts – such as the Maltese Falcon and a whole range of small and midsized yachts – are now available for day and week charters. The Grand Harbour Marina has become the principal centre for bareboating (self-hire yacht chartering). It is the headquarter of such companies as Yachthelp and Navimerian Malta Yacht Charters.