What country does Malta belong to?

The island-state of Malta is located in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy), it consists of three different main islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino, of which Malta is the largest island. Malta is a history-rich small archipelago and one of the smallest countries in Europe with an area of just 122 sq miles. Today, Malta is in the top 10 of the most densely populated countries, capital city is Valletta on the island of Malta.

How long is Malta in miles?

The size of Malta is about 16.8 miles long by 9 miles wide. The area is 122 square miles with 122 miles of coastline.

What do I need in order to get into Malta?

Malta is a member of the Schengen Agreement. There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries. There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders. Visitors from outside the EU, including Americans, must fill out a landing card, available on board some arriving flights (sometimes) or in the entrance hall of the airport from the small box between the customs agents.

How do I get to Malta?

The Maltese Archipelago lies virtually in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, about 58 miles south of the Italian island of Sicily. It is just a few hours from most mainland European cities and has excellent intercontinental connections.

The national airline, Air Malta, operates flights to and from all the major airports in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Other airlines also operate regularly to and from Malta. You can also get to Maltese on a scheduled ferry direct from several Mediterranean ports. There are frequent fast ferries to the Sicilian port of Catania (3 hours) and Pozzallo, Italy (90 minutes), but the seas can be turbulent with a heavy swell if it`s windy. Usually the trip takes around twice as long on large passenger ships, but fares are lot cheaper, which makes it ideal for drivers of cars. However, discount airlines like Ryanair, Windjet and Efly can be more convenient and the prices of their flights are often comparable to the cost of a boat trip.

Ships dock close to the center of town for coming ashore. It`s about a 15-minute walk or a 5-minute ride. Taxis are available at the pier. Malta`s public transportation system is cheap and efficient.

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

The island`s sole airport is Malta International Airport, located between the villages of Luqa and Gudja, 6 miles from Valletta. If you have not booked a private transfer with us, there are several public buses will take you from the airport to various locations on the island (Valletta, Sliema, St. Julian`s, etc.). The buses are located just outside the terminal building.

The actual travel time is around an hour for Valetta (bus 71, 72, 73, and others), and may be as much as two hours in bad traffic to St. Julian/Paceville. The X4 bus goes to Valletta in around 20 minutes and is the best option from the airport.Ticket machines and schedules are by the bus station. A ticket for a one-way adult typically costs around €2.00 in summer and €1.50 in winter.

We do not recommend using the white airport taxis in front/nearby the terminal. They are very expensive and private transfers are typically a lot cheaper. Uber is not available in Malta.

For cheaper airport transfers and local taxis try using one of the local `black cab` taxi that offer a high quality of service and online booking available. Their rates are normally lower than white taxis but their services must be pre-booked (at least fifteen minutes notice).

How do I get around using public transportation?

One of the major advantages of Malta`s small size is that getting around is easy and you won’t need much travel time to explore the country. Malta offers a modern, relatively cheap and reliable public transport system of route buses, high-quality taxi services and other types of transport. The Malta Public Transport website can be found here:

The bus routes, operated by Malta Public Transport can get you anywhere you want to go in Malta and Gozo between 5:30am and 11:00pm. A night service runs on Friday and Saturday nights and on public holidays.

Getting around Malta by bus might not be the fastest way, but other than walking or cycling it is surely the most economical. So if you have a little patience and are not in a hurry, consider using this service.

There are some eighty plus Malta bus routes that connect the most important destinations on the island including the Malta International Airport, the Valletta cruise liner terminal and the Ċirkewwa ferry terminal (from where you can catch the ferry to Malta`s sister island of Gozo). Buses are fairly efficient serving the major tourist areas and places of interest. The main bus terminus is located just outside of Malta`s capital city Valletta. Other major bus terminals are located at the airport, Buġibba, the Ċirkewwa ferry to Gozo and Gozo`s largest town of Victoria.

Some tips when using the local buses:
The journey planner of Malta Public Transport works alright, but you get better results by looking up the bus stop names through Google Maps and entering departure/arrival points instead of place names.

A helpful resource is the Malta Public Transport app, we recommend installing it on your smartphone. The app makes it easy to plan trips and get real-time on routes when you`re on the go.

Something to be aware of is that 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 may be full as well. 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.

Also note that, at an end station, buses often change lines. That is, do not 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 generally slow, with bus lines doing many detours and buses often stuck in traffic jams, especially around 6pm. We suggest not using the buses during this rush, or just plan to take your time.

Single ride fare is about €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 around €21 (€15 child) 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.

Should I rent a car in Malta?

Renting a car in Malta is a great way to see the country and inexpensive as well, so renting a car during your stay is recommended. 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.

We recommend you book a car rental in advance online as this typically works out to be the cheapest way opposed to booking when you arrive. Be aware that, as part of its legacy under British rule, all cars drive on the left side of the road, and the steering wheel is located on the right-hand side of the car.

When renting a car, you will need your driver`s license in order to be covered for by the insurances provided by the local car rental companies.

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, make sure to use common sense in conjunction with this technology.

Traffic in Malta can be quite bad during rush hour. Still, since the only other option to get around Malta is by bus or taxi, you`ll be stuck in traffic anyway. So, you might as well have the freedom to pull over and take photos, which you`ll definitely want to do. Public parking lots are free in Malta. Beware of parking attendants that will try to extort tips calling it a donation, they will make you feel it is obligatory, it is not. If the parking is not free (such as at the airport), there will be a sign.

How do I get around by ferry?

Within Malta: There are several ferry lines within Malta, in particular linking Valletta to Sliema and Valletta to Birgu.

Between Malta and Gozo: There is a regular ferry service between Cirkewwa on Malta and Mgarr 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). It is worth noting that the ferry is not strictly on time, and it can even depart before schedule.

To Comino: There are also irregular services to Comino.

How do I get around by taxi? Where can I find a cab?

Several private companies run efficient (but not very cheap) taxi services in Malta. You can book different types of vehicles depending on the number of people travelling - for example, most companies offer both standard cars for up to 4 persons and mini-vans for larger groups.

You`ll find taxi stands just outside the Malta International Airport, at City Gate in Valletta and outside the cruise liner terminal, in Sliema and St. Julian`s area, at major bus stations and in the vicinity of popular hotels and tourist resorts. Most private operators can be reached for a quick pickup as well, apart from the regular taxi stands.

Malta`s white taxis are the ones that can pick you up off the street. Figure on about €15 for short trips and not much more than around €35 for a trip across the island. There are now government approved fares for taxis from the airport ranging from about €10 to €30.

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. The tours are best kept short, around 3 to 4 hours should be enough time. In a car you will be able to cover Mdina, Rabat, Mosta, Valletta and the Blue Grotto.

Is Malta an area that can be explored by bike?

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.

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 the hours of 11 am to 4 pm as the heat can be unbearable.

What do I need to know about the culture in Malta?

Maltese people are friendly, generous and helpful in nature, as well as being a bit reserved. Something to note is the Malta is a strictly Roman Catholic country. Always dress respectfully when visiting churches. As a guide, men must remove hats and sunglasses. Knees and Shoulders should always be covered. Some churches, especially those on popular tours, provide shawls and/or skirts for anyone not appropriately dressed to enter the church. If you plan to attend a church mass, make sure to arrive on time as you may be refused entry.

Is Malta a safe place to visit?

Malta is generally considered safe. However, visitors to Paceville at night should use caution.

Due to Malta being a major Mediterranean port, sailors with shore leave tend to become quite rowdy after long voyages. As well, the advent of low cost air travel coming to Malta has brought an influx of teens from across Europe enjoying short cheap party weekend breaks in the sun.

Despite that most public parking lots are free in Malta, parking attendants will sometimes try to extort tips from tourist calling it a `donation`. They will make you think it`s obligatory telling you that everyone does it. However keep in mind that giving tips is completely voluntary and you don`t have to do that, especially if you feel that the parking attendant is rude. Feel free to just walk away. Those guys won`t scratch your car in case you deny tipping (but be prepared that they may yell at you). Remember, if the parking is not free (like at the airport), there will be a sign.

People of color have been known to experience racial discrimination in Malta.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

Malta uses the euro, like several other European countries. One euro is divided into 100 cents. The official symbol for the euro is €, which is the official currency; however cash is becoming more widely accepted.

All banknotes and coins of the euro are legal tender within all the countries. The banknotes look the same across countries, while coins have a standard common design on one side and a national country-specific design on the other.

What is the weather like? When is the best time to visit?

Malta is really a great destination year round, but this said, June and August are the highest peaks of the tourist season and the island can get quite crowded at this time. It can also be a bit more expensive during these months. You`ll find prices to be cheaper between February and June with fewer tourists, making the attractions easier to visit. For a quieter, sunny holiday May is the time to visit, just before peak season.

It is worth noting that Malta has a famous shut-down during August, which means that some of the smaller family run restaurants and other businesses won`t be open at all. This lasts for a week before August 15th and a week following that date. However, most of the tourist attractions do stay open during this time.

Malta`s climate is influenced by the Mediterranean Sea and is similar to other Mediterranean climates. Winters are wet and windy. Summers are virtually guaranteed to be dry and hot. Temperatures range from a low of approximately 59° F in December, January, February and March to highs of approximately 89° in June, July, August and September. The beach season spans about 6 months from the end of April to the end of October.

I don`t speak Maltese. Will many people speak English?

The language spoken in Malta is both Maltese (which sounds Arabic) and English (Malta is a former British colony and English is widely spoken). The country has promoted itself successfully as an entirely bilingual nation for Maltese and English. You`ll find most everyone to speak English here.

What is the food/drink like?

Traditional Maltese food is the mixture of North African, Mediterranean and English flavors, with a heavy Italian and Arabic influences. It can be rustic and based on the seasons, a mix of Maltese Islands and the many civilizations who live here bring an eclectic mix of Mediterranean cooking. Although the restaurant scene is a mix of specialty restaurants, there are many of them that offer and specialize in the local fare, serving their own versions of specialties.

Some traditional Maltese foods are Lampuki Pie (fish pie), Fenek (Rabbit Stew), Bragioli (a mix of meat, bacon, eggs, onions and breadcrumbs wrapped in thin slices of steak), Kapunata (Maltese version of ratatouille), Aljotta (garlic based fish soup), Gbejna (goats milk cheese with peppercorns), Maret (hot date pastries) and widow`s soup.

Some local snacks we recommend trying on your visit are `hobz biz-zejt` (round of bread dipped in olive oil, rubbed with ripe tomatoes and filled with a mix of tuna, onion, garlic, tomatoes and capers) and pastizzi (flaky pastry parcel filled with ricotta or mushy peas).

You will notice that fish is abundant in the area and the types of fish are extremely varied from the Maltese waters. Depending on the seaon, you`ll see spnotta (bass), dott (stone fish), cerna (grouper), dentici (dentex), sargu (white bream) and trill (red mullet). Swordfish and tuna are typically served later in the season, around early to late autumn, followed by the famed lampuka, or dolphin fish. Octopus and squid are very often used to make some rich stews and pasta sauces.

Some favorite desserts of the country are kannoli (tube of crispy, fried pastry filled with ricotta), Sicilian-style, semi-freddo desserts (mix of sponge, ice-cream, candied fruits and cream) and Helwa tat-Tork (sweet sugary mixture of crushed and whole almonds).

Most of the food eaten here draws its influence from Italian cuisine and most restarants in resort areas cater largely to British tourists, offering pub grub like meat and three veg or bangers and mash. You will have to go a little off the beaten track to find any authentic Maltese food.

Malta may not be renowned like its larger Mediterranean neighbors for wine production, but Maltese vintages are gaining a reputation, winning several accolades in France, Italy and more. International grape varieties grown on the Islands include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carignan, Chenin Blanc and Moscato. The indigenous varieties are Gellewza and Ghirghentina, which are producing some excellent wines of distinct body and flavor. The main wineries organize guided tours and tastings. Depending on the season, tours cover the entire production, from the initial fermentation through to the aging process. They also include wine history museums and opportunities to taste and buy a variety of vintages.

The local beer is called Cisk (pronounced `Chisk`), a sweeter taste than most European lagers and is well worth trying. Other local beers, produced by the same company which brews Cisk, are Blue Label Ale, Hopleaf, 1565, Lacto (`milk stout`), and Shandy (a typical British mixture of lager and 7-Up). Since late 2006 another beer produced by a different company was released in the market called `Caqnu`. A lot of beers are also imported from other countries or brewed under license in Malta, such as Carlsberg, Lowenbrau, SKOL, Bavaria, Guinness, Murphy`s stout and ale, Kilkenny, John Smith`s, Budweiser, Becks, Heineken, Efes, and many more.

What are the best areas for nightlife?

Nightlife on the island is always buzzing with scores of clubs to visit, excellent wine bars and first-rate restaurants to try. In fact, many visitors are attracted to Malta for their clubs, concerts and events happening throughout the year. Much of the nightlife happenings can be found around the areas of Paceville and St. Julian`s where you`ll find discos, lounge bars, clubs, restaurants and casinos. Most of the clubs and discos are free entrances and open until 4 am.

What are the best areas for shopping?

There are several shopping centers all over Malta and Gozo, however the two main shopping districts can be found in the capital of Malta, Valletta, along Republic and Merchants Streets and in Sliema on Tower Road, Bisazza Street and The Strand. However, Hamrun, Paola, St. Julian`s and Victoria in Gozo have some great outlets and shopping centers where you will surely find what you are looking for.

In the capital city, Valletta you`ll find a large variety of shops ranging from international brands and shops spread out mostly on Republic Street and Merchants Street. However the smaller family owned shops are usually scattered in the back streets of Valletta selling handmade crafts and other local products, so exploring Valletta by foot is recommended.

At the charming Valletta Waterfront you will find some quality and Duty-Free shopping at the many shops like at the bookshop, craft shops (pottery and glass) and the Forni shopping Complex, the home of several designer names.

If you prefer a more authentic shopping experience, we recommend visiting one of the many open air markets in Malta. This is where you`ll find the colorful local produce, see locals socializing with friends, and some fascinating and unique gift ideas, as well as some great photo opportunities.

Shopping in Sliema is the second most popular place to shop in Malta after Valletta. On Bisazza Street and Tower Road there are several leading brands and shops such as Diesel, Marks & Spencer, The Body Shop, Zara and Monsoon. However shops in Sliema are not only about fashion, there are also beauty parlors, toy shops, jewel stores, souvenir shops and home décor. The Plaza Shopping Mall is located between Bisazza Street and Tower Road and has shopping spread out on 4 floors.

Some specialties to shop for are the many arts and crafts of Malta, lace, hand-blown glass, basket-ware, knitwear, pottery, metalwork, and tile, as well as art, jewelry and many other hand-made goods. Of course there are also many different food and drink items to buy. Locally produced sun dried tomatoes, olives, sheep and goats cheese, as well as the many wines that are produced in Malta and Gozo.

Due to the Mediterranean lifestyle and climate in Malta, it is common that smaller shops close between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm during weekdays, while they do not open at all on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

Tax Information: VAT rate is 18% and 5% for books and pharmaceuticals. Any non-EU resident is eligible for VAT/Sales Tax refunds. The minimum spend is 100 Euros in one transaction. You will need to get customs approval as you depart EU. Approval requires fully completed tax free form with fiscal receipt attached, purchased goods, passport and travel documents. If you are departing from Malta International Airport but changing flights at another EU airport, and if the goods you are exporting are to be checked through to a destination outside the EU, go to Customs at the airport in Malta and your Tax Free form will be export validated as if you were at the EU departure point.

What do I need to know to stay healthy?

The main health risk in Malta is the fierce sun in the Spring and Summer, which can cause major burns if you`re not careful. Don`t forget the sun block!

It is unclear whether water from the tap is safe to drink. As it does not rain much on Malta, almost all of the drinking water is obtained from the sea via large desalination plants on the west of the island or from the underground aquifer. Tap water in Malta tastes a bit salty compared to tap water elsewhere. Buy some bottled water if you do not feel comfortable with the slight salty taste of tap water.

There are many free and usually very clean public toilets all over the country. Toilet paper is not always available though.

How do I connect by phone and internet while in Malta?

The country has three mobile phone networks available: Vodafone, Go Mobile, and Melita Mobile. Due to international agreements with providers across the globe, Vodafone, GO and Melita are sure to be a part of your carrier`s roaming plan. Malta uses GSM for its mobile services and alternatively, travelers can get a SIM card for their own unlocked smartphone to roam with.

Wi-Fi is almost always available in hotels and hostels, and many cafés and restaurants offer a free connection too. Additionally, there are some Free Wi-Fi zones around the island. The ferry from Malta Island to Gozo also offers free Wi-Fi.

Internet Cafes are very popular in Malta and can be found all over with several internet cafes in the tourist areas. Prices are usually around €2 per hour. Wi-Fi connections are becoming increasingly popular in bars, restaurants and hotels. There is a free Wi-Fi connection provided by the government in a number of public places, gardens, and piazzas.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

Medical emergency, police and fire department, dial 112

The main hospitals are Mater Dei Telephone: (+356) 2545 0000 and Gozo General Hospital in Gozo, tel. 2156 1600. The Maltese Ministry of Health maintains a complete list of government hospital services.

Most pharmacies are open between 9:00 am -1:00 pm and 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm. There are several health centers and clinics within the pharmacies with doctors around Malta to visit.