Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2024)

Navigating Malta’s charming landscapes might seem daunting at first, but we can assure you there’s no need to worry.
Malta is one of the best places we have ever visited…and we managed to explore it all without a car!
We have the art of using European public transport systems down to a T, and this guide will share that knowledge with you.


If you enjoy historic streets best explored on foot, or are intrigued by the allure of hop-on hop-off buses, this guide will ensure you make the most of your journey through Malta’s enchanting streets and coastal havens.

We were captivated by the beauty of Malta during our visit, and are sure you will be too!

Where Is Malta Located?

Situated in the Mediterranean Sea, just south of Sicily, sits the sun-drenched island of Malta.
The island of Malta is renowned for its natural beauty, alongside its two sister islands: Gozo and Comino.

The main island, Malta, is the largest, with its capital city being Valletta. Gozo, situated to the north, is known for its scenic landscapes and historical sites.
Comino, the smallest of the three, is positioned between Malta and Gozo and is famed for its pristine Blue Lagoon.

The three islands form the nation of Malta, offering a captivating fusion of history, culture, and natural wonders.

Book Flights To Malta

Best Areas To Stay In Malta For Tourists
and Airport transfers

Every corner of Malta has something for everyone, but these are the hotspots that may be more beneficial for you to go to during your visit. We also throw in how you can get there from the airport, just to make it super easy for you.

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Valletta

Valletta, Malta’s capital, is a historic gem best known for its well-preserved architecture, narrow lanes, and fortifications. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it thrives as a cultural hub with museums, theaters, and delightful cafes.

Join A Valletta Walking Tour

Getting from Malta International Airport to Valletta is straightforward. Upon your arrival to the airport, you have several options:
Taxis, which are available outside the terminal, provide  a swift route to Valletta in 20 to 30 minutes.
Alternatively, the Express Shuttle Bus X4 takes about 30 minutes and costs only €2 one way! This will take you directly to Valletta. 

Consider your preferences and luggage, decide between convenience and budget. Prior to your journey, verify schedules and routes for a seamless transfer to Malta’s captivating capital.

Our favourite thing about Valletta is that it genuinely feels like you are walking through the past. For any game enthusiasts out there…imagine Assassin’s Creed, but better!

Sliema and St. Julian’s

These towns, adjacent to one another, are best known for their lively ambiance.
Sliema boasts waterfront promenades, shopping hubs, and breathtaking views of Valletta.
St. Julian’s is renowned for its dynamic nightlife, bustling Paceville district, and charming Spinola Bay.

Journeying from Malta International Airport to Sliema and St. Julian’s Bay is convenient.

Upon arrival, options include taxis available outside the terminal, providing a direct trip in 20 to 30 minutes. At time of writing, this is estimated to be around €30.
Alternatively, the Express Shuttle Bus X2 takes around 35 to 40 minutes and costs €2 one way.

Both options grant access to Sliema’s beauty, and St. Julian’s vibrant nightlife.
We recommend going to Dragonara Casino at least once, even if you don’t spend any money (or to gamble responsibly).
I visited here with my Dad, and we were (pathetically in comparison) putting €10 bets on the Roulette whilst visiting Sicilians were putting thousands down at a time.

Mdina And Rabat

Mdina, known as the “Silent City,” is a medieval fortified town with narrow streets, and historical structures. Adjacent is Rabat, recognized for ancient catacombs, religious sites, and traditional allure.
You will love this area due to it historic allure, and perfect panoramic views

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Valletta

Getting to the well-preserved cities of Mdina and Rabat from Malta International Airport is easy. 

Again, taxis are a very accessible option for those landing into Malta Airport. From outside the terminal, you can reach both Mdina and Rabat in 20 to 30 minutes

Alternatively, Express Shuttle Bus X3 takes around 30 to 40 minutes and is €2 one way. Although the longer of the two options, it is definitely the most budget friendly.

Mellieħa and the Northern Beaches

The serene northern coastal town of Mellieħa is home to sandy beaches and crystal blue waters. The nearby northern coast hosts renowned spots like Golden Bay and Paradise Bay, ideal for relaxation and water sports.

From Malta International Airport, you can take taxis from outside the terminal, which will take you to Mellieħa in 30 to 40 minutes, and will cost around €35+.

Express Shuttle Bus X1 takes about 40 to 50 minutes and will cost €2 one way. Again, the most budget friendly but, depending on how much luggage you have, may not be the most convenient.

Zurrieq And Surrounding Areas

Żurrieq is a picturesque town in Malta known for the stunning Blue Grotto and historic sites. Nearby attractions include Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples, offering a blend of natural beauty and ancient history.

To travel from Malta International Airport to Żurrieq, you can use the taxis that are available outside the terminal and offer a direct ride to Żurrieq in approximately 10 to 20 minutes, depending on traffic. 

Alternatively, you can choose to take public buses like Route X4, which connects the airport to Żurrieq in around 20 to 30 minutes, and is, again, €2 one way.

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>24 Hours In Nottingham, England

Malta: The Ways Of Getting Around Malta

There are several forms of transport in Malta; each one is convenient, but the best mode of transport for you will depend on why you are visiting Malta.

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Taxi

Taxis in Malta are a convenient mode of transportation, offering flexibility and comfort for getting around the islands.

Taxis can be found at designated taxi stands, hotels, and popular tourist areas. They are typically identified by their white color and taxi roof sign– ensure they are using a proper license, and also have a legitimate meter.
We also recommend having Euros in cash to pay for these.

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023)
Gozo Streets

In Malta, the “White Taxis” usually operate on a metered fare system. The fare is calculated based on distance and time.
There’s a starting fee on the meter, and then the cost increases as the distance traveled and the time spent in the taxi increase.
It’s a good idea to make sure the driver starts the meter at the beginning of the ride to stop you from overpaying.

Taxis can also be hired for private tours or for longer periods, which can provide a personalized experience for exploring the islands. Negotiating a fixed price for such services in advance is common, and can be a fun way of getting around Malta.

Hire Car

Renting a car in Malta can be advantageous for several reasons, enhancing your travel experience on the islands.
Having your own vehicle grants the freedom to explore at your own pace, discovering hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations that might be less accessible by public transportation. It also enables you to tailor your itinerary, maximizing your time and convenience.

Malta’s compact size ensures that you can easily cover multiple destinations in a single day, making a car an efficient option. Additionally, renting a car is particularly beneficial if you plan to travel with a group or family, as it can be cost-effective compared to other modes of transportation.

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Valletta Landscape

Exploring the countryside, picturesque coastal routes, and remote villages becomes effortless with a car. Plus, you can conveniently access attractions and viewpoints that may not be easily reachable by bus or taxi.
Parking is generally available, and you can venture to less crowded places during peak tourist seasons.

However, you should note Malta’s unique driving conditions, including driving on the left side of the road, narrow streets, and occasionally busy traffic.
If you’re comfortable with these factors, hiring a car offers the flexibility to create your own adventure when getting around Malta, unlock Malta’s diverse landscapes, and make the most of your time on these captivating islands.

Book Your Hire Car Now

Public Bus

The bus system in Malta is a well-organised and comprehensive network that serves as a convenient and affordable mode of public transportation.
Operated by Malta Public Transport (MPT), it connects major towns, tourist sites, and urban areas across the islands. Buses are easily recognizable with their white and orange livery.

The Malta bus system is particularly advantageous for budget-conscious travelers seeking to explore Malta’s attractions without the hassle of driving.

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Gozo Farm


However, planning ahead and checking schedules is recommended to ensure efficient travel. With its coverage, affordability, and ability to connect various parts of the islands, the bus system is a reliable and popular choice for both locals and visitors alike.

A one-way ticket can be €2+. Purchasing a Tallinja card or using the Tallinja mobile app offers discounted fares and flexibility. Alternatively, the Explore card provides unlimited travel on buses, including airport transfers, making it a cost-effective option for longer stays.
Both of these cards can be purchased at Malta International Airport.

Hop On/Hop Off Bus

The Hop-On-Hop-Off bus in Malta offers a convenient and flexible way to explore the islands’ major attractions.
With a single ticket, travelers can access a guided tour that covers key points of interest.
The system allows you to disembark and explore at your own pace, then rejoin the tour whenever you’re ready, all while benefiting from informative commentary.

This option is ideal for those who want to maximize their sightseeing with limited time or who prefer guided narration to enhance their understanding of Malta’s rich history and culture. The buses typically follow well-designed routes that encompass popular landmarks, historical sites, and picturesque viewpoints, making it an efficient means to access a wide array of experiences.

Especially suitable for first-time visitors, families, or those who prefer structured exploration, the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus eliminates the need for navigating public transportation or driving.

It provides a hassle-free way to discover Malta’s diversity while enjoying the convenience of transportation and valuable insights from knowledgeable guides.

These buses also offer multiple-day passes, allowing you to tailor your exploration to your schedule.
While it may not cover every corner of the islands, the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus system serves as an excellent introduction to Malta’s highlights, perfect for you no matter what age and interests.

Hop-On-Hop-Off Tickets Here!

The Cheapest Way To Get Around Malta

The cheapest way to get around Malta is by utilizing its wide-spread bus system that efficiently links major towns and tourist destinations. This was outlined above.

For shorter distances, consider walking or renting a bicycle to explore urban areas and smaller towns. Biking not only saves money but also allows you to relish Malta’s scenic beauty up close.

While taxis are more expensive than public transportation, they can be reasonable for shared rides or during off-peak hours. Ride-sharing services might also be available, potentially offering a more budget-friendly alternative to traditional taxis.

Guided Tours Of Malta

Opting for a guided tour in Malta has so many advantages that enhance your travel experience. Guided tours offer valuable insights into the island’s  history, culture, and hidden gems.

Knowledgeable guides provide context to historical sites like Valletta’s Grand Master’s Palace and the ancient Ġgantija Temples on Gozo, really helping you appreciate where you are standing. 

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Valletta Streets

Exploring with a guide also means access to local expertise and lesser-known spots that might not be highlighted in guidebooks. They can share captivating anecdotes, folklore, and stories that breathe life into the landmarks you encounter.

Language barriers are less of an issue as guides often speak multiple languages, ensuring seamless communication for a diverse range of visitors. Guided tours will also eliminate the stress of navigation, transportation logistics, and entrance fees, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the experience.

For solo travelers, tours offer the chance to socialise and make new connections with fellow explorers.

Highlights Of Malta

How To Get From Malta To Gozo

Gozo, Malta’s serene sister island, has a relaxed pace of life, pristine landscapes, and unique cultural attractions, perfect for travelers seeking a different perspective.
The island has charming villages, and natural wonders such as the Azure Window (formerly) and the stunning Inland Sea.

Getting between Malta and Gozo is such an easy journey, yet it opens the door to a distinct world within the Maltese archipelago. The short but scenic ferry ride is the primary mode of transportation from Malta to Gozo. Ferries operate regularly, connecting the islands and providing both locals and visitors with convenient access.

Head to the Ċirkewwa terminal in the northern part of Malta. The ferry terminal serves as the gateway to Gozo. The ferry ride itself takes around 25 minutes, allowing you to enjoy the picturesque views of the Mediterranean as you make your way to Gozo’s Mgarr harbour.
The best thing? It is only €5 return!

There are also so many great guided tours you can join, such as an full-day Jeep tour that will take you from Malta, to Gozo, and show you everything you need to see.

Full Day Jeep Tour To Gozo

How To Get From Malta To Comino

Once you decide to go from Malta to Comino, you escape to an untouched paradise nestled within the Maltese archipelago.
Comino, the smallest of the three main islands, lures travellers with its unspoiled beauty and picture-perfect landscapes, making it a popular destination for those seeking tranquility and natural wonder.

The Blue Lagoon stands as Comino’s crown jewel, inviting travellers to immerse themselves in its translucent waters – perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and unwinding amongst the natural beauty.

Join A Blue Lagoon Cruise!

To get from Malta to Comino, there are seasonal ferry services that bridge the islands.
These ferries, available from various points in Malta, including Ċirkewwa, offer a brief but picturesque voyage to Comino’s breathtaking coastal panoramas. The cost of the ferry per adult is currently €13 return.
For such a low price, it is something you have to add to your “Must Do In Malta” list.

FAQs

How long does it take to get around Malta?

The time it takes to get around Malta will vary, depending on the mode of transportation, the distance between destinations, and the traffic conditions.

Malta is quite a small country, approximately 122 square miles, meaning that journeys are generally short. Without stopping, you could potentially travel round the coast of the entire Island in a day. 

Using public buses might take a bit longer due to stops and routes, but they provide a cost-effective way to explore the islands. Bus travel times can vary, with short trips taking around 30 minutes and longer routes around an hour.

Ferries between Malta and Gozo generally take about 25 minutes, providing a quick link between the two.

Traffic congestion can occur during peak hours, particularly in urban areas. While Malta’s size boats relatively swift travel, you should take into consideration travel times and plan your itinerary accordingly.

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Gozo Church

How to travel from Malta to Italy? 

There are several options when wanting to travel from Malta to Italy.

The most common way is by ferry, connecting the two nations via the Valletta to Pozzallo route. This maritime link is operated by different ferry companies and provides a convenient way to reach Sicily, Italy’s closest region. The journey takes around 90 minutes to 2 hours, making it a popular choice for both tourists and locals.

For air travel, you can take a direct flight from Malta International Airport to various Italian cities. Several airlines off flights to major Italian destinations, including Rome, Milan, and Catania. Flight durations are relatively short, usually around 1 to 2 hours.

Another option is to take a longer ferry ride from Malta to mainland Italy. Although less common and generally lengthier than the route to Sicily, it can provide an alternative travel experience.

Fly From Malta To Italy

Is there Uber in Malta?

Yes, there is Uber in Malta.

Uber operates extensively throughout Malta, including its sister island Gozo. However, you may not be met kindly if you attempt to get into an Uber covered in sand or soaking wet from your day at one of Malta’s beautiful beaches!

Payment is exclusively via the Uber app, so no cash can be used to pay for your trip. One of the great things about Malta is it is very easy to travel to, in that English is an official language alongside Maltese, simplifying communication in Malta for tourists. This makes travelling in a taxi easy as (more often than not) there will be no language barrier.

Getting Around Malta | A Guide For First Time Visitors (2023) Walls Of Valetta

Is Malta safe?

Yes! Malta is a very safe destination for you to visit.

This is down to its welcoming atmosphere and low crime rates. The locals are used to tourists flocking to their lovely island and are very friendly, making for a secure environment. As with any destination, petty theft and minor scams can occur, however they are relatively rare in Malta.
This being said, it’s still wise to practice common-sense safety precautions such as keeping an eye on your belongings and avoiding isolated areas at night. 

It is advisable to stay informed on local laws, customs, and potential hazards before your trip, as we recommend with any country. Malta is a well-developed destination despite its size; from its transportation networks, to its emergency services and medical facilities.
Essentially, you will be in very good hands here!

Conclusion: Getting Around Malta

Navigating the charming landscapes of Malta is a breeze, thanks to the array of transportation options available. 

We hope this guide helped you decide which mode of transport would be best for you. Whether you’re intrigued by historical sites, picturesque beaches, or vibrant urban areas, we aimed for this guide to provide detailed insights for a seamless exploration tailored to you.


With these options at your disposal, getting around Malta becomes an effortless and enriching experience!

At time of writing, there are currently no Coronavirus measures limiting tourists to enter Malta. This is in accordance with the information provided on gov.uk.



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