10 Things to Know Before Traveling to Malta

To plan a memorable trip to Malta, an enchanting Mediterranean island with a mix of historic sites, stunning coastlines, and vibrant culture, you’ll need a comprehensive guide covering everything from transportation to sightseeing. This guide offers detailed tips to help you organize your trip, including how to get to Malta, the best times to visit, where to stay, and key activities.

Getting to Malta

Malta is strategically located in the Mediterranean Sea, nestled between Sicily and Tunisia. Here’s how you can get there:

By Plane

Flying is the most popular way to reach Malta, with Malta International Airport (MLA) serving as the main gateway. Several airlines offer direct flights from major European cities, including Ryanair from Madrid and Barcelona. To find the best deals, use flight search engines like Skyscanner, which allows you to compare prices and book cheap flights.

By Ferry

If you’d rather not fly, you can reach Malta by ferry from Italian ports like Pozzallo, Palermo, Catania, Livorno, and Civitavecchia (near Rome). This option allows you to bring a car, making it easier to explore Malta and its neighboring islands, Gozo and Comino. Direct Ferries provides schedules and booking options.

Entry Requirements for Malta

Since Malta is a member of the European Union, travelers from EU countries, including Spain, don’t need a visa to enter. Simply bring a valid ID or passport. If you’re traveling from outside the EU, check with the Maltese embassy to determine if you need a visa. It’s always a good idea to double-check requirements to avoid complications.

Best Time to Visit Malta

Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters. The best time to visit Malta is from April to June and from September to October when the weather is pleasant, and the tourist crowds are smaller. During these months, you can enjoy the beaches without extreme heat and humidity.

July and August are peak tourist season, with temperatures often exceeding 35 degrees Celsius. If you travel during this time, be prepared for crowded beaches and busy attractions. Winter is also a viable option, with temperatures rarely dropping below 10 degrees Celsius, though swimming might be too chilly for most.

Where to Stay in Malta

Malta offers a variety of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences. Here are some popular areas to consider when choosing where to stay:

St. Paul’s Bay

St. Paul’s Bay is ideal for families, with a wide range of hotels and apartments, as well as supermarkets, bars, and restaurants. Check out:

  • AX Sunny Coast Resort & Spa: A beachfront hotel with a pool and easy access to the beach.
  • The Triton: Studios and apartments with kitchen facilities, perfect for families.
  • Mayflower Hotel: A hotel with a rooftop pool and a good buffet breakfast.

Sliema

Sliema is a bustling area with good connections to Valletta, Malta’s capital. It’s known for its shopping centers and nightlife. Consider:

  • The Londoner: A recently renovated hotel with a convenient location.
  • Verdi Hotel: Spacious rooms with balconies and sea views.
  • The Strand Hotel: Offers panoramic views and a central location.

Mellieha Bay Beach

For beach lovers, Mellieha Bay is a great choice. It’s close to some of Malta’s most famous beaches and the popular Popeye Village attraction. Recommended places to stay include:

  • Pergola Hotel: Known for its infinity pool and breathtaking views.
  • Merill Apartments: A short walk from Mellieha Bay beach.
  • Venice Mellieha Bay and Beachfront: A well-equipped apartment near the beach.

Mdina

Mdina, the medieval city, offers a unique atmosphere with narrow streets and historic architecture. Check out:

  • Palazzo Bifora: A luxury hotel with a pool and garden.
  • Maleth Inn: A boutique accommodation in nearby Rabat.

Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is a charming fishing village with a famous seafood market. Consider these accommodations:

  • Fisherman’s Cove Guesthouse: Budget-friendly with a rooftop pool.
  • Port View Guesthouse: Offers beautiful views and a central location.

Valletta

Valletta, Malta’s capital, is steeped in history and is home to numerous cultural sites. Some good options are:

  • Barraka Suites: Renovated apartments with views of the Grand Harbour.
  • Luciano Valletta Boutique: A boutique hotel near St. John’s Cathedral.
  • Asti House: A quaint guesthouse with a homely atmosphere.

Currency and Budgeting

Malta uses the euro, making transactions straightforward if you’re traveling from the Eurozone. Malta is considered one of the more affordable European destinations. Flights can be found for as little as 20 euros one way, and accommodation prices are reasonable, with hotels starting from around 15 euros per night in the off-season. Food and drinks are also budget-friendly, with traditional Maltese dishes costing under 5 euros and full meals in local restaurants averaging around 12 euros.

Power Adapters and Electronics

Malta uses type G plugs, the same as in the UK, with three flat pins. Bring a power adapter to ensure you can charge your devices during your stay.

How Many Days to Stay in Malta

To get the most out of your trip, a minimum of five days is recommended. This allows you to explore Malta’s diverse attractions, from historic sites to stunning beaches and charming villages. If possible, extend your stay to a week for a more leisurely experience.

Getting Around Malta

Renting a car is the most flexible way to explore Malta, especially if you plan to visit remote areas and different parts of the island. Keep in mind that Malta drives on the left, so practice caution. Companies like Sicily by Car, Avis, Hertz, Alamo, and Europcar are reliable rental options. Always opt for comprehensive insurance with a low deductible.

Malta also has a public bus network, which is budget-friendly but can be slow during peak times. If you prefer public transport, consider purchasing a 7 or 12-day bus pass for unlimited travel. Uber and Bolt are also available, but they can be expensive for long distances.

What to Bring to Malta

Pack according to the season:

  • Spring/Summer: Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or cap, and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget swimwear and rubber slippers for rocky beaches.
  • Fall/Winter: Warmer clothing, including a jacket or anorak. An umbrella might be useful during the rainy season.

Activities and Attractions in Malta

Malta offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Here are some must-see places and experiences:

  • Valletta: Explore the capital city, with its historic streets and cultural landmarks.
  • Mdina: Visit the medieval “Silent City” with its narrow alleys and ancient buildings.
  • Gozo and Comino: Take a day trip to these neighboring islands for stunning landscapes and the Blue Lagoon.
  • Mellieha Bay Beach: Enjoy Malta’s largest sandy beach.
  • Marsaxlokk: Explore the fishing village and its colorful boats.
  • Sliema and St. Julian’s: Experience Malta’s nightlife and modern amenities.
  • Megalithic Temples: Visit ancient temples like Hagar Qim and Mnajdra.
  • Popeye Village: A fun attraction based on the film set from the Popeye movie.

Food and Drink in Malta

Malta’s cuisine reflects a blend of Mediterranean flavors. Don’t miss traditional dishes like pastizzi (flaky pastries filled with ricotta or peas), rabbit stew, and ftira (a type of Maltese sandwich). Seafood is also a must-try, especially in Marsaxlokk. For drinks, sample local beers and wines, and enjoy the unique taste of Kinnie, a Maltese soft drink.

With a solid understanding of what Malta has to offer, here’s a deeper dive into additional recommendations, including unique experiences, safety tips, and insights into Maltese culture. These extra pointers will help you make the most of your visit and ensure a smooth, enjoyable trip.

Unique Experiences in Malta

Malta is rich in history and culture, offering unique experiences that you won’t find anywhere else. Here are a few to consider:

Diving in Malta

Malta is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and excellent diving spots. If you’re a diving enthusiast or want to try it for the first time, Malta has a variety of diving centers that offer courses and guided dives. Popular sites include the Blue Hole in Gozo and the wrecks near Cirkewwa.

Explore Malta’s Megalithic Temples

Malta is home to some of the world’s oldest free-standing structures, the megalithic temples. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, located on Malta’s southern coast, are particularly impressive and are a must-visit for history buffs. Don’t miss the Hypogeum, an underground prehistoric burial site that offers a unique glimpse into Malta’s ancient past.

Visit the Three Cities

The Three Cities—Vittoriosa, Senglea, and Cospicua—are located across the Grand Harbour from Valletta. These historic cities offer a more laid-back atmosphere and are rich in history, with narrow streets, ancient fortifications, and beautiful views of the harbor.

Safety and Health Tips

Traveling to Malta is generally safe, but it’s always best to take precautions to ensure a worry-free trip. Here are some safety and health tips:

  • Medical Facilities: Malta has a modern healthcare system, and you can find pharmacies in most towns. However, it’s wise to carry a basic first aid kit and any necessary medications.
  • Emergency Numbers: The emergency number in Malta is 112, which connects you to police, fire, and medical services.
  • Drinking Water: Tap water in Malta is safe to drink, but it’s desalinated, which can give it a slight taste. Bottled water is readily available if you prefer.
  • Sun Protection: Malta’s sun can be intense, especially in summer. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and stay hydrated.
  • Driving Safety: If you’re renting a car, drive with caution. Malta’s roads can be narrow and winding, and local drivers are known for being assertive.

Understanding Maltese Culture

To fully appreciate your trip to Malta, it’s helpful to understand a bit about Maltese culture and customs:

  • Language: Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. Maltese is a unique blend of Arabic and Italian influences, but English is widely spoken, making it easy for English speakers to communicate.
  • Religion: Malta is predominantly Roman Catholic, and religious festivals are a big part of the culture. If you’re in Malta during a festa (religious festival), it’s worth experiencing the vibrant parades and fireworks.
  • Food Culture: Maltese cuisine is hearty and reflects the island’s Mediterranean roots. Traditional dishes often include fresh seafood, rabbit, and pastizzi. Be sure to try a variety of local foods during your visit.
  • Respect Local Customs: While Malta is a modern European country, it’s important to respect local customs, especially in religious settings. Dress modestly when visiting churches or religious sites.

Day Trips and Excursions from Malta

Malta’s compact size makes it easy to explore various parts of the island and even venture to neighboring islands. Here are some day trips and excursions to consider:

  • Gozo: Take a ferry to Gozo, Malta’s sister island, known for its rural charm and stunning landscapes. Visit the Citadel in Victoria and relax at Ramla Bay, a beautiful red-sand beach.
  • Comino: Comino is a small island famous for its Blue Lagoon, a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling. The clear turquoise waters are perfect for a day of relaxation.
  • Marsaxlokk and the Blue Grotto: Visit the fishing village of Marsaxlokk on a Sunday to experience its lively fish market. Continue to the Blue Grotto for a boat tour through stunning sea caves.
  • Mdina and Rabat: Explore the medieval city of Mdina and the neighboring town of Rabat, where you can visit St. Paul’s Catacombs.

Sustainability and Responsible Travel in Malta

As you plan your trip to Malta, consider sustainable and responsible travel practices:

  • Reduce Plastic Use: Malta is working to reduce plastic waste, so consider bringing a reusable water bottle and avoiding single-use plastics.
  • Support Local Businesses: Choose locally owned accommodations, restaurants, and shops to support the Maltese economy and reduce your environmental impact.
  • Respect Nature: If you visit natural sites like beaches or hiking trails, leave no trace and follow guidelines to protect the environment.

Final Tips for Organizing Your Trip to Malta

To wrap up this comprehensive guide, here are a few final tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip to Malta:

  • Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance to cover unexpected events, such as flight cancellations or medical emergencies.
  • Itinerary Flexibility: While planning is essential, leave room for spontaneity. Malta has many hidden gems, and you might discover new places to explore.
  • Learn a Few Maltese Phrases: Although English is widely spoken, learning a few basic Maltese phrases can enhance your travel experience and show respect for the local culture.

With this guide, you’re well-equipped to plan an unforgettable trip to Malta. From exploring historic sites and enjoying beautiful beaches to indulging in delicious food and immersing yourself in Maltese culture, Malta offers a rich and diverse travel experience. Enjoy your journey and make the most of your time on this captivating Mediterranean island!

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