Now you know what you shouldn’t miss when visiting Malta island, Gozo and Valletta, but I am sure you are also interested in some practical tips that will make your trip a lot easier to plan and enjoy.
How to get to Malta
So, let’s begin with how you can get there. There are two main ways to travel to Malta: by plane from a multitude of cities from Europe, North Africa or Middle East, or by ferry from Sicily.
The vast majority of you will choose to go to Malta by plane, so I will concentrate on this option. If you want to travel by ferry, then you will find fares, schedules and many other useful details on this website.
The national carries Air Malta, operates scheduled flights to many airports from Europe, North Africa and Middle East, but there are also many other airlines flying to Malta. For example, Ryanair has a base in Luqa Airport and flies to many cities around Europe. If you are lucky and willing to visit the country outside the peak season, you can find tickets from as little as €20 one way.
When to go
As Malta lies in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, its climate is very mild all year round, so you can visit the archipelago practically at any time. The average temperature is almost never lower than 10° Celsius (50° Fahrenheit) in the winter, making the country the perfect winter gate-away for people living in colder areas. However, if you want to swim and dive, the best period is from June to October, as the sea tends to be a bit too cold for these activities in the rest of the year.
Getting around Malta
To visit the archipelago, you can either rent a car or use the public transport. Normally the second option is cheaper (unless you go outside the peak season, when it will be even cheaper to rent a car – we rented one in March with less than €10 per day), but the timetable is not always very convenient.
If you want to use the public transport, take a look at the routes and timetable of the buses.
After researching both means of transport, as we wanted to be more flexible and we also found a very good deal, we decided to rent a car. If you too want to do this, keep in mind 2 very important things: first, as Malta is a former British colony, you will have to drive on the left part of the road, as in the UK and second, there are some extremely narrow streets in Malta, so be careful what route will your GPS choose for you.
When we went to Blue Grotto, our GPS took us on a road bordered by stone walls and it got so narrow that we were afraid we would have to reverse for about 2-3 km, because we wouldn’t fit anymore (there was no place to turn around). So after this happened, we always checked the route our GPS made and on some occasions we had to reroute a little to stay on main roads.
To get from Malta to Gozo you have to take the Gozo Ferry. It departs every 45 minutes (or even more often in the summer) and a trip lasts for about 25 minutes. You can also take your rented car with you. The price for a return trip for a car + its driver is around €15 and for a normal passenger around €5. You will have to pay the fare only once, when you embark the ferry in Gozo.
If you want to visit also Comino you could either book a day boat trip or take a ferry from both Malta and Gozo. Just keep in mind that the island has only one hotel, so if you want to spend the night there, you should book way ahead and no traffic, meaning that you will not be able to take your car with you.
Where to stay
I would say that before choosing a hotel, you should decide if you want to travel by public transport or you want to rent a car.
If you wish to visit the archipelago by public transport, then you should stay either in Valletta or Sliema. If you are budget conscious, Sliema is the right choice for you, as the accommodation is almost at half price compared with Valletta.
Those who want to rent a car, should avoid Valletta, maybe also Sliema, as finding a place with parking in these towns is very difficult and if you find one, the parking will cost you an arm and a leg. On the other hand, you will be more flexible and you will find cheap accommodation (starting from €20/night for a double room in low season) with parking facilities almost everywhere else (and as the island is small, you can reach the other side in 20 minutes).
Where to eat
If you go to Mdina, you should consider having lunch or dinner at Fontanella Garden, a small family run tea garden, where you can enjoy your meal, while admiring the beautiful surroundings of Mdina. It offers both traditional and Mediterranean menus and is well known for its large variety of cakes.
In Valletta you can choose from a large range of restaurants and diners offering from traditional Maltese cuisine to Italian cuisine and seafood, so regardless of the cuisine you fancy, you will for sure find something to your taste.
If you are an ice-cream lover, as we are, you should not miss Amorino Gelateria. I haven’t tasted all the ice-creams from Valletta, but I am sure this is the best in town. It is not only insanely delicious, but it also looks very pretty. Yah, I know it is uncommon to say that an ice-cream is pretty, but this really is. If you order ice-cream in a cone, you will not receive one or two scoops of ice-cream, but you will receive a beautiful rose made of ice-cream. How sweet is that? Ohhh… and you can choose to have each “petal” of the rose made from a different flavor and you can also add macarons in the middle of it. This is definitely the second-best dessert I have eaten in a trip (about the first one, which will be extremely tough to beat, I will tell you in a later post).
Malta is a member of the European Union and part of the Schengen Area, so for the Europeans a valid ID card will suffice to enter the country. The citizens of some countries, including the US and Australia are required to show a valid passport, meanwhile others need also a visa for the Schengen Area in order to visit Malta.
As Malta was colonised by the Brits, their influence is visible in many areas. For example, although the Maltese speak their own language (a mélange of Arabic, Italian and English – a very interesting combination) more than 95% of them speak also English. Also they drive on the left part of the road and use the type G power plug (three pin, square shaped), as the British do.
Malta is a very complex travel destination, as it has something to offer both to those who love water related activities and those who are looking for a city country break, so I highly recommend you to put it on your bucket list.