For a long time, the idea of a holiday in Malta was only on the radar for those seeking a trip to an all-inclusive resort. Its ideal southern Mediterranean location means almost year-round sunshine and good weather and for a long time, traditional holidaymakers were willing to pay a pretty penny to enjoy the island atmosphere without having to sacrifice any of the typical comforts of home. This used to mean it was difficult to visit Malta on a budget and has many people asking the question: Is Malta expensive?
Malta is changing and it is becoming more and more attractive for independent travellers. However, with most budget information for this island nation focusing on all-inclusive holidays rather than for backpackers or budget travellers, it can be difficult to know how much a trip to Malta will cost. The good news is, if you’re an independent traveller, it is incredibly possible to have a low-cost vacation in Malta Here is a break down of the of the most significant aspects of a travel budget, including costs for accommodation, transport, food, activities, and entertainment.
Malta On A Budget: Accommodation Costs
Like anywhere else in the world, one of the first things you need to consider when planning to visit Malta on a budget is the cost of accommodation. Oftentimes, this can make the most significant dent in your travel budget.
While scouring the web to find an all-inclusive resort used to be the default for those looking to visit Malta, there is actually a lot of option for those looking to travel independently while sticking to a tight allowance. Luckily for a new generation of more intrepid travellers who would rather explore on their own than stay safely in the compounds of a lush beach resort, there is ample budget accommodation option.
There are a few hostels in Malta’s main urban area of Sliema and also a couple in the capital of Valletta. A bed in a dorm will land somewhere around €15 – 20 per night and this can be an ideal option for a solo traveller looking to meet other, like-minded people while not breaking the bank. If you like staying in hostels, you can click here to browse the best hostels in Malta!
Another great option for finding accommodation in Malta on a budget is to opt for a private room through Airbnb. Some of the highest rated listings only cost about €20 – 30 per night and you get the added bonus of seeing the country from a local perspective and getting to experience the famous Maltese hospitality first hand. Click here to get up to $40 off of your first stay with Airbnb!
If neither hostels nor Airbnb are quite your scene and you prefer to stay in hotels, there are a number of affordable hotels and guesthouses in Malta that aren’t all-inclusive resorts. You can click here to browse hotel choices in Malta!
Malta On A Budget: Transportation
Another main cost to consider when travelling to Malta independently is transportation. Fortunately for the budget traveller, Malta is very small and it doesn’t cost much to get around. Both the islands of Malta and Gozo have extensive bus networks that can take you essentially anywhere you might need to go on the islands.
If, however, you’re not fond of the bus or would rather not be at the mercy of unpredictable timetables, then renting a car in Malta is also an option. This is obviously going to work out to be significantly more expensive than relying on the bus, however, it is possible to get an affordable car hire. We recommend using RentalCars.com to find the best deal, as it compares prices across all available companies.
If you do rent a car in Malta, it is wise also to purchase third-party excess insurance. While you can always opt for the rental company’s insurance, the prices are often highly inflated and will add a lot to your overall Malta trip cost. We recommend using iCarHireInsurance for an affordable plan.
If renting a car is out of your Malta travel budget, there are a couple of options concerning bus tickets to consider. It can be worthwhile to have a think about how much you plan to travel around the archipelago before leaving on your trip so you know which option to choose. A single fare bus ticket in Malta costs €2 in the summer months (€1.50 in November – March) and is valid for two hours after purchase. This means that, if you hold onto your ticket, you can make as many bus transfers as you need to in within that two hour period and not have to pay for another ticket.
If you don’t plan on spending more than a week in Malta or venturing far from where you are staying, than paying as you go can be a good option. You can purchase a ticket with cash directly from the bus driver, however, I would recommend that you pay in smaller banknotes or coins as the drivers rarely have enough change for anything larger than €10.
The other option would be to purchase a week-long travel card. If you plan on travelling by bus frequently and are in Malta (and Gozo) for seven or more days, this can be a cost-effective alternative to single-fare tickets. The card costs €21 for adults and with that, you would have unlimited access to the bus system for seven days.
Another common way to get around Malta is by ferry. If you plan on visiting Valletta from Sliema (or vice versa) or the Three Cities, the harbour ferry can be the fastest route. The single journey costs €1.50 and a return ticket will cost €2.80. You also need to take the ferry if you plan on visiting the smaller island of Gozo. While you don’t pay a thing for the trip to Gozo, passengers are required to pay the €4.65 fare upon returning to Malta.
Malta On A Budget: Food
Now that we’ve covered the costs of accommodation and transport for your trip to Malta, we need to cover the other most important aspect of any Malta trip cost: food. So is Malta expensive for food and drink?
With influences from its Sicilian neighbours to the north and from Morrocco and Tunisia to the south, Maltese cuisine is wonderful, complex, and definitely worth indulging in while visiting this lovely Mediterranean country. Fortunately as well, Malta has an incredibly impressive restaurant scene and it doesn’t cost much to eat out while travelling to Malta on a budget.
For a small snack or breakfast, consider heading to a local bakery where you can get a pastizzi for less than a euro. If you are staying in a hostel or Airbnb that offers self-catering facilities and really want to cut costs, it can be worth it to cook your own meals as well.
What surprised us on our visit to Malta was that the price difference between a mid-range restaurant and a far nicer establishment was minimal so we took advantage and had many phenomenal meals at very reasonable prices. It’s also worth keeping in mind that portion sizes in Malta tend to be massive, so sharing a main dish is a fantastic way to cut costs while still enjoying a meal at a nice restaurant.
We rarely spend more than €50 between the two of us at a nice restaurant, including a shared starter, a main dish and some local wine. The same amount of food and wine at a mid-range or budget restaurant would cost about €10 – 15 less.
Malta On A Budget: Activities
Malta is not lacking for things to do even on the smallest of budgets. In fact, it is entirely possible to spend an entire day exploring and sightseeing without spending anything. Some of the best experiences in Malta are absolutely free, including wandering around the majestic streets of Mdina, strolling the city walls and the Barrakka gardens of Valetta, or swimming virtually anywhere along the coast or at the wonderful St Peter’s Pool.
If you would like to visit museums, most do charge a small admittance fee, usually around €5 – 10. One of the most popular attractions in Malta, the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni, does cost €35 to enter (though there is a €15 discount for students and seniors). While we didn’t get to tour this ourselves — I didn’t book far enough in advance — I have heard that it is well worth the price of entry.
As wine fans, we also decided to spend €20 for a vineyard tour and tasting at Tal-Massar Winery on Gozo. For a few hours, we got to taste four exquisite wines (and after the tasting, we could help ourselves to more) and some excellent snacks with only one other couple.
Another thing that can be worth spending money on is a boat tour of the islands. We went on a full day tour of all three islands that included multiple stops at some great swimming and snorkelling spots along with a fabulous lunch all for €50 per person. This was another activity that we deemed worth the expense as we were gone for the entire day and they also picked us up from our accommodation.
Malta On A Budget: Entertainment
Malta, and in particular the neighbourhoods of St Julian’s and Paceville, has a thriving nightlife and going out for a party can be a very affordable experience. While Michael and I feel that our clubbing days are behind us at this stage, we did take advantage of Malta’s numerous cafe’s and wine bars, which often offer some fantastic happy hour deals.
If you do want to go out for a beer or a glass of wine, my recommendation would be to stick to the stuff produced in Malta. While drinking local not only supports the small country’s economy, Malta also has an up-and-coming wine and craft beer industry and the local equivalents to well-known imports are often significantly less expensive. For instance, a pint of local lager will only set you back about €2 and a glass of local wine lands somewhere along those same lines.
If you fancy a cocktail, many places will offer a free appetiser during their happy hour with the order of a drink. A cocktail on its own will average around €6 per drink.
Malta On A Budget: Average Daily Costs
Factoring in the occasional splurge on a fun activity or a meal in a fancy restaurant, here is what to expect to spend on average per person per day while visiting Malta on a budget.
Accommodation: €15 / night
Transportation: €3 / day
Food: €20 / day
Activities: €10 / day
Entertainment: €6 / day
Our average cost per day for a seven day trip to Malta was about €50 per person. Of course, it is entirely possible to spend even less if you cut out meals in nice restaurants and some of the more expensive activities.
Make sure that you also factor in the cost of a travel insurance policy. We personally used World Nomads for our Malta trip however it’s important to read the policy details to ensure it’s right for you. Click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
So is Malta expensive? The answer is a resounding “no.” Malta is a fantastic country to visit even on the smallest of budgets. It is entirely possible to enjoy the archipelago to its full potential without sacrificing your life savings.
Are you planning on visiting Malta on a budget? Have you already been? Let us know in the comments!