The small Meditteranean island of Malta, located only 80km from the coast of Sicily, is often overlooked on conventional European itineraries due to the perceived notion that it is difficult to get to. Over recent years, however, there has been an influx of budget airlines offering discounted flights to Malta from the European mainland resulting in an ever-increasing number of tourists visiting the small group of islands. If you’re a first time visitor, it’s worth keeping in mind these ten essential Malta tips when planning your trip to ensure that you make the most of your Maltese itinerary.
1. You don’t need to stay at an all-inclusive resort
For many Europeans, Malta has often been considered a destination where you go to stay at an all-inclusive resort. If you only follow one the many Malta tips in this article then I strongly urge you to follow this one: don’t stay at a resort!
Not only is Malta incredibly easy to travel around independently, there are so many hidden gems and great places to eat that you will be extremely restricted if staying in a resort as they are usually located in remoter parts of the island. Furthermore, there is a plethora of budget accommodation available throughout Malta that is significantly cheaper than resorts.
We stayed in private rooms through Airbnb during our time in Malta and got the opportunity to stay in traditional Maltese houses and converted townhouses with extremely hospitable hosts. You can get accommodation in Malta through Airbnb for under €25 per night and if you’ve never used Airbnb before, you can get up to £25 of your first stay if you click on this link!
2. Take advantage of the extensive bus network
Another great way to save money when travelling to Malta is to take advantage of the extensive bus network that runs all over the main island of Malta and Gozo. A single ticket costs between €1.50-2 depending on which season you’re travelling in and allows you unlimited bus transfers for 2 hours. If staying for more than a week on Malta, it’s also worth considering buying a weekly travel card for €21 that gives you unlimited journeys on the bus.
Some bus routes, particularly on Gozo, only run once every 30 or 60 minutes so it’s worth checking timetables in advance so you’re not left waiting at the bus stop!
3. Malta might be small, but that doesn’t mean you should rush through!
If you look at a world map, you might be forgiven for thinking that Malta’s small size means you can easily explore the island within a couple of days. Don’t be fooled!
One of the most crucial Malta travel tips to remember is that this small country is jam-packed with historical sites, natural beauty and amazing places to discover. We recommend spending at least one full week in Malta, however, we found that you could easily spend several weeks here and not run out of things to do.
In fact, one of our Airbnb hosts remarked to us that despite living in Malta for a couple of years she was consistently discovering new sites to explore. After spending ten days in Malta, we are already planning a return trip to explore some of the areas we missed!
4. You can drink the tap water, but you probably won’t want to
Like most countries in Europe, the tap water in Malta is perfectly safe to drink. However, as Malta doesn’t get a lot of rain and there aren’t many rivers or lakes, the tap water is desalinated. This means that the water has a very distinctive taste and even the majority of locals will drink bottled water.
While bottled water isn’t expensive in Malta, if you are concerned about the environmental impact of consistently buying bottled water then you should consider purchasing a water bottle with an inbuilt filter before arriving in Malta which can improve the taste to a degree.
5. Make the most of affordable fine dining
One of the things that surprised us the most during our time in Malta was not only the amazing quality of food but how affordable some of the nicer restaurants in Malta were compared to other Western European countries.
We noticed that typically there wouldn’t be a large price difference between eating at a mid-range restaurant compared to a fine dining establishment. We had a number of really nice meals in Malta and a lot of that time wouldn’t pay more than €50 for dinner for two which included shared starters, a main dish and some delicious local wine.
Maltese cuisine is a fantastic blend of food from nearby regions including Italian and North African so making the most of the quality cuisine is undoubtedly one of the top Malta tips to remember when travelling here!
6. Always carry a swimsuit!
When our Airbnb host picked us up from the airport at night, he mentioned that you can swim nearly anywhere in Silema. At first, I thought he was exaggerating however it wasn’t until the next morning that I realised that you could, in fact, swim anywhere along the promenade. There are even steps and barricades installed along the shore meaning it’s easy to get into the water and also quite safe.
This isn’t uncommon in a lot of Malta and means that while you’re exploring some of the cities, you could easily stumble across a fantastic swimming spot that lures you in as a welcome respite from the heat. Make sure you’re prepared and always carry a swimsuit!
7. Don’t treat Gozo as a day trip
Many travellers who come to Malta choose to stay on the main island and take a quick day trip that combines Gozo with the Blue Lagoon and Comino. One of our most emphatic Malta tips is to spend a few days staying in Gozo if have enough time on Malta!
There are many brilliant things to do in Gozo including exploring the capital of Victoria, visiting untouched sandy beaches, hiking and sampling local wines and craft beers. Combined with the fact that some of the best restaurants we ate at were in Gozo, it means that we highly recommend spending at least a few days staying on Malta’s smaller and more rural island!
8. Go to the Blue Lagoon early
The Blue Lagoon in Malta (not to be confused with the thermal spa in Iceland!) is one of the most popular attractions in all of Malta with many tour operators offering day trips to the swimming spot.
That means that the area gets incredibly busy, particularly in the summer months, so I highly recommend getting there as early in the day as possible! We took an all day sailing trip with Barbarossa Excursions and were extremely happy that they took us to the Blue Lagoon as the first stop before most of the other boats had arrived.
If you want to skip the Blue Lagoon entirely, then the nearby Crystal Lagoon is a great alternative option and is just as beautiful but gets a fraction of the crowds.
9. Drink local Maltese wine
Maltese wine hasn’t always had the best reputation. In fact, when we toured the Tal-Massar winery in Gozo, the owner explained that for a long time Maltese wine was looked down upon, even by locals, who preferred wine from neighbouring Italy. And while the poor reputation still exists for some Maltese people, the growing number of boutique wineries in Malta means that the wine quality has dramatically improved over the years.
Drinking Maltese wine is also typically cheaper than imported wine and as Maltese wine is less likely to be exported, this might be your only opportunity to sample the local vino!
10. Start your day with a pastizzi
Pastizzi – a savoury delicious pastry – is undoubtedly one of the tastiest and most affordable options for breakfast in Malta. They are most commonly filled with either ricotta, meat or mushy peas (go for the ricotta!) and will usually not cost more than €0.50 per pastizzi. No better way to start your day in Malta then a couple of pastizzi and a cup of coffee after a morning swim!
If you’re wondering where to get some of the best pastizzi in Malta, then definitely check out Crystal Palace Bar in Rabat. This hole in the wall place is a typical Maltese bar and a favourite spot amongst locals. They are consistently making pastizzi in a wood fire oven meaning they are served hot and are absolutely delicious!
Malta is an incredible place to visit and hopefully, these ten Malta tips have given you some inspiration and handy travel advice for your first trip to Malta!
Are you planning a trip to Malta or have you been before? What Malta travel tips do you have? Let us know in the comments below!