Though one of the smallest countries in Europe by both area and population, the Mediterranean island nation of Malta is one of the most dynamic and interesting places to visit on the continent. Increasing in popularity year on year for international visitors, this Malta travel guide is meant to help you plan the perfect trip to this beautiful country.
Malta has far more to offer visitors than simply an amazing coastline and perennially warm weather. There are historic cities, beautiful landscapes, ancient Neolithic sites, wonderful wineries and far more. Planning a trip to Malta can be a bit overwhelming once you realise how much there is really to do and see in the Maltese archipelago.
If you’re looking to visit this amazing country and aren’t sure where to start, then make sure to browse through this guide in order to plan your perfect trip to this gorgeous southern European nation!
Planning a Malta Route
One of the most important things you need to work out when planning your trip to Malta is your route. Though the country is small in size, there is so much to see and do on the archipelago that it is entirely necessary to adequately plan out your time to ensure that you’re able to make the most out of this lovely destination.
Malta is a small but mighty destination and there are a number of different things that you need to know before taking off for this island nation. If you’re looking for the perfect itinerary through Malta or just want to find some tips to help you begin your plans, then check out the articles below to jump-start your Malta trip planning.
Places to Visit in Malta
As mentioned already, Malta may seem small but there are countless amazing things to see and do on the island and its neighbouring islands of Gozo and Comino. Because of this, you need to make sure that you have a holistic view of all of the wonderful places to visit in Malta.
From sprawling vineyards to historic walled cities to crystal clear lagoons to ancient temples and burial grounds, Malta is a diverse and dynamic destination that packs so much into such a small area.
So whether you’re looking to spend your days swimming in the deep blue Mediterranean or wandering through the winding lanes of the countless historic cities (or all of the above), you’re going to need to check out some of the guides below to help plan your days.
These city and destination guides will take you by all of the top tourist sites and some more local haunts to ensure that you have the best time in Malta possible!
Best Time to Visit Malta
Boasting over 300 days of sunshine, it can really be difficult to figure out the best time of year to visit Malta, however, the goal of this Malta travel guide is to ensure that you’re able to plan the best trip for you!
Malta is located in the Southern Mediterranean sea, just south of the island of Sicily and to the north of Tunisia and Libya in North Africa.
Because of its location, it is one of the warmest places to visit in Europe year-round and a great place if you’re on the hunt for a bit of winter sunshine. However, it is worth noting that it isn’t always beach weather in the wintertime, though it is certainly warmer than the vast majority of mainland Europe.
If you’re thinking of visiting Malta in winter, then expect the average high to be around 16°C (about 60°F). December and January are the rainiest months with an average of 8 days.
So, while it is certainly a welcome change from the dreary cold you can expect in Northern or Central Europe in the winter, it still isn’t going to be a tropical paradise or really fitting for a beach holiday.
Conversely, the summer months are when Malta experiences its peak tourist season without countless visitors descending upon the island. During the months of June-August, expect temperatures to be HOT and don’t assume that you will find air conditioning everywhere, either.
Average high summer temperatures clock in around 30°C (about 86°F), but can get a fair bit hotter some months. This is also when crowds are at their greatest, as are prices for things like accommodation and tours.
If you can get the time off and your schedule allows for it, arguably the best time of year to visit Malta is in the autumn. The months of September and October, in particular, have temperatures that are incredibly pleasant (averaging around 25-28°C or about 77-82°F) and the water is also at its warmest of the year — absolutely perfect for all your swimming activities. Crowds are also noticeably fewer than those of the summer months and prices can be reduced, as well.
If you’re not able to visit Malta in the autumn, spring can also be an excellent option. Both water and air temperatures can be a little bit cooler than in the autumn months, with average highs in April and May ranging from about 20-24°C (68-75°F) and with a lot of sunshine to be enjoyed.
All in all, you can’t really go wrong with visiting Malta any time of year, but if you’re able, the absolute best time to visit Malta is arguably in the autumn months of September-October (November can be really nice, too!).
Cost of Travelling to Malta
Malta is often lauded as quite a budget-friendly destination, especially compared to a number of Western and Northern European destinations, however, it is far from being the most affordable place to visit in Europe.
That is not to discourage budget travellers from visiting, though, as if you are smart about where you spend your money and are aware of the average costs beforehand, Malta doesn’t have to be a budget-busting destination at all.
Accommodation in Malta is likely where you’re going to see the highest prices, but there are lots of ways to save money in this aspect without sacrificing privacy or convenience. For instance, staying in a private room in a local’s home from Airbnb is a great way to not spend too much.
Generally speaking, most activities and entrance fees in Malta are in line with other Southern European destinations and you don’t need to expect too high of prices. There are some archaeological sites, however, that do cost a pretty penny to enter so it can be worth making sure to factor this into your Malta budget.
If you want a detailed breakdown of the prices in Malta, then make sure to browse through the article below.
Read More: Is Malta Expensive? A Guide to Prices in Malta
One of the best things about travelling full stop is sampling the local cuisine and trying new and delicious dishes, and Malta is no exception. Maltese cuisine is fresh, vibrant and surprisingly diverse, drawing from the countless influences that have impacted the archipelago over the centuries.
You will find some delicious seafood dishes that are both hearty and light simultaneously, including such delicacies like octopus in garlic and lampuki pie. Quite obviously, seafood does reign supreme in the Maltese isles, however, carnivores can find something to love here, as well. Countless dishes featuring rabbit, for instance, are quite common in Malta.
If you’re a fan of local pastry and fast food, then you will be thrilled with pastizzi, a small phyllo pastry that is typically filled with either cheese or mushy peas — the latter clearly being a harken back to the days when Malta was under British rule.
Malta is also home to some great wineries and unique grape varieties. In the past, Maltese wine was looked down upon by both tourists and locals, who would prefer the wines from Italy, however, a number of winemakers in recent years have been reclaiming the viticulture of Malta and have made some truly great vintages that are worth sampling when you visit Malta and Gozo.
If you’d like to know more about Maltese cuisine beyond what is covered in this Malta travel guide, then make sure to browse through the article below so you know exactly what to eat and drink on your holiday!
Read More: Malta Food & Wine Guide
Transportation in Malta
Malta is a small island nation where nothing is located more than about an hour from each other. That being said, however, there are a few considerations that need to be discussed when it comes to getting to and around this country.
Whether you plan to get around Malta by hire car or public bus and plan to arrive by plane or ferry, there are a number of things that you need to know in order for your trip to go as smoothly and hassle-free as possible.
Getting to Malta
As an island nation, you don’t really have a ton of options when it comes to arriving in Malta. In fact, your options are pretty much limited to either flying or taking the ferry from nearby Sicily.
If you choose the former option, which is by far the most common choice, then you will be happy to know that there are countless flights to Malta leaving from all over Europe and carried out by a number of different airlines.
You can snag quite affordable airfares to Malta from a number of European destinations on airlines like Ryanair, EasyJet and Wizzair and even the Maltese national carrier, Air Malta.
You can also arrive in Malta with a number of other regular airline carriers if you’re not fond of flying these budget picks. All in all, however, it is easy and affordable to reach Malta from just about anywhere in Europe.
If you’re coming from North America, it is worth noting that you’re going to have to make a connecting flight from somewhere in continental Europe as there are no direct flights from North American destinations to Malta.
There is only one international airport on Malta and it is located close to the centre of the island. Because of this, it really only takes about twenty minutes or so to drive from the airport to get to any of the major areas you may be staying, including Valletta, Sliema or even Golden Bay on the north of the island. You can easily grab a taxi from the airport to your accommodation and expect it to cost you around €15-20 or, alternatively, there are many buses operating from the airport to most major areas of the island.
If you take the ferry from Sicily to Malta, then you will be dropped off in the beautiful capital of Valletta. Here, it is easy to reach basically anywhere on the island, again, either by taxi or bus. You can also opt to hire a car in Malta, but I will discuss that in the next section of this Malta travel guide.
Getting Around Malta
As mentioned earlier, Malta is quite a small country and everything is located within close proximity of each other, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few considerations that need to be taken into account when it comes to getting around.
For instance, it is entirely possible to get around Malta relying solely on public transport. Malta has an extensive and easy-to-navigate bus system that will take you just about everywhere you may want to go on the island. The one drawback to relying on the bus to get around is that, in some areas, they can be infrequent and only leave once or twice in an hour and you need to make sure that you’re able to remain flexible.
The other convenient and somewhat fun area of public transport that you can take in Malta are the ferries. There are numerous ferries in Malta that can cut lots of time off of road travel and they are even a good idea if you have hired a car as they can be a lot quicker than driving sometimes.
The ferries to go between Sliema and Valletta and from Valletta to the Three Cities, for instance, cut a significant amount of time as they cut across the harbour and allow you to circumvent the longer drive around the peninsulas.
There is also a ferry from Cirkewwa in the north of Malta to Mgarr on the island of Gozo. This is the only way to get to Gozo from Malta and you can either ride it as a foot passenger or, if you have your own vehicle, you can bring your car.
Though it isn’t absolutely necessary, it can be a good option to hire a car while in Malta. This will give you the peace of mind and flexibility to not be reliant on the bus timetable and it will allow you to reach some further-flung areas of the archipelago that are more difficult to reach by public transport.
It’s worth noting that, as Malta is a former British colony, they do drive on the left side of the road. Just something to be aware of before you hire a car if you’re not used to driving on this side. If you do want to rent a car in Malta, we recommend using RentalCars.com. This aggregates car hire options across numerous companies to help you get a great price on your rental.
All in all, getting around Malta is not a difficult task and there are a few options that you can take to make it easiest for you!
Accommodation in Malta
Malta has been a popular tourist destination for many years, however, it has only been in the past few of those years that the attention has shifted from all-inclusive resort tourism to a more holistic type of tourism. Because it is so popular amongst visitors, there are lots of accommodation options available in the country to choose from depending on your needs.
Though it isn’t something we recommend because we always encourage staying in more locally run accommodation and spending your money in small businesses and supporting the local economy, there are a number of resorts, mostly congregated on the north of the island.
If you’re looking for a more local experience or aren’t keen for a resort but still want a bit of luxury, there are plenty of higher-end hotels in Malta in great locations. We, personally, think that basing yourself in Sliema or close to Valletta is probably the best area to stay while on the island of Malta and you will find no shortage of accommodation in these areas.
It’s worth noting that, due to its incredibly small size, hotels and other accommodation options in Valletta tend to be of the higher-end and more expensive sort. If you’re on a budget, it’s best to look outside of Valletta.
If you are a backpacker or are just looking for a convivial atmosphere while saving money, you will find that there are a handful of hostels on the island. Though Malta isn’t necessarily a top European backpacker destination, you do still have some options available to you if this is the type of accommodation that you’re after.
Another great money-saving option is to opt for a private room on Airbnb. If you’re splitting the costs between two people, this can often work out to be just as affordable as a hostel dorm with the added benefits of getting to know some locals and having a bit more privacy.
Private apartment rentals are also prevalent on Malta and Gozo and you can find a wide array of property rentals on the Airbnb platform that are sure to suit your needs.
All in all, you will find absolutely no shortage of accommodation options in Malta and you’re sure to find something that suits your needs and travel style.
Read More: 9 Best Areas to Stay in Malta
Is Malta Safe to Visit?
A major aspect that always needs to be addressed in any travel guide and especially this guide to Malta travel is the safety of the destination. And you will be pleased to know that, in general, Malta is quite a safe destination to visit!
Especially when compared to larger European cities where you really need to keep an eye on your belongings and that can have more dodgy ends, Malta is an all-around fairly safe destination, especially for tourists.
While there is always a risk of petty theft anywhere that you visit in the world, the risk isn’t too high in Malta. Just make sure that you keep a good eye on your belongings and that you remain vigilant in crowded areas.
There aren’t a lot of scams to be particularly aware of and if you’re planning on taking taxis, you can always use the Bolt app in order to avoid being overcharged by an opportunistic driver. All in all, practising basic common sense in Malta is all you really need to do in order to stay safe as a visitor in this beautiful country.
Another thing to consider when travelling to Malta is travel insurance. World Nomads offers flexible and simple travel insurance policies with coverage for more than 150 activities that you can buy or extend while on the road.
If you’re travelling long-term and are simply looking for an affordable travel medical insurance option, then SafetyWing is also a fantastic option. Click here to get a quote from SafetyWing.
Language in Malta
If you are an English speaker (and I’m assuming you are considering the fact that you’re reading this Malta travel guide), then you will have no problem communicating in Malta.
The country has two official languages, Maltese (more on that in just a minute) and English! Signage, announcements and all locals speak English at a native level and communication in English is never an issue.
The other official language is Maltese, which is an entirely different kettle of fish compared to English. A Semitic language, Maltese is more closely related to Arabic and Hebrew than it is to English. An interesting fact about the Maltese language is that it is the only Semitic language that uses the Latin alphabet, which just goes to show how many different influences Malta has seen over the centuries.
All in all, if you can speak English, then you will have absolutely no problem communicating in Malta as this is an official language and locals speak it fluently.
Religion in Malta
Malta is a very Catholic nation with 84% of the population adhering to Catholocism. You will notice this culturally as there are many many churches to visit in Malta, countless saint days that are celebrated (especially in the summer months) and even a number of shrines and such dedicated to Catholic icons throughout the country. Malta also has one of the lowest numbers in Europe of people who identify as agnostic or atheist, at just 4.5%.
And while the vast majority of the Maltese people identify as Catholic, it is worth noting that this is, generally speaking, a cultural identity rather than a particularly religious one.
So, while Malta is an incredibly Catholic nation, it is more of a cultural identifier for most Maltese people rather than a fundamental belief system that the majority of people adhere to. Do expect many shops and businesses to be closed on Sunday, however — people do need a day of rest!
Hopefully, this Malta travel guide has helped you plan the perfect trip to this gorgeous Mediterranean island nation. Malta, Gozo and the small island of Comino have so much to offer visitors that it’s so worth digging deeper and exploring as much of it as you can!