The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is becoming one of Europe’s hottest travel destinations that’s perfect for every type of traveller.
Malta is a small island country situated just below Italy. In fact it’s one of the most beautiful destinations you’ll find in the Mediterranean.
Because of it’s size – you can cover EVERYTHING Malta has to offer in a week. Few countries in the world can offer visitors as much in terms of culture and history in such a small space.
Crystal-clear aqua waters, ancient architecture, UNESCO World Heritage sites, a stunning panoramic landscape, and open caves, tourism is booming here – there’s a plethora of activities and so much to see and do.
Visiting a whole new country is very exciting, and can also be quite daunting for some. Depending on where you go – there will be new challenges, customs, policies and important information that tourists need to be aware of.
This Malta travel guide will have you covered on everything you need to know before you arrive on the island for the first time.
Don’t forget to download your FREE Malta Travel Guide PDF Cheatsheet towards the end of this post!
COVID-19: Entry Requirements for tourists:
Tourists wishing to travel to Malta face entry requirements upon arrival, please check your country of residence’s guidelines for travel.
Table of Contents
Here’s a map of Malta and Gozo with 10 of the best places to visit and top things to do in Malta:
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Malta: The Complete Travel Guide 2021
Below is my Ultimate Guide for Travelling in Malta – a compilation of all the most useful advice and information you need to know before you go.
Top 5 Things to See & Do in Malta
Other Things to See & Do in Malta
On Malta there is something for everyone – from family trips, adventure treks and watersports, to temple ruins, history, diving spots, and shopping malls. Here are 10 places well worth visiting:
The Crystal Lagoon – Comino island is famous for Malta’s most popular tourist attraction – the Blue Lagoon. But did you know that the Crystal Lagoon, just 20 minutes away, is far less crowded and much prettier?
Dive down the Blue Hole on Gozo – on Malta’s sister island Gozo, you can go scuba diving down the enormous, breathtaking Blue Hole and witness the stunning marine life there.
See sunken WW2 submarines and planes – one of Malta’s greatest assets is its coastline famous for being littered with sunken submarines, ships and planes from WW2, and you can dive down the crystal clear waters and check out these cool shipwrecks.
Popeye Village – the perfect site for families and children, Popeye Village is an exciting water park based on the popular Popeye TV series that was filmed at this spot.
Boat tour around the island – as well as boat rides at various spots on Malta, book a boat ride around Malta’s beautiful coastline to see the island from a different perspective.
Panoramic views at Golden Bay – trek along the cliffs on the main island and witness the spectacular views over the coastline from Golden Bay to Ghejn Tuffieha. This is also arguably the best white sand beach on the island.
Megalithic temples – on the island of Gozo, check out the incredible Megalithic temple ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These ruins have been around since before the Pyramids at Giza, and even Stonehenge in England!
The Red Tower – Between Popeye Village and Mellieha, walk up the hill to the brightly-painted St. Agatha’s Tower, also known as the Red Tower.
Marsaxlokk – wander around Malta’s fishing village of Marsaxlokk, on the south-east coast. Take a dip in St Peter’s pool – a popular attraction there.
Nightlife in St. Julian’s – for the best and busiest nightlife on the island, the village of St. Julian’s is lined with plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs.
Other recommended places to visit include: The three cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua, the Silent City of Mdina, and many Game of Thrones shooting locations (the famous Azure Window on Gozo sadly no longer exists).
Malta Travel Advice
Malta: Budget Tips & Advice
Is Malta expensive to visit?
It all depends on how you travel and what you plan to do on your trip. You can easily spend a week in Malta on around $40 a day, like I did. So you can do a shoestring budget, splash out on a luxury vacation, or go in between. Below is a guide to help you plan your ideal budget. Just bear in mind that prices will be slightly higher during the busier summer months the in the winter months.
Backpacker’s budget: the average spend is €33-43 (40-52USD) per day. This budget includes staying in a hostel/dorm or a budget Airbnb, cooking your own meals and eating from cheap eats (with the occasional treat), using Tallinja bus card, keeping drinking to a limit, and choosing to do free and cheaper activities where possible.
Mid-range budget: the average daily is €82-114 (98-135UD). On this budget you can opt for budget hotels and nicer Airbnbs, using the bus card, spend more in restaurants and cafes, and do a couple of day trips/tour activities.
Luxury budget: the average cost is €185+ ($220+). You can push the boat out on this budget – stay in nice hotels, rent a car, eat and drink wherever you wish, and go on guided tours.
Check out the chart below to get an idea of how much you’ll need to bring with you for your daily budget. As these are daily averages, you may be spending more on some days and less on others, that said, this is a fairly accurate guide as of late 2020 (Prices are in USD).
Meals & Drinks
Average Daily Cost
When To Go
Malta has over 3,000 hours of sunshine per year.
The cheapest time to visit is in the winter months (October – March) when the temperature averages 15C. The most expensive and busiest time to visit is high season (July-August) when it is 30C.
What is the best month to visit Malta?
Spring and early Summer (April, May and June) are the best months to visit, when the weather is perfect as its not too hot and nights are cool, and the island is not crowded with tourists.
Malta has also been described as the country with the best climate in the world by International Living.
What to Pack for Malta
Since the Malta has a Mediterranean climate with a lot of dry, rocky terrain, beaches, dusty offbeat tracks and streets, you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared with the right travel gear.
Here is a list of essential items that I can recommend for the perfect trip. I use most of these myself, and there’s a few that I can recommend based on friends’ experiences with them.
Osprey Farpoint 40L – a favourite among backpackers worldwide and is considered one of the best rucksacks on the market. Coming in at £80 for the 40L, for a reputable brand this is excellent value for money, as it will last many years. And the 40L fits perfectly into the cabin compartment. Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)
Essential Clothing / Attire & Items
Gadgets & Electronics
Budget Travel Alternatives
If you’re looking for more economic alternatives from the items listed earlier – these are all excellent recommendations for beginners and those travelling on tighter budgets.
Getting Around in Malta
Public transport is really easy to use across the Maltese islands.
Buses are the only mode of public transport in Malta. The network is not fully developed, and there is often a lot of delays (this is partly due to the laid back culture here). However, the network is improving slowly over time, the buses are comfortable and fairly reliable, and they are the cheapest way to get around the island. You can download a free Malta Bus Map here:
Word of advice: buses in Malta fill up fast, and will sometimes pass by without warning. Just make sure you plan ahead and leave plenty of time in your schedule for travel!
You can rent a car from 10-25 EUR per day at any of the major tourist spots like Sliema, Qawra, Bugibba and St. Paul’s Bay, as well as from the airport. People drive on the left hand side in Malta (just like in the UK).
Click here for great deals on car rentals in Malta
Is it worth renting a car in Malta?
If you’re a confident driver, then yes – there’s no reason why not, and it may work out to be more economical if going as a couple or a family/group. That being said, many visitors prefer not to hire a car because the island’s bus system has a reputation for being quite reliable.
Word of Advice: Maltese drivers tend to be temperamental and not particularly interested in abiding by the law of the road. Indeed, while Malta is officially left-hand drive, if you ask the locals where they drive, they’ll tell you “in the shade” which is funny, but often true.
A return ferry ticket will cost you 10 EUR to either Gozo or Comino islands – however it’s more economical to buy tickets that take you to Gozo and then to Comino before returning to Malta. A one-way ticket from Malta to Sicily will cost you 82 EUR.
Airport taxis charge a flat rate of €20 for a single fare, regardless of the distance.
There are buses connecting the airport to Valletta city main terminal, but due to the notorious delays you might be better off opting for the taxi for peace of mind.
More information on using taxis in Malta: Getting Around Malta And Gozo
Top Tip: As soon as you land in the airport, get yourself a 7-Day Tallinja Explore Card. It costs €21 and gives you unlimited travel on the buses all over Malta (including night services).
Is it easy to travel around Malta?
Travelling around the Maltese islands is fairly easy and there affordable options too. Whether it’s a short stay or a long trip, you can hire a reasonably priced car or take advantage of the 1-week unlimited bus card. The bus network is fairly straightforward, and roads are generally easy to navigate by car.
Manners & Customs
The Maltese are generally very hospitable people.
Because of the surge in tourism to the island, Malta has become one of the few countries in the world where their citizens are more than TWICE as outnumbered by tourists!
So a gentle reminder – be as polite and courteous to the locals as possible.
Internet in Malta: Wifi/SIM Card
Internet availability is widespread in Malta. Free internet access is available through many WiFi spots all around the country.
It’s very easy to stay connected to the internet across the Maltese islands.
There is WiFi in many hotels and bars, but in some of these places its only accessible from the lobbies.
The smoothest 4G coverage is offered by Vodafone and GO.
There are similar rates for telephone, SMS and data, and Melita is the cheapest option for international calls. Vodafone is the popular choice for those who use data excessively.
Free WiFi Hotspots in Malta:
There are currently 192 free public WiFi spots across Malta. Check out the map below to see all the options in the various locations.
There is also free WiFi in most restaurants, cafes and hotel foyers in Malta. In places such as cafes, it’s polite to order a drink before requesting the password for the WiFi.
The Euro is the local currency in Malta.
Conversion Rate: 1 USD = 0.84 EUR (as of December 2020)
Credit and Debit cards like VISA, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted.
Cards are accepted in some (higher-end) hotels and restaurants, but most restaurants outside of tourist areas don’t accept them.
As always when travelling, beware of pickpockets and keep your cash stashed away safely and securely on your person.
Food in Malta
In Malta there is plentiful choice and variety when it comes to food – you won’t be disappointed!
Because of it’s diverse population and tourist boom, Malta – especially Valletta – caters to an international taste, with everything from Pan-Asian, Greek, Indian, Italian, Lebanese and American eateries, and there’s quite a few pubs and traditional English restaurants further out on the coastal tourist spots.
Why not try the unique Maltese food too?
The best way to experience authentic, traditional Maltese food is to either take a guided food tour, or choose a restaurant that serves Maltese dishes.
Check out the 50 Best Malta Restaurants and Eating Out Guide
Top Advice On Eating Out In Malta:
- Restaurants open for dinner usually at 6 or 7pm. They rarely take calls for reservations during the day, so your best bet is to walk in and try your luck, or call the evening before to book in advance.
- Most credit/debit cards are accepted at restaurants in Malta.
- Saturday evenings are typically the busiest times, followed closely by Sunday lunch. It’s recommended to make your reservation several days in advance for the more popular restaurants.
- It’s not standard procedure to be billed for cover charges. If you do encounter such restaurants, don’t feel that you must tip.
- Tipping is common – usually a tip of 10% will do.
- For special dietary requirements – unless otherwise stated on the menu, it’s recommended to ask the staff if they can cater to your needs.
Is food and drink expensive in Malta?
The food and drink in Malta are generally not expensive by Western Europe standards. You can eat from a wide range of international cuisines in the capital city, Valletta, serving anything from a snack to a five-course meal, for between €5-20. In cafes, expect to pay around €2-3 for a coffee, and for a pint of local beer it’ll cost around €2.50.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can find cheap eats from local pastizzis all around Malta, with pastries selling for as little as €1 each.
Malta Day Trips & Tours
Get Your Guide: Book your day trips and tour packages
When I want to book a day trip or a tour package, Get Your Guide is my favourite place to find really good deals. There are excellent tours covering Malta, Comino and Gozo at great prices, featuring hotspots like the Blue Lagoon, St. Peter’s Pool, St. Julian’s and more. Have a look at some of the offers below and click on any that interest you:
No visas are required for British, US, EU and lots of other passport holders travelling to Malta.
If you’re unsure if you need a visa, use the widget below to find out.
Where to Stay in Malta
- Bugibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay – offers a good selection of hotels & private accommodation, decent restaurants, bars and pubs, and is near to public transport and sandy beaches.
- Sliema – one of the oldest tourist spots in Malta – ideal for budget travellers and close to the capital Valletta – by bus or even a short ferry ride away.
- St. Julians’ and Paceville – the ideal choice for dining and nightlife downtown, and resort holidays
- Mellieha – affordable, a more peaceful and quieter alternative, and close to the finest sandy beaches in Malta. My partner and I stayed in Mellieha during the second part of our Malta trip.
For couples visiting Malta, click here for a list of budget accommodation options on Booking.com
When I travelled to Malta I stayed in Airbnb accommodation just outside of Valletta – the small districts around Valletta are much cheaper than the capital itself, and are only 5-10mins away by bus. So it made sense to stay in one of these districts rather than in Valletta where its far costlier.
For Families With Kids:
- Bugibba and Qawra are the most suitable spots. Plenty of hotels with pool facilities, family-friendly restaurants, and a relatively safe area for kids.
- Mellieha – a quieter alternative, there are some all-inclusive resorts close to the beaches here. However, it’s recommended to rent a car in this area.
Click here for a list of budget accommodation options ideal for families on Booking.com
For Party-goers, Backpackers & Solo Travellers
If you’re heading to the nightlife centre of Malta for clubbing and pub-crawls, then downtown Paceville (St. Julian’s) is the place to be. In the summer months, open air clubs are an absolute must for the adventurous – these are located in the countryside (surrounding Mdina and Rabat) and will require your own transport to get to.
Click on this link for a list of budget accommodation options ideal for backpackers visiting Malta.
Health in Malta
The standard of healthcare is considered high quality and in line with the rest of Western Europe.
EU citizens visiting Malta are eligible for free treatment in local public hospitals, health centres and clinics with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You’ll need to apply for this in your home country and it’s advised to carry this on your person at all times.
Tap water is safe to drink in Malta. However, due to the rich mineral content, it doesn’t taste very nice. It’s recommended to bring water bottles with you around Malta.
Essential Item: Since the water on Malta has a bitter taste, you may find yourself buying small bottles of water at €2 each. Carry a Lifestraw Go Water Filter Bottle with you instead. Not only will it filter any water you put into it, it will also save you money and help save the planet from plastic waste (bonus!) Get yours from Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)
Safety in Malta
Is it safe to travel to Malta? The short answer is YES – it’s a lot safer than other European tourist spots.
Crime rates in Malta are very low and nature’s worst threats are thunderstorms and the odd flooding which rarely causes any harm to people.
The main concern for travellers to Malta are:
- Petty crime – such as pickpocketing and other types of theft – this is common in all the major tourist destinations in Europe. This issue is more common in touristy areas such as St. Julian’s, Sliema, and the capital: Valletta. Travellers are advised to take caution and be aware of their belongings at all times. Always keep your bag and possessions in sight, in front of you, and don’t display your cash or jewellery in the open.
- Occasional incidents of violence – this is mainly a concern in nightlife areas (such as Paceville and Bugibba) – this is an issue that arises from tourists in Malta. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Road accidents – not a major issue, but a cause for concern due to Malta’s terrain.
- Swimming around Malta – only swim in the waters when there are other swimmers around. The two things you need to be careful of are jellyfish and riptides. Avoid swimming when the sea is rough.
The most essential piece of advice I can offer is to buy good travel insurance. This will protect you from theft, injury, illness, and flight cancellations. It’s a safety net in case anything goes wrong, and I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite company for total peace of mind.
Malta has it all – whether its thrilling adventure or picturesque hiking trails, historical landmarks and buzzing nightlife – perfect for families, backpackers, solo & couple travellers – young and old alike.
There are currently Malta travel restrictions for all visitors. The official FCDO and other government agencies advise against all but essential travel to the whole of Malta, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.
Maltas islands is very much like any other Mediterranean island in terms of stunning scenery, adventure, and hot weather, but with more history.
The ideal time to spend in Malta is 10-14 days, to fully enjoy what the country has to offer without rushing, and giving you time to explore the less touristy Gozo, and Comino’s popular Blue Lagoon too. However, due to its small size, you can easily explore the highlights of Malta in as little as five days.
Book Your Trip to Malta: Budget Tips & Tricks
I use Booking to find fantastic cheap stays with free cancellation options.
Travel insurance will protect you from theft, injury, illness, and cancellations. A safety net in case anything goes wrong, I never leave without it. World Nomads is my favourite agent for total peace of mind.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.
Malta Travel: Related Posts
I hope this post Malta: The Complete Travel Guide, inspires you to visit Malta.
Thanks for reading!