The tiny Mediterranean island of Malta is becoming one of Europe’s hottest holiday 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.
Table of Contents
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Malta Travel Guide: Malta Map
Here’s a map of Malta and Gozo with 10 of the best places to visit and top things to do in Malta:
The Complete Malta Travel Guide 2023
Below is my Ultimate Guide for Traveling 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 the Maltese islands 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 and attractions 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 day trip 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 Ggantija 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, the Meridiana Wine Estate that celebrate Malta’s unique wine-making, and many Game of Thrones shooting locations (the famous Azure Window sadly no longer exists).
Essential Malta Travel Resources:
For more useful Malta travel guide information, check out these articles:
Malta Travel Advice
Malta: Budget Tips & Advice
Is Malta expensive to travel?
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. What is the coldest month in Malta? January is the coldest month of the year with typical max temperatures between 12-20C (54-68F) and minimum temperatures of 6-12C (43-54F) at night.
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.
Osprey Farpoint 40L – a favourite among backpackers worldwide and considered one of the best rucksacks out there. Coming in at £80 for the 40L, for a reputable brand it’s excellent value for money, and will last many years. And the 40L fits perfectly into the cabin compartment. Buy on Amazon
Essential Clothing / Attire & Items
Birckenstock Sandals – a world leader in strong and sturdy footwear, a good pair of Birkenstocks is one of the most essential footwear items for backpackers, trekkers, or anyone travelling in hot climates and rocky terrain. Buy on Amazon
Eastpak doggy bag – comes with plenty of storage space, this bumbag fits perfectly around your waist like a money belt as well as across your chest.Buy on Amazon
Gadgets & Electronics
Universal Travel Adapter – compatible in 200+ countries, comes with 3 USB ports, a Type C port, and can charge multiple devices at once – your phone, camera, and powerbank. This is the ULTIMATE travel adapter. Buy on Amazon
GoPro HERO 8 Black – the top range of all the GoPros, this is the most superior waterproof action camera on the market, and one of the most expensive. Buy on Amazon
Sony A7iii – top of the range compact travel camera for ultimate image quality: full frame, mirrorless, and in-body image stabilisation. Costly, but the best on the market. Buy on Amazon
Budget Travel Alternatives
If you’re looking for more economic alternatives – these are all excellent recommendations for beginners and those travelling on tighter budgets.
CabinMax Backpack – if you’re a beginner on a shoestring budget, this clamshell design rucksack is the ideal choice. Buy on Amazon
Airport taxis charge a flat rate of €20 for a single fare, however they may charge extra for waiting. It’s highly recommended to book in advance.
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.
Top Tip: Not renting a car? 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).
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 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). I use Discover Car Hire for their superb deals on car rentals in Malta.
Do you need a car in Malta? If you’re a confident driver, its quite easy to drive around Malta, 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.
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!
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.
Tip #1: Get a universal DrimSim card that isn’t attached to an operator, and you can get data coverage anywhere.
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 = 1 EUR = 0.90 GBP (as of November 2022)
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.
- Revolut (Get £10 on sign-up)
As always when travelling, beware of pickpockets and keep your cash stashed away safely and securely on your person.
Where is Malta on the map?
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.
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.
Malta Day Trips & Tours
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
- 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.
Looking for more authentic stays? Check out Vrbo for their superb and affordable deals on vacation homes – I can recommend this having stayed in a Vrbo accommodation just outside of Valletta (it’s cheaper to stay outside of the city, and it’s only 5-10mins bus ride into the city).
For Families With Kids:
- St. Paul’s Bay 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.
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.
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.
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.
Commonly asked Questions
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.
Malta’s islands are very much like any other Mediterranean island in terms of stunning scenery, adventure, and hot weather, but with more history here, plus an infusion of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures.
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.
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.
January is the coldest month of the year with typical max temperatures between 12-20C (54-68F) and minimum temperatures of 6-12C (43-54F) at night.
Malta is perfect for all types of people of all different ages and travelers of all budget ranges. Since Malta is a compact and safe country packed with everything from rich history and culture, impressive beaches, nightlife, a food scene, and an abundance of activities to suit every type of person, there is something for everyone here.
Here’s the do’s and don’t for Malta travel:
DO some research on your destination before you go.
DON’T overpack. Only bring travel essentials like the ones listed in this post.
DON’T bring your own food. Malta is known for its delicious pan-European and Asian cuisines and cheap eats.
DON’T drink water from the tap. Use a water filter bottle to fill up.
DO use reef-safe sunscreen.
DON’T bring dollars. Convert them into Euros (EUR) before you go.
DON’T bring jewelry and designer label clothing – you will stand out in a crowd and become a potential target for thieves
While tap water is considered safe to drink in Malta, it’s strongly recommended NOT to drink tap water because of the bitter taste caused by the minerals in the water. As such, most people drink bottled water, but you’d be better off bringing a reusable and refillable Lifestraw water filter bottle to save plastic.
Book Your Trip to Malta: Budget Tips & Tricks
Flights: As always, I source the cheapest flights on the web from Skyscanner. It’s considered the top flight search engine for the best deals.
SIM cards: DrimSim is a universal SIM card that isn’t tied to an operator and works in any country/region.
Travel Insurance: Stay protected 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.
Need to store your luggage in a locker? Use Radical Storage to store your stuff in a locker in any city for just $5 per day.
Head over to my Travel Tools page for all my best travel tips & advice and everything you need for your trip.
Malta Travel Guide: Related Posts
I hope this post: The Complete Malta Travel Guide, inspires you to visit Malta, one of the top Europe travel destinations.
Thanks for reading!