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Everything you need to know before you go!

Valletta Malta at sunset www.mimosamerma

Getting there

You can fly to Malta direct from most regional UK and London airports with,

 

Easyjet

Ryanair

Jet2 - book via the Jet2 app for additional savings, also sign up for their updates as they frequently send discount codes.

Air Malta

KM Malta Airlines

British Airways

Pricing again in 2024, especially with the low cost carriers is crazy expensive - reason being they would much rather you purchase a package holiday than a flight only. I'd strongly encourage you to carry out an all airline search before booking anything as scheduled airlines can often work out cheaper. 

Skyscanner is an awesome comparison tool to help you conduct a best price search.

 

Flights take around 3.5 hours and all arrive into Malta’s International Airport, Luqa.

Package Holidays

 

Following the pandemic, your local travel agent is more important than ever. They hold licenses which protect you and your money, and can assist with everything you need, from travel insurance, to currency. A number now also allow you to spread the cost of a holiday with monthly direct debit schemes and in most cases can price match any offer you see online.  

Tour operators offering holiday packages to the Maltese Islands include, TUI, First Choice, Jet2 Holidays, Easyjet Holidays, and Mercury Holidays

 

As the island is so quaintly compact, transfers to mainland resorts take no more than a maximum of 45 minutes. (Transfers by bus will of course take longer)

Entry requirements for UK nationals

 

Up to date entry requirements for UK nationals can be found at the following links, along with two links to Covid related sites, there are still restrictions in place for travellers from some countries.

Entry requirements - Malta travel advice - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

COVID-19 Updates (visitmalta.com)

Travelling to Malta | Covid-19 | Malta International Airport (maltairport.com)

At the height of the pandemic, the Malta International Airport website housed a plethora of invaluable Covid 19 related information. 

Covid-19 swab centres 

I feel by removing this it's tempting fate, so I'm leaving this here for the time being just in case - if required swabbing centres across the islands can be found here 

 

Time difference

No jet lag here, Malta is GMT+1

Dialling code

You can contact all of the new Maltese friends you will make using country code +356

 

Language

 

Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English. Italian is also widely spoken.

Religion

 

Predominantly Roman Catholic, but many other religious denominations are also represented too.

Public Holidays Holidays

The islands have 14 annual Public Holidays.

 

The only date which varies from year to year is Good Friday, every other holiday is celebrated on a set date. Interestingly, Boxing Day is a regular day - pop it in your diary though, as Malta's Boxing Day Sales are epic! 🤩

2024 public holidays are as follows:

  • Monday​ 1st January - New Year's Day
     

  • ​Saturday 10th February​ - Feast of St. Paul's Shipwreck
     

  • ​Tuesday 19th March - Feast of St. Joseph
     

  • ​Friday 29th March - Good Friday
     

  • Sunday 31st March -  Freedom Day
     

  • ​Wednesday 1st May - Worker's Day
     

  • ​Friday 7th June -  Sette Giugno
     

  • Saturday 29th June ​- Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul
     

  • Thursday 15th August - Feast of the Assumption
     

  • ​Sunday 8th September - Feast of Our Lady of Victories
     

  • ​Saturday 21st September -  Independence Day
     

  • ​Sunday 8th December - Feast of the Immaculate Conception
     

  • ​Friday 13th December - Republic Day
     

  • ​Wednesday 25th December​ - Christmas Day

Christmas is a truly magical time to visit the islands of Malta and Gozo, you can read all about this special time of year in my blog post here

 

Climate

 

Typically Mediterranean, the islands climate is strongly influenced by the sea. Malta gloriously enjoys over 300 sunny days a year.

Spring and autumn are refreshingly cooler than #summer, although the African Scirocco winds do occasionally bring in unseasonably high temperatures and humidity. I love spring as this is when the islands are at their greenest and abundant in beautifully colourful wild flowers.

 

In summer expect to enjoy 12 hours of delicious sunshine a day, Malta is one very hot and dry rock during these months.

 

In mid winter, sunshine drops to around 5-6 hours but the days are mild. Winters can also experience cold spells caused by the Northern winds from Central Europe. It’s not unknown for me to wear a fur coat and fur hat, then next day, T-shirt and shorts. Best advice, prepare for every eventuality!

 

Rainfall

 

You’ll be pleased to hear that annual rainfall levels are low, around 600mm a year, but be prepared, as when it rains in Malta, it really rains! Think monsoon, and the drainage on the roads is dreadful, well pretty much none existent really. The roads will flood, and getting around the islands on stormy days can be troublesome. Your journey can be severely disrupted, expect long delays/waits for buses and when you do get onboard, a numb bum. A 20 minute journey can turn into 2 hours! The Malta-Gozo ferry and the Sliema - Valletta - Three Cities ferries are often cancelled. Any trip cancellations due to bad weather are only known on the day and will be announced on social media channels.

 

Electricity

 

No panic, your hairdryer will work absolutely fine here as the islands use our 3 pin UK plugs. I would however recommend that if you staying in a farmhouse that you pop in a couple of two pin adaptors just to be on the safe side too.

 

Water

 

The official line is that tap water is safe to drink across the islands, but I’ve had one too many upset tummy’s to believe that over the years.

 

I always drink the local bottled water, it’s inexpensive and hotel rooms usually pop in a bottle or two to start you off, or replenish daily. I also avoid ice in my drinks unless I know it’s made from bottled water.

 

Driving

 

Beware! The Maltese drive in the shade, it’s sometimes comparable to the Wacky Races. On the plus side the official rule is you drive on the left. I have a dedicated blog post which covers everything you need to know when driving in Malta and Gozo. 

Getting around

Bus

 

Both Malta and Gozo have an inexpensive network of bus services. Do they run on time? Rarely! Are they often full or very crowded? Yes indeed. Patience is required by the bucket load in the summer months and expect to stand for part if not all of the way, and expect for buses to go right by you if they are full. Please also be careful of your belongings when travelling by bus, there are more and more reports of pickpocketing taking place, and its difficult to look after your bag on a crammed bus hanging on for dear life. My advice? A bum bag worn cross body to keep your valuables safe, and anything else you can pop into your beach bag. Also if you aren't at the bust stop don't expect the driver to stop for you if you try to flag them down, they will carry straight on past.

 

The main terminuses can be found in the capital Valletta, and in Victoria on Gozo. Single journeys which allow a transfer (full journey to be completed within 2 hours) are priced as follows,

  • Daytime €2.00 

  • Night Services €3.00 (bus numbers beginning with N)

Tickets can be purchased as you board from the driver (exact change in cash, or by debit card.)

I can 100% recommend the purchase of a 7 day Tourist card - the Explore Tallinja card. This card offers super value as you receive 7 days of unlimited travel at any time of day, across Malta and Gozo for a one off cost of just,

  • €21 for adults

  • €15 for children up to the age of 10

 

(TD services are excluded)

Find out more information here (Please note this link to the Malta Public Transport website should be used for guidance only, to date, there is a lot of information on this site which is out of date, for example the "Meep" card no longer exists.)

Whilst you can purchase your Explore card from self service machines across the island, please do consider buying it from an independent store, as the owners do make a little commission, and they are only to happy to answer any questions you may have, local knowledge is invaluable! 

There are other options available including the Tallinja Explore Flex Card which is a pay-as-you-go option, allowing you to top up your card and travel as you please. This card offers a discount of 15c per journey compared to regular fares. The initial card costs €6 which is added to the card as credit. Also the Tallinja Personalised Card. Holders of a Personalised Tallinja Card can travel for free on Day Routes, Night Routes and Special Services. Tallinja Direct (TD) Routes are not free and a fare will apply depending on the card used. Passengers are still required to tap their personalised Tallinja Card on the ticketing machine every time they board the bus. (Personalised cards carry your photo and name and can be topped up with credit easily online, via the free Tallinja App or at any of their sales outlets. Any credit loaded to this card is valid indefinitely. (ID is required to register for a Personalised card)

A full list of Tallinja Card sales outlets can be accessed here

 

Full bus schedule information can be found here

Taxi

Taxi's are readily available at the airport upon arrival, but beware they charge an arm and a leg!

 

Plan ahead and download the E-Cabs and Bolt, apps to your phone. Once you have collected your bags you can hop on the app and book your ride.

These two companies are just like Uber (Uber are present on the islands but do charge a little more, and are not as plentiful) and you can pay in cash to the driver as well as using a card stored in the app. Whilst saving you a lot of money they also offer you security, as you know the car registration and driver details of your ride, which you can share with a friend or loved one. Far safer than haling a cab in the street on an evening out.

Ferry

Take the breathtakingly beautiful journey from Sliema to Valletta by ferry or from Valletta to the 3 cities (Cospicua) onboard Valletta Ferry Services 

  • Adult Day single €1.50 (night services €1.75)

  • Adult Day return €2.80 (night services €3.30)

  • Child Day single €0.50

  • Child Day return €0.90

You can also use your Tallinja Explore card to reduce the fare to €1.30 each way.

Hot off the press, from 15 January PM Abela has announced that journey's taken on the Sliema to Valletta and Valletta to 3 cities ferry service will be free to anyone who holds a Tallinja card. His press announcement didn't stipulate if this applies to the 7 day tourist card however I believe it only applies to a personalised card.

When travelling back to Valletta from Cospicua do ask the crew for a ticket or retain your ticket as this will allow you to use the Upper Barrakka lift free of charge. Using the lift avoids the climb back up to the city. Tallinja card holders may also use the lift free of charge now too.

Schedules and routes can be found here

When travelling from Valletta to 3 cities - please also consider taking a local water taxi. These leave from the jetty adjacent to the ferry. It's so much fun and an awesome experience. The fee is €2.50 per person each way. You may need to wait five or ten minutes until the little boat fills before the journey commences but it's a lovely way to get to know your fellow passengers. 

There is no way to reach the island of Gozo or Comino other than by boat.

Gozo Ferry Service

 

Cars and passengers are carried by Gozo Channel services between Cirkewwa on Malta and Mgarr on Gozo and vv. These services operate year round, 24 hours a day. The full schedule can be found here

The crossing time is approx 25 minutes. Do take a seat outside as the scenery is stunning. Ferry tickets need to be purchased from the ticket desk prior to departure in either direction. If the weather permits, upon boarding, head straight up to the sun deck, the views are beautiful and the breeze in the summer months is a lifesaver. 

Fares are as follows,

  • Standard foot passenger fare €4.65 return (night fare after 8pm €4.05 return)

  • Standard child fare (age 3 to 12) €1.15 return

  • Car plus driver €15.70 (night fare €12.80)

 

To calculate a fare with a car, two adults and 2 children, €15.70, plus one foot passenger at €4.65 and two children at €1.15 each = €22.65

Gozo passenger only fast ferry service

Gozo High Speed Ferries operated by Virtu Ferries operate a foot passenger only service from Valletta in Malta to Mgarr in Gozo. These are fast ferries with a journey time of less than 45 minutes! 

Adult fare €15 return

Child age 4-10 €6 return

Under 3's travel free

They also offer a fabulous discounted return fare of just €9.50 bookable online only here 

Hop on, Hop off services

The hop on, hop off catamaran service from Sliema to Comino and Gozo also stops at Bugibba, so you can have a super day exploring and island hopping!

  • €15 adults

  • €11.50 for children under the age of 12

  • Children up to 4 years of age travel free

 

Tickets and schedule information can be found here

As well as the catamaran, you can also have fun experiencing a hop on, hop off bus tour of Malta or Gozo including access to all of the major Heritage sites,

Check out the full list of options and pricing here

Comino

 

Comino can also be visited from Malta by one of the many day trips offered by various sightseeing companies. Your hotel will be able to arrange this for you, usually with a pick up and return from your accommodation.

 

Bella Comino Ferries operate a scheduled ferry service from Mgarr Harbour in Gozo to the Blue Lagoon on Comino. The journey is quick, no more than 15 minutes. Prices are,

  • €7 return per adult

  • €4 return per child (aged 5-10 years)

  • Children up to the age of 4 carried free

The full schedule can be viewed here

Word from the wise! Swerve the option of an add on cave tour for this one - the ferry is too large to enter. There are a plethora of speedboats available on Comino which will take you on a thrilling ride to the caves at a very reasonable fee. The speedboats can actually enter the caves allowing you to view the beautiful azure blue sea and the many colourful corals.

 

From Marfa and Cirkewwa on Malta the Comino ferry service is operated by the Comino Ferries Co-Op Ltd.

The journey time is approx 25 minutes.

Pricing is as follows,

  • €14 return per adult

  • €7 return per child (under the age of 10)

Schedules can be found here

Beware of the departure times from Comino, this service runs to the captains schedule. Also be mindful this is a small boat and you will find the journey bumpy if there is any kind of swell or if its windy. My advice, avoid sitting at the front in these conditions. 

Sicily

After all of the above, should you still have wanderlust its also possible to visit Sicily for the day too!

The service is ran by a high speed catamaran operated by Virtu Ferries Ltd.

The service transports you from Valletta Waterfront to Pozzallo in Sicily - with a new service to Ragusa being trialled for 2024. During the summer months there is an awesome day excursion to Mt Etna and Taormina offered and in the winter months, Mt Etna and Siracusa, or Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. The day excursions also offer collection from your accommodation for an additional fee.

Pricing varies but starts at circa €144 for adults, children aged 4-14 €99, and under 4's free 

 

Please be aware that this is a long day, 

Depart Malta at 0630 - arrive Pozzallo at 0815

Depart Pozzallo at 2130 - arrive Malta at 2315

Sicily is a huge island in comparison to Malta so be mindful that a large part of your day will be spent onboard the coach, however the scenery is stunning.

Full information can be found here

If you prefer to freestyle your visit, you can purchase foot passenger or car plus passenger tickets allowing you to spend your time in Sicily totally at leisure. 

Find out more here

Cyber Security Warning! (Open Wi-Fi, QR Codes and public mobile phone chargers etc)

Please be extremely careful when connecting to public wi-fi, scanning any QR codes or using chargers found in bars etc. These are not secure and your personal data could be compromised.

 

It happens, it happened to me.

 

When visiting Mosta Dome I was urged by the staff to connect to the church's Wi-Fi and scan a QR code to access the tour. By the time I exited the church 45 minutes later, someone had tried to gain access to several of my accounts - it was terrifying and resulted in me having to do a full factory reset of my phone. I also overheard a young lady in a 5* hotel in Valletta telling her partner she had received several reset emails for her Shopify account, she'd never used it in years. Scammers are lurking everywhere these days and we all need to be extra careful and super vigilant. Please think twice before connecting to any open networks, including hotel networks, or scanning any QR codes to access itineraries, tour information, menu's etc.

 

Most mobile phone companies allow you to use your phone in Europe at no extra charge so please don't be tempted to save a few GB in data - it can be perilous.

 

Similarly avoid using mobile phone chargers found in bars etc across the islands, invest in your own portable power bank before you leave home. It will only set you back £15-£20 and your mind will be totally at rest if you need a little extra charge during a day of exploring. 

Added security safeguards 

2 Factor Authentication 

I'd also recommend setting up 2 factor authentication wherever you can - if an account is compromised during your travels you will receive an alert that someone is trying to access that account. Without the code the scammer cannot gain access. Once you receive an alert and you know it wasn't you, you can secure your account by resetting the password. 

RFID blocking purses and wallets

Another tip, invest in an RFID purse or wallet. These have built-in RFID-blocking technology. This technology is designed to protect your credit card information from being stolen by radio frequency identification (RFID) scanners. These scanners can be used by identity thieves to steal your credit card information without physically touching your wallet or purse. An RFID-blocking purse or wallet contains a special lining that blocks the radio waves emitted by these scanners, thereby preventing them from reading your credit card information. A no brainer for crowded buses or bars. You can pick one up from most retailers now, TK Maxx, Amazon etc and they are relatively inexpensive.

Mobile Antivirus

Do invest in antivirus for your android or iPhone - again its inexpensive and allows you to scan your device if you feel it's been compromised, change passwords on any compromised accounts, and connect to a secure VPN. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address, making it difficult for anyone to intercept or monitor your online activity. This helps to protect your privacy and security online, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks 

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