How to Hire a Car in Malta (and in the cheapest way)
Car hire in Malta is relatively cheap, with plenty of rental agencies around that offer low prices all year round. Car hire agencies in Malta offer a wide range of cars to suit most budgets, although during the high season prices tend to go up easily with increased demand.
The level of customer service that is provided by car hire agencies (both local as well as international brands) generally gets good reviews. It’s worth noting that with major international car rental companies (and their policies) in particular, you need to be vigilant when renting a car for your Malta holiday.
Should I hire a car for my holiday in Malta? Is it worth doing so?
Hiring a car in Malta makes sense if:
- You’re planning to visit different points of interest and explore the islands
- You’ve got easy parking facilities if you’re staying in a major tourist location like Bugibba/Qawra/St. Paul’s Bay, St. Julian’s or Sliema. Public parking spots are hard to come by in these areas.
- You’re a confident driver. Driving in Malta can be challenging, with impatient drivers, traffic jams and tricky traffic situations. If you’ve been driving for a while and don’t get stressed out easily behind the wheel you’ll find your way. Prepare yourself with my Tips and FAQs for driving in Malta.
Hiring a car in Malta offers you the flexibility to plan your outings the way you want, rather than according to the available bus routes. Public transport in Malta is relatively inexpensive, but not always punctual and increases travel time drastically. Moreover, the bus routes offered around Malta and Gozo can make it difficult to plan to visit multiple points of interest within a short span of time.
What will Malta car hire cost me?
Let’s start with the obvious: The earlier you book, the cheaper your car hire will end up costing. Having said that, premium rates for the high season (July – September) are often fixed well in advance.
To give you a rough idea, these are sample estimate prices for a small economy car at different times of the year (last updated March 2016):
- January/February: €10 per day
- March: €12 per day
- April/May/June: €15 per day
- July/August: €25-30 per day
- September: €20 per day
- October: €16 per day
- November/December: €11 per day (€13 per day around Christmas)
As for fuel, at the time of writing (March 2016), this is what you can expect to pay at the pump:
- Unleaded petrol: €1.32 per litre (€5.00 per US gallon) (Most rental cars will be running on Unleaded)
- Diesel: €1.22 per litre (€4.62 per US gallon)
Carefully read the terms and conditions of whatever car hire agency you choose. There may be additional charges for insurances, younger drivers, location pickup/dropoff, etc. The devil is in the detail!
Where and how can I rent a car?
Cars are available for rent both at the airport as well as major tourist areas. However, you get the best rates by booking online in advance usually. Most international car hire agencies like Avis, Hertz and Europcar operate in Malta but don’t discount the local agencies who generally do a decent job of offering reliable service and good quality cars.
Car hire in Malta is an easy process. You can book your car online and have the choice to have it delivered to the address of your accommodation or to pick it up on arrival at the airport. Your car hire agent will usually inspect the vehicle together with you to check for any pre-existing damage and will need to swipe your credit card and settle your bill (usually upon arrival). Most Malta car hire agencies will require a deposit at the time of booking (usually an amount reserved on your credit card) in the case of damages or fines.
What do I need to hire a car in Malta?
If you decide to hire a car for your trip to Malta, there are a couple of important items that you should remember to take with you:
- If you’ve booked your car hire online, take a copy of your reservation with you, along with a proof of deposit payment (where applicable)
- A valid driving licence
- A credit card (of which VISA and MasterCard are the most widely accepted)
- Passport or EU ID card
Although you’ll probably be eager to start your holiday, it pays to read the car hire agency’s terms and conditions, and any insurance policy booked. Ensure that you do actually get a copy of the car hire agency’s terms and conditions and insurance cover and that the car hire representative checks the car for damage in your presence and makes note of any pre-existing damage correctly.
Things to keep in mind when hiring a car in Malta:
- Make sure that your car hire rental agency provides you with their terms and conditions and checks the state of the car together with you when the car is delivered
- Malta is one of the few left-hand drive countries in the world (which the Maltese inherited from the British). Pretty important to make note of before you drive off!
- Maltese summers are hot and relatively humid. You will not regret skipping the ultra-budget car category and going for a car with air conditioning
- Staying in Sliema, St. Julian’s or St. Paul’s Bay? Note that parking is very limited in these areas, particularly during the summer months. Make sure parking arrangements are available and easily accessible in advance to avoid frustration.
- Know your destination and route before driving off. Hesitating over which turn to take can be dangerous and will definitely trigger road rage. Check out the map of Malta for routes and directions.
Information on road law enforcement in Malta
- There are a number of speed cameras on the island, with speed limits set at 60 or 70 km/h (37 or 43 mph)
- The police patrol mostly urban areas and don’t get involved much with law enforcement on the road. They do occasionally put up road blocks to carry out spot checks for drink driving and illegal substances
- Traffic wardens are tasked with ensuring compliance with local road laws and regulations. They are easily recognisable by their green uniforms and authoritative gaze.
- Parking areas near public beaches and places of interest are often overseen by a parking assistant. These guys are usually licensed by the Malta Transport Authority (ADT) and will ask you for a tip. Note that there is no obligation to pay a fee for parking. The general practice is to tip something small like 50 cents, but it is completely up to your discretion to do so (or not)
- The Highway Code of Malta is available here. It’s based mostly on the British Highway Code.