One of the major advantages of Malta’s small size is that getting around is easy and you won’t need much travel time to explore the country. Malta offers a modern, relatively cheap and reliable public transport system of route buses, high-quality taxi services and other types of transport.
In other words: There are good (and inexpensive) ways of getting around Malta and Gozo on your holiday.
The only type of public transport in Malta nowadays is a system of route buses. There’s no underground or metro and although a railway service once existed (late 19th/early 20th century) all that remains are old train station buildings.
The bus routes, operated by Malta Public Transport can get you anywhere you want to go in Malta and Gozo between 5:30 am and 11 pm. A night service runs on Friday and Saturday nights and on public holidays.
Getting around Malta by bus might not be the fastest way, but other than walking or cycling it is surely the most economical. So if you have a little patience and are not in a hurry, consider using this service.
80+ Malta bus routes connect the most important destinations on the island including the Malta International Airport, the Valletta cruise liner terminal and the Gozo ferry terminals at Ċirkewwa and Valletta (from where you can catch a ferry to Malta’s sister island of Gozo).
Buses are fairly efficient, with some occasional hiccups, serving the major tourist areas and places of interest. The main bus terminus is located just outside of Malta’s capital city Valletta. Other major bus nodes are located at the airport, Buġibba, at Ċirkewwa (Gozo ferry) and Gozo’s largest town of Victoria.
You can plan your bus trips using the website of Malta Public Transport. Just specify your point of departure and the destination you have in mind and you get all route options available to you.
TIP: The journey planner of Malta Public Transport works alright, but you get better results by looking up the bus stop names through Google Maps and entering departure/arrival points instead of place names.
Other handy resources:
The app makes it easy to plan trips and get real-time info on routes when you’re on the go.
In Winter, a bus ticket costs €1.50 while in Summer it costs €2.00. The night rate is €3.00 all year round.
If you’re planning to stay for 7 or more days, it’s usually more economical to buy a Malta public transport chip card, locally referred to as the ‘Tallinja card’. There are two card offerings that are most suited for visiting travellers:
You can pay for single ticket rides very easily with contactless payment on board the bus using a VISA credit or debit card. (Other credit card brands are currently not accepted for this method). Multi-day tickets and passes still need to be purchased from ticket booths or machines.
You can buy bus tickets and passes the traditional way:
Unfortunately, they’re not for sale online yet. The easiest is planning what type of ticket/card suits you best and buying one at the airport if your flight arrives within opening hours of course.
Up until mid-2011, local bus routes were serviced by renovated, brightly coloured buses originally built as far back as the 1950s. Malta’s bus system underwent a major overhaul in recent years, which means the older buses which were much loved by tourists and some locals, vanished from the street sight.
Although no doubt the new buses provide a more comfortable ride and cause significantly less pollution on Maltese roads, the old Maltese bus was an icon of the country. You’ll find a few of these buses providing tourist tours in places like Sliema and a few of them were exported to the UK as well.
Being surrounded by the sea, you don’t need to depend on just land-based transportation options. In fact, as traffic congestion got worse over the years in Malta, sometimes ferries are a far better alternative.
These are the ferry services that can really make your life easier when you go sightseeing around the Maltese islands:
Speaking of the Three Cities, at Birgu waterfront you can also hop on to a water taxi. They’re often gondola-styled little boats.
Getting around in Malta with a water taxi is a faster way to travel between the cities around the Grand Harbour. It is also a nice and peaceful way to experience the historic harbour than by bus. Water taxis are also a fun way of getting around especially when travelling with children.
Water taxis are also used by locals to get across between Sliema and Valletta, a trip that takes less than 10 minutes – apart from being quick it is also cheap at €1.00 one way. A boat leaves every 15 minutes between 08:00-17:45 in winter and 07:30-18:15 in summer.
Malta Public Transport operates 14 bus routes in Gozo. But first, you need to get to the Ċirkewwa Ferry Terminal from where you can catch a 20-minute ride across the water on the Gozo Channel ferry that operates daily between Ċirkewwa in Malta and Mġarr in Gozo. Alternatively, you can catch one of the fast ferries to Gozo from Valletta.
The following bus routes can take you to Ċirkewwa from various towns and villages across the island: 41, 42, 101, 221, 222, 250 and X1.
The Gozo Channel runs a ferry boat service to Gozo on a daily basis, usually with trips every 45 minutes. You can check the ferry schedule here. Foot passengers (adults) are charged €4.65 for a round trip ticket while the charge to carry over a car and driver is €15.70 at time of writing. Payment for tickets is made in Gozo (on your way back to Malta) before boarding the ferry.
Once you make the crossing, you can hop back on a bus from Mġarr harbour in Gozo and ride to other villages in Gozo (route map here). When using the bus service in Gozo you can travel using the same bus cards and tickets used in Malta.
Although it’s definitely the cheapest mode of transport to go around in Gozo, the bus service itself gets mixed reviews for efficiency and punctuality. If you have the budget and you’re looking to stay in Gozo I’d recommend hiring a car instead. It’s pretty easy and safe to drive anywhere in Gozo.
Get more info on this topic here: How to catch the Gozo Ferry to get to Malta’s sister island.
If you’re looking to travel to Gozo directly from the airport, these are your options:
Get more info on this topic here: How to get from Malta Airport to Gozo.
Several private companies run efficient (but not very cheap) taxi services in Malta. You can book different types of vehicles depending on the number of people travelling – for example, most companies offer both standard cars for up to 4 persons and mini-vans for larger groups.
You’ll find taxi stands just outside the Malta International Airport, at City Gate in Valletta and outside the cruise liner terminal, in Sliema and St. Julian’s area, at major bus stations and in the vicinity of popular hotels and tourist resorts.
Most private operators can be reached for a quick pickup as well, apart from the regular taxi stands.
Some of the private taxi operators in Malta:
A service of electric minicabs run in Malta’s capital city of Valletta, charging a flat fare of €5 for three people. Like taxis, these mini cabs can be hired out either by hailing them as they go by or at Electric Mini Cab Stands in Valletta. One can also book a minicab by calling 77414177.
Malta International Airport, located near the villages of Luqa and Gudja, lies less than 10 km away from the capital Valletta. Getting to your hotel from the airport is easy as you can choose from a number of options:
Renting a car in Malta is a good option when you want to uncover all the secrets the island has to offer. You might, for example, want to visit hidden, more secluded beaches like the ones I mention in my Top 10 Best Beaches in Malta article.
You can find representatives of car-hire companies at the Malta International Airport, but shopping around for the best rates isn’t a bad idea.
A few key points to consider when hiring a car in Malta:
Motorcycle enthusiasts can share their two-wheeled love on the Maltese roads quite easily as a number of companies offer motorbike rentals. All you need is to be 21+ years old and in possession of a valid driving licence and you can be on a bike in no time. Motorcycles offer two benefits over cars – traffic is no concern and neither is a lack of parking spots.
These are 3 popular sites from where you can hire a motorbike in Malta although there are many more options:
If you’re exploring Europe with your own car, you can easily make the trip from Sicily to Malta using Virtu Ferries. The same considerations mentioned apply when hiring a car when you’re using your vehicle in Malta, however, you might want to take a note of the following companies that offer roadside assistance and breakdown services:
A few tips for driving your own car in Malta:
Check out another article with more tips, facts and FAQs on driving in Malta.
Cycling isn’t the safest mode of transport, particularly on the busier main island of Malta, because there are no proper bicycle lanes on the roads. Also, traffic can be heavy in the centre of Malta (much less so in Gozo) and the uneven land formations and intense summer heat add tough challenges for cyclists.
If you’re staying in Gozo, where roads are still a lot quieter, and you’re up for a good cardio workout, it’s a good option to explore this particular island on two wheels.
You can rent bicycles from:
Alternatively, you can also find e-bike stations from a company called Nextbike (Malta only) where you can rent bikes on the go. They’ve got a good number of docking stations in the more central parts of Malta and fees are reasonable, starting at €1.50 for the first 30 minutes.
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