Island of Malta Travel Guide

If you are considering visiting the Mediterranean island of Malta then we think you are making a wise decision. It’s a beautiful island packed with history and over 300 days sunshine a year. In our Travel Guide we cover all our top things you need to know to visit Malta (Revised November 2019)

The small island of Malta is perhaps best known for its history when it was ruled by the Romans, Moors, Knights of St John, French and the British. When this is combined with 300 days a year of sunshine and a warm Mediterranean climate its easy to see that Malta has much to offer visitors all year round. If you are planning to visit the island, this post on ‘All you Need to Know About the Island of Malta’ will help you prepare to make the most of your time there. Whether it is the history that attracts you or you want to party all night there is something for everyone.

Malta Travel Guide Placeholder
Malta Travel Guide

Island of Malta: Know Before You Go:

 

Location of Malta

Malta is the largest of the Maltese Islands which sit in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea between Europe (Sicily) and North Africa. The island is small covering an area of approximately 122 square miles or around 28 miles by 8 miles. It is the smallest country in the European Union and one of the smallest countries in the world.

Population of Malta

It has a population of around 493,500, which given its size makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

Malta’s Capital City

Since its construstion started in 1566 Valletta has been the island’s capital. Prior to this the capital was Mdina. Valletta is a small walled city named after Jean Parisot de la Valette, who was Grand Master of the Order of St John at the time of its construction. Valletta is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can follow the link for more details.

Language

English and Maltese are widely spoken. Given the islands history the Maltese language has strong Arabic and European inluences.

Currency

Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and uses the Euro as currency.

Time

Central European time zone (GMT plus 1 hour). It makes adjustments for daylight saving time in March and October.

Electricity in Malta

Socket type G (3 pin British style). Voltage is 220-240 volts

Weather

The island of Malta has a typical Mediterranean climate and around 300 days sunshine a year. Average temperatures range from 12 Celcius in Winter to 31 Celcius in Summer. Summer temperatures can exceed 40 celcius.

Health & Safety

Local advice is to avoid drinking tap water in Malta, even for brushing your teeth. Hotels will charge over the top prices for bottled water, so make sure you buy from the local supermarkets at a fraction of the price for the same size bottle.

Generally, the health advice provided by your own authorities may vary so always make sure to check it out before travelling. EU residents should make sure they have their EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) with them to cover routine medical costs in the unlikely event that this is needed.

Accommodation

There is a wide range of accommodation on Malta to suit all budgets and preferences. In the North of the island are the main beach and holiday resorts of Bugibba, Qawra, St Paul’s Bay and Mellieha. The main coastal towns closer to Valletta are St Julians, Sliema and Paceville (renowned for its nightlife). The south is quieter with local villages. Prices can start as low as £20 per person depending of the time of year and location.

Cost of Living in Malta

The cost of living in Malta is around 1.1% higher than the UK. Allow €15 for an inexpensive meal per person, €2.50 for a 500cl of local beer and €1.75 for a soft drink. Check out Numbeo for loads more detail.

Traditional Maltese Food

Typical Maltese dishes include Bragioli (beef olives), Fenek (rabbit) and Torta Tal-lampuki (fish pie made with local lampuki fish). A broad range of interntional dishes are readily available if these are not to your taste.

Visas

Malta joined the European Union in 2004 and so there are no travel restrictions for EU visitors.

Transport

A range of airlines serve Malta, including Ryanair, Easyjet and chartered airlines from the UK. Ferries travel between Malta and Gozo, its smaller neighbouring island. Ferries also operate around the coast of the capital Valetta and are often the quickest way to move around the complex harbour area. Local bus services are pretty comprehensive and serve most of the island, although timetables seem to change fairly regularly. The local public transport website is https://www.publictransport.com.mt/

Best time to visit

The islands are less crowded in Springtime (April / May) before the intense heat of Summer and when the wild flowers are at their best. September and October are also warm but with an increased chance of rain after the intense heat of Summer. High season starts mid to late June and so if you don’t like it too hot then Spring and Autumn are probably better, and a little quieter.

What to Avoid

The heat in the months of July / August when temperatures can reach over 40 celcius.

Driving in Valetta is for all but the most confident of drivers – courtesy seems to be taken as a sign of weakness!

Travel Tips

Crime rate is around half that in the UK, although as always care should be taken in crowded areas.

Need Inspiration to Visit the Island of Malta:

Why Visit

The Maltese islands have over 7000 years of history including some of the oldest standing stones in the world – older than Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. They have been invaded throughout their history and this is reflected in the architecture and culture. Valletta will become European Capital of Culture in 2018 and many events will inevitably be arranged to celebrate this.

Be Sure to See

With such a rich history there is almost no end to what you can see in Malta. If you take nothing elso from this Malta Travel Guide make sure you dont miss:

  1. The Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta, the residence of the Grand Master of the Knights of St John for more than 200 years.
  2. St John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta. A gem of Baroque art and architecture.
  3. The ancient capital of L-Imdina. Known as the silent city, it is picturesque with a mix of baroque and medieval architecture.
  4. The fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its pretty harbour and traditionally painted fishing boats.
  5. Victoria, the capital of neighbouring Gozo where the existing buildings in the citadel date from the 17th century and have all been sensitively restored.
  6. A range of ancient temples – a number of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  7. The Hypogeum on the outskirts of Valletta – an enormous subterranean structure excavated around 2500 B.C.

Excursions in Malta

Local companies provide a range of excursions to allow you to take in the sights. The local bus service is pretty comprehensive and covers almost all of the island, so if you want to do it yourself, it can be done on the cheap. Apparently bus routes and timetables change frequently so it is worth always checking the destination with the driver. Information on local buses can be found at https://www.publictransport.com.mt/

Taking in the sights of Valletta from the Sliema ferry
Taking in the skyline of Valletta
The 3 cities area of Il-Birgu looking across the creek from L'Isla in Valletta
The ancient city of Il-Birgu in Valletta
The walled city of Valletta
A view of the outside of the imposing Mosta Dome in Malta
The imposing Mosta Dome
Traditionally painted fishing boats anchored in Marsaxlokk harbour in Malta
Traditionally painted boats in Marsaxlokk harbour
View of L-Imgarr on Gozo from the harbour area where the ferry from Malta docks
L-Imgarr harbour on Gozo
The Xewkija Rotunda dominates the skyline on the island of Gozo
The Xewkija Rotunda on Gozo
A view of Valletta at night from the roof of the Victoria Hotel in Sliema on Malta
Valletta at night
The dry docks area from the Grand Harbour in Valletta
Valletta Harbour
View of the pretty but often busy St Peter's Pool near Marsaxlokk on Malta
St Peter’s Pool near Marsaxlokk
One of many boats cruising in Valletta harbour on Malta
Cruising in Valletta harbour
The Ta'Qali Crafts Village in Malta is converted from the buildings on an old airfield
The Ta’Qali Crafts Village
Mdina, the ancient walled city and former capital of Malta seen from the Artisan Crafts Village at Ta'Qali
Mdina, the ancient walled city

Further Information on Malta

In addition to our post on the Top things you need to know to visit Malta,  you’ll get more info on Malta here, You’ll also find more details at http://www.visitmalta.com/


Looking for More?

If you are looking for some further reading then below you’ll find more of our articles on Malta. For related reading check out the Tag links as well at the bottom of the page.


More Reading on Malta


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