Malta, or the Republic of Malta as an official name, is a tiny country on the small islands located at Southern Europe consists of an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. Not many people may notice Malta as a country since it is ranked as the tenth smallest country in the world.
For the European population, Malta has been a popular tourist destination for its warm climate, historical monuments, recreational areas, architecture, and the beach. As well as three world's heritage sites listed by UNESCO including its smallest capital city in the European Union, Valletta, with only 0.8 square kilometers.
LANGUAGE: Maltese, English, and Italian
AREA: 316 Square Kilometers
CURRENCY: Euro (€)
Malta is a very small country comparing to other countries in Europe, however, there is still a lot to see. You will be able to discover the whole country within a week or so. Namely architectural and historical monuments, recreational activities, sightseeing, museums, and several beautiful beaches where people are dreaming of.
1) VALLETTA: St. John Co-Cathedral, Church of Our Lady of Victories, Upper Barakka Gardens, Lower Barakka Gardens, Valletta City Gate, Triton Fountain, Parliament Building, Grandmaster's Palace, National Museum of Archaeology, St. George’s Square, Casa Rocca Piccola, Fort St. Elmo, Fort St. Angelo, Victoria Gate, National War Museum, Grand Habour, and Valletta Waterfront
2) SLIEMA: Manoel Island, Fort Manoel, and St. Julian's Bay
3) GOZO: Azure Window, Inland Sea, Ġgantija Temples, Ta' Pinu Basilica, Ramla Bay, Fungus Rock, and Cathedral of the Assumption
4) COMINO: Blue Lagoon, Cominotto Island, Saint Mary's Tower, and Santa Marija Bay
5) MDINA: The Mdina Gate, St. Paul's Cathedral, National Museum of Natural History, Domus Romana Museum, Casa Testaferrata, and Mdina Ditch Garden
6) RABAT: Saint Dominic's Priory, St. Paul's Church, The Grotto of St. Paul, St. Paul’s Catacombs, St. Agatha's Historical Complex and Catacombs, and Casa Bernard
7) MELLIEHA: Our Lady of The Grotto, Popeye Village, Mellieha Bay, Golden Bay, Ghadira Bay, Ghadira Nature Reserve, and Selmun Palace
8) VITTORIOSA (THE 3 CITIES): Fort St. Angelo, Malta At War Museum, Malta Maritime Museum, St. Lawrence's Church, Inquisitor's Palace, and St. Anne Chapel
9) COSPICUA (THE 3 CITIES): Immaculate Conception Church and Cottonera Gate
10) SENGLEA (THE 3 CITIES): Gardjola Gardens and St.Phillip's Church
Sunnier days during springtime, March-May
Springtime in Malta is beautiful as it is, but it still rains a bit and sometimes and the sea is still too cold to swim in. The boat tour to Comino Island and Blue Lagoon only operate on clear sunny days. As of the 1st of April, it will operate more as April is the border of summer. The maximum temperature during the springtime is approximately 17 to 23 degrees Celsius and the minimum is around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. Bring an umbrella with you in case it rains a bit. The sea can be calm but with the strong wind, the strong waves came along. Spring still considered as a low season in Malta with few tourist and relatively lower prices than summer.
Sunny summer and white sand along the beach, June-August
From mid-June, Malta is beginning to step into the high season. The average day time is 14 hours so you can enjoy a lot more than in any other season. The sea water can be warmed up to 27 degrees Celsius, allowing people to enjoy the sun along the beach and swimming in turquoise-like water. The temperature can go up between 27 to 35 degrees Celsius and the lowest will be between 18 to 22 degrees Celsius at night. The temperature increases along with the prices of accommodation and plane tickets. Plan a lot in advance if you would like to visit Malta during this high season time.
Cooler breeze in rainy autumn, September-November
At the end of summer, the temperature begins to decrease again in September, but the sea water will still be as warm as the weather, but the beaches started to have less people. If you do not mind a little bit more chilly weather, September and October are a perfect time to avoid the packed beaches and tourist attractions. The temperature will drop a little, in the day time the maximum will be between 24 to 28 degrees Celsius while the minimum is 17 to 20 degrees Celsius. In November, the temperature drops significantly to a maximum of 20 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 14 degrees Celsius. In Autumn, it also starts to rain more frequently.
Cold winter with tradition festivals, December-February
Winter is not a perfect time to visit Malta for the beach, but yet a good time to experiences numerous local festivals and Christmas preparations at cultural heritage sites. It will rain a bit more than any other season, and much more in January and February. However, the temperature is still warmer than any other European country. The maximum temperature will be between 15 to 17 degrees Celsius while the minimum ranges from 9 to 11 degrees Celsius.
Although Malta is a small country, the cost of everything is not very cheap. There are several restaurants where you can enjoy a variety of food at a lower price but most restaurants can be quite expensive. A single transportation expense per ride is quite expensive, so it is better to buy a transportation card with a package that suits your trip; while the entrance fee to the museums and historical sites is not that expensive and is affordable. You can expect to spend around 80€ per day per person, excluding the accommodation.
Food in Malta is a perfect combination of Sicilian, British, Spanish, and French cuisine with a fusion of Mediterranean influences. Even though Maltese food has been influenced by several of its neighboring countries, it has its own unique style and ingredients that makes Maltese food something you need to try.
1) RABBIT STEW: Rabbit is commonly served in Malta. Stuffat Tal-Fenek or rabbit stew is considered to be a traditional national dish of Malta. It is slowly cooked with tomato, red wine, and garlic sauce until the meat falls off the bone. Rabbits have tiny bones, so be careful and take small bites; some restaurants may serve their rabbit with kidney and liver chunks if you request it.
2) KAPUNATA: It is the Maltese version of Ratatouille. It is regarded to be a summer dish made from fresh tomatoes, capers, aubergines, and green peppers.
3) MINESTRA: A thick golden vegetable soup made from fresh and seasonal vegetables, always served along with a slice of Maltese bread and olive oil. Maltese usually eat Minestra during the wintertime.
4) MALTESE SAUSAGE: Zalzett Tal Malti or the Maltese sausage is a salty, garlic sausage with coriander flavor. Zalzett has been loved widely by meat lovers and it is quite difficult to find it anywhere but Malta, so enjoy this sausage as much as you can during your visit in Malta!
5) MALTESE BREAD: Maltese people said that it is a crime to leave Malta without trying the local Maltese sourdough bread or Ħobż Tal-Malti. It comes with a crunchy crust on the outside and a soft dough inside. The Maltese bread is usually served as an appetizer before the meal, it always comes with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
6) PASTIZZI: The popular pasty of Malta, Pastizzi, is a fluffy pastry stuffed with ricotta cheese or mushy peas. It is common and easy to find anywhere across the island.
7) TIMPANA: It is made of meat, vegetable, cheese, Bolognese sauce, and macaroni; it is baked until it becomes perfectly golden brown with a crispy surface on the top and soft and warm macaroni rich of sauce on the bottom. It can be regarded as a macaroni pie and it tastes as good as it sounds.
8) ĠBEJNIET: A cheese made from goat or sheep milk, it has a texture and milky flavor of mozzarella. It usually comes in a small round shape, and you can find Ġbejniet cheese in many forms from such as salt-cured, sundried, or crushed black pepper.
9) LAMPUKI PIE: As Malta is surrounded by the sea, the fish Lampuki is a a common fish caught around the island. Lampuki is used to make Lampuki fish pie made from Lampuki fish, potato, spinach, capers mint, and olive oil.
10) ĦOBŻ BIŻ-ŻEJT: A slice of crusty Maltese bread being covered with juicy tomato and topped with cheese, tuna, onion, and olive oil along with a pinch of salt and pepper. This is a popular snack and street food among Maltese people and tourists wanting an authentic Maltese taste.
11) CANNOLI: Cannoli or Kannoli is the Maltese sweet inspired by the Italian sweet dish from Sicily. It comes in the shape of a crunchy tube, stuffed with the mix of sweet and sour ricotta cheese and sometimes with dark chocolate, cherry, citrus fruit, or nut cream.
12) TREACLE RING: Or a honey ring is a sweet treat usually eaten during the Christmas time. It is a ring-shaped tube made of molasses stuffed with star anise, clove, and blackstrap molasses. It's a perfect Christmas treat!
13) CASSATA: Another sweet inspired by the sweet from Sicily, Italy, that you can find on the dessert list during Christmas. Cassata is a colorful cake made of marzipan, almond paste, and sweet ricotta cheese.
14) PRICKLY PEAR: Prickly pear can be found anywhere in Malta as it grows abundantly. Its look may not pleasing because it resembles more a cactus than fruit, but it's flavorful taste is similar of strawberry, watermelon, and fig at the same time.
Malta is a very small country and they do not have a metro or tram like other cities and countries in Europe. They only have bus and ferry as the main medium to travel between places and cities. However, even if Malta is a small country, the transportation fee is relatively similar to big cities, like Paris.
1) TRANSPORTATION IN MALTA
As Malta is a small country, almost all cities are accessible by bus leaving some other routes are easier to travel by ferries such going between Valletta and Sliema, between Valletta and Cospicua (The 3 Cities), and to Gozo and Comino Island. There is also the night bus that operates mostly on Friday and weekends after the normal bus had stopped.
TALLINJA CARD: The only medium of transportation on land in Malta is the bus, you can easily access any other places and cities by bus with Malta Public Transportation. There are many choices of Tallinja Card for you to choose from according to your preference such as Personalized Tallinja Card, Explore, ExplorePlus, and 12 Single Day Journeys. Each of the cards has a different price depending on the number of times you can travel.
CASH TICKET: If you think you won't travel a lot by bus, there is no necessity for you to purchase a Tallinja card. Instead, you can purchase the bus ticket directly with the bus driver, but remember that they will only take cash and they would prefer to get the exact price of the ticket. The price of the cash ticket varied by the season. In the winter the price will be 1.50€ per ride and in the summer the price increase to 2€ per ride.
NIGHT ROUTES: The night bus run from around 23:00 until 04:00 depending on the departure and destination. The fee is 3€ per ride and it usually comes every 10-30 minutes. Most of the night route will only operate on Friday and weekends, therefore, if you think you need to use the night service, check the bus availability and schedule to make sure you do not miss the bus.
FERRY: The ferry service operates between Valletta-Sliema and Valetta-Cospicua (The 3 Cities). These destinations are also accessible by bus yet the ferry provides a much shorter travel time. The ferry runs from the morning (06:30-07:00) until night (23:30-00:45), however, the schedule will be slightly different in winter and summer. The normal fare of a single ticket is 1.50€ and return ticket is 2.80€. After 19:30-19:45 the ticket price increase to 1.75€ and 3.30€ respectively. You can purchase the ticket at the harbor or on the ferry and please note that they only accept cash, and cards will not be accepted. The holder of Personalized Tallinja Card will get be able to buy the ticket with the reduced fare price.
2) HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTER FROM MALTA AIRPORT
In Malta, there are number of routes that link the airport to several cities around Malta. There are mainly 6 buses running from the airport to 6 different main destinations. All of the bus stops are just across the road from Departures Hall at Malta International Airport. You can either purchase the ticket directly from the bus driver or at the Malta Public Transport Sales and Information Office in the Arrivals Hall or the card-dispensing machine in front of the office which available 24 hours a day.
The X routes will be running to most localities in Malta which will stop at every bus stop. However, the TD routes stand for Tallinja Direct routes which is the direct bus running from the airport directly to your destination which is quicker than the X routes
BUS X1: The bus will stop at these main destinations such as Mellieha, St. Paul's Bay, and Qawra
BUS X2: The bus will stop at these main destinations such as St. Julian's and Sliema
BUS X3: The bus will stop at these main destinations such as Bugibba and Qawra
BUS X4: The bus will stop at Valletta, a main destination
BUS TD2: Running directly from Malta International Airport to St. Julian's
BUS TD3: Running directly from Malta International Airport to Bugibba and Qawra
3) MALTA TRANSPORTATION CARD
Besides the cash ticket on the bus, Malta Public Transport is offering various choices of transportation cards from daily to monthly use. Explore, ExplorePlus, and 12 Single Day Journeys Card can be purchased at the Malta Public Transport Sales and Information Office at the in the Arrivals Hall at the airport or at the card-dispensing machine in front of the office which available for 24 hours.
1. EXPLORE: The Explore Card allows you to travel unlimited by bus for 7 consecutive days and it is valid starting from the first day and time the card is validated on the bus. So you will be able to hop on hop off the bus at any destination, any time of the day. Note that the card cannot be shared the card with other people
Price: Adult 21€ / Children up to 10 years old 15€
2. EXPLORE PLUS: Apart from the unlimited travel by the bus for 7 consecutive days including the direct services (TD Routes) from the airport and to the beaches, ExplorePlus Card added value to your holidays in Malta by providing the 2 extra round trips on Valletta ferry. Moreover, it also has the 2 alternative choices for you to choose either between a full day tour by Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus or a boat trip to Comino Island where the Blue Lagoon is situated.
The card is valid for seven days of travel from the first day the card is validated.
3. 12 SINGLE DAY JOURNEYS: This is a very cost effective way of traveling, the 12 Single Day Journeys allows you to travel for 12 single rides on the bus. The card is valid for 1 year from the first time you validate it on the bus, and it can also be shared with your friends and family. It also can be used with the night services, and the card gives you the option of 12 single journeys for the day service or 6 single journeys for the night service or even the combination of both.
4. PERSONALIZED TALLINJA CARD: Consists of 5 different types of card in 5 different colors which are for adult, child, student, Gozo resident, and concession. The card can be registered and purchased online if the required documents are presented. The registration fee is 10€ and the minimum top-up amount is 20€ in order to activate the card.
If you are a student, don't forget to bring or prepare an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) as there are many discount benefits for students in Malta, whether it is the museums or historical sites. Before purchasing the ticket, check if there is any discount for student and present your ID card.
1) MALTA PASS: Since there are many tourist attractions in Malta, there is an option called the "Malta Pass" which allows you to visit more than 35 of the most popular museums and architectural and historical attractions for free around the whole country, and it also includes a free sightseeing bus ride.
Price: 1-day 49.95€ / 2-day 79.95€ / 3-day 99.95€
2) VALETTA CARD: With the newly launched "Valletta Card" in 2018, it allows you to travel to, from, and within Valletta by bus and 2 trips by ferry for free as well as access to tourist attractions in Valletta. You can choose to enter three of the following listed attractions for free which include The Palace State Rooms, The Palace Armoury, The National Museum of Archaeology, and Malta 5D.
Price: 24 hours 19€
The currency in Malta is Euro, thus, if you are traveling in Europe, you do not have to bother exchange the money back and forth. Even though most of the restaurants, cafes, and bars are accepting both cash and card, it is better to spare some cash in case some shops have the minimum payment of card and you do not want to spend more money just to be able to pay by card.
1) NOUGAT: It is one of the most popular sweets sold in Malta when the festive season comes around. Nougat can be found everywhere throughout the city streets and supermarket. This nutty sweet block usually comes with almonds, Maltese people like to have a slice with their afternoon tea. The bestseller is the original flavor, the other flavors are vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate.
2) MALTESE CROSS: The Maltese Cross is considered to be the national symbol of the Republic of Malta with the four "V" arrowhead-shape pointing out at four directions. You will find the Maltese Cross anywhere in the souvenir shops. It can be featured in any souvenirs you can think of such as on the magnet, limestone, filigree, sterling, earrings, necklace, and many more. Bring back some Maltese Cross as a symbol to remind you about this amazing trip in Malta.
3) LUZZU FIGURINE: Luzzu is a traditional fishing boat of Malta. Traditionally, it is brightly painted in the shades of yellow, red, green, and blue. At the bow of the boat, it is normally pointed with a pair of eyes. Luzzu is as much Malta national image as the Maltese Cross. You will be able to find Luzzu figurine anywhere, it is colorful and worth buying as one of your home decoration.
4) EYE OF OSIRIS: Eye of Osiris or Eye of Horus, usually found at the bow of Luzzu. The Eye of Osiris was believed that it is the modern survival of an ancient Phoenician custom and ancient Greeks, they believe that it is the Phoenicians' God of Protection against evil. You will see these eyes everywhere at the souvenir shops, it is colorful, beautiful, yet full of meaning.
5) KNIGHT OF MALTA FIGURINE: For over 200 years, Malta was the home of the Order of Saint John. Valletta, the capital city was built by the knights back then and the famous Maltese Cross was actually the cross of the Order of Saint John. You will be able to find the Knights of Malta figurines in almost every souvenir shop in Malta, they come in numerous size from the tiny one to a huge size, the price varied by its size and quality.
6) FILIGREE: It was originated in ancient Greek and Rome, but nowadays, Malta has been the specialty in filigree. It is all handmade by the artisans, mostly come in a piece of jewelry and ornaments. It made of gold or silver wires delicately crossed one another. You can consider buying the earrings, necklace, or bracelet as an accessory to yourself or as a gift to your friends or family.
7) MALTESE LACE: The handwoven cotton lace is very beautiful and is one of the specialties from the island of Malta. You will find the mini lace umbrella as house decoration or a tablecloth, coaster, and much more. The price varied depending on the size of the lace, but it is not very expensive.
8) MDINA GLASS: Mdina Glass is a colorful glass produced by the artisans by blowing the glass and shape it by hand. It comes in many shapes to serve several purposes mainly to furnish and decorate the house. You can buy some of their candle holders, vases, glasses, dishes, or tiny animal figurine and bring it back to decorate your home in a unique way. Each piece has a unique design since it is handmade.
9) LIMESTONE: Golden limestone or Globigerina, is the limestone from Malta, the same rock that Maltese people uses to build their house in the ancient time. You can still see the many limestone buildings situated on the island. Apart from the house, limestone has been made as the decorative objects found easily in the souvenir shops. Most of the time it comes in the shape of candle holders or a tiny accessory box.
10) DOORKNOB: You will see these doorknobs a lot in Malta while walking on the street with different kinds of design such as the lion, dolphin, fish, or even the Maltese Cross. The brass black doorknob is beautifully outstanding from the olive green or red door which is widely seen in Malta. You will be able to find them in an antique shop or some souvenir shops, the price starting from 50€ to 600-700€. Beware of the weight since it is quite heavy.
11) OLIVE OIL: Recent research has proved that 2,000 years ago, the Romans were producing olive oil in Malta. Malta is considered to have a perfect climate to grow olive trees with the right temperature climate, right soils, right sunshine, and right rain. This made Malta one of the big producers of olive oil. Several types of Maltese olive oil can be bought easily in the supermarket from the regular to the extra virgin one.
12) CACTUS DRINK: The prickly pear full of seeds may look difficult to cook or eat, but you can instead enjoy its sweet taste as a liqueur to drink before or after your meal. The cactus drink can be found widely in almost every supermarket. The most traditional one is, of course, the prickly pear or "Bajtra", but you can also find other flavors as well such as Maltese local honey or aromatic herbs. Zeppi's is the most popular brand of the drink, it comes in many sizes ranges from 5 to 70 cl.
13) CISK BEER: A refresh cool drinks are mostly demanding during warm weather which considered to be the majority weather throughout the year in Malta. Cisk beer is a Maltese beer full of hop aroma and of a golden color. You can find it in all supermarkets.
14) TWISTEES: A pack of Cheesy Twistees is a must when you visit Malta. It is a savory crisp snack which was invented more than 40 years ago but is still beloved by Maltese people now. Try one or more for yourself and bring some back for your friends and family. Even though it looks like normal chips, Maltese people guarantee that it is one of the best chips they could ever have.
Malta is not a great place to do shopping during the holidays. However, in order to get the tax refund in Malta, you will have to spend a minimum of 100€ in one transaction. You must be non-EU residents to be eligible for the tax refund and you have to leave the European Union within 3 months after the date of purchase. The rate is 18% for the general goods and 5% for books and pharmaceuticals.
When you make a purchase and would like to get a tax refund, make sure you ask the shop if they are able to provide you the tax refund form. After you receive the form, fill in the required information and the form will be verified upon exiting the country and refunds would be provided from Fintrax desks upon departure.
There is no specific tipping culture in Malta and therefore it is not required to do so. The service fee has already been included, but locals sometimes leave some small change or some tips when they visit fine dining restaurants or when they experienced nice service.
Maltese people may have their own language, Maltese, but they have been studying the English language along with Maltese, so you do not have to worry when traveling to Malta since almost everyone on the island is able to speak English. Malta is also one of the popular destinations for foreign students to come and study English.
The city is quite hilly which makes it quite difficult to walk and on very tiny streets especially in Valletta. Prepare yourself with comfy shoes and luggage, since you may have to walk a bit to arrive to your accommodation.
The bus interval in Malta is not very accurate according to its timetable shown at the bus stop or on the application. You usually need to wait for the bus longer than expected, therefore, spare some time to travel between the places when you plan the trip in case the bus does not come on time.
Most of the cruise tours to Comino and Blue Lagoon will start to operate every day from the 1st of April as it is the summer border period, before that the cruise will operate depending on the weather forecast. If you are traveling to Malta before the 1st of April, check to see if the cruise tour operates on the day you wish to travel.