Basic Info

basic info

Welcome to Malta! Often referred to as one big open-air museum, the Maltese archipelago is made up of three islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino – situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, 93 km south of Sicily and 288 km north of Africa. The total population is just over 400,000 inhabitants, spread across an area of 316 square kilometres.

Malta is the largest of the islands and generally referred to as the mainland, encompassing the islands’ cultural, commercial and administrative centre. Gozo, the sister island, is known for its slow pace and rural way of life, while Comino, the smallest of the three, at just 3.5 square kilometres, is largely uninhabited and makes for a great spot for day trips.

The islands share a rich history spanning thousands of years, with past inhabitants leaving astounding relics that offer a window into the past. From megalithic structures to medieval remnants and Baroque architecture, you can truly trace the history of human civilisation here.

Boasting year-round sunny weather and beautiful beaches, as well as a burgeoning foodie and nightlife scene, along with their 7,000 years of fascinating history, the Maltese islands make for a holiday destination that truly has something for everyone.

When to Visit

when to visit

jun sepJune - Sep

If it's sun and sea you’re after, this is the perfect time to visit the Maltese islands. Be warned that it can get sweltering hot, particularly in July and August, with temperatures often rising to over 35°C. If you’re visiting in the summer months, remember to apply plenty of sun protection cream regularly, wear a hat and a good pair of sunglasses, and drink plenty of water to keep hydrated.

oct decOct - Dec

The highest levels of rainfall are recorded in November and December, but a visit in October could give you one final chance to take a dip in the Med. At this time of year, it’s great to head to all the wonderful museums and historic sites, and enjoy the outside areas of Malta and Gozo’s many eateries – do carry a cardigan for when it gets chilly though!

jan marJan - Mar

Winter is generally mild in Malta, with the average daytime temperature being about 17°C. Ironically, these months are also quite dry, with just 37mm of average rainfall in March. It can get pretty humid though, giving the impression that temperatures are lower than they really are.

apr mayApr - May

Spring is a short season in Malta, but it’s the best time to enjoy the countryside before the summer heat, go camping, and travel the length and breadth of the islands on foot – visiting interesting sites or simply enjoying the breeze along the coast. At this time of the year, there is a relatively low possibility of rain, around ten hours of sunshine a day, and the average temperatures hover between 20°C and 24°C.

Getting Around

by air

Arriving & Leaving by Air

All flights arrive at Malta International Airport in Luqa (+356 2124 9600, www.maltairport.com). The Maltese islands are only a few hours away from major European cities by air. The national airline, Air Malta, operates flights to and from many of the major airports in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Other international low-cost carriers operate regular scheduled flights to and from Malta.

Airline Contacts

Flight Enquiries & Schedules

The Malta International Airport has a 24hr flight enquiry service (+356 5230 2000, www.maltairport.com). Online schedules are updated every five minutes.

by sea

By Sea

A regular ferry and catamaran service links several Italian ports to Valletta. A number of shipping lines serve some Mediterranean ports as well.

Shipping Line Contacts

internal transport

Internal Transport

The public transport network of buses covers nearly all the islands. Car hire rates in Malta are good value. You can also enjoy a relaxing boat trip by taking a harbour cruise or cross between Valletta and Sliema at half hourly intervals.

Buses

Malta’s bus service is operated by Malta Public Transport. The service runs daily between approximately 5.30am and 11pm, while night buses operate in some areas after this time.
109 routes travel to various hubs, offering connections to places of interest, beaches, hotels and nightlife spots. Timetable leaflets are available for all routes, as well as a free holiday bus map highlighting tourist-specific services. The service runs six express routes (X1, X1A, X2, X3, X4 and X1B) to various localities from the airport, serving the Gozo ferry terminal too.

Different types of tickets are available from several points of sale: ticket machines at bus stations; ticket offices and/or street ticket sellers at the airport, Valletta, Bugibba, Sliema and Rabat (Gozo) bus stations, as well as other localities; on board; authorised resellers including hotels and online. Visitors can apply for a personalised ‘tallinja’ bus card online, giving them access to reduced bus fares. The card needs to be booked at least two weeks in advance and a Maltese address, which could also be that of the hotel, needs to be provided. The card will then be delivered directly to an indicated address outside Malta.

Other products are also available for immediate use, including the 12 Single Day Journey card and the Explore 7 Day card. The former allows users to travel for 12 journeys on day services or six journeys on night services or a combination of both for €15. This card can be used immediately and may be shared and used more than once on the same bus trip. The Explore 7 Day card offers unlimited travel by bus throughout Malta and Gozo, on all day and night services. It can be used immediately upon purchase and is valid for seven consecutive days from the first validation. The card is valid for one person only and it cannot be shared. The Explore card for adults costs €21 and the one for children costs €15. These cards can be purchased from the ticket booths and from other leading outlets. An online journey planner and full list of routes are available at www.publictransport.com.mt.

Car Hire

Most international car hire companies have a branch in Malta. Local companies offer this service too, with or without a chauffeur. Car hire rates are very reasonable compared to those in other European countries.

Taxis

A number of taxi companies offer 24hr taxi services and are fitted with meters. If you opt to take a taxi from Malta International Airport, pay the fare at the taxi ticket booth in the arrivals lounge and you will receive a ticket showing the destination and fare paid. Hand the ticket to the driver at the end of your journey. Any complaints should be addressed to Transport Malta (+356 2122 2203). 

Bicycles

Global public bike sharing system Next Bike has recently come to Malta, and offers bikes 24/7 from a variety of areas around the island. All you need to do to get on two wheels is download the app and register for free – then grab yourself a bike from Pembroke, Sliema, St Julian’s, San Gwann, Ta’ Xbiex, Msida, Gzira, Swatar, Vittoriosa or Valletta. Visit www.nextbike.com.mt for more information.

Ferries

Regular ferry services operate throughout the day connecting Valletta, Sliema and the Three Cities. View full schedules can be found on www.vallettaferryservices.com

to gozo

Travelling to Gozo

A regular ro-ro ferry service carries passengers and cars between Malta and Gozo. For information and timetables contact The Gozo Channel Company Ltd (+356 2210 9000, www.gozochannel.com).

Good to Know

bankBanks

Banks are normally open between 8.30am and 1.30pm from Monday to Thursday; between 8.30am and 3.30pm on Friday and until 12.30pm on Saturday. Some banks open for longer hours, but summer hours are shorter.

currencyCurrency Exchange

Malta adopted the euro on 1st January 2008. International bankcards are accepted and foreign currency is easily exchanged. Banks, Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and exchange bureaux can be found all over the islands.

duty freeDuty Free

You’ll find several Duty Free Shops at the Arrivals and Departures Hall at the Malta International Airport. Duty Free means that no excise duty is payable to the local Government on items purchased, and since Malta is a member of the European Union, items classed as Duty Free are only sold to passengers flying to non-EU countries.

This Duty Free status applies to all cigarettes, tobacco and selected spirits. On your way out of Malta, Duty Free allowances for each adult are:

• 200 cigarettes or the equivalent in cigars or tobacco;
• 1 bottle of spirit;
• 1 bottle of wine;
• a reasonable amount of perfumes or aftershaves.

casinoCasinos

Malta has several excellent casinos. Admission requires an identity card or passport. Foreign nationals must be 18 years old to enter. Maltese citizens must be 25. The casinos also offer a choice of cuisines from international fare to Mediterranean specialities at their restaurants.

crimeCrime

Report any incident as soon as possible to the police. The emergency number to call is 112 and the Police General Headquarters are in Floriana (+356 2122 4001). Below is a list of some of the police stations.

Mosta Police Station
+356 2294 3551/2141 4106

Qawra Police Station
+356 2294 3601

Rabat (Gozo) Headquarters
+356 2156 2040

Sliema Police Station
+356 2294 3351

St Julian’s Police Station
+356 2294 3401

A full list of numbers can be found on www.pulizija.gov.mt.

accessiblityAccessibility

Both the government and the private sector are constantly working towards improving accessibility into museums, attractions, cultural venues, and the historic centres of towns and villages. Visitors may contact the Malta Tourism Authority (+356 2291 5000, www.visitmalta.com) to enquire whether a particular site or venue has easy access or facilities for the disabled. If assistance is required at the airport, the airline must be notified before the flight. The airline will inform the Malta International Airport (MIA) directly. The MIA provides assistance both airside and landside.

The Commission for the Disabled, a governmental organisation dedicated to improving the lives of disabled people on the Maltese islands, provides information on how best to get around and on other related organisations.
Bugeja Institute, Braille Street, Sta Venera. (+356 2278 8555, www.knpd.org).

electricityElectricity

The electrical supply is 230 volts, 50 hertz. The three-pin rectangular plug system is used, as in Britain.

embasyEmbassies

British High Commission
Whitehall Mansions, Ta’ Xbiex Seafront, Ta’ Xbiex (+356 2323 0000, www.gov.uk/government/world/malta). Open 9am-1pm Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri.

French Embassy
130 Melita Street, Valletta (+356 2248 0600, www.ambafrance-mt.org). Open 9am-1pm Mon-Fri; 2-5pm
Mon-Fri by appointment only.

German Embassy
Whitehall Mansions, 3rd Floor, Ta’ Xbiex Seafront, Ta’ Xbiex (+356 2260 4000, www.valletta.diplo.de). Open 9am-noon Mon-Wed, Fri; also 1.15-4.15pm Wed.

Italian Embassy
5 Vilhena Street, Floriana (+356 2123 3157, www.amblavalletta.esteri.it). Open 9.30am-12.30pm
Mon-Fri; also 1-3pm Thur.

healthHealth

Malta has an excellent healthcare service. Private and public hospitals are supported by a regional network of health centres. Visitors are advised to take out a personal medical insurance policy, particularly if they are not EU nationals. EU, EEA and Swiss nationals holding the European Health Insurance Card have access to Malta’s public healthcare and are entitled to free public medical and hospital care in both Malta and Gozo. Malta also has a reciprocal health agreement with Australia. Australians visiting the islands for no longer than one month are entitled to free medical and hospital care in both Malta and Gozo. Visitors receiving special medical treatment should bring a medical prescription or a letter of introduction from their family doctor in case they need to purchase particular medicines.

emergencyAccidents & Emergencies

For any emergency services dial 112. The public general hospitals have 24-hour accident and emergency departments.

chemistChemists

Chemists are found throughout the islands and are open during normal shopping hours. On Sundays they operate on a roster from 9am to 12.30pm in Malta and from 7.30am to 11am in Gozo. Details of the roster are available in the local Sunday newspapers or on www.pharmacy.com.mt/roster.

doctorsDentists and Doctors

A full list of dentists and doctors is found on www.yellow.com.mt. The public hospitals in Malta and Gozo provide emergency services for free to EU and EEA nationals holding the European Health Insurance Card. General consultations cost around €25.

hospitalsPrivate Hospitals

St James Hospital
Gorg Borg Olivier Street, Sliema (+356 2329 1000, www.stjameshospital.com). Also at St James Square, Zabbar

St Thomas Hospital
Valletta Road, Qormi (+356 2148 2482)

hospitalsPublic Hospitals

Mater Dei Hospital
Birkirkara Bypass, Birkirkara (+356 2545 0000)

Gozo General Hospital
Rabat, Gozo (+356 2156 1600)

stdsSTDs

The Genito-Urinary Clinic provides free professional help and advice if you are suffering from a genitourinary condition, or if you are in doubt. The clinic provides confidential diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and related conditions (+356 2122 7981).

lost luggageLost Luggage

In case of any lost luggage you should immediately get in touch with your airline. If you are flying with Air Malta call +356 2369 6135.

museumsMuseums & Sites

Public museums and sites are generally open daily from 9am to 5pm. Museums and sites are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Good Friday. Last admission is 30 minutes before closing time.

postPostal Service

Most towns and villages have post or sub-post offices. Branch post offices in Malta and Gozo are open between 7.30am and 1pm from Monday to Saturday. Sub-post offices are open between 8am and 1pm, and 4pm and 6pm from Monday to Friday and between 8am and 1pm on Saturday.

public holidaysPublic Holidays

Malta has a considerable number of public holidays:
1 January – New Year’s Day
10 February – St Paul’s Shipwreck
19 March – The Feast of St Joseph
31 March – Freedom Day
March/April – Good Friday
1 May – Labour Day
7 June – Sette Giugno
29 June – St Peter and St Paul (L-Imnarja)
15 August – The Assumption of Our Lady (Santa Marija)
8 September – Our Lady of Victories
21 September – Independence Day
8 December – Immaculate Conception
13 December – Republic Day
25 December – Christmas Day

religionReligion

Most Maltese are Catholic, but other religious denominations are also represented. There are small Anglican, Church of Scotland, Greek Orthodox, Jewish, Methodist and Muslim communities. Religious services are held by the various denominations.

shoppingShops

Shops are normally open between 9am and 1pm, and between 4pm and 7pm, although increasingly shops are opening all day. In tourist areas many shops remain open till 10pm. Shops are normally closed on Sundays and public holidays. Every day an open-air market is set up in Valletta. On Sunday mornings, markets are also organised in most towns or villages. The largest is in Valletta, while the most picturesque is in Marsaxlokk.

smokingSmoking

No smoking is allowed in any entertainment establishment, including bars and restaurants, unless there is a designated smoking area. Smoking in public places is illegal and carries hefty fines. Smoking is allowed at outdoor venues.

swimmingSwimming

The Maltese coastal waters are generally clean and safe for swimming as there are no tides. Some bays are exposed to north and north-easterly winds that produce some strong undercurrents at times. Ghajn Tuffieha Bay and Golden Bay areas can be potentially dangerous – a red flag flies to indicate when bathing should be restricted to only the innermost, shallow waters.

sunbatingSunbathing

The Maltese archipelago lies virtually at the centre of the Mediterranean and has a latitude more southern than that of northern Tunisia. You are therefore advised to take precautions to ensure you avoid over-exposure to the sun. Children and especially babies need extra protection from the sun. If you are sunbathing, it is advisable to avoid the strongest sunlight between 11am and 4pm in peak summer months.

internetTelephones & Internet

Telecommunications operator GO provides residential and business telecommunications across the Maltese islands. Outlets are located in St Julian’s – Bay Street Shopping Complex; Birkirkara – Salvu Psaila Street; Naxxar – St Paul Street; Paola – A De Paule Square; Mosta – PAMA Shopping Village; Gozo – Republic Street, Rabat.

GO offers international calls starting from €0.25 per minute. To benefit from these rates dial 1021 before the country code complete with the international number (e.g. UK 1021 0044 xxxxxxxx) from your GO SIM (go.com.mt/international). You may get a GO starter SIM Pack for just €15 and get 1GB or local data €5 in credit (go.com.mt/startersim).

Internet cafés are scattered across the islands.

time differenceTime Difference

Malta is on Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of GMT in winter and two hours ahead between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October. Malta is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST) in winter and seven hours ahead between the last Sunday in March and the last Sunday in October.

tippingTipping

Gratuities are usually in the region of 10-15 per cent as in most European countries. As a rule of thumb: taxi drivers – not expected, but up to 10 per cent; porters – €0.25-€0.35 per piece of luggage; restaurants, unless a service charge is added to the bill, 10 per cent.

Useful Contacts

tourist infoTourist Information

Malta Tourism Authority-run offices may be found at:

• 229 Auberge d’Italie, Merchants Street, Valletta (+356 2291 5440). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• Pinto Wharf, Valletta Waterfront, Valletta (+356 2122 0633). Open only when cruise liners are in port.

• The Plaza Shopping Centre, Sliema (+356 2136 3691). Open 9.30am-6pm Mon-Sat.

• Islets Promenade, Bugibba (+356 2141 9176). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• Malta International Airport, Arrivals Lounge, Luqa (+356 2369 6073). Open 10am-9pm daily.

• Xatt is-Sajjieda, Marsaxlokk (+356 2165 1151). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• Iz-Zjara tal-Papa Gwanni Pawlu II – 26 ta’ Mejju 1990 Square, Mellieha (+356 2152 4666). Open 9am-1pm Mon-Sat.

• Torre dello Standardo, St Publius Square, Mdina (+356 2145 4480). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• Inquisitor’s Palace, Main Gate Street, Vittoriosa (+356 2180 0145). Open 9am-5pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• 17 Independence Square, Rabat, Gozo (+356 2291 5452). Open 9am-5.30pm Mon-Sat; 9am-1pm Sun.

• Gozo Channel Ferry Terminal, Mgarr, Gozo (+356 2155 4538). Open 9am-2pm daily.

For further information go to www.mta.com.mt/tio.

useful addressesUseful Addresses

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Palazzo Parisio, Merchants Street, Valletta (+356 2124 2191).

Air Malta Head Office
Level 2, Sky Parks Business Centre, Malta International Airport, Luqa (+356 2299 9000).

Malta Tourism Authority
Building SCM 01, Level 3, Smart City, Ricasoli, Kalkara (+356 2291 5000).

Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority
Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda (+356 2395 2000).

useful numbersUseful & Emergency Numbers

00356 International code
112 Emergency services
112 Ambulance
112 Fire brigade
1182 Directory enquiries
1152 Overseas operator
195 Time check
+356 2122 4001-7 Police
+356 2125 0221 Consumer protection
+356 2122 4781 Lost property
5230 2021 Weather and flight information (rate per call €1)
5004 3888 Emergency vet services

useful websitesWebsites

www.airmalta.com
Timetable, passenger information and online booking and check-in of Air Malta flights.

www.gozochannel.com
Timetable and information on the Malta-Gozo ferry.

www.heritagemalta.org
Information about Malta and Gozo’s heritage sites and museums entrusted to the government’s national heritage agency.

www.maltairport.com
Arrivals, departures, passenger services and weather conditions.

www.go.com.mt
Online telephone directory.

www.transport.gov.mt
Official website of the local transport authority, providing information on the islands’ transport system.

www.timesofmalta.com
The Times of Malta online.

www.maltaweather.com
Up to five-day accurate weather forecasts.