Good to Know
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The electrical supply is 230 volts, 50 hertz. The three-pin rectangular plug system is used, as in Britain.
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.
130 Melita Street, Valletta (+356 2248 0600, www.ambafrance-mt.org). Open 9am-1pm Mon-Fri; 2-5pm
Mon-Fri by appointment only.
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.
5 Vilhena Street, Floriana (+356 2123 3157, www.amblavalletta.esteri.it). Open 9.30am-12.30pm
Mon-Fri; also 1-3pm Thur.
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.
Accidents & Emergencies
For any emergency services dial 112. The public general hospitals have 24-hour accident and emergency departments.
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.
Dentists 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.
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)
Mater Dei Hospital
Birkirkara Bypass, Birkirkara (+356 2545 0000)
Gozo General Hospital
Rabat, Gozo (+356 2156 1600)
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).
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.
Museums & 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Telephones & 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.
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.
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.