You can go almost everywhere in Malta by bus.
Many of these buses are still 1950's Leyland brightly painted in yellow and orange. It is said that from july 2011 lots of them will be replaced with new ones.
The fares are cheap. You can also buy a bus pass for one day or more. The average length of a trip is 20 to 30 minutes. The longest trip takes around 50 minutes.
Tickets are sold by the driver.
WARNING; Keep your ticket for the whole travel. Sometimes a man hops on the bus to control it.
Update; the bus service in Malta has taken over by Arriva bus company. Thus I'm not sure if there are still some old yellow and orange bus.
The Malta buses are an institution in and of themselves. They are old and delightful. One Sunday we rode the bus from Sliema to Valetta and had to stand. We were convinced that it was going to turn over as it went around a curve at what seems a very high speed. The three of us let out a collective shriek which brought gales of laughter from all the locals on the bus. All the little old ladies, dressed in their traditional black outfits and on their way to church, started patting our hands and trying to let us know that we would survive. The most important thing about the buses is that they are a lot safer than trying to drive in Malta where chaos seems to be the best descriptor of the way people drive. Buses go just about everywhere from Valetta.
The Malta International Airport is the only airport serving the Maltese archipelago. It is located between the villages of Luqa and Gudja; some 10km far from Valletta.
It is a small airport, but it has several shops, eateries and cafes.
Once in Malta you can go to Valletta by bus (number 8) or by taxi. At the Welcomers' Hall on Arrivals there is a booth where you can book a taxi for a fixed price. I paid 20 euros for a ride to Sliema.
There is the cheap alternative of taking bus #8 from the airport to the Valletta station, but if you have large bags or a tight schedule, it may not be the best option. Also, if you are not staying in central Vellatta, you still have to get to your final location.
A taxi will typically start at 22Eur, as I've been told that this is a standardized price for the Valletta area. If you are staying in another area, the cost goes even higher.
There are a number of transport services that offer private rides and shared shuttles. We used "Transfers Malta" which offered 4Eur (per person) shared shuttle to anywhere on Malta. They also offered 16Eur private car on our return.
In my opinion, the best transport is renting a car or a jeep! This is a typical place one can do this. This rent a car is situated in Lija just further down from the University Residence. However if you are a student taking the public transport can be very cheap and convenient however if you want to travel and see Malta in depth the best thing is to rent a car and jeep.
By doing this, you can go to places where public transport does not go! At times, if you want to go to not so visited place its best that you do this because taking the bus to not so visited places can take really long because at times you will have to go first to Valletta or Sliema and catch another bus from there so its not so worth it !
Just buy a map, rent an car or a jeep and ride off to explore Malta or Gozo. Be careful some roads can get bumpy :-) !
Maltese buses are the old British Leyland buses that have been redone. They are a cheap way of seeing Malta and a trip from St Pauls Bay to Valletta cost me 20p, not bad for a half hour journey.
Make sure you get a seat because the drivers can put their foot down.
Malta's busses are fantastic. They're old and sometimes delapidated, and possibly they'd be comdemned to the scrapheap back in England. But they're reliable and cheap, and they're so unusual, and beautifully painted.
Bus fares are usually fixed at about 40c (maltese) on the direct route busses, though fares on the more torturous routes are based on the number of fare stages you pass. A weekly bus pass is 5.5LM for unlimited travel.
The routes and numbers are liable to change year on year, but you can get to almost everywhere from Valletta and there are several direct routes from Sliema, St. Julians & Bugibba to most of the main tourist destinations.
There is a regular ferry service between Sliema and Valetta. The ferry leaves from "Sliema ferries" and arrives directly across the bay in Valetta, or vice versa. If going to Valetta, you will have to walk uphill to get to the center of town, so if only taking the ferry once, it is best to take it FROM Valetta to Sliema, so that you walk downhill to catch the ferry.
The schedule is as follows:
May 1st-September 30
Depart Sliema at: 7:30, 8:00, 9:00, 10:00. 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30, 18:00.
7:45, 8:15, 9:15, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45, 12:15, 12:45, 13:15, 13:45, 14:15, 14:45, 15:15, 15:45, 16:15, 17:00, 17:45, 18:15
Sunday and public holidays:
Last departure Sliema 16:00
Last departure Valetta: 16:15
SCHEDULE OCTOBER 1ST-APRIL 30TH
Depart Sliema: 8:00, 9:00, 10:00, 10:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:00, 14:30, 15:00, 15:30, 16:00, 16:30, 17:30
Depart Valetta: 8:15, 9:15, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:45, 12:15, 12:45, 13:15, 13:45, 14;15, 14:45, 15:15, 15:45, 16:15, 17:00, 17:45
Sundays and holidays:
Last departure sliema: 15:30
Last departure Valetta: 15:45
The ferry crossing takes about 5-10 minutes and costs about 1 Lm.
There are buses to most major resorts, and the cost is minimal. However, most people like to just get to their hotel, especially if arriving at strange times of day.
www.resorthoppa.com was superb. For only 22 pounds return, there was a driver waiting for us, and he got us from the airport to the hotel in only 20 minutes.
This is MUCH cheaper than getting the airport shuttle (9 Euro each way) or a taxi at the airport.
The crossing takes about 20 minutes.
Cost per person is about 6 Euro for the return journey, or 15 for a car with 1 pax.
The ferry is basic with a small cafe bar
The ferry runs about every 20 minutes at peak times. Less frequent at other times. I was told it runs 24 hours a day but can't confirm this.
The terminal is at the North of the main island, just past Melliaha and the Red Tower.
We found the main companies such as Budget were much better value than the many smaller operators such as Drifter or Billys.
While it is nice to use the vintage buses, a car makes it so much easier to explore the island.
You won't need much petrol as the island is so small.
We paid around 100 pounds for 3 days hire, including fuel and insurance waiver.
Watch out for the Maltese drivers, they seem to ignore any give way signs.
The main roads/locations are well signed, however, the minor roads are very poor quality and it is easier to get lost
Although the local buses in Malta are good the hop on hop off buses are also a great way of seeing the island.
THE NORTH TOUR
The tour picks you up from your hotel [a city sightseeing minibus]
The double decker bus starts from Sliema ferries at 10.15am.
It drives through Selima, Gzira and ta Xbiex to Valletta bus station where passengers can also get on.
It then goes to Mosta to visit the beautiful church, which you get to visit with a guide.
From there you go to the Ta’qali crafts village and visit a glass blowing centre and a silver jewellery centre.
Next, you visit Rabat where you can get lunch. Then a short walk to mdina and the beautiful walled city.
On the way, back they drop you at your hotel.
The tour lasts about 6 hours.
THE SOUTH TOUR
As with the north tour, you are collected from your hotel and taken to Sliema ferries where the tour starts at 10.15am.
Your first stop is at Valletta where you take a walking tour with your guide. Back on the bus, you visit the three cities stopping at Vittoriosa with a walking tour. Next stop is the Tarxien temples where for 5 euros you can visit the ancient temples. Next stop is marrsaxlokk for lunch. Then after passing the limestone quarries, you go to the blue grotto where you get a chance to go into the grotto on a boat.
The tour then drops you back at your hotel.
You can get tickets for the tours at the ticket booths in Sliema and Valletta, some travel agents [they have a sign in the window, online or from your hotel.
The cost of the tours is-
13 euros adult
9 euros child [5 to 15]
Under 5’s free
If you take the north and south tour, the cost is 15 euros with a free harbour cruise.
The buses were very easy and convenient to use. The one thing that was somewhat of a shock was the lack of doors. The buses look like they are 40 years old and have hard seats, but get you where you need to go.
This was a great way to get from Sliema to Valletta. It was both relaxing and fairly quick. You have to look closely to find the launch in Valletta, as you have to walk down a fairly lenghty set of stairs, but well worth saving the walk.
...............because they are great fun, and very efficient. All in yellow, they operate on a franchise system which means many of them are customised with stickers, logos, dangly bits etc etc. Some of them are most exciting vehicles, apparently, being of the older style.
I've made a travelogue of some bus customisation.
EU regulations have meant tighter controls on exhaust emissions being introduced, so some of the very old buses have had to be removed (and more will be in the next year or so). But there are still plenty of interesting vehicles.
Expect a bumpy ride (Maltese roads are very frequently potholed). I was surprised at how cool the buses were in the August heat: really rather pleasant when they were moving fast (which they do as often as possible!).
They serve most of the island very well. You can get a free bus map from the central bus station there (there are men in little huts around the circumference who will give you one) and plot your journey from there. Buses generally run into and out of Valletta but as you get the hang of the system you can work out where to change buses without having to do that.
Fares are zoned across the island. At the moment (August 2009) one journey in one one costs 47 cents. Good value.
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