First things first, in Malta they drive on the left side of the road like in the U.K. This isn’t difficult (we used to live in England so we had no problem) – it just requires a bit of a brain shift, especially on roundabouts. Typically if there are cars in front of you, you simply follow them. The problem comes when you are alone on the road and you want to return to that right-side driving. Be sure to look both ways before crossing or turning into the roads – remember the cars will be coming from the other direction! Once you master this, the rest is fairly straight forward.
The roads around Valletta and Saint Julian’s are very congested, especially during rush hours, and the driver’s are fearless. So just drive carefully and watch out for others. These city roads are in good shape for the most part.
However, once you head out of the city the roads deteriorate and you’ll find yourself dodging huge potholes. In some places the roads are extremely wide with no lines and in other areas a two-lane road will be the width for one car and surrounded by stone walls! (the photo above was one of the roads we were on)
Within the walled part of Valletta, I would highly recommend you not plan to drive unless you absolutely have no choice. The roads are narrow, available parking is scare, and there are lots of pedestrians. If you have a car, try to park outside the walled city and walk into it. Better yet – catch a bus or taxi from your hotel and leave your car parked for the day.
Streets are not very clearly marked so I recommend bringing along a GPS (or renting one from the rental car agency). Even then, be careful of what your GPS settings are since you may find yourself on some back roads that really are not designed for cars! More than once we had to turn around and head back another way. We also encountered a lot of construction and detours so our GPS came in handy for that as well, although as long as you know which cities you are heading towards, the detour signage was decent.
And to quote the clerk at the rental car agency: “Drivers in my country are very bad,” he says with a smile.
With the exception of the very busy city sections of Malta, we didn’t have problems finding parking, usually free and along the streets. We felt safe leaving our car when we did (of course, we didn’t leave valuables in the car).
If you are staying within Valletta and are not planning to travel the country roads, I suggest you simply use a taxi and skip the parking. Hotel parking can be pricey (although the Hilton we stayed at in St. Julians had free parking) and it is extremely difficult to find street parking in the city. The few larger lots along the edges of the Valletta walls had cars parked every which way and the first ones in were blocked by rows of other cars.
Taxi fees are standardized in Malta when taking a taxi to specific locations. We used a taxi on our second visit to Malta to get back and forth between our hotel in Valletta and the airport. From the airport, you get a taxi by going to the taxi stand just outside near the car rental agencies. It is at this point that you pay for your taxi and then you are shown to the next waiting vehicle and driver. For example, standard fare from to/from St. Julian’s is €20 and to/from Valletta is €15 (2012). We didn’t need a taxi for other parts of Malta but were told by our hotel that should we need one, to negotiate a fare prior to agreeing to use the cab – this is only if the taxi is going to an area that is not part of the standard fares.
Maybe you don't have your accommodation in Valleta but in another place, so first, how to get there? Check my Malta (island) tips on transportation/buses.
All the buses stop around the Triton Fountain (pic), a few meters before the City Gate, the main entrance of the city.
Once you arrive in Valletta, forget about buses, you only need a good pair of shoes because everything is within walking distance, the city is not big, just 900 by 630 metres.
I just read about these little electric cabs today but haven't seen or used any of them myself yet. Apparently they started on 25th June 2007 and can carry passengers from CT stands within Valletta to destinations in the City itself.
Passengers can either board a CT Cab from the CT Cab stands or call for a cab using the telephone numbers below. They can also be boarded from any part of Valletta if the cab has seats available. The cab can take up to three passengers.
The cost of a one-way trip in the centre of Valletta (Zone A) is 45 Malta cents for the first passenger and 10 cents for any additional passenger. A one-way trip in the City exterior boundary (Zone B) costs 90 cents for the first passenger and 20 cents for any additional passenger.
The service operates every day, including public holidays, from 7 am to 8 pm, but a night service is also available upon request by phone.
AIR: There is a helicopter service operating all year round between Malta and Gozo. A quick alternative to the ferry service, it runs eight times a day and takes only ten to fifteen minutes.
SEA: A passenger car ferry operates several times daily between Cirkewwa in Malta and Mgarr in Gozo, with connections to Comino. Crossing time is about 30 minutes. Services to Comino operate from mid-March to mid-November. For further information, contact the Gozo Channel Company, Hay Wharf, Sa Maison in Malta.
Driving is on the left. Speed limit is 64kph (40mph) on highways and 40kph (25mph) in residential areas. Bus: Good local services operate from Luqa, Valletta, Sa Maison and Victoria (Gozo) to all towns. Taxi: Identifiable by their all-white livery. Although taxis are under meter charge at government-controlled prices, it is best to agree prices before departure. Car hire: A number of car hire firms offer self-drive cars. Both Hertz and Avis have desks at the airport. Rates on Malta are among the cheapest in Europe. Documentation: Valid international driving licence required.
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