The Maltese are very kind towards children, especially the smallest ones. We would constantly have strangers entertaining our son, even teenagers on the bus. He was rarely bored. Our son attracted a lot of attention, and it was always welcome. People were very helpful when they saw us struggling, and the restaurants all had baby chairs and the staff paid a lot of attention to him.
Getting around can be a bit of a challenge though. Pushing a baby carriage up the steep hills is exhausting, and jumping onto a bus to take a rest isn't so easy either. It's improved now they have the modern buses, but often the bus driver won't open the easy access doors at the back unless you ask him. Getting on the bus is a scrum where all the Maltese kindness disappears. There's limited space to put a pushchair on the bus, and these spaces are prioritized for disabled people. We had to give up the spot twice on one trip to Marsaxlokk, on the way there, and on the way back. Our son was not happy to sit in my lap for an hour.
Pavements are generally pretty good, but the traffic is quite dangerous. Drivers don't often stop at zebra crossings even when they see you are with a push chair. Often I had to move out a little into the road to get them to pay attention and stop, and even then I risked having some idiot overtake the stopped car and hit me. The bus drivers are also often reckless and act like they are competing in a Formula One race, which is both bad when you are on the street and inside desperately trying to stop your child flying down the corridor.
For what is a relatively flat island, Malta sure has its share of steep hills. The problem is that it seems almost every town is built on some kind of hill. Valletta is the worst, with some of the steepest, scariest streets I've ever experienced, but Sliema and the Three Cities are also challenging. Riding a bike down some of them would be an exhilarating and quite possibly life threatening experience. You'll need to develop iron calves if you want do so some serious urban exploring.
One thing I found with Valletta, though, was that if you see a really steep street, like the one in the photo, you probably don't need to use it. Valletta is laid out in neat rows, and often if a street heads straight down into the depths of the rock, the next one is just a slight incline and takes you to the same place.
Valletta is built on the side and to the top of a hill.
For people with trouble breathing, try to start at the top, and zig-zag your way to the bottom as much as possible and catch a Bus back to the top. I found some streets had steps all the way to the top, not the best for people with walking problems.
Remember your asthma spray!
- Hiking and Walking
- Budget Travel
HOP ON OFF BUS TOUR WITH MALTA SIGHTSEEING
I have written this under warnings, as this Bus service CAN-NOT RUN ON TIME!
Reading the brochure, it sounds good. Four different tours are offered, Red, Green, Blue and the Black night time tour. All of them cost 15 euros.
We chose the Blue tour as it went to Mosta and Mdina. All went well, until we waited for the Bus at Mdina. The queue was a mile long, and we missed getting on, so we queued again. We waited and waited, and the Bus never came. Eventually, after 1.5hours of wasted time, and another queue of people a mile long, we got on the Bus. Thanks to this terrible service, we didn't see all of Valletta that we wanted to.
Make sure you take a jacket, as in the open air up the top, it was quite cool.
IT IS MEANT TO OPERATE.....
Every half hour from 9 - 3pm on weekdays
9-1pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.
I would not recommend this company.
If you still are interested, the website has all the details.
- Road Trip
DONT UNDERESTIMATE THE STRENGTH OF THE SUN
I really enjoyed the time that I spent in Malta.I had the really good fortune to be invited by a friend to spend a few weeks in Malta to stay on his boat...A really lovely little yacht that he had built himself and was very comfortable.Although he lives in Amsterdam he spends all the summer months in the meditteranean..The one thing I did notice was the extreme heat. This extreme sunshine and heat makes it imperative to wear a good strong sunscreen when out in the sun here..Sunburn is quick and can be very painful..also very dangerous creating skin cancers.Make sure when applying sun screen that you cover your nose and the tops of your ears if they are exposed.as these areas are critical . I always carry also a small tube of moisturiser and a small tube of lip balm.. make sure that you are also carrying sufficient fresh bottled water with you..
- Sailing and Boating
- Hiking and Walking
Watch your step.........
If you have difficulties in walking you should be aware that pavements in Valletta are often narrow, frequently very uneven and in poor condition, and often blocked by signs, rubbish bags and so on.
Many people prefer to walk in the roads. Drivers are quite used to this, and make allowances.
Some of Valletta's streets are really quite steep, and some are stepped. So, again, if you have mobility difficulties (or are travelling with someone who has) you should be aware that what appears to be the most direct route may not actually be feasible.
- Family Travel
Just like in all countries, do be careful of pick pockets...it is not a big the problem in Malta but it does happen once in while. My friend was robbed of her purse once after buying something from an open air market. After buying something a man came up to her asking to see the receipt, saying that he was from the VAT Dept. He even showed her a card! Anyway, she did and later found out that she was robbed of ther purse without even realising!!!
car vs bus
In our experience, most rented cars come with the V permit (to enter Valletta) so always ask for it when you rent a car. We found renting a car rather easy. We also found out it was cheaper if you go to some small local garage rather than to the large car rental companies at the airport. Haggling in the low tourist season is kind of accepted at the first but not at the latter. We found we could rent a reasonable car for as low as LM6.00 or LM7.00 a day, but only after some haggling.
Buses are great but always check the change. Ask the price before and try to have the right amount with you. Valletta is great in that the buses all terminate their journey infront of the main gate of Valletta.
I suggest you forget renting out a motorbike as the Maltese are not renowned for their driving manners so it proves rather dangerous driving a bike in those roads. Also be ready for rough roads in most places. Although through membership in the EU, the government is finally doing something about the roads, it's a big task and will take some time.
Horse Drawn Sight Seeing
A number of people warned us about getting on the horse drawn sight-seeing tours.
Apparently the drivers tend to over charge.
Personally I found the constant hassling for business, as you walked along, a turn-off.
Plus I'm sentimental about horses and wouldn't get one to drag my weight around especially in the climate. Most of them looked as if they needed a drink.
Which is what we went for instead of the ride ;)
Driving may be a real hassle...
Driving may be a real hassle here as there are many narrow and oneway streets and parking may be difficult to find. Most importantly, your car will need a special permit to drive here. In my opinion, save yourself the trouble and just take the bus or ferry.
Not recommended to visit ....
The sign on the picture translates to "Centre for washing fish boxes" ... what isn't translatable is the stink ;-)
Wear comfortable shoes and be...
Wear comfortable shoes and be careful where you walk because the roads are uneven and a nightmare sometimes, especially if you're in a bit of a hurry :-) There are quite a few steps too!!