Getting around in Malta and Gozo: Public transport, taxis and more
One of the major advantages of Malta’s small size is that getting around is easy and you won’t need much travel time to explore the country. Malta offers a modern, relatively cheap and reliable public transport system of route buses, high-quality taxi services and other types of transport. In other words: There are good (and inexpensive) ways of getting around Malta and Gozo on your holiday.
In this article, I’ll show you all the different types of transport and a little info on hiring a car and driving in Malta.
Getting Around in Malta using public transport
The only type of public transport in Malta nowadays is a system of route buses. There’s no underground or metro and although a railway service once existed (late 19th/early 20th century) all that remains are old train station buildings.
The bus routes, operated by Malta Public Transport can get you anywhere you want to go in Malta and Gozo between 5:30am and 11:00pm. A night service runs on Friday and Saturday nights and on public holidays.
Getting around Malta by bus might not be the fastest way, but other than walking or cycling it is surely the most economical. So if you have a little patience and are not in a hurry, consider using this service.
80+ Malta bus routes connect the most important destinations on the island including the Malta International Airport, the Valletta cruise liner terminal and the Ċirkewwa ferry terminal (from where you can catch the ferry to Malta’s sister island of Gozo).
Buses are fairly efficient, with some occasional hiccups, serving the major tourist areas and places of interest. The main bus terminus is located just outside of Malta’s capital city Valletta. Other major bus nodes are located at the airport, Bugibba, the Ċirkewwa ferry to Gozo and Gozo’s largest town of Victoria.
Using public transport: Tips and handy resources
You can plan your bus trips using the website of Malta Public Transport. Just specify your point of departure and the destination you have in mind and you get all route options available to you.
TIP: The journey planner of Malta Public Transport works alright, but you get better results by looking up the bus stop names through Google Maps and entering departure/arrival points instead of place names.
Other handy resources:
- Download a bus route map here (Malta Public Transport website)
- Install the Malta Public Transport app on your smartphone:
The app makes it easy to plan trips and get real-time info on routes when you’re on the go.
Bus tickets and prices
Bus tickets can be purchased directly from the driver on all buses. In Winter, a ticket costs €1.50 while in Summer it costs €2.00. The night rate is €3.00 all year round.
If you’re planning to stay for 7 or more days, it’s usually more economical to buy a Malta public transport chip card, locally referred to as the ‘tallinja card’. There are two card offerings that are most suited for visiting travellers:
- The Explore card at €21 (adult) or €15 (child) – offering unlimited travel for 7 days
- The 12 Single Day Journey card at €15 – offers reduced fares for 12 journeys (or 6-night trips).
Both cards can be purchased from the Sales and Information office in the arrivals area at the Malta international airport as well as from a number of resellers (e.g. post offices and select stationery shops) across Malta and Gozo.
The old Malta bus – Did you know?
Up until mid-2011, local bus routes were serviced by renovated, brightly coloured buses originally built as far back as the 1950s. Malta’s bus system underwent a major overhaul in recent years, which means the older buses which were much loved by tourists and some locals, vanished from the street sight.
Although no doubt the new buses provide a more comfortable ride and cause significantly less pollution on Maltese roads, the old Maltese bus was an icon of the country. You’ll find a few of these buses providing tourist tours in places like Sliema and a few of them were exported to the UK as well.
How to get to and get around in Gozo
Malta Public Transport operates 14 bus routes in Gozo. But first, you need to get to the Ċirkewwa Ferry Terminal from where you can catch a 20-minute ride across the water on the Gozo Channel ferry that operates daily between Ċirkewwa in Malta and Mġarr in Gozo.
The following bus routes can take you to Ċirkewwa from various towns and villages across the island: 41, 42, 101, 221, 222, 250 and X1.
The Gozo Channel runs a ferry boat service to Gozo on a daily basis, usually with trips every 45 minutes. You can check the ferry schedule here. Foot passengers (adults) are charged €4.65 for a round trip ticket while the charge to carry over a car and driver is €15.70 at time of writing. Payment for tickets is made in Gozo (on your way back to Malta) before boarding the ferry.
Once you make the crossing, you can hop back on a bus from Mġarr harbour in Gozo and ride to other villages in Gozo (route map here). When using the bus service in Gozo you can travel using the same bus cards and tickets used in Malta.
Although it’s definitely the cheapest mode of transport to go around in Gozo, the bus service itself gets mixed reviews for efficiency and punctuality. If you have the budget and you’re looking to stay in Gozo I’d recommend hiring a car instead. It’s pretty easy and safe to drive anywhere in Gozo.
Getting to Gozo from the airport
If you’re looking to travel to Gozo directly from the airport, these are your options:
- The X1 bus route (operated by Malta Public transport) can take you to the ferry at Ċirkewwa for €2.00 per person.
- Taxis and transfers can take you right up to Ċirkewwa
- You can rent a car from the airport and take it up to Gozo. The ferry boats carry cars and trucks between Malta and Gozo.
Taxis in Malta
Several private companies run efficient (but not very cheap) taxi services in Malta. You can book different types of vehicles depending on the number of people travelling – for example, most companies offer both standard cars for up to 4 persons and mini-vans for larger groups.
Where do you grab a cab?
You’ll find taxi stands just outside the Malta International Airport, at City Gate in Valletta and outside the cruise liner terminal, in Sliema and St. Julian’s area, at major bus stations and in the vicinity of popular hotels and tourist resorts.
Most private operators can be reached for a quick pickup as well, apart from the regular taxi stands.
What does a taxi ride typically cost?
- White taxis – which operate the official Malta taxi service – charge fares calculated according to the destination using a fare meter.
- Other private companies that use black, blue or yellow cars have different rates. As an example, a trip from Malta International Airport to Sliema or St. Julian’s in a standard car would cost around €20.
Some of the private taxi operators in Malta:
- eCabs – Contact numbers: +35621383838
- Hicabs – Contact numbers: +35621372137
- William’s Garage – Contact numbers: +35679575146
- Yellow Cabs – Contact numbers: +35622982298
Taxis in Valletta (minicabs)
A service of electric minicabs run in Malta’s capital city of Valletta, charging a flat fare of €5 for three people. Like taxis, these mini cabs can be hired out either by hailing them as they go by or at Electric Mini Cab Stands in Valletta. One can also book a minicab by calling 77414177.
Malta International Airport, located near the villages of Luqa and Gudja, lies only 10 km away from the capital Valletta. Getting to your hotel from the airport is easy as you can choose from a number of options:
- Use the Malta Transfer (private company) shuttle service. They have a booking desk in the baggage reclaim area.
- Hail a cab from the stand full of taxis waiting outside the arrivals lounge.
- Hop onto a route bus (run by Malta Public Transport) which gets you pretty much anywhere at a low cost. Routes X1, X2, X3 and X4 have limited stops and operate to and from the Airport from different localities to different destinations.
- Rent a car from the numerous operators represented there.
Renting a car
Renting a car in Malta is a good option when you want to uncover all the secrets the island has to offer. You might, for example, want to visit hidden, more secluded beaches like the ones I mention in my Top 10 Best Beaches in Malta article.
You can find representatives of car-hire companies at the Malta International Airport, but shopping around for the best rates isn’t a bad idea.
A few key points to consider when hiring a car in Malta:
- Driving is on the left
- Road signs are in English and Maltese
- International driving licences are legal in Malta
- Heavy traffic on the roads around Valletta, Sliema and St Julian’s, especially during rush hour (early morning, late afternoon/early evening).
Renting a Motorbike
Motorcycle enthusiasts can share their two-wheeled love on the Maltese roads quite easily as a number of companies offer motorbike rentals. All you need is to be 21+ years old and in possession of a valid driving licence and you can be on a bike in no time. Motorcycles offer two benefits over cars – traffic is no concern and neither is a lack of parking spots.
These are 3 popular sites from where you can hire a motorbike in Malta although there are many more options:
- AHS Malta – Contact number: +35621340149
- Mike’s Rent a Bike – Contact numbers: +35627334335 / +35679946114
- Malta Scooter Rentals
Driving Your Own Vehicle in Malta
If you’re exploring Europe with your own car, you can easily make the trip from Sicily to Malta using the Virtu Ferry services. The same considerations mentioned when hiring a car apply when you’re using your vehicle in Malta, however, you might want to take a note of the following companies that offer roadside assistance and breakdown services:
- RMF – Contact numbers: +35621242222 (Malta) and +35621558844 (Gozo)
- MET – Contact numbers: +35621227676 or +35621227979
- MTC – Contact numbers: +35621433333 or +35679433333
A few tips for driving your own car in Malta:
- Vehicles with foreign registration can remain in Malta for six months in any given year without the need to apply for a permit.
- The Malta national speed limit is 50 km/h in urban areas and between 70 and 80 km/h in extra-urban areas. There are speed cameras in several main arteries, although none measure average speed on a trajectory.
- Wearing a seatbelt is compulsory.
- Accidents must be reported to the nearest police station. For insurance purposes, you shouldn’t move your vehicle before the police arrive.
- The acceptable limit of blood alcohol content for drivers in Malta is 0.08%.
Check out another article with more tips, facts and FAQs on driving in Malta.
Other modes of transport in Malta and Gozo
Ferries and Water taxis
Getting around in Malta with a water taxi is a faster way to travel between the cities around the Grand Harbour. It is also a much nicer way to experience the historical harbour than by bus. Water taxis are also a fun way of getting around especially when travelling with children.
Water taxis are also used by locals to get across between Sliema and Valletta, a trip that takes less than 10 minutes – apart from being quick it is also cheap at €1.00 one way. A boat leaves every 15 minutes between 08:00-17:45 in winter and 07:30-18:15 in summer.
You’ll also find ferry services in Sliema, St. Paul’s Bay/Bugibba and in the far Northern part of Malta that can take you to Comino (and Gozo) for a day trip.
Hop on hop off bus operators
Hop on hop off open top buses are very popular in Malta, offering sightseeing tours on double-decker vehicles that go by the most important landmarks on the island. The main 3 hop on hop off operators in Malta are:
- City Sightseeing Malta – offering a number of different tours in both Malta and Gozo. All tours have a detailed multilingual audio commentary. Contact number: +35623467777.
- Malta Sightseeing – offering 4 tours with audio commentary in 16 languages. Contact numbers: +35621694967 or +35621677197
- The Pink Open Bus – Contact numbers: +35621489991 or +35621489992
Be sure to take sunblock lotion and plenty of water with you if you’re staying on the upper (open) deck!
Segway tours have become extremely popular with tourists as they offer a unique way of enjoying the countryside on 2 wheeled electric vehicles. They offer 3 standard tours starting from €49 and also another package of team building activities for large groups that can be customised as required.
Jeep tours are fun and tend to explore the remote areas of the islands. A whole day (9am to 5pm) would cost around €50.00 per adult and €40.00 for children and would include lunch, visits to several places of interest and a guide. The following companies provide popular jeep tours:
- Captain Morgan company – contact number: +356 23463333
- Gozo Jeep Tours – contact number: +356 99456809
Karozzini – Horse-drawn carriages
Easily spotted around Valletta and outside Mdina, these traditional horse-drawn carriages (called karozzini in Maltese) can carry up to four passengers. Trips are usually short at around 30 minutes. The drivers are very friendly and helpful and can give you a guided tour of the places visited. There is no standard fare for these tours so use your best judgement when dealing with the carriage driver.
These trains, popular in many European cities, operate in several locations around Malta. There is one in Rabat that departs from a parking area outside the Roman Villa, and takes riders on a tour on the outside of Mdina and all the way around the outskirts of Rabat. Another similar train operates daily in Valletta, departing from St. John’s Square.
Marsaxlokk and Buġibba have their train tours as well. A tour typically takes around 45 minutes and costs €5 per person.
Cycling can be a dangerous activity, particularly in Malta, because there are no proper bicycle lanes on the roads. Also, traffic can be heavy in the centre of Malta (much less so in Gozo) and the uneven land formations and intense summer heat adding tough challenges for cyclists. If you’re staying in Gozo and up for a good cardio workout, it’s a good option to explore this particular island on two wheels.
You can rent bicycles from:
- Magri Cycles & Spares in Mosta – contact number: +356 21414399
- Gozo Adventures – contact number: +356 99994592
- EcoBikes in Buġibba – contact numbers: +356 27500022 / +356 99471627.