A compact archipelago of three islands at the heart of the Mediterranean, Malta is easy to explore.

Take advantage of a convenient network of buses and ferries, set out on journeys of discovery in a well-priced rental car, or ride an e-bike or electric scooters along the spectacular waterfront esplanades of St Julian’s and Sliema. Here's our guide to the best ways to get around Malta.

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Ride the bus to (most) parts of Malta and Gozo

Both Malta and its sister island of Gozo are compact, and bus services operated by Malta Public Transport are a convenient way to explore. On Malta, routes begin from the Valletta Bus Station, just south of the City Gate, while on Gozo, the town of Victoria is the central focus. Tiny Comino is usually visited on organized day trips from Gozo or Malta and it's small enough to explore on foot. 

The frequency of buses ranges from every ten minutes to hourly on less busy routes. However, the lack of punctuality can be a challenge, and afternoon and evening buses often run late. Buses are best used for focused day trips to places such as Mdina and Marsaxlokk. Because most routes originate in the central hubs of Valletta and Victoria, using buses to visit several destinations in a single day can be problematic.

Check Malta Public Transport's online journey planner or the Tallinja App for bus schedules and timings.

Family walk to Ghajn Tuffieha beach, Malta
Public buses can get you close to gorgeous beaches such as Ghajn Tuffieha © Paul Biris / Getty Images

Tickets for public transport in Malta

Single tickets including a two-hour transfer window cost €2 (US$2.10) and can be bought on board buses. There’s also the option of a 12-journey card for €15 (US$16), which can be used concurrently by couples or families. Explore Cards cost €21 (US$22.30) and offer unlimited bus travel for seven days, while ExploreFlex is a rechargeable stored-value card offering discounted travel on buses and also harbor journeys with Valletta Ferry Services.

Another variation is an ExplorePlus Meep card for €39 (US$41.40) incorporating e-bike rental, on-demand van services, and sightseeing by bus and harbor cruise. For longer-term stays in Malta, it’s worth signing up for a stored-value Tallinja Card. There is a registration fee, but it offers the best discounts on buses and Valletta Ferry Services, and also integrates with the Tallinja App.

Spectacular passenger ferries connect Valletta to nearby cities

Several useful passenger ferries are run by Valletta Ferry Services. From the southern edge of Valletta's fortified peninsula, ferry services cross Grand Harbour to the Three Cities (Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua). A second service runs from Marsamxett Harbour on the northern edge of Valletta to the commercial district of Sliema. Ferries depart regularly from 7am to 7pm daily from October to May, extending to around midnight from June to September. Bikes are transported for free.

Another option for crossing from Valletta to the Three Cities is by dgħajsa – Malta's traditional hand-rowed water taxi service. These boats were first launched in the 17th century, and boatmen charge €2 for a one-way crossing. Passing under the golden, honey-colored walls of Fort St. Angelo, it's a brilliant way to cross Grand Harbour.

View of Valletta and Marsamxett in Malta on a bright Autumn day
Ferries across Grand Harbour offer stunning views over the skyline of Valletta © joeborg / Shutterstock

Explore off the beaten path with a rental car

Many remote beaches and smaller towns and villages on both Malta and Gozo are not serviced by bus, so having your own vehicle is recommended. Note, however, that road traffic in Malta is very busy, especially in the built-up area around Valletta, Sliema and St Julians, and parking can be difficult to find. Driving and looking for somewhere to park in the narrow heritage streets of Valletta is not recommended. Park up before exploring Valletta on foot; there's a Park & Ride facility just south of Floriana, from where free shuttle buses run to Valletta's City Gate.

Car rental rates in Malta are amongst the lowest in Europe, especially if you use locally owned companies such as Billy's Car Hire on Malta and Mayjo Car Rentals on Gozo. Book ahead on both islands during the busy months of July and August, and select a compact car to negotiate roads that will definitely be more narrow than you're used to.

Cross from Malta to Gozo on the car ferry

Shuttling between the northern Maltese port of Ċirkewwa and Mġarr Harbour on Gozo, Gozo Channel's vehicle and passenger ferry takes around 30 minutes to cross between the two islands. Services run every 45 minutes from 6am to 6pm, and approximately every hour through the night, but the service is sometimes suspended during winter due to storms and rough seas. Leaving Ċirkewwa with a vehicle, you only pay before your return journey coming back from Gozo.

While car rental rates are often cheaper on Gozo, any savings may be offset by the costs of the ferry, so it's worth keeping the same car if you're visiting both islands. Avoid summer weekends when locals travel to holiday in Gozo and queues to board can be long and slow-moving.

Launched in 2021, Gozo Fast Ferry provides a convenient passenger-only ferry linking Mġarr Harbour on Gozo to Valletta. Journeys take 45 minutes and you can take bicycles on board; just book ahead for one of the limited number of bicycle spaces, either on Gozo Fast Ferry's website or via their app. This service is a good option if you're planning on picking up a rental car at Mġarr Harbour or exploring Gozo by bike, e-bike or scooter. A competing service is offered by Virtu Ferries.

Salt pans on Gozo, Malta
A rented bike can get you to all sorts of off-the-beaten-track locations in Malta © Christophe Boisvieux / Getty Images

Bike shares and electric scooters are good for low-carbon travel

A good option for harborfront exploration around St Julians and Sliema is the Tallinja Bike bike-sharing scheme, with 11 docking stations on Malta and three on Gozo (locations include ferry terminals and the Valletta Bus Station). Single rides cost €3 (US$3.20), and there's a discount for Tallinja Card holders. A similar service is offered by nextbike, which offers both pedal cycles and e-bikes. For short hops on an electric scooter, download Whizascoot’s app and get riding.

Longer-term bike or scooter rental is handy for more ambitious exploring, especially on Gozo's quieter roads. Along with jeeps, quad bikes and 4WD buggies, scooters, pedal cycles and e-bikes can be rented from Mġarr Tourist Services, conveniently based at Gozo's Mġarr Harbour. Based at the northern Maltese beach resort of Bugibba, Eco Bikes Malta rents out bikes and e-bikes and runs guided bike tours. For a fee, they’ll drop off bikes to wherever you are staying in Malta.

Get walking to explore Malta's historic cities

Malta is a wonderful destination to explore under your own steam, especially the heritage streets of Valletta, Mdina's hilltop walled city, and the astounding Il-Kastell citadel in the Gozitan capital of Victoria. For longer walks, many trails follow the dramatic coastlines of both Malta and Gozo.

Taxis and rideshare services are handy for city exploring

Cabs are useful for city exploring. Conventional taxis can be booked with eCabs, either online, by phone or on their app, while Malta’s leading rideshare operator – also accessible by an app – is Bolt, with good service in built-up areas.

View down a narrow street in Valletta, the capital of Malta
The steep, stepped streets of Valletta can be tricky to explore if you have limited mobility © liseykina / Getty Images

Accessible travel in Malta

All Maltese buses have a low floor to accommodate wheelchairs and are equipped with a wheelchair ramp and step-free entry. Ferries operating on Valletta Ferry Services’ two harbor routes and Gozo Fast Ferry also offer access for wheelchair users.

Note that steep and often stepped streets of Valletta can be difficult to negotiate for travelers with restricted mobility, but key galleries and attractions such as the National War Museum at Fort St Elmo, and the National Museum of Archaeology offer ramps and wheelchair access.

Why I love Valletta’s harbor ferries

Crossing Grand Harbour by ferry is one of world’s greatest urban commutes, leaving behind Valletta’s improbably compact fortified peninsula to approach the towering ramparts of Fort St Angelo and the Three Cities. Tiny dgħajsa water taxis berth next to leviathan super yachts, and narrow laneways arc away from the shelter of Dockyard Creek to reveal the quiet residential backstreets of Birgu.

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