On the whole Malta is a very safe country, although care should be taken while swimming at remote beaches where there are no other swimmers (rips can be a problem), or while walking along clifftop walking tracks (watch where you step). In Paceville's nightlife district there are occasional reports of fighting, but this usually only happens in the early hours of the morning after too much alcohol has been consumed.

Hunting

If you go walking in the countryside, be aware of the common pastime of shooting and trapping birds – the little stone shacks that pepper the cliff tops are shooters' hides. You will hear the popping of shotguns before you see the shooters. There are usually two hunting seasons, in spring and autumn.

Road Conditions & Driving

Much of the road network in Malta is badly in need of repair, which means that driving is often an uncomfortably bumpy experience. Rules of the road are rarely observed, which adds to the stress of driving in unfamiliar territory, especially during rush-hour conditions around Sliema and St Julian's.

Take special care on roundabouts and always wait to see what other drivers are doing, even if it's your right of way (never assume they will stop for you!). A satnav will also enormously reduce the stress of driving, particularly as signposting can be erratic off the main routes.

Theft

Malta has a low rate of violent crime, and crimes against visitors are a rarity. Incidents involving pickpockets and purse-snatchers are uncommon, but in past years there have been increasing reports of thieves breaking into cars parked in quiet areas including Marfa and Delimara Point. Lock your car and don't leave anything of value in it.

There have been occasional incidents of drunken violence in Paceville late at night; exercise caution in this area.

Currents

Malta and Gozo's waters are not really tidal, and when the weather is calm it's usually completely safe to swim. However, the Maltese often repeat the saying, 'The sea has a soft belly, but a hard head', a warning to be wary of the sea around the islands because of its powerful undercurrents in windy weather. Locals advise never to swim in rough sea.

Major beaches, such as Golden Bay on Malta and Ramla Bay on Gozo have lifeguards patrolling and a flag system operating from June to September; take note of the flags. If there's no flag system operating and if you're in doubt, ask a local about whether it's safe and where to swim.