As country’s go, Malta has to be one of the smallest. Wikipedia tells us that it is only 122 sq miles and has a population of less than half a million (though to be fair Malta as a country is made up of three islands that include Gozo and Comino but I am just talking about the main island here). So travelling around Malta by bus on holiday is a doddle.
We visited a couple of years ago to attend a friend’s wedding and did what we, and a lot of others do when booking a holiday, we hired a car. This gave us the flexibility to explore the island, visit the main touristy places, and do things at our own pace.
However, parking in the towns can be a nightmare. Valetta for instance was a town we visited fleetingly last time because we had to walk quite some distance from the only available car parking in the blistering sun. A lot of hotels don’t have parking which means you are reliant on being able to find somewhere on a local street, along side other residents. Quite frankly who needs the stress on holiday?
Or when travelling solo because your other half is working for a week, as was the case when I went to Malta last month. Mr B’s company have offices in Malta and when he said he had to go for a few days he asked if I would like him to buy me a ticket so I could come to.
Malta is safe, clean and the sun shines. Alot. Which means that as a woman wandering around on my own I knew I wouldn’t have any issues at all. I knew the locals were friendly, and all spoke English so if there was a problem I felt confident I would be able to get help.
I also knew I didn’t want the burden of a hire car. Driving around towns I don’t really know is not something I am particularly comfortable with, heck I can’t even park in a multi storey I haven’t used before, so hiring a car wasn’t really an option.
Which is why I investigated travelling around by bus, and found it is surprisingly easy, even if you don’t know the island. You can even buy pre-paid travel cards to make it even easier. There are three options, all of which can be bought at the airport from the Tallinja kiosk in the arrivals hall (right next to Costa). Then when you get on the bus you simply tap the card on the reader and you done.
The €15 card allows you to do 12 single journeys of any distance and is valid for a year. So useful if you only want to do a few journeys or if you find yourself visiting the island a couple of times.
The €21 card lets you travel anywhere, as many times as you want in a seven day period (triggered from when you first use it).
The €39 card allows you travel as much as you like for seven days on the buses and also to do two journeys on the Valetta ferry. You can also spend a day on the hop on / hop off sightseeing bus that operates two routes around the island, taking you to all the major sites. In hindsight this is the card I should have got, rather than the one above.
You can of course also just buy single tickets on the bus from the driver and these vary from €1.50 to €3 depending on whether it is winter or summer or the during the day or at night. So really not expensive at all.
All the routes are listed on line, I found the Tallinja website invaluable (though don’t bother with the app, it is useless) and helpfully all bus stops are named which makes identifying the one you need really easy. For instance, our hotel website said that it was close to the bus stop called Chalet so on the Tallinja website all I had to do was put in the airport and Chalet to then be shown all the routes I could take.
Helpfully the buses also display the name of the next stop on a screen above the driver’s head so if you keep an eye on that you will know when it is your stop coming up. Do press the “stop” button though as in my experience they don’t automatically stop at every one if they don’t need to!
Plus all buses are air conditioned and come with free wi-fi!
I was also amazed at how easy it was to get to Valetta and to get the bus back again. As it is the capital it is not surprising that it is on a lot of bus routes. I hadn’t really worked out how which bus I would take to get there or which stop to get off at but figured if I got one of the buses to Valetta I would see something I recognised, the majority of people would get off at a good spot, or the bus would terminate and I would be kicked off and have to resort to Google Maps. Thankfully option two seemed to be what happened first and I found myself at the Triton Fountain which also made a good landmark for me to head to for the return journey. I turned out that it was right beside the main bus terminal in Valetta so was where the majority of journeys start from anyway.
Again really well sign posted and laid out to make it very easy to see where you need to head to for the return. Plus there lots of helpful people around who all spoke English so when I double checked I was waiting at the right stop they knew what I was asking!
So if you are heading to Malta and thinking “how easy is it to get the bus around Malta” or “Do I need to buy a bus pass before I get on the bus in Malta” or even “How do I know which bus route I need in Malta” rest assured it is very easy!
In fact the hardest part will be deciding which of the sights or towns is first on your list to visit!