Malta Travel Tips – Behind The Wheel
The sun drenched Republic of Malta is located in the Mediterranean, about 100km south of Sicily. The three main Maltese islands are Malta, Gozo and Comino – there are four other islands but these are uninhabited. The land area of Malta is about 245 square kilometers and it has a coastline of around 145km. There’s much more to Malta than glorious sunshine and an extensive coastline though, it has a rich heritage and an interesting history due to its turbulent past.
Although the island is small, getting around can be tricky if you’re depending on public transport. There are fairly regular buses (some of the yellow buses are very old though!) between the main tourist spots to the north of the island but if you want to go off the beaten track you’ll find you hit a brick wall. Hiring a car is definitely your best option if you want to get a real feel of the traditional Maltese countryside.
Malta Car Hire Tip – In Malta you drive on the left hand side of the road as in Ireland and the UK.
The capital of Malta is Valletta and it’s a good place to start your tour. As well as the magnificent waterfront, Valletta itself has many buildings of historical significance including St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This was the church of the Knights of Malta and displays the ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’ by Caravaggio. You can wander Valetta’s (and it’s suburb Floriana) narrow winding streets and check out some of the street stalls. The city is also home to theatres, palaces, museums, excellent shopping, pretty gardens, gourmet restaurants, a great nightlife and loads of entertainment.
Malta Car Hire Tip – The speed limit on highways is 80km/hr / 50mph and 50kph / 30mph in built up areas.
Tarxien Prehistoric Temples are just south of Valletta and consist of four temple units joined by a square court. The temples are well known for their carved details.
Situated on the southeast coastline of Malta is Marsascala, a little fishing village and a great place to have something to eat. The restaurants here are renowned for their fresh fish dishes.
Malta Car Hire Tip – The drink driving limit in Malta is 0.8mg.
Close to Marascala in the area of Birzebbugia on the south east coast is Ghar Dalam (Cave of Darkness). Considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites on the Maltese islands, it penetrates into the hill – the cave is about 200m deep.
Further south you’ll come to Marsaxlokk, a little fishing village with lovely restaurants and pubs. Marsaxlokk is about a 40 minute drive from Valletta. The bay is unusual and many of the boats are decorated with eyes believed to protect them from evil.
The largest village in the southern part of Malta is Zurrieq and it’s only about 12km from Valletta. It’s known for its breathtaking walks and it’s easy to walk from the town centre towards the cliffs which overlook the Blue Grotto. The Blue Grotto is the biggest and most famous of a series of 6 caves. The cave is 140 feet high and you can only get to it by boat. The water displays amazing colours from turquoise to deep blue. The Blue Grotto became more famous after a scene from the film Troy which was filmed here in 2004. Weather permitting, there are many boat trips which take you to several of the Blue Grotto viewing points.
Hagar Qim is an impressive Neolithic Temple complex not far from Zurrieq. The ancient ruins here are among the oldest on the planet and the landscape and views overlooking the sea are incredible.
Siggiewi is a little town in the southwest of Malta. It’s only a few kilometres from Imdina and about 10km west of Valletta. Close to Siggiewi is the beautiful bay of Ghar Lapsi. From here you can see the islet of Filfla which attracts loads of people during the summer. The town is a great place to stop, narrow winding streets leading to interesting monuments and churches. There are also some excellent restaurants here serving the best of local produce.
Mdina is the oldest city on the island of Malta, formerly the capital. Our advice is to allow some time here. The Norman House, Archbishop’s Palace, Vilhena Palcae, Mdina and Cathedral Museum are all worthy of a visit. Howard Gardens form a natural border between Mdina and neighbouring Rabat. Rabat is where Saint Paul is believed to have taken refuge after he was shipwrecked on the island of Malta.
To the north of the island and about 15km from Valletta is the town of Bugibba. Well known for its nightlife, there’s a pedestrian square surrounded by restaurants, open air cafes, shops and bars.
Further inland is the village of Mosta. The village church is the location of a WWII event known as ‘the miracle of Malta’. In 1942, while the church was full, a bomb penetrated the dome and dropped on the mosaic floor below. It did not go off and over 300 lives were spared. A replica of the bomb is displayed in the church sacristy.
You can also go island hopping. A regular ferry service departs from Malta to Gozo (it takes passengers and cars) and the journey only takes 25 minutes or so. Check out our Car Hire Malta page.
Remember to give us a shout via the comment box below if you have any questions or if you’ve any tips on Car Hire Malta…enjoy your trip