This Mediterranean Island is the ideal getaway for many, but getting from A to B can be so tricky you might want to pull your hair out. Nothing gets me in the feels more than feeling stranded in a foreign land, without the information I need to help myself. I have lived in Malta for a year now and have learnt a few things, so do not despair, I am happy to share!
1. At the airport
If you have nothing arranged prior, take the white cabs at the exit itself. There is a taxi stand just outside arrivals, with standard rates. I have used them many times and they have been reliable. If you know exactly where you need to go, you don’t even need to make prior arrangements, just show up and get the cab.
If you’re willing to sit and spend an hour getting to a 20 minute destination, then by all means, take the bus. It is cheaper. Do this only if you have the time on your hands. Do not say nobody warned you.
If you are already on the island and want to get to the airport, listen very carefully. Take the bus 3 hours before the time you would like to be at the airport. I have seen many frustrated travellers trying to get to the airport, constantly asking the bus driver “how much longer,” and getting the answer “45 minutes” yet they’ve been on it a half hour already. If you base your calculation for the duration of the bus journey on google maps or just the knowledge that the bus takes an hour to get to the airport, you may be in for a rude awakening. Fore warned is fore armed.
Also, you will not receive prior notification of road works on this island. At least I’ve never, and I am subscribed to Malta Public Transport emails, and have the Tal Linja app.
2. The buses in Malta
These, while they have been known to do a very good job, will cause you many a headache some days. Just take that as a given, steel yourself.
Get to your bus stop 10 minutes before your scheduled bus, or even more. Sometimes the bus is early, and it will not wait. Often the bus is late, and there’s nothing you can do except constantly plan for this eventuality which happens quite frequently on some routes I tell you.
I have known a bus I take everyday at a specific time to not show up that day, even after waiting for it for the better part of half an hour. I have known a bus I take daily on my home-work commute to just suddenly take a different route, leaving myself and other passengers heading in the same direction utterly puzzled and stranded, yet we are already on the moving bus. True story.
3. All bus stops are “request stops.”
If you do not flag the bus down it will not stop, unless there is a passenger alighting, I promise you this. Imagine waiting for a bus for 40 minutes, and it comes but drives past you because you did not flag it down, since in your country all buses must stop at each scheduled stop! Also, the sign posts at the bus stop do not carry this piece of information like the ones in some countries do. Crazy, I know! You’re welcome.
4. Tal Linja Cards
More information on these bus cards is available on the Malta Public Transport website. If you’re staying longer than 3 months, I would recommend that you get the green card, instead of the Explorer one. Getting these cards makes transport on the island cheaper.
5. The night bus
It goes at 11:30pm, I believe. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it does not. This is my experience. If you’re by yourself, I would say don’t count on it, plan for an alternative ahead of time. If you’re with a group of friends, try it, see if it comes. It may be your lucky night.
There are alternatives, you may see them in Paceville as you approach the bus stops. Private taxis run a group ride sort of thing, for a reasonable fee.
I am happy to answer any questions about Malta, feel free to leave a comment!
Enjoy your Mediterranean adventure!