Malta is a warm, friendly and incredibly safe destination. That’s why it’s often recommended as a great place for solo travellers. The nation of Malta itself attracts around two million visitors a year who come to enjoy everything from the beautiful beaches to archaeological sites, to the local culture. However, it is possible to make mistakes when visiting this island paradise. That’s why we’ve created a guide to travelling solo in Malta.
Understand the Travel Options
Malta is its own country. Its national airline is Air Malta. Understand that this is pretty much the only way in and out if you’re flying there. Flights from the UK take about three hours.
The island has decent public transportation, though it is pretty much just buses. Bus tickets purchased in Malta are valid on the neighbouring island of Gozo. One-way trips during the summer cost two Euros during the day and three Euros if you’re taking the night bus. Consider picking up an explore card. You’ll pay 21 Euros for an adult and 15 Euros for a child. However, the card gives you unlimited travel day or night for seven days. You can even buy the card in advance. The seven-day countdown starts when the card is validated on a bus.
You can rent a car, but it will be expensive. One of the perks of visiting Malta is that they drive on the left like in the UK. The downside of visiting these beautiful islands is that you can’t drive everywhere, but you can take ferries to the other islands. For example, the ferry to Gozo costs around five Euros. Cruises will cost somewhat more.
Once you get to that lusher island, you can hop on a sightseeing bus. Note that most sightseeing buses are irregular, and you may have to catch a local bus service to get to a destination or return to your hotel at the end of the day.
Cars are not always an option. For example, cars are not allowed in Mdina. The small, fortified city’s narrow streets just don’t allow for them.
Plan for the Weather
Malta may have mild winters, but summers are hot and dry. This is great if you want to hit the beach, but it can lead to sunstroke and sunburn if you aren’t careful. Malta averages 27 degrees Celsius in July and August. Make sure you take plenty of sunscreen if you’ll be on the beaches, and hats and protective clothing if you’ll be hiking or hitting the historic sites. Note that June through August is the busiest travel season. If you want to come when it is quieter but hasn’t quite cooled off, visit in April or May.
Low temperatures in the winter are around 11 degrees Celsius. Sounds great compared to colder climates, but this is when it tends to rain, and that’s why almost no one visits in December. Another reason is that the ubiquitous limestone buildings absorb water and get damp at that time of year.
Take the Local Culture into Account
One of the points in favour of a Maltese vacation is that English is one of their two official languages. Almost everyone speaks English. Locals are overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, and you’ll find many celebrations and feast days based on the church calendar, so remember to be respectful. But if you’re aware of this information, these public events are a great way to experience the Maltese culture. For example, if you’re going to visit the Rotunda of Mosta, try to come on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption. Literally everyone will be there because that day is a public holiday in Malta. Easter in Malta is an incredible experience if you can make it.
Every village has its own feast day or fiesta to honour their patron saint. It isn’t actually a feast day; these events generally last for three days, and the entire town will be decorated while they celebrate. The final evening in a village will typically have fireworks. These events are wonderful, because they’re family friendly, the locals include everyone, and there’s plenty of food and entertainment available.
Choose Destinations Based on Your Goals
If you’re looking for a luxury resort, these are mostly found on the north side of the island. The biggest resorts are in Qawra, St. Paul’s Bay, St. Julian’s Bay, Sliema and Bugibba. Sliema and St. Julian’s Bay are the better choice if you want to hit somewhere known for its nightlife. These also considered as the best sites to look into when you’re thinking of looking for property for rent in Malta.
Mellieha is further north and a little hillier, but it provides better access to Comino. It is also somewhat quieter. The northern end of the island is the best place to go if you’re into water sports. This is where you will have an incredible number of opportunities to jet ski, sail, kayak, paraglide or windsurfing.
Valletta is known for its old walled city. Valletta is also a great base for sightseeing around the island, since people tend to visit the capital city before going to archaeological sites. This is where you’ll find palaces, historic architecture, cobbled streets, the famed Fort St. Elmo, and museums. The National Art gallery Muza is located here, too.
These all contributed to Valletta becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site and earning it the 2018 European City of Culture designation. Many of the streets slope down towards the harbour and give you a stunning view of the water. Another reason why nearly everyone passes through Valetta is that it is the central terminal for the island’s bus system, so you’ll end up here before you go on to Mdina and Rabat, the walled medieval town that used to be Malta’s capital.
If you want to catch a glimpse of Malta’s past and immerse yourself in its authentic culture, the southern end of the island is the better choice. The southern side of the island is more rural, dominated by fishing villages instead of resorts. You can gain an insight into the local culture and spend time with the real Maltese. Or you could hop over to Senglea. This area harkens back to the days of World War II, and you can hit the Maritime Museum to learn about the country’s maritime history. Game of Thrones fans may want to visit the old burial caves and historic buildings in the Hamlet of Manikata, because the local hunting lodge was used as a set for the TV show. You can visit the historic farmstead here and learn how people farmed centuries ago. Then you can take a side trip to the Gozo Museum of Archaeology and Citadel.
If your goal is to spend as much time as possible on amazing beaches, then you can hit the beaches on the north side of the island. If you can, try to make it to the Blue Lagoon on Comino, a tiny island between Gozo and Malta.
Malta is a unique encapsulation of European, Arabic and Mediterranean influences and seven thousand years of history concentrated on just a few small islands. This makes Malta an excellent place for solo travellers to visit.