Valetta Grand Harbour’s seaport is the latest incarnation for a port first constructed in the 16th century, along with the city itself, as a headquarters for the Knights Hospitaller. Valetta is now a UNESCO World Heritage site for its Baroque magnificence, and the seaport serves massive cruise liners packed with tourists as well as luxury private yachts which berth in its marina. Most of the city is pedestrianised and can easily be explored on foot, but the island itself holds relics from the Phoenician, Greek and Roman civilizations, as well as from medieval times and the Neolithic era. Self-drive via car rental is the most comfortable and most inexpensive way to explore.
Who to Book With
A combination of local and internationally known car rental companies, such as Avis and Budget, are found surrounding the harbour and in the marina. Car rental on Malta is comparatively inexpensive and vehicles are modern and well-maintained. Your preferred car can be booked online via our comparator site well in advance, saving you time and money, and ensuring the best choice.
Best Time to Go
In the high summer season, Malta’s beach resorts and Valetta are crowded with visitors and hotel and car hire charges are at their highest. Late May to June sees lower prices and sunny, pleasantly warm weather perfect for exploring. Autumn can be hot and sunny, while budget travellers and those not addicted to beach life will enjoy a winter visit, when accommodation and car hire cost far less than in the summer.
Need to Know Essentials
When picking up your rental car, the following documents should be shown:
- A current UK licence or an International Driving Permit
- Photo identification, such as a passport or other photo ID
- The credit card used for the initial booking
- A printed copy of your booking confirmation
For additional information, please read our FAQ page.
UNESCO-listed Valetta has a number of pedestrianised roads and restricts travel by car with a congestion charge. It is small enough to explore on foot. Due to the restrictions, traffic snarl-ups are common during rush hours and in the high summer season, and time parking zones restrict stays to 1 hour. The island of Malta is small, with good roads, hidden charms and plenty to do and see outside the city on self-drive daytrips. Driving conditions on the island have been upgraded over the last decade, and GPS is available from many car hire suppliers.
Detailed driving information is found in our Guide to Malta.
Public transportation on Malta is by bus, operated by Arriva Malta and covering most of the island, with routes using modern, air-conditioned buses. Bus travel is the cheapest way to get around, but can take far longer than self-drive. Malta’s international airport offers an express bus service to Valetta and other popular destinations, as well as a taxi service. Travel by taxi around the island is an option, with many taxi drivers acting as guides, but self-drive gives you the freedom to stop off at any village, attraction or deserted bay which takes your fancy.
Arriva Malta offers mainline routes covering large towns from Valetta’s principal bus station, which is located on the edge of town. Direct routes run across the island, avoiding the capital, and night buses run to various resorts and large towns from St Julian’s, just outside Valetta. A day’s travel costs just £2.20.
Taxi services operate out of Valetta’s Grand Harbour and from the airport, using fixed tariffs and meters, while roving cabs can be hailed anywhere except at bus stops. Average fares running at around £12 for local trips. Black cab taxis offer a cheaper alternative but must be pre-booked, with Peppin Transport's new fleet offering reliable service and the cheapest rates on Malta. A water taxi service to locations along the coast using traditional dghajsa boats can be hired at Grand Harbour.
Malta’s small size makes exploring everything the island has to offer straightforward and fun. The island’s rich history, unspoilt, lush interior and stunning sea coast cater for every holiday preference, and eating out here is at bargain prices compared to in the UK and many other European holiday hot spots.
Dingli Cliffs - Set on the unspoilt western shores of the island and reached in just over 30 minutes’ drive through spectacular scenery, towering Dingli Cliffs soar above the azure Mediterranean. A short drive away is the Blue Grotto and the traditional fishing village of Marsaxlokk.
Mellieha and Golden Bay - A 30-minute drive heading northeast along Malta’s western coastline brings you to Mellieha town, nestled on a hilltop overlooking lovely Ghadira Bay. Here, you’ll find an ancient church holding a sanctuary believed to have been blessed by St Paul, and continuing along the coastal road brings you to glorious Golden Bay.
Mdina - Magnificent Mdina is a must-see for visitors to Malta, and is under a 30-minute drive from Valetta. Once the capital of the island and occupied by Arabs prior to the arrival of the Knights of St John Hospitaller, this bastion-walled city is set on a plateau and gives stunning views of the island’s interior. Expect acres of ancient buildings, narrow, twisting alleyways and a tranquil ambience.