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Car hire in Malta: a must if you want to explore these islands

When we think of paradise islands with also cities that can serve as a backdrop for Game of Thrones, the name Malta comes to mind. Effectively, part of the popular HBO series was filmed here. Add the wonderful beaches and then you know that these islands have everything. To fully benefit from all its assets, it's best to rent a car in Malta. Read on and discover everything you need to know about this.

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car hire malta

O-ow! Driving on the left! But if I have to be honest, it wasn’t that hard…

What does car hire in Malta cost?

You may think that renting a car in high season is expensive, but in Malta that’s certainly not the case.
If you book online, you can often score very nice deals. Even if you don’t book too much in advance, the rates aren’t bad at all!

Via RentCars you can rent a car in Malta for one week for only €90. This is approximately €13 per day. Don’t forget that this is without insurance (€5 or €11 extra per day).

car hire malta holidaycars

Why choose for car hire in Malta?

The official name of this country is the Republic of Malta and it’s made up of the islands of Malta, Gozo and five other small islands. With an area of ​​just 316 square kilometers, it’s sometimes also called a dwarf state.
You can also explore the island by public transport and then a Tallinja card is the best investment. For 21 euros you can make unlimited use of the buses for seven days.
However, these buses don’t run frequently and at the same time they skip quite a lot of interesting locations on the islands. Moreover, buses are often too big to drive through the picturesque towns and therefore you immediately miss one of those things that makes Malta so quaint.

Some fellow travelers told me their experiences with the buses and they weren’t always so happy. Because they are so cheap, there are many travelers who choose to travel with them, which results in overcrowded and hot saunas. Sometimes you can’t even get on (I saw this when we went to Dwerja Bay).
Also the driving style of some drivers is a bit crazy to say at the least, and if you quickly get sick, I would definitely opt for car hire in Malta. Finally, punctuality isn’t something the bus drivers seem to know: at one time they arrive too early, sometimes too late.

In short, I would definitely choose for car rental in Malta during high season and certainly if you only have limited holiday time. You don’t lose valuable time, there is no stress and you have all the comfort and ease of use of your private vehicle.
For the price you shouldn’t leave it either, because for €100 per week (or €14 per day) you get so much more comfort…

malta car hire

A car in Valletta is not necessary, but if you want to explore the rest of Malta I strongly recommend it!

Is it difficult to drive on the left?

As you might already know, they drive on the left side in Malta.
In the beginning it’s a bit of a change, but the nice thing about Malta is that it’s not too busy around the airport. This allows you to adjust quietly and once you realize how to drive on the left, it really gets super easy.
In the beginning I found it especially difficult to estimate the dimensions of my car, because now you are also seated the other side of the vehicle… Especially in the smaller cities this is difficult, because the roads here are often rather narrow. That is why I recommend choosing a small car, because that really can be an advantage here.

The roundabouts are also a bit confusing at first but certainly not insurmountable. Are you confused? Then just look at the drivers in front of you and do as they do.

All in all, I don’t think you should be deterred to rent a car because they drive on the left here. After one day I was already completely adjusted and if you don’t rent a car you would really miss out on a lot in Malta…

What car to hire in Malta?

Unfortunately, some Maltese roads are in a pitiful state. This makes it convenient to rent a 4×4, but in theory you can certainly drive with an economy model if you are careful. Especially because you will not really go off road.

car rental malta

Rent your car online and add insurance right away. This way you can travel with peace of mind!

Which attractions are easier to reach with a rental car in Malta?

Cities such as Valletta and Sliema aren’t that big and don’t offer many parking options. If you want to visit them nonetheless, you should park your car outside the city center and then go on foot or by bus to the city itself.
If you don’t mind these inconveniences, you can easily visit the “big” cities on the island by public transport and you won’t need a rental car in Malta. Keep in mind however, that you’ll lose more time because you’ll have to wait on your bus and sometimes this takes twice as long as with a car. With that in mind, the following sights and attractions are much easier to reach with a rental car:

The bay of Ghajn Tuffieha and the beaches of the Gnejna bay

Most travelers stop at the famous Golden Bay Beach to spend a day doing nothing. However, if you have a rental car in Malta, it’s definitely worth it to drive two kilometers further to the Ghajn Tuffieha Bay. Here it’s a lot quieter, so the locals come here to relax. Even better is to drive another seven kilometers to the bay of Gnejna, a small bay surrounded by limestone cliffs. When you make your way down, you reach a truly beautiful beach with orange sand.

The temples of Hagar Qim

The prehistoric Hagar Qim temples are kind of the Maltese Stonehenge. It’s therefore part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Historians don’t even agree when this remarkable site was founded, but they’re all certain that it must be between 3600 and 3200 BC. The largest megalith is seven meters long and weighs more than twenty tons! Historical remains found here include the Venus of Malta, and this beauty can be visited at the Archaeological Museum in Valletta. Don’t miss the Mnajdra temples either. They are only 500 meters further down.

The blue cave (‘blue grotto’)

Not far from the airport lies the blue cave of Malta. Park your car on the free parking and walk down from there. You can’t really see much from on land, but once you’ve bought your tickets for the boat the spectacle starts. In total you sail for half an hour under a couple of gigantic sea caves. Unbelievable how these formations keep standing under the constant sloshing of the azure sea. Once you sail into such a cave, it becomes truly magical. Hundred different hues of blue are fighting for your attention and the further you travel the more varied these colors become.

blue grotto malta car hire

Without a car you can’t actually reach the blue cave…

Siggiewi and Zebugg

Malta also has a lot of nice smaller villages and Siggiewi and Zebugg are perhaps the most charming. The first is considered more traditional, with the church of St. Nicolas as an absolute eye-catcher. The history of Zebugg goes back as far as 1436. A beautiful triumphal arch welcomes you in the town and in the old streets you can quietly relax. The Church of Saint Philip is even more decorated than the famous Saint John’s Co-Cathedral in Valletta.

Popeye Village

People who go on holiday with their children can safely spend a day in Mellieha where you’ll find Popeye Village. Originally, this was the film set for the cult film Popeye (with Robin Williams in the lead) and over time this village has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. You can also lie on the beach, sail a boat and jump on a trampoline floating on the water. Since the bus connection from Valletta is far from splendid, I can only recommend a visit if you have a rental car in Malta.

popeye village car rental malta

Popeye village! If you’re visiting with children you must of course also go inside.

Best sights Gozo

Gozo is the second biggest island of Malta and here too there is a lot to do and see. You can easily take the ferry with your rental car in Malta. A return ticket costs €15.70 for a car with driver and €4.65 per person without a car. You take the boat in Cirkewwa and around 25 minutes later you arrive in Mgarr on Gozo.
In Gozo you can also travel around by bus, although buses are less frequent here than on the island of Malta. If you’re going to rent a car in Malta, I advice you to take it with you on the ferry. Then you can easily enjoy the following unmissable sights on Gozo:

Dwerja Bay

This is one of the most photogenic spots on this island and without a car you can’t actually get there. The fantastic azure window of 60 meters high unfortunately collapsed several years ago, but still this place remains a gem. Near this collapsed monument you can also find the Blue hole, a fantastic place that divers should definitely consider visiting!
Personally, I found the other side of this place even more beautiful. A fantastic bay covered in hundreds of shades of blue. Be sure to swim through the cave at the very back of the bay. The gently sloshing water and the view of the open sea from here are truly fantastic! Are you not that good of a swimmer? Then hop on a boat that leads you through this cave for a few euros.

Ir-Ramla il-Hamra

Not only the name is wonderful, because this beach is -in my opinion- the best in Gozo. The sea here is quite shallow and calm, ideal for some relaxed swimming and sunbathing. If you walk about a mile further, you’ll reach the famous Cave of Calypso.

ir ramla il hamra car rental malta

Ir-Ramla il-Hamra. Looks wonderful, doesn’t it?

Mgarr ix-Xini

To completely relax, you must also visit the fairytale like bay of Mgarr ix-Xini. You’ll find a beach surrounded by steep cliffs and the whole area is the perfect example of untouched nature. You can swim and snorkel here, because the crystal clear water offers you a perfect view of the colorful fish that live here.

Culture: Victoria, Nadur and Ta ‘Pinu

Victoria is the capital of Gozo and is also known as Rabat (not to be confused with the Moroccan capital of the same name). This city was built on a hilltop and looks like a miniature version of Jerusalem. The absolute top attraction is without doubt the imposing citadel.
The coastal village of Nadur also has a rich history. Here the Knights of Malta watched over the passage between Malta and Gozo. The name Nadur comes from a Maltese word that means “observing for a long time”. From here you have a great view of the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding lush green landscapes of the valleys.
Finally, there is the majestic basilica of Ta ‘Pinu, an important pilgrimage site dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

victoria car hire in malta

One of the cozy towns on Gozo: Victoria.

Ferry from Malta to Gozo

Not unimportant to know is that Malta actually consists of three main islands (Malta, Gozo and Comino). On two of them (Malta and Gozo) you can cruise around with your car. If you want to visit Comino, you have to arrange a passenger boat (that’s possible close to the ferry from Malta to Gozo or as a day excursion from Valletta) that will drop you off on this beautiful but touristy island.

To go from Malta to Gozo, you have to use the ‘Gozo Channel’ ferries. These gigantic boats sail day and night, so you never have to wait longer than one or two hours before you can do some island hopping. For one car with driver you pay €15 (back and forth, you don’t pay anything when passing from Malta to Gozo, only when you return from Gozo to Malta), and for each additional passenger you pay an extra €5.
Try to be on time, because sometimes the ferry is full. And then you have to wait until the next boat…

Do you want to know more about this ferry? Make sure to take a look at the Gozo Channel website.

gozo channel ferry car malta

On the ferries there is room for dozens of cars, but be on time! You never know…

Traffic rules Malta

In a distant past, the British ruled these islands, so people still drive on the left side of the road.
The speed limits are:

  • 50 km/h within the built-up area
  • 80 km/h outside the built-up area

In Comino some roads are in a less good condition, which means that people often drive no faster than 35 km/h and 65 km/h.

Although all cars in Malta have indicators, the local population hardly seems to use them. Furthermore, some locals can often get impatient behind the steering wheel, because arriving one minute earlier is of course a world of difference…
Don’t get rushed because of them and just stick to the speed limits. On Gozo it’s often even nicer to drive around. Therefore it’s the perfect place if you want to escape from the crowds around Valletta!

If you want to taste the local wines, remember that you can only have 0.05 per mille alcohol in your blood. Some roads can also be very narrow and / or curvy, so perhaps it’s even better to drink nothing at all when you have to drive.

Parking rules in Malta

As mentioned earlier, parking in cities like Valletta can be very problematic. If you want to do it anyway, don’t forget that parking spaces are differentiated by the color of the line.

  • A white line means that everyone can park here.
  • A yellow line indicates that you’re not allowed to park here.
  • Green lines are reserved for residents throughout the day.
  • Finally, there are the blue lines, these parking spaces are for residents between 7 pm and 7 am.

Always check out for signs as well; because you can only park in some areas after a specific time.

A parking fine will cost you about 24 euros and if you block the road, you will be towed away and you’ll also get fined.

parking regulations malta

Strangely enough, I found it easier to park on the left…

Online and cheap rent a car in Malta

I of course shouldn’t tell you anymore that it’s best to book your rental car in Malta in advance and online. Not only is this much cheaper, but also much faster: you just have to pick up the keys and you can start holidaying!
Choosing a car rental company is less easy. There are so many agencies who in turn all claim to be the cheapest… in my experience, however, RentCars always offers the best price.

You must be at least 23 years old to rent a car in Malta and if you’re from the EU you don’t need an international driver’s license.

Whether you opt for a rental car in Malta, or if you venture out on public transport: you’ll definitely have a memorable vacation when spending it in Malta.

Marsaxlokk malta car hire

Another place that you can only reach by car: Marsaxlokk!

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