The island of Malta is ever so inviting for tourists from all over the world. Many of them will rent a car as soon as their airplane touches the ground. But, are they really prepared for driving in Malta? Join us as we will tell you everything that you need to know about driving in Malta so you can be prepared.
Do you need to rent a car in Malta?
It is highly recommended. Malta is an awesome place and it’s actually pretty small. This means that when you have a car at your disposal you can cover a lot of ground each day.
It will give you a total sense of freedom to see whatever you want whenever you want it. As such it is generally advised to rent a car in Malta. Read on to learn the ins and outs of Malta driving to stay safe during your rental.
We must note that the Malta public transport system is also pretty good. Although, you will have way less flexibility, a carefully put-together itinerary can work well with public transport only. So, if the Maltese traffic doesn’t look like something to put up with during your vacation, go car-less!
In case you decide to use public transport for your vacation you should check out our guide for the best guided tours in Malta.
The Basics of Driving in Malta
Let’s take a look at all the basic information you might need about driving on the island.
Is it hard to drive in Malta?
Generally speaking, it’s tricky. The island is small and there are a lot of cars. This means congestion, impatient drivers, and narrow roads.
We can recommend driving in Malta if you have at least 3 to 5 years of experience. The more the better. Inexperienced drivers might find driving very stressful.
Malta Driving Side
The island of Malta maintains a left-hand driving side for its road system. If you are coming from the UK or other places when this is the norm then this fact will make you happy. Otherwise, it might scare you a little bit.
How hard is it to get accommodated to left-hand side driving? It’s surprisingly easy, especially for experienced drivers. You have to force yourself mentally to pay attention at the beginning, but after 30 minutes or so it will come as second nature.
If you can rent in the city and not at the airport that’s even better. This way you will get used to left-hand side driving as a pedestrian and the transition will be easier.
The speed limits are 50 km/h inside the city limits. However, streets will usually have signs with even more restricting limits like 30 km/h. Always pay attention to the street signs to avoid speeding.
Outside of cities, the speed limit is 80 km/h unless otherwise stated by road signs.
There are no highways in Malta. You will find some nice, wide roads with multiple lanes, but for the most part, roads are maximum of two lanes.
Then there are backroads and small towns. You may encounter very bad road conditions which get worse the smaller the road gets.
Inside small towns, the streets can get extremely narrow, to the point that two cars can’t pass next to each other. In these places, you always have to pay attention as someone has to yield if there is oncoming traffic.
Parking in Malta
There are a number of public parking lots around Malta. These are usually free to use and you can leave the car in one of them for the night or while you are exploring.
In towns, it’s much harder to find parking spots, and even if you find one they might have a maximum time limit for parking.
If you are looking to rent a car for your Malta vacation then we suggest booking a hotel with dedicated parking. This will make life easier as you won’t have to worry about finding a free spot each night.
Simple Parking Rules:
- White lines mean parking is allowed. Make sure you pay any fees if it’s paid parking and check if there is a maximum time limit
- Green lines mean that parking is for residents only
- Blue lines mean that parking is reserved for residents from 7pm to 7am
- Yellow lines mean no parking
As the island is small you can expect the rush hour to be a nightmare. We highly recommend that you skip from 7 am to 9 am to minimize traffic jams.
Similarly, the timeslot between 4 pm to 6 pm is when most people head home and create massive traffic spikes.
Of course, the off-season is a bit better as there are fewer rental cars on the road. Small roads are usually hassle-free all time during the year.
Speeding and Police
There are plenty of speed cameras all around the island. It is best to not speed at all otherwise you might end up with a fine if you are not careful. Of course, the fine will arrive at your rental company, which you can be sure will be sent to you for payment.
There are sometimes routine police checks on the roads but these happen rarely. If you are stopped by the police make sure that you find a nice place to park and wait until the policemen come up to your window.
Whenever driving around Malta you will definitely feel like the local drivers are crazy at times. The first lesson you should remember is the lack of use for their indicators. Expect cars to randomly turn without any blinker.
Roundabouts can create hairy situations. As a rule of thumb, you should be ready to stop any time in a roundabout, because some people will not honor the right of way.
Speaking about the right of way, it’s not just roundabouts where it’s not taken into consideration. Drivers that have bigger cars like SUVs or Vans will at times automatically assume that they have the right of way in all situations.
Taxi drivers in Malta are always in a hurry and will try to get ahead of you no matter what. Whether it’s a risky overtake or not giving the right of way just be careful when you see a taxi coming up.
Luckily the small size of the island means that it’s practically impossible to run out of fuel. There is a filling station always in reach.
When you arrive during the day there will be someone to assist with filling up your car. All you have to do is tell them which fuel you prefer and they will fill the tank.
💡 TopFlightsNow tip: Always ask the rental company what kind of fuel your car uses. Recently in EU, the normal 95 unleaded petrol has been changed from E5 to E10. This E10 fuel is not great for older cars, but new cars (such as the ones you are likely to rent) will run absolutely fine on them. We’ve had one encounter on a petrol station where the worker wanted to push for the more expensive E5 fuel claiming the E10 is not good enough. Unless this is stated by your rental company, it’s perfectly fine to fill E10.
Many petrol stations also offer 24-hour automatic pumps. You can use them whenever no staff is around.
In Malta, the blood alcohol limit when driving is 0.08%. This is about a glass of beer or glass of wine. Although to stay totally safe we highly recommend that you don’t drive after drinking any small amount.
Defensive Driving Keeps You Safe
One of the best ways to stay safe while driving in Malta is to practice defensive driving. Actually, defensive driving is always advised no matter where you are, but when on vacation it’s a must.
You don’t know the roads, you don’t know the locals, and you might be in a car that’s not familiar to you. Keep your following distance, get ready to break, and get ready to yield if the situation arises. If you follow the general rules of defensive driving you should be fine.
Renting a car in Malta Tips
It’s not a bad idea to rent a smaller car, especially when you don’t need the extra seats. You will have easier time parking and navigating the sometimes narrow roads.
If you need automatic then you must book way in advance. Many people still drive manual in Europe and it’s the same in Malta. You can rent automatic but there are fewer cars available.
Make sure the AC works before you take the car. Driving without AC in the summer in Malta is not fun.
Always take the highest insurance. This will help you be less nervous behind the wheel as you know you are covered.
The minimum rental age is 23 years and most companies ask that you have a license for at least 2 years.
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Stay safe and have fun!
We hope that you have found this article helpful in figuring out if driving in Malta is for you or you will stick to public transportation. If you have had enough of the roads make sure to check out our guide on how to rent a boat without a license in Malta.
In case you decide to rent a car then remember our tips, practice defensive driving, and have tons of fun. Make sure to visit all the hidden gems. As you can go anywhere in the car it’s time to get off the beaten path!
Driving in Malta FAQ
Yes and no. Public transport is 100% viable but you will be much more flexible if you rent a car.
In Malta, they drive on the left-hand side.
You can do it in around 1 hour.
No, it’s not easy, you will need some experience if you want to drive in Malta.
No! All roads are free in Malta.
Economy and Micro class come in pretty cheap when it comes to renting in Malta but premium cars will maintain the premium price point.