Driving in Malta is seen as challenging at best by a lot of people, not least by the Maltese themselves. This article aims to give you some insight as to what you can expect to find if you choose to hire a car for your holiday.
Let’s start with the pros:
- There’s a lot to see and discover within relatively short distances, and although hop on/hop off buses can be a good alternative, you’ll never have as much flexibility as you’d have driving yourself.
- Although you’ll have easy access to public transport (a network of bus routes) wherever you stay in Malta, the way that some of the routes are laid out means that trips can take far longer than if you were to drive yourself.
- Public transport is reasonably worry-free but often times not too punctual and can make for a hot ride in summer, when air conditioning doesn’t always work.
- If you want to see the real Malta, the small quaint and relatively quiet villages and village life, you’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone and get away from the tourist hotspots. If you’re a curious traveller, it’ll be worth it.
And now with the cons:
- Traffic congestion – during rush hour mostly
- Parking – Lots of cars, not enough spaces in busy areas
- Hot-headed or ignorant drivers who are looking to cut off 1-2 minutes from their trip time, whatever the cost may be.
- Narrow roads in old city centres. Not the type that will cost you a side mirror, but the type with semi-blind corners.
- In Malta we drive on the left hand side of the road. So, unless you’re from the UK that will take some getting used to (as well as driving a right-hand drive car).
- Rules and signs are sometimes seen as mere suggestions
Still not sure? Here’s some further advice:
If you’re a confident driver with at least a couple of years of solid experience on the road in your home country, you should be able to drive around by car in Malta pretty easily.
If you’ve driven on motorways in Italy, inside city centres like Naples and in different parts of Sicily, driving in Malta will feel like a breeze. It’s predictable as long as you expect other drivers to misbehave and anticipate them doing so. If you get worked up and stressed out easily behind the wheel, driving in Malta is probably not for you.
If you’re considering renting a car, you’re probably looking to do some exploring. If that’s the case, Sliema, St. Julian’s, Buġibba, Qawra and St. Paul’s Bay shouldn’t be on your list to consider staying at in the first place. However, if you are staying at one of these places, you’ll be making it difficult for yourself when it comes to driving in and out of these areas as well as to find parking (unless facilities are provided by the hotel or place you’re staying at).
If you plan to spend most or all of your time in Gozo, there’s no need to worry in the first place. Although rules are still not obeyed as closely as they might be at home, it’s a lot more peaceful driving around the island. Really and truly, you’d be missing out if you don’t rent a car in Gozo. It’s a great place to explore on four wheels. Or two, if you prefer.