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Driving and Public Transport for Expats in Malta

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2013

Driving

It is possible to drive in Malta with your EEA licence. Some of the roads are not in the best condition, though, thanks to EU funding, the government has recently started on improvements, especially on Gozo. Malta is safe to drive in; the number of fatalities from road accidents is one of the lowest in Europe. Despite this, the Maltese have a reputation for being aggressive drivers, though this may be due to their lack of respect for traffic lanes.

Malta is a small island and does not have any fully motorway-grade roads. Since distances are short, speed limits are quite low, at generally 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas and up to 80 km/h (50 mph) elsewhere. There are no tolls on Maltese roads.

Malta is in the top ten of countries in terms of vehicles per capita, hence congestion can be severe around Harbour area during the week. If you have a longer commute, it may be worth considering alternative modes of transport.

Whenever you are driving in Malta, you will need:

  • Vehicle registration documents
  • Car insurance certificate
  • Two red warning triangles (EU approved)

You will also need an approved reflective jacket. This jacket must be worn whenever you step outside your vehicle. Additionally, your car must have a national identification sticker on it and seat belts must be worn at all times if fitted.

Driving in Malta is on the left, a relic of the islands’ British colonial heritage.  If you are not used to driving on the left, it is important to take care, especially at junctions. The legal blood-alcohol content in Malta is 35mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Trains

There are no railways on Malta.

Buses

The absence of railways would make a good bus service all the more important for those reliant on public transport.  Fortunately, this is the case in Malta; buses are plentiful, reasonably priced, and cover most parts of Malta and Gozo. Buses also have priority on the roads; other motorists must give way to buses when they are picking up and setting down passengers.

Until 2011, buses were known for being colourful too, but the old buses have recently been replaced by an air-conditioned fleet made by the British company Arriva. The fare for a day’s travel on any Arriva bus is €2.60 for tourists, €1.50 for residents. Remember to keep the paper receipt for your bus ticket as it shows the date you bought it.

Ferries

As Malta is an island nation, sea transport is for an everyday means of getting from island to island for many locals. The two most important services between Malta and Gozo sail from Valletta and Ċirkewwa (on the north-western tip of Malta Island) to Mġarr, on the southeast coast of Gozo. The Ċirkewwa-Mġarr ferry runs every 45 minutes in the off-season, and continuously during some public holidays. The boats used include standard ferries and hydrofoils.

Around the Harbour area, you may find the quickest form of transport is a water taxi. These vary from gondola-type vessels which will convey you at a genteel speed to bright yellow powerboats.

 

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