Hop On Hop Off Buses
These buses are very poular in Malta, probably because Malta is so small and these buses cover practically every tourist attraction on your list. It’s so easy.
You can cover both the North and the South route on the Hop On Hop Off Bus in one day, as long as you start early and don’t hop off anywhere too often as you can be waiting about an hour between buses.
Hop on Hop off is a great way to get your bearings and cover a lot of ground early on in your trip, before exploring properly later, especially if you opt for a two day ticket – which will set you back approx 40 Euro with a free harbour cruise thrown in, depending on who you buy from.
There are lots of ticket sellers along The Strand in Sliema – and UK expat Emily (usually wearing a red fleece) was really helpful.
As per with these things – you get some earphones and select the language you want for the running commentary.
If you sit upstairs (which you absolutely should, to get the best views), make sure you wrap up warm and prepare to be windswept. Maybe its warmer in the summer months but you’ll definitely be cold in the winter months, the bus goes fast so hold onto your hats.
When you do the Southern route, once you get back to Valletta stay on the bus to go back to your hotel area – check with the driver whether he’ll drop you off at your hotel or somewhere nearby. One driver was kind enough to come around the bus (downstairs) and make a list of requested hotel stops.
It’s pretty easy to get around by bus and they offer the best value for money – there’s really no need to even think about taxis (the white taxis are a rip off, apparently).
Bus stops are all clearly labeled with which buses stop there, and a route map on display for each one – the drivers are really helpful too if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
I’d highly recommend you get yourself a 7 day Explore Card if you want to be carefree while exploring – it’s like a London Oyster Card – a swipe card. They cost 21 Euros for seven consecutive days, with unlimited bus travel until it expires, then you buy a new one – there’s no top up system but there are other types of card – I think there’s another type that is more measured and not unlimited, you get 12 single journeys which are valid until they are all used up, and not bound by a seven day period.
I’ve heard a lot of travellers say driving in Malta is a scary nightmare for a number of reasons, including speeding, crazy drivers, heaving traffic jams, high rates of accidents, drivers on mobile phones and dodgy narrow roads with potholes.
The biggest bus station is the one in Valletta and it’s pretty fool proof. Stands are clearly labeled and easy for you to see which buses go where, there seemed to be a bus to everywhere.
With Malta being so small, you’ll be hard pressed to get lost. You’ll always find your way back to the familiar soon enough.
The buses are packed, ram jammed – and people just push through the queue with no shame whatsoever. I suddenly realised that Londoners are actually a lot more well mannered than I realised.
On board, people stand in the bus aisle all the way to the back of the bus, tightly packed. It’s manic – so avoid the rush hour wherever possible.