The tiny Mediterranean country of Malta attracts millions of visitors each year. While renting a car is a fantastic option to explore Malta, driving on the left side of the road deters many. Luckily, public transportation in Malta is easy to use. Most destinations can be reached by bus or ferry and we’ll show you how to navigate them in this post.
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Accessible Public Transportation in Malta
Buses and ferries in Malta were mostly designed with accessibility in mind. If you’ll be needing accessible public transportation in Malta, head over to our Accessible Travel in Malta post for tips on navigating buses and ferries with a wheelchair.
Valletta: Malta’s Capital
When in Malta, everything leads back to Valletta. And by everything, we mean all public transportation. Therefore, if you ever get in a public transportation crunch, take a bus to Valletta and continue your travels from there. In many cases, you’ll need to go to Valletta in order to switch buses to your next destination.
The Valletta Bus Terminal
It’s easy to mistake Valletta’s bus terminal as a bus stop if you’ll be arriving to Valletta by bus. That’s because the buses stop by the beautiful Triton Fountain to let passengers off before driving the few meters to the actual bus station.
The Triton Fountain is the last stop for all routes going to Valletta. So, if you’re unsure whether or not you’re in the right place, just wait until the stop when everyone gets off.
The best part about the Valletta bus terminal? It’s right by the entrance to Valletta’s old town.
The bus station itself is entirely outdoors and runs along two streets bordering a part of the fortress of the old town. In fact, the bus terminal is both a bus station and a public street.
Signs are abound making it easy to navigate Valletta’s bus terminal independently. However, if you have any questions, there’s a public transportation information desk at the entrance to the bus station, on the end by the Triton Fountain.
How bus tickets work in Malta
Public transportation in Malta was designed to get you where you need to go without having to purchase more than one ticket per ride. That’s because each ticket is valid for two hours for use on any bus. Two hours is enough time to take you from one end of the island to the other, provided that you don’t run into too much traffic.
That said, the ticket time is only applicable when you get on the bus, not when you get off. Therefore, if you get on a new bus 1 hour, 59 minutes after you purchased your ticket, you won’t have to pay for an additional bus ticket.
You can pay for your ticket directly with the bus driver. The cost is a flat rate, regardless of where you’re going. Your driver will then give you a printed ticket. Look towards the bottom of that ticket and in bold you’ll see the time that the ticket expires, exactly two hours from the time you purchased it.
If you’ll be switching buses, you’ll simply need to show your driver your ticket when you get on a different bus.
Travel Tip: Try to have exact change or small bills ready for your driver. Since most people use the Tallinja Public Transportation Card in Malta, drivers are oftentimes low on change.
Cost of bus tickets
The cost of a bus ticket depends if you’re traveling during the winter or summer season (a.k.a. low or high season). Below are the ticket prices:
Summer (mid-June – mid-October): 2 Euro
Winter (mid-October – mid-June): 1.50 Euro
There’s also a flat 3 Euro ticket cost for nighttime service, regardless of the time of year that you’re traveling.
Public Transportation Cards in Malta
If you’ll be traveling more than a few times by public transportation around Malta, consider buying a Tallinja Card. This card offers discounted travel for people with longer says on the island. There are Tallinja Cards designed for both tourists and long term visitors/residents. Let’s take a look at these:
Tallinja Card for tourists
There are three Tallinja Cards geared towards tourists:
12 Single Day Journey Card
This card costs 15 Euro and, as its name implies, it’s good for 12 separate daytime bus trips. You can also use it for 6 night bus trips, or a combination of both day and night trips. The card can be used in both Malta and Gozo. This single card can be shared by multiple people and is valid for one year from the time it was purchased.
7-Day Explore Card
This Tallinja Card can be used for unlimited day and night bus travel within Malta and Gozo for seven days from the time it was purchased. Every person must have their own card. The cost is 21 Euro for adults and 15 Euro for children 10 years old or younger.
The ExplorePlus Card is similar to the 7-Day Explore card in the sense that the ExplorePlus Card is valid for seven days for unlimited bus travel in Malta and Gozo. However, this card goes one step further by including two trips on the Valletta ferry (to and from Sliema or The Three Cities). You also get to choose to take either a full day tour via a hop-on, hop-off bus in Malta or a boat trip to Comino.
These three short-term Tallinja Cards are sold at the Valletta bus terminal and other tourist kiosks around Malta. They are available for use immediately from the time they’re purchased.
Travel Tip: The Tallinja Card can be used for any bus on Malta and Gozo. However, they aren’t applicable for ferry rides, with the exception of certain situations for the ExplorePlus Card.
Tallinja Card for long-term stays
If you’ll be staying in Malta long term, or are a resident of Malta, the Tallinja Card system has got you covered.
Long-term Tallinja cards are available for a variety of different age groups and residency categories. You can read all about the card options and how to sign up for one here. Your card will arrive within about two weeks of you completing the application process.
Bus Routes in Malta
Malta is oh so advanced in their public transportation resources. Not only do the more popular bus stops have digital screens showing how long until the next bus arrives, but they also have an online planner where you can put the date, time, and destination that you want to go to. The online planner will tell you when and where you need to wait for the bus, including real-time. You can view this bus planner here.
They also have an online route and timetables resource. Here, you can search by route, bus stop number, and bus stop name.
Ferry Routes to Sliema & The Three Cities
From Valletta, you can take public ferries to Sliema and The Three Cities (Cospicua Port). Not only are these routes advantageous to avoid stand-still car traffic, but you’ll also get fantastic views of Valletta from the water.
Both ferries run year-round every 30 minutes, on the hour and the half-hour. Ferry schedules are broken down into “summer” (June 1st – October 31st) and “winter” (November 1st – May 31st).
The price for an adult with either ferry is 1.50 Euro one way and 2.80 Euro round trip. After 7:00pm, night prices kick in with adult tickets costing 1.75 Euro one way and 3.30 Euro round trip.
Keep in mind that since Valletta is located on top of a hill, you’ll need to go downhill to get to either ferry port. For The Three Cities port in Valletta, there’s an elevator you can take from the top of the Upper Barrakka Gardens. The ferry is free to take down and costs 1 Euro to go back up. You can also walk back up the hill to avoid the 1 Euro fee and elevator lines during the high season!
There isn’t an elevator to get down to the Sliema ferry port in Valletta, however, the hill isn’t as steep on that side of the city. If you have a car, there’s parking nearby for both ferry ports.
Taking the ferry from Malta to Gozo
Gozo is a popular day trip for visitors to Malta, and for good reason! The second largest of three islands that make up Malta, Gozo has a more laid-back feel and is known for its coastline and countryside charm.
In order to get to Gozo, you’ll need to head to the Cirkewwa Port in Malta. There are frequent bus departures from Valletta and you can expect a minimum of a 1.5 hour ride from there, since you’ll be traveling to the northernmost part of Malta.
Keep in mind that the buses to Cirkewwa leave from the “B” section of the Valletta terminal. This means that you’ll need to walk to the end of the main terminal and take a left (Note: Take a look at the Valletta bus terminal map earlier on in this post to orient yourself).
The bus to Cirkewwa winds through many different towns, so it feels like a little tour all on its own! Sit on the driver’s side of the bus, if you want to have ocean views as you approach the port. Remember, the Maltese drive on the left side of the road!
Gozo Ferry Times & Prices
The ferry to Gozo takes about 20 minutes and runs 24 hours a day, every 45 minutes during the day. Late in the evening and in the wee hours of the morning, ferry departures are a little less frequent, but they still run. You can view the exact ferry schedules here.
The cost for an adult ticket is 4.65 Euro round trip. A neat thing about the ferry system is that you only pay for your ticket when you depart Gozo’s Mgarr Port. This means that when you’re traveling from Malta to Gozo, you can walk right on the ferry without paying! Oddly enough, night tickets actually cost less, at 4.05 Euro per person.
Travel Tip: Buy your ticket back to Malta upon your arrival to the Mgarr Port in Gozo. Otherwise, if you wait to purchase it at the end of your visit and you get back shortly before a ferry departs, you could miss the ferry!
Taking the ferry to Comino
Comino is Malta’s smallest island. It’s famous for its “Blue Lagoon” of crystal clear swimming water.
“Ferry” is a bit of a misnomer here, since small boats are used. The boats travel to Comino from both the Cirkewwa Port in Malta and the Mgarr Port in Gozo. Although there is so much to see in Gozo, if you’ve only got a day and also want to visit Comino’s Blue Lagoon, it’s possible to travel from Malta – Comino – Gozo – Malta, or do this route in reverse.
As an island only 3.5 square kilometers in area, the biggest attractions in Comino are waterside, with the exception of Saint Mary’s Tower that you can walk up to from the beach.
Timetables are more modest for Comino, but the price is hefty at 13 Euro round trip for adults. However, there’s a small discount if you book your ticket in advance online. Ferries depart starting mid-morning and run about every hour until late afternoon. The travel time is about 15 minutes.
That’s a transportation wrap!
I hope this post inspired you to get out and explore Malta using public transportation. The public transportation system in Malta is easy, safe, and English speaker friendly.
Have you, or will you be, using public transportation in Malta? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
P.S.- Now that you know how to navigate Malta’s public transportation system, make sure to check out 12 Popular & Unique Places to See in Malta.
Laura has been wandering the globe for over a decade. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.