I finally made it to Malta in September 2017. It was country 155 on my list of 626 and one of the final four recognised European countries I have not yet visited. The other three are Albania, Cyprus and Northern Cyprus. As a Brucie bonus I also got to backpack through the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. The only United Nations recognised country with NO land! You can read about that crazy border crossing here!
I had 6 days to explore Malta, Gozo and to delve into the mystery of the Sovereign Order Of Malta – the only United Nations recognised entity without land. But how do you get around these islands on a budget? I wasn’t going to cycle or hike it. I didn’t want to use taxis and I was too lazy and disorganised to hire a car. Plus Malta has no actual train network. So it had to be bus! But how do you save money on the bus network?
It’s easy. You buy an unlimited 7 day travel card on arrival for 21Euros and you are covered for your entire trip! It includes all bus routes day and night on Malta and Gozo. Boats are not included as they are private companies. It’s called a Tallinja card and is the perfect way to hop on and hop off anywhere you like.
Each trip on bus is normally 2 Euros so even just doing 11 bus trips during your trip with the card will save you money. Plus you’ll most likely arrive and leave the country by plane in which case your trips to and from the airport are covered as well. I milked it and probably used the card 39 times in 6 days – this would normally have cost me 78 Euros is paying separately.
So this is the best way to get around Malta – trust me – when you arrive at the airport, go straight to the desk at their office (Malta Public Transport) and buy one. The office is located in the arrivals hall and looks like this:
But one thing to note as a local Maltese guy told me “public transport in Malta is unpredictable”. And I now know what he means so there are also some bad points to note about Maltese bus networks! My first experience of this was that my flight landed at 13.00. I had my Tallinja Card in my hand by 13.12 and yet there was NO X4 bus from the airport to Vallarta until 16.01. I waited almost three hours there at the airport! What an arrival to country 155! Three hours standing at a bus stop at the airport. Well actually, I went inside for a beer and used my Wi-Fi while waiting on the bus. I’m sure you will be luckier than me though. Finally the bus arrived and I was able to get to my hotel, The British Hotel in Valletta.
Plus also when I toured Mdina, buses were all packed and the first 6 that passed were all either full or going the other way so expect delays. Despite its faults, the Tallinja card is for sure the best way to get around Malta, make sure you get one on arrival at the airport. One more thing – you often have to stand on the buses in Malta – they get packed!