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Driving in Malta - Malta car hire advice

Malta is an archipelago and a Southern European country in the Mediterranean Sea.

See the map of Malta.

A major holiday destination, blessed with wonderful landscapes and year-round pleasant weather, Malta is especially popular with tourists from the UK. Why? Being a former British colony, Malta maintained English as the official language (together with the Maltese), as well as the left-hand traffic.

For many holidaymakers from the UK, but not only, Malta car hire proves to be a very convenient solution to enhance their holiday experience. However, driving in Malta for the first time may seem a bit of a challenge.

Please, find below few tips and advice for a relaxing driving holiday in Malta.

Malta roads on the islands of Malta, Comino and Gozo. 
The Republic of Malta, as the country is officially called, consists of three major islands, Malta, Comino and Gozo. A number of small islands, also parts of the archipelago, are inhabited.

See the detailed Malta driving map (click to enlarge).

The most developed road infrastructure is found in the bigger islands of Malta and Gozo, while Comino, due to its small size have only a few C-roads. You will be able to drive your hire car in Malta and Gozo, as there is a regular ferry service carrying passengers and cars between the two islands. The trip takes approximately 20 minutes and the car-and-driver standard fare is around EUR 15.

The quality of roads in Malta has been improved significantly, although in many places the road surface is quite worn and pot holes are a common nuisance.

The best thing to do, if you are driving a Malta hire car, is to plan your trips around the island along the major roads where the driving conditions are good and predictable. Venturing into the countryside, however picturesque, should be done carefully. Many of the secondary roads in Malta are narrow, dirt and pebble tracks and the risk of damage to the undercarriage of your hire car will increase, unless driving a 4x4 vehicle with more ground clearance.

Also, the GPS mapping tends to fail a lot in Malta, not taking into consideration constant roadworks. Back yourself up with a traditional map and try to prepare your route before starting the trip.

There are no motorways in Malta.

Malta speed limits and basic traffic regulations
If not indicated otherwise, the speed limits in Malta are as follows:

  • 50 km (30 mph) speed limit in built-up areas
  • 80 km (50 mph) speed limit outside built-up areas

The rather low-speed limits reflect the driving conditions in Malta. The island has a surprisingly high car ownership rate and with a large number of vehicles on the roads (including horse-drawn carts) and given state of the road surface, it is hardly ever possible, much less advisable, to exceed Malta speed limits.

The basic traffic regulations in Malta are similar to the ones in UK:

  • In Malta you drive on the left-hand side (see the list of other countries with left hand traffic)
  • The use of seat belts is mandatory for all occupants
  • Hand held mobile devices are prohibited when driving in Malta
  • Child seats/booster seats are required for children under 12
  • The minimum driving age in Malta is 18
  • A driver’s licence issued in the UK is valid in Malta

Drink driving in Malta – legal alcohol limit for drivers
In line with the UK legislation, the legal alcohol limit for drivers is: 0,08%  (80 mg per 100 mg of blood).

Malta traffic police patrols are quite frequent and a breathalyser test can be administered at any time of the day.

“We neither drive on the left nor the right. We drive in the shade” - adapting to Malta traffic
This popular Maltese saying is only partially a joke.

The biggest challenge for the tourists driving in Malta might be actually getting used to the rather unique behaviour of the local drivers.

One should expect the unexpected when driving in Malta, as the approach towards the road regulations is very relaxed there. It is common that Maltese drivers will suddenly slow down in front of the speed cameras, or turn abruptly, dodging pot-holes.

Also, be prepared that the car in front of you will stop in a less expected, or convenient, place and that the traffic lights will not always be observed, neither by drivers or by pedestrians.

There seems to be not much of consistency, or logic, in the use of indicators in Malta traffic, while the horn is used quite frequently, mostly to indicate approach on extremely narrow roads, with insufficient space for two cars.

Despite the particularities of Malta traffic, a private or hire car turns out to be the most convenient way of moving around the island. The alternative, Malta public transportation, can be very unreliable and offers a limited coverage. Taxi services, although reasonably priced on fixed routes from Malta Airport to the popular holiday resorts of the island, are rather costly when used for getting to most of the interesting sites in Malta.

See the table of taxi fares from Malta International Airport (December 2012).

By following the basic traffic rules and applying simple common sense you can easily find your ways in Maltese traffic. Exploring Malta in a hire car, well beyond the limits of your holiday resort can be a truly enjoyable experience.

Malta car hire
For best car rental deals in Malta, do use internet search and booking engines, such as Cartrawler, and book well in advance.

Compare car hire rates with Cartrawler Malta

When booking early and outside of the high tourist season it is possible to find cheap car rental offers with prices starting from around £ 40 for a week of Malta car hire. For this price you can rent a small city car, as a Peugeot 107 (or similar) or, sometimes, a larger car of the economy class, as for instance Kia Picanto (or similar).

A 7-days rental of much more comfortable compact class vehicle, such as Citroen C3, or similar, can be arranged for a still rather low price of around EUR 55.

Please, note that the “pick-up half full, return empty” policy is very common in Malta car hire and no refund will be given for the unused fuel. Always read carefully the Rental conditions section of each Cartrawler car hire offer.

Malta car hire is available from major and local rent a car companies with car rental stations at Malta Airport and in many locations of tourist interest across the island. Among Malta car hire brands you will find: Avis Rent a Car, Europcar, Sixt, Budget, Alamo, Thrifty, Hertz, First Car Rental, Green Motion, Pericius Car Hire, Aaquarius Rent a Car, Active Car Rentals, Drifter Auto Rentals and many more.

Malta weather – when to visit?
There is no bad time for visiting Malta. While not all of the year is suitable for beach holiday, a pleasant weather – especially when compared to northern European standards – can be enjoyed in Malta all year long.

Malta has a mild Mediterranean climate, with distinct summer, winter and rainy seasons.

The very sunny Malta summer lasts since late June to early October and registers temperatures between 25 – 32 degrees Celsius. The hot and dry wind, Sirocco, blowing from Africa may bring, for short periods of time, rather unpleasant heat, while for most of the time the cooling sea breeze maintains Malta climate very pleasant, even in the hottest months of July and August.

Most of the rain fall in Malta is registered between October and December, although light showers are not unusual in the remaining winter months.

It never snows in Malta and in the coldest moths of January and February the temperatures at night rarely ever drop below zero, while the stable daytime temperatures of 15 degrees Celsius (or even 20!) are perfectly normal during the Maltese winter.

See Malta climate chart.


Driving in Malta - Malta car hire advice
Article: Driving in Malta - Malta car hire advice
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Published: Tuesday, December 04 2012
Latest revision: Friday, June 24 2016

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