Quick Guide to Malta
This is a quick guide on how to get started in Malta both for tourists and expatriates. The user created wiki guide contains all essential information you need when going/moving to Malta. If you have found this guide and have tips and useful experiences yourself in Malta, please feel free to add them to the guide. Every time this guide receives new content and revisions it gets better and makes it easier for hundreds of people coming to Malta for the first time.
 Getting to and from the airport
The first thing a person needs to do when arriving to Malta is to know how to get to and from the airport. Getting from the airport of course depends on where you intend to go, but in general most people want to go to Valletta or the area of Sliema and Saint Julians. To get from the airport to Valletta, catch bus number 8 that leaves right from outside the airport. The bus fare is 0.47 Euros for each trip. The bus driver might try to charge you extra for bringing luggage onto the bus. If he tries to do so, you have two choices: Give him the money or refuse. Both work equally well, but will result in you having two different feelings afterwards when sitting on the bus; anger towards the bus driver or anger towards yourself. In general, bus drivers in Malta are dirty looking and ill behaved, though exceptions exist.
If you wish to get anywhere else on the island by bus, you will anyways have to go by Valletta. For example, for getting to Sliema, Saint Julians, Marsaxslokk, Marsaskala, Bugibba, you need to change buses in Valletta. Even if the distances will never surpass 30 kilometers, be prepared to spend hours on getting to your destination if you're going by bus.
Another option on getting to and from the airport is by using the white licensed taxi system. The white taxis have older cars and are generally more expensive than the black taxis (black as in not licensed as a taxi - not in color), but they are much easier to find. From the airport, they even operate with fixed fees depending on where you wish to go. Prices for white taxis generally vary between 15 and 30 Euros, with most destinations costing around 20 Euros. From the airport to Sliema or Saint Julians will cost around 22 Euros.
A popular way of getting to and from the airport for residents of Malta and routinated expats on the island is to use the black taxis (again black in license not in colour). These are generally cheaper, drive better, talk less and have nicer air conditioned cars. The only disadvantage with them are: You need to know them.
 The size of the island
The island is small. Small in every sense except time. The longest distance you can possibly travel in one direction in Malta is less than 35 kilometers. This means that if there was a straight road through the country and no traffic and you were going in 90 kilometers per hour, you could easily cross the country three times in an hour. The situation however, is quite on the contrary. There are no straight roads in Malta. There are no roads where you can go in 90 kilometers per hour without acting irresponsible and risking to hurt somebody. And there is a lot of traffic.
Expect to spend less time in Malta travelling than in other countries because of the small size of the island, but expect to spend a longer time on a shorter distance than in other countries because of the driving culture and road conditions.
Should you chose to go by bus, don't be surprised if the bus driver stops for pastizzi or spends 10 minutes of your time fighting with a passenger after refusing to give proper change. In fact, do not expect proper change when taking the bus.
See also the article about the Maltese islands.
 How to get around on the islands
The most convenient and comfortable way of getting around the island is by car. The Maltese people love their cars. They do everything in the cars. They go by car to travel 1 kilometer. Reports have been made that they might take the car to go 300 meters. Sometimes they arrange island wide treasure hunts with their cars. Signs are generally good and because of the size of the island it is never a disaster should you get lost anyway.
The other option of getting around the island is of course by bus. Buses cost €2.60 for a day ticket which is valid till 23:00. After that there is a skeleton network at €2.50 per trip.
The bus coverage is generally really good but you should expect queues, delays and overcrowded busses.
The main bus stop on the island is in Valletta. When arriving to Valletta, you arrive at an impressive roundabout where buses are lined up all around. You can get a route information booklet where there is a map of the roundabout where it says which bus number waits where. This would be the only useful purpose of the bus route booklet, as it seems bus drivers generally don't respect the times (or their passengers).
An alternative to driving and taking the bus is going by boat. Although much more expensive, tourist boats can take you to some interesting places on the island. Prices are anyways not through the roof and you can basically get anywhere for between 10 and 20 Euros. Travelling between the islands on a boat is a great experience.
 Communicating with the Maltese people
Communicating with the Maltese people is easy. The Maltese people are very friendly, welcoming and helpful. They are also generally quite knowledgeable about their own country.
For language, you can definitely get around with English. Not all Maltese people speak English well enough to be able to discuss heavier issues, but they can for sure give answers about their country and directions.
Should you happen to know how to speak Arabic, you will also find that you understand much of what Maltese people say when they talk in between themselves, as the languages are quite similar. Some people call Maltese a dialect of Arabic. Maltese people don't. And they would be offended if you did.
See also the article about the Maltese language.
 Cheap supermarkets
There are several chains of supermarkets on the island.
- Lidl which is the cheapest and the one with the worst locations
- Scotts which has quite fair prices and an excellent fresh food counter with cheeze, olives, pastes, meats and so on. Vegetables are generally quite reasonably priced in Scotts. Scotts offers a new but popular loyalty card.
- Tower Supermarket has passed it's glory days and is now the supermarket with the best selection, but with the highest prices and the least interesting fresh food counter.
- M&S Simply Food with the selection you would normally expect. Ecological and expensive alternatives to the regular brands. Shops can be found in Sliema, Saint Julians and the Tigne Point Shopping Complex.
- On the basement floor of Tigne Point Shopping Complex, there is a large Chain food store with a good selection and an excellent fresh food counter.
- Russian Foods is a Russian supermarket in Sliema.
 Markets and food vans
All around Malta you will find markets on certain days of the week. The largest cities has markets that are open every day. Cities without markets every day tend to have food vans parked around spread out over the neighbourhouds. The food vans sell fresh fish, fresh farm products, fresh vegetables and fruit. Prices and quality are unbeatable.
 Good restaurants
Expats and tourists generally complain about both the service and the food in Maltese restaurants. This is not only without reason, but with a little bit of study it can easily be avoided.
Stay clear of the cheapest looking places as they are generally bad (and generally not much less expensive than their finer counterparts). When in Malta, go for the nicest looking place or the place that has the most clients. With so many restaurants to choose from, the locals and the expats quickly learn which ones are good and which are not. Expect a beef main course to cost between 18 and 24 and a rib-eye main course to cost between 17 and 22. Again, go for the restaurant that is full or recommended in any guidebook. There is plenty to chose from.
 Price of beer and wine
The price of beer and wine varies greatly in between the different towns and outlets in Malta. In the most touristy places such as Sliema, Valletta, Saint Julians,Bugibba, Mdina and Victoria, expect to pay anywhere between 1.50 and 3.5 Euros for a pint. For those who are used to measuring in liters, a pint is about 0.56 liters. If you are really thirsty, you can buy a pitcher of 2.5 liters of beer for around 10 Euros. Beer comes in half-pints, pints and pitchers.
In more remote and not so touristy parts of Malta, expect to pay between 1 and 2.5 per pint of beer.
For wine, prices varies according to origin and quality. For local red or white wine, expect to pay between 1.5 and 3.5 Euros per glass. Also popular are quarter bottles and full bottles.
 Drinking the tap water
Drinking tap water is safe in Malta. The only risk you run is to taste the metal taste of an old pipe or the taste of the sea. The taste of the old pipe can be avoided by letting the water run for a while. The taste of sea water you will never get rid of because this is what you are actually drinking: sea water.
Because there are limited fresh water supplies on Malta, much of the drinking water on the island is actually sea water that has been desalinated. This is a costly process, hence water is very expensive compared to on mainland Europe. This is not a concern for tourists, but expats living in Malta might want to reduce the length of their showers.
 Renting an apartment
Finding an apartment in Malta is easy. It's almost too easy - you might be tempted to take the first and best you see,but it will certainly almost always pay off to look at a good number of apartments before making a decision.
Apartments are normally rented our for a period of one year or half a year. One year and half year contracts are called long-lets. A renting period shorter than half a year will be characterized as short-let and will almost certainly increase the amount of the monthly rent.
When renting an apartment, feel free to discuss the price. There are several arguments that can be made in order to lower the price: low season, nearby construction works, lenght of conctract or type of people renting the apartment.
When looking for an apartment in Malta you have two options: direct from owner or using a rental agency. The latter is easier than the former and probably worth the small extra amount it costs because of better contract and better protection.
When renting direct from owner there is no commission to pay. Contract and amounts are negotiated directly between you and the owner. However, this is not a very common way to approach the rental market in Malta. The only way of finding an owner who has an apartment to let is through friends and contacts. Apartments are generally not advertised anywhere except in letting agencies.
When finding an apartment through a letting agent, both you and the owner pays one half of one month of rent in commission to the letting agency, equivilent to a total of one month of rent in commission. The letting agent will find a number of apartments based on your criteria and take you around the island to see them with his car. You only pay the letting agent if you choose to take an apartment. You pay upon signing the contract. It is normal to use several letting agents at a time to be sure to get a good overview of which apartments are available. The letting agent normally handles the contract and the deposit.
When renting an apartment in Malta, paying one months rent in deposit is customary and certainly required.
When renting an aparmtnet in Malta, the utilities, such as electricity and water, are almost always kept in the name of the owner. The owner will gather a pre determined amount for the utilities monthly and settle the bill with you every three or six months.
 What do you get when renting an apartment
When renting in Malta you can expect to get a fully furnished apartment inclusive of cutlery and towels.
 How much should an apartment cost
The answer to this question depends very much on you and your desires. Sliema and St. Julians are the most expensive places to search for apartments with peaks on Tigne Point and Portomaso. Luxury apartments and new apartments could cost you from 800 and up for a two-bedroom apartment. Good sized, clean apartments should cost around 450 to 600 Euros for a two bedroom apartment. When renting a two-bedroom apartment, the apartment should normally come with two bathrooms: one for the common space and one for the master bedroom. Should yo find an apartment with three rooms instead of two you can expect more or less the same price.
In other areas than Sliema and St. Julians you can find good and modern apartments for slightly less money per month. The drawback is of course that other areas might not be very well serviced by public transportation and you might be more dependent on having your own car.
 Where should you look for an apartment
For foreigners, Sliema, St. Julians, Gzira, Valletta and Marsaskala are popular places to live.
 Mobile phone cards - prepaid cards and subscriptions
When arriving to a new country, one of the first things to do is to aquire a mobile phone card. In Malta, prepaid cards are readily available while subscription based cards require you to fulfill a set of criteria.
While generally much more expensive in use, prepaid cards are ideal for people just arriving to Malta. There are basically two providers of prepaid cards and mobile phone services in Malta: Go and Vodafone. In addition to these, you find a series of resellers, such as MTV Mobile, that use the network of the two already mentioned.
Unlike in most countries, you don't need to register your name when purchasing a prepaid card.
Choosing which service provider to use depends mostly on which service provider your friends and contacts use. Prices are much cheaper when calling and sending text messages within the same network, so ask your friends and colleagues.
Most of the time you can recognize who has which service provider based on the first characters of their mobile number; numbers that start with 79 generally belongs to Go and numbers that start with 99 generally belongs to Vodafone. Note however that clients can bring their number with them when changing service providers, so this rule of thumb is not always trustable.
Subscriptions have a base charge of 15 to 30 Euros per month and often includes free minutes, free sms and/or free data transmission. Consumption related costs are generally much lower when on a subscription.
To get a subscription, the mobile phone service provider generally require you to present a Maltese ID card and in addition credit card details, proof of address in form of a utility bill and/or similar.
When changing type of contract or switching provider, you can bring your old mobile number with you free of charge.
 Setting up an Internet subscription in Malta
Setting up an Internet subscription in Malta is an easy task and there are several providers to choose from:
- Vodafone 3G
Internet porviders generally require you to be able to provide a Maltese ID card or to pay a deposit of +- 200 Euros.
Prepaid solutions are available for Vodafone 3G, where one day costs 1 Euro and one month costs 21 Euros.
 Setting up a bank account in Malta
Setting up a bank account in Malta can be a trialsome experience, but it could also go very smooth - in fact, it all depends on the bank.
For foreigners trying to open a bank account in Malta, the most common experience is that the bank asks permission to acquire a reference from your bank in your home country. Try to stay clear of this, as this is a process that will take months.
The easiest way of opening a bank account in Malta is by presenting the bank with your Maltese ID card if you have one. The bank might still ask you for a bank reference, but in this case simply politely say no thank you and try another bank/branch.
Should you have a Maltese ID card, a reference from your employer might also be a good alternative should your bank ask for a reference.
The fee for having a bank account in Malta is around 5 Euros per year. The fee for having a VISA or Mastercard attached to your account is roughly 20 Euros per year.
Bank of Valletta has lower prices for international transfers than HSBC. Stay clear of the smaller banks such as APS or Lombard bank, as these do not have local solutions for card payments in shops and restaurants.
 The Maltese ID card
The Maltese ID card is one of the most valuable documents you can have in Malta. And fortunately, it is easy to get - much easier to get than a bank account or a mobile phone subscription. And in fact, when you have a Maltese ID card, getting a bank account or a mobile phone subscription suddenly becomes much easier. A lot of other things will also become easier: getting an internet subscription, renting a car, getting a card with your local DVD rental outlet, fidelity cards with the supermarket, renting apartments and registering with various Maltese governmental institutions.
The process of getting the ID card is quite practical and very easy. The process is in two steps:
- Showing up at the office for ID cards and fill out the necessary form. Make sure to bring your passport. After filling out the apropriate form, it will be checked by the police and you should have your picture taken - this picture is apparently just for bureaucratic purposes and will not appear on your ID card.
- After waiting some days and receiving a notification letter by post, you can go back to the ID card office. You should bring the letter you recieved to the same place where you had your picture taken and they will take another picture of you - this is the picture that will appear on your ID card. After having your picture taken, you can go to the counter for the issuance of the ID card. The ID card will be printed and issued on the spot.
The ID card office is at the offices of the Electoral Commision in Valletta. Their address is: The Electoral Commission, Evans Building, St .Elmo Place, Valletta VLT 2000, Malta.
The only thing required to appy for and get a Maltese ID card is an address in Malta where you can recieve the letter sent from the ID card office. There are no further checks of neither address, work permit, visa or the like. For example: Should they have a friend with an address where to recieve the letter from the ID card office and the time to wait for it, a tourist could easily get a Maltese ID card.
The Maltese ID card is not valid as an ID or a travel document outside of Malta and Gozo.
 Driving in Malta
Driving in Malta is a bit like driving in Italy or North Africa - with the added peril that the Maltese drive on the left hand side of the road. If this sentance doesn't scare you away from driving in Malta, ask any Maltese person to tell you about traffic accident statistics in Malta. Still not scared? Read on.
Red lights are respected in Malta and this is basically the only rule of traffic that is consequently observed. Stop signs and signs signifying limited right of passage are generally observed, but many times the Maltese drivers choose to honk to the cars around the crossing as a warning instead of stopping. Some times this works and some times it leads to accidents.
Drinking and driving is extremely common in Malta. On a Friday or Saturday evening/night, expect between 60 and 90% of the cars that you meet on the road to have intoxicated drivers.
For those used to driving on the right, remember that Maltese cars have the steering wheel to the right in the car and the gear stick to the left of the drivers. Also beware that some times the turn signal stick and the windshield wiper stick change sides in the car. This can lead to funny moments of cleaning the winshield when exiting a roundabout or blinking left in case of a sudden rainfall.
Once you learn the driving pattern of the Maltese drivers and get comfortable with driving on the left, driving is very practical in Malta.
Many times per year the Maltese arrange treasure hunts with their cars where they have to go to checkpoints all around the island.
 Renting a car in Malta
Renting a car in Malta generally involves very little risk. The only risk you run is getting involved in minor traffic accidents, but this risk can easily be eliminated by driving carefully. Car rental vendors are generally trustable in Malta, as long as you stay away from rental offers from the corner butcher shop or other similar shady looking operations.
Renting a car in Malta is cheapest from the small unbranded vendors. Although these are generally cheaper, they don't offer full insurance, which leaves you with a threshold of 200 to 300 Euros on damages before the insurance kicks in. If this is a risk you can be comfortable with, you can find cars to rent from 20 to 30 Euros per day.
Branded rental agencies such as Hertz and Avis offer cars for rent with full insurance and no threshold. They normally charge from 30 to 40 Euros per day for a small car.
When renting a car in Malta during the high season (July to September), it is smart to book at least some days in advance.
 How to find a job in Malta
For foreigners there are plenty of job opportunities in Malta: jobs in betting companies, jobs in the corporate services sector, customer service jobs and of course jobs in HORECA.
To find jobs in the iGaming industry, check out websites such as Betting Connections or our list of recruitment agencies. The other option is of course to write directly to the companies themselves and inquire for work or send a spontaneous application.
For finding a job in the financial services sector, follow websites such as Anomark, but the most common is to apply directly with the companies. Spontaneous applications are always welcome.
To get a job with a hotel, bar or restaurant, go directly to the site and ask to see the manager for a possible job. Remember to bring a paper copy of your resumé.
The best paid jobs for foreigners in Malta are generally in betting companies or financial services sector, but HORECA jobs also pay a reasonable amount of money.
All in all, there are a multitude of possibilities for finding work in Malta.
 Activities in Malta
The size of the Maltese islands makes all the treasures the islands have to offer very accessible. Check our the section on the Malta Wiki for Tourist attractions for more information about recreational activities on the island or Events section for more information about concerts and so on.
In Malta, concerts are often cheap (if not even free) even for big artists. This is because of the small size of the island and to make as many as possible attend the concert. Since the concert is on a smaller scale than in larger countries, you also have a reasonably good chance of getting in close view of the artists.