Getting There And Around
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Malta bridges the gap between Europe and North Africa and though it only has the one small airport it sure is a busy little fella! You’ll find a surprising number of flights buzzing to and from the runway at Luqa in the south east of the island with the majority of large European airlines operating routes here.
Malta International Airport is also the base for the Air Malta, the national airline, which provides further links to mainland Europe and various African and Middle Eastern destinations. This is not a small operator as it provides scheduled services to and from 27 airports in Europe alone.
As for the overseas carriers that fly out of MIA, these include: Alitalia, Swissair, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, Transavia, Egyptair, Balkan Airlines, Areoflot, Tuninter, Corsair, Condorflug and LTU/LTU Sud. Several budget airlines, including Ryanair and Easyjet also fly routes in and out of Malta.
In Valletta, Malta also has one of the biggest deepwater ports around so as well as the constant stream of air passengers in the summer months, there are also extremely regular arrivals of unfeasibly large cruise ships at Valletta Waterfront. Upwards of half a million people a year disembark from these giants of the sea. The port also welcomes regular ferry services from Sicily, Italy and Tunisia.
The Gozo Channel Company runs a shuttle service to the smaller sister island from the northern port of Cirkewwa but the same company also operates a service between Malta and Catania. For a speedier crossing, Virtu Ferries Limited provide high-speed catamaran services from Licata Catania and Pozzallo to Malta but these boats are passenger-only services, so no cars. Other destinations in Italy are served by Tirrenia. This operator runs boats between Malta and Syracuse, Catania, Naples and Reggio Calabria.
Transport on Malta
Getting around Malta is aided enormously thanks to a very efficient and extremely cheap public bus service. Before 2011, this was operated by a fleet of antique buses, which were a part of Maltese folklore and a tourist attraction in their own right. However, though quaint they frequently broke down, sometimes in spectacular fashion, and they were extremely hot and unpleasant to ride on. The clunky but cute vehicles have been superseded by modern buses operated by German transport giant Arriva.
The new operators hardly ingratiated themselves to the Maltese by immediately mucking around with many of the routes and numbers that had been a way of life for years. But after a troublesome bedding in process, the bus is still the easiest way to get around.
Ticket prices remain extremely reasonable with a standard two-hour ticket, which will get you anywhere, costing €2.20 or a one-day ticket, a much better option, costing €2.60. If you're going to be on Malta for longer and the bus is your chosen form of transport then invest in a seven-day ticket – an absolute steal at €12. These can also be used on Gozo. Full details of routes, timetables and fares can be found on the Arriva Malta website.
If you want to avoid complicated timetables and route numbers and finding bus stops then another excellent option is one of the open-topped sightseeing buses that run around the islands. These only stop at well-known tourist venues, run every half-hour, pick up where they drop off and you can get on and off as many times as you please. Click Sightseeing Bus to go to our dedicated article for more information.
Gozo and Comino
Along with Valletta and Mdina, we consider Gozo to be one of out top three sightseeing trips during a visits to Malta, if only for the excitement of getting across there on a ferry, which young children find hugely exciting!
The Gozo Channel Company operates the route with a regular, car and passenger shuttle service over to the sister island from Cirkewwa on the northern edge to Ghajansielem on Gozo. It's a 25-minute trip with two ferries running constantly at peak times and crossing in the middle. Remember to wave! You usually get on the first one but a good indication of whether you’ll make it can be gained form the waiting area. The lanes are painted to be the same size as the parking areas on the boat so if you’re within the white lines, or just beyond, then you’ll make it.
The other quirky thing to know is that getting to Gozo is free! It’s not really but you only pay on the way back so that is effectively the return price. A standard adult fare back to Malta is €4.65 so it’s very cheap and the same applies if you take your rental car across – it’s free to get out but €15.70 to get back and that includes all passengers.
The boats are quite nice and on board you’ll find a decent café and a shop if you want a drink but before you know it you’ll be past Comino and docking at the other side.
To actually get to Comino there is a ferry service operated by the Comino Hotel. There is also a daily seaplane service between the islands of Malta and Gozo if you have a morbid fear of boats but not flying, although the ferry is so easy there seems no reason to avoid it. Alternatively, many pleasure cruise operators run trips to the Blue Lagoon on Comino and you can get these from various locations in Malta.
Address: Malta International Airport plc Luqa LQA 4000
Telephone: 21249 600
Web Arriva (Buses): www.arriva.com.mt
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