Malta Travel Tips
The Maltese Islands are like nowhere else. Here you’ll find great prehistoric temples, fossil-studded cliffs, glittering hidden coves, thrilling diving opportunities and a history of remarkable intensity. As one of the continent’s most popular destinations during the summer times, people from around the world flock to these famous islands for the sun and for the history.
Try the famous pastizzi – You’re hungry and are looking for a cheap bite on Malta? Keep an eye out for small shops selling pastizzi, a local speciality based on ricotta or peas. A couple of pieces at 30-50c each and you had your lunch. Quenching your thirst with a half litre bottle of water during the hot Maltese summer is actually more expensive these delicious little pies.
For a delicious meal – buy fresh Maltese bread or ftira. Cut it in half or slice, Drip olive oil on the bread and either spread with tomato paste (kunserva) or fresh tomatoes. Add tuna, olives, capers, onions, pickled veg, and white beans. It`s so mouth watering especially on a beach. You can buy the hobza (loaf) ready but obviously if you make it yourself it will be even fresher.
The best (and freshest) fruit and vegetables are sold by hawkers at the side of the road. Beware of hawkers that go around the more touristic villages (Bugibba, Qawra, Sliema and St. Julian’s). Some are known to overcharge tourists – which is unfortunate and not very good branding for the country, but it happens everywhere.
For a cheap and traditional sweet snack, head to the Date Kiosk in the City Gate bus station (Valletta) for imqaret (pronounced im-art) a deep fried snack of date in pastry with fennel seeds – best freshly cooked. They are simply irresistible, but its probably good not to have too many!
Tap water in Malta is theoretically drinkable but it is better to drink bottled water. This can be very expensive in hotels (and in the summer heat you need a lot of it!) so buy a few bottles from the local shop and store them in your hotel room.
Tipping in Restaurants. In most restaurants no service charge is included in the bill. In this case give the waiter about 10 percent, or otherwise round up the amount if you are satisfied.
Beer can be found even at €1.50c a pint – it can be easy to consume large amounts of ice cold beer in Summer – be careful. A hot country needs a good local lager, and Cisk is the surely the favorite local beer. Don’t miss out on this one!
Drink Kinnie. One of the favourite drinks in Malta is Kinnie, available only in the Maltese islands and nowhere else in the world. You absolutely have to try this slightly bitter fizzy drink which tastes of orange and herbs.
Organise a ‘Fenkata’. Maltese rabbit (“fenek”) in Maltese, is the traditional local food of the Maltese. Unlike what most foreigners think, Maltese people don’t eat rabbits regularly. On the contrary, rabbits are consumed around once every other month. The most common occasions for consuming rabbits are a ‘fenkata’ night between old friends, or some other special occasion. The best local restaurants serving rabbit are located in Mgarr.
Use a Water Taxi – When getting between Valletta and Sliema or the Three Cities, water transport is faster than land and – in good weather at least – more fun too.
If you are driving yourself in Malta, be aware that whilst the Maltese are not inattentive drivers they make up the rules as they go along and don’t like slowing down (even at roundabouts!). Officially they drive on the left, but don’t be fooled. Expect the unexpected.
Avoid driving to Valletta during heavy rain – If you are unlucky enough to be in Malta during heavy rain, don’t try to get into Valletta by road at rush hour (8:30am too 9:30am) – it will take hours.
Crowded Buses – If you are staying in a resort in the peak of Summer, buses can get crowded between 10 and 11.30 so try and get out that bit earlier.
Taxis – If you plan on taking a taxi you should know that there are black taxis and white ones. The white ones are those that can cruise and can pick up passengers from anywhere or will be waiting at a taxi stand. The “black ones” are those you take or order from a garage and are not always black. These are normally much cheaper than white taxis. Many companies likewww.ecabs.com.mt have online prices and you can book online. You will find others with a simple search.
At the Beach
Beware of Jellyfish – It is important to note that though jellyfish are not a rarity in our bays they are not that common. Do not let your fear overshadow your fun this summer, follow this simple advice…Before you jump into the water, have a look. If the water is really clear you can easily spot any pests present in it. Secondly the presence of jellyfish also depends on the wind direction: if the wind is blowing inwards towards the shore the probability is that the wind has brought in some algae and perhaps some jellyfish.
Remember to wear a strong sunscreen in summer. You still regularly see people with bright red shoulders, which must be so painful that much of their holiday will be spoilt.
The sea can be dangerous. There are no tides but remember that the sea can be dangerous in winter especially for people not used to swimming in the open sea. Golden Bay can occasionally have strong currents especially in winter when a red flag will be flying as a warning. Don`t leave children alone on inflatables – they can drift out. Don`t go far out if you are not a strong swimmer. Also, if you are not used to swimming in the sea, be careful when the sea is rough and large waves are crashing onto the rocky beaches.
When visiting a church, you should wear tops with short sleeves (not tank tops) and long shorts or better still long trousers . You`ll most probably not be let in to a church if your attire is inappropriate or else you`ll be given a shawl to cover up. Remember that the churches are not just attractions but places of worship. You could carry a thin wrap with you when going sight seeing.
Free WiFi hot spots exist on many public squares, and more and more cafés and bars provide Internet access free of charge. Most hotels charge for Internet access.
Malta is generally considered safe. However, visitors to Paceville at night should exercise caution. There are repeated incidents of alcohol and drug fueled violence there, and police presence is negligible.