I’m thrilled to share this sustainable travel guide to Malta & Gozo. Having spent most of this past year on these beautiful islands in the Mediterranean Sea (yes, there are 3), it’s only fitting that I share some of the ways you can witness the beauty this country has to offer while leaving only footprints and preserving that captivating beauty.
Let’s start with some of the reasons Malta has become such a popular destination for travellers in recent years –
- It has a beautiful climate and a long summer with temperatures reaching +20°C (60°F) from April through to November and +30°C (86°F) from June to September.
- English is widely spoken. While Maltese is the national language, most citizens speak English.
- It has an international airport (Luqa International Airport) easily accessible from many places in Europe and has regular flight schedules.
- The alluring Mediterranean Sea surrounds the whole island and you’re never far from the water.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, let’s talk about some of the environmental and social challenges facing Malta & Gozo –
- Overdevelopment – Many parts of Malta can be referred to as nothing but a concrete jungle as ungoverned developments sprout across the scarce land. The last census revealed that the popular tourist destination, Sliema, has a population density around 151 times higher than the European Union’s average – making Malta the most densely populated country in the EU.
- Overtourism – An estimated two million people are expected to have visited Malta throughout 2022. That is almost five times more than the national population which is roughly 445,000. While this number is great for the economy, the influx puts a strain on local resources – including waste, energy, and transport – and increases pollution.
- Traffic & Road Incidents – The Maltese people have been long advocating for improved public transport and sustainable alternatives to driving. Currently, 76% of transport in Malta is made up of car drivers and this can be seen in the traffic congestion to be found in many areas across Malta. While there is a reliable bus service, there needs to be a focus on alternative transport options if Malta is to continue seeing a rise in both local and tourist populations.
With that being said, there are ways travellers can be more mindful of their presence and impact while visiting these beautiful islands. Some sustainable travel actions include:
- Being mindful of the waste you produce and go plastic-free.
- Travel in the fringe seasons – Malta is wonderful to visit in October or May outside of the peak seasons of June – September (and you miss the +30°C (86°F) intense heat.) Malta is also an incredible destination to visit in the winter.
- Utilise the Clean & Upkeep Malta app (Available on Apple & Android) – an app where you can report litter, illegal dumping, or beach cleaning by simply taking a photo and sharing your location.
- Avoid takeout packaging and dine-in instead. Malta does have some fast food chains like Wagamama, McDonalds & Costa Coffee, but it is much more sustainable to dine at one of the local restaurants or the village band clubs where you can try the local cuisines.
- Support local NGOs and environmental initiatives, or participate in a beach clean-up on the islands.
Related Reading: Where to find a beach clean-up in Malta
So now you’re more informed about the islands of Malta, the challenges, and the solutions, let’s get to planning your Malta & Gozo holiday.
Malta is very well contented via the Luqa International Airport. Flying is the most direct way to access the islands (not the most sustainable, but you could offset your flight with Offsetra). There are also daily ferry schedules from Sicily.
Related Reading: All you need to know about the Sicily to Malta ferry
Find cheap flights using Skyscanner
There are a variety of ways to get around the islands of Malta and Gozo, including:
Buses – There are fully-electric buses operating around the islands of Malta and Gozo and cost €2 for any bus journey. The ticket is valid for two hours, so you could take multiple bus journeys on the same ticket. There are also daily and weekly travel cards available from tourist booths around the town.
Q: Can you pay by card on the buses?
A: There are card machines on all buses. I had a few instances where the machines weren’t working so I would encourage you to travel with spare coins.
Tip: Download the Tallinja app for accurate bus timings
Bolt or Uber – Malta is well connected by car-sharing apps like Bolt and Uber. At any time of the day (including trips to the airport in the early hours of the morning) you can get a ride by accessing one of the ride-share apps.
Bolt scooters – In the more tourist areas of town like Sliema and St Julians, Bolt offers electric scooters. If you choose to use these, please be mindful of your safety using their safety guidelines.
Ferries – There are a few reliable ferry routes in Malta. Below are some of the most popular ferry routes:
Sliema to Valletta: This ferry connects commuters with the popular tourist area of Sliema and the city of Valletta. It is a more reliable mode of transportation than the bus and you get the bonus views of the Grand Harbour. The cost for one way is € 1.50 and the return is € 2.80. Holders of a Tallinja Card can use their card to travel on board the Valletta Ferry Services.
Valletta to Three Cities: This ferry connects Valletta with the historic three cities of Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua. The cost for one way is € 1.50 and the return is € 2.80. Holders of a Tallinja Card can use their card to travel on board the Valletta Ferry Services.
The Gozo Channel Ferry: This is the main ferry route that connects the islands of Malta and Gozo. The Gozo Channel Ferry travels between the port of Cirkewwa in the North-west of Malta and the port of Ghajnsielem in the south of Gozo. The vehicle ferry departs approximately every 25 minutes.
Note* There is also a fast limited civilian ferry from Valletta to Gozo. See the timetable here.
Related: Watch my Instagram Reel for views from the Gozo Channel Ferry
Where To Stay
Where to stay in Malta and Gozo will depend on a few factors including your budget, the time you have on the islands and what you would like to experience. The most popular places to stay in Malta are Sliema or Valletta, giving you easy access to restaurants, shops, historical sites and swimming spots.
Below are the areas I’d recommend according to the experience you’re wanting to have:
- Convenience: Sliema/St Julians/Gzira/Valletta
- Nightlife: St Julians
- Off the tourist trail: A smaller, lesser developed village like Zebbug/Zabbar/Siggiewi
- Close to the beach: Qawra/Bugibba/St Paul’s Bay (Not that you’re ever far from a swimming spot in Malta because you can pretty much swim anywhere)
- A slower pace of life: Gozo
Due to the density of the islands and the high influx of tourists, accommodation in Malta can be very expensive in the peak season (May to Oct), with prices increasing up to 100%. Airbnb has taken Malta by storm and takes up a large share of the accommodation rentals, followed by Booking.com and other providers. Occasionally, or for long-term stays, you can check some Facebook groups or Facebook marketplace. The company Quick Lets have some options for stays >3 months.
For a more affordable holiday, try visiting Malta in the off-season months of October, November, February, or March.
Get 15% off bookings with Booking.com – CLICK HERE
General things to do in Malta & Gozo
- Explore the historic capital city of Valletta, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Grandmaster’s Palace, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, and the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
- Visit the Megalithic Temples of Malta, which date back to 3600 BC and are some of the oldest freestanding structures in the world. The temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra are particularly impressive.
- Go swimming, snorkeling, or diving in the crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta is famous for its beautiful beaches and underwater caves, and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the sea.
- Visit the medieval city of Mdina, which is known as the “silent city” because no cars are allowed within its walls. The narrow streets and ancient buildings make for a beautiful and peaceful atmosphere.
- Sample Maltese cuisine, which is a blend of Italian, French, Arabic, and British influences. Traditional dishes include rabbit stew, pastizzi (a savory pastry that can be purchased for 40c from food stands across the country), and ftira (a flatbread sandwich that can be found for as little as 3€ at the local band clubs).
- Go on a hike or bike ride through the Maltese countryside, which is dotted with beautiful valleys, cliffs, and beaches.
- Visit the St. Paul’s Catacombs, which are a series of underground tombs that date back to the Roman period. They are an eerie but fascinating glimpse into Malta’s ancient history.
- Watch the sunset from Dingli Cliffs, which offer stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Related reading: The best hikes in Malta
Sustainable/alternative things to do in Malta and Gozo
- Do some gardening with local community group, Thrive Malta – a community-led initiative that aims to promote sustainable urban gardening in Malta. The organisation’s mission is to inspire and educate people about the benefits of growing their own food and living sustainably, and to create a community of like-minded individuals who share this vision.
- Take a tour with Eco Marine Malta, a company that offers eco-friendly marine tours and experiences in Malta. One of their most popular offerings is their Marine Protected Area Boat Tour, which takes visitors on a tour of the St. Paul’s Bay Marine Protected Area, where they can observe the diverse marine life in the area, including fish, turtles, and coral. The tour also includes stops at secluded bays for swimming and snorkeling, and a visit to a sunken World War II shipwreck.
- Participate in an ecstatic dance with Ecstatic Dance Malta, a community that hosts regular drug and alcohol-free dance events and workshops on the island of Malta. Ecstatic Dance is a form of dance that emphasises free movement and self-expression and is often accompanied by live or recorded music. Ecstatic Dance Malta events are a popular way to connect with like-minded people, to explore the joy of movement, and to experience the power of dance as a form of expression and personal growth.
Do you have any questions about travel to Malta and Gozo? Ask me anything.