Thinking Of Hiring A Car And Driving In Malta?
We don’t own a car and love the freedom of not having to drive in Malta. No worries about insurance, fuel, car maintenance, parking and we are doing our little bit for the environment, plus it leaves us with more money for the more pleasurable things in life. Fortunately for us, practically everything we need is within walking distance or a short ferry ride away across the Grand Harbour.
But venturing further afield, hiring a car can be useful. Recently, we have been taking a few trips across to Gozo to protect a turtle nesting site, (but that’s a story for another day), so we decided to rent a car.
Is It Difficult Driving In Malta?
Well, there are a few challenges:
• In Malta, they drive on the left-hand side of the road. So, if you’re not from the UK or other left hand sided nations, it does take a while to get used to. Plus most cars are manual, although if you ask nicely, it is possible to hire an automatic if you so desire. There were a few times I had to subtly tell Jonathan he was on the wrong side of the road. Yes, I know I’m a Brit and should have driven, but have you seen the way they drive over here?!
• Many of the roads here are incredibly narrow with semi-blind corners so be prepared; you might clip your side mirrors on occasion.
• Parking can be a complete nightmare, especially in the busier resort areas.
• For a small island, there’s a surprising amount of traffic. Sadly, the car is king in Malta. And there always seems to be significant roadworks causing chaos somewhere.
• When you drive in Malta, you’ll come across some very hot-headed drivers on the road who will do anything to cut off one to two minutes of their journey time. They will know you’re a tourist, and that seems to make them less patient.
• Road rules and signs are sometimes seen as just suggestions.
• Don’t follow Google Maps too closely; quite often, it will lead you to dead ends or the wrong way into a one-way system.
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” ― George Carlin
Hopefully, our words of warning haven’t put you off but merely prepared you.
Why You SHOULD Rent A Car When You Are In Malta
• Although it’s relatively easy and extremely cheap to get around on public buses, they aren’t always as reliable as you hope, especially if you need to change buses anywhere. They can be very overcrowded, hot when the a/c breaks down and take twice the time of a car journey.
• You have a lot more flexibility when you drive your own car.
• Driving a car in Malta is a great way to see the real parts of the island and very useful if you go over to Gozo.
Still A Bit Nervous Driving In Malta?
If you’re a confident driver with a few years driving experience, you should have no problem with a car in Malta. Probably the scariest place we have ever driven was around Naples, Italy.
If you are a nervous driver and get stressed behind the wheel, then maybe driving here is not such a good idea. However, it’s a lot calmer on the roads in Gozo.
What You Need To Know When Driving In Malta
• Rental cars in Malta are easily recognised. Number plates usually contain the letters K or Z, so people will know you’re probably new to Maltese roads.
• There are no real highways or motorways or in Malta. Main roads are usually a dual carriageway.
• The quality of the main roads is usually quite good but can be a bit bumpy on some of the backroads.
• Speed Limits: The national speed limit is 80 km/h (50 mph), and 50 km/h (31 mph) in built-up areas and sometimes 35 km/h (22 mph) within village centres.
• There are a few speed cameras on the island, but they are quite easy to spot.
• There are loads of roundabouts here, and nearly everyone (yes, that includes us too) always seem to be in the wrong lane, so take care.
• For a more relaxing journey, it may take a little longer but not that much, choose the back roads. And avoid driving during the rush hour.
• An unwritten rule that (sometimes) the bigger vehicle tends to have the right of way. Oh, and like most countries around the world, taxis have their own rules. Watch out for the white cabs.
• The minimum age for driving in Malta is 18 years, although most local car hire companies will require a driver to be at least 23 or 25 years old to be able to hire a car.
Parking In Malta
Finding a place to park in towns can be rather tricky. However, parking bays are clearly marked. When in doubt, look for the white parking bays.
• White paint: Anyone can park.
• Yellow paint: Do not park.
• Green paint: Reserved all day for residents (mostly applies to Valletta)
• Blue paint: Reserved for residents between 7 pm and 7 am (again mainly applies to Valletta)
You could get a parking fine or be clamped if illegally parked.
What Documents Do I Need To Rent A Car And Drive In Malta?
• A valid driving licence
• Passport or EU ID card
• A credit card (VISA and MasterCard are the most widely accepted cards in Malta)
• If you’ve booked your car hire online, bring along a copy of your reservation.
Where To Rent A Car In Malta?
It’s a good idea to book your car in advance, especially in high season. Whenever we book car rentals, we use Kayak.com, Booking.com or Rentalcars.com. Cars are available at the airport or can be delivered to main resorts.
Before you start to drive in Malta it is always a good idea, especially with the cheaper car hire companies is to take photos or a quick phone video of the condition of the car when you collect it. As some of the more unscrupulous car companies will try and charge you for scratches that may not have been yours.
Do you rent a car when you travel? Where’s the best / worst place you have ever driven? Tell us in the comments below.