Is a rental car useful in Malta, Gozo & Comino? Malta round trip better by rental car or by bus? Good questions – and absolutely justified! Malta as a small island state is a great destination in the Mediterranean Sea with countless sights, activities and gorgeous scenery. To make it easier to decide whether a rental car in Malta is worth it for you, I have compiled my experiences & tips in the following article. You will find here the advantages & disadvantages, so that you can plan your trip to the exciting Mediterranean islands optimally.
What do you learn in this article?
Malta round trip by rental car or by bus?
Before a Malta round trip you surely ask yourself whether a rental car on Malta is useful or the bus is completely sufficient.
I felt the same way.
Therefore, I have summarized in this article my experiences and tips in the most important advantages and disadvantages of a rental car on Malta.
BIG5 advantages of Malta with rental car
#1: Comfortable luxury: No waiting times
Definitely my main argument! With a rental car you can save a lot of time on Malta because there is no waiting time.
The buses run regularly, but what exactly “regularly” means, you will feel especially at less frequented bus stops. Either you leave an attraction earlier to catch a bus or you have to wait longer at one stop for the next one. Both cases are annoying.
In addition, the bus routes are often somewhat star-shaped, and much of the bus traffic passes through the terminal in Valletta. In the worst case, the bus does not take the direct route and you lose valuable travel time.
#2: Unbeatable on Malta: short distances
Having a rental car in Malta is not associated withhours of exhausting driving. The distances between Valletta and many places of interest are relatively short. In other countries I find it quite uncomfortable knowing that you have to drive back to your accommodation for several hours after a great sunset – can’t happen to you in Malta!
#3: Malta with rental car: Driving to the front door
Some bus stops are not exactly at the sights, but a bit off the beaten track and you have to walk the last distance or take an additional cab.
This is especially annoying when you visit St. Peter’s Pool, where you can get much closer by car instead of starting from Marsaxlokk on foot – the whole loss of time included, of course.
#4: Full flexibility ahoy
You decide when and where you want to go. Not the bus schedule or the availability of cabs.
Moreover, you can easily reach places where there is no bus stop far and wide. Especially sights off the beaten track or parts of the route that would be too impractical and adventurous for a big bus.
You could also take a cab here, which of course adds up to the price.
#5: Malta with rental car: Pinpoint navigation
At least generous roaming capacity of your cell phone super easy to navigate through the still unknown area with Google Maps or similar providers.
Especially in the confusing city centers like Valletta with its small, winding alleys definitely worth its weight in gold!
Otherwise you have to rent a navigation device for additional costs.
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BIG5 Disadvantages of a rental car in Malta
To be on the road with a rental car on Malta does not only have advantages. I would also like to discuss the disadvantages of a rental car in Malta in more detail and make it easier for you to decide whether a rental car is useful for you on this trip or not.
#1: It takes some getting used to: left-hand traffic
As in most countries influenced by Great Britain throughout history, left-hand traffic still prevails in Malta today.
One can get used to this, no question.
Nevertheless, the first few kilometers should not be underestimated if you are not used to it. Shifting gears suddenly with your left hand, turning left at traffic circles or intersections – you feel like a bad ghost driver.
#2: Master local challenges
On Malta you will also have to cope with local challenges with a rental car. On the one hand there are the local drivers who are not necessarily known for their considerate and understanding driving style.
On the other hand many roads are very adventurous. Narrow and confusing are winding curves with high stone walls, where you have to hope that there will be no oncoming traffic – the distance back in reverse would be quite long.
For example from the parking lot at St. Peters Pool back to Marsaxlokk. When we asked the parking lot attendant what we should do on the narrow road when suddenly oncoming traffic comes, the answer was a loud laugh with the terrific tip: “Haha, good luck!
#3: Have fun looking for a parking space
Oh yes, the annoying search for a parking space. And especially in narrow, confusing cities there is always the fear of missing an important sign and not finding the car the next day… towed away expensively.
In Malta the parking system is especially confusing. The parking spaces have 4 (!) different colors. You can park without hesitation in the white boxes. There are more colors for absolute no parking (yellow), residents (green) and parking spaces where you are only allowed to park from 7 am to 7 pm (blue). Have fun looking for the colors in the dark!
#4: Bureaucracy on vacation? Settlement stress and duration
Using public transport or cabs reduces the stress of processing to a minimum. Get on, buy or pay for your ticket, get off – that’s it.
With a rental car, you can plan as much time as you like for pick-up and drop-off, depending on the company. Depending on the departure time no special pleasure. Is the rental company generous? Does he overlook small quirks? Or is a long report drawn up and every little detail noted and discussed?
Sure, the digital component is getting bigger and bigger when picking up and dropping off, making the whole process more convenient, but it’s far from fully automated.
#5: Malta with rental car: Higher costs!?
Often rental cars with additional fuel costs are altogether much more expensive compared to public transport. However, this is not always the case, at least not with large amounts of money. Depending on the travel time and the offers of the car rental companies there are great bargains. In my case it was 2 days rental car for 40 Euro + 15 Euro gasoline for all of Malta & Gozo (!!), divided by two travelers. With a larger group it was even cheaper…
Malta with rental car – deductible or not?
To book a rental car in Malta without excess is in my opinion definitely saving money at the wrong end.
In Malta you will not only drive along wide boulevards, but often also through narrow streets, along paths full of gravel stones and just past border walls. Something happens really fast. The driving style of the locals does the rest, Maltese people are not exactly known for their caution and consideration when driving.
Long story in brief: Be sure to book a rental car WITHOUT deductible!
Conclusion: Is a rental car for Malta, Gozo and Comino reasonable?
Especially if you have little time on Malta, Gozo & Comino I recommend a rental car because you will lose a lot of time with public transport. A combination of bus and cab services can be useful, but if you use it more often, it can quickly exceed the price of a rental car.
If the price is reasonable for you or you get a special offer, a rental car is definitely worthwhile.
Only one day car rental: Rather on Malta or Gozo?
If you want to rent a car for just one day, I recommend you do it for Gozo.
There are several reasons for this:
- You are more flexible when it comes to the ferry to Gozo. It only makes things more complicated to synchronize the bus times with the ferry departure times
- On Gozo the bus network is not as well developed as on Malta. This means you lose even more time (and this is especially annoying if you have only one day on Gozo)
- Not all the sights on Gozo are directly accessible by bus. That means in doubt leave something out (no go!) or involuntary walks through the hot Mediterranean sun
A good alternative to a rental car are scooters for a distinct exploration tour on Gozo.
Where can I get a rental car in Malta?
Probably the easiest alternative is to rent a rental car directly at the airport after arrival. Here you will find the largest concentration of providers.
If you are going to spend one or more days in Valletta – where a rental car is useless and just costs you money – you can take public transport to Valletta for 2 Euro and rent the car only when you really need it.
What is the best way to spend your days in Malta? What should you see and what is a good route, including Gozo & Comino? You can read all this in the article Things to do in Malta: 3 Days Itinerary
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