Since Malta is an island the country has quite restricted access possibilities. For tourists to visit our islands the two main options are by sea and by air.
The cruise liner industry has increased rapidly over the past five years. An average of 210 cruise liners visit the Maltese Islands throughout the year. This is thanks to the investment in the port infrastructure that has been done in order to make it easier for cruise liners to reach harbour of the Maltese Islands. Apart from cruise liners there are also various ferry connections which link Malta to mainland Europe, mainly to Sicily and mainland Italy.
When it comes to travelling by air, Malta has opened its doors for low cost airlines such as Easy Jet and Ryan Air which are very popular with tourists. These airlines operate on a daily basis from all over Europe to Malta. This type of travelling is becoming evermore popular with tourists visiting the islands. Apart from low cost airlines also most major European airlines operate to and from Malta which makes it easy to find a quick and cost-effective airlink to the Maltese islands.
Moreover, Malta has its own airline company - Air Malta - which offers flights to and from all major airports across Europe and North Africa. The national carrier codeshares with other European airlines such as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines.
Malta ratified the Schengen Agreement in 2007 thus facilitating entry to the islands for other Schengen member states. For non-Schengen member states visa requirements can be found here: http://foreignaffairs.gov.mt/.
Diplomatic Representation / Embassies
Malta has diplomatic agreements with many states around the world which either have a representation directly in Malta or are handled by the nearest embassy in the larger European states. A detailed list can be found under: http://foreignaffairs.gov.mt/.
Water & Electricity
Water is a scarce resource on the Maltese islands. In fact, tap water is in most cases generated through desalination plants – the tap water is good for washing, brushing teeth and cooking tea/coffee, for drinking purposes bottled water can be easily bought from shops all over the islands.
The electricity supply in Malta is 230 volts +/- 10%. The frequency of this supply is around 50 hertz. In Malta the system of the 3 pin plug (common throughout the United Kingdom) is used. However, adaptors to other commonly used systems are available in most hotels and can be purchased in many convenience shops on the islands.
After having had our own currency for several decades Malta had to change its currency into the Euro on the 1st of January 2008 . This was due to the fact that on the 1st of May 2004 Malta joined the European Union.
When it comes to banks in Malta, there are 5 main banks. These are HSBC; Bank of Valletta; Banif Bank; Lombard Bank and APS Bank. These banks have branches all around the islands. This high density of branches makes it easy for tourists to make any needed transactions; all major debit and credit cards are accepted.
Apart from banks Malta has many exchange bureaus, most of them are open 24 hours and 7 days a week.
The majority of hotels, shops and restaurants in Malta accept all major credit cards. Besides, almost all hotels accept payment with foreign currencies, whereas in most cases hotels apply an exchange rate charge. However, in any other outlet across Malta only the Euro can be used as method of cash payment since almost none of the restaurants and shops accept foreign currency.
Like all European countries one cannot enter with more than €10,000 cash without advising the respective customs departments.
Malta has a well working public health system. The new and modern public hospital (Mater Dei: http://health.gov.mt/) can handle all type of injuries and major operations. With the European health insurance card (EHIC) visitors to Malta can receive healthcare treatment on a reciprocal basis, however, this excludes any treatment in private hospitals or non government run clinics. Apart from the public hospital Malta has also several private hospitals which offer aestethic treatments as well as other needed treatments excluding major operations.
With a medical travel insurance most private health services are also available depending on the policy signed.
All Pharmacies in Malta are open from 9am – 1pm and again from 4pm – 7 pm. These hours apply from Monday to Saturday. However, on Sundays one Pharmacy in almost each city and village in Malta is open from 7.30am – 11am.
Climate, Swimming and Sunbathing
With its subtropical-Mediterranean climate, Malta has mild winters and warm to hot summers.
In the short winter season between December and March the climate averages +14.5 degrees Celsius. The coldest months are January and February where temperatures can go down to 5 degrees Celsius. The average rain fall per month for this period is around 88 mm.
Malta’s spring is generally quite warm with temperatures averaging 20 degrees Celsius. The average rainfall per month for this season is around 25mm.
The summer in Malta is very hot and dry with temperatures going up to 40 degrees in August. However, the average temperature for this period is 31 degrees with 0mm of rainfall.
It has to be said that even though the temperatures are quite high in the summer most of the time a cooling sea breeze is coming from the north.
Malta doesn’t really have an autumn since high temperatures carry on even throughout September and October when temperatures average at 27 degrees. The rainfall per month in this period averages at 60.5mm
With such a climate, swimming and sunbathing is possible in many months of the year.
Malta's coastline offers a wide variety of beaches for all preferences and requirements. One can find everything from small secluded sandy beaches to larger sandy beaches in the north of the island as well as many rocky beaches in the central areas offering spectacular crystal blue seas.
When it comes to sun bathing, the Maltese Islands offer around 3000 hours of sunshine every year which is one of the highest number in Europe. One must keep in mind that the U.V. Index can be very high in the peak summer period and that accordingly necessary precautions for children and adults likewise should be taken by reducing sun exposure between 11am and 2pm and the use of sun lotion to protect the skin.
The official languages in Malta are Maltese and English. Most of the Maltese are bilingual and know more languages apart from these two. Italian, French and German are widely spread languages in the hotel/tourism sector and sightseeing tours are offered in even more languages.
The Maltese language descends from the Semitic language and is the only semitic based language that is written with latin characters. Even though the base of the language is semitic, many English, Italian and French words can be found within the Maltese vocabulary.
Malta is, with a total of 14 Public Holidays per year, amongst the countries with the most public holidays in Europe. Those public holidays are are a mixture of religious feast and national holidays. The 14 Public Holidays are the following:
- 1st January - New Year’s Day
- 10th February - St. Paul’s Shipwreck
- 19th March - St. Joseph
- 31st March - Freedom Day
- March / April (date changes) - Good Friday
- 1st May - Labour Day
- 7th June - Sette Giugno
- 29th June - St Peter and St Paul (L-Imnarja)
- 15th August - The Assumption (Santa Marija)
- 8th September - Our Lady of Victories
- 21st September - Independence Day
- 8th December - Immaculate Conception
- 13th December - Republic Day
- 25th December - Christmas Day
The official religion in Malta is Roman Catholic which is taught to children from a very young age both at school and in religious communities. The Apostle Paul who is said to have stranded in Malta was the person to introduced the Catholicism into the islands.
Malta has a history of being a very religious country. This is clearly shown by the hundreds of churches that are spread all over the island. Just Valletta has 24 churches and a Co-Cathedral. It is said that Malta has a church for each day of the year.
Roman Catholic churches in Malta are open all day long with services being held in the morning and the evening all week long. Adequate clothing is required.
The St. John’s Cathedral situated in Valletta is very well known for its beauty and its paintings by Caravaggio.
Apart from Roman Catholic churches there are also other major confessions in Malta.
Useful Telephone Numbers:
- Ambulance 112
- Consumer Protection 21250221
- Direct Dialling Code (Malta) 356
- Directory Enquiries 1182
- Directory Enquiries (Go Mobile) 1187
- Directory Enquiries (Vodafone) 1189
- Emergency 112
- Emergency Rescue by Helicopter 21244371
- Emergency Rescue by Patrol Boat 21238797
- Emergency Vet Services 50043888
- Fire Brigade 112
- Flight Information 52302000 (rate per call €1.00) *
- Government Information Service 153
- Gozo Channel Co. Ltd 21556114
- Hospital – Gozo 21561600
- Hospital – Malta 25450000
- International Code 00
- Lost Property 21224781
- Overseas Operator 1152
- Passport Office – Gozo 21560770
- Passport Office – Malta 21222286
- Police 21224001-7
- Time Check 195