EUROPE TRAVEL

A Guide to Travel in Malta by Bus

Travel by bus I hear you scream?! Yes I had exactly the same thoughts when multiple recommend to me that getting the bus in Malta would be far less money and more efficient when we visited in July.  I haven’t been on a bus in years, and the last time I spend extended periods of time on a bus was when I couldn’t drive and wanted to go and see my friends every weekend. However, after doing lots and lots of research I decided we wouldn’t hire a car in Malta (it’s expensive, at around £30-£40 a day) and instead give this famous bus network a go! And I was surprisingly delighted…

Pretty much everywhere in Malta can be reached by bus honestly it’s true. After the legendary yellow buses were retired in 2011, a fleet of modern vehicles run by British company Arriva were introduced to connect every single town, village and hamlet within the island.

HOW MUCH ARE TICKETS

From 2016 onwards prices have stayed the same a single ticket which is valid for two hours costs €2 (can be bought from the driver with cash) and night buses (N) and express lines (TD) cost €3 for a single journey, and are also valid for two hours. You can also buy 12-Journey Cards for €15, which can be used by more than one person, or a 7-Day Explore Card for €21. You can buy these from kiosks – you can find them at Valletta and Bugibba bus stations, Malta Airport, Sliema Ferries, Mater Dei Hospital, and the the Victoria bus station in Gozo. In hindsight we would have opted for the 7-Day Explore Card as we potentially used the bus enough to warrant a saving, but if you are only going on a few journeys I wouldn’t bother. They aren’t dirt cheap but they are compared to taxis and hire cars.

 

HOW OFTEN ARE THEY

Be prepared to wait like the locals do. Arm yourself with some patience and trust that the bus is coming, or it may have been early but there will be another one soon. We got quite frustrated on our first day when we couldn’t work out where we were going or what bus to get on, but as the days passed we worked it out and it was super simple.

Don’t expect buses to run every 5-10 minutes – more like every half an hour, or once an hour sometimes. Oh and the buses also stop frequently, and often take loopy, twisting roads – getting around takes time. The journey is worth the wait!

Remember, Malta is the second highest densely populated country in Europe with nearly half a million people in only 315 squa

Generally speaking, the smaller the number, the quicker, more frequent and more reliable the bus will be. Lines starting with ‘X’ or ‘TD’ are ‘express’ – even though, in Maltese terms, that is relative too. Two-digit routes usually run every 15 mins or so, and three-digit routes run every half-hour or every hour.

re kilometers. In peak hour (7-9 in the morning, and 5-7 in the afternoon) expect traffic, especially between Valletta, Sliema, St Julian’s and St George Bay. And you may not be able to sit down either… so be prepared for that.

Generally speaking, the smaller the number, the quicker, more frequent and more reliable the bus will be. Lines starting with ‘X’ or ‘TD’ are ‘express’ – even though, in Maltese terms, that is relative too. Two-digit routes usually run every 15 mins or so, and three-digit routes run every half-hour or every hour.

 

ROUTES

Like I said above, you can pretty much go anywhere on the island by bus you may just need to change bus routes a few times. Below is a recent bus route map which I’d recommend printing out and taking with you on your trip.

To see up-to-date, full bus timetables and route maps, check online at www.publictransport.com.mt. The website also has a handy online journey planner. If you’re staying in Malta for an extended period, download Malta Public Transport’s Tallinja app, which provides real-time information about bus arrivals and departures.

There are six different express services running between the airport and various parts of the island, including St Julian’s, Sliema and Ċirkewwa. The X4 runs between Valletta and the airport, and takes just over 20 minutes. For Sliema and St Julian’s, catch the X3 from the airport.

Most buses run from around 5.30am to 11pm, and frequency varies depending on the popularity of the route. In towns and villages the bus terminus is usually found on or near the parish church square.

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  • JAMES DAVIS
    09/04/2018 at 07:52

    A great pity that the legendary yellow buses were retired as they had loads of character. The new Arriva buses may be more reliable and efficient but they are all the same. the old buses had religious icons hanging all over the interior with crosses, pictures and models of the Virgin Mary. The paintwork was peeling and the cushioned seats suspect! I missed them when I went back there recently after thirty years.

    • Sophie
      09/07/2018 at 07:50

      Such a shame!!! xx

  • Abbi Johnson
    09/06/2018 at 18:20

    Thanks so much for this Sophie! I am currently planning my trip to Malta for next month, and have been trying to decide between car hire and bus, but I think I am going with buses now!

    • Sophie
      09/07/2018 at 07:50

      Ah I am glad its been useful theres a whole series be sure to check it out!!!