One of the most popular summer holiday destinations for tourists is the Mediterranean island of Malta (Europe). Car hire in Malta is affordable and is a much more practical alternative to local public transport. The fact that the island offers a variety of attractions to visit in very close proximity makes that hiring a car pays off, as less of your precious holiday time is wasted on unnecessary trips with public transport.
If you decide to hire a car on your Malta holiday there are a few things you should keep in mind as regards driving in Malta. Although the core information provided in these tips is truthful, they’re a little exaggerated and should definitely not be interpreted as discouraging you from hiring a car in Malta. Driving around Malta is fun, but more so if you’re informed about what to expect!
Warning – Parts of this article are purely fictional. You can easily figure out which parts I’m referring to though, with a little sense of humour!
1.Where do the Maltese drive?
The usual answer that the Maltese give you when you ask them what side of the road they drive is something along the lines of “On the shady side of the road”, or “On the side that doesn’t have potholes”. The correct answer is really “On the left hand side”. Malta is a former British colony (but has been an autonomous republic since 1964) and adopted the left hand drive system and Highway Code used in the United Kingdom.
2.Right of way depends on the size of your vehicle
Although the Maltese do actually have a Highway Code similar to the one used in the UK, the rules tend to be interpreted in a creative way by a lot of Maltese drivers. That’s not necessarily unique to Malta, but these creative interpretations of road law are probably more noticeable there. What’s most often ignored is who is supposed to be given the right of way in any given situation. In Malta, it’s generally the size of your vehicle that determines who has the right of way. If you hire a van or a Jeep you’ll get from A to B much faster compared to most road users in their economical tins on wheels. If, however, a yellow monstrosity from the Iron Age (public transport bus) crosses your path you’d better play safe and stop – the bus driver won’t. This rule applies to private coaches, lorries and mini-buses (red Ford Transit vans used as private transport).
3.Baking an egg on the dashboard
In times of economic downturn it’s tempting to go for the budget option when hiring a car on your holiday, but in the case of Malta there’s an important luxury you will not want to pass up on during the summer months: Air conditioning. Summers in Malta are HOT with temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees Celsius sometimes. Perfect for sunbathing, swimming and baking an egg on the dashboard, but not much fun when you’re on the road. A/C? YES PLEASE!
4.The moon’s surface is smoother
Maltese roads stretch to all parts of the island and getting to even the remotest of places is pretty easy, with plenty of tarmac having been laid over the years. What you’ll find, however, is that the quality of the roads in Malta is well below par compared to European standards. It does get quite bad in some parts, giving you that rollercoaster ride adrenaline rush or making it seem as if you’re driving a tumble dryer. Thankfully the roads aren’t so bad that driving becomes dangerous.
5.Parking, parking, parking
Malta is a pretty small island, and there are almost as many cars as people on the island, so you can imagine parking is a challenge in the busier areas. Problem areas in summer are Sliema, St. Julian’s, St. Paul’s Bay, Bugibba and Qawra.
Some nearly faint at the idea of having to parallel park a car, and are relieved to find a regular parking bay back home. No such luck in Malta though, where parallel parking is a necessary skill to posses since most parking spaces are pavement side slots which are pretty small compared to abroad. Surprisingly, exchanging paint is not something that happens often in Malta.
7.Learning Maltese – a beginner’s course
The Maltese are known to be passionate and expressive in their ways, and that comes forward most easily behind the steering wheel, in situations where they believe they have the right of way (but don’t). Maltese isnt an easy language to learn but the best way to start picking up a few words is by hiring a car on your Malta holiday. Dont expect the vocabulary to be the kind to boast about back home, however.
8.Navigation is key
What could be more frustrating than going out for a drive around Malta in your hired car and getting lost? Being Maltese and almost hitting a tourist stopping in the middle of the road who’s trying to figure out whether they should take the turn or not. Driving in Malta is much more fun when you know where you’re going, both for you as a tourist as well as the Maltese. If you decide not to pre-plan your trips chances are you’ll be getting a complimentary intermediate course in Maltese swearing as well. Congratulations.
9.The men (and women) in green
Now as I mentioned before, the Maltese tend to take the rules of the road as guidelines really, but it took a while for the Maltese government to realise that they had a cash cow with udders the size of a horse’s… head. The result? Local wardens, sporting their sexy green uniforms (with cap and all mind you), handing out fines left right and centre. The best tip to follow? Make sure you abide by parking rules by parking your hired car within the white lines only (and not the yellow or green ones) and you’ll avoid having to deal with citations (and wardens).
10.Avoiding being taken for a ride
Scientists spent years trying to figure out the phenomenon encountered on Maltese public transport buses and a study proved what many had thought for years: Time passes slower when you take the bus in Malta. Now, under normal circumstances it would probably be a plus – longer holidays. However, if you’re trying to get from one place of interest to another and you didn’t book a holiday that lasts for eternity, you’ll find that riding the bus in Malta is a waste of time. It is cheap though. Very cheap.
Malta car hire
Don’t be worried too much by this advice – Hiring a car and driving around in Malta is fun and not expensive, especially considering the amount of precious holiday time you save by going around in a hired car. Shop around for good car hire prices and you’ll be sure to find a bargain to suit your budget.