Last Updated: 8/9/20 | August 9th, 2020
For centuries, the Maltese archipelago passed between North African Moors and European Crusaders as they vied for control of this important island hub. This constant back-and-forth created a unique culture that blended architectural, culinary, and cultural styles (in fact, the Maltese language is a mix of Arabic and Italian) found nowhere but maybe Southern Spain.
Now, the country draws people less with the whole conquering-empires thing and more with its warm summer temperatures, pristine beaches, clear Mediterranean water, ample hiking, friendly locals, and cheap prices.
Though I didn’t spend as much time as I wanted in Malta, I spent enough (literally and figuratively) to get a sense of how to travel the country on a budget. The country is very budget-friendly (it’s one of the cheapest Eurozone countries out there). Even though I was on a holiday and not being as budget-friendly as I normally was, I still never really spent a lot of money. My most expensive day cost me 70 EUR and that’s because I rented a car.
Though Malta will never break your budget, I am always one to look for a deal as I’m a firm believer that every destination has a way to be cheaper.
So, with that, here is your in-depth guide to visiting Malta on a budget to help you save money without sacrificing your experience:
Getting to Malta
While most European carriers operate seasonal flights, there aren’t many airlines that fly to Malta year-round. Ryanair, Air Malta, easyJet, and Lufthansa are the biggest carriers that service the island year-round.
One-way flights from the mainland cost as little as 20 EUR, especially if you book in advance. You can also take the ferry to/from Sicily; it’s 2.5 hours and costs around 100 EUR each way (depending on the season).
Typical Costs in Malta
Malta is cheap. While I went in the middle of winter — without the seasonal increase in prices for accommodation, car rentals, and flights — many friends told me that most prices for food, activities, and public transportation stay the same throughout the year.
Here is a list of typical costs in the country:
- Ferry to Valletta from Sliema: 1.50 EUR (2.80 EUR return)
- Ferry from Malta to Gozo: Pedestrian: 4.65 EUR. Car and Driver: 15.70 EUR
- Pastizzi (cheap snack): 1 EUR
- Breakfast sandwich: 3-5 EUR
- Full breakfast: 9-12 EUR
- Lunch at a café: 8-10 EUR
- McDonald’s value meal: 8 EUR
- Sandwich: 5-6 EUR
- Nice dinner at a sit-down restaurant with wine: 30 EUR
- Main meals: 15 EUR
- Bottle of water: 1 EUR
- Bottle of wine: 6-10 EUR
- Beer: 2.50-4 EUR
- Museum entrance: 6-10 EUR
- Car rental: 20 EUR/day
- Taxi prices: 4 EUR (then 2-3 EUR per kilometer)
- Public bus ticket: 2 EUR
On average, you’ll be able to visit Malta for 30-45 EUR ($35-53 USD) per day, though in the summer I would say you need to budget closer to 50 EUR ($60 USD).
At that price, you’re looking at staying in a hostel dorm or splitting an Airbnb with a friend, taking public transportation, mostly sticking to the free activities, cooking your breakfast, and eating at the cheap(er) cafés.
How to Save Money in Malta
There are a handful of hostels on the islands, with dorm prices beginning at 10 EUR per night (though prices double in the summer). Airbnb is ridiculously cheap — I found a whole house for 35 EUR a night.
Most budget hotels cost at least 40 EUR so I would stick to Airbnb or hostels for accommodation. However, like hostels, the prices for places more than double in the summer.
To save money on accommodation, travel off-season and stay in dorms or split Airbnb units with friends. Be sure to book early if you do plan on visiting in the summer as places disappear fast (including hostels).
Food and Drink
Food prices are relatively inexpensive, though you’ll find higher prices in tourist areas such as Valletta, St. Julian’s, Sliema’s boardwalk, and Marsaxlokk.
To save money on food, stick to the pastizzi (savory filled pastries), eat at the plethora of vegan and vegetarian restaurants throughout the country (see the list below), avoid snacking, and cook as many meals as possible (breakfast will see the biggest wins).
If you’re staying in a hostel or budget hotel, pick one that includes free breakfast to help lower your expenses.
There are three ways to get around the island: buses, taxis, and car rentals. Buses cost 1.50-2 EUR for a single two-hour ticket and 21 EUR for a 7-day pass. Car rentals can be found for as little as 20 EUR per day, though they cost double (or triple) that price in the summer. Book early to secure the best deal.
Also, keep in mind that the bus schedules here aren’t always reliable. Sometimes buses just don’t show up. Make sure your plans are flexible.
Additionally, because the buses are infrequent they fill up fast. We got on one bus, only to have him pull over, kick everyone off, and put us all on another bus, that then waited for 20 minutes to move.
It’s a crazy system. During the summer months when the crowds peak, expect long waits. Don’t be in a rush if you’re using the bus!
There are a number of local car rental companies, but I used Hertz since it was close to my Airbnb. Many of the local car companies don’t take credit cards and want deposits in cash. Going with bigger companies adds another layer of security.
Taxis cost 10-20 EUR for medium to long distances. While not ideal, they can be ordered ahead in advance and are a good last-minute option if you get stuck because the bus doesn’t turn up.
When the weather is nice, there are a bunch of free activities to do, such as enjoying the beach, hiking, swimming, and just walking around. Additionally, all the churches are free. You’ll find a lot of companies that will take you around the island in a boat for 30-45 EUR.
Most museums and attractions cost 5 EUR but you can get a Malta tourism card (the MaltaPass) that will save you about 10-20 EUR depending on how many attractions you squeeze in. It costs 49 EUR for a 24-hour pass (though it’s often on sale for 50% off). There are also 48- and 72-hour options for 79 EUR and 99 EUR respectively.
On a side note, I found the main tourism center in Valletta unhelpful. The staff couldn’t answer a lot of my questions. The smaller, unofficial locations that littered Sliema’s boardwalk had more information on car rentals, things to do, and prices.
Recommended Bars and Restaurants
Restaurants: The Grassy Hopper (vegan/vegetarian), the Marsaxlokk fish market, Suruchi, Ta Doni, Cafe Cuba, Rocksalt, Ta’ Rikardu (Gozo).
Bars: Hole in the Wall (Sliema), Bar Native (and any bar on that street as it’s the main hub for nightlife), The Dubliner, Legligin, The Thirsty Barber.
It’s easy to visit Malta on a budget. I was shocked at how cheap this place. Even with summertime increases in accommodation and tour prices, Malta remains an affordable country.
I’ve been to all the Eurozone countries now and I have to say Malta is one of the best — if not the best — value.
When you combine it with warm weather, amazing landscape, historic cities, and incredible beaches, Malta because one of the best destinations to visit in Europe if you’re looking to save money.
Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!
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Book Your Trip to Malta: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Malta?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Malta for even more planning tips!
Photo Credit: 4 – Shadowgate