Malta travel guide
Malta is a relatively small archipelago consisting of three islands (Malta, Gozo and Comino) and other uninhabited islands. It has an area of 316 sq km (122 sq miles), which is roughly the same size as Munich. Although small in size, Malta has bags of character for visitors at every turn – secluded bays, buzzing nightclubs, exhilarating activities and amazing archaeological wonders all await visitors.
Most tourists come for the weather (there are more than 300 days of sunshine annually) and crystalline waters, which make it one of the best beach holiday destinations in Europe. The best beaches in Malta include the secluded Fomm ir-Rih, the popular Mellieha Bay, the red-sandy Ramla Bay (in Gozo), the breath-taking Blue Lagoon (in Comino), to name but a few. All three islands also fantastic diving experiences and top diving sites include The Blue Hole, Ghar Lapsi and Qawra Reef, along with seven conservation areas around wrecks:
• The Um el Faroud in Wied Iż-Żurrieq
• MV Xlendi, Cominoland, Karwela off Xatt l-Aħmar
• Tug St Michael, Tug 10 in Marsaskala
• The Imperial Eagle off Qawra Point
• Rożi, P29 off Ċirkewwa
• Blenheim Bomber off Xrobb l-Għaġin
• Bristol Beaufighter off Exiles Point
For history buffs, Malta's distinctive appeal lies in its extraordinary 7,000 years of history. This small island is situated in the central Mediterranean, making it a strategic base since the earliest days of navigation and attracting settlers to come and flourish. Today, it is easy for visitors to find mysteries from the Neolithic period, as well as historic marks left by the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, The Knights of St John (aka Knights Hospitaller or Order of St John), and more recently the French and British. Because the past is well-preserved and visible today, Malta has been described as one big 'open-air museum'.
316 sq km (122 sq miles).
460,297 (UN estimate 2018).
1,354 per sq km.
President George Vella since 2019.
Prime Minister Robert Abela since 2020.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Malta set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact Malta’s high commission in the UK.
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Malta.
Passport validity requirements
To travel to Malta, you must follow the Schengen area passport requirements.
To enter Malta (and all Schengen countries) your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Malta). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Malta.
At Maltese border control, you may also need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
You can travel without a visa to the Schengen area (including Malta) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. This applies if you travel:
- as a tourist
- to visit family or friends
- to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events
- for short-term studies or training
If you are travelling to Malta and other Schengen countries without a visa, make sure your whole visit is within the 90-day limit. Visits to Schengen countries in the previous 180 days before you travel count towards your 90 days.
To stay longer (to work or study, for business travel or for other reasons), you will need to meet the Maltese government’s entry requirements. Check which type of visa or work permit you need with Malta’s high commission.
If you stay in Malta with a residence permit or long-stay visa, this does not count towards your 90-day visa-free limit.
If you are travelling to Malta for work, read the guidance on visas and permits.
Vaccination requirements (other than COVID-19)
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Malta guide.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Malta. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
You cannot take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions for medical reasons, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant at all times.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Malta
Terrorist attacks can’t be ruled out.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be in public places, including those visited by foreigners.
Protecting your belongings
Crime against tourists is rare but robberies, handbag snatching, pickpocketing and theft from parked cars can occur. Be vigilant when exchanging money and using ATMs, and avoid carrying large amounts of cash. Do not carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.
Pickpocketing has happened on bus routes between Valletta and St Julian’s. Thieves target crowded buses during the summer season. Always keep sight of valuables.
Drink and food spiking
Individuals have been drugged and forced into spending large amounts of money or assaulted in some bars and gentlemen’s clubs in the Paceville district. You should:
- be careful who you buy drinks from
- keep drinks in sight to make sure they are not spiked
- check your bill to make sure you are not being overcharged
Attacks, including rape and sexual assault, occur. Avoid splitting up from your friends and do not go off with people you do not know. If you drink, take sensible precautions including buying your own drinks and keeping sight of them at all times.
Scams targeting British nationals are increasing. These come in many forms (romance and friendship, business ventures, work and employment opportunities) and can pose financial risk to victims.
Be cautious about any requests for money, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet.
For more information, read guidance from ActionFraud.
Laws and cultural differences
Bird hunting season
Bird hunting takes place in the spring and autumn. The Maltese government decides the dates at the start of each season. See local print and online media for the dates and times when hunting is allowed.
Hunting with firearms is common. It is normally allowed from 2 hours before sunrise until 2 hours after sunset. Hunting areas are rarely marked and can overlap with camping areas, country walkways and other public areas. Although not common, there have been incidents involving members of the public. Be aware of your surroundings when visiting rural areas and nature spots during the hunting seasons.
Illegal drugs and prison sentences
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
During the summer, most beaches are patrolled by lifeguards with a flag safety system. Make sure you understand the system and follow any warnings; red flags indicate dangerous or hazardous conditions. Swim within designated zones and take extra care if there are no lifeguards, flags or signs.
Follow local advice if there are jellyfish.
See more information from the Malta Tourism Authority.
Take care while driving as some roads are in poor condition. Keep to the speed limit. Local standards of driving are poor.
Licences and permits
You can drive in Malta using your UK driving license.
You can use your Blue Badge in Malta.
For information on requirements for residents, see living in Malta.
Driving a British car abroad
You may need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK. Since 2021, UK stickers have replaced GB stickers. Check the government guidance on displaying number plates for more information on what to do if you are driving outside the UK.
Before you travel check that:
your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 112 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Europe.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Malta guide
where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
UK prescriptions are not recognised in Malta. If you need medication while travelling you should speak to a Maltese medical practitioner.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Malta
You can request to see a private GP at most pharmacies.
You may be required to wear a mask when entering healthcare facilities in Malta.
Prescriptions issued from EU member states can be issued by a Maltese pharmacist if they can confirm that the issuer is licensed.
Medication might not match the exact make and brand of those in the UK or EU. Confirm with the pharmacist or doctor that your prescription has a suitable local equivalent. You may need to be assessed by a Maltese medical practitioner and issued with a local prescription.
For information on healthcare for residents, see living In Malta.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Malta.
Health insurance card
Apply for a free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before leaving the UK. If you already have an EHIC, it will still be valid as long as it remains in date.
The GHIC or EHIC entitles you to state-provided medical treatment necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as Maltese nationals. If you do not have your EHIC with you or you’ve lost it, contact the NHS Overseas Healthcare Team.
It’s important to take out appropriate travel insurance for your needs. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. An EHIC or GHIC does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment and non-urgent treatment. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
EHIC and GHIC cover state healthcare only, not private treatment. You will be responsible for the cost of any treatment provided by a private doctor or private clinic.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Malta
Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police)
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers and funeral directors in Malta
- dealing with a death in Malta
- being arrested in Malta
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
You can also contact FCDO online.
Help abroad in an emergency
If you’re in Malta and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)