Before travelling to Malta, we considered and reconsidered hiring a car vs public transport. On a previous trip to the Balkans, we hired a car. It was amazing – we had so much flexiblity and saw so much too. However, it was expensive.
When planning our trip, I read up on other blogs, as well as took advice from family and friends who had travelled there.
In the end, we decided that to keep costs low, we would use public transport.
The first part of our trip was staying in Gozo, so I looked up on the Malta transport website for a potential route. Gosh, it was long – over 2 hours to get there (2 buses and 1 ferry). After an early flight, it seemed like a super long way there, but it was so cheap; so we could use our spending money for other, nicer things.
Cost of using public transport in Malta
There are a number of options when it comes to uses the bus network in Malta. You can either pay cash on the bus for a single ticket. This costs 2 euros (or in winter is 1 euro 50 cents) and will last 2 hours. So in theory you can hop on one bus and ride it for an hour and a half, then onto another before the ticket runs out.
We considered single tickets, but felt that as we wanted to see a lot of both islands, and didn’t want the faff of having to have coins on us all the time, we would get a travel card.
The tallinja travel card
There are a few different travel card options. There is an explorer card plus, which gives you unlimited travel for 7 days, including two trips on the Valletta ferry and a bus tour. You can purchase a travel card at the airport on arrival. This cost 39 Euro. We decided against this, as aren’t massive fans of bus tours. Plus, the Valletta ferry is only 1 euro 50 single.
You could also choose to buy a 12 journey card for 15 euro. The card can be used by multiple people. So if there are two of you, and you only intend to take a few journeys, then this could be the card for you.
We opted for the 7 day explorer card, which was 21 euro per person. We certainly got our moneys worth, as were on and off buses like a yo-yo, criss-crossing the islands.
On arrival into Gozo, we picked up a bus map from the tourist information. This had all of the routes, so we were able to carry it with us and map out our route as we went along.
Get the app
The Malta Transport service has a free app, which we found valuable (though not always 100% accurate) during our trip.
Download the tallinja app in the app or google play store.
We mostly used the “my next bus” function, as the app would locate where you were and tell you the nearest bus stop was and what buses where leaving from there, and where to.
Things to know about bus travel in Malta and Gozo
– Timetables at bus stops may not be totally up to date (neither is the app). It may show that a bus is due, and it does not appear.
– There can be a lot of waiting around. We got to a secluded spot, and had to then wait an hour to get home, as it was at the end of the bus route line
– If the bus is full, it will not stop. This happens a lot on routes that are heading to a popular tourist destination, and sometimes (especially if it is a Sunday) the next bus might not be for another hour
– The app is useful for planning a route from A to B
– Buses don’t always go to the off the beaten track places, like the secluded bays. So you may need to get a bus to the closest point and grab and taxi (though we found that taxis were super expensive – 15 euro to go on a 4 minute journey!)