Malta Warnings and Dangers
The small archipelago of Malta has been inhabited for over five thousand years. If you’re headed here to see historic churches and beautiful beaches, keep in mind the narrow roads and problems such as severe tides. Make sure you pay attention to the local roads and the local customs.
Malta is home to many churches of historic importance. Before stepping inside, make sure you are attired appropriately. You may not be let in if you are still wearing shorts or bare shoulders.
If you’re driving, keep in mind that many of the roads are narrow with no shoulder. Pavements are often rough and uneven in the cities while traffic is common. Be particularly careful when renting a bike. The same is true of the cliffs at the top of the island. They are high and there are no guardrails so be careful when you’re climbing. The tides can also be unpredictable when you’re swimming. Renting a scooter can be a great way to get around but the same problems apply with slippery roads that have sharp curves. Malta is a former British colony and still drives on the left. Look right when crossing streets on foot.
In many parts of Malta, you’ll see signs that state R.T.O. These initials stand for restricted to outsiders. This means you are about to be on land that some locals considers part of their hunting grounds. Access is not restricted legally. However, it’s probably best to avoid these lands as you might otherwise encounter someone with a gun who may tell you to get out.
It’s tough to find a sandy beach in Malta. The “beaches” near the tourist hotels in Sliema are solid rock. Your best choice for a sandy beach is Birzebbuga near the container port.
With warming temperatures, more people are getting stung by jellyfish on the beaches of Malta. It’s a good idea to check the wind direction before you head to the beach. Jellyfish move with the current so, for example, if the wind direction is West, then the best beaches would be in the East. It’s wise to carry some vinegar with you in case you get stung.
Visitors have reported that temperatures in Malta are quite warm in the summertime. You might consider visiting in the spring or fall to avoid the super warm weather. If you choose to go in the summer, take care to use sunscreen, wear a hat and drink plenty of water.
Nude or topless sunbathing is forbidden on Malta beaches. You can incur fines or even be required to appear before a court.
Driving and Traffic
If you plan to drive, note that cars travel on the left side of roads. If you aren’t used to left-hand driving, this can be tricky, especially at intersections. Stay alert because drivers will frequently cross to the wrong side of the road to avoid holes in the street.
The traffic in and around Valletta is pretty heavy at all times of the day, but at rush hour, travel times can double.
Walking, Biking and Riding a Bus
The Maltese are friendly, helpful people, but take care when crossing the street. Drivers can be quite aggressive and may not stop at pedestrian crossings.
For what is a relatively flat island, Malta has its share of steep hills, so walking and biking can be a bit of a challenge. Almost every town is built on some kind of hill, but Valletta has some of the steepest streets. Riding a bike down most of them would be an exhilarating and quite possibly life threatening experience. Likewise, if you’re traveling with children, pushing a baby carriage up the steep hills can be quite a workout.
You might consider taking a bus or a taxi, but be aware that buses get quite crowded during rush hour and getting on the bus can be somewhat of a competitive free-for-all. The taxis here are good, clean modern vehicles but they can be somewhat expensive.
Malta has low levels of crime. In fact, fist fights make headline news on this small island. Still, areas heavy with bars and clubs, like the Paceville area, could be problematic at night.
Editor’s note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about warnings and dangers in Malta.