Cycling is a good way to beat the traffic in Malta and the Maltese government has been working on providing cycle lanes (cyclists can also use bus lanes) and improving facilities for cyclists. The country is small, meaning you can get almost anywhere by bicycle, and outside the towns and cities, the lanes can be an absolute joy to cycle along, especially if you're beating all the traffic. The islands are hilly though and the climate can be challenging, with intense heat in summer and sudden torrential downpours in winter.
In urban areas, you will need to take a lot of care; presume that drivers have not seen you, be prepared to stop suddenly and watch out for poor road conditions such as potholes, slick tarmac and cycle lanes that stop suddenly or punt you abruptly back into traffic. Don’t even think of riding without a helmet (even though legally, only pedelacs riders - motor assisted bikes - must wear one) and consider a face mask to help with the fumes. You are not allowed to cycle through tunnels. Be particularly careful on early morning rides at the weekend – the all-night party crowd may be on their way home, more than a little the worse for wear.
The government offers a grant scheme to help with the purchase of bikes and electric bikes.
The EU have invested heavily in cycling routes in Europe – in Malta, the Sustainable Interregional Bike Tourism (SIBIT) project has created some great signed routes which offer facilities such as bike storage, accommodation and puncture repair workshops. The routes continue into Sicily and beyond via the ferry. If you’d like some extra protection when you take to two wheels, the Zabbar church of “Our Lady of Grace” is dedicated to the patron saint of cyclists.
Motorbikes and mopeds are an efficient way to beat the queues however you should be aware that motorcyclist injuries have increased 60% since 2012 and Malta has a high share of the deaths in the EU. In a bid to reduce pollution and emissions, the Maltese government is running a grant scheme to help with the purchase of environmentally friendly vehicles, with up to €2000 available per vehicle, including quadricycles.
You will need a valid driving license to drive motorcycles in Malta, no matter your age. If you don't have a motorcycle license yet you will need to take a number of lessons at a registered instructor and undergo a practical driving test. You will also need to be covered by insurance.
Malta has a Highway Code. The Maltese drive on the left.What is the legal driving age?
18 years old. Most car hire companies require drivers to be over 23 or even 25.Can I use my foreign drivers’ licence in Malta?
If your licence is from outside the European Union, you can drive for 12 months from the date of your last entry into Malta. After that, you will need to get a Maltese licence.
If your licence is from the EU, Switzerland or Australia, you can exchange it for a Maltese licence after 185 days. You can drive with an EU licence as long as it remains valid. Read here for more information.