Let’s answer immediately the most frequent question: is it better to rent a car in Malta? The answer is yes. Public transport in Malta is widespread but is not exactly organized for tourists. In general, it is very easy to get to the Valletta area, but if you have to move from one country to another it gets more complicated, with changes and coincidences (in any case, read the article on buses in Malta to get an idea). In addition, buses in Malta take forever to reach their destination. An example? If you want to get to boarding for Gozo (at Cirkewwa) from Sliema, by bus it takes an hour and 25 minutes to cover 28 km of road ( here the official timetable). Last detail: the most crowded beaches in summer are obviously those reachable by bus. Before hiring a car, better to clarify some important things:
1. Traffic and driving on the left
Driving in Malta is challenging: meanwhile, you drive on the left. In addition, you have to cross countries on countries to move, the traffic is chaotic, the Maltese do not put the arrow and do not give precedence. The same Sliema – Cirkewwa section as before (still 28 km) can take 45 minutes if you catch the wrong time. In principle try to use alternative roads, for example, you can reach Mellieha via Manikata, and not from St. Paul’s Bay.
To rent a car in Malta it is necessary to be at least 21 years old by law, but with less than 25 years the cost of the rental will be much greater, making it less convenient. Not all companies rent cars to people over the age of 70, some require an accompanying medical certificate (in case individual companies will inform you).
3. Fines and highway code
The alcohol limit is 0.8 gr / l (higher than in Italy), the speed limit in urban centres is 50 km / h. In the rare double-lane sections it is 70 or 80 km / h. If you get a fine the police contact the company directly, charging the fine to your credit card in a few days. The cameras are all reported in advance: to know where I recommend this app, where they are least reported fixed stations: TomTom Safety Camera (Android). If you are fined for no parking, try to pay it immediately by going to the local town hall: the companies often charge exaggerated administrative costs to manage the file.
The best possible option at the time of rental is the full/full (sometimes half tank): they give you the car with a full tank of fuel, you return it in the same way. If there is not this condition in the contract, it means that in general a full tank of petrol or half tank is charged at the time of collection, and this is not good. Why? Meanwhile, you pay more (for the record petrol costs 10-15% less than in Italy), and then if there is still petrol there is no reimbursement. Unless you go to Gozo by car, it takes at least 4 days to consume a full tank of gas in Malta.
5. Rental costs
The minimum costs for renting a car in Malta range from € 10 in January to € 30 in August. By minimum, we mean a small car (indicated as class A in rentals), rented for at least 3 days, without additional options, with a normal excess. If you rent a car for a single day the cost is higher, if you rent it for a week obviously the cost per day goes down. Should you rent online or locally? In August the problem is finding a car, so if you start with the idea of settling on the spot, you could be disappointed. Personally, I read the contract, so I prefer to do it calmly at my house and not in a hurry at the airport.
6. Credit card & deposit
For rental in Malta, a credit card is generally required for the down payment, the only exception is Swift Car Hire, we talk about it in more detail below. The credit card must have a certain ceiling, in line with the insurance excess. Local charters normally do not accept or accept American Express reluctantly due to commission costs. Revolving cards (such as visa electron or post-pay) are not considered credit cards.
7. Deductible & insurance
The insurances normally included are those for accidents (CDW, Collision Damage Waiver) and theft insurance (TDW, Theft Damage Waiver). Normally a deductible of € 700 is applied: if you cause damages of € 1000, you will be charged the first € 700 of costs. The deductible can normally be lowered to € 100, paying an additional fee, ranging from € 10 to € 20 a day. I would recommend it, but it is understandable that the additional cost is very high, so adjust to your previous experiences. Glass breaks and tire punctures are almost never included in the standard insurance.
8. Parking & Accommodation
Malta suffers from a chronic lack of parking, and in summer the problem tends to worsen in more touristy places like St. Julian’s and Bugibba. Here we advise you to book a hotel with internal parking or to resign yourself to leave your car in a paid parking lot. Sliema is a bit self-evident: in the morning finding a parking space is a daily task, but with the exits of employees from the offices and before the evening arrivals there is a lapse of time where parking is easy: roughly between 18:00 and 20:00. The local police is rather fiscal with the parking prohibited: it is forbidden to park where there is a double yellow line(usually near intersections) and near bus stops (zigzag line). Take advantage of mobility: car rental allows you to choose accommodation in less travelled areas, apartments outside the most touristic areas are better for the same price, or cheaper.
9. Photo from the renter
We are not referring to what you will do to beaches and monuments, but to those you should do when reviewing the vehicle before taking possession of them. While the clerk fills the form, take photos of each individual scratch and dent, and make sure everything is written down.
10. CVA in Valletta
Controlled Vehicular Access in Valletta is a kind of entry fee to enter the Maltese capital by car and covers all inland roads of Valletta, except for the waterfront. The system is in effect from 8:00 to 18:00 from Monday to Friday, with various exceptions that make it absolutely chaotic: we advise you to simply leave your car in the hotel during the day, as paying is not easy unless you are registered on the site. Note that if you defaulted, the sum will be deducted from your credit card with the addition of numerous administrative costs, so do not expect to get away with it.