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Malta Country Information
The main island of Malta, covering just 95 square miles (246 sq km), is also a popular holiday destination because of its secluded bays and sandy beaches, washed by unpolluted clear blue waters. Set against the backdrop of the island's scenery and its honey-coloured stone buildings, Malta is alluring and fascinating.

Malta and its little sister island, Gozo, are not stuck in a time warp, however. The islanders enjoy life to the full, and the calendar is filled with summertime 'festas' with fireworks and revelry in every little parish in honour of the village patron saints, as well as the major carnival in early spring every year. The capital, Valletta, besides offering some awesome Baroque buildings and fortifications as its main sightseeing attractions, is bustling and bursting with restaurants and cafes. The island's compact size is also a plus for visitors; it takes no more than an hour to drive between any two points on the main island, and there is very little open space. The dense population means that the island is virtually one large urban area, with buildings occupying every inch.

Malta has its mysteries too, in the form of 30 prehistoric sites boasting massive Neolithic temples, considered to be the oldest freestanding stone buildings known to man.

The Basics
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: 240 volts, 50Hz. UK-style three-pin square plugs are used.

Money: The currency was changed to the Euro (EUR) on 1 January 2008. (Maltese lira are no longer accepted.) Banks, ATMs and exchange bureaux can be found all over the islands, as well as foreign exchange machines in the tourist areas. Banks generally open mornings Monday to Saturday, but exchange bureaux at the international airport are open 24 hours a day. Many hotels, shops and restaurants accept foreign currency, but currency and travellers cheques can be changed into lira at banks and tourist offices. Most hotels and restaurants, as well as many shops, accept Access, American Express, Carte Blanche, Diners Club International, MasterCard and Visa.

Language: English and Maltese are the official languages; Italian is also spoken

Travel Health: There are no health risks attached with travel to Malta, and water and food is safe for consumption. A reciprocal health agreement exists between the United Kingdom and Malta and as a result British citizens receive emergency medical treatment on the same terms as Maltese nationals on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Visitors should, however, take out adequate medical and travel insurance in case medical evacuation or further treatment is required. Travellers coming from a recognised infected area require a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Tipping: A gratuity of 10% is expected in hotels and restaurants if a service charge is not included in the bill. Most services are tipped about 5-10% (including taxi drivers).

Safety Information: Malta is considered very safe for tourists. Crime is rare, though theft from parked cars and handbag snatching can occur. Local driving conditions are poor so exercise caution.

Local Customs: The wearing of skimpy clothing away from the beaches should be avoided, and dress should be conservative to enter churches.

Business: Business in Malta tends to be conducted as elsewhere in Europe; formally and politely. Punctuality is important; dress should be formal with suit and tie the norm, unless weather is hot when one can forgo the jacket. Handshakes and the exchanging of business cards takes place on greeting. English is widely spoken and so a translator is unnecessary. Business hours can vary but are usually 8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday. Some businesses open for a half-day on Saturdays.

Communications: The country code for Malta is +356, and the outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom).City/area codes are not required. Local and international telephone calls can be made from hotel rooms, and most hotels also offer fax and Internet access. Maltacom telecommunications offices also provide these services in the main towns, and coin and card operated telephone boxes can be found all over Malta and Gozo. The islands are covered by two comprehensive GSM 900 and 1800 mobile phone networks. Internet cafes are to be found in all the main towns and tourist resorts.

Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens require a passport, but no visa, for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport, but a visa is not required. British passports endorsed British National (Overseas), British Overseas Territories Citizen or British Subject with right of abode in the UK do not require a visa for stays of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians require a passport, but no visa, for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens require a passport, but no visa, for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans must have a passport and visa.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealanders require a passport but a visa is not necessary for a stay of up to three months.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals require a passport, but a visa is not required.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors (except members of EEA and Switzerland) must hold return or onward tickets, all documents required for their next destination, and sufficient funds for maintenance during the period of their stay. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Note: Passport and visa requirements are liable to change at short notice. Travellers are advised to check their entry requirements with their embassy or consulate.

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Weather and Climate in Malta
The Mediterranean climate of Valletta ensures the weather is hot and dry during summer (June to September) and slightly cooler in winter (December to March). Summer temperatures can reach 84ºF (30ºC), but the heat tends to be tempered by sea breezes. In spring and autumn, the hot Xlokk wind sometimes brings high temperatures and humidity. Valletta experiences little rainfall, and it occurs only in winter.

The climate of Malta is Mediterranean with typical hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Fog is common between November and March, and most of the limited annual rainfall occurs between October and April. During spring and autumn a hot wind, called the Xlokk, sometimes blows.

Attractions in Malta

  • St John's Co-Cathedral - Valletta's magnificent medieval cathedral is famous for the painting by Caravaggio, which hangs in its oratory, and the 369 inlaid mosaic marble tombstones that cover its floor.
  • Malta Experience - A dramatic presentation that illustrates the history of Malta, from Neolithic to modern times, can be enjoyed at the Mediterranean Conference Centre at St. Elmo's bastion in Valletta.
  • Three Cities - Malta's main maritime towns have merged into a fortified conglomerate known as the Three Cities, resting on the promontories opposite Valletta. Walking tours of the area are popular. Vittoriosa is the oldest town in Malta after Mdina.
  • Toy Museum - Located in Valetta, the Toy Museum showcases three floors of Maltese and international toys dating back to the 1950s, including matchbox cars, planes, dolls, train sets and an impressive Corgi car collection.

Events in Malta

  • Carnival - Springtime is carnival time in Malta. Carnival week with its traditional boisterous revelry, is centred in the capital Valletta. Carnival includes extravagant gaudy floats, fancy dress, and some wild nightlife in the Paceville club area.
  • Competition winner - National Art Competition and Exhibition
    The National Art Competition and Exhibition is a major event in Malta's art calendar bringing together more than 100 artists and their work in a single venue making it the largest show of artistic works on the island.
  • Malta Fireworks Festival - The Malta Fireworks Festival is an exciting event held annually at the Grand Harbour in Valletta. The highlight of the festival is the 'History of Malta' laser show, featuring an exceptional fireworks display accompanied by invigorating music.
  • Malta Jazz Festival - Every year a number of world-renowned jazz musicians gather in Valletta to entertain enthusiast with a classy selection of live performances.

Airports in Malta

Malta International (MLA)

  • Location: The airport is situated three miles (5km) southeast of Valetta.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +356 2124 9600.
  • Getting to the city: Malta Airport has a system whereby passengers pre-pay before boarding a taxi. The taxi booth is situated in Arrivals, where the fare can be paid and a voucher obtained for presentation to the taxi driver. A regular bus service operates between the airport and Valetta; the journey time to Valetta is about 15 minutes.
  • Car rental: Car rental companies at Malta International include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Sixt.
  • Facilities: There are several restaurants, bars and shops and a duty-free outlet in the departure area. Banks and 24-hour foreign exchange bureaux are also available Malta International Airport. Disabled facilities are good; wheelchairs can be organised though the airlines.
  • Parking: Parking is available.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.08 per cent or more, severe penalties include fine or imprisonment.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car and / or motorcycle 18.

Fines:
No on-the-spot fines but if any motoring or parking offence is committed, for which a fine is payable, this may be settled prior to departure.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol 95 octane, lead replacement petrol 98 octane and diesel is available but not LPG. Petrol in a can permitted however it is forbidden aboard ferries and Eurotunnel. Credit cards are generally not accepted at filling stations; check with your card issuer for usage in Malta before travel.

Driving Distances:
Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for driving distances

Lights:
Spotlights are prohibited. Lights should be switched on whilst travelling through tunnels.

Motorcycles:
Wearing of crash helmets compulsory for both driver and passenger.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory, green cards are accepted.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Children under 3 cannot travel as front or rear seat passengers unless using a suitable restraint system.

Children between 3 and 10 or under 1.5m in height travelling in front or rear seats must use a restraint system as appropriate or adult seat belt if a restraint system is unavailable.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 49 mph (80 km/h).

Compulsory equipment:

  • Warning triangle

Other rules / requirements:

The rule of the road is drive on the left, overtake on the right.

The use of the horn is prohibited in inhabited areas between 2300hrs & 0600hrs.

Parking in Valetta is extremely limited and there is a charge to enter the city.

There is a park and ride system located on the outskirts of the city offering a free shuttle to the centre

Cars involved in a bumper-to-bumper accident need to contact the local warden service.

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