Last updated on February 18, 2024 by Stefano Ferro, founder of MEL365, following extensive travelling in Malta

How big is Malta?

Malta is a small island just a bit tinier than Kos in Greece, and a bit bigger than Elba Island in Italy.

A trip from the Southeast coast to the Northwest Coast is around 40km or around 1 hour by car.

The ferry trip between Malta Island and Gozo Island takes around 25 minutes

Although the size is not intimidating, there are so many things to do, see and experience in Malta that the choice will spoil you

But there is more.

How big is Malta – map and main destinations

Best places to visit in Malta on a map
Best places to visit in Malta on a map

Although the republic of Malta is a small country, right in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it has so many destinations to choose from, as you can see from the above map.

You can also read my full guide on the best and worst areas of Malta, based on the type of holiday you have in mind, family market or couples, nightlife or a quiet time, action and a chilled out time.

The area around Valletta, including Sliema and St. Julians are the most popular destinations on the island, also being very well connected to the airport.

Valletta has a very interesting story. It was built over 500 years ago by the Knights of St. John. They constructed the entire city in only 5 years!

The Knights were real fighters and they did not build any square in the city because they did not want and need any place to seat, talk and relax.

During World War II, Valletta was bombed and a few buildings collapsed, leaving the space for the squares that we see today.

I talked about Valletta as a city, however, keep in mind that the national capital is not as big, with the local council occupying only an total area of 0.6 sq km (just above 0.2 sq mi)

The Southeast of the island is the best place to stay if you prefer to have more of a local experience, with the Fishing Market of Marsaxlokk and the St Peter’s Pool, the most visited destinations.

The Northwest of Malta Island has arguably the best beaches of the country, with Paradise and Golden Beach being the most popular ones.

Mdina, in the centre of the island, is a 4,000 years old town also called the “silent city”, UNESCO World Heritage Site and unmissable destination either to visit or stay.

Saint Paul’s Bay is today famous for family trips, having so many attractions for kids, including, of course, a water park.

It’s not so much how big is Malta as how long does it takes to visit it all.

I usually suggest a minimum of 3 days to experience the Valletta harbour area. With 5 days, you can venture further to a few beaches and possibly the south of the island and finally with 7 or 10 days, you can also think of exploring Gozo.

Here are a few suggestions for itineraries of Malta, based on how long you plan to stay.

Beautiful lanes of Valletta
Beautiful lanes of Valletta

You can read also

Public bus or rent a car in Malta

Let’s see how you can move around, now that you know how big is Malta

First thing, Malta is surprisingly an easy island to move around.

The bus and ferry transportation is great as well as the roads around the island.

The mean of transportation, though, will give you a different kind of experience and let me explain why

Rent a car in Malta

You will have the greatest level of freedom.

You will be able to drive around Malta at your own pace.

Additionally, you can actually save yourself some money as well, besides having a better experience when you visit popular sites.

Why?

Because you can drive to sites like Mdina or the St Peter’s Pool, for example, without having to wait for buses and possibly loads of people.

You can reach the famous historical sites as Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, Mnajdra or Hagar Qim (world oldest free-standing structures) in the early morning before it gets too busy and you can easily drive to the Blue Grotto in no time after that.

You can have an easy family trip at the Popeye Village followed by a visit to one of the best beaches in Malta without joining an organised trip

Most importantly, you can enjoy great fresh food and local culture whilst having lunch or dinner in any village with ease.

And of course, you can stop and take your time with photos and videos, something that is not possible with public transportation.

As you can imagine, the benefit of renting a car is that you can explore Malta at your own pace, stopping wherever you like and enjoying the small family-run restaurants along the route.

I wrote a full guide about renting and driving a car in Malta, with plenty of information on the local rules, the driving licence that you need and plenty more.

My favourite website to hire a car is DiscoverCars.com, a comparison website that provides the lowest price in the market at the moment of your enquiry, very handy

Check the car prices

Renting a car in Malta
Renting a car in Malta

And yes, you may be stacked in traffic. The total population of Malta is only half a million people (less than Luxenburg), but being the country so small, the actual population density is the highest of the European countries.

Malta public transportation

The Malta Public Transport network is also a good option to move around.

It’s efficient and mostly on time.

However, it may take much longer to reach your destination and you can’t stop wherever you want.

You can also decide to rent a car only for one day to explore the destinations hard to get to. 

If you stay mainly in the Valletta area then public transport is the best solution as parking can be problematic sometimes.

The Malta Transport website has a great Journey Planner tool that can help you to schedule the whole day.

The summer ticket (between mid-Jun and mid-October) is a bit more expensive than the winter one.

It can be bought on board but remember to have the exact cash with you because there is no change.

The ticket lasts for 2 hours, doesn’t matter where you go.

If you plan to take many runs (over 10) then you may think to buy the 7-days Explore Card.

I know, it sucks because if you stay for 3 days you will not use it for the full potential, however, it costs roughly 10 times the price of a normal ticket and it includes also other benefits as free 30-minutes bike rental.

Birgu on the Grand Harbour
Birgu on the Grand Harbour

Ferry in/to Malta

The Island of Malta is connected with frequent runs to the other islands in the Maltese archipelago, the Island of Gozo on a ferry, and Comino Island on small boats.

There is a passenger only ferry leaving from Valletta that in around 45 minutes will take you to the Gozo harbour of Mgarr.

For a quicker and cheaper service, you can also make your way to Cirkewwa where a car and passenger ferry leaves every 30-45 minutes for Gozo island.

Malta is also well connected to Sicily/Pozzallo with a ferry that runs twice daily. You can check the Virtu Ferries for more information on the cost and timetables.

Ferry to Gozo – All you need to know

Ferry to Gozo in Malta
Ferry to Gozo in Malta

Frequently asked questions on how big is Malta

How many miles long is Malta?

Malta is only 17 miles long (27km) and 9 miles wide (14km) that makes an area of 95 square miles (or 246 square kilometres). This is only the main island of Malta. The other Maltese islands are Gozo and Comino, much smaller in size.

Can you walk around Malta in a day?

No, that would take much more than a day, also because there is not always a coastal path or road to follow and you would have to go inland. 

How long does it take to drive across Malta?

MAlta is one of the smallest European countries, in fact the fifth smallest, but still you will need 1-1.5 hours to drive across the island (from south to north), based on traffic condition

What is Malta the same size as?

Malta is the tenth smallest countries in the world, the size of a tenth of Rhode Island in the United States which is similar to a fifth of Greater London (UK).

How many days in Malta is enough?

To see most of Malta, plan 10 days. This includes 2 nights also in Gozo and a stay in the off-the-beaten-path south of the island. 

Should I go to Malta or Sicily?

They are so different, which is hard to give an answer. Malta is smaller and therefore easier to visit in a short stay. Sicily is much bigger and ideal for a longer stay.

Do you need a car in Malta?

You do not need a car because there is a goon bus network. In saying that, a rented car will help you to pack so many things in a day. I personally highly suggest it. You can read more on my full guide to renting and driving a car in Malta

Is Malta cheap to visit?

Malta is affordable but not inexpensive. The biggest slice of the holiday cost will be the accommodation. So the answer is no, it is not cheap.

Is Malta a member of the European Union?

Yes, it is. In fact, the local currency is also the Euro. In saying that, there is still a strong connection with the United Kingdom (Malta was a British colony till 1964)

Is Malta connected to Africa?

There are flights to the southern continent, but there are no running ferries to North Africa.

How are the crime rates in Malta?

Overall, the crime rate in Malta is low, especially for pick-pocketing and small crimes.

Are the public hospitals good in Malta?

Malta has been ranking constantly in the top 5-10 countries in the world for the best health care system.

Victoria streets in Gozo
Victoria streets in Gozo
St Julian's
St. Julians
Golden Bay Beach
Golden Bay Beach
Għajn Tuffieħa Bay in Mellieha
Għajn Tuffieħa Bay in Mellieha
Stefano Ferro - MEL365.com Founder and Editor

About the Author

Stefano is a seasoned travel expert and the visionary founder of MEL365.com, a leading travel website with traffic across 6 continents. With a rich background in the travel industry, Stefano spent four pivotal years at Amadeus Travel Distribution System, gaining invaluable insights into travel technologies and distribution.

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