And so to Malta..........

Mar 25, 2020
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Further to a couple of earlier posts, I've been meaning to let the Funster community know that we made it to Malta, and to put to bed some of the negative myths we all tend to hear about motorhoming in Malta........................in short, we heartily recommend it for a visit.

We left the UK in September when COVID was somewhat in abeyance and spent a leisurely eight weeks or so meandering down through central France (swerved Paris) to Southern France, then along the French and Italian Rivieras. Had some glorious stops along the way, with one highlight of many being our scooter drive along the sunny Amalfi coast. We were keeping a weather eye on COVID advancing behind us, so rather than get locked down in Italy, decided to cut and run for Malta from Salerno, instead of our original plan of continuing on down through Sicily before hopping the ferry to Malta. The ferry ride from Salerno to Valletta was great - about 30 hours or so and cost £200+ with an extra £100 for a nice double cabin (not allowed to stay in vehicle). Arrival in Malta was just after midnight, so we drove off the ferry and just parked on a quiet street for the night before heading up the next day to the island's one and only ''official'' campsite. This is one of the things that puts people off coming here, only the one campsite, but despite the owner of the camp and other doomsayers saying you can only park there, THIS IS NOT TRUE. Yes, caravans can't park as they please (unless the car stays attached to them) but motorhomes CAN. Transport Malta's viewpoint is that ''if a vehicle is licensed, it has the right to park on the roads." The only exceptions are where by-laws forbid parking in busy towns directly outside people's houses or in certain car parks, taking valuable parking space from the residents. But in reality, most of us want to park on the coast anyway, and not be overlooked by houses. Of course, I don't know how it will change after Brexit, but I'm sure the pragmatic Maltese will welcome British visitors as much as they always have. The only reason for staying at the one campsite (in Mellieha) would be for ready water and electricity, but if you invest in a small genny and simply contact one of the many water bowser drivers on Malta to come and fill you up, then you can be as free as a bird. We empty our toilet cassettes in public toilets with no problem, slipping the attendant (if there is one) a couple of euros; also, dotted all over Malta are portaloos for tourists, to augment the domestic sewage system, and we use these at no charge. For power, in our case, we had a 200-amp alternator fitted in the UK, so we just run the engine for a couple of hours a day to re-supply our power needs and haven't used our genny once, as it happens. Filling up our 93-litre water tank costs 5-10 euros, depending which bowser you use and how far he has to drive to fill you up. Also, the Water Authority gave us access to a tap at their yard in exchange for us making a donation to HospiceMalta, a very worthy cause, so if we're near them, we top up at no cost. You can of course opt to stay at the campsite, but it's 24 euros per night for a couple and is nowhere near the standard you'd have been used to in France (or even Italy, for that matter), and with very poor access roads. So, in our case, we move all about the island, stopping in places for about three days before moving on. We make our choices based mainly on wind direction and snorkelling/kayak-launching facility - heh, we were snorkelling only yesterday (the 19th December!) - but really, there are scores of places to park conveniently and comfortably for a motorhome, where you will feel welcome and happy. In fact, we are compiling a list of spots, complete with co-ordinates, which we'll later post for those interested.

For those who don't know much about Malta - it is a fascinating place. Very accessible in the sense that they drive on the left, everyone speaks English (ex British colony) and it's only 17 miles long by nine miles wide. Super-interesting, too - it is chocka-block with history due to its strategic position at the ''crossroads'' of the Mediterranean Sea it has been invested at some point by all the great powers of the day - Carthaginians, Romans, Moors, Knights of St. John, France and Britain. All have left their mark here and it has helped create a very interesting mix. Apart from all the gorgeous buildings, there are even tombs here that pre-date the pyramids by thousands of years. If you fly in, it just looks like a big limestone rock as you approach; but, once landed, it really is like that old cliche of the onion - you can just keep peeling back layer after layer of good stuff. The high point, though, is surely the people - they are friendly and helpful to the point of unbelievability. It is humbling how lovely they are to us. We first discovered this back in the nineties when we lived here for a couple of years due to my work. And, in truth, we were a bit worried to come back, 20+ years on, lest time (and EU membership) had changed its character for the worse. But no. In fact, to more easily illustrate this, let me post in an e-mail here that I recently sent to my eldest son in answer to his own question/worry at how the years may have treated Malta........

''The short answer, son, is that we actually prefer the new Malta.

As you know, I was a bit worried coming back here. Sometimes it's best not to mess with the past. We had so many happy memories of our time living here that it was a bit of a ''risk'' to come back. It sort of reminded me of the school reunion I had in my late thirties with my little core of best mates from school, some of whom I'd not seen for 24 years - would I still like/love them? They, me? But that, too, turned out great and I remembered anew why we were all such great pals as kids.

But back to Malta...........yes, there is a downside in that the EU is undeniably weaving it's bureacratic fabric about the place. Where once the Maltese would just have raised a dismissive chin to the ''rules,'' they are now a bit more inclined to follow them. But it's mainly the younger folks this applies to. The essential Maltese pragmatism, friendliness, helpfulness and live-and-let-live ethos are all still very much in evidence.

But the material improvements are undeniable. Yes, perhaps Malta had to be dragged into the 21st century, but it does seem a happier, more accessible place for it. You won't be disappointed when you return.

The biggest material change is the roads. They are FANTASTIC compared to what they were before. Some massive thought, science and engineering has gone into not only improving the existing roads, but also enhancing the network with new roads and routes. Yes, some sacrifice of character and history has been made in achieving this, but not complainably so, if that is even a word.

It's not just the roads though - the buildings, the transport, the shops, the communication infrastructure, just life in general - it's all more navigable. Life here, although still rife with endearing anachronisms, is not frustratingly so, which it could be before. Another bonus is that (depending where you go) you can dip in and out of the ''new'' and ''old'' Maltas as you wish, it seems.......''


I'd better shove off before I start to sound even more like a Maltese travel agent, but really, I wanted to share with you all what is a fantastic place to visit. Please God COVID will recede next year, and when it does, try to put Malta on your itinerary. You won't be disappointed. Cheers! Mick & Lisa.
 

Mikey RV

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Feb 22, 2011
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I love Malta having had several fly 'n flop holidays at Golden Sands.
Most of the place names are Arabic so not at all pronouncable or memorable, I think thats why I liked G S 😃

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Oct 12, 2009
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Mick, thanks for a very nice and informative post.

Good to know that wildcamping is allowed. Unlike Portugal which has just passed a law forbidding parking and staying overnight except in approved places, effective 8 Jan 2021.

I only experienced a 4-5 day business trip there but totally concur with your assessment of the Maltese people. On a personal basis I was doing business with the Finance Director of Air Malta, later M-D, and he was so friendly and helpful and on his day off invited me to his home and took me to see the 4-bed house he was building, nothing pretentious just a comfortable family house. [He was not selling me anything: I was acting for them]

I enjoyed the seafood restaurants along the seafront in Sliema and one my host took me to which a tourist would never find in the old part of Valetta - you went up a narrow staircase off a narrow street onto the first floor with a view over the harbour, food excellent.

We might consider it for Winter if we can see flights back to Poland for Basia to visit Mother. I am sure I could be quite content to stay there alone for a couple of weeks. Last time my stay was at the Phoenicia - lovely.

Thanks again for the post and reminder of my happy if short visit.

Geoff
 
Last edited:
Sep 3, 2012
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It's good to hear that Malta is motorhome friendly,we last went there in the 90 's and hired a car and travelled all over and have to agree re the history,truly a fascinating place.From our experience of the car hires and driving in Malta it's not a place I would have considered taking s motorhome,roads were often full of potholes ,little space to park anywhere and most cars then we're full of bumps and dings.
Can you advise which MH you went in please.?

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Oct 9, 2019
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Thanks for all the information. It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to go though hadn’t previously thought about taking the van across. My sister is a ‘Malteser’ having being born there as our parents were stationed there in the 60’s for three years (dad was in the Army).
 
Apr 11, 2015
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Remember being delighted to see a few motorhomes parked up while I holidayed there about 9 years ago. will see if I can find a photo. Probably in the bundle that the cloud has lost.

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Mar 11, 2013
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We own a place in Bugibba (Inherited) , at the top end of Malta. We only go every couple of years and have always said that if we didn't have the place we would bring our van. With the good lady on board being Maltese we would get along no problem. The Maltese in the summer set up camp on the unknown beach areas up past Mellieha and these tented areas can look like shanty towns. The families camp out through July/August with those needing to go to work setting off and rejoining everyone latter. The kids just love it. So driving around parking up enjoying isolated spots is a must. Some of the access roads to these great spots are a test on the tyres and suspension.. Many of these isolated beaches have small pop up restaurants that operate at the warm times and get packed out by the people in the know. Don't know how long the OP is staying but Easter is just unbelievable and if you are into your religion worth a visit.
 
May 29, 2013
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We were in Malta about 10 years ago. In a hotel tho.

And it was amazing. A relative thro marriage is a Vassalo from Malta and if we mentioned this to the locals apparently everyone was related to Joe !

Certainly a place we'd go back to.

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OP
Mick Kennedy
Mar 25, 2020
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A few snaps from Malta. Not the best, sorry, but I’m not big on pics.....
 

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Snowbird

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I love Malta and the Maltese. Many moons ago I used to export MOT failiers from the UK to an old boy in Valeta, leave the lot and have a week on the beer and fly back to the UK and start buying more stuff we had decided was no longer serviceable ready for another trip. I should really think about another trip out there.
 

busbuddy

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Only ever been to the drag strip, lovely place...friendly people and they have a love for the mk1 escort that is second to none even if they stick rotary engines in them

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Feb 16, 2020
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We loved Malta, and visited a few times. Gozo, just a 20m ferry ride away is greener, but you've now missed a chance to see the Azure window, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39207196 . Comino Island is also worth a days outing. If you wanted to drop of the radar,it would be on my list of targets. My only reservations are the parking, which is supposed to be free, but always needs a " contribution" from the paid attendant. Also the unspeakable dire hobby of blasting every mortal bird on a migration fly over out of the sky, even the tiny little song birds, because , their "hunters", wow how brave, that's a really one sided contest. It's probably a one person crusade, but we won't return till they restrict this activity, which is a shame.
Mike
 

JnJ

Mar 15, 2019
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We usually have a holiday(fly there) in Malta every October. There are often motorhomes and caravans parked right on the front at Qawra near to the public toilets on the lower prom. Often also motorhomes on the other side of the bay in the carpark.
 

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sciac2001

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Never been to Malta but have had plenty of people assume that Gibraltar and Malta are one and the same and keep asking me what it’s like!

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OP
Mick Kennedy
Mar 25, 2020
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It's good to hear that Malta is motorhome friendly,we last went there in the 90 's and hired a car and travelled all over and have to agree re the history,truly a fascinating place.From our experience of the car hires and driving in Malta it's not a place I would have considered taking s motorhome,roads were often full of potholes ,little space to park anywhere and most cars then we're full of bumps and dings.
Can you advise which MH you went in please.?
We are here in a Swift Kontiki 649, which is nearly 10m long with our motorbike rack, but it's no problem. Sure, there are narrow streets that could get you in trouble, but as long as you stay to the main routes, it's not an issue.
 
OP
Mick Kennedy
Mar 25, 2020
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Thanks for all the information. It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to go though hadn’t previously thought about taking the van across. My sister is a ‘Malteser’ having being born there as our parents were stationed there in the 60’s for three years (dad was in the Army).
Yes, that is what fired my interest in the place - my Dad, too, was stationed here, but during WW II. He was here for the worst of it, from '41 through to '44 when it was the most bombed place in the world, yet he always spoke very fondly of it, and the people. It wasn't until I got older that this really piqued my curiosity, that he would remember it so fondly, yet was was here in the most dire of circumstances - homesick, lovesick, missing my mum, starving (literally) and afraid for his life on a daily basis as an ack-ack gunner. Yet he loved the place and the people. It is a special place, for sure.
 
OP
Mick Kennedy
Mar 25, 2020
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We own a place in Bugibba (Inherited) , at the top end of Malta. We only go every couple of years and have always said that if we didn't have the place we would bring our van. With the good lady on board being Maltese we would get along no problem. The Maltese in the summer set up camp on the unknown beach areas up past Mellieha and these tented areas can look like shanty towns. The families camp out through July/August with those needing to go to work setting off and rejoining everyone latter. The kids just love it. So driving around parking up enjoying isolated spots is a must. Some of the access roads to these great spots are a test on the tyres and suspension.. Many of these isolated beaches have small pop up restaurants that operate at the warm times and get packed out by the people in the know. Don't know how long the OP is staying but Easter is just unbelievable and if you are into your religion worth a visit.
Yes, you're right, PJG, the ''shanty towns'' you see in certain areas are the Maltesers' own vans. It's a cheap form of holiday home, I guess. We don't stay in any of those places, but have called in there to chat to people for advice and they have all been lovely and friendly and full of good suggestions. Actual foreigners motorhoming here seem to be very rare. Indeed, we have not seen any other vans with foreign number plates. I guess we would if it was high season, or if COVID wasn't on the rampage, but right now, none. Lucky you, by the way, having a place in Bugibba. We are parked there right now, as it happens, just up the road from Bugibba square, handy to a boat ramp for launching the kayak. We'll be staying in Malta until about March or so..........give northern Europe a chance to warm up and for the vaccine to take effect..............

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OP
Mick Kennedy
Mar 25, 2020
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Only ever been to the drag strip, lovely place...friendly people and they have a love for the mk1 escort that is second to none even if they stick rotary engines in them
On the subject of cars in Malta - if you come again, DEFO visit the Malta Car Museum in Bugibba. What a treat! Some gorgeous motors in there, especially for such a small place. A real credit to the owners, it is.
 
Mar 11, 2013
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Yes, you're right, PJG, the ''shanty towns'' you see in certain areas are the Maltesers' own vans. It's a cheap form of holiday home, I guess. We don't stay in any of those places, but have called in there to chat to people for advice and they have all been lovely and friendly and full of good suggestions. Actual foreigners motorhoming here seem to be very rare. Indeed, we have not seen any other vans with foreign number plates. I guess we would if it was high season, or if COVID wasn't on the rampage, but right now, none. Lucky you, by the way, having a place in Bugibba. We are parked there right now, as it happens, just up the road from Bugibba square, handy to a boat ramp for launching the kayak. We'll be staying in Malta until about March or so..........give northern Europe a chance to warm up and for the vaccine to take effect..............
Lucky You. Our place is in a side street just up from the square opposite the new beach front swimming pool. For Ice cream, Walking up the hill towards St Pauls bay (Keep sea on your right)1st street on the left down at the end on the right is the best ice cream shop in town. Drop in to George Pub, always been a great place to meet up maybe a bit quiet with the Covid lock down.

Have a good Christmas over there.
 
Mar 11, 2013
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Just re read your post, you are in fact parked up just around the corner from our place, Its the next road after Angelo s Bar. If you want any heads up on places and info like that PM me and I will give you my thoughts

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Aug 18, 2011
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We loved Malta, and visited a few times. Gozo, just a 20m ferry ride away is greener, but you've now missed a chance to see the Azure window, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-39207196 . Comino Island is also worth a days outing. If you wanted to drop of the radar,it would be on my list of targets. My only reservations are the parking, which is supposed to be free, but always needs a " contribution" from the paid attendant. Also the unspeakable dire hobby of blasting every mortal bird on a migration fly over out of the sky, even the tiny little song birds, because , their "hunters", wow how brave, that's a really one sided contest. It's probably a one person crusade, but we won't return till they restrict this activity, which is a shame.
Mike
Thought stopping shooting birds was part of the agreement allowing them to join the EU. Obviously not enforced..Think Chris Packham had a bit of bother filming it last year..Barbaric. BUSBY.
 

sedge

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I've only been once, in the late 1970s. 4 of us rented a first floor flat up the little hill at Msida heights. We reckoned it was probably ex Officers accommodation - marble floors, every stick of furniture - G Plan, and the crockery was green Beryl ware! I said I reckoned they took the canteen of cutlery home with them, cos what was still there was adequate but what I hadn't seen since I was a child and what my mum had kept as kitchen cutlery when she invested in Oneida ! Mom also had Beryl ware but hers was yellow cos both the blue and green were a bit old hat! Anyway - we went down the hill the first evening and ate and drank in the pub - the Wagon & Horses and noted the car hire office next door. Next morning the lads went and hired a car, Between the 4 of us, we owned no less than 4 Allegros at one time, and guess what? They hired an Allegro. Then, all the hire vehicles had yellow number plates and for some reason, many of the younger islanders would do their best to cause an accident, drive us up the kerb, down a ditch, cut us up etc. Bloomin good job a) both Phil & Barry were b good drivers (both met whilst working as delivery drivers for a large BMC garage Parts dept in Brum so large-ish van/7.5 ton lorry drivers all over the surrounding areas) and b) they hadn't added either me or Gwen to the insurance!! Cos we'd gone up the hill to see if there were any food shops, there were BUT on the corner of the hill where it met the street at the top, was the office of the local PLO. Yep - the Palestinian Liberation organisation. Fresh water was at a premium all over Malta at the time, cos they'd wrecked the desalination plant since they'd overthrown the Gov't - and the Gov't had built it. Stupid twats. Literally chucked the babby out with the bathwatter.

Funnily enough - I have NEVER been tempted to revisit the place.
 

sedge

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Oh - they'd been massacreing the birds when we were there - you could hardly make out the writing on any number of road signs for the ruddy holes in them.

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