When I booked my flight to Malta I didn’t really know what to expect. Some people told me they loved it, some said it was small and boring, with not much to do. I heard from many that the natural scenery was beautiful but others complained about the crowds, especially when cruise ships came into port. While I’m always open to hearing feedback, at the end of the day I prefer to make my own decisions on a destination. After all, every experience is individual. I ended up spending a week in Malta and exploring the highlights of this small island country. Was it my favourite destination? No. But did I enjoy it? Absolutely! It ended up being a pretty easy and friendly destination for a solo female traveller. So, if you are eyeing Malta as a travel destination and not sure whether or not you want to go alone, here are my thoughts, tips and advice on solo travel in Malta.
Solo Travel in Malta: Safety
I found Malta in general to be very safe. I had no problem walking around by myself during the day or during the evening. The area I stayed in, Sliema, is popular with tourists so I was basically just one more person in the crowd.
I did, on two occasions, have somewhat uncomfortable encounters with men. One man, sidled up beside me and tried to chat me up on the first night I arrived. I told him I wasn’t interested but he kept trying until I turned a corner into a busier crowd and lost him. I wasn’t scared per say but I was annoyed.
I also had another man come up to me and ask me if I wanted to have some fun. To be honest, I have no idea what he meant by that. He could have been offering to sell me drugs, he could have been propositioning me for sex, or he could have been a (really terrible) club promoter. I just glared at him, said no, and kept walking. He left me alone after that.
Those were the only uncomfortable situations I had in Malta though. Of course, like everywhere, you need to be smart and keep your eye on your belongings but I never felt any unease or the need to be hyper vigilant about my things. I would absolutely say that solo travel in Malta is safe.
Solo Travel in Malta: The Locals
The Maltese people were, in my experience, pretty brusque. They reminded me a little bit of the Italians with their flair for the dramatic (there was a lot of yelling), however, I didn’t find them as warm. That’s not to say that the locals were mean, but they just weren’t overtly friendly. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I just personally enjoy being able to connect with locals when I travel alone, which did not happen for me in Malta.
Sometimes the Maltese brusqueness often came across as, well, kind of harsh. One night I went to have dinner, alone, at a restaurant recommended by my hostel. It was a small family run place and I walked inside to see four tables (each with 4 seats) empty. I asked the woman working there for a table for one and she told me no. No explanation why, no apologies, just “no”.
It was awkward as hell and I exited as quickly as possible, incredibly embarrassed.
In fairness, it’s entirely possible that those tables were reserved and they didn’t have the room. However, it would have been nice to hear that not just a ‘no’ that made me feel like I was completely unwelcome.
I don’t think she meant to be rude. I think it’s just the culture which, as a Canadian who is used to warm smiles and everyone saying “hi”, came across as a little severe. A couple of different times I asked for directions from vendors or from the woman working at a tourism booth and I got the same kind of direct, basic, answers. Again, it wasn’t mean but it was a bit harsher than I’m used to.
Solo Travel in Malta: Affordability
Malta is actually quite affordable. I was pleasantly surprised at prices for food, drinks, accommodation, and transportation in Malta. I chose to stay in a dorm in a boutique hostel in Sliema (Two Pillows Hostel, really nice and it has a free sauna/spa!) which only cost me 92 euros for 7 nights. They had private rooms as well which were, obviously, more expensive but still incredibly affordable.
Meals could be found for a range of prices. Obviously there was cheaper ‘take out’ style foods like slices of pizza or kebabs. The local Maltese snacks, pastizzi, were 0.50 euros each and water (which you will want to buy because the tap water is disgusting) can be bought for 1 euro for a big bottle. For nicer meals in local restaurants, you can expect to pay around 15-20 euro for a large meal (seriously, portions are huge) and an alcoholic beverage.
I didn’t go out to any of the bars or clubs during my stay thanks to the fact that I ended up with food poisoning (nightmare). However, my dorm mates did and told me that drinks at the bar were surprisingly cheap compared to other European destinations.
In terms of transportation, one-way bus tickets will cost between 1.50 euro and 3 euro depending on the season and day/night (winter is 1.50, summer is 2, night is 3). Which is pretty decent. One of the guys in my hostel also rented a car for about 30 euro a day which isn’t too terrible either if you are looking for more freedom.
While Malta isn’t the cheapest place I’ve ever been, by European standards solo travel in Malta is quite affordable.
Solo Travel in Malta: Social Opportunities
Social opportunities and the ability to meet people while travelling solo is a big deal. I’ll admit, after being lonely as hell while travelling solo in Cyprus, I was a bit worried about Malta, but it turned out to be fine.
Obviously, one of the best ways to meet others is by staying in a hostel. As I mention above Two Pillows Hostel in Sliema was really nice (it’s very chill, not a party hostel) and has both dorms and private rooms available.
Malta is also a great place to join a tour. This country may be small but it is packed full of history from the Templar Knights to WWII and more. I joined a half-day tour of the Three Cities which included a visit to a local winery which was a lot of fun. There are also free walking tours of the capital, Valetta, and I suggest looking at Airbnb Experiences if you are interested in doing some sight-seeing with a local.
As I mentioned earlier in the post, I didn’t find the locals to be the warmest but, Malta does have a lot of tourists from around the world and of all ages. I went in ‘off season’ (November) and there were still plenty of solo travellers and backpackers.
Final Thoughts on Solo Travel in Malta
I wouldn’t say Malta is my top-rated destination for solo travellers (Ireland and Portugal still top my list for those spots), however, it’s definitely a good spot. Being a solo female traveller, safety is always a huge priority to me and, as mentioned above, I felt very safe during my week in Malta. I also appreciated that it was a destination where I didn’t feel like I was being ‘punished’ for being alone. Sometimes eating out or even walking around solo can be awkward and uncomfortable and while I did get turned away from that one restaurant, I never found this to be the case. In the end, if you are considering it, I definitely recommend solo travel in Malta.
Must Have Travel Accessories for Solo Travel
I love solo travel, but it does mean I need to take some extra precautions. For any other solo travellers out there, especially my ladies, I highly recommend you pack the following:
- A lockable backpack for when you are in crowded areas and have nobody to keep an eye on your back.
- A whistle in case of an emergency. It’s an easy and reliable way to get attention worldwide
- A lightweight power bank. There is nothing worse than your phone dying when you are using it as a map!
- Activated charcoal for tummy troubles– the best solution when there is nobody you can count on to go to the pharmacy for you.
- Door stopper. Most hostels/hotels are safe, but if you are worried this will help you sleep better.
A Note on Travel Insurance in Malta
Please, do NOT travel without travel insurance! I’ve had to rely on mine twice before (once for damaged luggage, once because I developed a lung infection while traveling). While the cost may seem annoying and better spent elsewhere, trust me when I say you’ll be sorry if you don’t have it. For just a couple bucks a day, you can save yourself a whole lot of stress and money. I like to recommend SafetyWing for travel medical insurance. With prices starting at $37 for 4 weeks, they are one of the most affordable options I’ve found. Learn more about the importance of travel insurance here.