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Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

London, UK
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Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Hello all. I previously asked here about using buses to go around Malta and Gozo for a 3 day trip. We have just returned, and I thought it'd be nice to post some details about how our trip went for anyone planning a similar short visit. I'll add our restaurant recommendations (separate reviews to come) and some other comments at the end.

We are independent travellers, and we based ourselves at the Intercontinental in St. Julians. Our days went like this:

Day 1: Arrive airport at 11am, buy weekly bus pass and take X2 to St. Julians. The journey takes 45 minutes. There is no clear sign posting of where you should get off, so you have to ask the driver every now and then if you're there yet.

St. Julians --> Valletta by Bus 12. This was quite easy as the 12 and 13 both do this route and they are relatively frequent. The ride however took almost an hour because the road in Sliema was heavily congested.

We did sightseeing in Valletta for a few hours then dined at Rampila, which I'd heartily recommend. I saw it recommended in a travel article and I think it's the best food at best value we had during our trip. Returned to St. Julians by 12, which went very smoothly and only took 30 mins because the traffic eased (it was 9pm then).

Day 2: This was a tricky day as we wanted to get to the south to see the blue grotto and the Hagar Qim and Mnajdra temples, but there are no direct buses from St. Julians. The hotel told us we could either do X2 to airport then change to the 201 (I think), or take a bus to Mdina and then change. In the end, neither bus showed up after waiting for half an hour, and getting annoyed, we jumped in a taxi instead. It was 25 euros well spent, as we got to the grotto in just 15 minutes, saving at least an hour of waiting around and bus transfers.

From the temples you can take the 201 to Mdina. The 201 was a minivan and we barely managed to squeeze in. TIP: Check the bus timetable before you enter the temples to time your exit with the bus arrival. If you miss one you'll have to wait half an hour. In our case, the van came almost exactly on time.

We had a late lunch in Mdina at the Palace de Giro's Xpresso Bistro Cafe. Try to get a table on the rooftop, the views are fantastic.

Then Mdina --> St. Julians by 202/203. Journey takes 50-70 mins (I dozed most of the way ;p)

Dinner at Lulu near the Hilton, which was perfect.

Day 3: Trip to Gozo. To make the most of a day trip you MUST get up early. The 222 to Cirkewwa ferry terminal takes an hour as it winds its way into all the resorts to pick up people. We got there

at 9am, and missed the ferry by a few minutes. We took the 9:45 ferry, got to the island at 1015, and got on the 1030 Hoho bus. We chose the green bus as a sales rep at the ferry terminal gave us a good discount offer. We were generally happy with the green bus; the only problem was that the driver failed to announce that we skipped a stop, so we missed getting off at Xaghra and had to walk back at the next stop. Since the last bus is at about 1650, my advice is that you have to time your day very carefully and prioritize what you want to see. We ended up stopping at Ramla Bay, Xaghra and Victoria for 45 minutes each, and had 1.5 hours at the Azure Window area. It's pretty rushed if you do it our way! In hindsight, we could have skipped Ramla Bay.

We got back to the hotel at 8pm (we had to wait 30 mins for the 222) and had dinner at San Giuliano in Spinola Bay. Food was excellent, but overall not as good as the other 2 we dined at.

Comments:

We thought our trip was great, except for the frustration with the unreliable bus services. Sometimes they are exactly on time, but other times they are late or early, don't show up, or simply pass by without stopping. We saw a group of kids planning to go to Gozo but the 222 passed right by them (presume it was full) and it looked like their day was ruined. Our X2 back to the airport was late by 20 minutes when we left.

On top of this the traffic can be very congested, and you have to factor in far more time than you'd expect to get from A to B. So time management is key!

That was long.. thanks for reading! Hope this is useful for some of you! I'd be happy to answer any questions about our trip.

South Yorkshire...
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1. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

glad you had a good trip. You certainly made the most of your 3 days and saw more than many see in 14 days.

Island of Malta...
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for Island of Gozo, Island of Malta
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2. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

A common place experience regarding the buses I fear but great to have detailed feedback. Thank you.

Edited: 16 April 2014, 13:47
Dublin
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for Valletta
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3. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Now you will have to plan for a five day trip and then a 7 day that way you will have lots of time to get around.

Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Great report,was exhausted half way through reading,but was very helpful.

London, UK
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5. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Heh. I know many go to Malta for a relaxing resort holiday, but we do that elsewhere and as first timers like to explore as much as we can! It was quite a lot to take in but apart from Gozo we didn't feel rushed at all.

NE Victoria...
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6. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

I'm a little late to this thread, but thanks for this. We had similar frustrations with the bus service when we were there last year - "sometimes they are exactly on time, but other times they are late or early, don't show up, or simply pass by without stopping" - and we've been thinking that this year, we'll hire a car to be able to get around more easily. Your post has convinced us that this is what we'll do!

:)

(Now to make sure we choose a reliable car hire agency... There'll be hours of happy reading through all of the threads about this!)

United Kingdom
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7. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Hi, what hotel did you stay? I will be staying at Corinthia St Georges bay. Where do I get off on the x2 and could I walk from there to the hotel or do I need another bus? I have plenty of time on my hands as I arrive in the morning and can't check in till 2pm. Any reply will be much appreciated.

South Yorkshire...
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8. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

StarletandStud. As your comment has nothing to do with the original OP I suggest you start another thread with your own OP so that you get a response. TA folk may not see your query on this thread. Even though you cannot check in until 2 pm your hotel will probably have a luggage room so you can put your luggage there and explore a little and probably enjoy a drink somewhere. Sorry I cannot answer your query re bus stop. Enjoy your holiday.

South Yorkshire...
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9. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

StarletandStud. Just thought it was your first posting so you may be unsure how to start a new thread. Go to following link and put your appropriate details in:

https:/…NewTopic-g190311-i348-Malta.html

Hope that helps and know you'll get a response.

Tel Aviv, Israel
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10. Re: Report: 3 days sightseeing using public transport

Thank you very much for your detailed post, we're palnning a similar length trip and these tips are great !