Scheduled bus services  

 

The information below has been updated to reflect the changes to bus services that took place on Malta during spring & summer 2016.  Further changes are expected to take place when the winter timetable is introduced sometime in September/October, so please check it again before departing for Malta.

In 2011, the old bus network on Malta which was operated by a variety of elderly buses, was swept away and replaced by a new network of services operated by modern air conditioned vehicles.

Details of the current network are available on the Malta Public Transport website, including a detailed route map.  However if you find the official map a bit complicated, this independently produced map shows the main services that are likely to be of use to people visiting the island (note that if it appears a bit blurred, you may be able to get a clearer version by clicking on the “file” menu and selecting “download”).

There are four types of services:

  • AIRPORT EXPRESS services (numbered X1-X4 & TD2/3) which link the airport with Valletta, Rabat, Sliema, St,Julians, Buggibba, Qawra, St.Pauls Bay, Mellieha and Cirkewwa (for the Gozo Ferry);
  • MAIN LINE routes (numbered 1-99 and 250) which run to/from Valletta;
  • DIRECT services numbered 101-299 and TD1-6 which connect in with the other services at interchange points, including services 186, 201, 202, 223 & 225 which provide links from the main tourist areas to visitor attractions such as Mdina, Golden Bay and the Blue Grotto.
  • NIGHT BUSES services run on Friday and Saturday Nights to/from the Paceville area of St Julians.  Special fares apply on these services.

There is also a comprehensive network of services on Gozo numbered 301-399, most of which which run approximately once hour.

Most bus services on Malta run fairly frequently but allow plenty of time for your journey as hiccups in service are not unknown !  In addition, some bus services, particularly those operating through Sliema, St.Julians, Bugibba, St.Pauls and Mellieha can get VERY crowded, and standing loads are not uncommon, so unless you are getting on at the starting point, be prepared to have to stand for all or part of the journey or wait for the next bus.  Also be aware that there have been several reports of foreign pickpockets operating on the busier routes - particularly services 13, 14 and 16 through Sliema

There is now a new free app for your phone called Tallinja giving users the actual time for a bus to arrive at your bus stop.  Buses have been fitted with a transponer giving info to a central system.  This app also assists you in planning your journey and it is also possible to check your balance and top up your tal-linja card using vouchers or your bank card.

 

Fares 

In 2015, a completely new fare structure was introduced on Malta, in a bid to eventually reduce the number of people who pay fares to the bus driver. The only ticket that passengers are now able to purchase on the buses is a 2-hour ticket costing €2.00 (reduced to €1.50 during the winter) but there are a series of electronic "Tallinja" cards that can be purchased in advance that provide a significant discount.

However Tallinja cards have to be posted to your address and can take some time to arrive, and so visitors to the island are advised to purchase following "Explore" cards instead when they arrive on the Island, as these are specifically designed for tourists:

  • 7-day "explore" travel card =  €21 - (or €15 for children) allowing the holder unlimited travel on bus services on Malta and Gozo for 7 days;
  • 12-journey "Explore" card = €15 - providing twelve 2-hour journeys (even if you need to change buses onto a different bus route during that period). Note however that any travel on night buses and "Tallinja Direct" journeys counts as 2 journeys !

These cards are available from ticket offices at the Airport, the bus stations in Valletta, Bugibba and Victoria on Gozo), and the kiosk at Sliema Ferries.  They may also be sold in some shops and at some hotel reception desks as well. Please note that British "Contactless" bank cards do not work on Maltese buses.

 

SUMMARY OF BUS SERVICES SERVING THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS

 

For those staying in the main tourist resorts, here are the buses that you will need to use during the daytime.  Please note that with the exception of routes 186, 212 221 & 222, services numbered over 100 only run once an hour:

FROM VALLETTA 

  • To the Airport – express bus X4.
  • To the Valletta Cruise Liner Terminal - bus 130, or use the new Barrakka Lift from the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
  • To Fort St.Elmo and the ferry across to Sliema - bus 133.
  • To St.Julians & Sliema -  buses 13, 14, 16  (also 1521 to Sliema Ferries only).
  • To Qawra and Bugibba  -  buses 31, 45 & 48.
  • To Mellieha and Cirkewwa  -  buses 41 & 42 (also 49 & 250 to Mellieha only).
  • To Mosta  -  buses 31, 41, 42, 44, 45, 47, 48.
  • To Naxxar  -  buses 31, 37, 43, 46, 49. 
  • To Golden Bay  -  bus 44.
  • To San Anton Gardens  -  bus 54 to bus stop "Strickland", or buses 51, 52, 53, 56 to bus stop "Anton" then a short walk.
  • To Ta’Qali and Rabat (for Mdina)  -  direct bus 56 (buses 51, 52 & 53 also pass nearby).
  • To Rabat (for Mdina)  -  buses 51, 52, 53 & 56.
  • To Buskett Gardens & Dingli Cliffs  -  bus 56
  • To Marsaxlokk  -  bus 81, 85  (also fast bus X86 on Sundays).
  • To Marsaskala  -  bus 91, 92 or 93.
  • To Vitoriosa and the Three Cities  -  buses 2, 3 and 4.
  • To Blue Grotto / Hagar Qim  -  bus 74.
  • To Tarxien and Paola Square (for Hypogeum)  -  buses 81, 82, 84, 85, 88.

FROM SLIEMA & ST.JULIANS

  • To the Airport – express bus X2 and "Tallinja Direct" service TD2.
  • To Valletta  -  buses 13, 14 & 16  (also 1521 from Sliema Ferries only)
  • To Qawra and Bugibba  -  bus 212
  • To St.Pauls Bay, Mellieha and Cirkewwa  -  bus 222, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" services TD1 & 4.
  • To Mosta and Naxxar  -  buses 202 & 203
  • To Golden Bay  -  bus 225, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" services TD5.
  • To Ta’qali and Rabat  -  bus 202
  • To Paola Square (for Hypogeum)  -  bus X2

 FROM BUGIBBA & QAWRA

  • To the Airport – express bus X3 and "Tallinja Direct" service TD2.
  • To Valletta  -  buses 31, 45 & 48
  • To St.Julians & Sliema -  bus 212
  • To St.Pauls Bay, Mellieha and Cirkewwa  -  bus 221, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" service TD6.
  • To Mosta  -  buses 31, 45, 48, 186, 203 & 280 
  • To Naxxar  -  buses 31 & 45
  • To St.Anton Gardens  -  bus X3
  • To Ta’qali and Rabat (for Mdina)  -  bus 186 (also X3 & TD3 to Rabat only)
  • To Golden Bay  -  bus 223  
  • To Paola Square (for Hypogeum)  -  bus X3

FROM  MELLIEHA & GHADIRA BAY

  • To the Airport – express bus X1 (NOTE - this bus does not pick up at every bus stop).
  • To Valletta  -  bus 41, 42, 49 or 250
  • To Bugibba & Qawra  -  bus 221, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" service TD6.
  • To St.Julians & Sliema  -  bus 222, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" services TD1 & TD4.
  • To Cirkewwa  -  buses 41, 42, 101, 221 & 222
  • To Mosta  -  bus 41 or 42
  • To Naxxar  -  bus 49  
  • To Golden Bay & Mgarr  -  bus 101
  • To Armier Bay  -  bus 49  (summer only)

FROM GOLDEN BAY (Ghajn Tuffieha)

  • To Valletta  -  bus 44
  • To St.Julians & Sliema  -  bus 225
  • To St.Pauls Bay  -  buses 223 & 225  
  • To Bugibba & Qawra  -  bus 223  
  • To Mellieha and Cirkewwa  -  bus 101
  • To Mgarr  -  buses 44 and 101
  • To Mosta  -  bus 44

FROM RABAT & MDINA

  • To and from the Airport  -  express bus X3  (bus 201 also runs to/from the Airport on a scenic route past Blue Grotto & Dingli) .
  • To Valletta  -  buses  51, 52, 53 & 56
  • To Bugibba & Qawra  -  bus X3 & 186, supplemented by "Tallinja Direct" service TD3.
  • To St.Julians & Sliema  -  bus 202
  • To Ta'Qali Crafts Village & Mosta  -  buses 186 & 202
  • To Sigiewwi & Ghar Lapsi  -  bus 109
  • To Paola Square (for Hypogeum)  -  bus X3
  • To Blue Grotto and Hagar Qim  -  bus 201 
  • To Buskett Gardens  -  buses 56 & 181
  • To Dingli Cliffs  -  buses 56 & 201

GOZO FERRY (Mgarr)

  • To Cirkewwa - Gozo Channel Ferry
  • to Victoria - buses 301 & 323 (direct every 45 mins) and bus 303 (hourly via Qala) 
  • to Marsalforn via Nadur & Xaghra - bus 322

Note that Mgarr ferry terminal on Gozo is shown as L'Imgarr on some maps and as "Vapur" on some bus timetables! 

Bus services to other parts of Gozo depart every hour from Victoria Bus Station - see route map here .  In addition, the Gozo Hop on Hop off tours (there are 2 companies - City Sightseeing Gozo, & Gozo Sightseeing) also run every 45 minutes from the ferry to most parts of the Island.

 

Hop-on-Hop off Bus Tours  

 

There are currently two operators offering Hop-on Hop-off tours of Malta and Gozo using open top buses - Malta Sightseeing and City Sightseeing .  The routes that the tours take are no-longer the same as explained in this TA posting, so check carefully which one is going to be the best for you before buying a ticket for them - it may not be cheaper to buy them over the internet !  Also note that these tickets no longer offer a free harbour boat tour, although you can usually get one of these added in for a small discount.

Competition between the two companies is fierce, so it is worth shopping around for the best deal when you get to Malta - look out for the ticket touts all along the Sliema Waterfront !  Note however that on Sundays, the tours offered by Malta Sightseeing finish earlier in the afternoon, so check the timetables carefully before buying a ticket on that day.

One final tip - Valletta needs at least a whole day (or two half-days) to explore, so visit that on a different day using local buses, not the Ho-Ho tour. 

 

Ferries

 

The ferry service to Gozo is operated by the Gozo Channel Company and carries vehicles as well as passengers.  To get to the Gozo Ferry terminal at Cirkewwa, there are direct buses from Valletta, Sliema/St. Julians, Qawra/Bugibba, St.Pauls, Golden Bay and Mellieha - see above.  

Passenger ferry services also operate to Valletta from Sliema and from Birgu (Vittoriosa) and Senglea in the Three Cities.  The service is reasonably priced and quite regular, but remember that most of Valletta is on top of a hill and it is a very steep up hill walk from where the ferries dock to the City Centre.  Fortunately the dock for the Birgu ferry (which is near the cruise liner terminal) is linked to the city centre by the new Barrakka Lift which finishes at the Upper Barrakka Gardens.  Sadly there is no such facility at the dock for the Sliema ferry but a red minibus meets most journeys and will take passengers up the hill for €1.  However, many people prefer to travel from Sliema to Valletta by ordinary public bus and use the ferry for the return journey.

 

Getting to/from the Airport

 

In 2011 the network of bus services serving the airport was significantly improved, with direct services to many parts of the island:  Further details are available on the Malta Public Transport website and a summary of the bus services that run from the Airport is as follows:

  • X1   direct to Mellieha and Cirkewwa (Gozo Ferry) via the coast road  - every 45 minutes
  • X2   to Paola, St.Julians and Sliema  - hourly
  • TD2  direct to St.Julians and Sliema - hourly
  • X3   to Paola, Rabat, St. Pauls, Bugibba & Qawra  - hourly
  • TD3  direct to Rabat Bugibba & Qawra  - hourly
  • X4   to Valletta  - every 20 minutes
  • X4 & 119   to Birzebbuga & Pretty Bay  - every 20 minutes
  • 117  to Zurrieq / Qrendi
  • 119  to Marsaxlokk
  • 135  to Marsaskala
  • 201  to Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim, Dingli Cliffs and Rabat.

A shared transport service is also available from the airport to all hotels in Malta.   You buy a ticket for a place on a minibus which stops at various hotels on the same route.  Have a look at  the Top Questions on the Malta Forum Page for more details.