Route map:  Train & ferry travel to Malta

UK to Malta by train & ferry, no airports, no flights... 

It's easy to reach Malta from London by train & ferry, and you get to see Italy on the way.  This page explains how to plan and book the journey.  Just take a mid-morning Eurostar to Paris and afternoon high-speed TGV to Milan on day 1, and stay overnight.  On day 2, take a morning high-speed train to Rome in just 2 hours 59 minutes.  Spend the afternoon exploring the Eternal City before boarding the overnight sleeper to Siracuse in Sicily.  The Rome to Sicily sleeper train really does go direct to Siracuse, it is shunted onto a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina, one of the few places in Europe (or indeed the world) where train ferries still operate, an interesting experience in itself.  Day 3, spend the morning at leisure in Siracuse then transfer to the little town of Pozzallo in southern Sicily for the 90-minute evening ferry crossing to Valletta on Malta with Virtu Ferries, www.virtuferries.com.  Virtu Ferries operate fast catamarans from Sicily to Malta up to 6 days a week with up to 3 sailings per day, although dates and times vary.  Malta is one of the friendliest islands in the Mediterranean or anywhere else for that matter, and it's a great place for a week or two's holiday, with plenty to see and do.

Train times, fares & information...

  London & Paris to Malta

  Bus travel on Malta & Gozo

  Useful country information

  Hotels & accommodation on Malta

  General information on train travel in Europe

  Luggage   Taking your bike   Taking your dog

Sponsored links...


Useful country information

Ferry operators to Malta:

Virtu Rapid Ferries (daily fast catamarans Sicily-Malta):  www.virtuferries.com

Grimaldi Lines (once weekly Salerno-Malta):  www.grimaldi-lines.com

Buses in Malta:

www.arriva.com.mt.  Bus route map:  www.maltabusroutes.com

Train information:

Train times & fares in Italy: www.trenitalia.com Eurostar times & faresAll-Europe train times.  To check for problems affecting trains from Paris to Italy (SNCF website, in French only), see www.infolignes.com.

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

+356

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.guidetomalta.net or  www.visitmalta.com.   Hotels on Malta

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Malta.

Page last updated:

19 May 2014


London to Valletta

  Virtu Ferries fast ferry from Sicily to Malta entering Valetta Harbour
 

Write your own Malta Story...  As the Virtu Ferries fast ferry enters Valetta Harbour, you get a real sense of arrival...  Photo courtesy of David Smith

London ► Malta 

There are almost endless possible routes and trains between London and Sicily for the ferry to Malta, especially if you want to stop off in Paris, Switzerland, Florence, Rome or Naples on the way.  But here is the cheapest, quickest and most direct rain and ferry journey from the UK to Malta.  Feel free to take an extra day or two and stop off on the way, it makes no difference to the cost as each train is ticketed separately in any case.  You can browse more possible routes and trains from the UK to Italy on the London to Italy page.  For northbound journeys from Malta to London, click here.

Option 1:  Works most days, with an evening ferry from Pozzallo...

This option works on most dates all year round, typically 5 days a week in winter and 6 days a week in summer, when there's an evening ferry at around 19:30 or 21:00 from Pozzallo on Sicily to Valletta on Malta.  The journey takes 2 nights, 3 days which includes an afternoon in Rome and a day in Siracuse.

Option 2:  For days when there's a morning ferry from Pozzallo...

This option is almost a day faster than option 1, taking 2 nights and 2 days, but only works on certain dates when there's a morning ferry from Pozzallo around 09:15, and you don't get the leisure time in Rome or Siracuse.  So first check ferry times for the date you want to arrive in Malta at www.virtuferries.com.

...Paris to Milan by high-speed TGV.    Watch the video guide

TGV 2nd class   TGV from Milan to Paris

2nd class seats...  See panorama photo.

 

The TGV to Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon...

TGV cafe-bar car   TGV 1st class

Cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

 

1st class seats...  See panorama photo.

Designer interiors... The Paris-Turin-Milan TGV trains now feature chic interiors by designer Christian Lacroix.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  In first class, you'll be offered a 3-course tray meal with wine served at your seat, although this is extra, not included in the fare.  The bar car sells Paris metro tickets, which can save time on your return.

 

The TGV crosses rural France at up to 186 mph...

 

...then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

  TGV from Milan to Paris

The TGV crosses the Alps via Chambéry and Modane, passing through the 13.6 km (8.5 mile) long Fréjus Rail Tunnel, also known less accurately as the Mont Cénis tunnel.  The tunnel transit takes just 7 minutes, during which the train enters Italy.  Opened in 1871, this the oldest of the large tunnels through the Alps, and was the longest tunnel in the world from 1871 until 1882 when the Gotthard tunnel opened on the Zurich-Milan route.

2nd class on the TGV from Paris to Milan  

More mountains...

 

Now we're in Italy, leaving the Alps behind...

...Milan to Rome by FrecciarossaFrecciarossa information   Watch the video

Eurostar Italia power car   Restaurant car, Italian Eurostar Italia train

These ETR500 Frecciarossa trains travel at up to 250 km/h (155 mph) on the new Italian high-speed network...

 

In the restaurant car, a 3-course lunch costs €32, a half bottle of wine €9, credit cards accepted.

Eurostar Italia train, 1st class   Eurostar Italia 2nd class

First class on a Frecciarossa.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles. 

 

Second class on a 'Frecciarossa'.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles.

...Rome to Siracuse by sleeper train...

Italian 'Comfort' couchette   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette, in evening/morning mode.

A Comfort couchette car.  A good, economical choice.

 

A 4-berth Comfort couchette compartment in daytime mode.

Standard sleeping-car on Italian overnight train

Italian sleeping-car with 12 compartments, each useable as Single, Double or 3-berth.

  1- 2- or 3- berth sleeper on Italian overnight train - daytime mode

Sleeper in evening/ morning mode.

 

First class single sleeper

Sleeper in night mode, set up as 2-berth.

...and Pozzallo to Malta by ferry...

Virtu Ferries catamaran entering Valetta Harbour from Sicily

Virtu Ferries fast catamaran entering Valetta Harbour from Sicily.  Courtesy of David Smith.

Malta ► London

Option 1:  On days when there's an early morning ferry from Malta...

You'll find an early morning ferry from Valletta to Pozzallo on most dates, typically at 05:00 or 06:45 or 07:00 up to 5 days a week in winter, 6 days a week in summer.  Check ferry times for your travel date at www.virtuferries.com.  The following itinerary works with this morning ferry, and gives you a day at leisure in Siracuse and a day at leisure in Rome.

Option 2:  On days when there's an afternoon ferry from Malta...

On some dates, especially in summer, you'll find an afternoon ferry from Malta to Pozzallo, usually sailing from Valletta at around 16:30.  The following itinerary works with this ferry, and is the fastest option, although you don't get any time in Siracuse or Rome unless you take an extra day or two.

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so you just need to add up the fare for each leg of the journey.

How to buy tickets online...

You can book this trip online, and this is the cheapest way to arrange tickets as you don't pay any booking fees and can see all the cheap fares for yourself.  It involves 3 separate websites, so before jumping in, sketch out your itinerary, listing the date & time for each separate train you wish to book to avoid mistakes.  You can book the ferry a long way in advance, and you can also book your hotel accommodation well ahead, risk-free if you use a site such as www.booking.com with free cancellation.  Eurostar bookings open 120 days ahead, Paris-Milan TGV reservations usually open only 92 days ahead, but I recommend waiting until all train bookings are open so you can do a dry run on all the relevant websites to check times and availability before booking a non-refundable non-changeable Eurostar ticket.

How to buy tickets by phone...

If booking online sounds a bit complicated, you can book by phone with two phone calls.

  • It's probably best to start with the ferry journey.  First, visit the www.virtuferries.com to check on sailing times, days of the week, and dates.  Then call Viamare Travel on  020 8343 5810 to book.

  • Then book the rail journey from London to Sicily.  You can book through a number of UK agencies, such as Rail Europe on 0844 848 5 848, Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 772050.  Click here for a list of agencies.

Tailor-made arrangements to Malta with trains, ferries & hotels all booked for you...

If you want someone to sort out your whole overland trip to Malta with all your rail & ferry travel expertly booked for you and good quality hotels arranged, call Railbookers.  Tell them what you want, and they'll sort it all out for you, hassle-free.  They get very positive reviews and take good care of their guests.  You'll find a sample trip to Malta listed on their site under 'holidays'.

  www.railbookers.com, in the UK call 020 3327 0761, . 

www.us.railbookers.com, call toll-free 1-800-408-3280.

www.railbookers.com.au in Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526.

  In New Zealand see website or call toll-free 0800 002 034.

Other ferries to Malta...

Although the suggested route above uses Virtu Ferries from Sicily, Grimaldi Ferries (www.grimaldi-lines.com) offer a good weekly ferry from Salerno to Valletta in Malta.  You can find information on train travel from the UK to Naples & Salerno to connect with this ship on the Italy page.  If you have any feedback on this or other ferries to Malta, please email me.

Malta:  Phone box on Palace Square, Valetta.   Valetta's Victoria Gate, Malta.

Palace Square, Valletta.  Brits will find many features familiar!

 

Victoria Gate, Valetta...

Malta's George Cross in the Valetta Museum   Malta: Valetta street scene

Malta's famous George Cross in Valletta's town museum, awarded to the whole island an its people during world war 2.

 

Valletta street scene.  Afficionados of the film Malta Story may well recognise this corner from one of the scenes, it hasn't changed much!


Bus travel in Malta & Gozo...

Bus information for Malta:  www.arriva.com.mt.  Bus route map:  www.maltabusroutes.com

Buses link Valletta with towns and villages all over Malta.  The Valletta bus station is immediately outside the city’s main gate, and it has both ticket machines and a ticket office.  International bus operator Arriva took over bus lines in Malta from July 2011, when the traditional routes numbers all changed, although things may change again as the Government took back the bus operations from Arriva in January 2014.  Malta's traditional orange buses (many of them very old!) are sadly now replaced by Arriva's modern buses in its own blue-and-cream colours, which of course may now change again with Arriva's departure.  The website for Malta bus information is www.arriva.com.mt, also subject to change.  Fares are cheap, usually €2.20 for a ticket valid for 2 hours on any bus or series of buses, and buses run at least every half hour throughout the day on most routes.  You can buy tickets giving you unlimited bus travel all over Malta for 1 day (€1.50), or 7 days (€6.50).  There's a bus map at www.maltabusroutes.com.

Vintage buses make it easy to get around Malta!   More vintage Maltese buses!

As the buses used to be, just a few years ago...  Brightly-painted Maltese buses at Valletta bus station, just outside the city's main gate.  These wonderful old Maltese buses have now all been replaced by characterless modern buses in the standard Arriva blue.

Valletta to Gozo by bus & ferry...

Take Arriva bus number 41 or 42 from Valletta bus station to Cirkewwa ferry terminal, for the ferry to Gozo.  Bus 41/42 runs every 15 minutes throughout the day, journey time 1 hour 25 minutes, fare €2.20, see www.arriva.com.mt.  The Gozo Channel ferry (www.gozochannel.com) links Cirkewwa on Malta with Mgarr on Gozo every 45 minutes throughout the day, crossing time 25 minutes.  There's no charge to cross from Malta to Gozo, you only pay to come back from Gozo to Malta, the fare is €4.65, children aged from 3 to 12, €1.15.  Buses link Mgarr with all main points on Gozo.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Click to see sample.  Buy online for €13 + €5.50 postage worldwide at www.treinreiswinkel.nl/railway_map_of_europe.

 



Find hotels on Malta...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

  • www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

  • www.booking.com is my own preferred hotel booking system (Hotels Combined being a search/comparison system).  It has a simple interface, a good selection in most countries worldwide, useful online customer reviews of each hotel, and decent prices, usually shown inclusive of unavoidable extras such as taxes (a pet hate of mine is systems that show one price, then charge you another!).

Backpacker hostels...

  • www.hostelbookers.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelbookers offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without insurance from a reliable travel insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash (up to a limit) & belongings, and cancellation. An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, though, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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