Now that logistics are sorted, it's time to work out what you want to see and do. For such a small country there is a surprisingly large amount of things to do. Whether you want a beach holiday, a city break or to see historic sights, the Maltese Islands have you covered. We spent four days in Malta and only saw a fraction of the things on offer. This is what we did and how we found wheelchair access.
You can't miss the former capital, Mdina, a historic walled city which is also known as the Silent City. Game of Thrones fans, exploring the old streets feels like you're wandering around Kings Landing.
Getting to and Around Mdina in a Wheelchair
Getting to Mdina was easy, we took a direct bus from Bugibba. The bus stop is a short 100m push to the gates of the old city.
The city is mostly car-free so you can wheel along the fairly smooth roads. Horse-drawn carriage tours were available if you want to and can get in them.
Wheelchair Accessibility and Attractions in Mdina
As an ancient city, most shops and restaurants weren't accessible due to steps but attractions such as the cathedral did have ramps if you want to go in.
If you need a disabled toilet, there were public toilets right outside the city gate that were free to use.
We didn't find the inaccessibility of the buildings impacted our visit to Mdina. The main attraction for us was getting lost down the maze-like side streets.
If you're able to get up steps, make sure you go to the top of the wall to see the spectacular view across the island.
Wheelchair Accessible Places to Eat and Drink in Mdina
If you do want to eat in Mdina, we only saw 2 accessible options.
We tried out Fontanella Tea Garden which wasn't bad. However, their main appeal is their upper terrace which boasts views across the island and unfortunately, there was no wheelchair access.
The other accessible option was Trattoria AD 1530.
If you are with someone able-bodied, make sure to send them into Fior Di Latte to get you an ice cream as this was the best we found in Malta.
Valletta, Malta's capital is another walled city. It is Europe's smallest capital city and in fact, the whole city is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Getting to and Around Valletta in a Wheelchair
As the capital city, it's not hard to get to Valletta from pretty much everywhere on the island. Most towns will have at least one direct bus route. We took a bus from Bugibba straight to Valletta. There is a bus terminal near to the Triton fountain which is right outside the city gate.
Valletta was a mixed bag for wheelchair accessibility. The centre itself is flat but the streets leading down to the waterfront are extremely steep. If you enter Valletta through the city gate wheelchair access is very good. The main streets are smooth and because a lot is pedestrianised, you don't have to worry about narrow or even pavements as you do in the rest of Malta.
Wheelchair Accessibility and Attractions in Valletta
Valletta's city walls are a major attraction. You can get up onto the walls via a lift located on your right as you walk into the city through the city gate. Unfortunately, it was out of action during our visit so we couldn't go up and check it out.
For art lovers St. John’s Co-Cathedral holds Caravaggios "The Beheading of St John the Baptist". This was no interest to us so we can't comment on accessibility but there was a ramp from the street into the cathedral.
Head to the Upper and Lower Baraka gardens for some great views over the Grand Harbour and the Three Cities. From the Upper Baraka gardens, you can take a lift down to the waterfront. It's free to take the lift down but you have to pay to come back up.
We took the lift down and then took a ferry from the harbour across to the Three Cities. It costs €1.50 for most adults but is only €0.50 for wheelchair users. The ferry had ramp access but if you fancy transferring into an inaccessible boat you could take a traditional Maltese water taxi instead. Tickets for the traditional boats were €2.00. You can find out more about the ferry here
We didn't have a huge amount of time to explore all 3 cities so we focused on Birgu. You can wheel along the smooth promenade from the ferry stop most of the way to Fort St Angelo. Check out the superyachts in the marina along the way.
Wheelchair Friendly Places to Eat and Drink in Valletta
We stopped for dinner in Birgu. We ate at Don Berto, an upper floor restaurant with lift access. Dine outside on the balcony for great views back over Valletta.
The large food market in the centre of Valletta is another place to eat and drink. You can eat at one (or more) of the many restaurants the food court or buy local products from the food market. Though inside an old building, the interior has been recently regenerated and has level access and a lift between floors.
Comino is famous for the crystal clear waters of it's Blue Lagoon. This is a must-see for most visitors to Malta so we couldn't miss it out but Comino was by far our biggest challenge when it came to wheelchair access.
How to Get to The Blue Lagoon as a Wheelchair User
You pretty much have 2 choices in terms of getting to Comino. You can take the Comino ferry from Cirkewwa harbour, which is what we took or you can go on a boat tour. Lots of different companies offer boat tours and most of them claim to be wheelchair accessible. If you want the easy option we would suggest taking one of these.
We couldn't find any information about wheelchair access for the ferry so we decided to try it out and see what it was like. Return tickets were €13 or slightly less if you buy them online. There was a ramp from the harbour down to the jetty. It turned out there was no direct wheelchair access to get on and off the boat. You'll either need to be able to do the wheelchair to boat transfer or be prepared to let the crew lift you on and off. We'd had previous boat transfer experience so it was relatively straightforward however we did manage to drop a shoe into the water. The ferry docks right at the Blue Lagoon.
Wheelchair Accessibility and Attractions in Comino
The big draw for most people is the chance to snorkel in the Blue Lagoon. Since we were visiting during the low season we didn't expect it to be too busy but it was absolutely teeming. The combination of rocks and swarms of people made wheelchair access extremely difficult. It was so busy that it was pretty much impossible to find a clear space close enough to the water for Craig to be able to get in. If you want to experience the Blue Lagoon we would recommend taking an evening boat trip or staying overnight as the crowds clear out once the ferries stop.
If you want to swim in a quieter spot head to Santa Maria Bay on the other side of the island. The water isn't as blue but the lack of people makes up for it.
Comino is a small island less than 3km long and only has 3 permanent residents. There are a few sights to see but Comino has no paved roads and it's very rocky. If you can get into a car we'd recommend taking a jeep tour if you want to explore the island. Tickets for the jeep ride were €5 return.
Wheelchair Accessible Places to Eat and Drink in Comino
There aren't many places to eat and drink in Comino. There were a few food trucks near the Blue Lagoon, selling drinks, fast food and ice creams. These trucks were on the side of a very busy steep path which made wheelchair access difficult, though we did just about manage to get to one to get an ice cream.
Head to Gozo to take a step back in time. Imagine yourself in the middle ages wandering the around the citadel or visit one of the world's oldest manmade structures.
How to Get to Gozo as a Wheelchair User
Gozo is easy to access using the Gozo Channel ferry. Ferries between Cirkewwa (Malta) and Mgarr (Gozo) 24/7 and depart every half hour during the day. Wheelchair access was easy via a lift in the terminal and then a ramp onto the ferry itself. You only need to buy tickets on the return journey back from Gozo to Malta. During the day foot passenger tickets cost €4.65. Visit the Gozo Channel website for more fare and schedule information.
You can also visit Gozo as part of a boat tour in combination with a trip to the Blue Lagoon.
Getting Around Gozo in a Wheelchair
Gozo has the same bus service as Malta so if you've been using the buses in Malta, you can keep using the same bus cards in Gozo. The buses in Gozo maintain the same wheelchair access standards as they do in Malta. The bus routes are fairly extensive, but, some of them were very long-winded. Most buses radiate from the capital Victoria (also known as Rabat). Unless you're staying in Victoria, this can be a bit annoying as you have to keep going back there to change buses.
Hop on hop off buses will take you to Gozo's major attractions. This is much more convenient if you're pushed for time. Like in Malta, CitySightseeing and Malta Sightseeing both have hop on hop off tours.
For most freedom, you should consider renting a car. Most roads were quiet and had much less traffic compared to Malta. If you rented a car in Malta you can take it across on the ferry and even if you didn't, you can rent one when you get to Gozo.
Wheelchair Accessibility and Attractions in Gozo
History lovers must visit the Ggantija temples. At around 5,600 years old, these megalithic temples were built before Stonehenge or the pyramids of Egypt. They are thought to be some of the oldest man-made structures in the world!
We arrived by bus. The bus driver recommended getting off at the stop right outside the entrance, however, you should get off at the Tempji stop by the temple's exit instead. This stop is a few hundred metres down the road but, this will save you 15 minutes on the bus. We were convinced we'd missed our stop as the bus route detours for miles before coming back around to the temple entrance!
Entrance to the temples cost €9 and tickets can be bought on site.
Wheelchair access was very good and ramps were everywhere. There was one rough patch of ground right outside the temples. This was fine for us with the freewheel but otherwise, it could've been tricky to navigate in a wheelchair.
The Citadella in Gozo's capital Victoria is another must-see. Found high on the top of a hill, the Citadella is another of Malta's ancient fortified cities. Be warned, the streets to and within the citadel are very steep. It is challenging in a wheelchair but, although steep, the paths were largely wide and smooth. Manual wheelchair users, if you have a power attachment or a willing friend, now is the time to use their help. Lift access is available to certain areas. Lifts by the tourist information centre take you into the castle or down into the "ditch". You can get up onto the wall of the citadel using a chair lift, but this is only available Monday to Saturday from 9 am until 3 pm. You can enjoy superb panoramic views across the island from the top of the wall. If you don't make it while the lift is open, there are other good viewpoints and the outer city wall is accessible by ramp.
Wheelchair Accessible Places to Eat and Drink in Gozo
Before catching the ferry back to Malta, stop to eat in Mgarr Harbour. Since Gozo is known for seafood, we tried out a fish plater in Bancinu restaurant. Wheelchair access was fairly good but there was no disabled toilet. You will have to walk/roll on the road to get to it as the pavements were very narrow.