PARATRAVEL - Wheelchair Travel

4 Days in Malta


Malta Wheelchair Travel Guide


A tiny archipelago nestled in the centre of the Mediterranean sea, the Maltese Islands are a popular holiday destination known for year-round sunshine, megalithic temples, fortified cities and crystal clear waters but what is Malta like as a destination for wheelchair users?

  • Transport
  • Accommodation
  • Attractions
  • Food and Drink
  • General Accessibiltiy
  • Budget

  • Accessible Transport in Malta




    How to Get to Malta


    There are two ways you can get to Malta. You can either fly into Malta International Airport or you can arrive by boat.


    By Plane

    This is how we got to Malta. Malta International Airport is the Maltese Islands only airport and is located in Luqa. Malta International Airport had good PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility) services both upon arrival and departure. We booked this special assistance with our airline when we booked our flight.


    By Boat

    You can also get to Malta by ferry from Italy. Ferries dock in the Valletta Waterfront. Malta is also a destination for some Mediterranean cruises.


    How to Get Around Malta in a Wheelchair


    When it comes to getting around Malta you have a few choices:


    Bus

    Buses are the only option when it comes to public transport in Malta.


    We chose to use the bus because it was the cheapest way to get around. You can buy single tickets on the bus for €2 (€3 at night), 7-day unlimited tickets for €21 or 12 single journey tickets for €15.


    All buses had a manual fold-out ramp at the front. The driver can lower the bus down closer to the ground to make the ramp less steep. This was fine when the ramp led onto a curb but sometimes the bus would stop in the middle of the road and the ramp would be too steep to get up without help.

    The buses had a wheelchair seating area near the front. Be prepared that you might have to tell people already sitting there you need that space - particularly parents with prams as you have priority as a wheelchair user!


    For a bus service, it was is frequent and extensive, but, we wouldn't recommend unless you're bothered about cost.

    While buses were frequent most of them arrived 10-15 minutes behind schedule. There were many stops on the bus routes and they didn't often take the shortest route. Journey times around the island ended up being about twice as long as they would if you used different transport. If you're on a tight time scale we would particularly advise against using the buses.

    The other thing we didn't like about the bus was how busy it could get at times. If you've experienced a busy bus in a wheelchair before you'll know how challenging it can be.


    Route information and timetables can be found here.


    Hire a Car

    For the most flexibility, you could hire a car.

    If you can use a standard car renting a car is not expensive.


    Disabled parking bays seemed common and most of the ones we saw were empty and very easy to spot. Most of the time the whole bay was painted blue and had a wheelchair symbol on it.


    We were put off the idea of driving ourselves because we'd seen reviews saying the roads were bad and Maltese drivers are reckless. From what we saw it seemed fine as long as you avoided the big cities - maybe it was quieter because we visited after the end of summer?


    Remember you drive on the left in Malta.


    Curious about car transfers? Watch this video to find out how Craig transfers in and out of a car.


    Taxi

    Taking taxis is an option if you don't fancy driving or using the buses. You can download an app called Bolt which is very similar to Uber. Use this code (PFNZ3J) to get your first trip free.


    Tour Bus / Coach Trip

    Alternatively, you could go on a tour bus or coach trip. We saw lots of shops selling tickets for the hop on hop off buses.

    CitySightseeing and Malta Sightseeing both offer hop on hop off tours. Tickets were around €20 a day. You might be able to negotiate a discount if you buy tickets from a tourist shop/ticket stand. It is a lot more expensive than public buses but they'll be quicker and more convenient so are worthwhile if you're pushed for time. If money was no issue we would choose this, they'll take you right to the tourist attractions but without the hassle of driving yourself in a foreign country.


    On Foot / Wheelchair

    If you're really up to it you could even walk or wheel from place to place - the whole island is only 27km (17mi) end to end.


    Getting around Malta in a wheelchair was a bit hit and miss. We struggled a bit getting around the towns and cities themselves:


    Pavements were extremely unpredictable. It varied a lot from one area to another, some stretches had excellent access while others were awful. One minute you would be on a nice wide smooth path and then all of a sudden it would become very narrow and uneven. You never knew if you'd get a dropped curb or not. Some of the curbs were so high we had to backtrack a few times to find a low enough point to get down.

    Luckily the roads in the areas with bad footpaths tended to be quite so you could use them instead. On the most part, they were considerably smoother than the pavements.


    Another difficulty for getting around in a wheelchair was that Malta is very hilly in places. Some of the roads were incredibly steep. If you have a power attachment bring it and if you don't bring someone who can give you a push up the hills!



    Wheelchair Accessible Places to Stay in Malta


    ParkView Apartment


    Bedroom in our Malta apartment
    Bathroom in our Malta apartment
    Kitchen in our Malta apartment

    Facilities


    Level Entrance

    No

    Lift

    Yes

    Wide Doorways

    Yes

    Roll/Walk in Shower

    No

    Bath

    Yes

    Toilet With Grab Rails

    No

    Hoist

    No

    Emergency Alarm

    No

    Disabled Parking

    No


    Our accessibility rating:

    3/5

    Our accessibility rating for non-active wheelchair users:

    1/5


    Since you can get to pretty much anywhere in less than two hours (one hour by car), being in a particular location wasn't a huge priority for us so we just picked somewhere cheap.


    We stayed at ParkView Apartment in Bugibba which we found through our usual method Booking.com.

    The apartment was semi wheelchair accessible. It was not designed to be wheelchair accessible but it can be suitable for active wheelchair users. If you can go up and down curbs and do a bath transfer you'll be fine otherwise you might find it a challenge. There was no roll-in shower or grab rails on the toilet.

    The apartment was wide and spacious and there was plenty of room to wheel around. There was a lift in the buildings and all the doorways were wide. One exception is the hallway leading to the lift - Craig's wheelchair (26 inches wide push rim to push rim) was pretty much the maximum width that could fit.

    If you'd like to see more of what this apartment was like watch this section of our video or check out the apartment on Booking.com for more photos and information.


    Don't worry there are plenty more hotels that are more wheelchair accessible than this, we just stayed here because it was cheaper and good enough for us. Check out our guide to booking accessible accomodation for advice on how to find accessible places to stay.


    Watch these videos if you want to learn how a paraplegic can do a wheelchair to bath transfer.



    Wheelchair Accessible Things to Do in Malta


    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.


    Mdina



    Mdina in a wheelchair, Malta

    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.


    Mdina in a wheelchair, Malta
    Mdina in a wheelchair, Malta
    Mdina in a wheelchair, Malta

    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



    Views from Valletta, 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.


    Super yatchs in Valletta, Malta
    Grand Harbour, Valletta, Malta
    Triton fountain, Valletta, Malta

    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



    The Blue Lagoon, Malta

    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.


    Ferry to the Blue Lagoon, Malta
    Ferry to the Blue Lagoon, Malta

    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.


    Crowds at the Blue Lagoon, Malta

    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.


    Gozo



    Gozo Citadel Views, Malta

    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.


    Gozo Channel Ferry, Malta

    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


    Ggantija Temples

    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.

    Gozo Ggantija Temples, Malta
    Citadella

    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.

    Gozo Citadel, Malta
    Gozo Citadel Wheelchair Accessible Viewpoint, Malta

    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.

    Gozo Mgarr Harbour, Malta
    Gozo Fish Restaurant, Malta

    Where to Eat and Drink in Malta as a Wheelchair User


    Food in Malta
    Food in Malta
    Food in Malta

    Bancinu


    Website


    If you're a seafood fan and you're visiting Gozo, we recommend Bancinu restaurant. Food was nice and fresh and reasonably priced for the quality. Don't worry if you're not a fish lover, there were non-seafood dishes too. Wheelchair access wasn't bad but there wasn't a disabled toilet and the pavement outside wasn't great. 


    Don Berto


    Website


    Don Berto is one of a collection of restaurants located on the marina in Birgu. It is an Italian restaurant with good food but it's a little more expensive than most restaurants we visited in Malta. The best thing about this restaurant was dining on the balcony with great views of Valletta. A nice touch was that the balcony was divided into 2 sections, one for smokers and one non-smoking with a glass barrier in between. As non-smokers, it was unexpectedly pleasant to be able to eat outside without having smoke blown in your face or food. It is an upper floor restaurant but it was accessible via a lift. 


    Asian Kingdom


    Website


    If you're in Bugibba and you like sushi we'd recommend Asian kingdom. It's by no means traditional but if you want to make the most of unlimited sushi for a reasonable price it's a good place. There are steps at the front entrance but they have a side entrance through the hotel next door which is accessible.


    Fontanella Tea Garden


    Website

    Fontanella Tea Garden was one of only two accessible places we found to eat in Mdina. The café is set on two floors and the upper floor is the main appeal for most people due to spectacular views across the island. Unfortunately, there is no wheelchair access to the upper floor and you can't see the views from the lower floor but it was a reasonable lunch stop in Mdina nonetheless. Fontanella Tea Garden is renowned for its cakes, we'd just had an ice cream so we didn't try any but they did look really good.

    General Accessibility in Malta


    Malta is not the easiest destination for wheelchair users but that's part of the challenge that makes it fun to explore. We didn't always choose the most accessible way to do things because we're happy to just go with it and make it work if it's not accessible. So if you want a more wheelchair-friendly experience than we had it's definitely possible.


    Costs of Visiting Malta as a Wheelchair User


    Food and Drink Approx Cost
    Sit Down Meal €6-25
    On The Go Lunch €1-2
    Sit Down Lunch €4-10
    Drinks €1.50-3

    Accommodation Approx Cost
    3* Hotel €11-60pppn
    4* Hotel €17-80pppn
    Apartment €10-80pppn
    Hostel €8-50pppn

    Transport Approx Cost
    Single Bus Journey €2
    12 Bus Journeys €15
    Unlimited Bus Card €21
    Taxi Across Island €30
    Hop On Hop Off Bus €20
    Gozo Ferry €4.65
    Comino Ferry €13
    3 Cities Ferry €0.50-1.50

    Attraction Approx Cost
    Temples €9
    Blue Lagoon Boat Trip €15-20

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