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I’ve been in Malta a few weeks now and still have to explain that I’m not here on a vacation. I’m literally just living my normal life, doing things I’d do anywhere in the world. Because of this, I’ve had to tackle Malta on a budget. I try to grocery shop the same as I would in the states, with little to no splurges, and I do simple activities that wouldn’t break the bank. If you’re considering visiting Malta, then I can definitely say that it is a wallet friendly destination. If you need a cost breakdown, keep reading.
Getting to Malta
Air vs. Sea
Most people arrive in Malta by air, but sea is definitely an option. When researching countries that I could easily visit while here, Italy instantly came up. Sicily specifically was mentioned as a city where I could simply catch a ferry. Here’s one site that offers one way (under €100) and round trip (€127) ferries to Sicily.
I flew to Malta after spending almost a full day in London as a layover. That layover was a part of my flight from Washington, DC but I did check out one way flights from London to Malta and I must say they were pretty damn cheap. That must be why so many Brits are traipsing around Malta and I bet it’s a popular destination during the tourist season. The flights I saw, just days before my arrival, were well under €100.
Getting around Malta is super simple and while buses run regular, it can take forever and a day to get from one city to the next. I have to keep in mind that I’m going from one side of a country to the next, but it’s always just a few miles away.
I’m currently living in Bugibba Bay and getting to the more touristy cities such as Valetta and St. Julien’s can take anywhere from 40 mins to over an hour. If you’re driving it’ll take much less time but the buses tend to stop quite often, prolonging the process.
Upon my arrival I’d planned to really tackle Malta on a budget and buy their monthly bus pass which runs €26. The only problem with that, which I found out when landing, was that you have to apply for that pass and it takes about 3 weeks to receive. I’d be ready to leave the country after about 3 weeks so I opted for the next best thing. There’s a pass that retails for €15 that gives you 12 trips on a bus. There’s also a two hour transfer available whether you pay in cash or with the card. That first pass lasted me about 2 weeks as I’m not on the bus every day and tend to walk a lot. However, if I needed one weekly, that’d be okay too.
My month long airbnb rental ran me $436 and the one I needed to cancel for the same dates was about $10 less. Once I saw there were apartments (usually 3 bdr) for this price, it’s the price I set my sights on. On the other hand, there are a few places even cheaper, but not as nice, and many places that are much more expensive.
While staying in a hostel isn’t ideal, nor do I think it’s even an option for a month, it’s a great idea if you have a few days or even a week in Malta. Hostelworld is my go to source for booking all of my hostels. There you’ll find various hostels in different areas of Malta, many of them starting at €10 a night. I’m sure the prices raise during the high season but off season, that’s an amazing price.
When it comes to Malta, hotels for bookings in March (it’s now mid-february) are starting at $100 with a few starting at around $50. I don’t know many places with hotels that low without a catch. And as usual, rest assured that those prices rise as the weather gets warmer.
I pretty much live at Trader Joe’s when in the states, but I never spend more than about $60 on groceries that’ll last at least a week and a half. Here in Malta, my grocery store trips range from about €25-€35 and last at least 4 days. That’s not accounting for things that’ll last well over a week or fruit that’ll only last 2 days.
I know that I don’t want to spend more than €10 a day and somehow it always works out. Here are some universal things I’ve picked up at the grocery store.
€1 = $1.24
1 6L jug of water = €1.30
Honey (350g) = €2.99
Instant Oatmeal = €3.77
Bag of Oats = €1.99
Baguette = €0.60
Box of Ahmad Green Tea = €1.35
Shallots (250gr) = €0.85
Chicken Breast (fresh local) = €5.82
Carlsberg Beer (bottle) = €0.86
White Rice (1kg) = €2.99
Broccoli (one head) = €0.95
Bananas (3 large) = €0.84
Pears (2) = €1.29
Cheddar Cheese (small white block) = €1.42
Assorted Meats (for meat/cheese board) = €1.99
I haven’t eaten out much but when I have, I’ve always spent about €15 or less on a meal, and then tend to leave about a €2 tip if tipping is an option on the receipt. My meals have consisted of everything from jerk chicken, rice, and a couple cocktails (happy hour) to a full pizza and a couple cocktails (happy hour again). A meal from McDonalds can start at €4 for a “eurosaver” meal consisting of a double cheeseburger, regular fries and a drink, or a McNugget meal will be about €6. Wondering what a McFlurry costs? Well since I had a weird craving for them when I first got to Malta, I can say that it costs exactly €2.40.
I try not to make a habit of eating out no matter where I am in the world so Malta is no different. Outside of my lodging expenses, food is the next most expensive thing and I think I’m doing pretty good on that front although I’m sure I could do much better.