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Why carry an IDP while driving in Malta?

Your IDP is a valid form of identification in more than 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information in the 12 most widely spoken languages in the world – it is understandable to most of the local officials and authorities of the countries you visit.

It translates your identification information into 12 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Malta highly recommends an International Driving Permit.

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Top Destinations in Malta

An archipelago located in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta presents itself as the ideal summer destination. However, Malta has now evolved into an island paradise perfect for every season. It is filled with both natural and human-made wonders, where you can relish the blessings of the sea while commemorating the rich history of three continents - Europe, Africa, and Asia - as they have all passed through the crossroads of the three islands of Malta.

Tourism in the world peaks in the summer, and Malta is no different. With the historical islands filled with pockets of secret wonders, it is best to bring your international driver’s license in Malta since it can help communicate with the rental office in driving or renting a car.

The Best Time to Visit

Since Malta is a small group of islands, the best time to visit applies to their destinations. The aquatic destinations are ideal in the summer, but usually in the daytime when the seas are not as turbulent. Visiting the churches and museums can be done all-year-round, and this is where having an international driving license in Malta can be the means for you to make your itinerary and explore at your own pace since you don't hold a Maltese driving licence.

Valletta

The capital of Malta is a historic military hub because of the island’s strategic location. Thus, many of the structures in Valletta have historical significance, aside from being a testament to the glorious architecture. Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its historical significance and the aesthetic value of the centuries-old structures.

You can start your Maltese journey here since you would probably not need a long ride. Just carry your international driver’s license in Malta as a sample of identification along with your passport since you need to bring it anywhere you go.

Hal Saflieni Hypogeum

Valletta stands above the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, which is also a UNESCO protected site. The hypogeum is an archeological wonder, unique throughout the world. To preserve the status of the site, you need to buy tickets in advance.

You don’t need an advance order for your international driver’s permit in Malta, though. Just visit the International Driver’s Association website, and you can have your international driver’s permit delivered in Malta. Indicate your address and zip code. Once you receive it, you can proceed to the next destination.

St. John’s Cathedral

This is one of the most magnificent Cathedrals in the world, rich with history and spectacular architecture, not to mention genuine masterpieces of art. St. John’s Cathedral is worth immersing for half a day or so since it is a gateway to the foundations of the Knights of St. John itself. The cathedral was constructed after the Knights repelled the Ottoman Empire and took back Malta after the Great Siege of 1565. Bring along your international driver’s permit if you want to drive here.

The Cathedral houses nine chapels as part of its design. These are:

  • The Chapel of the Langue of Castile, Leon, and Portugal
  • The Chapel of the Langue of Provence
  • The Chapel of the Langue of Auvergne
  • The Chapel of the Langue of Aragon
  • The Chapel of the Langue of Italy
  • The Chapel of the Langue of France
  • The Chapel of the Langue of Germany
  • The Chapel of the Anglo-Bavarian Langue
  • The Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos

The Chapel of Our Lady of Philermos has its church administrator, even though its structure is entirely within the Cathedral with an altar and facade made from fine-inlay marble and works of high-valued art. Mattia Pretti’s carvings and two Michelangelo de Caravaggio paintings can be viewed in the Cathedral, including the classic, “The Beheading of St. John the Baptiste.”

Mdina

Imagine waking up in a fairy tale castle, one used for actual defense and battles that we watch in movies--this is how it feels when you visit the medieval town of Mdina. Mdina is a spectacular attraction worthy of anyone’s bucket list. It is a fortified city located on top of a hilltop, which offers a grand view of the beautiful coastline.

Mdina is a short drive from Rabat, west of Valletta, taking only 12 to 15 minutes in good traffic. It helps if you have an international driver’s license in Malta. The benefits include saving time from queries about your local driver’s license and more time for photos and videos. The Silent City is within reach, and you can bring your cameras for amazing photoshoots since Mdina looks just like it got plucked out of a postcard. It is a staple on several travel websites.

From the Mdina Citadel to the Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Carmelite Priory, Mdina takes you to timeless eras. Aside from the religious buildings, there are also museums-- the National History Museum and the Dungeon Museum. Bring your international driving permit if you’re driving to this site to know the rich history of Malta. With an IDP, you don't have to apply for a Maltese driving licence to drive on Maltese roads.

St. Paul’s Catacombs

A short drive from Mdina, you can pass by St. Paul’s Catacombs, but bring your international driving permit in Malta along for the next stop. These are burial grounds for the Romans, and their methods were also adopted by the Christians, dating back as far back as 300 BC. It offers a detailed picture of how these cultures revere their relatives who have passed on.

The mystique of St. Paul’s Catacombs is in the myth that it was connected to St. Paul’s Grotto. It was still just a small Roman burial chamber, which was constantly expanded until it reached over 2000 square meters. Christian influence includes the table and chairs that were carved from actual living rocks as part of the festival of the dead.

Marsaxlokk

From the walled, medieval town, you can take a long drive going South to Marsaxlokk, one of the most attractive fishing villages in Europe. A 16-kilometer drive from Mdina takes you to the Southeastern coast of Malta, where you can enjoy the freshest catch of seafood. For 15 euros, you can feast on the sumptuous offerings of the Mediterranean.

Marsaxlokk is much more than just a seafood market since you can also watch the luzzu boats. The colorful boats are not your ordinary fishing boats. They are traditional Maltese boats that are functional, cultural pieces themselves handed down by the Phoenicians. They feature the eye of the Egyptian god, Horus. If you have your 1949 Geneva convention international driving permit in Malta, it is a qualification to rent a scooter so that you can drive around the bay.

Before you leave, take a dip and capture an unforgettable picture at St. Peter’s Pool, one of the natural lagoons on the coastline. Then, take your international driving permit and remember your hotel numbers. It’s time to take a 13-minute drive northwest to Hagar Qim. Remember to adhere to road traffic rules for a smooth drive.

Hagar Qim

The temples at Hagar Qim are archeological marvels that feature amazing prehistoric artistry.

The Hagar Qim temples have been carbon-dated at approximately 3300 BC. The name translates as “Boulders” (Hagar) and “Worship” Qim.

Based on the archeological analysis on Hagar Qim, it was surmised that the islands were abandoned in 2000 BC and remained uninhabited for almost 1000 years. These archeological wonders can be explored if you rent a car. An international driving permit may come in handy for inspection zones.

Ghar Lapsi and Dingli Cliffs

A quick drive or even a few minutes hike from the Hagar Qim temples westward to the coast, and you can reach Ghar Lapsi--one of the numerous dive sites in Malta that have gained fame. You will need sturdy shoes and drinking water for the long hike. Make sure you will have sun protection. Just remember not to hike at dusk since the cliffs can be tricky in the dark.

If you want more thrills, grab your international driving permit for Malta and transport your party to the island’s highest point, Dingli Cliffs. At the Western coast of Malta, it stands at 253 meters above sea level. You can walk along the peaks for the best view of Filfa and the Mediterranean Sea.

Rotunda Mosta

Aside from the natural wonders and archeological heritage sites, Malta’s claim to fame is it is one of the earliest places to convert to Christianity. Bring along your international driving permit in Malta because there are many magnificent places of worship. One of them has the distinction of being the third-largest unsupported dome church in the world.

Designed by Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vassé, the Mosta dome was proposed and built from 1833 to the 1860s. It adopted a neoclassical design that was strongly inspired by the Roman Pantheon.

Aside from the architecture, the Mosta dome is the site of a miracle. In 1942, 300 worshippers at the Mosta dome were attending an evening mass when a bomb smashed through the ceiling. The bomb did not detonate, and not one of the worshippers was hurt or killed. Another two bombs were dropped on the church, but none of them exploded, which many believers credit to divine intervention.

The Northern Island of Gozo

Always bring your international driver’s license in Malta, especially in the strict zones where driving can be tricky. They would need to see if you have any limitations, and it will come in handy if you want to bring your car to Gozo via ferry. Tourist drivers coming from a country that is an EU member state are not required to have an international driving permit.

There are car rental companies that restrict bringing their vehicles on the ferry, or sometimes they just waive the insurance. Nevertheless, Gozo is worth the trouble since it has the Citadella of Victoria. Built by the Knights of St. John, it is a time capsule of life in an actual fortress. Citadella is home to churches and museums that make it a one-stop-shop of tourist destinations. Within its walls, you will see

  • The Cathedral Museum boasting of a collection of religious items like crucifixes, rosaries, and chalices
  • The Museum of Archeology takes you through history, like entering a time warp. Gozo has fossils and structures that are even older than those on Malta island
  • The Folklore Museum is a crash course in Maltese culture
  • The Nature Museum for Malta’s botanical and zoological species
  • The Old Prison, which depicts the actual life of prisoners in medieval times.

Most Important Driving Rules

Malta has emphasized certain driving rules in response to the continuous need to discipline both locals and tourists. With the island culture and various festivals taking place for most of the year, both locals and foreigners who hold international driver’s permits were recorded by the Office of Land Transport for driving under the influence and a general disregard for safety.

In response to the alarming situation, the government has taken these measures and has significantly lowered the number of road accidents, with a consistent reduction in the past five years. When you drive vehicles in Malta, you need to make sure you follow their driving rules. Maltese driving should always prioritize safety.

Higher Age Limit for Renting a Car

Malta conforms to the European Union driving age at eighteen years old, but they have wanted to impose stricter rules. To that end, they have allowed the car rental companies to impose the need for an international driver’s permit and higher age requirements for renting a car. It could be as old as 25 years old, while some allow 21-year-olds to rent a car, but they have to pay a surcharge.

Even for those who hold an international driving permit in Malta, the requirements for age and documents are still implemented. It is a precaution that may have been effective since the Maltese have become more responsible drivers, and the number of accidents has decreased. The Land Transport Office made the rule to protect the younger tourists as well. Maltese driving can be challenging for tourists. Since rental car plates can be identified by having a “Q” or “K,” some Maltese drivers try to intimidate them.

Strict Regulations on Drunk Driving

The drunk driving regulation in Malta is pegged at 0.08 mg, close to what most countries impose. However, the Maltese government and the Land Transport Office want to have stricter regulations. They are proposing to have the limit reduced to 0.05 mg, and even lower, like the Norway limit, for those who have held their maltese driving licence for less than two years. This lower limit will also be imposed on drivers of large vehicles and who drive motorcycles and scooters.

For professional drivers on public transport like taxis and buses, they are not allowed to drink and drive at all. Malta has augmented their driving safety measures, as they wanted to shake off the reputation of having fast and reckless drivers.

Additional Checkpoints

Those who have the international driver’s permit in Malta see the benefits when they are stopped at checkpoints. Malta police officers have mandates to stop vehicles that they suspect may be driving under the influence. There are even more checkpoints in the holiday season, which may cause traffic to worsen. However, statistics show that it is a necessary measure.

Road accidents have decreased to less than 45% in the past two years, credited to the strict imposition of drinking rules. If you are expecting a lax police force since Malta is a small island state, think again, and bring your international driving permit in Malta, your identity card, and driving licence that has your qualifications.

Strict Imposition of Seatbelt Laws

Aside from getting drunk drivers off the road, Malta makes sure that car passengers are securely harnessed. As an EU member state, Malta also follows the European standard for seatbelts and child restraints. Children younger than 12 years old are not allowed to ride in cars when they are not in a designated car seat. Even 12-year-olds below 150 centimeters have to sit at the rear seats and use the standard seatbelt found there.

Malta is a beautiful country that offers several attractions and fun activities. Driving in Malta can be a memorable experience as long as you follow their road traffic rules. An international driving permit can make your trip to Malta a more enjoyable experience, so secure an IDP before your trip. For faster processing, you can apply for an IDP from the International Driver’s Association.

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