Open-Top Bus Tours
Visitors to Malta and Gozo have a choice of several different open top bus tours with commentary in various languages. They can be booked at various agencies or at your hotel, or you can generally pay on the bus as well. You can also buy online if you wish. What I would recommend is to buy in advance (for example from the Malta TravelNet office - see yellow panel) but get an open ticket which doesn't specify a date - the price is the same. On the day you choose to travel, you can board the bus and exchange your open ticket for a dated one. Open top bus tours run every day of the year, except Christmas Day.
There are two different operators as shown below, and tickets are not interchangeable, so make sure you board the right bus. To link to the operators' websites click on the name of the operator below. However, it's best to pick up the latest leaflets in Malta as details can change over the course of the year. Don't forget you may need a hat to avoid sunburn!
Recommended agent in Bugibba/Qawra: Malta TravelNet. See the Excursions and Tours page for further details.
Malta Open-Top Bus Tours
Operated by Supreme Travel, open top buses leave from Sliema Ferries terminus every half an hour from 0900 to 1500 on weekdays and from 0900 to 1400 on Sundays. The whole tour takes just under three hours, but they operate on a hop-on hop-off basis with tickets valid all day, so the idea is you choose one or two places to stop off en route and make a day of it. There are two tours: the North/Blue tour and the South/Red tour. Tickets for each tour cost 17 (children aged 5 to 15 pay 11). Tickets are not transferable between tours. If you book in advance, return travel from any hotel in Malta to the departure/arrival point is included in the price.
North (Blue) Tour: depart Sliema Ferries and calls at Ta'Xbiex Harbour, Msida Yacht Marina, Valletta Bus Terminus, Birkirkara, San Anton Gardens, Ta' Qali Crafts Village, Aviation Museum, Mosta, Mdina and Rabat, Bingemma, Mgarr, Golden Bay, Bugibba, St. Julian's and back to Sliema.
South (Red) Tour: depart Sliema Ferries and calls at Ta'Xbiex Harbour, Msida Yacht Marina, Valletta Bus Terminus, Valletta Upper Barrakka, Valletta Harbour, Valletta War Museum, Fort St Elmo, Mediterranean Conference Centre, Fort St. Angelo, Valletta Waterfront, Hypogeum and Tarxien Temples, Senglea Point, Vittoriosa Waterfront, Bieb is-Sultan, Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, San Lucjan Tower, Ghar Dalam Cave and Museum, Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim & Mnajdra, Malta Falconry Centre, Limestone Heritage and back to Sliema.
There is also a Night Tour on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from March 31st to November 7th (2014 dates) leaving Bugibba at 1900 and lasting approximately four hours. There is a stop at Mdina for approximately an hour.
City Sightseeing offer two hop-on hop-off open-top routes starting from the Valletta Waterfront terminus, the North (Blue) route and Red (South) route. In addition there is a third route called the Shuttle service, which connects the Bugibba/Qawra, St Julians and Sliema areas with the other services at Valletta. The Shuttle (Green) service has no commentary and, although open toppers are mostly used, ordinary coaches or minibuses may be substituted. Full timings are on the City Sightseeing website, or for the very latest timings pick up a leaflet in Malta.
Tickets can be used for hop-on hop-off travel on any (or all) of the three routes on the specified day(s). A one-day ticket costs 17, a two-day ticket is 32. Children aged 5 to 14 pay 10 for one day, 18 for two days.
North Route (Blue) runs every 30 minutes: Valletta Waterfront, San Anton Gardens, Mdina Main Gate, Rabat (Domus Romana), Ta Qali (Aviation Museum, Crafts Village and Mdina Glass), Mosta, Valletta (Phoenicia Hotel, near the bus station), Valletta (Auberge de Castille), returning to Valletta Waterfront (change for South and Shuttle routes).
South Route (Red) runs every 45 minutes: Valletta Waterfront, Tarxien (Temples and Hypogeum), Vittoriosa Waterfront, Marsaxlokk Fishing Village, Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim Temples & Mnajdra Temples, Valletta (Phoenicia Hotel, near the bus station), Valletta (Auberge de Castille), War Museum & Fort St Elmo, Malta Experience & Knights Hospital, returning to Valletta Waterfront (change for North and Shuttle routes).
Shuttle (Green) Route runs every 30 minutes: Bugibba (Topaz Hotel, Jetty, HSBC, Santana Hotel), Malta National Aquarium, Qawra (Qawra Palace Hotel, Seafront, Bellavista Hotel), Mediterraneo Marine Park, ITS Roundabout, St Georges Bay, St Julians (Westin Dragonara and Hilton Hotel), Spinola Bay, Balluta Bay Sliema Seafront (Preluna Hotel), Sliema Ferries, Bayview Hotel, Valletta (Phoenicia Hotel, near the bus station), Valletta (Auberge de Castille), War Museum & Fort St Elmo, Malta Experience & Knights Hospital, Valletta Waterfront (change for North and South routes). Most journeys then return direct to Bugibba. The last two journeys return to Sliema, St Julians, Bugibba and Mellieha (you may be transferred to a minibus).
Gozo Open-Top Bus Tours
Malta Sightseeing's Green Tour operates from Mgarr Harbour (where the ferry from Cirkewwa arrives) and also calls at Victoria bus station. It runs daily every 45 minutes from 0940 with the last one leaving at 1500. A detailed timetable is available in the leaflets or on the Malta Sightseeing website. It operates as a hop-on hop-off service with tickets costing 17 valid all day (children aged 5 to 15 pay 11). If booked in advance you can add a transfer from your hotel anywhere in Malta to the ferry terminal at Cirkewwa and back for 8 per passenger.
Route: depart from Mgarr Harbour and calls at Ramla Bay, Savina Creativity Centre (10 minute stop), Ggantija Temples and Xaghra Windmill, Calypso Cave, Marsalforn Bay, Victoria bus station, Ta Pinu Church, Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village, Azure Window (Dwejra), Fontana Cottage, Xlendi Bay, Victoria bus station, Xewkija, and back to Mgarr Harbour.
Hop-on hop-off open top bus departures from Mgarr are at 0945, 1030, 1115, 1200, 1245, 1330, 1415, 1500 and 1545 (the last two departures may not run in winter). The timetable is a little complicated, so make sure you pick up a copy of the timetable leaflet (the timetable on the City Sightseeing website is not always up to date).If you were to stay on the bus all the way back to the ferry at Mgarr it would take you about two hours and 40 minutes, but of course it's best if you hop off at one or two places en route. Buses serve Victoria (adjacent to the bus station) several times during their tours. A one-day ticket costs 15 (children 9), and it's valid all day. The timetable talks of two routes, Purple (Route 1) and Blue (route 2), but most journeys serve the same places. Transfers from various hotels in Malta can be arranged for an extra 8 (this does not include the cost of the ferry ticket).
After leaving Mgarr Harbour, most journeys serve Xewkija, Savina Creativity, Victoria, Ta Dbiegi Crafts Village, Dwejra (for the Azure Window), Ta Pinu Church, Victoria, Fontana (Crafts), Xlendi, Victoria, Malsalforn, Ggantija Temples, Ramla, Nadur, and back to Mgarr Harbour.
The photo (right) was taken at Dwejra.