Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Malta

DRIVING ON THE LEFT IN MALTA

Thanks to British colonization, they drive on the wrong side of the road in Malta. Yeah, I knew that, but it didn’t dawn on me that the steering wheel would also be on the wrong, eh right side, of the car too. For 5 days, I kept forgetting– opening the left car door to an empty passenger seat. Driving in Malta is a lesson I will probably never forget.

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Driving-on-the-right Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road in Malta

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

in Malta

The first car Hertz gave me was a real piece of crap. I should have known, it was marked up like a Christmas tree on the rental agreement. Since my USAA insurance didn’t cover me in Europe, I purchased full coverage overtime I rented. But that car was in such poor condition, I could have crashed it and no one would know the difference. It actually broke down just outside of Luqa (where the airport is) and I took it back. I was traveling solo and I was terrified I wouldn’t make it back before it fell apart on me.

The second car was a new Opel Corsa with about 600 miles on it. It was still in the economy class, but it was definitely an upgrade to the Astral they originally gave me. But it was a tad too big, I really wanted a “baby” car, one of those itty bitty cars you always see in the European movies like European Vacation, but those rarely have a lot of power and rarely worked out in the movies either. I am proud of myself. I think I did pretty good for my first solo trip driving on the right side of the road.

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Get in on the Right

One time there were a bunch of people next to me. I don’t know why, but I played it off, acting as I did it on purpose. I smiled at them, placed my phone and camera on the passenger seat, and walked around to the other side of the car. They all started laughing, turns out I wasn’t the only one. My hubs wouldn’t let me drive when we spent a week in the UK years ago. We barely escaped with our lives when I gave the okay to turn– looking in the wrong direction. So trust me, when I say it was a little scary, I meant it was terrifying.

Here are 20 more things I observed, want to share, or wish I knew about driving in Malta.

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Tips for Driving in Malta

1. I enjoyed driving on the right until I had to make the right turns. My brain does not work that fast. I chanted keep my body on the centerline– when there was one.

2. When the GPS says SHARP turn, it’s a RAZOR SHARP turn. I actually paused more than a few times because it didn’t seem like a legal turn.

3. I forgot the steering wheel was on the right at least once every single day. I just played it off.

4. Maltese drivers are probably sick to death of western tourists, which accounts for a few gestures and honks I received on the road.

5. Thank you, thank you, thanks for opportune signs that pointed “here”.

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Bigger is Not Necessarily Better
When Driving in Malta

6. I would not suggest you rent anything larger than an economy car.

7. The Maltese like to play chicken, don’t… you will always lose. Just pull over as far as you can and wait for them to pass if you aren’t sure there’s room for the both of you.

8. If you can’t drive a western stick, take the bus. Every single time I encountered traffic I was on a freaking incline.

9. There are so many roundabouts, the first stoplight I saw surprised me.

10. Splurge for the full coverage, IF there isn’t a lot of bumps and scratches on the car, it’s worth it. Lord knows it got me through some iffy situations.

11. As a foreigner, you can’t drive in city centers like M’dina or Valletta, which I was told charges a congestion fee too and OMG trust me, you don’t want to anyway. I guess if I did, I’ll get a bill for it later.

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No Such Thing as a Free Ride

12. The ferry to Gozo, where I stayed was 15.70€. You pay the toll on the Gozo side.

13. The 20€ I paid for a SIM card was a good buy since I used it to navigate. Unfortunately, it only comes with a gig of memory which I ran out of on day 3.

14. Gas stations charge a 2% fee on foreign credit cards if they take them.

15. Speaking of gas… if you need it after hours or Sunday, you definitely need cash because there is this “machine attendant” that doesn’t take cards.

16. I suggest you never go below half a tank.

17. Don’t forget your charging cable and cigarette lighter adapter. The smaller cars don’t always have a USB adapter.

18. Being on the right when there is a cliff with no guard rails is extremely scary.

19. Driving in Malta is hard enough. I suggest you don’t wear flip-flops, they are not suitable for driving. I saw an accident and it turned out an Australian (you know it) lost his footing wearing flip-flops.

20. On DAY 1 a HUGE cactus plant jumped into the road and partially SLAMMED my passenger rear window. I left it that way, gaining a few inches.

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Comments

  1. Kostas Chiotis

    I’ve driven in Cyprus before so I don’t think I would find it so weird. But this article really explains it all! Malta seems great and hopefully, I will visit this awesome island soon…

  2. Nicole

    I can’t imagine having to drive and do basically the opposite of what we do over here! I always say I could probably never successfully do it! What an amazing experience it was to be there though, thanks for sharing!

  3. Claudia Krusch

    It can be really tricky driving in other places. I have never had the opportunity to drive where they use the opposite side of the road.

  4. Cassie

    Isn’t it crazy how different driving can be in another country? We find it so tricky driving in the states when we visit – being on the opposite side of the car and the road is crazy

  5. Bernadette Callahan

    Amazing how it can be so different in others countries.
    It would definitely take me some time to get used to driving on the wrong side.

  6. Joely Smith

    OMG lol this post is so entertaining yet made me nervous just to read about your experience! I would NOT attempt driving anywhere where I had to be on the side of the car or road from what I am used to. Thank you this was fun and funny to read although I am sorry to laugh at your expense.

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