The Mediterranean island country of Malta is a popular destination for lovers of history, rugged nature, and especially relaxing by the beach.
Over 2 million international visitors come to the country annually, which is about four times the Maltese full-time population. The country of Malta is small, but visitors certainly have a lot to see.
There are natural wonders such as the Blue Grotto, the amazing waters off the island of Comino, and beaches such as Golden Bay. Visit the towns of Valletta and Mdina to explore Malta’s fascinating history and culture, a mix of Roman, Norman, Mediterranean, and even Arabic cultures.
Malta is a beautiful place to visit, so much so that the pictures look unreal. Still, it is a real place with real problems, including problems that might affect the safety of visitors.
But don’t worry — our travel experts created this thorough guide to help you figure out if visiting Malta is the right choice for you. Keep reading for a detailed insight into everything you need to know, including safety.
Is Malta Safe to Visit in 2023?
Plan your vacation with complete peace of mind, because Malta is a very safe place to visit! The country has a very low crime rate. The worst tourists experience is some petty crime.
For an insight into how safe Malta can be, just check the travel advisories different governments have for the island country. New Zealand did not even bother issuing a specific travel advisory for Malta, showing how safe the country is for visitors.
The United States just tells its citizens to exercise normal precautions in Malta, placing the country under a Level One travel advisory.
Countries that have more detailed travel advisories in place for Malta list potential concerns, such as:
- Bag snatching
- Vehicle break-ins
- Assault, including sexual assault
However, all advice about Malta clarifies that these incidents are very rare, and you can easily avoid being the victim of a crime with a few basic precautions.
The biggest danger to your life and limb doesn’t come from criminals but from Maltese drivers. The Irish government warns its citizens that construction is frequent and road conditions are often poor, especially outside of majorly populated areas.
Maltese drivers also have a loose relationship with the laws of the road. All these factors combined mean that Malta has a higher than average rate of road fatalities compared to other European countries.
Your chances of being in an accident are still fairly low but keep that in mind when crossing the street or driving.
Many people choose not to rent a car in Malta because most major tourist areas are well-connected by bus and the Maltese law of driving on the left hand of the road is unfamiliar to many visitors.
There are also not many natural disasters that could affect you while you are in Malta. The weather can get hot in the summer, but with some precautions such as hydrating and applying sunscreen you should be fine.
Swimming conditions along Maltese beaches are good, and the country has a very well developed system of flagging the safety of different beaches. Follow posted signs and local advice.
Sometimes there are swarms of jellyfish and avoid swimming if locals warn you about them. Overall, Malta is very safe, and most visitors have a very good time there.
Crime in Malta
Whenever people travel abroad, they worry about crime, which makes sense since nobody wants to deal with losing their valuables or worse and handling an unfamiliar legal system on top of that.
Some people are probably worried about visiting Malta because of the reputation Southern European destinations have as a haven for pickpocketing and petty crime.
Malta stands out from other destinations such as the Spanish coast and Italy because it has a much lower crime rate. The crime rate in Malta is so low that your vacation there will probably be completely free of any incidents.
The violent crime rate in Malta is particularly low. The homicide rate as of 2021 was only 0.4 incidents per 100,000 people, which means there were only two or three homicides that entire year.
Rates of other violent crimes are also comparatively low. The overall crime rate in Malta is also very low.
Maltese authorities announced that in 2022, there were only 28 crimes committed per 1,000 people on the island (this includes all types of crime, from violent crime to property crime to minor crimes such as public intoxication).
The total crime rate has also dropped, even though the Maltese population is growing.
The Maltese crime rate is the lowest it has been in 15 years, showing that crime is on a downward trend in Malta and your likelihood of being the victim of a crime is even less likely than it might have been a few years ago.
According to current crime statistics, theft makes up 30.9% of total crimes, although it is still one of the most common crimes reported in Malta.
Other crimes such as domestic violence and technology-related crimes such as online fraud are increasing, but these are crimes that are less likely to affect visitors. That is not to say that Malta does not have its own problems.
It does have some problems with human trafficking, especially since its location in the Mediterranean makes it a prime location for smugglers trafficking people from Africa to Europe.
Criminal groups are not highly organized, but they are very violent and have ties to more organized groups internationally such as the Italian mafia group ‘Ndrangheta.
Organized crime groups were behind violent incidents such as the murder of anticorruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who exposed ties between criminal groups and the Maltese government.
These more serious crimes are unlikely to affect you as a tourist (unless you go to a criminal area and somehow get caught in the crossfire). However, it is helpful to know a bit about the political context whenever you visit a new place.
The most common crime you’re likely to encounter in Malta is pickpocketing and other forms of petty theft. As at any other tourist destination in the world, pickpockets take advantage of distracted tourists.
However, they are not as prevalent as they might be in other vacation destinations such as Barcelona or Rome. The Canadian government warns its citizens that petty crime does occur in Malta, usually in the form of pickpocketing and purse snatching.
Thieves often target tourists because they assume tourists are carrying valuables, such as passports, and will have less situational awareness. Thefts go up in the summer, which is Malta’s high season for tourism.
Be careful in crowded places that attract tourists. This can include public transportation, especially popular lines such as 13, 14, 15, and 16 which connect Valletta with popular destinations such as Paceville, St. Julian’s, and Sliema.
Other pickpocketing hotspots include markets, hotel lobbies, tourist attractions, and bars. Thieves will also target people as they leave ATMs since they know they have some cash on them.
Basic precautions are usually enough to ward off petty theft, especially since Maltese criminals are not particularly hardened. Make sure that you don’t have all of your valuables on you at any time and make use of a hotel room or hotel lobby safe.
Most importantly, don’t take your valuables to the beach as thieves often rifle through bags while people are swimming.
In crowds, keep a firm grasp on your valuables and make sure that nobody is trying too hard to get your attention. Another common form of petty theft is vehicle break-ins.
You only have to worry about this crime if you are renting your own car. Just make sure that you don’t leave valuables in plain sight in your car and that you park your car in a secure place overnight.
Although violent crime is rare in Malta, assault, including sexual assault, does sometimes happen on the island.
Malta is treated by some people as a party destination, and the combination of free-flowing alcohol and loose inhibitions (plus unsavory characters looking to take advantage of the situation) leads to some unpleasant situations.
The Australian government warns its citizens that violence often erupts around nightclubs. The libertine culture in Maltese nightclubs means that binge drinking is common, and standards around crowd control are lower than they are elsewhere in Europe.
Bar fights and assault are unfortunately common occurrences in Maltese nightclubs. In extreme situations, women have been assaulted in nightclubs, both by local Maltese and by fellow travelers.
In certain nightclubs, drink spiking can occur. The UK government warns that criminals drug travelers then take advantage of their inhibited state to rob them, run up large bills at the establishment, or assault them.
It’s alright to go to Malta to have fun, but make sure that you stay on the alert when you are out and about.
Never leave your drinks unattended or accept drinks, food, and other items from strangers. Go out with people you know and trust and plan to stay together, not go off with strangers no matter how fun it seems at the time.
Avoiding Bad Areas
Malta doesn’t really have any bad areas, but there are a few places where you should be a bit more careful. The nightlife district of Paceville is popular for its lively bars and clubs, but it is also a hotspot for assault and drink spiking, especially in gentlemen’s clubs.
Be careful when going out there and have a safety plan with your group. Certain popular areas are also popular with pickpockets. Be careful on bus routes 13, 14, 15, and 16, the markets of Valletta and Marsaxlokk, and around ATMs.
Things to Consider
Here are a few additional safety tips for Malta:
- Although Malta has a reputation as a party haven, regulations around drugs are very strict here. Don’t indulge in illegal substances to avoid running afoul of Maltese authorities.
- Malta has the strictest anti-abortion laws in Europe, which has affected travelers with pregnancy complications in the past as some forms of treatment are considered illegal. If you think you might be pregnant or are pregnant, keep that in mind when you travel.
- Online scammers sometimes operate out of Malta, so be careful if you’re visiting Malta to meet up with an acquaintance or romantic partner that you met online.
- A large part of Malta’s economy depends on tourism, and some people take advantage of this by setting up scams. When pre-booking anything, such as accommodation or a rental car, only rent from reputable websites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few other questions you might want answered before you head to Malta:
Is it safe to walk at night in Malta?
For the most part, Malta is a safe place to walk at night. However, be careful in busy nightlife areas such as Paceville as disputes often break out between large crowds of intoxicated people.
Is Malta good for tourists?
Malta is excellent for tourists! It has many things to see, a wonderful welcoming culture, and a well-developed tourist infrastructure. Plus, Malta is very safe, so tourists don’t have to worry about their personal safety while they are in town.
What crimes are most common for tourists in Malta?
The most common crime tourists are likely to experience in Malta are property-related. This includes pickpocketing, purse snatching, and vehicle break-ins.
Is Malta expensive to visit?
Malta is a medium-range destination and affordable compared to other places in the Mediterranean. However, the country does get more expensive during high season.
What should I be careful about in Malta?
While you don’t have to be on your guard constantly in Malta, you should have some awareness around your possessions. You should also be careful about going out at night as the nightlife districts are often hotspots for crime.
So, Is Malta Safe to Visit?
Malta is a very safe place to visit! The Mediterranean country has a very low crime rate and most criminal incidents don’t affect tourists. A little common sense should be enough to make sure your vacation is one to remember and not one to forget. Happy travels!