Route map:  Train & ferry travel to Malta

UK to Malta by train & ferry, no airports, no flights... 

It's easy to reach Malta from London by train & ferry, and you get to see Italy on the way.  This page explains how to plan and book the journey.  Just take a mid-morning Eurostar to Paris and afternoon high-speed TGV to Milan on day 1, and stay overnight.  On day 2, take a morning high-speed train to Rome in just 2 hours 59 minutes.  Spend the afternoon exploring the Eternal City before boarding the overnight sleeper to Siracuse in Sicily.  The Rome to Sicily sleeper train really does go direct to Siracuse, it is shunted onto a ferry to cross the Straits of Messina, one of the few places in Europe (or indeed the world) where train ferries still operate, an interesting experience in itself.  Day 3, spend the morning at leisure in Siracuse then transfer to the little town of Pozzallo in southern Sicily for the 90-minute evening ferry crossing to Valletta on Malta with Virtu Ferries,  Virtu Ferries operate fast catamarans from Sicily to Malta up to 6 days a week with up to 3 sailings per day, although dates and times vary.  Malta is one of the friendliest islands in the Mediterranean or anywhere else for that matter, and it's a great place for a week or two's holiday, with plenty to see and do.

Train times, fares & information...

  London & Paris to Malta

  Bus travel on Malta & Gozo

  Useful country information

  Hotels & accommodation on Malta

  General information on train travel in Europe

  Luggage   Taking your bike   Taking your dog

Route map...

Route map:  Train & ferry travel to Malta

Useful country information

Ferry operators to Malta:

Virtu Rapid Ferries (daily fast catamarans Sicily-Malta):

Buses in Malta:  Bus route map:

Train information:

Train times & fares in Italy: Eurostar times & faresAll-Europe train times.  To check for problems affecting trains from Paris to Italy (SNCF website, in French only), see

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:



£1 = approx 1.11 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information: or   Hotels on Malta


UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Malta.

Page last updated:

22 November 2018

London to Valletta

  Virtu Ferries fast ferry from Sicily to Malta entering Valetta Harbour

Write your own Malta Story...  As the Virtu Ferries fast ferry enters Valetta Harbour, you get a real sense of arrival...  Photo courtesy of David Smith

There are almost infinite possible routes and trains between London and Sicily for the ferry to Malta, especially if you want to stop off in Paris, Switzerland, Florence, Rome or Naples on the way.  But here I'll suggest the cheapest, quickest and most direct rain & ferry journey from the UK to Malta.  Feel free to take an extra day or two and stop off on the way, it makes no difference to the cost as each train is ticketed separately in any case.  You can browse more possible routes and trains from the UK to Italy on the London to Italy page.

  Train times from the UK to Malta

  Train times from Malta to the UK

  What's the journey like?

  How much does it cost?

  How to buy tickets

London ► Malta 

Option 1:  Works most days, with an evening ferry from Pozzallo...

This option works on most dates all year round, typically 5 days a week in winter and 6 days a week in summer, when there's an evening ferry at around 19:30 or 21:00 from Pozzallo on Sicily to Valletta on Malta.  The journey takes 2 nights, 3 days which includes an afternoon in Rome and a day in Siracuse.

Option 2:  For days when there's a morning ferry from Pozzallo...

This option is almost a day faster than option 1, taking 2 nights and 2 days, but only works on certain dates when there's a morning ferry from Pozzallo around 09:15, and you don't get the leisure time in Rome or Siracuse.  So first check ferry times for the date you want to arrive in Malta at

What's the journey like?

(1)  London to Paris by Eurostar: See the Eurostar guide

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 about to leave London St Pancras...


1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

(2)  Paris to Milan by high-speed TGV:  See Paris-Milan TGV guide    Watch the video

Paris Gare de Lyon, from where the TGV trains to Barcelona leave   The Train Bleu restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon

Departure from Paris Gare de Lyon...   The train to Italy leaves from the historic Gare de Lyon in central Paris.  Why not have lunch or at least a drink in the bar at the fabulous Train Bleu Restaurant inside the Gare de Lyon (pictured above right) before catching the train to Turin or Milan? 

TGV bar car   TGV from Milan to Paris

The cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, hot & cold snacks & microwaved hot dishes....


The 14:41 TGV to Milan at the Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, just be on board at departure time...

Designer interiors... The Paris-Turin-Milan TGV trains now feature chic interiors by designer Christian Lacroix.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  In first class, you'll be offered a 3-course tray meal with wine served at your seat, although this is extra, not included in the fare.  The bar car sells Paris metro tickets, which can save time on your return.

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  Panorama photo.


1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  Panorama photo.

The fields of rural France from the train to Italy   Rural France

The TGV leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across rural France at up to 186 mph, past fields, woods, pretty villages...

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy calls at Lyon St Exupery then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

2nd class on the TGV from Paris to Milan   TGV from Milan to Paris

The TGV crosses the Alps via Chambéry and Modane, passing through the 13.6 km (8.5 mile) long Fréjus Rail Tunnel, also known less accurately as the Mont Cénis tunnel.  The tunnel transit takes just 7 minutes, during which the train enters Italy.  Opened in 1871, this the oldest of the large tunnels through the Alps, and was the longest tunnel in the world from 1871 until 1882 when the Gotthard tunnel opened on the Zurich-Milan route.


More mountains...

Now we're in Italy, leaving the Alps behind...

The TGV arrived at Milan Porta Garibaldi   Milan Porta Garibaldi station

Arrival on time at Milan's modern Porta Garibaldi station.  Porta Garibaldi is a 10-minute €6 taxi ride or 25 minute walk from Milan's main Centrale station.

(3)  Milan to Rome by Frecciarossa.  Frecciarossa information   Watch the video

Frecciarossa 1000 standard class   A Frecciarossa 1000 train at Milan Centrale

Standard class seats, 2+2 across width.  Larger photo.


Frecciarossa 1000 at Milan Centrale.  More about Frecciarossas

Frecciarossa 1000 Business class seats   At-seat meal on Frecciarossa 1000

Business class seats 1+2 across car width, with tables for 2 and tables for 4 and complimentary prosecco. Larger photo.


In business class you can order a meal at your seat, around €18.  More information about Frecciarossas.

(4)  Rome to Siracuse by sleeper...

Standard sleeping-car on Italian overnight train   1, 2 or 3-bed sleeper, in evening mode, on the Paris-Venice Thello overnight train...  

2-bed sleeper, night mode, on the Paris-Florence/Rome overnight train...

Italian sleeping-car with 12 compartments, each useable as Single, Double or 3-berth.


Sleeper in evening/morning mode.


Sleeper in night mode, set up as 2-berth.

Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette, in evening/morning mode.   Italian 'Comfort' 4-berth couchette

A Comfort couchette car.  A good, economical choice.


A 4-berth Comfort couchette compartment.

...or by daytime InterCity train

Going onto the train ferry to reach Sicily   2nd class seats in an open saloon on an InterCity train

The train goes onto a ferry to reach Sicily.


2nd class seats on an InterCity train...

InterCity train on board the ferry to Sicily

This is the InterCity train from Rome to Siracuse on board the train ferry between Villa San Giovanni and Messina.  Yes, both the sleeper train and daytime trains actually go onto a ferry across the Straits of Messina to reach Sicily, a unique experience.  See this video!  This and train ferry photo courtesy of Hans Roth.

(5)  Siracuse to Pozzallo by local train...

Pozzallo station   The train between Siracuse and Pozzallo

Pozzallo station


Modern air-conditioned local train from Siracuse to Pozzallo.  Photos courtesy Hans Roth.

(6)  Pozzallo to Malta by Virtu Ferries...

Virtu Ferries ferry to Malta at Pozzallo

The ferry to Malta at Pozzallo.  Ferry photos courtesy of Hans Roth.

Loading luggage onto the ferry to Malta   Seating on the ferry to Malta   Cafe-bar on the ferry to Malta

Loading luggage...


Comfortable seating...



Valetta Harbour...  It's such a great feeling. sailing into this classic harbour, reaching Malta without airports or flights.  Taken from a departing Virtu Ferries vessel bound for Sicily, courtsy of Hans Roth.

Virtu Ferries catamaran entering Valetta Harbour from Sicily   Ferry entering Valetta Harbour, Malta

Virtu Ferries fast catamaran entering Valetta Harbour from Sicily.  Courtesy of David Smith.

Malta ► London

Option 1:  On days when there's an early morning ferry from Malta...

You'll find an early morning ferry from Valletta to Pozzallo on most dates, typically at 05:00 or 06:45 or 07:00 up to 5 days a week in winter, 6 days a week in summer.  Check ferry times for your travel date at  The following itinerary works with this morning ferry, and gives you a day at leisure in Siracuse and a day at leisure in Rome.

Option 2:  On days when there's an afternoon ferry from Malta...

On some dates, especially in summer, you'll find an afternoon ferry from Malta to Pozzallo, usually sailing from Valletta at around 16:30.  The following itinerary works with this ferry, and is the fastest option, although you don't get any time in Siracuse or Rome unless you take an extra day or two.

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so you just need to add up the fare for each leg of the journey.

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Booking online is quicker and cheaper, but you can book by phone with two phone calls.

Custom-made arrangements to Malta with trains, ferries & hotels all booked for you...

  • If you want someone to sort out your whole overland trip to Malta with all your rail & ferry travel expertly booked for you and good quality hotels arranged, call Railbookers.  Tell them what you want, and they'll sort it all out for you, hassle-free.  They get very positive reviews and take good care of their guests.  You'll find a sample trip to Malta listed on their site under 'holidays'.

      UK call 020 3327 0761,

      US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

      Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

      Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

      New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

Other ferries to Malta...

Although the suggested route above uses Virtu Ferries from Sicily, Grimaldi Ferries ( used to offer a good weekly ferry from Salerno to Valletta in Malta, although they may no longer offer this route in 2016.  You can find information on train travel from the UK to Naples & Salerno to connect with this ship on the Italy page.  If you have any feedback on this or other ferries to Malta, please email me.

Malta:  Phone box on Palace Square, Valetta.   Valetta's Victoria Gate, Malta.

Palace Square, Valletta.  Brits will find many features familiar!


Victoria Gate, Valetta...

Malta's George Cross in the Valetta Museum   Malta: Valetta street scene

Malta's famous George Cross in Valletta's town museum, awarded to the whole island an its people during world war 2.


Valletta street scene.  Afficionados of the film Malta Story may well recognise this corner from one of the scenes, it hasn't changed much!

Bus travel in Malta & Gozo

Bus information for Malta:  Bus route map:

Buses link Valletta with towns and villages all over Malta.  The Valletta bus station is immediately outside the city’s main gate, and it has both ticket machines and a ticket office.  International bus operator Arriva took over bus lines in Malta from July 2011, when the traditional routes numbers all changed, although things changed again when the Government took back the bus operations from Arriva in January 2014.  Malta's traditional orange buses (many of them very old!) are sadly now replaced by Arriva's modern buses in its own blue-and-cream colours, which of course will now change again with Arriva's departure.  The website for Malta bus information is  Fares are cheap, usually €1.30 for a ticket valid for 2 hours on any bus or series of buses, and buses run at least every half hour throughout the day on most routes.  You can buy tickets giving you unlimited bus travel all over Malta for 1 day (€1.50), or 7 days (€6.50).  There's a bus map at

More vintage Maltese buses!   Vintage buses make it easy to get around Malta!

As the buses used to be, only a few years ago...  Brightly-painted Maltese buses at Valletta bus station, just outside the city's main gate.  These wonderful old Maltese buses have now all been replaced by characterless modern buses in the standard Arriva blue.

Valletta to Gozo by bus & ferry...

Take Arriva bus number 41 or 42 from Valletta bus station to Cirkewwa ferry terminal, for the ferry to Gozo.  Bus 41/42 runs every 15 minutes throughout the day, journey time 1 hour 25 minutes, fare €1.30, see  The Gozo Channel ferry ( links Cirkewwa on Malta with Mgarr on Gozo every 45 minutes throughout the day, crossing time 25 minutes.  There's no charge to cross from Malta to Gozo, you only pay to come back from Gozo to Malta, the fare is €4.65, children aged from 3 to 12, €1.15.  Buses link Mgarr with all main points on Gozo.

European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from

Find hotels on Malta


Favourite hotel search & price comparison: checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It's been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I recommend it to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less.

Favourite hotel booking site: is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

  • is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

  • is my own preferred hotel booking system (Hotels Combined being a search/comparison system).  It has a simple interface, a good selection in most countries worldwide, useful online customer reviews of each hotel, and decent prices, usually shown inclusive of unavoidable extras such as taxes (a pet hate of mine is systems that show one price, then charge you another!).

Backpacker hostels...

  •  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

Travel insurance & health card



Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see - 10% discount with code seat61.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

Get a VPN for safe browsing when you travel.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.


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