Route map, London to Malta by train & ferry

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 the Alps and Italy on the way.  This page explains how to plan and book the journey. 

Take a morning Eurostar to Paris and the 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, www.virtuferries.com

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.

COVID-19 update:  Eurostar is running a much-reduced service.  Paris-Milan TGVs are running almost normally.  Italian trains are running with just some service reductions.  See COVID-19 travel information.

Train times, fares & information...

small bullet point  London & Paris to Malta

small bullet point  Bus travel on Malta & Gozo

small bullet point  Useful country information

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation on Malta

small bullet point  General information on train travel in Europe

small bullet point  Luggage   Taking your bike   Taking your dog

Route map...

Route map, London to Malta by train & ferry


large bullet pointUseful country information

Ferry operators to Malta:

Virtu Rapid Ferries (daily fast catamarans Sicily-Malta):  www.virtuferries.com

Buses in Malta:

www.publictransport.com.mt.  Bus route map:  www.maltabusroutes.com

Train information:

Train times & fares in Italy: www.trenitalia.com Eurostar times & faresAll-Europe train times.  To check for problems affecting trains from Paris to Italy (SNCF website, in French only), see www.sncf.com/fr/horaires-info-trafic.

Time zone:

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

Dialling code:

+356

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.11 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.guidetomalta.net or  www.visitmalta.com.   Hotels on Malta

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Malta.

Page last updated:

5 May 2021.  Train times valid 13 Dec 2020 to 11 Dec 2021, some still subject to confirmation.


large bullet pointLondon 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.

small bullet point  Train times from the UK to Malta

small bullet point  Train times from Malta to the UK

small bullet point  What's the journey like?

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  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 www.virtuferries.com.

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What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

Lunch in Paris at the Train Bleu restaurant?

The trains to Italy leave from the magnificent 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?  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide.

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

2. Paris to Milan by TGV...

SNCF (French Railways) operates three daily 186 mph TGV trains from Paris to Milan.  Previously operated by Artesia, a consortium of Trenitalia & SNCF, they are now operated entirely by SNCF, officially via a new Italian subsidiary, Società Viaggiatori Italia.  On leaving Paris they sprint over the high-speed line at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) as far as Lyon St Exupéry, but they then slow right down to meander through the scenic Alpine foothills on conventional lines via Chambéry, crossing into Italy at Modane and heading through Turin to Milan.  These TGVs have 1st & 2nd class seats and are fully air-conditioned, with new interiors designed by Christian Lacroix.  There are power sockets for laptops and mobiles at every seat and there are baby-changing facilities and designated spaces for passengers in wheelchairs.  There's a cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & light meals, or feel free to bring your own food & wine along for the journey.  In first class you can order a 3-course meal with wine, served at your seat.  You can now buy Paris metro tickets from the bar car, too.  1st class TGV passengers can use the Grand Voyageurs 1st class lounge at Paris Gare de Lyon.  Incidentally, SNCF's experienced in-house designer still hasn't forgiven Christian Lacroix for breaking the unwritten rule and using warm colours in 2nd class, cooler colours in 1st class, so see what you think!

TGV train from Paris to Milan about to leave Paris Gare de Lyon

The afternoon TGV to Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, just be on board at departure time...

TGV bar car   Food on board the TGV from Milan to Paris

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

 

The cheese platter bought from the cafe-bar as the mountains swept by...

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.  360 degree photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  360 degree photo.

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

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

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy

...it 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.

Moresnow-capped mountains from the TGV train to Italy

River seen from train to Milan   Hill-top castle seen from the train

More mountains...

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

Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin   Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin

Scenery between Oulx and Turin...  Photos courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

The TGV arrived at Milan Porta Garibaldi   Milan Porta Garibaldi station

Arrival at Milan's modern Porta Garibaldi station, 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 served at your seat, around €18...

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

Intercity train on the ferry to Sicily

This is the Rome-Sicily Intercity train on board the ferry for the voyage across the Straits of Messina.  You can leave your heavy luggage on the train while you go up on deck for some sea air and a cappuccino...  Courtesy Discoverbyrail.com.

InterCity train, 2nd class   InterCity train, 1st class

2nd class on the Rome-Sicily Intercity.  Larger photo.

 

1st class on the Rome-Sicily Intercity.  Larger photo.

5. Siracuse to Pozzallo by local train...

Pozzallo station   The train between Siracuse and Pozzallo

Pozzallo station, some 60km from Siracuse...

 

Air-conditioned local train from Siracuse to Pozzallo.  It's a 25-minute 1.9km walk to the Virtu Ferries office on the seafront, or take a taxi.  Photos courtesy Hans Roth.

6. Pozzallo to Malta by Virtu Ferries...

Virtu Ferries office, Pozzallo   Virtu Ferries port office, Pozzallo

Virtu Ferries office on Pozzallo sea front. Check in here at least 1h before departure.  There's a restaurant across the road.

 

Virtu Ferries port, 1.2km from their seafront office.  There are few facilities here.  Photos courtesy David Smith.

Virtu Ferries ferry to Malta at Pozzallo

The ferry to Malta at Pozzallo.  These photos show the 106m-long 800-passenger Jean de La Valette.  This was replaced in March 2019 by a new vessel, the even larger 110m-long 900-passenger Saint John Paul II.  If you have interior or exterior photos of the Saint John Paul, please get in touchFerry 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...

 

Cafe-bar...

Ferry in Valetta Harbour

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, courtesy 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.

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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 www.virtuferries.com.  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.

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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...

How to buy tickets by phone...

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Alternative ferry to Malta:  www.grimaldi-lines.com...

Grimaldi Ferries (www.grimaldi-lines.com) offers a weekly ferry from Salerno & Catania to Valletta in Malta, which can be cheaper than Virtu Ferries.  You can find information on train travel from the UK to Naples & Salerno to connect with this ship on the UK to Italy page.

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

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

 

Victoria Gate, Valletta.

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 and its people during world war 2.

 

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

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large bullet pointBus travel in Malta & Gozo

Bus information for Malta:  www.publictransport.com.mt.  Bus route map:  www.maltabusroutes.com

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 www.publictransport.com.mt.  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 www.maltabusroutes.com.

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 www.publictransport.com.mt.  The Gozo Channel ferry (www.gozochannel.com) 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.

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large bullet pointEuropean 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 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or for £9.67 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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Book hotels at Booking.com


large bullet pointHotels on Malta

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all 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.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  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.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  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, feedback is always welcome.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flag

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

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

UK flag

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

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  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 it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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