Routes and Timetables
The Bus Network
For such a small island, there are a large number of bus routes, and you are never very far from a bus stop. Frequencies are good on the main routes, but less so on other routes, and it often pays to check timetables.
There is some logic to the route numbering system. TD routes are branded Tallinja Direct and are non-stop or limited stop routes linking key points at a higher fare. Routes prefixed X are also limited stop but call at more places than the TD routes and normal fares are charged: X4 links Valletta with the Airport and beyond, whilst X1 to X3 link the Airport with Cirkewwa, Sliema and Bugibba respectively. Note that route X300 actually counts as as a TD route with higher fares.
Route numbers in the series 1-99 run to and from Valletta bus station, and run roughly in geographical order in an anti-clockwise direction around Valletta. Numbers in the 100s and 200s are generally routes not serving Valletta (but there are exceptions: Valletta local routes are numbered 130 and 133, whilst route 122 runs from Valletta to Mater Dei Hospital, and to confuse matters further, three routes in the 2xx series which used to terminate at Mater Dei Hospital now extend through to Valletta). Gozo bus services are numbered in the 300s.
A small number of Night Routes numbered in the N series serve the bars, clubs and restaurants of San Giljan at higher fares. On Gozo there is a single journey with an N prefix - a late evening journey on Fridays and Saturdays from Victoria to the ferry at Mgarr.
A recent development is the introduction of a demand responsive minibus service branded Tallinja On Demand (formerly TD Plus) which links specific bus stops in the Sliema, St Julian's, Pembroke, San Gwann and Birkirkara area. Trips are booked using the Tallinja app.
In Summer 2021 new routes X133, 150 and 300 were introduced designed to connect with the new Gozo Fast Ferry, serving the Lascaris stop in Valletta, not far from the bottom of the Barrakka Lift.
OFFICIAL TIMETABLES on the MPT website show individual routes - you need to know the route number. There is no official timetable book; timetable leaflets have been produced in the past but printed information is likely to be restricted to a route map.
The Tallinja App can be downloaded to your smartphone from the iPhone App Store or the Google Play Store. This shows which routes serve your closest stop, and also shows realtime information with the estimated time of arrival of buses at your nearest stop within the next 30 minutes.
Google maps also has detailed timings from most bus stops. Particularly useful is the Google Maps app on Android and Apple devices where most stops show the next 25 departures, and individual timings can be clicked on to show the whole journey with timings at every stop served.
The official Journey Planner is getting better but it is difficult to get meaningful information from it.
Timetables produced for this website
I produce my own 20-page unofficial timetable summary in pdf format for this website as soon after the Summer and Winter timetable changes as possible. It shows all bus routes in Malta in numerical order, with departure times from the start points, also approximate journey times to principal intermediate points are shown as a rough guide. There is a separate 2-page document for Gozo. These are compiled by myself to assist travellers and enthusiasts:
MALTA AND GOZO UNOFFICIAL BUS TIMETABLES:
MALTA WINTER 2023-24 (20 pages) and GOZO WINTER 2023-24 (2 pages), both valid from Sept 28th, 2023 and expected to be valid until early June 2024. The Malta timetable has been amended 28/10/23 to show the VFS service as summer only as it does not appear to be running.
The main changes from September 28th are significant frequency increases on Mondays to Saturdays on route 31, also on Mondays to Fridays on routes 13A, 21, 22, 48, 54, 58, 62, 91, 92, 202, 203 and 222 (also route 82 during peak hours). N13 and Gozo 301 keep their summer frequency into the winter.
The Malta timetable has been reformatted to avoid separate documents for Summer and Winter, and therefore now also shows Summer 2023 details for those routes which are substantially different from season to season, as a rough guide for Summer 2024. Gozo is now shown in a separate timetable, which still has separate Summer and Winter versions - for likely Summer 2024 timings see the Gozo timetable Summer 2023.
WARNING - Scheduled running times as shown on the MPT website generally vary according to the time of day and day of the week, also the time of year (and in some cases look rather suspect and inconsistent). Journey times shown in the timetable summary are based on typical winter off-peak timings (Monday to Friday early afternoon) as per the website. At quiet times, for example early morning or late evening, buses are liable to depart from intermediate points several minutes earlier, and at peak times and in summer they may run later than shown. In any case, once a bus has set off from its start point I'm not sure to what extent drivers adhere to intermediate timings en route - it's always best to arrive at the stop in plenty of time, or arm yourself with the Tallinja App which gives realtime information.
Seasonal and Temporary Changes
The following routes are extended to popular beaches each summer (mid-June to late September): 49 is extended from Ghadira to Armier and runs daily, 101 is extended from Mgarr to Gnejna Bay and 109 and 109A are extended from Bajjada to Ghar Lapsi, whilst 74 runs down the hill to and from Blue Grotto en route. Several routes have enhanced frequencies in summer, notably 212, 221 to 223, 225 and night route N13, also 322 on Gozo. The two TD routes on Gozo run during the summer timetable period only. Summer timings in 2023 commenced on Sunday June 11th and ran until Wednesday September 27th (likely delayed from the previous Sunday).
For those interested in past route changes there is a list of recent changes to bus routes in Malta and Gozo.
Temporary Diversions - The nature of the road network is such that bus routes are frequently diverted because of roadworks or special events, sometimes for a few hours, sometimes for weeks or months. It is beyond the scope of this website to mention all but the longest term diversions. You can find details on the Service Updates page of the Malta Public Transport website. Short notice changes are sometimes mentioned on the MPT Facebook page.
Special Events - Additional services or journeys are often laid on for festivals and even concerts. For example, a whole network of late night services operates for the annual Notte Bianca in October.