Temperatures almost always 20⁰C and up. The sea and rivers bared stunning pieces of rock. What more would a climber want when looking for a nice fall or winter climb?
November 2018 I spend a week and a half in Malta climbing and hiking the islands. The country Malta consists of a series of islands, Malta being the biggest. Second biggest is Gozo and third is Comino. The first two are inhabited all the others aren’t. I climbed on Malta and Gozo and hiked on Malta and Comino. Each island has their own characteristics and deserve your time.
Malta is densely populated, a big part of the islands Malta and Gozo are built areas. Luckily big parts of the coast are still very natural. The steep shores intersected with stunning beaches offer great views all over the island.
The climbing is very diverse on the island and there is a nice spread of grades. The bolting is starter friendly, with most routes not more than 2 meters between bolts. However, if you’re a starter don’t plan for more than seven climbing days or so, because the amount of crags with a decent amount of climbing under 6a is not that high.
The article of UK climbing has some good information about the climbing on Malta, with even better pictures. Climb Europe also has some solid information on their site about the craigs. If you want to get in touch with locals have a look around at the Malta Rock Climbing Club website and facebook page.
Traveling to Malta
Flying into Malta is basically the only way to easily get there. A ferry from Italy is also available and there are cruises stopping at Malta, but both these options are not very useful for a climbing trip.
Flights are going to Malta from all over Europe and are fairly frequent throughout the year. Since the climate on the island is perfect throughout fall and winter it’s not hard to find a cheap flight in the low season. I went in november and was very lucky with the weather. It can be more rainy than usual in this period, but in the eleven days I was there it was rainy on three of them and it still didn’t rain all day, just showers with sun in between these moments.
To get around on Malta it’s most comfortable to have a car. There is also public transportation on the island, and it will get you almost everywhere but it takes you at least double the time of what you need by car. You could also take taxis everywhere if your budget isn’t too tight and you’re not comfortable driving, the apps Taxify and eCabs are great to get you around.
When you are thinking about renting a car just keep in mind that they drive on the left hand side of the road and the driving style could be seen as Arabic. The official speed is never over 60 km/h but often people drive a lot faster. The island is very busy and if you end up on one of the many narrow roads of the island it can be tricky to pass other drivers. To rent a car the best option is on the airport. There are many different companies there, but they do offer various pricings. We had a car from First for €170 for 10 days.
Where to stay
Since most people fly into Malta most people wouldn’t want to camp. There are some campgrounds on the island however, but they all seem to offer a very basic campsite. I stayed in an AirBnb in the town Mgarr, Malta. It’s a small town with a few small supermarkets and some restaurants. Not touristy at all resulting in lower prices for the stay. Since craigs are spread out over the island and you need about an hour in the car to get from north to south it doesn’t really matter where you stay. Just keep in mind that the roads around Valletta and the airport can be very busy with traffic.
We stayed in one place for the full trip but I suggest that you take a few nights on Gozo for climbing and hiking there. We drove to Gozo for three times to climb over there and I think that any climber of any level will easily enjoy themselves there for a few days. The ferry to Gozo is very comfortable and easy. During the day it goes every half an hour and you can go on with your car. You only pay on your way back to Malta, which was about €30 for four people and the car.
Most climbs on Malta and Gozo are not that long so with a 60 meter rope you have more than enough. Also 12 to 14 draws will be enough, in some climbs a few longer draws can be nice. Top anchors vary a lot; two separate bolts, a chain with a ring, a chain with a carabiner, two bolts connected with rope and a ring. Make sure to have gear with you for any of these situations. And never toprope on just the two bolts.
At this time there is only guides available that are a few years old. In the meantime the bolting continues on the island and more and more crags are opened. There are some additions written to the guidebook, but I believe these are only available digitally. I believe that the Malta Climbing Club has this information.
For more information about gear and guide check out the Climb Malta website.
The quality of the bolts varies, always use common sense when a bolt is loose or seems very rusted. The seawater has a big impact on the bolts. Recently they started bolting with titanium bolts, which should be able to handle the harsh climate a lot better.
The harsh sea climate wrecking the bolts also provides very sharp rock. I haven’t seen any smooth piece of rock. If you want to climb on less sharp rock choose the crags further away from the sea. When climbing keep an eye out for fossils in the rock, in some places I’ve seen some impressive things.
I believe trad climbing is also an option on the island, but I haven’t really looked into it. Something I wish I could’ve done was climbing some nice multi pitches on the island. There are quite a few with a maximum grade of 5b or less. As far as I’m aware there is no via ferrata out on Malta or Gozo.
The approach of the crags vary and are very different from what I’ve been used to in other climbing destinations. Most of the crags are reached by descending into a valley or by abseiling into the route. Very few crags need hiking uphill.
What else to do
The islands are great for hiking. Two trails hugg the coasts of Malta and Gozo, and the island of Comino offers great hiking as well. I’ve seen a lot of seniors hiking the coast trail of Malta. But there are so many more trails you can explore, check out the Visit Malta website for more hikes.
Diving is another thing people are interested in when visiting Malta. I believe there are many places where you can find diving schools to take you on a dive.
If you are interested in culture and history, Malta has a lot to offer as well. The group of islands have a very long history of inhabitation. The islands are covered in old structures that you can visit. Any website or book about Malta will have a ton of information about this.
I’ve heard that the town of Valletta offers a great night life, I however haven’t tried it. So that’s one I can’t help you with.
Malta Rock Climbing Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/MaltaRockClimbingClub/
Malta Rock Climbing Club – https://maltaclimbingclub.org/
Malta Rock Climbing Club – http://www.climbmalta.com/
Climb Europe – http://www.climb-europe.com/RockClimbingMalta.html
eCabs – https://www.ecabs.com.mt/
Taxify – https://taxify.eu/cities/malta/
Coastal Walk Malta – http://greatwalksmalta.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/malta-coastal-sample1.pdf
Visit Malta – https://www.visitmalta.com/en/walks