Tourists all over the world over have always been a target for bag snatchers and pick-pockets. In fact wherever crowds gather, you can be sure your friendly local pickpocket will be on the lookout for the unwary visitor. Now though, with the added risk of terrorist attacks across Europe, greater numbers of people are asking, is Malta safe?
Although Malta is just 170 miles off the North African coast, the risk of any sort of terrorist activity is very low compared to other European tourist hotspots.
With Malta being a small island, for anyone with ulterior motives, getting into the country by legitimate means, sea or air, would be extremely difficult. The coastline is also heavily monitored for any unauthorised shipping that could be carrying contraband or illegals trying to land along the coast. To date, Malta has never had to issue a warning at any level related to terrorist threats.
As a neutral State, Malta has no involvement in any Middle-Eastern conflict, nor has it any history of colonial involvement. Both of which have been used as excuses for terrorist atrocities. The UK and American governments consider the risk of any terror activity in Malta as low.
General Travel Advice when Visiting Malta:
Wherever you visit in the world, travel advice about keeping yourself and valuables safe is largely down to common sense, yet you would be surprised just how many travellers seem to leave their common sense at home. Although Malta has one of the lowest crime rates in the EU, the following are the most common problems you might encounter, with advice on how best to avoid them.
Before You Go Out:
This applies whether you are going out in the morning for breakfast and a little sight-seeing, on an excursion, or out in the evening. Dress down. Don’t take all your holiday spending cash, take just what you will need. Leave the jewellery and gold watches in the hotel safe. Preferably don’t take a bag or wallet, but spread your cash in different pockets, and keep an emergency €50 in a sock or tucked into a bra.
Ladies, if you must take a bag use one with a flap you can fasten, carry it with the strap going over your head and shoulder, and have the fastener against your body. For a man, no wallet, they were invented for pickpockets. Use a man bag, which fits around the waist. Keep the bag at the front, and under shirt or tee-shirt.
Don’t Become a Target:
If you’ve ignored the previous advice, when you’re out and about don’t draw attention to yourself by pulling out a roll of €50 notes in a bar or shop. It might not just be the shop assistant watching you.
The majority of pickpockets and bag snatchers in Malta are in the main foreigners themselves, and often work in pairs. Although it doesn’t sound very sociable, if you’re approached by two people for any reason, don’t let them get close enough to put a hand on your arm, or around your shoulder or back, no matter how friendly or innocent it may seem. Your body will feel this touch. What it won’t feel, because you haven’t noticed, is the accomplice’s hand removing your wallet, or opening your shoulder bag.
Never put your bag or wallet on the table when you stop for a beer or coffee. Distraction theft is very popular. While one member does or says something to cause you to look round, the other helps himself to your property. Be a little street wise and stay aware of what’s going on around you.
Enjoying Yourself at Night:
On your evenings out in Malta you’re sure of a warm welcome in the restaurants and bars. Sample freshly caught fish and other local dishes. Enjoy the varied international menus available in Malta’s restaurants and cafes. Soak up the atmosphere in the bars while you sample beers, wines and spirits from around the world.
Getting from place to place in the tourist areas at night is no different to visiting a new city in the UK for the first time. Malta is perfectly safe for those late evenings if you use a little common sense. Enjoy a pleasant evening stroll from your hotel to the bars around the harbour, but for safety’s sake stay away from dark alleys and deserted streets.
Most of the large entertainment bars and nightclubs are clustered around Paceville, an area of St Julian’s, and are very popular with stag and hen parties and the younger generation. Just like everywhere else, alcohol doesn’t always agree with everyone, so stay aware. Keep your drink close by to minimise the risk of anyone putting something in it.
If a party seems to be getting a little raucous keep out of the way and let the doormen deal with it, or move on to another club. If for any reason you feel threatened, intimidated, or someone is taken ill, 112 is the international emergency number for police, ambulance and fire services.
Vehicles drive on the left-hand side as in the UK, but local driving habits may well be different, so if you hire a car take extra care at junctions and on the narrow windy roads.
Although Malta has the lowest road accident fatality rate in the EU, don’t assume anything when crossing the road on foot, just make sure any vehicles have stopped, or the road is perfectly clear.
If you hire a cycle to travel further afield during the day take extra care. There are no cycle ways in Malta and some of the tracks may be a bit daunting. If all that sounds too energetic, the white taxis can pick you up anywhere and the bus services are frequent.
Stay Safe in the Sea:
There are some beautiful beaches and rugged coastline walks to be enjoyed on your holiday. Just take the same precautions you would anywhere else. Swim where other visitors and locals are swimming. Don’t go swimming or diving along deserted areas of coast. There are sound reasons no one else is there, such as underwater hazards and treacherous currents.
For safety’s sake only swim in designated areas, which are usually cordoned off to keep speedboats and jet skis away. Remember, if you swim in other areas you may see a boat or ski approaching, but they may not see your head bobbing about, and accidents have been known to happen. Your chances of being eaten by a Great White are pretty rare, but occasionally blooms of jellyfish appear. Although the sting can be painful it is rarely life threatening. Finally, it’s never a good idea to mix alcohol and the sea, wherever you choose to swim, know your limitations and swimming strengths.
An Eye on the Weather:
What can I tell you, we`re talking the beautiful Mediterranean here, where the sun always shines. Well, most of the time. Throughout the summer months you can expect an average 12 hours of sunshine a day, with half that during the winter. With temperatures above 25C in the summer and falling to a cool but pleasant 15C in winter, anytime is a good time to visit. November through January are the wettest months, although full-on tropical storms are a very rare occurrence. Weather travel advice would be, make sure to bring your sunblock. The sun’s rays here are much stronger than in the UK.
Having answered the big question, ‘Is Malta safe?’, you now know that wherever you choose to stay on this vibrant island of Malta, you will be visiting one of the safest, friendliest places in Europe.