I corresponded with Boyan on my first visit to Malta. I developed a hopeful concept of getting to know the island: cycling around Malta in 7 days. In the end, I took two. Cycling Malta: Qawra, Buggiba, Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay.
I liked this rent bike from the first moment. Be Green had everything I needed. Bike rental at more than reasonable prices with no hidden scams or conditions. And a website designed for the cycling hearts man.
However, Boyan (the rental shop owner) showed such scepticism and disinterest in my plan that I eventually began to doubt my plan myself. So I rented a bike for just a day, intending to ride around Buggibe, St. Pauls Bay and the surrounding area, and get to know the nuances of cycling in Malta.
When I returned in the evening, our roles were reversed. I became a Maltese cyclo-sceptic, and Boyan (probably also under fear of the alarming sound of the article) became a cautious enthusiast.
Cycling in Malta
The wheat really doesn’t bloom for cyclists in Malta. The first thing that puts you off riding on the roads is the opposite (English) traffic orientation. My peripheral vision got hammered every time I checked the area on the other side than I needed to.
Riding a bike out onto the trails amongst tourists could be more pleasant. You’re not in Mallorca. They’re just not used to cyclists here. My average on the promenade dropped well below 7mph. The more I had to slow down, the more I had to specify words like “excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me” in all languages.
Malta is completely concreted by the developers. It is a small island, and the area for building here is worth its weight in gold. That’s why the old one-storey houses are slowly disappearing, and ten or more-storey concrete monsters are springing up instead. The problem is that nobody is addressing the infrastructure.
Il Mistra cycle trail
I finally decided to get away from the civilized areas to the hiking trails of Mellieha. That was the best idea at last, holy peace and quiet. During the first ten kilometres, I only met a few cyclists. The only tourists worth mentioning were a couple of hikers I had obviously disturbed while doing something enjoyable.
Rock Reefs of Mellieha
The Mellieha Rock Reefs provided the adrenaline rush. The off-road trails with sharp rocks dazzled. But the “MTB” bike that Boyan proudly recommended to me was insufficient for them. However, he told me, “What would you expect for 15 euros a day?”
The hiking trails around Fort Campbell and Selmun Palace (MMW4 tour) are not missed. If you’re looking for wild and untamed, you’ll find some of Malta’s most beautiful spots here.
Cycling in Malta
Cycling in Malta is just building its tradition. Both drivers and tourists are used to cyclists here. However, the situation is gradually changing. Malta is a small and mountainous island. The old roads are narrow and need to be built for cyclists.
New roads are now usually built with a separate cycle lane. I found one such stretch from Mdina to Hal Attard and the other from Buggiba to Sliema along the sea. But they are traffic links. Suitable for the cess and endorphins, boring for the experience.
I could have been more impressed with riding on these cycle paths. Roads in built-up zones offer no other experiential dimension apart from pedalling.
As Boyan said, cycling clubs have recently been formed in Malta, helping the development of cycling. Unfortunately, the infrastructure is not yet comprehensive. Boyan thus recommends the electric scooter as the ideal means of future transport. No comment.
MTB is great. The most beautiful stretches for cycling can be found in the north-western part of the island on the circuits around Il Majistral NP, Mellieha and Cirkewy. They are more open.
The trails also offer spectacular views from the sea cliffs and an adrenaline rush. However, take into account the adhesive kit and the spare soul. Definitely don’t expect any flow trail here. 🙂
Back to civilization
I’m heading back through the Buggiba tourist zone again. All-inclusive tourists enjoy it, but I admit, I find cycling boring.
St. Paul’s Bay
Going back around the harbour in St. Paul’s Bay. Knowing things, I immediately turn onto the harbour pier. It’s less crowded, walkable, but most importantly… there are sea pools, and you can swim.
I end up choosing a different place to swim. It appealed to me mainly because of its kitsch romance and the no-entry policy, which in Malta means few people, a quiet can of beer and peace.
Boyan led a lengthy monologue on the subject of tradition. Malta was once a remote island. Seafood was not eaten because it was healthy or in. But because they ever were. There was plenty of fish, so everyone ate fish. I only realised this in Valletta, where I was offered wild rabbit a thousand ways as a local ultra speciality. Guess what animal has survived on those rocky steppes for hundreds of years without a problem.
And so to conclude, if you go to Malta, here are a few cycling recommendations:
- Be sure to get in touch with Bojan. Be Green is a delicate and honest bike rental company.
- Don’t choose the middle ground and versatility. You want a cesspool and enjoy the roads and speed or a proper MTB. A regular bike is versatile but slow on the roads and up hills and unusable in rocky terrain.
- On Bikemap Be Green, Bojan’s friends and customers post their Malta trails. You can find them here.
- Moving between cities is a problem. Bojan is also happy to provide a shuttle service, but it costs something. On the other hand, you will avoid uninteresting and cumbersome transfers on the island.
Cycling Malta: Qawra, Buggiba, Mellieha and St. Paul’s Bay.