Malta

The Maltese Islands are reachable by plane or boat. The three main islands, Malta, Gozo, and Comino, are serviced by one airport, Malta International, which is known by locals as Luqa because of its location between the towns of Luqa and Gudja. AirMalta codeshares with major airlines like Turkish Airways, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Virgin; there are stopovers in many major cities, but no direct flights from the United States. As for the sea journey: Malta’s main cruise port in Valletta services lines like Celebrity, Princess, MSC, Norwegian, and Costa as part of their Mediterranean itineraries. Alternatively, Virtu Ferries offers passenger boats and excursions to and from ports in Sicily. The voyage is a little under two hours, and rates start at €69 one way, depending on the season.

Once you arrive on Maltese soil, rent a car. Both Gozo and the main island of Malta are large enough to warrant your own set of wheels. Without one, you’ll be reliant on expensive taxi rides—best arranged by your hotel to reduce exorbitant rates—or the local bus system, which is cheap but can be unreliable. Cars are permitted on the main ferry from Malta to Gozo, which leaves at the Cirkewwa Port and arrives at Mgarr Port in Gozo about 20 minutes later. Schedules vary depending on the season, but generally there’s about 90 minutes between crossings. The cost is a mere €4.65 on foot or €15.70 with a car. In and around the Valletta harbor, there are smaller ferry and taxi boats that leave regularly for the nearby towns of St. Julian’s and Sliema.

There is one other public transport alternative on the islands: the Hop On/Hop Off bus routes, which many visitors swear by. The thing with this €20 option is that you’re beholden to a schedule, and some of the sites worth visiting are actually pretty far apart in distance, The bus arrives at each destination every 45 minutes, and you'd need at least eight hours to feasibly complete one route in a full day, with ample time to stop for a snorkel or to peel some shrimp at any one destination.