Vintage Bus Tours
Malta is well known for its traditional vintage buses. Until July 2011 they could be found on regular bus services throughout Malta and Gozo, running alongside more modern buses. From that date Arriva took over the regular services (Arriva only lasted a couple of years) and the individual owners were persuaded to hand in their buses to the government in return for compensation. Some were kept by their owners and some are stored by Heritage Malta but many were scrapped. Fortunately a number survive in private ownership, and in recent years several have been lovingly restored, many into the pre-1973 route liveries which identified by colour on which group of routes a bus was operating.
As well as private hire, the Maltese Government now allows a certain number of licences for these old buses to operate on special vintage bus tours, further details of which are shown below. You may find other vintage bus tours advertised through local agents.
Vintage Bus City Tour
Vintage Bus City Tour run a circular tour from Sliema every two hours 0920 to 1520 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It runs via St. Julian's, Rabat-Mdina, then Valletta and back to Sliema. You can find further details on their Facebook page. Day tickets are very reasonably priced, allowing you to break your journey.
The service is run by two local operators, Zinnu and Supreme. Vehicles are also available for private hire.
A second route runs on Sundays between Valletta and Marsaxlokk for the famous market. Buses depart from Valletta at 1000, 1100, 1225 and 1325; the first trip of the morning starts back from St. Julian's (close to the Raddison Blu at St. George's Bay) at 0920 calling at Sliema Ferries at 0930. Buses return from Marsaxlokk at 1025, 1155, 1255 and 1355. The last trip extends beyond Valletta to Sliema and St. Julian's if required by passengers on board the bus at Valletta. Check their Facebook page for latest details in case things change.
For readers of MTN, an article about the operation appeared in issue 63 dated March 2021.
Three Cities Vintage Bus Tour
This long-established tour to Vittoriosa, Cospicua and Senglea starts from the seafront at Sliema, also picking up at local hotels. It leaves at 1045 on Mondays to Saturdays but does not run on Sundays or public holidays (in winter it may only run on selected days). The tour takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can book through Hello Malta.
It's worth booking in advance as the price includes a free transfer from various points and back (Cirkewwa and Bugibba for example). The price is €18 for adults, €12 for children.
The vintage bus will be one of several owned by Cancu Supreme Travel. Regular performers are two small vehicles with bodywork built in the style of 1920s buses used in the area. One is a Bedford WLB registered LCY 002 where the chassis dates from 1932, and the other is a 1939 Morris registered LCY 004. The old style bodywork, by Brincat, actually dates from 1991. Another bus, pictured here at Vittoriosa Square, is a 1949 Austin CXB, still with its original Plaxton bodywork, registered LCY 003.
The driver gives informed commentary en route, which I found interesting when I travelled on it. You may find that the company advertises other trips using the vintage buses, and they are also available for group hire.