Tourism Abroad - Disabled Accessibility

Malta and Gozo - May 2016

The Airline and the Airport

Gatwick Airport is all fully accessible, with lifts and escalators in place.  Boarding Air Malta was by a walkway.  On arrival at Malta International Airport, steps were in place to disembark as the terminal is quite low so there are no walkways.  The airport is all fully accessible and we were out without any delays.

Getting Around

We hired a car with Gold Car for the whole week and the car hire desk is in the airport.  After a short while we had our car, but the pick-up area was around 200 metres away.  With two suitcases my support worker couldn’t guide me, so I had to follow.  The route to the pick-up area was mainly flat so wasn’t as hard as first thought.

I would like to bring to your attention a problem which arose with Gold Car.  When we returned the car they charged us for what they claim was parking fines. We had never knowingly parked the car in a prohibited space and no parking ticket was ever left on the car. We were unable to resolve this with Gold Car nor did we receive any adequate explanation. Please note they are very cheap on Expedia and we thought it was a good deal.  I would strongly recommend the bigger car hire companies like Hertz or Avis who I would hope provide a better customer service.

Parking wasn’t as bad as first thought, there were plenty of disabled bays throughout the island (Blue Badge is acceptable), but some cars were parked with no badge on display.

At The Hotel

We stayed at Diamond Resorts, a very nice apartment linked up with the luxurious Inter-Continental Hotel.  This hotel is located in St Julians, a short walk from St George’s Bay.

The Inter-Continental Hotel has a spacious reception area, with three lifts taking guests to all ten floors.  Disabled toilets are located in the main toilets in the reception area. This hotel has three accessible rooms and which are equipped with roll in showers. There is also a bar located opposite the reception desk where guests can sip a very refreshing cocktail for a reasonable price.

The hotel boasts its very own casino on the lower level; however, the access to the casino is somewhat strange.  The route for a wheelchair user can only be made by the garage area of the hotel; the main entrance has a flight of steps down to get to the casino.  There is a disabled toilet and plenty of space; however the patterns on the carpet were a bit distracting.



We started our first full day with a bit of Maltese history, a trip to Mdina.  This old city dates back to more than 4000 years, with ancient walls surrounding the city.  The area is quite cobbled and can be a bit like a maze.  We went to watch a short video about the history of Mdina.  Concessions were granted for support worker but I had to pay a small fee.  The viewing area was up some old steps and we sat at the front.  However, the short film didn’t have subtitles and we left halfway through.

Popeye’s Village

This attraction is the film location of Robin Williams 1980 movie ‘Popeye’.  Concessions were provided for support worker, and I was given a reduced admission fee.  This attraction is very steep and can pose a problem for those pushing wheelchairs, even on foot I found it difficult to mobilise myself.  Most of the shacks are not fully accessible; Popeye’s Sweethaven is flat to enter with a few bumps.

The boat ride of the cove is not fully accessible; a walk down a flight of steps is required to the lagoon.  The driver offered me a hand on and off the boat.


Valetta is the capital of Malta and we took a day trip there by car.  Like most European capital cities parking was a bit of a hassle but we found a few spaces available.  The pavements are rather narrow and rickety in some parts.

We visited the National War Museum and we were able to get a reduced ticket with a bit of negotiating!  The museum is an old fort and is partially accessible, some areas are up steps with a stair lift, but it appeared to be non-operational. There was a disabled toilet, but it was apparently locked with a key.

The descriptive text is very well laid out and is at a reasonable level for someone standing, but for a wheelchair user most of the text is a bit too high up. There is rather a lot of descriptive text, which can be quite tiring.


We got the ferry to the island of Gozo and the traffic here is a lot quieter making it easier to drive.  We headed to the Azure Window which is a beautiful natural arch stretching out to the sea.  This attraction is located on the western side of Gozo and is free to all.  It is quite difficult to get to with a lot of rocks in the way, but it is doable if you can use your legs with time and patience.  I would not recommend this to a wheelchair user unless someone with a strong back is assisting them. Due to gale force winds, this beautiful arch was unfortunately destroyed on 8th March 2017.

Eating Out

St Julians is a very touristy area and most of the food in restaurants and bars was American cuisine i.e. burgers, ribs, chicken wings. Being a big fan of burgers I was surprised that Hugo’s, a diner / bar, had more than fifteen different burgers on offer!

There were quite a few nice restaurants outside of St Julians that catered for exquisite Maltese food.  However, these restaurants lacked easy access with no disabled toilets.

Bars and Nightlife

The nightlife of St Julians is an amazing experience most bars do happy hour but at all different times. The biggest issue here is they are mostly nested on certain levels and you will need to tackle a lot of steps. Even I had difficulty as there is no handrail and some people were standing in my way with little awareness. Hugo’s is on street level; however, there is one step down to enter the bar.


During my stay, I felt that the islands of Malta and Gozo  are very behind in making it adequate provision for disabled people. The most important step forward is to create better awareness for the needs of disabled visitors with the right basic facilities in place.