Getting a Last-Minute Ticket to Malta’s Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni

PLEASE SEE UPDATES TO LOCATION AND PRICE IN THE COMMENTS BELOW. 

–ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS

so you wanna see the Hypogeum but you didn’t know you had to book a ticket weeks in advance, especially in high season?

you try to reserve online but this is all you get?

soldout

or you try and go to one of the points around the city where they sell tickets and you see a sign like this, with a date almost a month away?

IMG_9572

well, there are, i discovered, last-minute ticket sales at the Museum of Fine Arts* in Valletta (go through the main gates, down a couple blocks to South Street, make a left and it’ll be down the street a little ways on your right). Hypogeum tours are hourly from 9 AM until 4 PM, but the 12 PM and 4 PM times are for last-minute-sales only. at 10 people per hour, you need to make sure you’re one of the first 20 people, or one of the first 10 if you need a specific time slot.

* they used to be available at the archaeology museum, but now it’s the fine arts museum — be sure to go to the latter!

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You will get very friendly with this doorway at the fine arts museum.

the ticket sales start at 9 AM, when the museum opens, but you should definitely queue beforehand, especially during high season. i read somewhere that the line starts at 7 AM, but i got there at 7:40 and i was the only one (on a Wednesday, late July). a couple people showed up later but it didn’t really get crowded until 8:15, and even then by 9 AM there weren’t enough people there to sell out both available tours. use these times at your own risk, though. if you really want a ticket, get there early to secure a spot in line (err, crowd; there’s no line, but people seemed to remember the order they arrived in).

a last-minute ticket is €35 compared to the pre-purchase price of €30 (online or in person, half price for seniors and youth), so it’s definitely worth it to plan ahead. if you’re like me and didn’t, though, this is the way to go. oh yeah, they accept credit cards.

tips on visiting the hypogeum

  • visit the nearby Tarxien Temples either before or after the Hypogeum because the latter is an underground version (looks-wise) of megalithic temples like the former, and it’s good to be able to see the similarities between the two.
  • the small waiting room at the Hypogeum visitor center is air-conditioned so don’t worry if you get there early — you won’t be stuck standing outside in the sun.
  • although there are only 10 people on each tour, i’m not sure it was built with that number in mind as some of the spots you have to stand in are quite small so you’ll be very chummy with your neighbor.
  • the flooring, though a raised platform, is wet so wear shoes that are grippy, and there are ramps and a large number of stairs. one older lady had a cane and she didn’t have a good time navigating the dark interior (even though the guide had a flashlight, she wasn’t in very good shape). to return to the surface you have to ascend a spiral staircase; the poor lady was huffing and puffing by the time she reached the top.
  • no bags AT ALL are allowed. everything goes into a shared locker before you begin the tour, including cameras.

the big question: is it worth it?

i’m not sure it is, especially at this price (whether €30 or €35). sources online indicate it used to be 25% of that price, but i suppose if there is demand (and there clearly is, given how sold out it gets), they might as well charge a premium.

it’s pretty amazing, though, to see it and imagine how it was built 5,000 years ago — in the Stone Age, without metal tools — and to marvel at the fact that this underground complex still stands today, with many of the chambers and even some of the wall paintings intact. can you imagine, attending ceremonies there or even building the place, with the smell of rotting and decomposing bodies all around you?! ack! luckily today all you have to deal with is a lot of humidity and any umm, odors emanating from a body (one person on my tour let one rip and that was bad enough…).

10 Comments on "Getting a Last-Minute Ticket to Malta’s Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni"

  1. Hi, nice post. Thanks for the great first-hand info!

    Going to Malta in a week. Since the Hypogeum booking website looks exactly as in your screen grab, I’ll try your method.

  2. Thanks for your post, we had no idea there were extra tickets. Unfortunately, during out 5 day stay (December 26-31) we were unable to get tickets.

    The first day, Sunday, we arrived at the Fine Arts Museum at 8:45am. there were about 15 people in the queue. When our turn arrived there was only 1 remaining ticket left, and since there were 2 of us, we turned it down.

    The second day (we overslept!!!) we arrived at 9:15 and there was a queue of probably about 40 people, definitely a no-go. The 3rd day we arrived extra early, or so we thought, at 7:30, there were only about 6 people there, however the first person in the queue was buying 10 tickets! and the 4th person was buying 6 which meant they would all be gone very quickly. I thought this was a bit unfair, but apparently you could buy all 20 if you wanted. 🙁 The woman who was first in line, to buy 10, said she arrived at 6am!!!

    There are plenty of other things to see in Malta/Gozo so even if you don’t get tickets you won’t be disappointed.

    Hope this possibly helps someone else. Good luck.

    • oh no!!! thanks for sharing your experience! i can’t believe there’s no limit to the number of tickets you can buy 🙁 that’s not right!!! anyways, sounds like you were still able to enjoy your trip (and you’re right, so many other places to explore there!). happy new year!

  3. Hello:
    Thank you for your information. Really glad I read it!! A UK based “agent” stated that ONLY 10 people were allowed in PER DAY. And so was willing to sell the tickets for about £40 ea!! I hope to be in Malta in September, so I’ll be sure to purchase my ticket online much in advance! Thanks again!

  4. Hiya, the fine arts museum is currently under refurbishment, so the tickets are not sold there anymore. The museum of war gift shop by Saint Elmo is now selling them – it is opposite the Mediterranean conference center. Again the same principles apply, first come first serve and that the store opens at 9 am. By the time we got there at 7:40 there was already a queue of about 14, and we got the last couple of tickets.

  5. First of all, thank you Eleanor for the update concerning the new location 🙂
    I was there this morning (Sunday) at 8:45, there were nine people standing in “line” before me. Maybe people don’t want to get up so early on a Sunday? 😀
    The price also needs an update, the last minute tickets now cost 40 € and this is without the possibility of a student discount. They don’t accept ICOM cards either. I ended up not buying a ticket, because of the price.

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