Male airport to city

How to Go from Malé Airport to Malé City

We never feel that we’ve visited a country properly unless we’ve visited the capital city, and so in this nation of 1,192 islands we felt we had to visit Malé.  And that meant figuring out how to go from the airport to Malé City.  There were more options that we first thought, so if you’re planning on going from Velana International Airport to Malé City we’ve detailed the options for you. Here’s our guide on how to go from Malé Airport to Malé City.


We’ve bounced around the Maldives somewhat and transited through Malé and the airport several times.  The islands of Malé and Hulhulé (the airport island) are linked by a bridge, the only bridge in the Maldives, so it does give you several options for traveling between Malé Airport and Malé City, so here they are!

How to Go from Malé Airport to Malé City – Transport Options

In this guide on how to go from Malé Airport to Malé City, we’ll cover the fastest way to travel from Malé Airport to Malé City, the easiest way to go to Malé City from Malé Airport, and the cheapest way to get to Malé City from Malé Airport. 

Choosing your transport from Malé Airport aka Velana International Airport should be based on where you’re going after you get to Malé City.  Most visitors to the Maldives who are going through Malé are simply using it as a way to get to one of the other islands, and if you’re taking (certain) public ferries (read our guide here) then the BEST way to go from the airport is to take the public airport ferry as it will get you straight to the ferry terminal on Malé island, where you’ll then take the public ferry out to another island. We used this route several times during our 2 weeks in the Maldives.

If you’re planning on staying in Malé (and I do recommend a short visit, I’ve covered our Malé itinerary here), then look at where your hotel is before committing to how you’ll get from the airport to the city.  We stayed at the UMET Seaview (which I recommend) and they include a transfer both to AND from the airport, so consider that too.

(We only took the transfer on the way back to the airport, as we’d arrived for this part of our trip from Dhiffushi (read how we got to and from Dhiffushi here).

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How to go from Malé Airport to Malé City

There are several different options when you’re going from Velana International Airport to Malé City.  As most people who are likely to be reading this after heading towards one of the local islands, and are therefore looking for the public ferries, I’ll start with the most convenient for that, but first, some nitty gritty. There are lots more tips on traveling the Maldives on a budget in my guide here.

First, you’ll need cash.  (There’s an ATM here at the airport, so get some cash, you’ll need it for the local ferries, and paying for other things on local islands, but read my guide to money, cash, and ATMs in the Maldives here)

Next, you’ll probably want the internet.  So read my guide to local Maldives SIM cards here, as, if you haven’t pre-booked a Maldives SIM card, you may want to purchase one at the airport before you leave.

By far the BEST option for Maldives SIM cards is an eSIM – you can buy before you leave home (or even when you get here), and be online from when you land. Get a Maldives eSIM here.

Before you leave the airport make sure that you’ve got a power adapter for the Maldives (the best option is to bring one from home) and my guide to power for the Maldives is here.

About Malé Airport (aka Velana International Airport – VIA)

The international airport in the Maldives is located on Hulhulé Island, which is located in the North Malé Atoll.  This island is connected to Malé Island, where the capital city of Malé is, by both ferries and a bridge, so you can pre-book a transfer or take a taxi or a bus.

Malé Airport to Malé by Public Ferry

You need to walk straight out of arrivals and head towards the Indian Ocean (you’ll be able to see it straight ahead of you).  Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing.  Don’t forget to stop and look both ways.  Traffic drives on the LEFT here, but hey, this is Asia, and traffic usually comes from all directions.

Now turn left, and you’ll see the public ferry jetty at the airport

Airport to Airport Ferry Ticket Booth Male

How to Buy Tickets for the Malé Airport to Malé Public Ferry

Between the road and the water, you’ll see a small white booth, with AIRPORT FERRY on it.  It’s about 30 meters (about 100 feet) away.  This is where you buy tickets for the ferry to Malé.

Your ticket will cost 15 MVR (and its cash only, Maldivian Rufiyaa (MVR)

Male Airport Ferry Tickets

You’ll receive a ticket and just need to hand it to the boat crew when you board the ferry.  These ferries are not pre-bookable, just turn up, buy a ticket, and wait in line.  We took this ferry several times when we were transiting between the airport and the city, heading back to the airport for our Maldives Resort Island experience, and then back again when we left one of our bags on the resort island speedboat.

Anyways.  There was only a line once, and we never had to wait.  We always got on the next ferry that was leaving.

Male Airport Ferry Arriving at the Airport

Timetable for Malé Airport to Malé Ferry

The public ferries between the airport and Malé run every 15 minutes during the day, and take about 10 minutes to go from the airport to Malé City.

They arrive at the Malé Ferry Terminal on the island of Malé (I’ve marked it on our map to make it easy to spot.)  This is the public ferry terminal on Malé Island and it’s where most of the public ferries leave from for the local islands.

Onboard the Male Airport Ferry

Malé Airport ferries run every 15 minutes from 06:00 until 19:00.  From 19:00 to 00:00 they run every 30 minutes.  And yes, these ferries DO run on Fridays.

When you arrive in Malé (this is the ONLY stop on this ferry), simply get off, turn right and that’s it.  You’re in Malé.

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Malé Airport to Malé City by Bus

The buses in Malé are air-conditioned, all seating (yes, that’s right, no standing allowed), and very modern.  They’re cashless payments (you can use a credit or debit card, a prepaid card, or buy your ticket online up to a week beforehand.

All of the routes and schedules for the Malé buses, which are run by RTL (Raajje Transport Link – which is part of the MTCC, which runs all the public transport in the Maldives) can be found here.

However, the most useful bus for going from the airport to Malé City is the R3.  It costs 10 MVR for a single ticket.  This bus goes from West Park on Malé to Velana International Airport.

Route R3 bus Male airport to Male

Malé Airport to Malé City by Taxi

Taxis at Malé Airport have a designated stand. And rates for taxis in the Maldives are set by the government, so there is a set rate for how much a taxi costs from Malé Airport to Malé – however, it’s going to depend on WHERE in Malé you’re going to.

A taxi from Malé International Airport to the MTCC Public Ferry Terminal in Malé City will cost 75 MVR.  You can check the government-applied rates for taxis here, and you can also use a taxi app in the Maldives to arrange your ride – Avas Ride and PickMe (also used in Sri Lanka) to arrange your taxi from the airport to Malé.

Map of Ferry Jetties for going from Malé Airport to Malé City

You can also see full map for the ferry jetties here

Map of How to Go from Malé Airport to Malé City

The best way to go from Malé Airport to Malé City

The most important way to work out which is the best way to get to Malé City from the Airport is to figure out where you want to be in Malé City.  So if you’re taking a public ferry straight out of Malé City, then hop on the public airport ferry.  If you’re staying in the city, work out where your hotel is (I recommend the UMET Seaview, and they provide a free transfer both TO and FROM the airport). 

Tips for Traveling the Maldives

Final Words on How to Go from Malé Airport to Malé City

I think there’s something rather lovely about arriving at the main international airport in a country and being able to take a ferry straight away.  To be honest, I’d never even considered that there would be a bridge in the Maldives until we got here.  Or that I’d stand at the side of a road in Malé and say “Oh, they drive on the left”.  I don’t think I’d even considered that cars would be a thing here.  Anyways.  You’ve got options here, so figure out why you’re going to Malé city, and whereabouts, and then pick the best way to get there from the airport!  Good Luck!

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