ADVERTORIAL • August 2019
A favourite with British holidaymakers, Malta is adored for its pitch-perfect weather, with over 300 days of sunshine a year and temperatures that rarely drop below the mid to high teens. Ideal, says travel writer Ross Clarke, for those seeking warmth come winter without the long-haul plane ticket – and he tells us more
While Malta rightly earns its place among the Mediterranean’s most enchanting spots for soaking up summer sun, discerning travellers know that the island is not to be missed come autumn and winter. Here, when the height-of-summer tourist crowd has packed up its parasols, the culturists, nature-lovers and gastronomes move in to luxuriate in Malta’s tranquil pace of life. They’re savvy, too; fewer people means better Instagram snaps, more local experiences and often better prices. You’ll find such bargains across Malta’s burgeoning boutique hotel scene; Casa Ellul and Hotel Juliani are just two of the island’s chicest stays.
With more than 7,000 years of history, Malta’s heritage is definitely one to savour and, in this respect, culture vultures are spoilt for choice. Hop on a Segway tour to zip around the island’s capital, Valletta, and catch all the major sights, from the grandeur of the baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral and Museum to the beautiful panoramas around the Grand Harbour. For those wishing to rest weary limbs head to Malta 5D, an immersive 3D cinema complete with moving seats, water spray, air blasts and leg ticklers to make you feel part of the on-screen action documenting the most important moments in the island’s history.
Unsurprisingly, many outdoor pursuits here lead to water, and while the sea might be cooler at this time of year, surfing, windsurfing and scuba diving opportunities are still plentiful. Back on dry land, head off to neighbouring Gozo – known for its stunning natural features – and make like the British Army (they started the practice here) by trying your hand at rock climbing. The winter months are peak climbing season, so there’s plenty on offer for all levels, abilities and tastes. In fact, Malta has more than 1,300 climbing routes in total.
If there’s one thing Maltese people know, it’s how to be a great host. It could be why the culinary and nightlife scenes on the island are second to none. Those seeking a soothing G&T should stop by Yard 32 to sample some of its more than 180 varieties, while oenophiles shouldn’t miss Trabuxu with its array of Maltese and Gozitan wines – plus a delightful small plates menu. For the club scene, Paceville in the north of the island is the go-to with locals and tourists hitting the dance floors. Malta has a fantastic LGBTQ+ scene (recently topping the Europe Rainbow Index to be named the best European holiday destination for LGBT travellers) and Michelangelo Club Lounge in Paceville and The Birdcage Lounge in Rabat are stand-out spots for nightowls.
If Malta were a person, everyone would want to be their friend, as their diary would be crammed full of the best events – especially throughout the winter months – from food and drink to music and dance. This year’s Notte Bianca festivities (on 5 October 2019) see arts and culture erupt all over the streets, with music, dance, drama and art sprawling out across the island’s pretty piazzas in a multitude of creative forms. The Three Palaces Festival celebrated in November (1-10) brings together classical, modern and jazz music with a series of concerts and live performances in the glorious setting of Malta’s historical baroque palaces. Talking of baroque, don’t miss the best in the Baroque music scene at Valletta’s International Baroque Festival every January.