Visiting Malta in winter. Why visit Malta in winter? What to do? What to see? Isn’t Malta the sun & beach holiday island? Well, it is true that Malta has 300 days of sunshine a year, but one of the greatest reasons to visit Malta in December through February is the country’s pleasant temperatures. While Europe freezes, the Mediterranean island of Malta enjoys weather that the mainland could only dream of. While it’s true that there are days with strong winds and somewhat regular rain, the climate in Malta balances this with stable temperatures made for being outdoors. The weather is perfect for heading out trekking or exploring without having to worry about getting sunburnt or overheated
Whereas Malta in summer continues to grow in popularity, tourist numbers in low season are much more modest. This means that everything from public transportation to tourist attractions is less busy, making sightseeing way more convenient. Instead of waiting for buses and ferries, you can simply walk on board as you’d expect.
I was lucky enough to spend several days in Malta during winter, which means low season and less crowd! I’ve had the chance to explore the island peacefully. So here are my insider tips for you!
The marvelous capital, a UNESCO heritage site with 300 monuments, is set to become the European Capital of Culture in 2018
The city of Valletta was founded on March 28, 1566, by the Order of the Knights of St John, commonly known as the Knights of Malta. The Knights arrived in Malta in 1530, after having lost Rhodes and Cyprus to the Ottoman empire and having wandered in the Mediterranean for years.
The main street is called Republic Street, but personally, I like Merchant Street (Triq il-Merkanti) better, which is the parallel on the right, with the fascinating lines of colorful gallarija, the typical balconies! Careful not to stumble, because it’s a walk to do looking upward!
St. John Co-Cathedral
You must enter St.John’s Co-Cathedral, I know it doesn’t look like anything special from the outside, but rest assured you will remain open-mouthed as you walk in! Words cannot do this place justice. Just the altar and ceilings are enough and then there are the Caravaggio’s!!! 10 euros well spent. The audio guide is part of the entry and is clear and extensive. Make sure you go up to the balcony – seems many people don’t and you get the best view from here.
Upper Barrakka Gardens
Upper Barrakka Gardens, the highest viewpoint in Valletta with a spectacular view of the Three Cities. One of the best views in the whole of Malta. We took several panoramic photos here and they are some of the nicest of our trip. Twice a day they have a cannon saluting. It isn’t anything over the top but it was interesting seeing. It is said to be the oldest saluting battery in the world still in operation.
Mdina – The Tales of the Silent City
Driving through the Maltese countryside, a white city appears in the distance. It stands atop a hill, layered like a wedding cake from its walled edge, surveying all of Malta from one of the highest points on the island.
It’s a city older than Valletta, dating back 4,000 years. It was built by the Phoenicians and conquered by the Normans, later run by the Knights of Malta. And many believe that St. Paul the Apostle once lived here.
That may be how Mdina became known as the “Silent City.” Once the capital left Medina, it became a virtual ghost town.
Mdina takes its silent status seriously to this day. Very few cars are allowed to enter the city walls, and the businesses here have strict noise regulations. You even see signs urging silence all over the city.
Sliema – St. Julian
So far I have talked you through the most authentic and historic Malta, and now let’s move to the pounding heart of modern life: St Julian’s (San Ġiljan in Maltese) and Sliema.
Once a small fishing village, since the 60s, it has become the favorite location of the second homes of the Maltese, and then directly the place to live all year round.
And guess what, the promenade from Spinola Bay to the end of Sliema is perfect for jogging! In Sliema you will also find some outdoor gym equipment. St Paul’s Bay area, on the north of the island, has a long and pretty walk that’s quite nice for jogging too. At the end of Sliema you will find a modern district called Tigne Point, from where you can see Manoel Island and the western side of the Valletta promontory.
I drove to Dingli Cliffs to do some trekking, It was fantastic. We trecked along the coastline, It’s not the most well-signposted sight in Malta. There are a few signs directing you to what is the DiWe trekked along the coastline of Mdina. However, the path sort of ends at someone’s private property and you can kind of get a glimpse of the area. Lovely place to stop off and admire the views. I heard its a popular with the locals on a Sunday too.
The Dingli Cliffs are a 15-minute drive from Mdina or 30 minutes from Valletta. It is best to combine with your trip to Mdina. The cliffs are unusual as you would expect water directly below, there is in fact a 400 metre wide plateau which is irrigated and used to grow crops then the sea.