Even in the depths of winter, Malta serves up sunglasses-friendly weather. Temperatures rarely dip into the single digits, and while chilly nights require jackets, the island’s famous sun can certainly be relied upon. The list of adventure sports are endless – visitors can hike around Mellieħa, mountain bike on Gozo, go riding at Ghajn Tuffieha, rock climb at Wied Babu or even try some winter cave diving at Ghar Lapsi.
Malta’s historic, picturesque towns and villages – consider that Christmas in Malta may also be a good time to work on your photography skills – are a good place to begin. Comb the cobbled, stony streets of Valletta and Rabat before taking to the countryside. The terrain near Mellieħa is one popular option for walkers (and rewards with incredibly attractive bay and beach views), while just a hop across the water is the small island of Comino. Once pirate territory, the visit holds particular appeal for kids, who can dip more than a few toes in the splash-friendly Blue Lagoon.
For those looking to up the ante on their explorations, Gozo – the second largest of Malta’s islands – is famous for its rough and rocky terrain. Without the drenching humidity of summer, the island is more accessible to mountain biking enthusiasts. But even if you’ve indulged in a little too much panettone – or are travelling with children too young to tackle the hills – 4×4 Gozo Jeep Tours provide fun, fuss-free trips around the island.
After the presents have been opened and the sweets ingested by the fistful, balance out your Christmas in Malta with a bit of fresh air. Suitable for children as young as five, Golden Bay offers horse riding courses around some of Malta’s most scenic turf. Based in Ghajn Tuffieha in the north of Malta, the school leads families through one-hour nature rides – or longer sunset rides – around the region.
Given its stony scenery, Malta is famous among rock climbers. If scrabbling up a sheer rock wall sounds like just the ticket, there’s no shortage of climbs available, try the canyon at Wied Babu, or if that’s not to your tastes, then Malta hosts over 1,300 individual climbing routes, with choices ranging from bouldering and sport climbing to deep water soloing. MC Adventure offers equipment and guidance for hardened climbers, while also introducing first-timers to the sport – the perfect way to burn off that Christmas pudding.
And what of Malta’s famous waters? The country’s coves, bays and beaches, may seem better suited to summer purists, but while winter is less bikini-friendly, it also happens to be diving season. After squeezing into a wetsuit, swimmers can expect high visibility and relatively warm waters. Home to dozens of dive centres, divers of all levels can have a go – beginners should try the beautiful cave dive at Ghar Lapsi.
Sun, sea, and warmth: though Christmas in Malta won’t be white, travellers may just come back fitter than when they arrived. New Year, new you. And all that.
Are you an art lover or culture vulture holidaying in Malta? Well, you’ll be pleased to find that this Mediterranean island may be small, but it packs a punch when it comes to art and culture. Here are six recommended destinations to add to your itinerary to experience the best of Malta’s art scene.