The island of Malta is blessed with endless sunshine almost all year round. However, in winter, the rainy season does set in. With plenty to do under cover, a short shower needn’t dampen your spirits. From ducking underground at ancient historic sites to taking shelter in the grandeur of the archipelago’s magnificent monuments, take refuge from the rain in Malta with our guide on how to stay dry and still enjoy the island.
If there’s one thing the Maltese love most of all, it’s pausing over a cup of great coffee. Save the sunny café terraces for warmer days – when it rains in Malta, head into one of the island’s loveliest coffee shops. Occupying a grand palazzo on Valletta’s Republic Street, Caffe Cordina serves up a side order of glamour with its flat whites. Pitch up under a swooping gilded arch and enjoy a local Maltese honey ring with your coffee. For dramatic vistas across the whole island, make your way to Fontanella Tea Garden in the medieval town of Mdina. Even when grey clouds loom large, the covered roof terrace offers glorious panoramas.
When the heavens open, take shelter at Malta’s many captivating subterranean sites, where the island’s ancient legacy endures. With its millennia-old fossils, the prehistoric Għar Dalam cave in Birżebbuġa has incredible examples of Paleolithic art and the skeletal remains of the area’s former wildlife. Meanwhile, the labyrinthine burial ground at St Paul’s Catacombs reveals a compelling insight into Malta’s Roman history. Deep beneath the streets of Rabat, a network of rock-cut tunnels adjoins tombs, cemeteries and stairwells.
Take respite from the rain in Malta by warming yourself through at a luxurious day spa. The serene Apollo Day Spa at Corinthia St George’s Bay is the perfect place in which to slink into a velvety robe and surrender to bliss. Unwind in the sauna and Jacuzzi or refresh in the pool before savouring a soothing treatment. Apollo Day Spa’s heavenly Hot Stone Massage employs the heat of volcanic basalt stones placed on key energy points, while Candlelight Caress kneads warm aromatic oil into the skin with slow strokes. Leave feeling fully rejuvenated and ready to weather any storm outside.
When it comes to architectural wonders and grandiose landmarks, Malta holds an embarrassment of riches. Duck under cover in Valletta at the tremendous Grandmaster’s Palace, built in the 16th century. All sumptuous marble, lustrous tapestries and imposing armour, the interior of this Renaissance masterpiece is opulent to the extreme. Over in the small town of Mosta, the Rotunda of Mosta is a Neoclassical beauty, inspired by Rome’s Pantheon. Ornamented in gold and blue with stucco moldings, the sight of its colossal dome curving ever skyward is truly awe-inspiring. One of the largest unsupported domes in the world, the Rotunda of Mosta makes an atmospheric spot to contemplate as the rain falls outside.
If the rain continues to patter upon Malta’s caramel rooftops come nightfall, soak up a classical or operatic performance in the glamorous confines of Manoel Theatre. The curtain first went up here in 1732, and for centuries, the romantic boxes and plush seats have played host to countless esteemed audiences. For culture of a more edgy variety, look to St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity. Housed in a 16th-century fort, the imaginative arts space puts on arthouse cinematic screenings and independent theatre-in-the-round.
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.