Are you wondering about what there is to do in sun-soaked Malta in the winter? The islands are perfect for enjoying a sunny city break or an action-packed holiday, as there are all kinds of things to do in Malta, even in the middle of winter. You can also visit the cultural and historical sights, celebrate with locals at all kinds of cultural events and, of course, sample the delicious cuisine!
The Republic of Malta is a small island country in the Mediterranean Sea consisting of three islands: Malta (Malta), Gozo (Għawdex) and Comino (Kemmuna). They are located between Sicily and the coast of North Africa.
Malta weather during the winter
Thanks its very southern location, the temperatures in Malta are pleasant even during the winter months. From October to March, there are an average of 196 hours of sunshine every month, with an average temperature of around 18 degrees. So it’s the perfect destination if you’re looking for a sunny spot to escape from wintery weather.
Sunny city breaks on your Malta holiday
Valletta & the Three Cities
At only 0.8 km², Valletta is the smallest European capital. Thanks to its impressive buildings and architecture, the entire city of Valletta is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means there are plenty of things to discover. And the best part is that you can explore everything on foot, as there aren’t any long distances in Valletta! 😉
Valletta was also named one of the European Capitals of Culture in 2018, which is still reflected in various events all year round. (You can read more about cultural events in Malta later on in this article).
On the other side of the harbour Valletta overlooks, you’ll find the Three Cities, otherwise known as the cradle of Maltese history. While many visitors focus on their big sister Valletta, you can visit Vittoriosa, Senglea and Cospicua to get an authentic taste of the local lifestyle, as well as a glimpse into Malta’s maritime history.
The impressive city of Mdina is the former capital of Malta. The history of this ancient fortress dates back more than 4000 years. Stroll around its narrow streets and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to the Middle Ages. Even though it has only 243 inhabitants, you can still find plenty of cafés and restaurants to enjoy during your visit. At night, Mdina turns into the “the silent city“, as it’s known because of its strict noise restrictions. If you’re visiting Mdina, you should also take the chance to visit nearby Rabat.
By the way, if you’ve watched Game of Thrones, you may find that the city gates of Mdina look familiar. That’s because it was the filming location for the series’ fictional capital city of King’s Landing in the first season.
And if you want to learn more about the cities of Malta, you can read more here.
Things to do in Malta: Cultural & historical sites
In Malta, there are so many things to see and do that it’s impossible to cover everything in this article. We’ll show you some highlights, but of course there are many more historic sites to see on your Malta holiday.
The Grandmasters’ Palace in Valletta was built between the 16th and 18th centuries. it currently houses the workplace of the President of Malta. It’s also known as The Palace (Il-Palazz). Parts of the beautiful building are open to visitors as a museum, including the very impressive State Rooms and the Palace Armoury. You can learn a lot about Malta’s history here.
In total, there are three sites on Malta’s islands that belong to the UNESCO World Heritage List. As we mentioned earlier, the city of Valletta is one of them. It’s joined on the list by the Megalithic Temples and the Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum.
Dating back to around 5200 B.C., a peerless, temple-building civilisation inhabited the islands of Malta for over three millennia. They left behind the megalithic temples of Malta and Gozo, the oldest known free-standing buildings in the world!
Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum & Ġgantija Temples
When travelling to Malta, the famous Hypogeum is one of the sights you shouldn’t miss. This incredible underground cave was built more than 5000 years ago and many archaeological artifacts have been found here since.
The Ġgantija Temples on Gozo Island were built in the same era, around 3600 – 3200 B.C. The temples were so huge that later inhabitants of Malta believed they’d been built by giants, which is how they got the name “Ġgantija” (literally “Giants’ Tower”).
Ħaġar Qim & Mnajdra Temples
In the village of Qrendi in the southwest of Malta, you’ll find the amazing temples Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra. They are located on a hill near the coast with great views of the small island Filfla, giving the whole site a very unique atmosphere. Here, you’ll find one of the best-preserved temples on the island, even though it dates back to between 3600 and 3200 B.C.
Learn more about Malta’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites here.
Active holidays in Malta for adventure seekers
Malta has also a lot to offer for those who love active holidays and travellers who like a little bit of adventure. Whether you like to hike, go on bike rides or enjoy water sports, you can do it all in Malta.
Boat trip to the Blue Grotto of Malta
Very near Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Temples, you’ll find the famous Blue Grotto of Malta. It’s a spectacular system of six sea caverns and a very impressive main arch, beneath which flows incredibly blue water. This is definitely one of the must-sees on any trip to Malta.
You can watch it from a viewpoint on the coastline close to Qrendi, but we highly recommend taking a boat trip that will take you right into the Blue Grotto for an unforgettable experience!
Cycling and walking in Malta
For those of you who love hiking and cycling, Malta is the perfect destination during the winter months. Thanks to its moderate temperatures and plentiful sunny days, the weather is great for exploring the islands by walking or cycling.
On all three islands (Malta, Gozo and Comino) you’ll find lots of trails and paths to explore Malta’s surprisingly green and flowery winter landscapes. They’ll take you along spectacular coastlines, gentle valleys and stunning historical sites. Find more details about walking and cycling routes here.
Diving & Historical Wreck Sites in Malta
For divers and adventurers, Malta is a little slice of paradise. Thanks to years of underwater archaeological expeditions, you can now go diving and explore many historical wreck sites. They range from a 4500 year-old Phoenician shipwreck to battleships from WWI. There are several licensed diving centres that organise diving trips to the official Heritage Malta wreck sites. Make sure you book your experience with one of them.
Don’t miss these events in Malta during winter
Carnival in February
February is when Carnival takes place all over the world, including in Malta! The main action takes place in Valletta, but you’ll find celebrations all over the islands during Carnival week. Don’t miss the parties in Paceville, the biggest nightlife hub in Malta.
Valletta Baroque Festival
From January 10th-25th 2020, the 8th edition of the Valletta Baroque Festival takes place in Malta. The festival gives you the chance to see and, more importantly, listen to top-class artists from Malta and abroad playing songs from Monteverdi to Bach and beyond!
Malta International Choir Festival
In March 2020, from the 5th to the 8th, the 24th International Choir Festival is happening in Malta. Choirs from all over the world will perform, and this year there will be two competitions: one for gospel choirs and the other for show choirs. If you’re travelling to Malta in March, make sure you don’t miss this amazing event!
Gastronomy – Maltese food and drink
Part of getting to know a country is trying the local food and drinks. It’s the easiest and most natural way to learn about the culture and people. And in Malta there are so many delicious things to try, you’ll want to make sure you go with an appetite!
Traditional cuisine meets Mediterranean cookery
Traditional Maltese dishes incorporate influences from the many different civilisations that have occupied the small country throughout its history. Over the centuries, the people of Malta have created a delicious cuisine that includes a tasteful mix of ingredients and spices. Naturally, its location on the Mediterranean Sea has a big influence on Malta’s cuisine too, so you’ll find a lot of seafood on the menu here.
Some of the most well-known traditional foods are lampuki pie (fish pie), kapunata (Maltese ratatouille), bigilla (a pâté made from beans and garlic), hobz biz-zejt (open-faced sandwiches with olive oil, tomatoes, tuna, onions, garlic & carpers), aljotta (fish soup) and kannoli (a crispy dessert pastry filled with ricotta). Why not try a few on your trip?
If you want to learn more about the evolution of Malta’s food over the centuries, check out the impressive Taste History project from Heritage Malta!
Maltese wine & vineyards
To get the full flavour of Maltese cuisine, your meal should be accompanied by a glass of rich red or chilled white wine. And what’s a better pairing for local food than local wine? There are lots of vineyards in Malta and several internationally-recognised grapes grow here, such as merlot, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. You can also enjoy native varieties such as Gellewza and Ghirghentina, both of which produce delicious wines.
If you want to learn more about the history of Maltese winemakers and experience the top-notch quality of their wines, we recommend joining a guided tour and wine tasting at one of Malta’s wineries.
Flights to Malta
The best, cheapest and easiest way to get to Malta is by plane. From London to Valletta it takes a little over three hours.
Now, all you need to do is book your flight to Malta to have your very own unique experiences on these incredible islands!
And if you want to learn even more about these incredible islands, you can read more here.