WITH the temperatures dropping and Christmas behind us, many are pondering a holiday away from the gloomy conditions in Ireland.
Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta is a winter sun holiday that offers Irish people a warm getaway without breaking the bank.
With ancient temple exploration, lagoon snorkelling, and high street shopping on offer, you’d be surprised how much there is to see and do in one of the smallest countries in the world.
The archipelago island country is of great value compared to other popular travel locations during this time of year, as they tend to be long-haul hotspots.
And just over a three hour flight away from Dublin, Malta offers a mild climate and more than 300 days of sunshine.
Temperatures in Malta remain in the high teens all throughout January and February – and you can expect a lot less rain over there than you would experience here.
And according to Numbeo, a bottle of beer costs just €3, less than what you would pay for a cup of coffee in Ireland.
The same study revealed that a meal will set punters back about €15 whilst a glass of wine at the bar costs around €4.
The Blue Lagoon in Comino is one of the island’s best beaches. It has crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, even during winter, as the water temperature is around 19C.
The natural wide pool is partially sandy but mostly rocky and boasts caves, in one of which you can also find a hidden sandy beach.
The size of the lagoon and its shape make out of it a safe spot for a day on the beach with family, friends, and little kids too.
The island also offers up a multitude of white sandy beaches.
And with over 7,000 years of history, Malta is the ultimate holiday destination for any history buff.
Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum is an underground burial site dating back to 4,000 BC that can be visited by tourists throughout the year.
Hidden deep underground, invisible to passers-by, this mystical prehistoric cemetery was only discovered in 1902.
The massive three-story, subterranean sanctuary of worship is situated in the glorious town of Paola on a hill overlooking the capital.
And the island boasts many museums, including The Malta Classic Car Museum, the National War Museum and the Maritime Museum.
For a deep dive into Malta’s marine traditions, you’ll want to visit the fishing resort of Marsaxlokk and stop to eat at one of the traditional restaurants along the harbour.
Malta’s location has had an impact on his cuisine, which has a mixture of Mediterranean traditions and recipes, especially with seafood.
The country also has many cultural events happening during winter, like the Malta Carnival, which takes place every February and lasts five days.
The biggest parties will be in Valletta, with locals wearing masks and costumes, parades, music bands and parties.
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Malta’s main nightlife centre, Paceville, catches the late night carnival goers who pile into the clubs and bars, still wearing their outrageous outfits after the day-time festivities calm down.
During this time, there is also the traditional seasonal food ‘perlini’, which is multi-coloured, sugar-coated almonds, and a sponge cake with fruits, pine nuts and biscuits called ‘prinjolata’.