The ultimate Malta staycation over the holidays

Who wants to go skiing anyways? Here's our ultimate Malta staycation over the holidays this year. 

Are you planning an exciting post-Christmas getaway this year? Well, we don’t want to hear about it! No, not because we wish we could jet off to go skiing or to the Maldives, but because there’s so much to explore in Malta. Even if you’re set on getting some extra work done over the festive period, consider a ‘staycation’ right here.

So a staycation is the way they put it in the U.S., where you have a holiday in your own country. But it does put a fun flavour on what so many people choose to do anyway. Thinking about what you do during the run-up to Christmas, like checking out the lights in Valetta, or catching a concert, that’s just tradition. What about the rest of the winter?

There are so many ways to stay fit over the winter, no matter how beautiful or uninspiring the weather. For a small set of islands, Malta and Gozo are made up almost entirely of countryside, with only a fifth of the Islands covered by towns and cities. What about a trek, or some hiking around Bahrija? This route, though it might feel a bit touristy, is a great way to remind yourself of the layers of history running through the landscape. For a less strenuous day out, maybe you could finally get around to visiting Buskett Gardens in Rabat?

As well as the fantastic home-grown sights and traditions we all know and love, a wealth of international events come to, or take place in Malta and Gozo. The Mediterranea Festival has just finished, and hopefully you caught this year’s Teatru Astra production of Aida. If not, never fear, as next year Lucia di Lammermoor will light up the stage during November. If that doesn’t appeal, there’s always the annual La Stella Philharmonic concert. For some real glamour, what about the 2016 European Poker Tour. It swept through Malta in October, with tense pro games and a chance for newbies to have a go.

This might be an obvious suggestion, but don’t forget about St Lucy and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in parishes around Malta. In January, the enviable Maltese arts scene is up and running again, with the Valetta International Baroque Festival in early January. Blow the cobwebs away with some beautiful music in Valetta’s unrivalled Baroque buildings!

The essential ingredients for a successful staycation definitely include the serious and the silly. For your serious fix, the Megalithic temples of Malta and Gozo are a UNESCO heritage site, and some of the most complex examples of their kind in Europe. Like the modern Romans strolling casually past the Coliseum, it’s easy to take the islands’ history for granted. Make like the tourists and go for a private tour of the temple at Ggantija. Who could forget the Carravggios in the Co-Cathedral of St John? Still hung in the part of the Co-Cathedral is was commissioned for, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist is one of the treasures of Malta’s art history. As for fun, maybe a coffee and a chat at Café Sicilia Bar to enjoy the view, or a spa day at the Radisson Blu at Mellieha? If you’ve only been there for a wedding, or two, make sure you try out the Aryuvedic treatments or the Hammam Ritual.

There’s a lot to look forward in 2017, and looking ahead to Valetta as a European Capital of Culture (which it arguably already is!), the future is bright. In the meantime, remember to make the most of the beautiful islands we call home. Who wants to go skiing anyway?

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