Catch a glimpse of what makes a Maltese summer so special

Gnejna Bay

It is precisely for the Maltese lifestyle that I moved back to the island some years ago.  In summer, life is so varied and active that I am drawn in every time. I used to profess not to be a lover of the summer: Soaring temperatures and humidity were never my best friends. However, this year I made a decision to live every experience and truly appreciate where the enjoyment comes from.

So here are my favourite activities that epitomise a Maltese summer.

  1. Ice-cream and a stroll on the Sliema front

This might seem like the simplest outing, but the  fresh air, waft of the sea breeze, and feeling of serenity are unmistakable. The promenade along the Sliema shoreline is teeming with people pretty much every night in Summer. Families with their children, couples hand in hand, groups of elderly friends on a bench watching the world go by. While I was there recently, there was a festival of sorts going on close to Balluta. Though the live singing left a little to be desired, the atmosphere was distinctly summery as lights festooned the area, stalls adorned the pavement and a small fireworks display was released from a barge in the bay.  Add the most divine ice-cream or sorbet from Rivareno and you have a real recipe for summer.

  1. A day trip to Gozo

When the Maltese islanders think about Gozo it’s often with the aim of going to spend a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of Malta. But how about a day trip? I loved playing tourist for the day on a recent trip. The ferry crossing itself is an event, especially for my 5 year old niece who had never made the crossing before. First stop has to be the walled Citadel overlooking the capital Victoria. I’ve been there numerous times before, but the recent restoration project carried out has breathed new life into the place. I recommend a “brunch” stop of Maltese platters at a firm family favourite, Ta’ Rikkardu. A wander around the citadel and up to the bastions offers up stunning views, local crafts, ruins and an insight into what life might have been like here once upon a time.

Our next stop was “Dwejra”, home of the Azure Window and the Inland Sea. In the height of summer, the coach loads of tourists might make it all seem excessively busy. But take a walk down to the bay by the inland sea and take one of the boat trips. I always had these discounted as tourist traps… but boy was I wrong. The scenery is truly spectacular as the little boat eases out of the cave opening into the big blue sea, overlooked by sheer cliff faces. I would recommend rounding off the day with a late lunch at one of the lovely seafood restaurants down in Xlendi Bay, right at the water’s edge and then maybe a late afternoon swim before heading back down to the ferry terminal. I would suggest that day trippers avoid weekends and the ferry queues could be excessively long with weekenders heading home.

  1. A late afternoon swim

As I mentioned earlier, I have never been a big lover of the heat. So roasting on a beach all day really isn’t my thing. But there is nothing more pleasant than a dip after 4 pm. The sun’s intensity starts to wane  and the sea is just warm enough after a day being heated by the scorching rays. I also love this time of day since the crowds begin to dissipate and the rows of sunbeds and umbrellas get cleared away. I usually end up heading towards Gnejna Bay, just outside the village of Mgarr. It’s a lovely beach, though some may be put off by the rocks that make the descent into the sea rather tricky. But it is well worth a visit for the beautiful clear water and clean beach

Gnejna Bay

Fun at Gnejna Bay

  1. Pizza on the terrace

Al fresco dining is the norm in Malta in the summertime, and restaurants start moving their tables outside as early as March. I love those simple mid-week casual dinners out. A pizza or a great plate of pasta, chilled bottle of white wine or a beer, great company and some genuine laughs. Top it all off with a view of fireworks from the village feasts around the island and I would call it a pretty perfect evening. The best place for me for this kind of evening is Il-Veduta restaurant in Rabat. As its name suggests, the view from here is one not to be missed.

  1. After work drinks by the sea

Ok so people meet for drinks after work the world over. But there is nothing as reminiscent of Maltese summers for me as heading down to Exiles in Sliema for a couple of drinks before heading home. The sea breeze, the jukebox playing the same tunes year after year. It seems to be a foregone conclusion when deciding on a venue for a post-workday catch-up between June and September. I’ve been going there for at least 20 years!

I’d love to hear more about what makes summer in Malta special for you. What are your favourite things to do, places to visit and experiences to live?


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