You wouldn’t believe this; Malta is a Christmas island (yeah another Christmas island)! It’s not only me who is saying this but also CNN Travel has given Malta this prestigious honor. In their listing of the best Christmas vacations Malta got the top position before New York and all the other places! I don’t wonder, Malta prepares for Christmas in a very impressive manner. You can see and hear Christmas on this catholic island. Decorated, historical, warm-hearted streets welcome you to join the Christmas spirit. So forget the more obvious destinations and head to Malta.
Here goes why!
Capital of culture and the Maltese crib
Valletta has been the European capital of culture in 2018. That’s why everything has been special this year! There is also a crib in the Triton Square – it’s designed and produced by Maltese artist Manwel Grech and before this year it has been in Vatican and in Bethlehem. Beside the traditional nativity story the crib is decorated in the Maltese way, since there are iconic symbols of Malta like the luzzu boat of the fishermen.
Of course the whole capital has prepared for the Christmas, so go walking the narrow atmospheric streets. The golden church, as I call it, St. John’s Co-Cathedral, is the place to go: because it glows in gold and the Caravaggio paintings glow colours!
Christmas shopping and decorations
Beside Valletta Sliema is another good spot for responsible Christmas shopping: Sliema centre and Tigne Point shopping centre play Christmas carols and there is also live music in the streets. Valletta Sea Front harbour and Sliema centre both have Christmas market too. When doing the responsible Christmas shopping and thinking hard what to buy, I think, the best thing is to go for a pint of Cisk and have it outside by the heat lamps. After all it can be +15 degrees still in December! How nice…
It’s nice to walk in the Maltese streets during the holiday season because also the houses are decorated. You can see all sorts of interesting things, like a Santa that is hanged or psychedelic Christmas lights – but also beautiful windows. Many of the Maltese balconies and doors are naturally colourful so you may spot a forest green door or a Christmas red balcony.
There are a lot of good restaurants in Malta – when you know them! One nice option for a peaceful atmospheric dinner is to book the private balcony of the Lord Nelson restaurant, well in advance. Lord Nelson is in Mosta, so on the same trip you should visit the Mosta Dome / Rotunda of Mosta. This is the Pantheon of Rome style church that has faced some miracles. In the second world war a bomb came through the church dome but it didn’t explode. So the people in mass and the whole church survived like a miracle.
The other good options for a Christmas dinner could be: Emperor of India or Shakinah (if you like Indian food), fancy Zen Sushi or a bit more casual (the best!) Club Sushi, delicious Lebanese Ali Baba or the tunnel restaurant Rampila in Valletta.
Christmas holiday bath time
Why don’t you enjoy the Christmas peace in a relaxing spa? Le Meridien is one option for this – of course it gets the homie points from me because I used to spend a lot of time there – at the gym – when I lived in Malta. Late in the evening and in the morning the pool of the spa is silent and it’s nice to read a book there too.
Navity play on Gozo
Gozo is the special part of the Maltese Christmas. They play the story of Salvation from Creation to the Birth in the St. Lawrenz village and this tradition has been going on for 50 years already! My Maltese friend Chris used to play the angel who expelled Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden when he was a child. There is also the “live crib” the Bethlehem f’Ghajnsielem – it’s a village on the fields and the actors are making the right feeling of the era. There are also open air market and some activities like the Maltese boat going across the river. I have never experienced the Christmassy Gozo though, so let me know how it was, if you ever get there.
Catholic church first and then a pint of Cisk!
I already mentioned a few churches and I highlight that it’s nice to get a glimpse of the Maltese Churches during the Christmas. They say there are 365 churches in Malta, so one for each day! I think the funniest thing on the island is that sometimes a church and a pub are just next to each other. So try this: first a prayer, then a pint IF you come across a setting like this! Read my article about the Maltese pubs. Me and my friends also used to spend time in the Crow’s Nest Pub in St. Julian’s, just because it has a Christmas tree!
Have a nice Christmas season!