Whenever family or friends from abroad are coming to Malta, they always ask what clothes to bring. They’ve checked the weather out, but still are in a quandary. And for obvious reason. If they’re arriving from northern Europe or the colder parts of N. America, then their seasons, while the same in theory, are out of shift with ours here.
In fact, Malta in winter has weather like a British summer – unpredictable. For example, these last days of November are spring-like and hot. Deep blue skies, no wind, no clouds and high temperatures in the middle of the day; people in bikinis sunbathing at Golden Bay last weekend. November? More like May.
But, it’s not all plain sailing. Last week was a wake-up call to us that Malta can be uncomfortably cold when the wind chill bites. We are an exposed rock in the middle of the Med and face fierce storms.
Also, most houses, particularly older stone ones, and, dare I say it, even some hotels, don’t have adequate heating to provide nice, ambient room temperatures. Indoors can be colder than out in fact! I remember taking my own fan-heater to a dinner party last March – in a week which saw icy blasts swinging down from the Alps.
And while I’d recommend Ts and even shorts if you’re on holiday here today, I’d also advise on some very warm pullovers, something water proof and some footwear that isn’t sandals. Because while it’s blue by day, it’s very damp and chill at night – a thick sea fog was reported these past nights as well as humidity of 94 per cent.
Dress Code: Malta is a relaxed place so don’t waste space bringing too much finery unless you are aiming to dine out posh a lot or have an event to go to. That said, if you are invited out to dine, and don’t know your Maltese hosts too well, err on the side of being smarter – we like to dress up Italian-style when the occasion calls for it, heels, ties and all. Older folk here always do. Women must cover bare shoulders when entering churches – less an issue in winter, but just take a cardigan or scarf with you.
Packing: We’ve drafted a ‘unisex’ list, but women bringing dresses and skirts should plan some sort of tights or leggings as it isn’t all open-toe shoe weather! If possible, opt for natural fibres as you can find weather turns hot after a cloudy, stormy start, and you need to feel comfortable. Prepare to layer back up quickly once the sun is setting on any winter day!
Weather Updates: See Malta Weather.
Here are some clothing suggestions for a week in Malta from now till the end of March. Layers being the operative word!
T-shirts: 3, short- and long-sleeved, cotton jersey Ts (ideal to layer and useful to sleep in!)
Cotton jumpers / cardigans: one thick, one or two thinner to layer.
Fleece: ideal as lightweight and warm, great for seafront walks and subsitute for a coat/jacket (try to get to airport back home without heavy coat in tow, if you can!)
Jeans, Cargoes, Chinos: any 2 or 3 of these, but choose one lighter pair for hot winter days. Aim for one pair smarter for dining out.
Linen Trousers/Skirts : possibly a pair of thicker weight linen trousers or a skirt, but don’t bother with these Jan-Feb as mostly too chill to wear then.
Water/wind-proof jackets: ideal to bring a lightweight waterproof – casual zip-up fine. It is can double as a fleece that’s a removable lining, all the better. Ideal to wear on harbour cruises trips and seafronts.
Smarter shirt/blouse: you might find you can peel off a layer inside in restaurants, so plan to have one or two smarter shirts to reveal (men, you rarely need a tie unless you like them or are on business!).
Umbrella: Even if it ends up inside out as when it does rain, it’s always windy, and often gale force in winter.
Shoes: anything you’ve worn in that’s low heeled and comfy (pavements can be dodgy). Sandals useful still for some days, but don’t ever leave home for Malta in winter without something more waterproof. closed toe, and easy to dry!
Swimwear: of course people swim all year round in the sea, though not me. But, out of the wind, most winter months are fine for sunbathing.
(Tip: Pack only for one week. You never wear more even if staying for two!).
Photo: Gege Gatt