Much of northern and eastern Europe is having a hot time this summer. Last weekend, the UK’s metereological office issued a heatwave alert. It touched 31°C daytime and around 20°C at night in some parts of Britain. Here, we’re well up in the 30s now, with the next day or so seeing 35°C midday, and around 24 or so at night. See the Malta 5-day forecast.
We don’t get heatwave alerts until almost touching 40+ here in Malta, and so we ask ourselves what all the fuss is about up North! I haven’t noticed my elderly neighbours keel over in the summer, though they are along with the very young, in a more ‘at risk’ group in extreme heat.
The main reason why we cope in the Med is that we know the heat is coming and prepare for it: shutters and hasiras (cane blinds) are down; working hours in most offices, definitely public sector, are reduced (OK for some then!); people get errands done by 8am (foods shops are all open very early); and we hole up inside till we venture out after 5pm for a swim. Despite aircons in offices and 24/7 ‘always-on’ communications, we’ve not really seen a change in working or cultural practices in Malta in summer.
But, apart from shifts in our routine, what else can keep us cool in Malta as summer hots up? We’ve done a round up of events, places and pastimes to chill out at or with whether you’re a local or just visiting.
The obvious place to chill out, but also get sunstroke! So don’t forget the sun-sense tips and what to do about jellyfish. Also, do take time to remind yourself about how to keep kids safe around water.
Tourist Trail Cities
Some sightseeing places are just out of the question if you’re a late riser. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra Temples are tourist must-sees but they are on exposed rocky coastline with little shade, though a great visitors’ centre may help keep you inside a bit. Walking around Valletta, Mdina and Birgu are still good options as their narrow streets and location give good shade and often through breezes. They also house lots of museums to hibernate in.
The best summer pastime is sunset catching. Head out at 7pm for a sundowner – either take your own bottle (and take the empties home) or find a cafe to perch in. Ghajn Tuffieha bay is my favourite. Here are some other sunset spots.
Underground sightseeing is a weird and wonderfully cool option I was reminded of while visiting Fondajzzoni Wirt Artna’s air raid shelter ‘Malta at War’ museum in Birgu last week. The tunnel bomb shelters are 40 feet underground, and were very cool (if a bit musty). There are plenty of other fascinating museums and places to visit underground.
OK, so they won’t be open at midday, but it’s already hot by 9am right now. Churches are always cool and calm. I love the moment’s blindness when you walk from harsh sunlight to deep darkness within. The Chiaroscuro effect is what a Maltese summer is all about. Our top pick of churches to visit.
Open-air Evening Events
Do as the locals do, if you’re visiting, and stay up and out late to catch what breeze there is. Waterside events are aplenty right now – 15, 16, 17 July sees the Malta Jazz Festival at Ta’ Liesse below Valletta and Grand Harbour side. The Farsons’ Great Beer Festival starts 23 July and runs till 5 August at Ta’ Qali and is a chill-out event for all the family (strangely enough)! Clubbing may be more your thing. Cinemas are air-conditioned so bliss this time of year; and with National Cinema Day 17 July, you can get in cheaply.
What to do with Kids in the Heat?
Always a key question this one! With locals having to get through three months of kids’ summer holidays, and tourists needing a good crop of ideas to keep little ones entertained, we’ve this round up of cool, fun and relatively stress-free ways for parents and carers to keep sane! If you have to have kids in tow when you’re working, here’s how we got through a very hot day, office included.