Best places to travel to for Christmas 2018

16
NOVEMBER, 2018

Christmas

Many families look forward to their Christmas break. There is no denying that no time of the year is as special as Christmas time, and being able to spend it in a foreign country adds to its magic. While the trip’s preparations may seem rather daunting at first, there is no doubt that a Christmas trip is one of the main highlights of the year.

You would want to go to a place which offers you the very best in terms of Christmas festivities, while you also have a relaxing time with your loved ones. There are various Christmas holiday destinations that are popular during the festive season. We will be discussing some of these, while trying to include something for everyone, both in terms of type of destination, as well as budget.
So brace yourselves and check out the following to choose the perfect Christmas destination this year!

Malta – island on sea

Photograph by Ferenc Horvath via Unsplash

Malta

You might never have heard of this tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, but it is actually one of the best places you could go to for Christmas. In Malta Christmas is celebrated in a very sweet manner, making it the perfect destination for a family with kids. This island is predominantly Christian and so you will be cherishing the real value of Christmas. With Baby Jesus and the Nativity scene as the focal points, in Malta you will be able to savour some unique Christmas traditions as well as great food.

In Malta, you will notice that homes are very nicely decorated for Christmas. It seems that the Maltese people go out of their way to bring the Christmas spirit to every corner of the island. You will be able to savour some lovely churches and cathedrals decorated for the festive season too. Christmas is a major celebration not only because it is a holiday, but also for its religious meaning here. You will be able to feel this clearly in the churches in Malta, where there are several traditions that make the true essence of Christmas come to life. These include the traditional priedka, which is a sermon a little boy or girl performs from memory during the midnight mass on Christmas Eve.

There is the statue of Baby Jesus beautifully decorated in each church, and in many villages and the Baby Jesus is also used for a traditional procession in the streets with the participation of many children. The traditional crib will also be found in all churches, as well as plenty of crib exhibitions in different areas of the various villages. These are very artistically made with some even being mechanised.

Gozo – Silhouette photography of person standing near mountain

Photograph by Remi Yuan via Unsplash

Speaking of the nativity scene, you just have to go to Gozo, which is Malta’s sister island. You can get there by ferry, from the Cirkewwa port. The ferry trip lasts about half an hour and it costs only Euro4.65 per adult and Euro1.15 per child. If you plan to hire a car from Malta, and use it in Gozo, the fee for the car and driver is Euro15.70. So at this low cost you will be visiting two islands instead of one. Gozo is smaller than Malta and more rural. The main attraction here is the Betlehem in Ghajnsielem, where for the past few years a beautiful life-size nativity is organised over 20,000 square metres of land, with the participation of some 150 actors. Here you will definitely be offering your children a very vivid idea of what the nativity looked like. It is indeed a unique experience as this real-life reproduction of Betlehem includes everything from the grotto to the various dwellings and tradesmen of the era, a local crafts area, and much more. Other key Christmas attractions in Gozo include quaint village squares decorated for the festive season, art exhibitions, various choir performances and pageants, Christmas markets, and you should also make sure to visit the Cittadella which is a focal point of this island.

Back to Malta, you will also be able to savour some key Christmassy attractions, particularly in the capital city, Valletta, which is beautifully decorated all the way from the Triton Fountain and along Republic Street. There is the wondrous St. John’s Co-Cathedral to visit here as well as a handful of churches dispersed along the narrow streets of the city. There is also the Manoel Theatre which is renowned for the Christmas pantomime, the Malta Toy Museum and countless shops where you can make your Christmas shopping. Many towns and villages also organise Christmas villages and Christmas markets. Getting around and about in Malta is simple as the island is so small that everywhere seems to be close by. So by hopping from one bus to another you can literally visit the whole island! The main bus terminus is in Valletta, and bus trips cost around Euro1.50 per trip, or else you could opt to buy a card for around Euro39 which allows you to travel as much as you like for a whole week. Alternatively you could hire a car and make your way along the streets of Malta on your own. Prices are quite affordable and it is also a practical option considering that the island is so small.

Christmas in Malta is the perfect option for a family Christmas break. Prices are very competitive if you were to compare them with other Christmas destinations both in Europe and elsewhere. There are many hotels to choose from, most of which have very good reviews because the Maltese are renowned in the hospitality sector.

The cuisine in Malta is exceptional. You will find countless dining options in most areas, especially in the more touristic locations like St. Julian’s, Sliema, and St.Paul’s Bay. Since it is Christmas time you will be able to try out some traditional foods prepared especially during this period. These include the hot chestnut and cocoa soup (imbuljuta tal-qastan), and the treacle rings (qaghaq tal-ghasel). You will also find lots of mince pies, Christmas cakes and Christmas logs. Although not a Christmas food, you should make sure to try out the traditional Maltese pastizzi, made with ricotta or peas.

Sea beach water rocks

Photograph by NegativeSpace via Pexels

Another advantage of spending Christmas in Malta is that you will not have to worry about having your trip ruined by bad weather. The weather in Malta is typically very warm, and so even in late December you are bound to get warm sunny days with temperatures ranging around 11 and 16 degrees Celsius. A Christmas trip in Malta will not break the bank but it will definitely give you a very Christmassy break which will be remembered by all the family.

Malta travel information summary

Transportation

  • Ferry: €1.15 (kid) – €4.65 (adult)
  • Bus: €1.50 (per trip) – €39 (weekly travel card)
  • Car (with driver): €15.70

Places to visit

  • Gozo island
  • St. John’s Co-Cathedral
  • Manoel Theatre
  • Malta Toy Museum
  • St. Julian’s
  • Sliema
  • St.Paul’s Bay

Local cuisine

  • Imbuljuta talqastan
  • qaghaq talghasel
  • Maltese pastizzi