To many of us, Scandinavia is a northern kingdom of ice, snow and glaciers where the sun doesn’t shine and, according to Nordic noir bestsellers from the likes of Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell, where flawed detectives hunt rune-tattooed thugs through neighbourhoods with unpronounceable names.
That the weather is one of the six reasons why Scandinavians love Malta so much isn’t such a surprise. Conversely, the other reasons, while already known to connoisseurs of Malta, reveal a lot about what Scandis want out of a holiday.
In this blog, some of the most famous modern Scandinavians share why they love Malta so much. While we’ll start off with weather, by the conclusion we’ll see that our Nordic neighbours demand a lot more out from their vacations than simply sun, sea and an escape from the house.
As promised, we kick off Why Scandinavians Love Malta (WSLM) with the most obvious reason:
WSLM 1: Malta’s magnificent weather
Malta is well-known for its warm climate and long sunny days, which is a major draw for Scandinavians who are used to cold and dark winters where the water freezes in the air and the sun rarely shines. During the summer months, temperatures in Malta can reach as high as 35°C, making it an ideal destination for sunbathing, swimming, and outdoor activities. Maltese often stare at amazement at families with young children from Nordic countries swimming in the December sea, which at 18.1 °C is a little too cold for those with Mediterranean blood.
Alexander Skarsgård, the Swedish actor known for his role in True Blood and The Northman summed up Malta and its climate while on a recent film shoot in the islands.
“Malta is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been […] and the weather is perfect.”
WSLM 2: Malta’s fascinating history and culture
Malta has a rich history dating back thousands of years, with influences from the Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Knights of St. John, French, British, and even the descendents of Vikings who ruled France, the Normans. Visitors from the Nordic countries find Malta’s history fascinating and no more so than in the UNESCO World Heritage Site and capital city, Valletta, with its stunning architecture and historic landmarks such as St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grand Master’s Palace.
Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess grandmaster and current World Chess Champion, visited Malta in 2019 and said he “loved exploring the ancient cities” and that the country held an abundance of history and culture.
The chess master recommended Malta for people who love their relaxation spiced with a bit of adventure.
The Mediterranean country is also famous for its colorful traditional festas, which take place throughout the year and involve elaborate parades, fireworks, and street parties.
WSLM 3: Malta’s Instagram-ready beaches
Norway’s chess icon also fell for Malta’s other charms, adding: “I loved exploring the ancient cities and visiting the stunning beaches.” Malta is indeed home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean, with crystal-clear waters and sandy shores. From the popular tourist hotspots of Golden Bay and Mellieha Bay to the hidden gems of St. Peter’s Pool and Fomm ir-Rih Bay, there is something for everyone.
While accustomed to seeing exotic places all around the world, the actor Skarsgård was nevertheless captivated by Malta’s natural beauty, saying the “scenery is stunning.”
For younger travellers from Scandinavia, cosmopolitan St Julian’s is a popular spring and summer mecca. With the golden sands of St George’s Bay to enjoy by day and the vibrant nightlife Mecca of Paceville all within strolling distance, it’s another example of what The Northman star said made Malta “a great place to relax and unwind.”
WSLM 4: Malta’s vibrant cuisine & culture
Maltese cuisine is a unique blend of Mediterranean, North African, and Sicilian flavors, with fresh seafood, hearty stews, and delicious pastries. Some of the must-try dishes include Maltese street food classic pastizzi (flaky pastries filled with ricotta or mushy peas), fenek (rabbit stew), and ftira (which can be a folded, calzone-style pizza made with potatoes in Gozo, or ftira biz-zejt a construction worker-sized sandwich stuffed with tuna and tomato paste).
Perhaps the most underrated Maltese specialty is aljotta, a sublime fish soup made with a whole rockfish.
The beauty of the Maltese islands is you can enjoy the cuisine in great restaurants or a picnic on the beach. Gozitan islanders flock to traditional wood-oven bakeries such as Mekren’s in Nadur for takeaway pizza-style ftira to be enjoyed on nearby Ramla beach.
In Malta, life revolves around food, and many Scandinavians are more than happy to embrace the Mediterranean lifestyle and festivals that add so much colour and good living all year round.
Elin Kling, the Swedish fashion blogger and entrepreneur, wrote on her blog that Malta is “a hidden gem” where “the food is delicious, and the people are friendly.”
The fashionista said her time exploring historic landmarks and enjoying the weather left her wanting to repeat the experience – “I can’t wait to go back!” she wrote.
WDSLM 5: Because Scandinavians love a story
A peculiarity about Scandinavians, freely admitted by the Swedish in particular and maybe something to do with all those Viking sagas, is that they love to read. While reading novels and listening to audiobooks on the beach is on the decline elsewhere, Scandis still love a good story. One of the most famous is The Malta Story, a classic black-and-white movie based on true events in World War Two in which the little island archipelago survived the heaviest bombing raids in history.
In addition to gripping tales of Malta’s WWII history, the more recent bestsellers such as David Ball’s The Sword and the Scimitar go back to the time of the great wars between Malta and the Ottoman empire. Add the belief that Malta is a mysterious isle upon which Odysseus washed up and got ensorcelled by the witch Circe in Homer’s The Iliad and Malta has more than enough tales to keep the bookish Scandis captivated.
“A magical place,” was how Fredrik Eklund, the Swedish real estate broker and star of the TV show Million Dollar Listing New York, described Malta during a holiday with his wife and twin children.
WSLM 6. Direct flights to Malta from major cities
The ease of travel plays a major role in Malta’s popularity with Scandinavians, as the country is appealing, close-by, affordable, and not expensive to fly to. With the increasing number of budget airlines like Ryanair offering flights to Malta from major Scandinavian cities such as Oslo, Stockholm, and Copenhagen, it’s easier than ever to hop on a plane and be sipping cocktails on Golden Bay beach within a few hours.
Malta is also a small island, so its not just easy to fly to, it’s a doddle to get around by bus, taxi, or car.
Overall, Malta’s combination of heavenly weather, bewitching beaches, rich history and culture, delicious food, and ease of travel make it a popular destination for Scandinavians looking to escape the cold and experience something new.
As Eklund summed up, Malta has something new for everyone, and not just curious Scandinavians. The reality TV celebrity said his family “loved exploring the old towns, visiting the ancient temples, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters.”
And that’s Malta for you, where there’s so much magic packed into one easy-to-explore island, it’s practically irresistible to our friends from the north.