“I hope you’re enjoying your stay,” said the Maltese hotel clerk as I gave him my heavy room key to place in its cubbyhole behind the desk. “I’m sorry about the weather this week, but today is going to be beautiful.”

I had to stifle a laugh. Almost every local person I met during my stay on the Mediterranean island of Malta felt compelled to apologize about the weather. It was, they told me, the worst stretch of weather they’d had in months—more like winter than spring.

Personally, I thought there was little to complain about.

In early May, the daytime temperatures were in the low 70s F. True, the blue skies were littered with fast-moving clouds, powered by mighty winds that made you grip your camera for dear life every time you took a picture. And once there was an intense five-minute downpour. But none of this bothered me. I explored the islands comfortably; feeling neither too hot nor too cold, and enjoyed dining al fresco on restaurant terraces every day. By the final two days of my six-day visit—the “bad” weather was over. Cloudless skies, sunshine, and a 78 F temperature reigned.

Malta is a desirable destination for a multitude of reasons, but for many people its weather likely tops the list. Smack in the middle of the Mediterranean, this English-speaking island clocks 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. From late May through to late October, average daytime temperature ranges from 70 F to 80 F, with intense sunshine and dry heat in July and August, usually reaching 90 F.

Winter weather is hailed as the mildest in Europe with temperatures from January through March averaging 61 F, with lows dipping to the mid-50s F and highs sometimes reaching 68 F. These months are punctuated by rain and, sometimes, by the strong winds. Nonetheless, you can still expect to see sunshine for a few hours nearly every day. Thanks to being protected by continental Europe to the north and Africa to the south, tropical storms and hurricanes around or near the island are rare.

The mildness of the weather makes Malta an excellent place to be all year round. Naturally, in warmer months, the major attraction is the exquisite green-blue sea that surrounds the island. Water sports such as swimming, snorkeling, sailing and scuba diving, kayaking, and more, regularly take place from April through early November, sometimes even occurring the winter months for die-hard water fans.  The average annual temperature of the water is 68 F.

When the weather is cooler, it’s the perfect time to explore Malta’s historic sites, from megalithic stone temples older than the pyramids of Egypt, to the stunning honey-colored limestone fortifications built during the Middle Ages. The country also offers numerous scenic hiking trails.

Climatically speaking, when is the best time to visit Malta? That depends. If you are a sun-worshipper who thrives in intense heat and loves the idea of remaining pool or seaside, come in high summer. If you want to explore the islands’ stunning bluffs, historical sites, and trails, without breaking a sweat, head there in April, May, October, or November.

But if you’re looking to retire to a lovely European island that offers plenty of year-round sunshine, short mild winters, gentle sea breezes, and virtually no tropical storms, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place than Malta.

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