The Mediterranean island of Malta has no shortage of charms, from its stunning architecture and landscapes to the glittering green-blue sea that surrounds it. But if you’re looking for a European retirement destination that offers healthy living with an outdoor-oriented lifestyle, then this tiny country might have just what you’re looking for.
Situated south of Sicily, Malta’s mild climate allows residents to enjoy the outdoors nearly year-round. Warm to hot temperatures run from April through early November, which means plenty of long months to splash about in the sea, amble along the island’s excellent hiking trails, go cycling, or just sit on a café terrace with good friends and the sun on your face.
Water Sports in Malta
If your idea of healthy living involves engaging in water-based activities, you’ve won the golden ticket here. Malta is heaven for swimmers, kayakers, sailors, snorkelers, and scuba divers alike. Not only are the waters off Malta’s coast known for being fantastically clear, they’re also extremely clean and safe. In fact, Malta ranks as having among the highest quality swimming waters in Europe. During the warm weather season (which lasts about eight months) you can swim or otherwise enjoy the water nearly every day. And in cooler seasons, heartier sea-bound souls don’t hesitate to break out wet suits to enjoy their favorite watery pastimes.
Maltese Hikes and Walks
Prefer hikes and leisurely rambles to the sea? No problem. Malta has numerous scenic and well-organized hiking trails. Take any number of long walks along the coastal trail, which offers a wealth of fabulous sights, from the vast blue expanse of the Mediterranean to the startlingly abrupt beauty of the Dingli Cliffs.
On Malta’s timeless inland paths, you’ll walk clouded in the scent of wild thyme, which grows in abundance along the road. Look for migratory birds, exotic flowers and plants, and the occasional (harmless) snake or two. Don’t forget that while the big island of Malta has an extensive network of excellent paths, the smaller islands of Gozo and Comino have equally extraordinary walks as well.
Malta Cycling Opportunities
Cyclists will also find plenty of opportunities to indulge their sport on Malta. There’s simply no better way to explore the islands’ charming medieval villages and towns than by bicycle. Twisting, narrow country lanes lead you all over the island, allowing you to enjoy the changing landscape and tranquil atmosphere even while getting your heart pumping.
Healthy Eating in Malta
But exercise is only part of the story when it comes to healthy living on Malta. You also have ample opportunity to eat the healthy Mediterranean cuisine that so many non-Mediterranean cultures try to adopt. Despite being a tiny island, Malta produces a large and plentiful range of fruits and vegetables, and imports many others from nearby Sicily. The island is also awash in olive groves, as it has been since ancient times, and produces an olive oil known for its high quality and unique taste. With these fresh ingredients, you’ll have no problem preparing excellent healthy meals that tingle the taste buds.
If you don’t feel like cooking, ditch your kitchen and slip out to some of Malta’s healthier restaurants and cafés. When I was there, I was addicted to the Cafè Mint in the popular seaside town of Sliema, which offers seasonally fresh, homemade global fare. Very reasonably priced and with a menu that changes daily, you can easily get a main course, drink, and dessert for under $14. Not bad at all for the high quality it offers.
A Healthy Life in Malta
Finally, there’s something to be said about the health benefits of living in a place that offers 3,000 days of sun, friendly locals, dynamic cultural events, and a large, welcoming expat community. Malta’s overall atmosphere is one that’s good for the spirit and good for the soul. What more can you ask for?
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