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Climate and Weather

Malta - Climate and Weather

The islands which make up Malta are located in the centre of the Mediterranean, and therefore have a typically warm and pleasant Mediterranean climate which attracts tourists throughout the year.

The sun can be expected to appear at some point of the day, even during the mild winter months. Between December and January the average temperature is approximately 8 or 9 degrees celsius, with some days warmed by the sun and others chilled by strong winds that make the air crisp and cool.

During these winter months a good coat will allow you to enjoy al fresco drinks at a local cafe, or long walks along the coast. It is generally not warm enough to sunbathe. You are unlikely to go swimming in the sea at this time because the water is cool, but there is an olympic sized heated indoor pool at the MFA (Malta Football Association) Stadium complex. This is based in Ta Qali, which is near Rabat and Mosta. It is open to the public all year, although a small fee is charged for entry. Expats who enjoy regular swimming may decide to invest in a yearly membership subscription. Alternatively, many 4 and 5 star hotels will allow access to their pool and spa facilities either as a paying guest or as a member of their leisure club.

During spring the temperature rapidly increases, so that even by April the daytime temperature can hit highs of 17 degrees celsius. Rainfall for the month averages 24mm, but rain will only appear for one day in every three. It is an ideal time of year for sightseeing and long walks.

With these temperatures it is a good idea to dress in layers. A t-shirt will keep you comfortable during the warmest parts of the day, whilst a light cardigan or jumper will keep you warm in the cooler early mornings and chilly evenings. Keep an umbrella handy in case there is an unexpected shower.

By mid July Malta is very hot, and will remain so until mid September. Temperatures will average 28 degrees celsius but may hit highs of 36 degrees celsius, and nights will be hot. The sea breezes can help cool the air a little but this will have a limited impact indoors. If you live in a farmhouse or similarly old property with thick stone walls, you may become accustomed to the indoor temperature but many prefer the benefit of air conditioning. In a modern building air conditioning will be essential.

At this time of year sightseeing and walking in the heat can be difficult for many people. Many tourists arriving during the summer will do little beyond sunbathing at the coast or by the pool, although brief organised excursions will make popular destinations busy given this is the height of the tourist season.

Come the autumn, Malta once again reaches a pleasant temperature that is warm but not hot. October will average 15-20 degrees celsius when approximately 72mm of rainfall will be expected on perhaps 11 days of the month. Normally the sun appears for a long time each day. Few tourists will visit between the end of October and the beginning of March.

Workplaces normally provide air conditioning which provides some relief to those working during the hot summer days. Men working in Maltese offices will often wear suits all year round, but with short sleeved shirts in hot weather. Women may wear trouser or skirt suits, but are often less formally dressed than men. Jeans, leggings and T-shirts are not usually acceptable in an office environment, but skirts and trousers can be combined with shirts or tops. Many women wear smart heeled shoes.

Around Malta’s islands are a number of seismic faults, which are fractures in the earth’s crust. Movement in the faults cause energy displacement, which materialise as earthquakes. Malta has a long history of earthquakes, the most serious of which occurred in 1693. It was a magnitude 7.4 Richter scale earthquake and caused extensive damage, although no lives were lost and Malta still retains many historic buildings which withstood this event. It was the same earthquake which devastated the Sicilian city of Catania, and stronger than the magnitude 7.00 Richter scale earthquake which destroyed so much of Haiti in 2010. A 4.5 Richter scale earthquake occurred in 1972, with further notable events in 1979 and 1997. On average, some residents in Malta will be able to feel the effects of an earthquake every seven or eight years. However, Malta has high architectural standards which mean these events seldom cause much damage, and no deaths in Malta have been attributed to earthquakes.

Whilst areas near the sea may be at risk of tsunamis, especially following an earthquake event, Malta has never experienced one within documented memory. Scientists at the University of Portsmouth identified 70-ton boulders which had been picked up from the seabed and thrown inland by huge waves during a significant event in the past, but no eyewitness records of this are known.

The mountainous terrain surrounding the Mediterranean, and the shallow bowl in which it lies, mean that a tropical cyclone is unlikely to form to a mature size. However, storms which are powerful enough to be called Mediterranean hurricanes, or ‘medicanes’, do sometimes affect Malta. They have hybrid characteristics of a tropical storm and an extratropical storm. High winds and storm conditions then fall to near calm conditions, quickly followed by a second peak of the storm. In 2014 a medicane brought wind speeds of 47 miles per hour to Malta, accompanied by flooding rains, although more damage was caused to the coast in Sicily, which was hit by the same storm.

In 2017 gale force winds and high waves destroyed the iconic Azure Window, called “Tieqa tad-Dwejra”, on the Gozo coast. Recently used as a location for the international TV phenomenon “Game of Thrones”, the massive rock archway set in an azure blue sea had long been used in photos promoting Malta’s destination as a tourist getaway. The storm swept away the entire structure.

In 2015 three British tourists died by drowning at a popular tourist spot. Red flags are raised at the Blue Lagoon off the coast of Comino island when sea conditions are considered too dangerous to swim. Unfortunately many people ignore these warning signs, thinking the water looks calm and safe.

Other tourists have died during diving accidents, and whilst they are rare events, they are a reminder that these risky activities should be undertaken only with adequate supervision and preparation. Take particular care with nearby boats, as one person died in 2016 after being hit by a boat propellor whilst in the water.

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