Sannat, Malta

Photo: Hotel Ta' Cenc & Spa
Photo: Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa

With your tall boots, infinity scarf, and knit cap, you look like you’ve given up on the warm weather. Are you sure you want to do that? Don’t pack away your bathing suits and flip-flops for the season quiet yet. There’s a spot in Europe—yes, Europe—where the temperatures are still in the 70s. How about one last dose of summer before the long winter arrives?

Malta, an archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, is known for having mild, sunny days throughout autumn. Sure, you might have to keep an eye out for a passing thunderstorm, but that’s a lot better than the off-chance of an early snowstorm back home. After arriving on Malta, the main island, board a ferry bound for Gozo. The country’s second-largest island, which sits to the northwest, is known for its Neolithic Ġgantija temples, which are older than Egypt’s famous pyramids. Dramatic cliffs, sleepy villages, and sandy beaches line the coast. While a picturesque hotel, surrounded by historic sites, sits on the island’s highest point.

Hotel Ta’ Cenc, on Gozo’s southern coast, lies within a Natura 2000 area, where birds and plant species are protected. A tower stands at the hotel’s entrance; the lime kiln was used for whitewashing buildings. The Knights of St. John, who ruled Malta for 250 years, built the palazzo in the center of the grounds. The remains of Neolithic dolmens, unfortunately none intact, litter the property. Plus cart ruts, created when huge rocks were dragged across the land during Neolithic times, run toward the cliffs.

Photo: Hotel Ta' Cenc & Spa
Photo: Hotel Ta’ Cenc & Spa

But the hotel isn’t set up like a stuffy museum. Pools and gardens surround the medieval palazzo. The spa has a beehive ceiling and cozy nooks in which to relax. Meals are served al fresco on the terraces. Marble floors and comfy couches fill the lounge. Bungalows merge the indoors and the outdoors. Calm colors fill the bedrooms. Rattan chairs and sun loungers sit on the private terraces. While the view extends over the cliffs to the bright blue water and the Maltese Islands in the distance.

Your plan in Gozo: soak up as much sunshine as possible. Crickets start trying to wake you soon after the sun begins to rise. Feel the temperature increase as you eat breakfast next to a 400-year-old carob tree on the terrace of Il-Carubo. Sit in the sauna and relax during a Cleopatra’s Milk Soak foot bath at the spa before claiming one of the loungers by the pool. Eat calamari stew, with fresh tomatoes and herbs, and sip a glass of Chardonnay from nearby Bacchus Winery for lunch. Ride the shuttle to Il-Kantra in the afternoon. Though the beach club is closed for the season, the crystal-clear water, off the rocky beach in a fjord-like cove, feels refreshing.

Then continue north to Dwejra Bay. The gorgeous coastline is home to the Blue Hole, General’s Rock, and a sandy beach. This time of year, it’s practically empty. Everyone else may be enjoying fall activities, but you’re holding onto summer as long as possible.

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