Winter in Scandinavia and northern Europe certainly has its charms. Christmas, warm drinks and fresh air see us through the darker months, but few would deny longing for sun, sand and seaside during months of relentless darkness and cold. If you long for a warmer climate, but want to avoid the holiday hordes bedecking the coastlines of our best-known Mediterranean neighbours, Malta might just be for you. The tiny, ancient island state tends to go under the radar, but it has consistently punched above its weight throughout history, from the time of the Knights of St. John to its career as not one but two main locations in Game of Thrones.