If you read my previous articles about Malta, it should come as no surprise that the day spent on Gozo was my favorite one on this trip. Don’t get me wrong, Malta is wonderful and it packs quite a bit to do and see for every type of traveler, but Gozo showed me what Malta looked like before it became touristy. “Mini Malta” is only 1/3 of Malta’s size, but has all the charm of Malta and adds its own rustic flair. It would definitely be a mistake not to explore the small island.
Malta’s little sister is simply stunning. It was spared from mass tourism and over development. At the same time, there’s an abundance of natural landmarks of unique beauty and a lot to see and do. The atmosphere is more authentic and relaxed and Gozitans are friendlier. There’s only one real sandy beach, but there are epic swimming holes that will tempt you to cool off, old historic temples, beautiful villages, baroque cathedrals, hiking trails, valleys, caves, endless countryside, incredible diving spots, old farmhouses and places to have a glass of wine and dine. Should I even add that it is believed to be the Island of Calypso in Homer’s Odissey? I would have been charmed by the island also. Can’t blame Ulyses.
How to get on Gozo?
Gozo is one of the three main islands that make up Malta. In order to get there, one needs to take a ferry from Cirkewwa Harbour, close to Mellieha. Jump on the ferry as early as possible if you only have one day on the tiny island. The return ticket will cost you 4.65 euro/person. You’ll only be asked to pay when you get the ferry back to Malta. If you have rented a car, take it with you. It will be useful as you’ll be able to see more of the island without losing time in traffic. The return ticket for the car, including the driver, costs 15.7 euro. The ride takes 30 minutes and leaves every 45 minutes.
How to get around Gozo?
In order to move around Gozo, it would be best to have a car or a scooter. You can bring it with you from the main island, or rent it there. For advice regarding renting a car, read my detailed article. If you don’t want to or can’t rent a car, the island is still accessible by public transport or a hop-on hop-off bus.
The hop-on hop-off bus costs 18 euro/person for one day. It leaves daily from Mgarr Terminal every 45 minutes from 9:40 am to 15 pm. The bus will stop at all the main attractions: Ramla Bay, Ggantija Temples, Calypso Cave, Marsalforn Bay, Victoria Bus Station, Ta’Pinu Sanctuary, The Crafts Village, Dwejra Bay (ex Azure Window) and Xlendi Bay. Read here more details.
The cheapest option is to use the public transport, but it also takes away some of your freedom and time. A 7-days ticket for Malta and Gozo costs 21 euro/adult. Find out the routes and fares on the official site.
How long to stay on Gozo?
While Gozo can be visited on a day trip from Malta and this is what we did, I recommend at least one night and two days on the island. One day is not enough in order to relax and take in all it has to offer. However, if one day is all you have, I still think it’s a good idea to visit it. As for me, next time I’ll visit Malta, I’ll probably spend around 4 days there. I really enjoyed it. Maybe I’ll become a modern Ulysses.
The options for accommodations are as good as it could get. Who could say no to a tranquil and old farmhouse, an entire house or a room in an old town house in the capital city of Victoria? They cost less than 50 euro/night/two persons. If you didn’t use Airbnb before, you also get 40$ discount by using my link to sign up.
Top 10 best things to see on Gozo
Victoria is the picturesque and pedestrian friendly capital of the island. It lies in the center and acts as a cultural and commercial hub. Take your time to wander around and take in the beauty of the town. If you go a little away from the main square, the streets will be empty and as authentic as it can get.
Above the city rises a stunning citadel. It was created centuries ago out of need of protection against pirates and invaders. In fact, until 1637 the residents had to spend the nights in the citadel by law. Of course, for their own safety. Only a few families live inside the city walls today. A walk around the old city walls will provide you with amazing views over the city and countryside below.
There is also a combo ticket that costs 5 euro and gives you access to Gozo Museum of Archaeology, Gran Castello Historic House, Old Prison, Gozo Nature Museum and the Citadel Visitor Center. I especially enjoyed the Gran Castello Historic House which is in fact a folklore museum and helps you have a clear view over the people and how they survived on the island. At the visitor center they have some interesting short movies about the history of the region, evolution and invasions. The combo ticket does not give you access to the Cathedral of the Assumption. It costs 9 euro/person.
This magnificent basilica stands close to the village of Gharb. Relatively new, it was built between 1920 and 1931 on the remains of an earlier 16th century chapel. It’s not only that it looks impressive and can be seen from miles away, but it’s also considered a miracle church. Twice a year hundreds of pilgrims visit it. Many of them also climb Għammar Hill, located opposite the church. On the way, there are 14 statues that represent the Way of the Cross.
Dwejra Bay suffered a huge loss when Gozo’s most famous site, the Azure Window collapsed back in 2017. The arch had been formed when two limestone caves collapsed creating it. Today, it partially recovered, being the newest trendy site for divers, next to the close by Blue Hole.
Non-divers can take a boat tour in a small fishing boat from the beach at the Inland Sea to see where the arch stood and other caves nearby. The tour takes around 15 minutes and costs 4 euro.
The bay offers teal-blue waters perfect for snorkelers and divers, but also a small sandy beach perfect for families. The many seafood restaurants and hotels in the area make it one if the favorite resorts in Malta. A cliff stairs pathway takes the adventurous to the top and offers them an excellent view over the colorful harbor.
Ramla Bay is the only real sandy beach in Gozo and one of the best in whole Malta. The sand there is kind of reddish. Calypso cave, made famous by Homer, is close and you can visit it. Unfortunately we got there a little to late to enjoy the sun and water.
The salt pans
Gozo offers everyone a chance to learn more about salt production from sea water. Only two kilometers from Marsalforn, we found a never-ending checkered board of salt pans cut in the rock of the coast. They are 300 year old and still functioning. In summer, salt is collected and sold by the locals. They reminded me of the salt pans and factory in Nin, my first contact with this type of industry.
Wied il Ghasri
Gozo has many interesting swimming holes. One of them is the narrow cliff-bound inlet Wied il Ghasri. From the top, we had a stunning view. After walking down around 100 stairs we got to a tiny pebble beach and the cool water. There were only two other people around. The perfect place for a swim. After that, don’t miss the sunset from Giordan Lighthouse. We didn’t get there in time, but saw some wonderful pictures.
History buffs will be thrilled to find out that Gozo has the oldest free-standing monumental structures in the world, the Ggantija temples. They are older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge. The complex comprises two temples dating from 3600 BC. Their name derives from giant, as locals thought they were built by them. Entrance costs 9 euro. Even if the main island also contains similar structures, these are said to be older.
The mill survived from the Knights’ Period. Visitors can see the picturesque outside and the inside.
What to do on Gozo, aka “Mini Malta”?
- Shopping. There are hundreds of boutiques on the tiny cobbled streets of Victoria and in the citadel. If this is not enough, you can also visit The Crafts Village, where local artisans display their products daily.
- Horse riding – with Gozo stables
- Participate at a wine and cheese tasting produced on the island. Tal-Massar Winery organizes tours and tastings twice a week.
What and where to eat on the island?
Gozo is much more relaxed and rural. There’s a high chance the product you’re eating come from a farm just miles away. Just as on the main island, at any time of the day you can have a tasty pastizzi with ricotta, smashed peas or meat, a sweet honey ring or a delicious cannoli. Gozo has its own cheese, Gbejniet, cheeselets made from goat’s milk, fresh, marinated or dried with pepper or paprika. Besides this, Gozo wowed us the the restaurant department. The best meal we had while in Malta was at The Fat Rabbit in Nadur. Wines are produced in local wineries. They are not the best we’ve ever tasted, but good enough. I also enjoyed the Zeppi and Ambrosia liquors made from carrob, almond, vanilla and many other flavors.
Hopefully, I’ve already convinced you that Gozo is gorgeous. I only wished I had more time to take in the beauty of the island and fall in love with the local food and people.
Did you visit Gozo? What did you enjoy the most? Would you visit/revisit the island?
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