This summer we were invited by Visit Gozo to get to know Gozo, the sister island of Malta. Being from the Caribbean and not having been to Malta before, I’ve never heard of Gozo. A quick search online brought up the most stunning landscapes, beautiful culture and architecture. I was more than excited to come explore what seems to me as a hidden gem in Malta! Join me on my trip to Gozo for 3 full days (If I would come back to Gozo I would definitely stay a week to visit all villages and spots, 3 days went by so fast).
How to get there
We flew directly from Amsterdam to Malta with Air Malta which is a 3 hour flight. Once you get to the airport of Malta you have a few different options on how to get to Gozo. You can get the fast ferry from Valletta which takes 45 minutes or a normal ferry that only takes 20 minutes from Ċirkewwa. We rented a car at Malta Airport to drive to the ferry and take our car along. The drive was 45 minutes to the northwest of Malta, we followed the signs that said to Gozo ferry and also used our google maps. The ferry in Ċirkewwa departs every 30/45 minutes to Gozo with standard fare for passengers being €4.65 and for a car with driver it’s €15.70.
Where to stay
In Gozo there is a vast selection when it comes to accommodation, from 4- and 5-star hotels to farmhouses, boutique hotels or B&B’s. We chose to stay somewhere quiet to catch a break from the busy lifestyle. We spent all our time at the Cesca’s Boutique Hotel located in Xlendi Valley with stunning views and luxury rooms. The location of this hotel was perfect as it was quite central and only a five minute drive from Victoria the capital of Gozo.
One of the most convenient way to see everything Gozo has to offer is by renting a car. You can rent a car in Gozo but I advice to take one from the airport in Malta as they have more options and it will be helpful to get you from the airport to the Gozo ferry. Gozo also offers an excellent bus system with busses driving multiple times a day to a variety of stops. It is affordable and the stops are located in popular areas and sightseeing spots. However, most of the hidden spots we went to were not very close to a bus stop. You can find more about the bus schedule here. You can also find taxi’s, bikes, quadbikes, tuk tuk’s and other transportation around the island which are definitely a unique experience to discover Gozo. I recommend as best option for flexibility and exploring to rent a car for the majority of your trip!
What to see
The small island of Gozo has over 10 different villages, all worth a visit. In the three days that we were in Gozo we passed through a few of them but didn’t get a chance to explore all. We spent most of our time in Victoria, the capital of Gozo. Here we visited the Citadel which is a fortification situated high above the town. From the Citadel in Victoria you have amazing views of the island and the area is important to the culture & history of Gozo. In the Citadel you find the Cathedral of Gozo, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. There is also the Bishop’s Palace, the Law Courts and various museums.
We came to the Citadel at 8 am before all the museums opened at 9 am, it was lovely to wander the streets while they were empty and it wasn’t very warm yet. We visited the Old Prison which was used to host riotous knights since the mid-16 century. What I found really interesting was that the graffiti in the limestone walls of the prison were still very clearly visible, these were often hand-prints, ships, names, crosses or dates.
After wandering around the Citadel which you can do in a few hours time, we stopped to have lunch at a local bakery. Ta’ Kampnari Bakery has a traditional wood burning oven where they prepare different dishes as well as fresh bread. We opted for the traditional Gozitan pizza, known as ftira, which then gets prepared in the wood burning oven. We were able to talk a step inside to see how our pizza’s were being prepared. Ta’ Kampnari Bakery was a bit tricky for us to find, but if you use google maps to find Lazuli Art (close to the St George’s Basilica) and you face this store coming from the direction of the church you will see the sign of the bakery at the end of the street to your left.
The Blue Hole
This naturally formed swimming pool is a popular spot for diving or snorkeling. It was easy to reach and less than five minutes walking from the car once we drove to the parking lot of Kappella Sant’ Anna. This is the deepest natural pool I’ve ever been in and it was such a unique experience to see the divers below you. We came here around lunch time and it wasn’t very crowded, I think it’s a perfect spot to swim anytime of the day. Make sure to bring your snorkeling gear so you can see how beautiful the hole is, bring some swimming shoes to walk on the surface where there are sometimes sea urchins and check the weather forecast beforehand. If the waves on this side of the island are rough than it’s advised to not swim here. In the days that we were in Gozo the weather and waves were perfect!
Ta’ Pinu National Shrine
Ta’ Pinu National Shrine, also known as Gozo’s Church of Miracles due to the fact that dozens of miracles are said to have been performed there over the decades, is one of the most famous churches on the island. The original chapel dates back to around 1534 while the magnificent church you see today was built between 1922 and 1932. The Church of Miracles is situated near the village of Gharb and is surrounded by stunning views. My favorite part were the details in the walls outside which you can admire from up close.
The island of Comino also forms part of the Maltese archipelago and is located between Gozo and Malta. It is a popular spot for visitors as it’s rich in nature and has beautiful waters. Its famous blue lagoon has the prettiest shades of blue. Interesting enough there are only two residents currently living in Comino. Since Comino is such a popular spot it gets many day visitors from Malta making it quite crowded. From Hondoq Bay or Mgarr in Gozo, you can find boats that will drop you off in Comino for cheap rates, it’s only a short 15 minute boat ride. The best would be to get to Comino early to have the beaches to yourself or go on a boat tour that will take you to the Santa Maria Caves, Blue Lagoon, Crystal Lagoon and Cominotto so you see the island in your own pace.
Salt is one of Gozo’s most essential natural raw materials and in the north coast of Gozo you can find Xwejni salt pans which goes on for miles. It is fascinating to see the salt pans but they are also important to maintaining ancient skill and trade which has been going on since the 1860’s in Gozo. The Xwenjni salt pans are owned by three different farmers who rely on the harvest. This makes it important to not walk in the salt pans to prevent any of the salt crystals getting contaminated or damaged.
Rotunda of St. John the Baptist
What makes this church so incredible is that it is said to be the third largest unsupported dome in the world and biggest church in Gozo. The church is located in the village of Xewkija which is one of the oldest villages in Gozo. The Rotunda is built from local limestone and is around 75 meters high. There is even a lift that goes up to the dome where you can see Gozo from above. We were lucky enough to visit the Rotunda during the feast of St. John the Baptist which is celebrated during the last week of June. During the feast the streets are decorated, there is local music, food and fireworks.
One of my favorite spots in Gozo! Absolutely breathtaking! Wied il-Għasri is a valley with a beach found close to the village of Għasri. The beach here is surrounded by high cliffs on both sides making the water nice and calm. The beach is not very big and is filled with rocks but the water is lovely to swim in and the views from the top are definitely worth the visit. If you want to avoid the crowds we went at 8.30am and there was only one family. After 10am it became busier, however this is also the time the sun starts shining on the water in the valley making it warmer.
The views of the Mixta Cave were even more beautiful in person! We parked the car close to the entrance and had to walk the last five minutes. Once inside I was blown away with the views of Ramla Bay down below. It was peaceful and quiet there, and it also was the perfect spot to watch the sunset in Gozo.
Hope this post inspires you to explore Gozo, let me know if you have any questions down below! Big thanks to Visit Gozo for helping us organize our time on the island.