Water Sloshes. Glimmer caves. A shiny metal ladder. The wind blew his back. You switch over, throw a tee shirt over your face, and continue to bask in the sun. Welcome to Gozo.
With Europe’s hottest tourist season heating up, many people are looking for alternatives to the busiest sites of alcohol neck and sunburn. But while some are negotiating Magdaluf for Malta, Lagos for Lipari, Ibiza for Interlaken – you get the picture – can we suggest another alternative? Malta Trade for Gozo. That’s right: although Malta is a nicer and quieter alternative to somewhere like Magaluf, Gozo is even quieter than Malta (and is right next to it).
With this in mind, here is your ultimate guide to Gozo – Malta’s cooler sister. Where to go when it’s windy, how far to go for a fancy dinner (or a more casual pizza by the sea), as well as tips on the best mode of transportation (so you don’t end up spending hundreds on Ubers, or walking 10km in the hot sun, as I did), below you.
What is Gozo?
Gozo is an island. It is 13km long and 7km wide. It is located in the north (and a little to the left) of Malta. It’s a great place to relax, and has an incredible history. The main languages spoken are Maltese and English. It is separated from Malta by water. Between them lies Comino, an even smaller island with an incredible Blue Lagoon.
History Of Gozo
The history of Gozo dates back to the year 5000 BC when a group of people from Sicily crossed on some kind of boat or raft. It is said that these people lived in caves around Il-Mixta on the Plateau of Għajn Abdul on the outskirts of the village of San Lawrenz, in the North-West of Gozo. Since then, several people have taken over Gozo, from the mysterious builders of the Giantess Temples, who are documented as the oldest independent structure in the world, to people of the Bronze Age, Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Romans. , Byzantine, Arab, European. , the Knights of St. John, the French and the British.
Malta and Gozo formally became a British crown colony in 1813 and the island became a fortress colony, now best known for its resistance to the Axis bombings during World War II.
According to the Gozo Tourism Association: “Malta and Gozo became an independent sovereign state within the commonwealth on 21 September 1964 and were declared a Republic on 13 December 1974.
The website adds: “Although conquered by Malta since time immemorial, Gozo has had semi-autonomous governments several times in its history, the last being the civic council of Gozo between 1961 and 1973.”
“The island is now run like any other part of the Maltese islands. The executive functions of the central Government are carried out through the Ministry for Gozo, established on 14 May 1987. ”
How to get to Gozo
Gozo is accessible either by Fast Ferry or by car (slower) from Valletta (the main port in Malta). The fast ferry takes 45 minutes. Car ferries take a little longer. The fast ferry operates 63 times a week, with one departing every hour. Ceases to operate sometimes is the wind is extremely strong. But this is quite rare (and in those cases you can just get the ferry slower). Essentially: to get to Gozo, fly to Malta, then bring the fast ferry to Gozo, from the port of Valletta.
The Best Places To Visit In Gozo
Gozo is home to incredible sites of natural beauty, as well as historic stone henge esque monuments that carry the mind. There are also some good places to eat and drink. Here are the best to visit.
If you love sunbathing, cliff diving, drinking “pineapple with any alcohol,” you see people, kayaking or waterskiing then this is the place for you. It is also a place from which to leave most of the scuba diving and boat tours. Top tip: if you walk (or swim) around the rocks to the right (when looking out to the ocean) you will find a much less crowded area where you can swim and snorkel away from the crowds. There are also some cool caves for careful swimming inside.
Calypso Cave is a cave at the top of a cliff, overlooking Sandy Bay. It was mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, and appears in thousands of Instagram posts (like the epic photo above, taken by @rhystthehuman_). You can reach it by walking about a kilometer (first along the beach, and then up the cliff) from the entrance of Ramla beach. Or you can drive to the top (which you noticed after climbing) and walk down the rear entrance to the cave. From inside Calypso Cave you have expansive views of the beach and coast.
The Inland Sea
An internal lagoon at Dwejra in Gozo is connected to the sea by a jaw dropping, a canyon almost 80 meters long. It’s a great place to have coffee, soak up the sun, swim, snorkel and jump off rocks. A bit of a microcosm of the rest of your trip to Gozo, probably.
The Azure Window (What’s Left Of It, Still) & The Blue Hole
Behind the corner from the inland sea in Dwejra was one of the most famous natural attractions in the world – The Azure Window. Unfortunately, it fell in 2017. It is now a collapsed natural arch, which you can still go and take a look at. The nearby rock pool (The Blue Hole) is a pretty nice place as well, if the waves aren’t too big. Oh and did you know that part of Game of Thrones was filmed near here? Once you visit, see why.
Bonus tip: if you want to see an unbroken arch, see Wied il-Mielah, located about 15 minutes away from the Azure Window.
The Salt Pans
The Xlendi Salt Pans they are another part of Gozo that you must see. A popular wedding venue in the evening, they are good to check out during the day (and there are also a few beach kiosks nearby to have a drink and pizza afterwards). They make you feel like in a Star Wars Tatooine … if Tatooine had an ocean near him.
If you want to check out the city from above, or if you’re a history buff, this is a great place to visit. Oh, and there’s free wifi all over the place at bars and cafes nearby. Bonus points if you buy a postcard (there is also a post office nearby).
Temples of the Ggantija
This world heritage site is a bit like Stonehenge. They are among the first independent stone buildings in the world and, UNESCO considers them “remarkable for their diversity of form and decoration.”
According to UNESCO: “Every complex [of the Megalithic Temples of Malta] it is a unique architectural masterpiece and a testament to an exceptional prehistoric culture known for its remarkable architectural, artistic and technological achievements. ”
The Blue Lagoon
Although technically not in Gozo (the Blue Lagoon is located in Comino) you cannot currently stay in Comino, so Gozo is probably your best option to visit the Blue Lagoon. You can do this either by boat or kayak (or Jetski). The Blue Lagoon seemed a bit of a holiday boat spot when you visited (think: slides from water boats, music, etc.), but there are also quiet areas around the island of Comino where you can swim and snorkel in. -peace.
The Best Tips To Visit Gozo
Rent A Quadbike Or Scooter
Although Gozo has some pretty awesome riders, if you are happy to take your chance on a quadbike or scooter, it will save you a lot of time and suffering. I tried to go hiking on the first day, walking 10km from my accommodation to the Azure Window (and doing sunstroke in the process).
Then I found an Uber house that took me a while to get to Dwejra (Uber had just been introduced to the island) and it was expensive. On the second day I used public transport which was ok, but slow (and it was still meant to get me to many places I wanted to go, I had to walk a little, because the bus would rarely stop you right at the beach).
Then on the third and fourth days I got a scooter and took a blast. If you are visiting the island for two days, I highly recommend taking a quad bike from where you arrive on the ferry. You’ll save a lot of money yourself on taxis, and it’s much easier to get to the coolest attractions than it is by public transportation (and means less walking up the hill).
Download eCabs and Bolt
Uber has just been introduced in Gozo (since June 2022), so your best bet for a rideshare haling is to download all three (from what I understand Bolt and eCabs are slightly cheaper than Uber, and substantially cheaper than a haling of cabin).
Go to Qbajjar Restaurant Gozo
My favorite restaurant on the island by far.
Look On The North Side Of The Island
Save your money by staying on the north side of the island, where it is a bit cheaper than the center or south, and then use that money to rent a scooter or quad and explore around. Well – if there is a big wind on either side of the island being on it, if it comes up on the top you will probably find a sheltered cove somewhere.