GOZO, More Than A Day Trip From Malta
Visitors commonly visit Malta, but consider Gozo an afterthought or a quick day trip.
However, this petite island is worth more than a two-hour bus tour. It’s an ideal spot to spend a few days relaxing on a stunning red sand beach while exploring the Mediterranean Sea, above and below the surface. Walk paths used by man and beast for centuries and immerse yourself in thousands of years of history. The incredibly blue Mediterranean and hidden beaches will always be in view as you walk.
Malta is a dazzling country situated in the heart of the Mediterranean. The Republic of Malta is one of the smallest archipelagos in the world, with only three of its islands being inhabited, the main Island of Malta, and its sister islands of Gozo and Comino.
Explore an enormous walled city that shielded Gozitans from pirates and invaders for centuries. Meander through Neolithic temples, one of which is among the oldest standing structures on Earth.
Have a long lazy lunch at a quiet lido and savor cuisine that draws inspiration from the sea and the changing seasons. Experience the renowned Mediterranean diet. Sample local wines, beer, and liquors crafted on the island for centuries.
Gozo has many activities – village holiday parties, festas, the annual carnival, art exhibitions, music performances, and theater shows. Visit museums, stunning churches, and take curated small- group tours.
Culinary experiences are ubiquitous. There are Michelin-starred restaurants, al fresco cafes in the village square, kiosks selling traditional street food, and street markets with the freshest produce, fish, bread, and pastries.
The Isle of Gozo is Malta’s little sister, a hidden gem within the island nation. Measuring nine miles in length and four and a half miles in width, this place can transport you back in time by 20 years. The slow-paced rural culture of Gozo still holds on to the traditional Gozitan way of life, which places high importance on family, faith, the land, and the sea.
Gozo is an island with a rich and diverse culture, a fascinating history, and friendly locals who are always happy to welcome visitors. With over 3,000 hours of sunshine each year, it is the sunniest destination in the EU. With mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers, temperatures rarely drop below 60ºF or rise above 88ºF.
Famous for its crystal-clear waters and excellent water sports facilities, the sea temperature ranges from 68ºF in winter to 82ºF in summer. Gozo offers some of the best water sports experiences in the world.
Sun & Swim at Gozo Beaches
The beaches in Gozo are less crowded compared to those in Malta. There are sandy beaches and pebble-covered beaches, all of which are beautiful and offer a peaceful atmosphere. You can enjoy various activities such as sunbathing, swimming, snorkeling, beachcombing, and building sand or pebble castles.
Sightseeing and Walking
Gozo has been inhabited by man since 5900 BC. Surprisingly, much evidence of ancient man’s life remains on the island, and new sites are being discovered.
The most visited, Ggantija, is located in Xaghra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the oldest free-standing buildings on Earth. It was constructed by the Temple Builders between c.3600 and c.3200 BC. The archeological park houses the temple and an impressive museum that showcases the daily life, work, and worship of the people who once inhabited this site.
Bronze Age dwellers built the first fortification where the Cittadella now stands. Beginning in 1599, the Knights of St John rebuilt it to become a large fortress defending citizens from invading forces. Today the walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with museums, galleries, shops, a cathedral, and various dining options. You can easily spend a whole day exploring. It is also the venue for celebrations, concerts, and special events such as the Luminaria, when 30,000 candles illuminate the walled city.
Gozo is home to 46 churches and chapels in the 18 villages on the island. They are all magnificent. Most villages have two churches and at least one chapel. They are filled with priceless art and décor. Each village church has a patron saint. A feast is held each year, lasting several days. It includes secular and religious celebrations, food, wine, music, dancing, processionals, and lots of fireworks.
Exploring the island’s geography, architecture, flora, fauna, and villages can be best experienced by walking the ancient footpaths. Visit Gozo has curated five walks (www.visitgozo.com/blog/5-walking-routes-that-you-can-trek-hike-in-gozo-this-spring/), including a salt pans walk, a beach walk, a coastal walk, an inland walk, and a lighthouse walk, among the dozens of trails available.
Gozo villages are small and welcoming places to get to know locals while enjoying a coffee or wine at a village square café. Attend one of the many celebrations held throughout the year for holidays, Saint’s feast, agriculture, seasons, arts, hobbies, or ‘just because.’ Stroll through the street market, wander the narrow winding streets. Visit a village band club and listen to the musicians practice for the next celebration. Band clubs always have a café and bar with reasonably priced food and libations. The sales support the club and music education for youngsters.
Day Trips From Gozo
The island of Malta is only 2.5 miles across the Gozo Channel. Hop on a ferry and spend the day in Valletta, Malta’s exciting capital walled city. Explore the backstreets, busy avenues, and sea front. There are history, archeology, art, and WWII museums. From Valletta’s bus terminal, venture out to fishing villages, temples, and beaches.
Eating & Sleeping On Gozo
Indulging in the food scene in Gozo is an unforgettable experience. From Michelin-starred restaurants to street-side kiosks, the options are plenty, and the ingredients are always fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, wine, or beer. Mediterranean cuisine reigns supreme here, whether traditional Gozitan, Italian, or Middle Eastern dishes. Folks are planning their dinner menu while having breakfast. The variety of outstanding dining options in Gozo is endless, including cafes, restaurants, and kiosks.
One food experience I suggest is a cooking lesson at Tal-Furnar Bar And Restaurant. Tal-Furnar is located in Xaghra. Operated by a fourth-generation chef and baker, the food is traditional Gozitan fare. The 100-year-old wood-burning oven has been in use longer than any in Malta. Making a Gozo Ftira is one of the hands-on activities offered. After making your Ftira (a Gozitan pizza), it will be cooked in the wood-burning oven.
There is a diverse selection of accommodations available in Gozo for every taste and budget. Stay in one of the cozy B&Bs, or indulge in a 5 or 4-star hotel. Visitors can even stay in a farmhouse where they can immerse themselves in the traditional Gozitan way of life with all the modern amenities. No matter your client’s preferences or budget, you will be able to find them a perfect place to stay.
To locate an ideal accommodation, look at Visit Gozo’s Extended Stays page (www.visitgozo.com/extended-gozo- stays). This site covers an extended stay promotion for the shoulder season – October 15, 2023 – March 15, 2024. Thirty percent savings are offered on all types of accommodations.
Getting To Malta
Malta has an international airport, MLA (www.maltairport.com). Although there are no direct flights from the US, Malta is accessible by air from North America through most European gateways as well as Istanbul.
The only way to get to Gozo is by boat. The Gozo Channel Ferry (www.gozochannel.com) cruises to Gozo from the Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal on Malta’s north end. The ferry takes 20 minutes and operates 24 hours a day. Foot-passenger fare is $5 roundtrip. You do not pay at the Malta terminal. Fare is collected in Gozo when you return to the main island.
Gozo Highspeed cruises to Gozo via hydrofoil from the Malta capital city, Valletta. The trip takes about 45 minutes. Comfortable seating with Wi-fi and large windows make for a pleasant journey. Fares range from $3.30 to $13.20 one way for foot passengers and cyclists.
Gozo is small and easy to get around. Public transportation is modern, safe, clean, and reliable. Leave the driving to someone else and enjoy the scenery. Discount bus cards are available from machines at the airport and all bus terminals. Add the Tallinja App to a phone or tablet to find routes and schedules.
How about 3,000 hours of sunshine a year and the clear, blue Mediterranean and dazzling beaches. Gozo is a living museum that you walk through when exploring man’s habitation since the Bronze Age. Did I mention the food? Hook-to-mouth seafood, farm-to-table meat, veg, and fruit. Then there are the people. Warm, welcoming descendants of the twelve conquerors of this tiny island nation.