Gozo, known as Malta’s ‘Sister Island’ is the 2nd largest island situated in Maltese archipelago . It is believed to be famous ‘Calypso’s isle’- island home of the nymph Calypso, described in Homer’s Odyssey. Gozo is much greener, quieter and peaceful than main island of Malta. Nature, rural characteristic, rich history and culture make it different from other parts of Malta. It is one of the best places for scuba diving and rural hiking in Malta. The capital of Gozo is Ir-Rabat. Here in Gozo travel tips I am going to list down my preferred top 10 attractions in this Maltese island.
‘Gozo’ means “joy” in Castilian. Surely you will find perfect joy and pleasure once you reach the island.
Related post: A Complete Malta Travel Guide
Interesting Facts about Gozo, Malta
- Around 37,000 residents of Gozo are known as Gozitans.
- The island is 8 miles long and 4 miles wide.
- The village of Xewkija has a church big enough to fit all its residents inside. It’s dome is the 3rd largest unsupported dome in Europe.
- Though the capital was renamed to Victoria way back in 1887, it never got the popularity. Still people use Rabat as it’s preferred name.
- Ggantija is believed to be the 2nd Oldest man made religious structure. It is a 5500 year old temple complex.
- The legend in Gozitan folklore says Ggantija structures were built by mythical beings.
Where is Gozo
How to Reach Gozo
There is no direct road to Gozo from main island of Malta. The only option is ferry. Visitors must take ferry from the port of Cirkewwa which is in north-west coast of Malta to Mgarr on Gozo. Gozo Channel Line service makes trip every 45 min and the ferry takes about 25 minutes. A return journey ticket costs 5 Euro (as of 2019) and you need to pay only while returning. We took our rented car to Gozo and I think it is the most convenient way to roam around the island. There are sufficient public transport available, but if you want to explore remote places like Tal mixta cave, car will be more convenient.
Top Attractions in Gozo - Gozo Travel Tips
1. Cittadella of Rabat:
It is a beautiful fortified city of Victoria, situated on a hill near the centre of the island. The city was fortified during the Bronze Age, around 1500 BC. You will feel the ancient age once you are there. The amazing view from the bastion will be remembered for many years. You must try pastizzi, a local food outside the citadel. The Cathedral of Assumption in the area is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.
This place can easily be reached by public transport.
2. Ggantija Temple
Ggantija Temple complex is one of the best-preserved and most impressive archaeological sites on the Maltese Islands. This UNESCO-listed prehistoric site dates from a very early period of human life– from 3600 BC to 3200 BC. It is the world’s second oldest existing man made religious structures after Göbekli Tepe, Turkey. It is even older than pyramids of Egypt.
There is a local folklore about the temple that a giantess who ate nothing but broad beans and honey built this temple complex while carrying a child on her shoulder and made it a place of worship.
3. Dwejra Bay
Gozo Travel tips do not get completed without mentioning Dwerja Bay. It is one of the most spectacular archipelagic landmarks in Gozo. All the surrounding habitat consists of geology, fauna, shoreline sea scapes, archaeology, flora and history. Dwejra has four sinkholes– Dwejra Bay, Berwin, The Inland Sea, and The Blue Hole.
Dwejra was the home of the Azure Window- a natural limestone arch formation which collapsed into the sea in 2017 during a severe storm. Now-a-days Azure ruins are very popular among tourists.
The Blue Hole
A 10-meter-wide sea pool in Dwejra Bay, is one of the most popular dive sites in Gozo for its splendid underwater scenery. Divers must pass through an underwater rock arch and tunnel of rock formations before diving into the sea. The clear blue water is filled with octopus, lobster, parrot fish, sea bream and other fishes.
The Fungus Rock
A small limestone islet at Dwejra Bay is another tourist attraction of the place. It was formed when an arch collapsed. The name ‘fungus’ came as once there grew an endemic fungus which was highly prized for its medicinal properties.
Fungus Rock is a perfect target for sunset photography through the opening in it. However, this option is only available from the inlet anchorage and during a particular season when sun descends right way. We did not have the luck though.
In general, the sunset in Dwejra is breathtaking. It brings many tourists to the bay during fag end of the Day. Just sit down on the rock, have snacks/ice-cream and enjoy the Sunset.
4. Ramla Bay & Calypso Cave
Ramla Bay is the largest beach, located at northern Gozo. Unlike other beaches in Malta it has a wide shore, covered in golden- reddish sand. This place attracts both tourists and locals as it is a good place for swimming, snorkeling and busking in the sun.
A sandy path from Ramla Bay goes to Calypso cave. Unfortunately, the cave was closed during our visit. It is believed that this is the cave referred by Homer in Odyssey. The story says that Gozo is Homer’s Island of Ogygia and the cave is the one where the beautiful nymph Calypso keeps Odysseus as a “prisoner of love” for seven years.
You can easily reach Ramla Bay by public transport. A bus stop is located very near to the beach.
5. Tal-Mixta Cave
Gozo travel tips does not get completed if there is no mention of Tal-Mixta Cave. This place close to Ramla bay, secluded from the beaten path is just a hidden gem. The name ‘Tal-Mixta’ is derived form ‘mxett’ meaning wintering. You need to drive a bit of a dusty undeveloped road to reach the cave. Do not forget to park before the ‘Private, No Entry’ sign. You have to walk along the road beyond this sign, and then find stairs leading down to the cave. You can hike to the place from Ramla Bay as well.
6.Ta’ Pinu Basilica:
This basilica is a Roman Catholic minor Basilica and national shrine located in the village of Għarb. It is a masterpiece of architectural work, especially with its superb sculptures and craftsmanship with Maltese stone. The beautiful surrounding of the church makes the drive through the area enjoyable.
7. Marsalforn Bay and Saltpan
On the north coast of Gozo , Marsalforn Bay is a charming sandy beach, buzzing with life. The area is well served with hotels, self catering apartments, bars and restaurants with a ton of great food options. The place is also a popular base for diving enthusiasts.
Saltpans in Xwejni Bay at Marsalforn are very popular among tourists. These saltpans are part of centuries-old Gozitan tradition of Sea-Salt production. During summer months, locals can still be seen collecting salt from saltpans.
The caves that have been carved into the coastal rock are used to store and process salt.
8. Ghasri Valley:
Ghasri Valley is a narrow cove, approx 300 metres long with a winding inlet and rugged, high cliffs on both sides. It has a nice pebbly beach and calm water. This place is popular among divers who like to explore surrounding underwater caves, especially the famous Cathedral Cave. The very narrow and secluded bay of the valley is a haven for people who seek a quiet bathing area.
No public transport is available to the valley. You can reach Ghasri valley by a half an hour walk from Marsalforn. Another option is hiring quad bike or bi-cycle from Xwejni Bay.
Nadur, Gozo’s ‘second city’, is a true traditional Gozitan town located on a high hill at eastern part of the island. The name ‘Nadur‘ derives from Maltese word ‘Nadar’ which means ‘to keep guard’. Nadur itself can be considered to be a kind of watch tower for the whole island. The town is famous for its baroque parish church and Nadur Carnival. The flee market on every Wednesday is very popular in the area. The Church is famous for its architecture and beautiful painting.
You can visit small but tranquil San Blas Bay beach from here. You must walk, as the beach is not accessible by car.
Xlendi is a typical Gozitan fishing village, situated in south west of Gozo. The village is named after a galley of the period, called ‘Shilandi’ which was wrecked along the coast.
The sandy beach with shallow water makes it a perfect place for swimming, snorkeling and diving.
An hour bus journey from Gozo Ferry will take you to this beautiful bay.
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Though Gozo is a tiny Island, it is difficult to squeeze everything into a single Gozo Travel tips. The whole island is worth to visit. Hopefully you will have plenty of things to do during your visit. Feel free to comment if you have queries. Keep in Touch!!!