Afternoon views of the Ta Pinu Basilica are one of the must do when visiting Gozo, Malta
Destinations,  Europe,  Malta

Why you Should Consider Visiting Gozo in 2024

Looking for a place where Medieval history meets amazing beaches and beautiful views? Look no further! The charming island of Gozo, Malta, despite its small size, is an island that punches well above its weight in terms of attractions and experiences.

From beautiful sights to underwater experiences, its natural landscapes, clear waters, and rich cultural heritage, There are so many fun things to do in Gozo that can easily get overwhelming.

Worry not! I will tell you which activities you shouldn’t miss. Visiting Gozo just became a lot easier!

Want to learn more about visiting Malta? Head to my guide to the island to find out if it’s worth visiting!

A Little Bit of History

A panoramic view of the majestic island of Gozo

Gozo is the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago, alongside Malta and Comino. The island is home to some of the oldest religious structures in the world, the Ġgantija temples, which predate the pyramids of Egypt.

The island was an important Phoenician trading post before falling under the control of the Romans in 218 BC. During the Roman period, Gozo was known as Gaulos and was renowned for its textiles, particularly its purple dye.

In the Middle Ages, Gozo was frequently attacked by Barbary pirates and Saracens, leading to the construction of the fortified city of Victoria, also known as Rabat. The city’s Citadel, which offers panoramic views of the island, is a testament to this turbulent period.

Gozo was ruled by the Knights of St. John from 1530 to 1798, a period that saw the island flourish. The Knights enhanced the island’s fortifications and introduced new agricultural methods, transforming Gozo into a prosperous granary.

The island was briefly occupied by the French under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798, but the French were unpopular and were soon ousted by the British with the help of the Maltese. Gozo then became a part of the British Empire and remained so until Malta’s independence in 1964.

Is Gozo Safe to Visit?

With safety as a main concern for any territory, visiting Gozo is no different. Gozo is blessed with a peaceful atmosphere and it’s one of the safest places to visit in Europe. It’s a small island where everyone knows everyone, and that includes keeping an eye out for each other. You can rest easy knowing that the local population is warm, welcoming, and always willing to lend a helping hand. 

One of the first things that has to come to your mind when planning a trip is insurance.

Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance is one of the best options available out there. With a maximum coverage of 365 days, they are a great option whether you are a Nomad or not! They offer very low rates, but excellent coverage and immediate support (in a few minutes!). The best part? Nomad Insurance can be purchased even if you have left your home country already.

Lastly, they also cover extreme sports, something that can come in very handy if you are an adventurous soul.

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However, like anywhere unfamiliar, it’s still necessary to remain cautious and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in tourist hotspots, where pickpocketing can occasionally occur. 

Getting To Gozo

To get to Gozo, you must first reach Malta’s main island. The easiest way to get to the island is a 25-minute ferry trip from the -still cannot pronounce it correctly- Cirkewwa terminal, located in the North. 

The following bus routes can take you to the Ċirkewwa Ferry Terminal from various towns and villages across Malta: 41, 42, 101, 221, 222, 250, and X1. If you get the bus from Valletta, it will take about an hour to arrive.

You can also catch the direct X1 bus to Ċirkewwa from the Malta International Airport. The trip takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes, and a one-way bus ticket costs just €2.

The ferry ticket costs 4.65€, return included. Please note that you will be given a ticket to show whenever you decide to return to Malta. This means that the return ticket is NOT day-specific.

How Many Days Should I stay in Gozo?

Generally speaking, I would recommend a stay of three to four days for a first-time visitor. This allows enough time to explore the island’s main attractions without feeling rushed.

While it may sound weird due to its small size, Gozo has many things to do. From Medieval castles, to beautiful beaches and scubadiving opportunities, there can be enough to justify a longer stay. That’s why I feel it’s unfair to this majestic place when people only dedicate one or two days.

For me, the Gozo experience is even better than Malta’s. So, give it a chance and you won’t regret it!

Is Visiting Gozo Expensive?

Aerial views of the amazing Marsalforn salt plants

For a small island in the Mediterranean, you’d be forgiven if you imagined massive costs for travel to Gozo. But the reality is pleasantly surprising! Comparatively, Gozo provides a fairly affordable travel experience. 

Dining in Gozo can vary in price. Local eateries and street food are generally affordable, with meals costing around $15-$25. However, if you choose high-end restaurants, expect to pay significantly more. The island is known for its fresh seafood, so it’s worth splurging at least once.

Transportation on the island is relatively inexpensive. The public bus system is efficient and affordable, with single tickets costing around $2. Alternatively, you can rent a car for more freedom to explore at your own pace. Car rental prices can range from $15 to $50 per day, depending on the type of vehicle and the season.

Entrance fees for attractions and activities in Gozo are generally reasonable. For example, admission to the Ggantija Temples is around $9. However, other activities, such as diving, hiking, and boat tours, can get much more expensive

Moving Around

Don’t get me wrong, renting a car is always a convenient way to get around. However, Malta (FYI, the country) has a surprisingly efficient public transport system.

The bus can take you everywhere on the island without any delays. I suggest getting the “Tallinja card,” which gives you access to all the public buses in Malta.

For me, it was a life-saving choice. For your convenience, download the Tallinja app that offers real-time tracking of the buses and can tell you how to get anywhere.

The only thing you are most certainly not ready for is the driving culture. And, oh man, it is a really” interesting” experience. Even on the bus, driving felt like an extreme sport. If you like your adrenaline rush, I could even list this as one of the things to do in Gozo.

A rather funny experience thinking about it now.

Places To Stay in Gozo

Grand Hotel Gozo: This is the hotel we stayed in on the island. The rooms were terrific, offering a spectacular view of the Ta’Pinu Basilica. Not only was breakfast great, but a swimming pool and many more facilities ensured we had the best time. The hotel’s location is also great, just 400m from the Mgarr harbor. They, indeed made visiting Gozo a lot better!

The Best Things to Do in Gozo

Now that you know how to actually get there, I will serve you the main course of this article. Here are six must-not-miss things to do in Gozo!

1. Victoria

“All the roads lead to Victoria.” This is the best way someone could describe this beautiful city named after the former Queen of England. Located in the middle of the island, the city is easily accessible from every single point of the island. Victoria consists of both the fortified Citadel and the old town of Rabat.

Wandering around the city gives you a glimpse of its long history. In the center of Victoria, the majestic Citadel provides spectacular views of the island. Day or night, this place is a must-visit for every traveler.

Most of the greatest things to do in Gozo are located there. Inside the Medieval fortress, you will find immersive sights that serve as a history lesson. These include the Cathedral Museum, the Museum of Archaeology, the Gozo Nature Museum, the Old Prison, the World War II Shelter, and many others.

Other popular attractions in the city include Independence Square, the magnificent St. George’s Basilica, and the Villa Rundle Public Gardens

A little secret: Next to the gardens stands an ice cream truck that offers the best ice cream you can enjoy on the island. It’s called Champions, like its ice cream!

2. Tal Mixta Cave

The Majestic Tal Mixta cave, one of the best places to see when visiting Gozo Malta

Lying upon the famous and crowded Ramla bay, one of the best Gozo beaches, this cave offers some of the best views on the island. But, unfortunately, the cave is commonly misconceived as the one where Calypso used to live. 

In Greek mythology, Calypso was a nymph who lived on the island, where she kept Ulisses for seven years. She promised him immortality if he stayed with her, but Ulisses preferred to return home. 

Important note! The actual cave of the nymph is located on the opposite side of the same place. However, it is unapproachable to the public due to safety reasons. However, that should not be discouraging because the Tal-Mixta cave is still among the greatest things to do in Gozo. It is best to visit by car, though public transport could do the job. 

Here is a funny story: We climbed up from the beach without knowing the proper path to the cave. This way was more adventurous, as the prickles on our feet would suggest. But, on the other hand, this place gives you a feeling of calmness, an inner stage of peacefulness.

3. Marsalforn Salt Plants

Located on the island’s northern part, the 350 (!) years old salt plants provide an excellent opportunity for a walk. I suggest you visit them during the sunset, and you will see one of the best golden-hour views of your lifetime.

The plants cover a 3km part of the island’s northern coastline. You will have the chance to overlook the vast Mediterranean Sea and take spectacular photos there. You will also see how people used (and some still) make the famous Gozo sea salt. This one is a hit not to be missed.

4. Wied il-Ghasri

Continuing our guide of the best things to do in Gozo with a lesser-known one! Also located in the island’s northern part, the Wied il-Ghasri Valley is a perfect opportunity for a good swim and snorkel. A series of steps is the only thing that keeps you away from this secluded yet beautiful beach. 

Be careful where you place your personal belongings, as someone I can neither confirm nor deny that was me managed to get his dinner pizza into the sea. Although, it was a bit saltier after that. I am starting to doubt that this Gozo travel guide can get any cheesier.

5. Blue Hole-Azure Window

The, now collapsed, Azure Window, as it was before

What could anyone possibly say about this place? A guide of things to do in Gozo would be incomplete without this one! All you need is to stop at the Dwejra bus station to visit this great concentration of natural wonders. At first, Dwejra Bay provides the opportunity for a boat tour inside the beautiful caves. This, however, is not why this place has an excellent reputation. 

A few minutes of walking lead to the famous blue hole and the now collapsed but still beautiful Azure window. The blue hole is a naturally formed pool, 10m wide and 15m deep. You can snorkel, dive, or swim and enjoy this natural wonder. This is also a spot for some fantastic pictures. Don’t forget to bring sea shoes because a sea worm could cause a burning sensation if someone steps on it. 

Behind the blue hole used to exist the Azure window. It was a naturally shaped, 25m high rock formation like an ark, and a visit there used to be in every list of the best things to do in Gozo.

However, tourist activity and some big storms caused its collapse in 2017. Nevertheless, the place is still beautiful, and the fallen rocks have created a tremendous scuba-diving spot. The water is as blue as it gets and is genuinely one of the island’s highlights.

6. Ta’Pinu Basilica

“Upon the island’s main harbor lies the“’ Shrine of Our Lady of ta Pinu’’. The most exciting thing is that the origins of the Basilica are still unknown. It was first recorded in the archives of the Curia in Gozo when Bishop Domenico Cubelles paid a visit to the chapel. The architecture and the mysterious aura surrounding the Basilica rank it among the best things to do in Gozo.

7. Ggantija Temples 

The Ġgantija Temples are one of the most important archaeological sites in Gozo, Malta. These megalithic temples date back to around 3600 to 3200 BC, making them older than the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge in England.

The name ‘Ġgantija’ derives from the Maltese word for ‘giant’, as local folklore suggests the temples were built by a race of giants.

The temples are characterized by their massive stone walls, some of which weigh over 50 tons. The complex consists of two temples, each with a central corridor flanked by apses, or semi-circular rooms.

The Ġgantija Temples are also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in Xagħra, they offer amazing views of the surrounding countryside and the island of Comino.

The site is easily accessible by public transportation and is a must-visit for anyone interested in history, archaeology, or simply appreciating the ingenuity of our ancient ancestors.

8. Scuba Diving

A man scuba diving in the island of Gozo

If you are looking for more adventurous things to do in Gozo, I highly recommend having a scuba diving experience! Gozo and Malta are generally considered diver’s paradise. The truth is that to dive into the fascinating underwater sites; you will need a PADI license. However, if you, like me, have no scuba diving experience, you should not get disappointed.

There are experiences for beginners that allow you to glimpse the beauty of scuba diving. Of course, you can only dive into a certain depth but trust me; it’s enough to create a fantastic experience.

We went to the Nautic team center in Marsalforn, which provided us with a great instructor and all the necessary equipment. They made sure we had a wonderful time there.

What are the Best beaches in Gozo?

When visiting Gozo, you’ll get the chance to swim in many stunning beaches, each with its own charm. Ramla Bay is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It’s known for its wide expanse of red sand and crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for sunbathing and swimming.

Hondoq ir-Rummien is another gem. This small, secluded bay offers breathtaking views of Comino and the Blue Lagoon. Its clear blue waters make it a favorite spot for snorkeling and diving.

San Blas Bay is a must-visit if you’re seeking peace. This small, secluded beach is known for its orange-red sand and clear waters. It’s a bit of a hike to reach, but the stunning views and peaceful atmosphere make it worth the effort.

Meanwhile, Dahlet Qorrot Bay is a small pebbly beach located in a quiet, secluded place. It’s a popular spot for snorkeling and is also home to a few traditional boathouses.

Finally, Mgarr ix-Xini is a picturesque pebbly beach. It’s famous for swimming and snorkeling, and it’s also known for its historical significance as it was used as a harbor in Roman times.

Final Thoughts

Visiting Gozo can be a really memorable experiencet. From Amazing waters to beautiful sunsets and great nightlife, there are a few more things someone could have asked for.

So, to answer some very common questions, Is Gozo worth visiting? Absolutely! Is it worth staying in Gozo? That’s another yes! And last, which is better, Gozo or Malta? This might be an unpopular opinion, but I enjoyed Gozo more than Malta. The beaches, Architecture, and vibe were unmatched.

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