A Complete Beginner's guide to Gozo: Absolutely everything you need to know!
10 May, 2018
Written by: Chiara Micallef (lovin Malta)
Gozo is Malta’s prettier sister, and it's a proper shame to visit the archipelago and not check it out while you’re here.
The island boasts quaint hamlets, breathtaking beaches, picturesque historical sites and a great number of natural sites. Luckily, we are to take you through this journey through thick and thin, because we really love you. You’re welcome.
1. The Basics
First off, for the love of God, check the weather report. In summer it’s usually not a problem, but if you are planning a trip to Gozo during wintertime, the ferry might not be operating on the day due to certain conditions, like the Kraken awaking from his semi-eternal slumber.
Next, what you need to know is how you plan on getting to the ferry. If you are getting there by car, you need to know your route (which we have attached because you're welcome).
If you’re going there by bus, you have a number of routes you can catch.
There's bus number X1 which operates from the airport, and routes 41, 42, 101, 221, 222, X1A and X1B.
For a nighttime ride to Ċirkewwa, you can catch bus number N11.
Now, you need to check out the Gozo Ferry schedule. Although thinking about it, maybe you should’ve checked it before you left your house, to time your journey a bit better.
The crossing from Malta to Gozo takes just over 20 minutes. You can sit out and bask in the sun like the lizard you are, or you could hang around at the cafeteria and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a magazine bought from the ferry's shop.
3. The Fares
Car and Driver night fare is €12.80
Car and Driver standard fare is €15.70
Motorcycle and Rider standard fare is €8.15
Motorcycle and Rider night fare is €6.95
Bicycle and Driver standard fare is €1.15
Children’s fare (three to 12 years of age) is €1.15
Standard Passenger fare is €4.65
Standard Passenger night fare is €4.05
As soon as you get out of the ferry and land in Mġarr Gozo - assuming that you are on foot - you will be swarmed by millions of taxi drivers belting out their cultist chant “Taxi? Tax?i! Taxi!”
Your best bet if you get in one is to negotiate a price with them. Don’t worry; they’re mostly nice.
Should you hire a car instead?
If you’re confident about driving in Malta, then yes, go ahead. Be sure that you’re armed with a good GPS though because although Gozo is small, it is quite easy to get lost in it and become a local hermit.
You could also catch the bus to the capital city and take it from there. However, we do suggest other means of transport, because Gozo is hot, and busses are busses.
If you plan on spending more than one day in Gozo, you should get a place to stay at.
We don’t think it’s legal to build your shelter using old sunblock bottles and tissue paper. The easiest and most hassle free way to do this is to either book a hotel, or check out Airbnb.
6. The Capital
After you get the whole shelter thing covered, and you are settled in and ready to explore our beautiful sister island!
You can start by visiting the lush capital of Rabat... or Victoria, or Ċittadella because it’s practically a Citadel. Literally. It’s a city inside a fort and it’s fucking beautiful. It is situated in the centre of the island, so if you got here by bus, it’s not such a hassle and you can get bus numbers 301 or 303 to get there.
This Citadel is small and everything is within a stone’s reach, so going around by foot is by far the best option you can opt for. Also, stop for some pastizzi, you need to eat.
You may be wondering why Ċittadella looks so particular, and we have the right answer for you. Pirates. During the medieval period, it was revamped into a giant castle which was used to offer refuge from pirates. Oh, and it was also a Punic-Roman Acropolis, inhabited since the Bronze Age.
The Ċittadella houses a number of museums, churches and historical buildings. You can also find the Old Prison, Gran Castello Historic House, the Gozo Nature Museum and the Gozo Museum of Archeology.
After you’re done gasping at the beauty of the Ċitadella, you can walk out and into a more modern version of Rabat — there are two shopping malls, Arkadia and The Duke. You will find a good number of coffee shops, restaurants and pastizzerijas where you can stop and grab a bite. Rabat also hosts an open-air market in the main square.
Do you like diving? Yes, everybody does. So why don’t you go ahead and visit one of the best diving spots in the Mediterranean?
Gozo offers a generous number of diving spots like Dwejra, Mġarr ix-Xini, Ta’ Ċenċ and Xlendi. You can either do a boat dive or a shore dive, both are fun. Gozo is also haunted by a large number of shipwrecks. Daħlet Qorrot and Ta’ Swejda are also amazing spots you should visit among much more. There are a number of diving schools in Gozo which you can go to for one of these diving adventures.
This is the one thing we are truly obsessed over, as you already know.
Gozo is scattered with traditional bakeries and restaurants which cater local cuisine. You really need to look out for the local ġbejniet — goats’ cheese sacks of love and wonder. If you really want to eat a full-blown local meal, you can head out to Menqa L-Antika which focuses on local cuisine, Maxokk bakery for a good Gozitan ftira, Ta’ Vestru for generous portions, Il-Kċina Għawdxija for a proper Gozitan meal or Ta’ Rikardu. Rikardu produces his own wine and cheese from his very own farm, so please do visit.
Between May and September, Gozo (just like Malta) hosts an enormous amount of festi, processions and firework shows that will truly leave you in complete and utter awe. During festi you can also get a taste of local snacks and celebrations in a truly unforgettable experience.
Festi are pretty much weekly street parties in the name of village patron saints.
Just before the islands go into Lent every year, Gozo celebrates carnival in a very traditional, spontaneous, and awesome manner.
The carnival over there is a grotesque one which verges on the macabre — the floats and the costumes are a treat to watch, everybody dresses up at the Gozo Carnival, and the way it is celebrated is very unique.
And while there'd be parties and celebrations all throughout the island, Nadur is definitely where it's at.
Traditional Easter in Gozo is very similar to that of Malta.
There are processions and re-enactments — the bells can be heard tolling throughout the villages and the authentic experience which happens only once a year is truly not something to miss.
In Gozo you can find a tiring number of Archeological sites — cart ruts, temple ruins, caves, standing stones, Roman villas, and so much more.
We highly recommend visiting Ġgantija Temples— which by the way, UNESCO love. In-Nuffara, Santa Verna Temple, Ta’ Ċenċ Tombs, Calypso’s Cave, Xagħra Stone Circle and Wardija Nymphaeum are all archeological sites we recommend.
Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xagħra is one of the last few standing windmills which dates back to the Knights’ Period and it provides a proper glimpse of rural life in Gozo — it houses one of the most extensive and surviving collection of traditional mill tools.
Gozo is the land of churches, seriously.
You might want to visit Madonna Lourdes, St. George’s Basilica, Ta’ Pinu, San Dimitri and St. Paul’s Church. The churches vary in style from neo-classical to baroque, modern and even proper gothic.
Ta’ Pinu is the most popular of them all and it boasts the creepiest room in all of Gozo — a hall full of anything you can imagine someone would offer to the Madonna.
We seriously cannot ever shut up about the beaches in Gozo. Looking for a breath-taking secluded beach? Go to San Blas in Nadur.
If on the other hand you want a popular swimming area popular with both locals and divers, you really need to go to Ħondoq ir-Rummien.
But in between those two localities lies an entire coastline filled to the brim with gorgeous beaches and hidden spots.
Do you like lying down on a bunch of very hard pebbles and feel excruciating back pain while enjoying an amazing view and easy access into an inland lagoon? Go to Dwejra, trust us.
Do you like reddish sand, countryisde views and tourists? Ramla l-Ħamra is the place for you.
Gozo is surrounded by beautiful beaches, is what we really want to say. But these are the more sought after beaches there.
Mġarr ix-Xini is also an amazing and secluded beach you should visit — if you’re not afraid of driving down extremely steep and narrow roads, that is. The pant-crapping will be worth it as soon as you get to the beach though.
We already told you to visit the Ċitadella and Ġgantija. And we would’ve told you to visit the Azure Window too if it was still there, but we have another sightseeing suggestion which will leave you feeling like you got sucker-punched —Ta’ Kenuna Tower.
The tower is an alright tower, but it’s the highest point in the village of Nadur, and the panorama will make you want to propose to yourself. We promise. The peaceful landscapes, the glittering sublime sea and the lush valleys will bring tears to your eyes as you stuff that take away pastizz in your mouth and enjoy the view. Come to think of it, you will probably propose to the pastizz instead of yourself.
17. Towns and Villages
Towns and Villages in Gozo have a certain air to them — Santa Luċija is a peaceful quaint village which forms part of Kerċem and is positioned between the three hills, Il-Mixta, Għar Ilma and Santa Luċija. The traditional way of life is still strongly held in this village and the views here are the best.
If you like a more seaside feel to your villages, head over to San Lawrenz which is one of the highest points in Gozo. the rural village was established in 1893 but has been inhabited since 1551 — when most of Gozo’s population was captured by the Ottomans as slaves.
Small things are generally overwhelmingly cute, which is proven by the pretty village of Għasri. The village has its own lighthouse and is a popular spot for swimming and diving. The walk up to the lighthouse offers another magnificent view worth looking out for.
Nadur is another village which houses an incredible baroque church and a Maritime Museum — known for it’s valleys and beaches, Nadur is surrounded by Daħlet Qorrot, San Blas and Ramla. A Knights’ era tower, Ta’ Sopu is also fond in Nadur.