Is Gozo worth visiting? You bet it is if you can spare a day or two of your trip to the islands of Malta. As you hop across the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea, you'll soon discover that there are so many things to do in Gozo for such a tiny island.
Only a short ferry ride away from Malta, Gozo is perfect for a day trip or a longer stay. Here you'll get to enjoy the peaceful local villages, discover prehistoric monuments, and cool down with Gozitan craft beers.
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The best things to do in Gozo
While limited accommodation prices can rocket slightly in the summer months, Gozo is still inexpensive to visit.
Attractions are reasonably priced and local pizzerias serve cheap and tasty pizzas. Plus there are many fun and free things to do and see on this island like swimming, hiking and exploring the walls of ancient Cittadella.
If you've made up your mind to have a day or two out in Gozo, we'd like to help you plan your trip with these top 10 suggestions.
1. Rent a local 100-year old villa and chill
Let's get you started with the accommodation. Staying in one of Gozo's fantastic villas is a must-do. Mainly because they are unique and so much cooler than any of the resorts in Malta. Many of them even have swimming pools ready for you to enjoy on a sizzling-hot Maltese summer's day and outdoor BBQs. Marshmallows anyone?
The above is just one of the reasons to stay in a Maltese, or rather a Gozitan farmhouse. Another reason is chilling as a local in one of the cute villages of this teeny-tiny island.
If you need help deciding where to stay, allow us to suggest Gharb and San Lawrenz. Both are very picturesque and within a short distance from the famous Dwejra Bay and the alluring Ta Pinu Basilica.
Both villages have a couple of good local restaurants for you to indulge in the local cuisine too. And they are perfect if you are after a peaceful holiday - something you'll struggle to find on the main island of Malta. The peace and quiet was our main reason for returning to Malta's sister island over and over again.
Festas are big in both Malta and Gozo and if you too want to be part of this full-on religious festivity, visit Gozo anytime from May to September. The local celebrations charged with sparkling fireworks, food, concerts and holy processions in Gharb village take place in July and early August in San Lawrenz.
2. Take a tour around the island
Now that you are settled, let's see what are those fun things to do in Gozo. In our experience, it pays off renting a car in Gozo, but, if you are only here for a day or two, then it's worth looking at booking a tour.
It's a small island, but you'll still need some kind of transport to get around and if you think relying on public transport is a good idea... it's not. We don't say this often, but one of the best ways to see the island is by booking an organised tour.
A full-day jeep safari is one of the best-rated tours in Gozo which allows you to explore the hidden gems of the island stress-free. On this all-day tour, you get picked up from Malta by a guide, and have lunch and ferry tickets included in the price.
And you get to experience the powerboat ride past the iconic Blue Lagoon and the island of Comino. That's a big bonus if you are on a short visit to Malta.
3. Hike the Gozitan countryside
However, if you don't enjoy jeep rides, get hiking instead. When we say hiking, we mean walking really, you don't need special equipment or preparation.
The Maltese islands aren't big enough for full-on hikes unless you are thinking of the Victoria Lines in Malta. The routes in Gozo range from 10 - 13km. However, they can get tough in the mid summer's heat so pack the essentials and drink plenty of water.
Gozo boasts a dramatic coastline and many picturesque villages. For example, Xlendi walk is a rewarding cliff-top trek that involves slight climbs in places but isn't too challenging. Here is a handy guide to help you with the route.
For panoramic views of the red-sand covered bay, take a shorter 8km Ramla Bay walk starting at Marsalforn. Along the way, pop into the Calypsos cave - the cave referred to by Homer in the Odyssey.
In our experience, anything historic mixed with active sightseeing is always a good idea.
4. Walk the walls of the mighty Cittadella
Of course, the glorious Cittadella is one of the main landmarks in Gozo. This mighty ancient fortification, dating back to the Bronze Age, is a joy to explore.
It's a maze of narrow streets dotted with museums and vantage points overlooking the Gozitan countryside and the glorious coastline.
5. Explore Victoria, the pretty capital of Gozo
The picturesque capital of Gozo has been sitting atop its mighty hill since Neolithic times and was named Victoria in honour of Queen Victoria of England back in 1887.
There aren't as many things to do in Victoria, Gozo (also known as Rabat to the locals) as there are in Valletta, the capital of Malta. But, stay for a few hours and explore its narrow winding streets, eat at the local restaurants, do some shopping at boutique shops and visit tiny artists' workshops.
The Cittadella being the main point of attraction often overshadows other sights of interest in Gozo such as the Baroque-style St George's Basilica which is believed to have replaced a pagan temple.
It's also the first church on the island that was built following the Latin cross floor plan. If you like art, the church is open all day for you to get a glimpse of some nice pieces.
6. Admire Gozo's hidden gems - the shimmering salt pans
From the many things to do in Gozo, the colourful, mosaic-like salt pans are not just beautiful to look at and fun to explore, but they are also a big part of the Gozitans' everyday life. Locals have been harvesting Gozitan sea salt here for over 350 years.
To see the picturesque 3km stretch of man-made pools filled with glistening salt crystals, head to the north of the island, towards Marsalforn. You'll see them from the road, just past the Qbajjar bay.
If you are an early riser, head to the salt pans first thing in the morning and you might be lucky to see a Gozitan scraping the snow-like mineral out for it to be transported to salt caves along the coast for processing. You are most likely to see the sea salt harvesting in the summer months, between May and August.
But if you love a lie-in and prefer an evening stroll instead, don't miss a spectacular sunset show at the salt pans. Arrive before sundown to see a rainbow of colours reflecting in the shallow basins and crevices.
And if you see a local selling sea salt by the road, don't hesitate, it makes a nice souvenir. Naturally harvested Gozitan salt is full of flavour and has a particularly nice texture.
7. Enjoy Gozitan beaches and bays
Surrounded by the crystal-clear Mediterranean sea, Gozo boasts a couple of lush sandy beaches and many little rocky bays.
Ramla, also known as the red sand beach, and San Blas, another pretty rust-like bay are the two most popular natural sandbanks on the island.
Xlendi Bay, located on the southwest coast, is one of the most spectacular bays on the island. Some of the most popular things to do in Xlendi include swimming, snorkelling, diving and hiking. In the summer months, this picturesque fishing village is buzzing with waterfront restaurants and bars - a perfect spot for a chilled lunch or dinner.
The Inland Sea in Dwejra Bay is a great swimming spot if you are not a fan of deep waters. Sheltered by the dramatic rocks, it provides you with the perfect paddling pool even early in the spring while the sea is still warming up.
If you have time, arranging a boat trip to the Blue Lagoon and Comino is the ultimate fun thing to do in Gozo (and Malta). During the summer, however, this tiny island gets cramped with visitors.
If you decided to get a private boat, ask your skipper to take you to the Crystal Lagoon instead. It's usually much quieter and offers great snorkelling conditions.
Check if you can have a look inside the spooky cave with a tiny beach inside. It was used as the entrance to reach the prison in the 2002 film – The Count of Montecristo.
8. Taste craft beers at Lord Chambray Brewery
If you love trying new craft beers, this one's for you.
Founded in 2014, the Lord Chambray Brewery is one of the first breweries of its kind on the Maltese islands and also a great place to escape the summer's heat and quench your thirst.
But plan your trip wisely and prebook your tour way in advance before visiting Gozo. Also, check out their website before your trip and see if they have any events happening during your visit. They run various workshops throughout the year in both Gozo and Malta.
9. Don't miss Ta Pinu and the peaceful Ghammar Hill
Regardless of your religious beliefs, visit Ta Pinu Sanctuary located just a two-minute drive away from the picturesque Gharb village.
From afar, it looks almost as if someone placed a model church in the middle of the field and left it there. The sky-blue Mediterranean Sea provides a magical backdrop to this sandstone-built Roman Catholic Basilica.
This church, entwined with myths and legends, dates back to 1534. As soon as you come closer, you'll see two massive curved mosaic walls adorning the Gozitan Basilica.
These skillfully hand-crafted colourful montages represent the Stations of the Cross and make it a magnificent entrance into the shrine.
Across the road from the church, you'll find Ghammar Hill where 14 marble statues dot the path uphill representing the Way of the Cross. Take your time to explore the path, and admire the wilderness and the panoramic views across the Gozitan countryside.
Coming to this site has always been one of our favourite things to do in Gozo whenever we hopped to the island in an attempt to escape Malta for a few days.
It's beautiful at any time of year and from the top, you can get a fantastic shot of the Ta Pinu Basilica in the distance.
10. Pay your respect to the fallen Azure Window
The sad truth is, we never got to see this iconic landmark in Gozo. We were planning to see the Azure Window in springtime 2017, days before a violent storm hit the rocky arch and drowned it forever.
But, it's still a beautiful site to visit in Gozo as you get to see the emerald-green Inland Sea, legendary Fungus Rock and the deep Blue Hole nearby. Diving enthusiasts love the Blue Hole as it offers a sheltered entry for the descent into the translucent Mediterranean Sea.
The coralline limestone path leading to the shore is rough and can get sharp in places. Therefore, you might want to wear something a bit more comfortable than flip-flops. Especially if you are thinking of exploring the spectacular cliffs of Gozo further up the rocks.
11. Delve into the prehistoric Ġgantija Temple
The prehistoric Ġgantija Temple, constructed between 3600 and 3200 B.C, is one of the most fascinating Gozo landmarks. Visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site is like stepping back in time.
If you've ever visited the iconic Stonehenge in England and felt some kind of mystical energy surrounding the gargantuan stones, the feeling at this "Giant temple" is mutual.
Of course, it's all down to your imagination and how you feel about exploring historic monuments. But even if you aren't big into history, a walk through the chambers of the temple that's older than the Pyramids of Egypt is something you should definitely do on your trip to Gozo.
Gozo travel tips
How many days do you need for a Gozo trip
Gozo is a very small island and you could drive between the main sites in a day. However, we recommend spending at least 3 days on Gozo. This way you could experience a little bit of both, exploring and chilling at one of the beautiful beaches.
How to get to Gozo from Malta
If you are driving, take the main coastal road going north towards Cirkewwa Ferry Terminal. You can't miss it, you'll see the Gozo Channel ferries from afar.
The ferry terminal runs frequent round trip services between Malta and Mgarr in Gozo. It takes around 15-20 minutes to cross Gozo Channel.
Ferries are clean, have a shop and a cafe as well as a spacious inside seating area as well as plenty of room outside if you want to enjoy the views. You'll pass the epic Blue Lagoon on your way so stay on the deck if you are not feeling too seasick.
These are the local buses you can take to the ferries:
- From Valletta - bus nr 41 and 42
- From Sliema (via St Julian's) - bus nr 222
- From Buggiba (and St Paul's) - bus nr 221
- From the Airport - bus nr X1
- From Gneja - bus nr 101
Bus journeys, however, can be long and crowded so try getting one outside of peak hours. All busses usually announce the stops along the way so you can sit back and (try) to relax, plus the ferry terminal is the last stop.
How much is the ferry to Gozo
Standard price per car+passenger is €15.70
Standard passenger fare is €4.65 (€4.05 at night), €1.15 for a bicycle and €8.15 for a motorbike + rider.
You can find more information about the ferries on their official website.