How to Get to Gozo?
To get to Gozo you take a 30 minute ferry trip from Malta's northern most tip, during which you sail past Comino with its glorious Blue Lagoon, just visible through a narrow entrance in the rock coastline. Ferry Fares for the return journey are the cheapest way to Visit Gozo is via Gozo Channel ferry from Cirkewwa.
The short trip from Malta to Gozo is in itself a pleasant experience especially on a fine day. Mgarr Harbour is picturesque and full of all kinds of sea craft. It has seen slaves and corsairs and pirates who have carried population away. The neo-Gothic Lourdes Sanctuary, built in 1888, watches over it. In Victoria, the capital, go up to the Citadell or Gran Castello and walk around. Lanes, dwellings, alleys, bastions exude an aura of mystery and date from medieval times. The late medieval houses are unique in the Maltese Islands. There is the magnificent Cathedral and various museums, all worth a visit.
Public transport: All busses in Gozo radiate to Victoria
Internet Cafes: In Victoria - Republic Street between the HSBC and Bank of Valletta
Getting Around in Gozo
The state of the main thoroughfares is generally good, although some of the lesser roads tend to be a bit bumpy. With Rabat basically in the center of the Island with roads radiating to most of the outlying villages, navigation is quite easy and an adequate road sign system exists. The local bus service provides transport from Rabat to most of the outlying villages. However, Car is recommended as it enables one to explore the more picturesque places, mainly found off the beaten track.
The Maltese have a medium height, black hair, and dark eyes like most Mediterranean peoples. The most catching aspect of the Maltese islands would be The Maltese people themselves; being lively, warm hearted, typical Mediterranean with a touch of British humour, and a unique sense of welcome. It is a mix of natural tranquility and traditional hospitality. Most of them speak Maltese, a west Arabic dialect with some Italian words (mainly Sicilian), reflecting a host of different influences. Maltese and English are the official languages, although, Italian is widely spoken, along with German and French to a lesser extent. Consequently, communication is never a problem when you are travelling around the islands.
The Museum of Archeology
This museum is housed in Casa Bondi, a 17th century house inside the Citadel in Victoria.
It contains the oldest remains found in Gozo (4000BC), as well as Punico-Greek vases, Roman amphorae and Arab funerary tables.
In Xaghra were built and developed between 3600 and 2400 BC making them among the earliest architectural planned facades in the world, older than the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England. The stone slabs weigh several tons and the outside walls are up to six metres high. According to local legend, a giant called Sansuna carried them on her head all the way from Ta Cenc, a fair distance away. In Xaghra, too, are two underground caves with strange forms of stalactites and stalagmites. Other sites worth visiting are the menhir at Qala and the ones at Tal-Qighan and Ta Marziena.
This Basilica at Victoria was built between 1672 and 1678 and stands at the centre of a patchwork of narrow, winding streets. It houses many works of art from different periods, even as far back as the Roman one, so that it reflects the history of Gozo in miniature. The dome and the ceiling ate by the Roman artist Giovanni Battista Conti. There are also paintings by Mattia Preti, Giuseppe Cali and Stefano Erardi. The solid wood statue of St George, carved in 1841 by Paolo Azzopardi is remarkable.
The church of St.John the Baptist dominates the village of Xewkija and the neighbouring countryside. Its dome is one of the largest in Europe. Building began in 1952 and its architecture was inspired by the church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice.
This old windmill at Xaghra, known as Ta Kola still functions and is one of the fourteen still left on the island. It houses a folklore museum, where you can discover peasant traditions from the past.
Sanctuary is a 19th century building which is dedicated to the miraculous image of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu at the centre of an important Marian cult. This is a centre of pilgrimages for both the Gozitans and the Maltese.
Some of the most beautiful scenery in Gozo can be found around Dwejra in the southwest part of the island. Hidden behind the towering cliffs is a huge natural pond of shallow water, which is fed through a narrow tunnel in the cliff face. This tunnel links it to the deep blue Mediterranean. When the sea is calm, fishing boats take visitors sown this tunnel to the open sea, where they can see the fungus rock and the azure window. Experienced divers often spend days close to the Inland Sea, from where many of their underwater explorations start.
Also knows as il-Gebla tal-General, rises out of the water near the inland Sea. In the past, this is where a fungus known as “fungus gualitanus” grew. It was considered precious by the Knights, because of its medicinal qualities. Anyone caught picking the fungus illegally was immediately condemned to death. Nearby is the inland sea ideal for bathing. The azure window created by sea-breakers over a period of thousands of years, is the third marvel to be found at Dwejra Point. Two gigantic columns, each some 40metres in diameter, support a horizontal block, which is about 100m long and 20m high, so that the ensemble has come to resemble a giant window, underneath which the azure waves shimmer and sparkle. Generations of Gozitans have referred to it as it-Tieqa (the Window).
Just outside Xaghra, overlooking Ramla l-Hamra is Calypso cave. According to legend, this is where nymph Calypso seduced and kept Ulysses a “prisoner of love” for seven long years. A strange feeling grips you as you approach and enter this cave, from where the view is absolutely stunning. Close to the shoreline are the remains of fortifications built in the middle of the 18th century by the Knights to stop enemy troops landing in the bay. These fortifications hid two stone mortars known as “fugasses”, which used to be packed with loose stones and gunpowder. Since they were at sea level, any boat that got too close to the shore would hit them and be destroyed.
Ramla, Xlendi and Marsalforn
Are the most popular bays in Gozo, though there are others. Ramla Bay is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches of these islands. It is also shallow and safe for swimming. Ramla saw the French troops land under cover of darkness in June 1798. Xlendi is smaller but more dramatic. It has sheer cliffs and some of the cleanest water in the Mediterranean. Marsalforn is relaxed and friendly.
Children at Beaches
Parents should keep an eye on their children while swimming as under currents is quite common.
They should be cautious to prevent children getting badly sun burnt.
An abundance of casual eating outlets serving pizzas, hamburgers, and chips makes eating out with children an easy affair.
The tiny Island of Comino is situated right in the middle of the channel that separates mainland Malta from the island of Gozo. The unspoilt island is a haven for all those who love swimming, snorkeling, diving, and wind surfing and other water sports. The so called Blue Lagoon, with its crystal clear blue sea, provides one of the most spectacular sights of the Maltese archipelago. The natural caves surrounding the Island are also awe inspiring and are not to be missed.
Try the oki-koki
Take the oki-koki speedboat excursion to the Blue Lagoon. It’s great fun and shows you some of the island’s best caves
A Maltese Picnic
Glorious weather invites a picnic so prepare hobz biz-zejt (bread with oil) or purchase it at a coffee shop. Traditionally, the farmer’s packed lunch, thick bread is Dipped in olive oil then spread with pulped tomato before being heaped with olives, capers, garlic, vinegar salt and pepper.
Buy a loaf of Fresh Maltese Bread
hot, direct from the bakery. If you are up at around six in the morning you may hear the loud honking of the bread delivery van announcing its arrival in a street. Be sure to buy your loaf before 11am in the morning. Slice it up, prepare with your favorite fillings, (why not try olive oil, ripe tomatoes, and gbejniet) and eat promptly. Maltese bread tastes like no other bread in the world, but must be eaten fresh, on the same day it was baked.
You must try hot “pastizzi”
(“past-itsy”) – also referred to as cheesecakes, although bearing no resemblance to what is ordinarily referred to as cheese cake, available from hot-snack takeaway outlets in most villages, often called “Maxims” or some derivative thereof. Folded pastry filled with either a ricotta-cheese mix, or a pea mash, both equally delicious when eaten straight from the oven. Other similar pastry-based snacks such as “qassatat” (“us-aht-aht”) and pizza slices, macaroni, etc, also available from these little shops.
You must try “gbejniet”
(difficult one, this – try “g-bay-nit”) little soft cheese lets available plain or peppered, made from goat’s cheese. Perfect for any salad, sandwich, or even pasta sauce.
Shop for souvenirs
Maltese handicraft are the best items to take home. Apart from the glass, choose from filigree silver jewellery, Maltese crosses, gold jeweler, lace work, and ceramics.
Diving www.gozodiving.com www.barbarossa-excursions.weebly.com
Diving in Gozo is a must. The seabed is really extraordinary in the range of flora and fauna which inhabit its myriad caves and caverns. You could easily come across groupers, gurnards, octopus, and parrotfish.
Equipment can be purchased or hired locally.
Popular snorkeling spots comprise the west coast just north of Bahar ic-Caghaq, while a more deserted place is the Ghar Qawqla beach neat the Hotel Calypso at Marsalforn, Gozo. Go past the hotel and up the flight of steps next to the public toilets. On the other hand, the north of the island is exceptional for diving sites catering for all levels of experience.
The principal sites are: Tugboat Rozi, a tug deliberately sunk just north of Mtarfa point; Mtarfa Point, a great site with caves, reefs, promontories and tunnels at depths of 15-30m; Cirkewwa Arch, with underwater walls and a magnificent arch where you can find diverse fish; L-Ahrax Point, shallow but stunning, with an impressive drop-off and rich marine life; St. Paul’s Islands, with a reef wall which drop 34m to a sandy bottom; and Anchor Bay, with many caves and passageways.
Experienced divers should check out the unspoiled bays of Fomm ir-Rih and Ras ir-Raheb, both a little south of Gnejna Bay.
Malta has quite a sophisticated range of nightlife for such a small island. This centre’s on the resort areas of St Julian’s Sliema, and Bugibba where the large hotels and self-catering apartment’s blocks have been built. There are various bars and English-style pubs, along with an increasing number of wine bars. Many of these have live music or, at the very least, are equipped with superior sound systems.
Later in the evening you can hit the road to the small area of Paceville. Here you will find scores of discos, pubs, and late-night bars. In summer, the neon-lit streets are chock-full with action-seekers. Discos open early in the evening for the benefit of the young Maltese visiting from the countryside, who have to catch the last bus home between 9pm and 10pm. For the remaining, the music throbs on into the early hours of the morning.The most attractive of all discos on the islands is La Grotta Disco at Gozo which draws many Maltese as well as Gozitans. This is a unique disco in a cave under the streets, with open air dancing in festival summer months and three bars. La Grotta is always packed on Saturday nights.
The older generations of visitors to Malta are usually quite content with the hotel’s schedule of entertainment, ranging from dinner dances to folklore programs.
On the cultural side, Malta has several English-language theatres and cinemas. The delightful Manoel Theatre in Valletta and the Astra Theatre in Victoria Gozo puts on ballet, opera, and concert performances, in addition to plays. One of the most important cultural events in the Maltese calendar is Malta fest – a month of concerts, recitals, jazz performances, art exhibitions and open-air theatre, all of which takes place from mid-July to mid-August.
Undoubtedly, the village feast is one of the island’s most visual cultural festivities, and various aspects of such celebration would appeal, from food stands selling traditional Maltese nougat to the spectacular exhibition of powerful set-piece fireworks.
The entire village will be decorated with banners and other buildings such as the band clubs will also be lavishly decorated.
The village houses are decorated too, with flags and brightly coloured banners whilst all the streets are brightly lit while the band marches through them during the week, followed by crowds of people enjoying the surroundings and music.
But the attraction is the church with luxurious red damask inside and hundreds of coloured light decorating outside. On the feast day itself, there is more of a religious feeling as the statue of the patron saint is carried shoulder-high by villagers through the streets, whilst the gathering crowds, mostly children, throw confetti from their balconies and roofs. On the night, musicians and singers are united in the village square to perform an outdoor concert on the statue’s way in to the parish church. A lot of cautious preparation is held throughout the year, to get things set for the festa week whilst the events are very much of a spiritual nature. Hotels and local tour operators often arrange evening excursions to the main village festas. After so many years of practice, the celebrations are a superb manifestation of colour and life which will make this living experience not easily forgotten.
Beaches in Gozo and Comino
Gozo - Ramla Bay
Limits of Xaghra. Gozo’s largest sandy beach. Very attractively set within a valley, and still unspoilt. Called Ramla il-Hamra in Maltese, which means Red Beach, referring to the hue of the sand. Some facilities available, good for snorkeling and children.
Gozo - Marsalforn Bay
A small sandy beach in the heart of Marsalforn which is quite popular. Facilities to hand, good for children.
Gozo - Qbajjar Bay
Limits of Marsalforn. A couple of small sandy beaches, pretty and never crowded. Facilities available, also good for snorkeling and children.
Gozo - Xlendi Bay
A small but attractive sandy beach, facilities available, good for children. Not much spacethough.
Gozo – Mgarr ix-Xini
Limits of Xewkija. A small bay within a creek and a steep sided valley. Very picturesque bay, a walk along the valley sides is also recommended. No facilities, but good for children and also snorkeling.
Gozo – Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay
Limits of Qala. A small sandy beach directly opposite excellent views of Comino Island. Some limited facilities, good for children and snorkeling.
Gozo - Dahlet Qorrot Bay
A very small sandy beach (a few meters) but very tranquil and you can bathe off the concrete platform if there is no space on the sand. Good for snorkeling. No facilities however.
Gozo – San Blas Bay
A small secluded sandy beach situated in a beautiful natural location. A short but steep walk to the bay, so not ideal for taking any umbrellas or other heavy items. No facilities, OK for children unless they need to be carried and good snorkeling.
Gozo – Inland Sea
A beach which is more pebbly than sandy, but a very unique bay being more like a little lake connected to the open sea via a natural tunnel. Facilities available, good for children. Popular diving entry point, but visibility inside the actual bay unlikely to be good enough for snorkeling.
Comino – Santa Maria Bay
A small sandy beach, not far from the Comino Hotel. Facilities limited to the Comino Hotel. Good for families.
Comino – St Nicholas Bay
Two small sandy coves, may be reserved for hotel guests during the summer months.
Comino – Blue Lagoon
Strictly speaking this might not be a sandy beach, in that the sea bottom is sand but there is very little sand outside the water. However the water is very shallow in places and Blue Lagoon is uniquely beautiful bay. In a way you get the sand where you want it, under your feet in the water, but none on land where your belongings are. OK for children, facilities limited to what the cruise boat you probably arrived on, provides. Snorkeling a must!
~Gozo and Comino - Rocky Beaches~
Gozo – Dwejra Bay and Azure Window area
Apart from the dramatic scenery, good for bathing off the rugged rocks, and excellent for snorkeling. Unsafe in rough seas. Facilities available, unsuitable for children or unfit persons.
Gozo – Marsalforn Bay to Qbajjar Bay and nearby
This stretch of coastline offers the possibility of bathing from a number of locations, access tends to get more difficult the further west one travels. Apart from the Qbajjar sandy bay area, not suitable for young children as the water is deep. Very good snorkelling, and facilities at Qbajjar and Marsalforn.
Gozo – Hondoq ir-Rummien Bay
Limits of Qala. Apart from the small sandy beach, bathing off the rocks is possible. Some limited facilities, good for snorkeling.
Gozo – Xatt l-Ahmar Bay
Limits of Ghajnsielem. A popular bay with Gozitans, access is via a bumpy road. Good for children, snorkeling, etc, but no facilities.
Comino, Blue Lagoon
Access to Comino’s Blue Lagoon is off the rocks, even though the seabed is sandy. A very beautiful bay featuring a number of islets just offshore within easy reach of swimmers. OK for children, facilities limited to what the cruise boat you probably arrived on, provides. Snorkeling a must!
Comino, General Coastline
There are plenty of places where you may bathe off Comino’s rocky coast, varying in difficulty of access. Where you choose will also be dependent on how you got to Comino – Cruise boats normally set anchor at Blue Lagoon, while the small ferry boats servicing Comino usually tie up by the Comino Hotel.