Article updated in January 2021
Gozo is known as the little sister of Malta, smaller with an older lifestyle, whereas in Malta you´ll find modern buildings, busy traffic and a lively nightlife. Gozo is more about finding peace and quiet, and it still remains an unspoilt oasis of stunning landscapes, remote beaches, sand stone villages and churches that are larger than England’s cathedrals. Even so, there are plenty of things to do on Gozo. A perfect day trip to Gozo is a must for stunning vistas, old architecture and delicious food.[ez-toc]
How to Get to Gozo from Malta
The only way to reach Gozo is by ferry from Cirkewwa harbour to the port of Mġarr. You can check the schedule of the ferries by clicking here. The crossing takes around 20 minutes and you can enjoy it from the panoramic deck. The ferry passes near Comino Island, where you will spot the boats taking tourists to the famous Blue Lagoon, with its azure coloured water. Comino´s population is made up of just four permanent residents, and it was used as a backdrop for a number of films including The Count of Monte Cristo, Troy and Swept Away.
The price for crossing from Malta to Gozo is 4.65 euros for a passenger and 15.70 euros for a car and driver.
How to Get Around Gozo
The best way to get around Gozo is either by going on a private Custom Tour, like I did, or to rent a car and explore on your own. The advantage of going on a tour is that you will have a knowledgeable guide who will be able to provide information about where you are planning on visiting, and also show you places in Gozo that are not on any touristic map. The difference between hiring a car and doing it yourself, and going on a private tour is not that difficult to make, especially when you take into consideration that the tour includes the ferry crossing, pickup and drop off at your hotel, as well as lunch and entry fees to the monuments you will be seeing. I chose Karlito’s Way and I loved my day trip to Gozo with them.
If you want to hire a car, I recommend booking it through Holiday Extras, as their search engine calculates all the hidden fees that you would usually only find out about when you pick up the rental car. The roads in Gozo are very narrow, so keep this is mind when you choose the size of the hire car.
Other Ways of Going Around Gozo Are:
Quad Bikes – exploring the island on a quad bike can be a lot of fun, especially if you go on an organised tour. Check out this day quad bike tour of Gozo.
The Sightseeing Bus – If you are not a confident driver, or don’t have a license, or you don’t wish to go on a private tour either for your day trip to Gozo, check out the Sightseeing bus. It covers most of the touristic attractions in Gozo and it works on the hop on hop off system. You can buy tickets for the bus here.
Tuk Tuk – How fun it is to explore the island at your own pace on a day trip to Gozo, in a tuk tuk? They cover around 10-12 different attractions, includes a driver, and you book one here.
Things to do on Gozo:
See the Rotonda Church in Xewkija
Church of Saint John the Baptist, known locally as the Rotonda of Xewkija, is the largest on the island, and can be seen from far and wide. The church was built small but as the village population grew (now the 4th largest in Gozo) so too did the need for a bigger church. The new church was built around the site of the original one so that local people could still go there to pray, and when it was completed, the original church was demolished and rebuilt in an adjacent building under the new church’s belfry. It has since been transformed into a museum with the original sculptures and paintings. A local man goes there several times a day to ring the bells. It has similarities with the St. Pauls’ Cathedral, in Mdina.
Explore the Ancient Cittadella in Rabat (Victoria)
Rabat (Victoria) is Gozo’s capital, home to the fantastic citadel which is a must to visit on your Gozo day trip. The Cittadella dates all the way back to the Bronze Age, as archaeological remains prove. Being on top of a hill with full island views must have had strategic benefits as the Victoria era played an important part in Gozo´s history. I only had to look at the remains to imagine what the fortified village must have looked like in the past. Therese from Karlito’s Way pointed out the arches in the architecture and explained that back then, the stone-on-stone way of construction were crucial elements in the structure of a house. Even today, old houses in Valletta still have arches over the doors.
The Cittadella has an old prison, now converted into a museum. People who commit crimes are judged in the Court of Justice which is next to the prison. Don’t worry, though, Gozo is a very safe place! The last major crime committed was years back, when someone sneaked in from Malta during the night and stole some windows.
Gaze at the Ġgantija Megalithic Temple Complex
Did you know that in Malta you can find the oldest man-made structures on Earth? The village of Xaghra is home to the Ġgantija megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic period, which is older than the pyramids of Egypt, and Stonehenge.
The temples themselves are in ruins and it’s hard to imagine how the clove shaped structure used to look thousands of years ago. The people who built the megalithic temples of Malta might have been much more advanced than we thought, as the holes in the doors were made with a metal tool, at a time when metal wasn’t discovered yet.
At the entrance to the temples is a museum where I found out more about the sculptures and also about the lifestyle of our ancestors. In was interesting to learn that for example, their diet was the same as ours: meat, milk, fresh vegetables, and fruits. The sculptures showed that they used to wear clothes and not animal skins, whilst women wore necklaces, waistbands, and pleats. Isn’t it remarkable that archaeologists even found buttons?
Learn About the Local Life at Ta’ Kola Windmill
Next to the Ġgantija temples is an old windmill, Ta’ Kola (Nicholas’ Windmill) that can be visited using the same ticket. Although small, I was able to learn how Maltese house interiors looked hundreds of years ago. The windmill was in use until the 1960’s, when the last miller died. From the outside it may appear small, but don´t let that fool you, the inside is quite spacious and airy. After climbing the spiral staircase to the top of the tower, it was really interesting to observe the windmill’s mechanism.
Stroll by Xlendi Bay
Xlendi Bay is an intimate destination in Gozo, nestled between cliffs, with a rocky pebbled beach and rocky landscape. It is popular with water sport lovers, but also adrenaline junkies who love jumping into the water from the cliffs.
Many people come to Xlendi Bay for diving, as the seabed is covered with old roman amphoras from sunken ships. Many ships were lost in Xlendi Bay because of the underwater reef in the middle which caused them to sink.
Learn About the Salt Pans at Xwejni Bay
The salt pans date back from the Phoenician times and are still used to this day to produce salt, one of the highest quality exports from Gozo. The salt is formed naturally, when the sea water of the Mediterranean evaporates under the hot summer sun, inside the man-made pools.
The salt pans are tended by eight families only, whose entire members work hard on harvesting, packing, and distributing the salt. The art of harvesting salt from the sea is passed down the family, from generation to generation.
The salt harvest is done by hand through a laborious process, from May until September, when the sun is strong enough to evaporate the water.
Snorkel at Wied il-Ghasri Valley
Wied il-Ghasri translates as the Honey Valley, and it’s a scenic secluded pebbled beach nestled between tall cliffs. There are over 100 steps leading down to it, which take a while to descend. For such a beautiful natural place in Gozo, you will be surprised how few people there are here, which is always a plus.
Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit, as swimming and snorkelling is one of the highlights of a day trip to Gozo. There are many small hidden caves down the creek to explore, and if you are an experienced diver, you can either rent equipment, or book a tour. If you are not keen on diving or don’t have enough experience, you can still have a fantastic time snorkelling.
Experience the ruins of the Azure Window at Dwejra Bay
Dwejra Bay is the starting point for boat trips, so you can to observe the rock formations from a different angle. The small rowing boats go through the cliffs to get to the open sea, which is an experience in itself.
Until 2017, this small bay was one of the most popular places with tourists on Gonzo who wanted to take a look at the famous Azure Window. However, unfortunately in 2017, a violent storm contributed to the collapsing of the Azure Window into the sea. If you were a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you might remember Drogo and Daenerys’s wedding from the first season, when the Azure Window was in the background.
Even without the Azure Window, it is still worth visiting Dwejra Bay. The natural pools underneath the cliffs are very inviting for a swim, and the cliffs are still spectacular when seen from a tiny rowing boat from the sea.
What to Eat in Gozo
When you are visiting Gozo, you must try the local food. One of the highlights of my day trip to Gozo was lunch by the sea, near the bay of Xlendi, at Il-Kcina Ghawdxija restaurant. I enjoyed a delicious Gozitan platter, followed by ftira – which is a traditional Maltese dish, different in Gozo than in Malta. The Gozitan platter is a real medley of the island’s flavours: gbejniet tal-bzar (peppered mature cheese), fresh sheep’s cheese, galletti crackers, bigilla dip (broad beans, garlic and parsley), sundried and fresh tomatoes, olives and capers. It was accompanied by freshly baked bread with three dips: tomato paste, beans with parsley and a vegetable mix.
For dessert, I tried the imqaret, a delicious diamond shaped sweet pastry filled with dates. All washed down with local wine.
Where to Stay on Gozo
If you plan to spend the night in Gozo, you must book one of the luxurious guesthouses, which are converted farmhouses. You can check out the suggestions from Booking.com, my trusted booking partner, below:
Disclaimer: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my travelling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.
Please note that I received the Gozo Tour complimentary from Karlito’s Way. However, all comments and opinions in this article are my own.