I won’t be lying if I say that Malta is one of the most magical countries I’ve ever been to (check my blog about Mdina too!). And Gozo, one of maltese islands, is definitely the gem of Malta – and I cannot recommend it enough.
It has everything every traveller wishes for: breathtaking scenery and natural wonders, archeological sites and museums (humble but still interesting), rich history and ancient traditions, beaches and snorkeling sites, hotels for every budget and delicious cuisine. I’m definitely coming back there one day – and let me share with you what I loved there the most!
1. Victoria, the main city of Gozo
Victoria, or Rabat, is the main city of Gozo (wait for the separate blog about it!), and it’s probably one of the main attractions of the island. The citadel erected by the Knights of Saint John, a few museums, cathedral and churches, a small park and a few small shopping centres are waiting for you!
2. Ggantija Temples
Looking for an archeological site to unveil their mystery? Head to the Ggantija Temples, two Neolithic megalithic temples in Ix-Xaghra city. They are made out of limestone and located side by side with the oldest dating back to 3600 BC to 3200 BC! Once you enter the area, first you pass through a small museum where you can learn the complex history of the excavations and dive into the lives of prehistoric people.
‘Ggantija’ means Giant in Maltese – according to the legend, the temples were erected by giants! Obviously, no one really thinks it’s true nowadays, however how these heaviest stones were brought there is still a mystery. Ggantija Temples were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Ta’ Kola Windmill
Another tourist attraction is located a short walk from Ggantija Temples. An old windmill constructed in 1725 (and reconstructed in 1780) welcomes its visitors to explore the history of one of the main parts on Mediterranean triad – bread – and showcases on two floors the lives of these who lived and worked there. It’s one of the best preserved windmills in Malta which was turned into the museum in 1992. Its name is related to its last miller Ġuzeppi Grech known as Żeppu ta’ Kola (Joseph the son of Nikola).
4. Salt Pans
Salt pans is another unusual site of Gozo located near Marsalforn, a small fishing town. Salt Pans are carved by hand in the limestone and have been there for over 3 centuries and they are still in use! Can you imagine that salt was produced in this area for much longer and dates back to the Roman times?
There is a small shop where you can even buy a bag of salt to take home! We were told by a lovely lady who worked there that the people in the photo are actually her parents and her family has been producing salt there for generations.
The scenery around Marsalforn looks amazing too don’t you agree?
5. Dwerja Bay
Dwerja Bay, or the Azure Window, was possibly the best known spot of Gozo before it collapsed after the storm (whether human invasion is to blame too nobody knows) – it happened precisely three years ago, on the 8th of March 2017, prior to our visit. You might’ve seen it in so many cinematografic scenes including the Dothraki wedding of The Game of Thrones, Odyssey and Clash of the Titans.
But even now it’s still an amazing place with its bays, rocks with the most famous being the Fungus rock and the Blue Hole, a diving spot.
We’ve been there twice, in the evening and in the morning, and I can’t choose which time is better – both visits were absolutely magical! But the evening one was much less crowded 🙂
6. Wied il-Mielaħ Window
Dwejra, Azure Window’s former location, is still a beautiful spot, and I can see why tourists are still attracted to it. Nevertheless, there is another gorgeous megalithic window – Wied il-Mielaħ archway on the photos – that stays absolutely empty as if no one knows about it!
There were just a few climbers there when we visited it. I don’t really understand why the climbers are allowed there considering the destiny of the Azure Window but I’m not a specialist in this matter. But never mind, save this spot if you ever plan to come to Malta, it’s incredible!
7. Ta’ Pinu Basilica
Gorgeous Ta’ Pinu Basilica dedicated to Virgin Mary is an important religious site. It’s quite new – it was consecrated in 1932 but some of its parts date back to the 16th century. Inside you can find a galley of votive offerings which strongly reminded me of the Asclepius Temples remains in Greece.
8. Xewkija Rotunda
Another religious spot worth visiting for both religious and non-religious tourists is Xewkija Rotunda located in a small historic town of Xewkija. It’s also quite new – it opened its doors in 1978. You can observe its 74 meters high dome from many points of the island.
I highly recommend you to climb up (by stairs or by elevator) to the very top of the rotunda to observe its scenery – you can even spot Victoria from there!
9. Mgarr ix-Xini
If you’ve seen ‘By the Sea’ by Angelina Jolie, you’d immediately recognize Mgarr ix-Xini located a short ride from Xewkija Rotunda. It’s another natural marvel – a tiny inlet with crystal blue water, perfect for swimmers in the hotter weather. I can only imagine how crowded it must have gotten in the peak season!
10. Tas Sanap cliffs
Gozo sealine is all covered by the dramatic cliffs – we were advised by locals to go to Tas-Sanap cliffs, and we were not disappointed at all! It’s less known than Ta’Cenc Cliffs cliffs but no less beautiful and much more calm. No words are needed to describe the scenery – just look at the photos below!
Where to stay in Gozo?
We stayed in the wonderful Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz. Although we preferred to explore Gozo more than to stay in the hotel, still we had a chance to explore it. The pool area is nice, it has a small territory outside with the palms, olives and exotic plants. You can have breakfast on the terrace with a view and for dinner or lunch you can choose between a few of their restaurants.
Their SPA is pretty good: I’ve tried a couple of their Ayurvedic treatments – not the I really into Ayurveda but it was a pretty good experience. It has a few pools, steam rooms and jacuzzi, and their hammam looked absolutely fantastic! (I believe that now these areas are closed due to the COVID-19)
Did you know that many experts agree that the cave of Calypso from The Odyssey should’ve been situated on Gozo which has many caves – and one of them even called the Cave of Calypso? The nymph didn’t allow the hero to go home to Ithaca until the gods ordered her so.
A great fire
blazed on the hearth and the smell of cedar
cleanly split and sweetwood burning bright
wafted a cloud of fragrance down the island.
Deep inside she sang, the goddess Calypso, lifting
her breathtaking voice as she glided back and forth
before her loom, her golden shuttle weaving.
Thick, luxuriant woods grew round the cave,
alders and black poplars, pungent cypress too,
and there birds roosted, folding their long wings,
owls and hawks and the spread-beaked ravens of the sea,
black skimmers who make their living off the waves.
And round the mouth of the cavern trailed a vine
laden with clusters, bursting with ripe grapes.
Four springs in a row, bubbling clear and cold,
running side-by -side, took channels left and right.
Soft meadows spreading round were starred with violets,
lush with beds of parsley. Why, even a deathless god
who came upon that place would gaze in wonder,
heart entranced with pleasure. Hermes the guide,
the mighty giant-killer, stood there, spellbound …
(translated by Robert Fagles)
How to get to Gozo:
We took a car from Valletta, the capital of Malta, to Cirkewwa ferry port on the north, and the ferry took us to Ta’L-Imgarr terminal, Mġarr, on Gozo. The ferry ride takes about half an hour.
Hope you enjoyed my blog!