Landscape of Gozo featuring Xewkija Church
Gozo is an island of the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea.
- Victoria -- Also called Rabat, the island's capital and only real city
There are also a number of small villages on the island
- Ghajnsielem - where Gozo's main harbor is located. The ferry from Malta arrives here.
- Xaghra - where Ggantija Temples are located.
- Qala - where 'Gebla l-wieqfa' (another prehistoric dolmen) is located, other interesting things in Qala are Hondoq Bay, 'Belvedere' offering nice view of the main islands of the Maltese archipelago and a small fortress at present in restoration.
- Nadur - where Ramla Bay is located.
- Xewkija - featuring an impressive large rotunda church visible from almost all villages and towns in Gozo.
- Gharb and Ghasri are 2 small villages in the western part of Gozo among which lies 'Ta`Pinu' basilica, which is a Marian shrine where on 22nd June 1883 the Virgin Mary was heared by Karmela Grima calling her for prayer.
- St. Lawrence - were 'Dwejra' (Azure Window) is located.
and some settlements that are used primarily as summer residences and mostly deserted during the rest of the year
- Ramla il-Hamra is arguably Malta's (Gozo's) finest beach. The name means red sands, referring to the beautiful reddish colour of the sand. The bay is completely spared from development, and thus the beach remains relatively uncrowded. This site also claims to be where Calypso's cave is, the cave referred to in Homer's Odyssey.
One sometimes gets the sense that Gozo is how Malta could have been. With the exceptions of Marsalforn and Xlendi, it has been largely spared from short-sighted overdevelopment, the traditional way of life and society has survived better, and the land has been maintained better giving more fertile ground. Buildings and houses on Gozo are mainly done with natural materials, as opposed to many of the concrete and breeze-block constructions on the mainland.
Gozo's history is intimately linked to Malta. It shares its megalithic culture, and with the Ggantija temples, it is officially home of the oldest structure on the planet. Interestingly, Gozo up until the end of medieval times was inhabited in a manner the same as Malta, with Mġarr and Victoria/Rabat being to Gozo what Vittoriosa and Mdina are to Malta: the main port and the main settlement consisting of a citadel and surrounding suburbs. The inhabitants of Gozo were, in medieval times, required by law to return to the Citadella each evening to spend the night there to prevent corsairs from abducting them. These measures were proven to be necessary when, in 1551, the Turks tried their first invasion of Malta. When they failed, they attacked Gozo and took the entire population off in ships to sell them into slavery.
It should also be noted that if you do learn some Maltese, there are different dialects throughout different parts of the country. People on Gozo speak Maltese with a slightly different accent from the main Maltese islanders, and people from the different Gozitan villages each have their own different dialect.
Like the mainland, English is also an official language of Gozo.
There is the ferry from Ċirkewwa on Malta to Mġarr, Gozo's main harbor. It departs every 45 minutes in the summer and almost as often in the winter. The trip there is free, but going back to Malta costs Lm2. One can also take a helicopter from the airport, but this is a bit pricey compared to the Lm1.50 for a bus ticket from Valletta to the departure point of the ferry at Ċirkewwa and the free ferry crossing. There are plans to build an international airport on the beautiful and unspoilt Ta' Cenc cliffs of this tiny island, but hopefully someone will realize that the main airport, which already stretches across almost a quarter of Malta itself, is more than enough.
- The bus system is possibly even more antiquated than on Malta proper, with plenty of the same quaint 50's style buses to take you around at a leisurely pace. The schedules are a bit limited though so be sure to check the times. Most buses depart from the bus terminal in Victoria/Rabat, but some only seem to go every hour so you need to make sure you can get back again. It costs 0.48 Euros to go a zone, so from here to the Temples, Mgarr is only 0.48Euros.
- The taxi drivers are unscrupulous, and will try to charge the unsuspecting tourist as much as they can. There is an approximate price list posted at the taxi stand at the boat dock, don't accept a price that is unreasonably higher than the suggested price. Note that Saint Joseph's Hostel is a ten minute walk (uphill) from the boat, so if they try to charge you 8 euros (or more) it really isn't worth it unless you really have a LOT of baggage.
- A car is probably the best option if one has a busy schedule. If not, hitchhiking is a nice way to get around.
- Even on foot, if no one picks you up, many of the distances are negligible.
- If you happen to be in Gozo during your visit, then the rotunda church in the village of Xewkija is a wonderful spot to visit. The church was built in honor of St. John the Baptist (each village has a saint that they honor) and is the largest in Gozo.
- The Azure Window, the Inland Sea and the the Blue Hole all make going to the spectacular west coast of Gozo very worthwhile. The Azure Window is a cliff outcropping with a hole in the middle. The Inland Sea is a typically Maltese name in that it slightly exaggerates its size (Mdina is referred to as a city with its 400 inhabitants). It's actually a small lake connected to the sea by a tunnel about 20 meters long through the cliffs. In contrast to Xlendi and Marsalforn this place has been spared from development and makes an unusual and picturesque place to swim. The beach surrounding the lake is unfortunately made of pebbles but there are a few piers and terraces in front of the fishermen's boathouses one can also use. The Blue Hole is not a true blue hole in the geological sense but still makes an amazing spot to dive, having won awards as one of the most beautiful diving spots of Europe.
- If one only has one day, it is recommended to spend the morning in the Citadella of Rabat, have lunch there, in the cafe next to the cathedral, and spend the afternoon either at Ramla il-Hamra or The Inland Sea.
- With two days one can spend the second morning visiting the Ggantija temples and having lunch on the beautiful central square of Xaghra, and the afternoon at the swimming spot not chosen the previous day, bearing in mind that Ramla il-Hamra beach is very close to Xaghra and the Inland Sea closer to Rabat.
- Diving Gozo has some very impressive dive sites, one of the most popular ones being the blue hole. The Gozitan underwater geography is very interesting, and so is the sea life. Dive centres in Gozo vary from garage operations to fully equipped 5 start IDC centres.
- Out of the busiest areas and outside the high season, hitchhiking is easy here and can lead to unexpected social interactions and changes to one's plans.
- Gozo boasts one of the most remarkable churches on the archipelago, situated at Ta'Pinu, which was visited by Pope John Paul II in 1990. A record of his visit is situated at the rear of the church.
As Gozo is the breadbasket of Malta, the ground is more fertile, and the place is more rural. Therefore there is more fresh produce to be had. One should definitely try Gozo's own cheese: Gbejniet. This cheese is lovely when had fresh, but also nice when cured with pepper and vinegar.
As on Malta there are vineyards on Gozo, one can often buy unlabeled local wines cheaply but be sure to ask to taste them as quality can vary widely. The shops near the citadel in Victoria/Rabat usually have a good selection.
Gozo is safer than Malta , there is less petty crime.
There is occasionally a strong current on the northern shore, so caution when swimming is advised.
The residents of Gozo are called Gozitans and will be offended if you refer to them as Maltese.
Walking, Rambling and Hiking
Gozo is at its best from October to May. The average temperature in this period is around 18C, ideal for rambling around the island. While exploring the island you will see a wide variety of amazing views due to a large number of valleys, hills and small beaches. There is an abundance of abandoned hidden ancient temples and shrines in the countryside. If you are pressed for time and do not have much time to explore, but also want to see the best hidden places, it is best to hire or join a guide that specializes in country walks. Although Gozo is small, once you go to the countryside you will feel that you are alone on the island since you can walk for hours without meeting anybody. During the winter storms, Gozo's seaside is often totally deserted but spectacular with the big waves exploding on big boulders and lofty cliffs.