Malta’s sister island, Gozo, offers some of the most enchanting destinations of the archipelago. I daresay that some of the best things one can do in Malta can be found on this tiny, rural island, quite off the beaten path. In this post I will share with you my experiences and explain how you can discover Gozo, too.
Gozo is a tiny island which makes it so easy to see a lot of its sights in just a short amount of time: azure blue bays, otherworldy salt pan landscapes, colourfully dotted wildflower meadows. From our experience, Gozo has so many beautiful places that it clearly outshines its bigger sister island, Malta. Maybe this is due to the fact that Gozo has traditionally been the more rural, quiter and less developed island of the two. Perhaps it’s the slower pace of the islanders. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that God took extra care when creating Gozo.
Regardless of the reasons, Gozo is well worth seeing, either on a daytrip by ferry from Malta, or even when staying overnight at a rural property. This article shall give you some inspiration on Gozo things to do!
Things to do in Gozo Map
The map below shows you the location of the 11 Gozo sights mentioned in this article. The best way to see them all in one of two days is by renting a car. Car rentals in Malta allow taking the Gozo ferry to visit the neighbouring island; using the ferry is fairly cheap and simple.
Getting to the Gozo ferry by car is dead simple. Just follow the street signs to Gozo (or the ferry sign) and once you arrive in port, follow the hand signals of the staff. The ferry trip alone is worth the trip as you are passing the pretty little island of Comino. Don’t worry about paying for your ride; tickets are purchased via drive-thru toll booth on you way back. Here is more information on the Gozo ferry service including schedules and fares.
It is, of course, possible to stay on Gozo island. Some would say, it’s even the preferred way to discover this beautiful island. Most visitors will stay at privately owned country houses in the villages as there are no big hotels chains in Gozo. If you would like to get a better idea on what’s on offer, check out the listing of available Gozo accommodation. (affiliate link).
1. Tal Mixta Cave: Cave With a View
The very first sight we got to encounter in Gozo happened to be one of the very best. Tal Mixta Cave is in a nutshell what our little family always dreamed of. A little bit adventure in nature, hiking through wildflower meadows from the parking lot to the cave. Buzzing insects, the azure blue of the sea our constant companion. Through a hole in the ground and into a large cave that has been in use for centuries. And then the views.
From the darkness of the cave we stood in awe, looking at the popping colours of Ramla Bay, one of Malta’s most beautiful sandy beaches. The contrast couldn’t have been more striking – scroll back up to the top of the post!
By the way, do not confuse Tal Mixta Cave with Calypso Cave on the other side of the bay. It is said to have been the hide-out of Ulysseus for seven years when he fell in love with a sea nymph. But the views are way better from Tal Mixta Cave.
2. Ramla Bay: The Arguably Most Beautiful Beach in Malta
Just to our feet as we stood looking down from Tal Mixta Cave was Ramla Bay. The sandy beach is said to be the most beautiful in Malta, and it’s easy to see why! Even in summer it is not likely to get too crowded, probably due to the rather remote location. Just look at the amazing colours (no photoshopping required!) – unforgettable.
In particular families with little children will enjoy spending the day here as the beach is well protected and quite shallow. Even the old Romans loved Ramla Bay: underneath the sand one can still find ancient remains from the settlement. Since we visited in April it was a little bit too cold for a swim, but if you are in the area, this is the perfect place to get your feet wet.
3. Rabbit Spaghetti and Other Treats in Qbajjar
Since we were exploring Gozo with our kids we had to factor in time for a decent lunch break. After some research we settled on the little town of Qbajjar, just minutes from Ramla Bay. It is well outside of busy Marsalforn where parking can be an issue yet it is home to a wonderful Italian restaurant.
At Qbajjar Restaurant we found a free table on the fully enclosed terrace and indulged in some typical Maltese dishes. Do give the rabbit spaghetti a try (or, as someone at the neighbour table called it, “bunny spaghetti“).
If you haven’t tried rabbit yet, it is a very wholesome flavour and perfect for any meatlover. Wash it down with a Maltese favourite, Kinnie, a drink made from bitter oranges and vermouth. It tastes a bit like Campari but without the alcohol.
If rabbit is not your thing, rest assured there are plenty of other pasta and pizza options in Malta, a lot of which served with fish and seafood. The proximity to Italy is a huge advantage for the Maltese cuisine.
4. The Otherworldly Salt Pans of Marsalforn
After lunch, we set off to our next destination, the otherworldy landscape of the Marsalforn salt pans. It is a sight to behold: the sandy flats of the coastline with the chessboard pattern of shallow pans, turquoise waters in the background, the blazing sun.
It is a cultural landscape that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Even in Roman times, people would use the perfect setup of flats and the proximity to the sea to produce the precious salt.
When visiting the salt pans of Marsalforn make sure you follow the signs and keep off the salt pans. The area is very fragile and won’t survive the soles of hundreds of trampling shoes. But don’t worry: You can take the best shots right from the side of the road anyway, and there is plenty of space to park the car and go for a walk along the highway. The whole stretch of salt pans near Marsalforn is around 800 metres long and offers plenty of great photo opportunities.
The road runs between the salt pan flats and the limestone cliffs. Keep an eye out for the tiny salt shop where you can buy original Maltese sea salt in little bags.
5. The Picture-Perfect bay of Wied il-Għasri
Granted, there are many beautiful bays with picture-perfect views in Gozo which are perfect for swimming, diving and snorkeling (there are many underwater caves to explore around the island). However, the bay of Wied il-Għasri must be among the best, and this is where we headed next on our Gozo sightseeing trip.
From the parking lot we followed a short trail to the edge of the bay, then took the zig-zag stairs down to the pebble beach. On our descent we had plenty of opportunity to see the bay from ever new angles, shimmering in hues of greens, calm and very protected.
Wied il-Għasri beach is a pebble beach with first-sized stones. If you are pondering to stay a bit longer but the ground seems to rough, have a look around the many terraces on the side of the bay where you can also spread a towel. Old boathouses in the far corner of the beach reminded us of times when fishermen would keep their boats tucked away in this very sheltered bay.
6. The Azure Window Alternative, the Rock Window of Wied Il-Mielaħ
We continued on our trip around Gozo to arrive at the next amazing sight, the rock window of Wied Il-Mielaħ. Just a few years ago, there used to be another rock window in Gozo, the Azure Window. Unfortunately, the Azure Window collapsed into the ocean during a ferocious March storm.
The unexpected collapse was a huge loss for Malta and the local tourism office who had since then heavily promoted the Azure Window as the must-see destination not just in Gozo but also in Malta. You can still visit the area though, but it is a very disappointing experience. I will explain more about it later in this article.
Even though Malta has lost one of its most beautiful rock windows with the collapse of the Azure Window, there are still plenty of other coastal areas that are truly spectacular. One of these alternatives is Wied Il-Mielaħ, the rectagular window which is very popular with daredevil rock climbers.
7. The Famous Basilica of Ta’Pinu
After visiting all these beautiful natural wonders it was time for us to explore some of the cultural sights as well. We headed to the centre of Gozo where there is one of the most famous churches of the country, the Basicila of Ta’Pinu. Even though around 80 years old, this church appears surprisingly young and modern as it sits there slightly displaced and surrounded by fresh greenery. Apparently, the best views can be had from top of the opposite hill after you have followed the stations of the cross.
The origins of the pompous church of Ta’Pinu can be traced back to a small wayside chapel where a local women had claimed to have heared the voice of the Madonna. To honour the apparition, the basilica was built around the chapel which can still be found inside the large building. Very interesting to see are the votive offerince by those that believe that the Lady has performed a miracle in their lives.
8. Once Upon a Time: The Location of the Azure Window
We returned a second day to Gozo to continue with our sightseeing. Our first step was the location where once the Azure Window stood. Unfortunately, we were quite unlucky with the weather, with winds so fierce we could hardly open the doors of our car. Consequently, as we walked across the flats to the sea to have a look at the site of the former Azure Window, we could hardly stand on our feet. The strong winds gave us an impressive idea of that fateful March day in 2017 when the forces of nature destroyed Malta’s most beloved landmark.
Today, there is really not that much to see anymore when you head to the Azure Window, making this trip out there not really worth your while. However, there is something else nearby that you should visit which is the Blue Hole. This place is particularly popular with scuba divers but apparently one can also go for a swim. Since the wind gusts were way too strong for comfort we kept our visit to this place as short as possible and we decided to head to another sight nearby instead, the Inland Sea.
9. Colourful Boathouses Around the Inland Sea
Starting from the Azure Window parking lot, it is just a short walk to get to the Inland Sea. This is one of the most fascinating places in Malta in my view: The Inland Sea is a circular lake which is cut off from the open sea by a tall wall of limestone. However, the lake is not completely cut off but rather a lagoon which is connected to the sea via a tunnel which looks almost man-made. The locals have built their boat houses on the shores of the Inland Sea. It makes total sense as the area is very sheltered yet provides easy access to the open sea.
If you happen to visit on a calmer day than us, consider booking yourself onto one of the boat tours which start here and take you to the other side of the tunnel and around uninhabited Fungus Rock. If you like scuba diving, this is supposed to be one of the most enchanting dives as you swim through the darkness of the tunnel and out into the dazzling blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
10. The Splendid Bay and Other Xlendi Attractions
My old travel book on Malta from the 90s claimed that Xlendi was the most popular seaside resort for German tourists. If that is still true I cannot say, but we certainly weren’t overrun by hordes of Teutons on our visit (I am allowed to say that since I am a German myself!).
Xlendi is an old fishing village which has slowly transformed into a tourist resort with a sizeable number of sheltered swimming spots. The bay is deep and scenic, and there are many options to safely enter the water.
Even though we did see some swimmers in the water, even in April, we decided to go on a bit of a walk instead. The bay of Xlendi cuts deep into the land, with steep cliffs and some amazing narrow inlets. Our destination was the Xlendi watchtower which overlooks the entrance to the bay and was used to protect the coast from piracy. This tower is from the Middle Ages and is currently closed to the public. However, on the other side below to our feet we could see some more salt pans.
11. The Sights in Victoria, in particular the Cittadella
No trip to Gozo would be complete without a quick (or longer) stop at its capital, Victoria. This is a typical Maltese city with lots of narrow roads, not enough parking spots and many old buildings. The reason why you simply cannot miss Victoria though, is the Cittadella.
The medieval town within a town, built on a hill with high ramparts and defensive structures to protect the civilians from invaders and pirates. During the Middle Ages, the inhabitants of Victoria had to have a second home inside these walls at least in summer, and sleep there during the nights. You can imagine how cramped the city must have been at times.
The Cittadella is a small city, so there is a lot to see, even though not everything is still intact. Most residences are no more than their foundations but in particular the area around the entrance gate and the cathedral is newly restored and well preserved. There are also a number of museums you can explore while there. I particularly enjoyed the Folk Museum and the Old Prison with medieval graffitis scratched into the walls.
The good news is that entry to the citadel is free. But if you want to also visit the museums then you will have to get a day pass which can be used for all museums inside the Cittadella.
Gozo Attractions and Lots More Things to do
This article sums up all the sights we were blessed to see while visiting the island of Gozo. Of course, there are so many more things to see but I think these sights are among the very best. If you also interested in seeing a megalithic temple, check out Ġgantija, also on Gozo.
The great thing about Gozo is that it is so easily accessible, small and fairly easy to navigate. In my view, it’s the perfect day trip destination when holidaying in Malta. If you are looking for more inspiration, visit the official website which was a great helper for my own planning: Visit Gozo.
More Travel Tips and Ideas on Malta:
- An Exclusive Look Into the Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum in Malta
- Most Beautiful Places in Malta That Make Your Heart Leap
- Gold and Skeletons: The Co-Cathedral in Valletta, Malta
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