“The gladdest moment in human life, methinks, is a departure into unknown lands.”– Sir Richard Burton
Many people have heard of the island of Malta; few have heard of the 18 other islands that comprise Malta; fewer people have experienced the magic that is Gozo my all time favorite island that I have yet been to. I had the opportunity to do an Anthropological field school on Gozo for three weeks and jumped at the chance. I knew next to nothing about Malta yet was beyond excited to immerse myself in new experiences, cultures, and adventures. There will be many more blog posts on Malta, but for now, I will start with this one. I hope it inspires you to learn more about the country and to visit this incredible and unique place.
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation where you can also find lots of adventure if you so choose Gozo is the place for you. You will never have to fight hordes of tourists and can often find yourself alone at several of the tourist spots. It’s a one of a kind place and somewhere you can forget about the hassle and simply enjoy what you are seeing instead of peering around a stranger’s head in hopes of seeing what you came to see.
1. Xlendi (Pronounced Sh-len-dee):
What: Xlendi is a small town on the island of Gozo and a great base for exploring the island. I used this as my base for the 3 weeks I was there and found it convenient and easy to find my way around the island.
Where/How To Get There: The ferry comes to Gozo from the main island of Malta every 30 minutes. You can take a taxi or bus to Xlendi or Victoria/Rabbat and walk from there.
Cost: Depends on where you stay, but you can easily come here on a budget. Fresh fruit and veggies can be found in markets locally for very cheap and many restaurants are very affordable and all of them are delicious.
Where To Stay: You have two hotel options: San Andrea Hotel and St Patrick’s hotel. You can find rooms for under $100 a night. Airbnb also has options with a wider price range.
Things To Do/Must-See Sites Nearby:
- Xlendi Bay–Crystal clear Mediterranean Sea where you can walk straight in from the bay or choose to jump off of one of the rocks.
- Xlendi Tower–The oldest surviving watchtower on Gozo (there are 4). It was built ~1650 and is undergoing restoration. While it is not open to the public you can walk right up to it and get some fantastic pictures especially at sunset
- SCUBA diving/Snorkeling– St. Andrew’s Diver’s Cove is the dive shop I recommend. (I’m a Dive Master and loved the professionalism and knowledge this shop had). Xlendi Bay has some great reef diving and caves nearby that are great for beginners and professionals alike. The island is teeming with wonderful dive/snorkel sites so make sure you don’t miss this!
- Salt Flats–You can visit some salt mines that are right near the Xlendi Tower and they are still in use!
What: Ramla is a red sand beach located in the village of Xaghra (pronounced Zah–grah). Not only is it located in an undeveloped area so you won’t ever hear traffic noise or fight for space on the beach, but you can also have some history with your beach time. Roman ruins lie underneath the beach and there is even a Roman villa on the top of a nearby hill that you can walk to. The views from the top are to die for.
Where/How To Get There: Xaghra is located a short bus ride from the main town of Victoria. It will only take 15-20 minutes and buses leave at scheduled times each day.
Cost: The beach is completely free! The bus ride costs approximately $2-$5 round trip.
Things To Do:
- Ramla Bay– Scuba and/or snorkel here! Sunbathe, play sports, you name it!
- Eat some of the best ice cream on the island
- Grab a quick bite to eat at the cafe on the beach
- Visit the Roman villa ruins.
- Visit Calypso Cave which is rumored to be the cave Homer refers to in The Odyssey.
3. Ta’Pinu (Pronounced Tah-Pee-New):
What: A basilica located near the village of Gharb and visitors can also enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and sea. No one really knows how the Shrine to Our Lady of Ta’Pinu began, but has a colorful and miraculous history. In the 1570’s a visitor commissioned by the Pope came to the site of a small church and finding it in bad condition ordered it to be demolished and rebuilt. The first blow of the demolition caused a man to break his arm and this was taken as a sign that the chapel shouldn’t be destroyed. In the early 1600s, the church was rebuilt with a stone altar and portrait of Our Lady of the Assumption was hung above it. Over the next few decades and now centuries the church has been associated with many miracles that no one can explain. While visiting you can see hallways filled with casts from broken bones that healed, letters and other paraphernalia related to miraculous healing that occurred as a result of the church according to its members.
Where/How To Get There: There are several ways. I took an hour-long walk from Xlendi, but not everyone will want to do that! If you do walk follow the signs for Gharb and/or Ta’Pinu. You can also catch a bus from Victoria.
Cost: The basilica is free to enter, but donations are suggested. Remember to cover your shoulders and wear something that covers the knee out of respect.
Things To Do Nearby:
- Blue Hole–The Azure Window sadly collapsed, but the views are still spectacular there and the Blue Hole is perfect for a day of swimming or scuba diving.
- Inland Sea–Right near the Blue Hole and an interesting stop on the way
4. Ggantija (Pronounced Ji-gan-tee-ya):
What: A megalithic temple complex from the Neolithic Era. The temples are over 5500 years old and are older than the pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. They were used as a part of a fertility rite. The whole site (before it was abandoned) was built before the invention of the wheel and is just plain impressive to see.
Where/How To Get There: Located in the town of Xaghra and is easily walked to from Victoria or you can take the bus.
Cost: Between 5-9 euros depending on discounts and whether or not you want to also visit the Ta’Kola Windmill
Nearby Sites To See: Ta’Kola Windmill.
5. Kayaking Tour Around Gozo:
What: Half day or full day tours that can take you to Comino, different parts of Gozo and you can even earn certifications.
Company: I used Gozo Adventures but there are several companies that do this tour. Do your research and book the best one for you!
Cost: Between 45-65 Euros
What You See: It depends on the tour. I did a full day tour and visited Comino, snorkeled Comino, visited the Blue Lagoon, Kayaked around the coast of Gozo, had an included lunch, and passed through caves and stone arches. The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. This was great for all fitness levels.