*Paid partnership: Visit Malta & Finnair
The island of Gozo is part of Malta and situated less than half an hour away from the main island by ferry. Gozo is a smaller and calmer island, where travellers can enjoy hiking routes, diving, history, and fast-growing wellness trends like yoga classes. The island is around one fifth the size of Malta’s main island and has just over 30 000 residents.
The ferry from Malta’s Cirkewwa harbour to Gozo goes several times a day until late night. The tickets are bought on the way back. Plans have been made for a bridge between the two islands, but residents of Gozo have been against it and want to hold on to peaceful island life.
Gozo has been influenced by Sicily and you can see this in some parts of the architecture and taste it also in the food on offer on the island.
Gozo island travel guide – save my best tips for your trip!
Gozo – experience at least these six things
Sights of Gozo are focused around nature and the history of Malta. Many of the historical sights are located in the main city, Victoria, in the middle of the island.
The locals commonly refer to Victoria as Rabat according to its past name. Most of the nature experiences such as hiking and diving, take place around the coast.
1. Yellow Rock Yoga – yoga and meditation in nature
Wonderful Dutch Monique fell in love with Gozo years ago, so much so that she decided to live there. Now she runs private and group yoga classes indoors as well as outside in nature. I started one morning with a private yoga class with Monique on the cliffs and had the best time.
2. Ta’ Mena – visit a countryside vineyard
Especially in the past Gozo used to live off farming, but unfortunately, this way of living is continuously declining on the island. The Ta’ Mena farm is a pioneer in this field and organises a few tours for tourists every week. Read more about the tours here.
The family-owned Ta’ Mena offers a great travel experience: you can get to know the island’s traditions and the wonderful family who own the farm, including their adorable dogs. I enjoyed a few glasses of wine with the farm owner Joseph, who told me a lot about the local wines, delicious rocket, and goat’s cheese. The farm also has a shop where you can buy local specialities to take home with you.
3. Diving and snorkeling in the turquoise sea
Gozo is a diver’s wet dream. Malta and Gozo combined have over 200 spots suitable for diving, where you can admire marine life, caves, or even old shipwrecks.
The most famous diving location around Gozo must be the Blue Hole, which is made up of boulders, caves and an unusual vertical cave
4. Feeling the history trapped into the walls – Cittadella
Cittadella, a UNESCO world heritage site, is located in the heart of Gozo and surrounded by walls. The archaeologically significant fortress is one of the most important sights on the island, and the best way to experience it is to walk and wander around its small streets. The fortress provides excellent views of the surrounding island of Gozo.
The medieval fortress houses a cathedral built out of yellow limestone the colour of honey and a few small museums.
5. The temples of Ggantija
The Ggantija temple complex is a destination for travellers interested in history. It was included on the UNESCO world heritage list in the year 1980. The stone temple, which predates even Stonehenge, takes you back in time to as far as 3600-3200 before Christ.
6. Luxury for a rainy day – Kempinski Hotel Spa
Kempinski is the most extravagant hotel on Malta’s Gozo island and even if you don’t stay there, you can enjoy the hotel’s excellent spa services. Kempinski’s spa offers whole day spa packages and separate treatments for each taste. The spa also houses a pool.
The prices, of course, match the level of the Kempinski experience, so it might not be suitable for a day of indulgence if you’re on a tight budget.
The best restaurants on Gozo
Gozo’s restaurants offer Mediterranean delicacies and traditional Maltese taste experiences. Many restaurants on the island have been heavily influenced by Sicily. This list contains my favourite restaurants and a few recommendations from my local friend.
Il Kartel offers an experience of the tastes of the sea right by the sea. We enjoyed lunch outside – the bread was so good that I asked to have a small bag of it to take with me to the hotel for the evening, hah. Feed me carbs, and I’m happy. I also had squid and delicious herb potatoes for lunch. A strong recommendation, especially because of the location.
Gozon ravintolat tarjoilevat Välimeren herkkuja ja perinteisiä maltalaisia makuelämyksiä. Moni ravintola saarella saa myös vahvoja vaikutteita Sisiliasta. Tässä listauksessa on omat suosikkiravintolani ja muutama suositus paikalliselta tuttavaltani.
Mekren’s Bakery is not strictly speaking a restaurant but a bakery where the locals get a variety of delicious snacks to enjoy at home. There is no coffee served in the bakery, and there is no seating – as you walk in through the door, you will find yourself in the middle of the bakery. Order some local delicacies, for example, to take with you when you go hiking. The family- owned bakery is especially known for its pizza and a variety of other delicious filled bread.
Il Panzier is my absolute favourite on Gozo. I happened to dine here on the second evening of my trip. Il Panzier is owned by a Sicilian family and has a homemade feel, but it is a perfectly delicious restaurant. As I walked to the door, I thought the restaurant was closed, because you walk literally through the hallway of the family home into a cosy backyard. You shouldn’t except service following etiquette or exactly the right kind of wineglass, but the tastes are exactly what you would expect when visiting a Sicilian family. The owner is an older gentleman who is interested in talking to tourists and brings large portions of food to the table at a fast pace.
The family-owned Tmun Mgarr is located near Gozo’s harbour and offers quality Mediterranean food. Try at least the Bouillabaisse recipe made up by the couple, which is homemade and contains seven different species of fish.
Maldonado Bistro is Gozo’s hidden gem, popular mostly amongst the locals. Off the Victoria streets, it’s a traditional Mediterranean experience of tastes. The restaurant gets its ingredients directly from the local producers and invests in their quality. Try at least the local cheese, delicious antipasto, and squid pasta.
Accommodation on Gozo
Accommodation on Gozo is focused around Victoria, Malsaforn, and Xlend, but there are options around the island for every taste. I stayed in Victoria in the middle of the historical sights and shopping in the city centre. Next time I might choose Xlend for its beach boulevard.
Gozo has more expensive hotels, cheap guesthouses, and middle-range hotel choices as well as Airbnb accommodation. I stayed at the Duke Boutique hotel.
The Duke Boutique Hotel is located in the heart of central Gozo on the main street in Victoria above a shopping centre. As a thought, I wasn’t excited about staying above a shopping centre, but it was an excellent quality hotel, and I found that despite its location, it was quiet.
I wouldn’t necessarily call this a luxury hotel, even if it is branded as one. The service was average and decor a little outdated. My room was, however, very big and as a cherry on top, it had a jacuzzi on the balcony!
*Images: The Duke Boutique Hotel
Kalamija is a luxury villa owned by Finns, and if you’re travelling with a larger group, you can stay there for a very affordable price. The larger house has 6 bedrooms and the smaller one 4. Both houses have an outdoor pool. The villa’s decoration is not very special but reminds an elaborate old castle.
I didn’t stay here, but I went to see the place and definitely want to stay here with a larger group of friends sometime – who’s with me?
There is a bus stop right in front of the accommodation, but if you stay here, you might want to rent a car as there are no services right by the villa.
Hiking routes and hiking on Gozo
Gozo is a dream destination for nature travellers and for some even all year round. The rough cliffs, turquoise sea, and calm routes offer the perfect setting for an active holiday. There are different routes for all levels, and nature remains untouched in many parts of the island. I preferred areas around Dwejra Bay and Gebel Ben Gorg Cliffs, which have amazing views. My hiking route took me around three hours to complete on a hot summer day.
Other popular areas for hiking can be found at least in Rambla Bay where the beach is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, especially during the more quiet winter.
On the second morning, we hiked to a yoga spot near Ta’ Ċenċ Cliffs, where there’s a popular hiking route along the cliffs on the coastline.
Zebbug, on the other hand, allows you to enjoy views of the countryside and the route leads to the coast.
Public transport in Gozo
Using a normal local bus on Gozo is easy, and I recommend it! Busses to all around the island leave directly from the door of the ferry terminal and taking the bus is quite affordable. You can buy the ticket on the bus using cash.
Many day visitors choose the Hop on Hop off bus on Gozo, which you can buy tickets for as you walk out of the ferry terminal.
There are usually also taxis waiting.
Have you ever visited Gozo?