Is Gozo worth visiting? If you have to ask, we’ll assume you don’t know all that much about this isle on the northwest edge of Malta. That’s okay – it’s not the most-visited spot in the Med. But let’s just say this: One visit and you won’t be asking again!
Not a chance. Gozo is a gorgeous jewel of a land that oscillates between grassy meadows and wooded valleys, eventually dropping down to a coast that runs through soaring cliff stacks to rust-red beaches. It’s relaxed and laid back, but has enthralling and mysterious towns that ooze history, sometimes going back more than six millennia!
This guide can be you’re 101 to Gozo. It will reveal the amazing sands, the haunting villages and churches, and the intrepid walking routes that await. We’d say chances are you’ll be reaching for the passport and booking flights in no time. Is Gozo worth visiting? You bet ya it is!
The beaches – especially that stunning Ramla l-Hamra!
The number one reason that we’d say Gozo has to make it onto a Malta bucket list is the coastline. This island is blessed with some of the most striking shore in all of the central Mediterranean. It might only be 8.2 miles in all, but boy does it pack a punch. Everything from gold-sand bays backed by high cliffs to craggy rock stacks that lurch straight from the sea are on view.
There are some places on Gozo that the beach lovers among us should never miss but chief among them has to be Ramla l-Hamra. That rhyming name is the perfect moniker to a beach that’s pure poetry. It’s not your usual travel-brochure idyll, but rather a rugged bay of ochre-tinged sand topped by high hills covered in lush greenery. Of course, that’s not the only awesome beach on the isle…
- Dahlet Qorrot – Sometimes called San Filep Beach, this inlet on the north coast reminds us of the Costa Smeralda in Sardinia. It’s a glistening mass of turquoise water with pockets of sea grasses swaying below.
- Dwejra Bay – We’ll talk more about this spot later because it’s arguably one of Gozo’s most amazing sights. Also known as the Inland Sea, Dwejra is a small bay that’s almost completely enfolded by cliffs.
- Wied il-Ghasri – A very narrow inlet that snakes through high cliffs to a secluded pebble cove. One for the romancing couples.
While most of the focus – quite rightly! – is on the great castle-fortress-city complex of Valletta, the capital of Malta, when it comes to history, Gozo has plenty up its sleeve to match…
In fact, the island is home to some of the oldest relics in this corner of the Mediterranean. They predate even the Great Pyramids of Egypt. We’re talking about the UNESCO-tagged Megalithic Temples of Malta. Dotting the backcountry of the island, they are gigantic Bronze Age religious constructions that will wow at Ggantija and Mnajdra.
But that’s not it. Gozo’s past is wrapped up in tales of invading Ottomans and re-invading Christian knights, French garrisons and British colonists. The result? An island that’s a layer cake of historical epochs, which you can see firsthand at sights like…
- The Citadel of Victoria – The mighty citadel of Victoria, also known as the Cittadella, was once the acropolis of an ancient Roman town but later become the main medieval castle protecting the island’s inhabitants from the Ottomans.
- Ta’ Pinu National Shrine – A honey-colored church that’s said to have been the home of miracles, once even visited by Pope John Paul II.
- Rotunda St. John Baptist Church – We’d say this is the most photogenic church on the island, with a big dome top that soars above the village of Xewkija.
Gozo is perhaps the best part of Malta to go off the beaten track and explore on your own. It’s quieter and less developed than its compadre over on the main island, has more donkey paths, and fewer hotel-packed resort areas. AKA – it’s a fantastic destination for nature lovers and hikers.
There are plenty of walks to do. They range from short rambles of just a few clicks to longer day hikes that wiggle for more than 20 miles from point to point. Our all-time favorite option has to be the romp over the dramatic amphitheater-like walls of the Gebel Ben Gorg Cliffs where you get visions of the white-capping Mediterranean Sea. The finish is at the Inland Sea of Dwejra, a strange village nestled in a cave-like cove.
To glimpse the lusher side of the island, be sure to make for the paths that navigate the Valley of Nadur. This is where you’ll understand why Gozo is hailed as the breadbasket of Malta. Crops of all sorts pop up on all sides as the path weaves through well-irrigated farm fields. The end point is at Ramla Bay, where you’ve earned yourself a rejuvenating swim.
The family friendly stays
While the main island of Malta has the areas of St Paul’s Bay and Bugibba for the resort-tripping families, Gozo has its own draws. Mhmm…this isle of laid-back countryside and historic towns is dotted with accommodation options that are just perfect for those bringing the kids in tow. We’re talking multi-room villas with private pools, set in remote places where you and the crew can really spread out and get some R&R.
Booking.com reveals that there are actually over 100 private rental villas currently up for grabs on Gozo alone. Some of the best of them are:
- Razzett Ghasri ($$$) – There are several different villa accommodations on offer at this complex in Ghasri. They all have self-catering facilities and access to a large outdoor swimming pool.
- Kikka Holiday Home ($$-$$$) – This two-bedroom villa sleeps four plus one. It’s a mere 900 yards from stunning Ramla Beach but also has its own small courtyard pool.
- Rebbiegha Holiday Home ($$) – For bigger families, this three-bedroom villa is a grand Maltese townhouse with an 8-shaped pool wiggling through the garden.
The island’s capital: Victoria
Victoria, known to the locals as Rabat, is a seriously amazing place. It’s got history to rival even Valletta and a vibe that’s at once laid-back and authentic. Is Gozo worth visiting for the town alone? Well…let’s put it this way: We’d say a visit to this spot should be right up there at the top of any Gozo bucket list.
So, what’s on offer? How about a hulking medieval fortress area known as the Cittadella? Built first way back in the Bronze Age, it was added to by the Aragonese and then the Knights of St John, eventually becoming one of the great protecting bastions against the Ottomans before falling in a siege. Today, it’s the heart of Victoria the old city, home to plazas and narrow alleys that you can wander and walk to your heart’s content.
The other highlights of the city include Saint George’s Basilica, a gold-filigreed church that’s decorated with a striking equine altarpiece by Mattia Preti. Oh, and there’s the Cathedral of the Assumption, which looks like something plucked from a Tolkien novel on its perch in the middle of the historic citadel.
For access to Comino
Although the tiny isle of Comino is actually nestled between the main island of Malta and the southeast coast of Gozo, it’s often visited from the latter. Boats go over 10 times per day in the peak season direct to the iconic Blue Lagoon (more on him later) from the main Gozo port of Mgarr. Some of the routes even add on trips around the caves that dot the coast of Comino for some extra sightseeing.
What you get when you arrive is a picture-perfect rock washed on all sides by the glistening blue of the Med. Talking of blue…the Blue Lagoon. It’s the undisputed highlight of Comino Island. Here, the reefs and deep channel waters level out onto a flat sandbank that runs for about 100 meters into the sea, offering pristine swimming and snorkeling around coast caves and rock stacks.
There’s also some good country walking on Comino. You can pretty much explore the whole island by foot in a day. Some sights to see include the haunting old French isolation hospital and the Il-Batterija ta’ Santa Marija, a onetime gun placement used by the Knights of St John to defend against the Ottomans.
This one goes for all of Malta, not just Gozo. The climate in these parts follows a similar pattern to other places in the depths of the southern Mediterranean. AKA: Hot summers followed by mild winters. Because it’s SO far south, though, the season starts nice and early and lasts well into the fall. You’re usually good with holidays in May time if you want to hit the seas and should be fine until around October.
The peak season is still the summer. Temperatures in the days then can hit a whopping 89 F (32 C) without breaking a sweat, no pun intended. You also get an average of 11 hours of sunshine per day in July and 10 in August, so sunscreen is a must. The only downside of traveling in peak season is that things can get busy, but thankfully Gozo never really suffers from the same crowds as the country’s bigger isle.
Is Gozo worth visiting for the weather? From May to October it most certainly is! The isle is a solid choice for late- and early-season sun and the seas here have balmy temps that oscillate between 16-24 C most years.
Is Gozo worth visiting? Our conclusion…
Is Gozo worth visiting? Why are you still even asking? It really is. This island that fragments off the northwest side of Malta is a real stunner. We hope we’ve stoked your wanderlust a little with tales of its enthralling ancient towns and castles, the uber-old megalithic temples, and the wild beaches and hiking trails. Get booking now!