Gozo, in Castilian, means ‘joy’ and it is a word that perfectly exemplifies this beautiful hidden gem in the Mediterranean. Although tiny, this idyllic island has a lot to offer; quaint little towns and churches dot the rural landscape and the spectacular, rugged coastline is home to stunning beaches. As the sister island of Malta, Gozo has its own distinct charm and identity, and plenty of amazing sites to explore so here are mine and Ritual’s top 10 places to explore whilst in Gozo.
- Dwejra and the Inland Sea
Situated on the west coast of the island, Dwejra used to be known primarily as the site of the Azure Window; the iconic, natural stone arch formation which sadly collapsed in March 2017. Despite the loss of this much loved, natural beauty, Dwejra is still a must visit spot to explore, and home to other natural wonders including the Inland Sea and the Blue Hole. The Inland Sea is a tranquil, enclosed lagoon connected to the open sea through an impressive 80m tunnel, whilst the Blue Hole is an epic 15m deep natural rock formation teeming with marine life and a scuba divers’ paradise!
- Victoria and the Citadel
Victoria is Gozo’s capital city and both the physical and metaphorical heart of Gozo. Wonder around Victoria’s charming back alleys and bustling squares and you’ll discover everything, from bakeries selling delicious pastizzi and ftira, to traditional craft stores selling beautiful lace and Gozo glass. In the centre of Victoria you will find the Citadel, an ancient, fortified city standing out as Gozo’s major landmark. Steeped in history, the citadel is visible from all over the island, and rich in historical and cultural value!
- Wied il-Mielaħ
Gozo is full of amazing natural landmarks for you to visit, including the Wied il-Mielaħ Window. Now arguably Gozo’s second ‘Azure Window’, Wied il-Mielaħ is an entirely natural arch structure formed by limestone. Situated on the north-western coast of Gozo this impressive attraction is definitely worth a visit!
- Ta’ Pinu
The Shrine of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu (Ta’ Pinu for short) is an architectural masterpiece! Whilst the origins of Ta’ Pinu are unknown, the original 16th century chapel still remains intact and is fully integrated into the new church behind the altar. Consecrated in 1932, Ta’ Pinu holds an important and beloved place in the hearts of Gozitans and has become a key centre of pilgrimage. The church is set in the spectacular Gozitan countryside with nothing else around it, making for a striking backdrop and a perfect photo opportunity, especially with the beautifully crafted mosaic display outside!
- Gozitan beaches
Gozo is home to numerous epic beaches from Ramla l-Hamra, Gozo’s largest and most popular beach, to Hondoq ir-Rummien, a quiet, secluded bay surrounded by nature. However, if you’re looking for a more serene, rural ambience I would recommend visiting either Mgarr Ix-Xini or San Blas Bay. San Blas Bay is a small bay located close to Nadur; only accessible on foot, this secluded bay is the perfect spot for some peace and tranquillity. Mgarr Ix-Xini is a tiny pebble beach surrounded by steep-sided cliffs and a valley. In summer its crystal-clear, calm waters are frequently enjoyed by both swimmers and scuba divers alike!
- Tal-Mixta cave
Tal-Mixta is a picturesque cave standing proudly above Ramla Bay. This awesome cave offers breath-taking panoramic views of the idyllic bay down below and is a photographic hotspot! Once considered to be a beautiful hidden gem, Tal-Mixta cave has become an increasingly popular spot with both locals and tourists! In my opinion, it offers the most spectacular view on the whole island!
Found nestled along Gozo’s beautiful southwest coastline is Xlendi, an old fishing village and of course Ritual’s home! This typical Gozitan village seems unaffected by the passage of time and perfectly epitomizes the charm, friendliness and warmth of Gozo! Xlendi Bay is a popular swimming, snorkelling and diving spot, and also a great place to sit with an ice cream and watch the world go by. Along the waterfront and small back streets are many brilliant restaurants and cafés offering both local and contemporary cuisine, such as our very own Front Bar and Restaurant! Xlendi is also arguably the best place in Gozo to watch the sunset, but don’t just take our word for it, come down and see it for yourself!
- Ġgantija Temples
In Xaghra you will find the Ġgantija Temples, a must visit UNESCO World Heritage Site for any history lovers. The site is home to two temples dating back to between 3600 and 3200 B.C. making them the oldest free-standing structures on Earth. The Ġgantija Temples are a phenomenal architectural feat and the world’s oldest religious structures, pre-dating both the Pyramids in Egypt and Stonehenge in England.
Whilst visiting Gozo, you definitely need to pop over and explore the smaller, paradise island of Comino! The island’s main attraction of course is the Blue Lagoon; a small, sheltered inlet boasting dazzlingly clear turquoise waters! Boat trips from Gozo to Comino are plentiful and enable you to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon and explore the rest of Comino, including Santa Marija Tower. Comino is car-free and virtually uninhabited, making it ideal for those wanting a tranquil getaway.
Finally, I recommend taking a day-trip over to Malta during your stay in Gozo to see what the largest island in the Maltese Archipelago has to offer! Valletta is Malta’s capital and packed full of sights; this UNESCO World Heritage Site has been described as “one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world”. For me though, the must visit place is Mdina or the Silent City. Built in Medieval times, Mdina is surrounded by fortified walls and this ancient walled city sits proudly atop of one of the highest hills on Malta. Much of its original architecture has been preserved and its quaint, narrow alleys are steeped in centuries worth of tales!