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Gozo Holidays - 10 Things to Do, Places to Stay and More Essential Tips

Deep blue sea, wild scrublands, and rocky beauty characterise the Maltese islands, and nothing is more exemplary of this than the small island of Gozo, Malta’s sister island and made for holidays.

It’s a popular location not just with foreigners looking to get a taste of the Maltese islands, but locals eager for a laid-back break. Gozo is known for its rural and scenic wilder living, and has a population of just 37,324 out of Malta’s total of 475,000.

The island is even smaller than Malta, clocking in at just 26 square miles, or 67 square kilometres, however most of that is fields and open spaces. The island has the same beautiful, sunny weather as Malta, the same friendly approach to visitors, and also speak both of the same official languages, so chances are if you’ve visited Malta before and you liked it then, you’ll like Gozo just as much!

Haven’t visited Gozo or Malta yet and wondering whether it's a good place for holidaymaking?

No worries.

Read on for a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about Gozo, tips on where to do and what to stay, and how to make the most of your holiday on Malta’s smaller sister island. 

1. History of Gozo

Gozo’s inhabitants date back to 5000 BC, where farmers from Sicily crossed over to settle on the island. Similarities between pottery found in Sicily and pottery found in Gozo suggests that colonists could have been from Agrigento, however it’s hard to narrow it down any further than that due to the lack of information about Malta’s prehistoric periods. 

What is known is this: Gozo’s position in Maltese history stands as an important fulcrum for cultural evolution for Europe.

For example, the Ggantija temples are among the world’s oldest religious structures. In history, it has been often referenced by Greek historians, such as Callimachus, that Gozo is the island of the nymph Calypso, (hint: you might want to visit the picturesque Calypso's cave overlooking ir-Ramla il-Hamra) who detained Odysseus on her island for seven long years. 

In 1551, Ottomans ravaged the island of Gozo and enslaved most of the settlers there, leaving it barren and unpopulated. Between 1565 and 1580, the Knights of Malta attempted to repopulate the island with people from Malta, and from there, the history of Gozo and the history of Malta become intertwined as Malta governed Gozo.

Gozo remained beholden to Maltese law and rule until 1987, when the Ministry of Gozo was set up. This doesn't mean that Gozo is autonomous from Malta, but the Ministry allows it to cater for specific needs that are particular to the population of the island.

2. What to do

It doesn’t matter what your idea of a perfect holiday is: Gozo has offerings for culture-vulture travellers, adventurous holidayers, and people who just want to get away from their normal everyday lives and relax in a beautiful setting.

Travelling with kids? There’s family-friendly offerings that you can definitely keep in mind for your trip to Gozo. 

 

The relaxing holiday

If what you’re looking for is just open air and open sea, Gozo has a number of locations where wander-happy travellers can settle down for an afternoon of relaxation. From lagoons to diving, Gozo has some of the most unspoiled terrain in the Mediterranean sea, and it would be a wasted journey without seeing what the island can really offer travellers willing to put in the work to get to them. 

Relaxing at Ramla Bay beach

For example, consider Dwejra, the area where the famous Azure Window used to stand before its collapse.

Dwejra is a lovely location for a picnic, and travellers coming in summer can bring along a swimsuit, because the north-western part of Gozo is also home to the calm waters of the Inland sea, a lagoon that goes underneath the peaked cliffs.

People whose holiday itinerary just consists of swimming should also check out some of Gozo’s premiere beaches, such as Ramla Bay, a beach famous for its red sand. Personally, we recommend the less touristy San Blas Bay, a shallow, crystal-clear bay located close to Nadur. Adventurers who want the Maltese beach-going experience can opt for a pebbly beach such as Dahlet Qorrot. 

Visiting in winter, or not a big fan of swimming? Gozo has incredible hiking opportunities.

Start by trekking out to see the ‘Ta’ Pinu’ Basilica, a stunning church built in the middle of nowhere that is open to the public year-round.

There is a path around the Basilica that will lead you further up, and can give you an incredible view of Gozo and the surrounding area.

However, that’s not the only location where you can walk; in fact, pretty much the entire island is an excellent beginner hiker’s dream, with flat, easy coastal routes to take advantage of. 

 

The historic holiday

It’s impossible to talk about visiting Gozo without also sightseeing some of the most impressive historical sites that the Maltese islands have to offer.

Gozo’s unique position in the Mediterranean - alternatively both isolated and easily accessible - has also preserved a different idea of life in the Mediterranean to the Maltese islands, so it’s well worth visiting even if you think you’ve seen it all. 

And you can’t visit any museum or cultural experience in Gozo without starting with the Citadella.

Cittadella in Gozo - culture at its best

There is no entrance free to get in, and the Citadella, or the Castello, is a citadel that has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, and preserved meticulously throughout the years.

During the medieval period, the citadel served as a refuge for Gozo’s population, and while it was ransacked and destroyed during the Ottoman attack of 1551, a reconstruction built it back up again and added the gunpowder fortress which now forms a significant part of the Citadella. 

However, it is not just merely a fortress; the Citadella has a number of other museums and displays inside that you can access for the price of a day ticket.

Bear in mind that getting into the Citadella is free, so you are able to walk around some of the exhibits without incurring a visitor’s fee, however people who want to get into some of the dedicated museums on-site will need to purchase a visitor’s pass.

We recommend it, as it’s definitely worth the €5 ticket!

Once you’re inside the Citadella, consider stopping off at the Folklore Museum, a microcosm of Gozitan local life in the medieval period, and the Museum of Archaeology which can give you more information about how archaeological discoveries made on the island.

You can also visit the Nature Museum, which showcases wildlife and flora indiginous to the Gozitan islands. 

Beyond the Citadella, there’s also the Ggantija Temples. Allegedly built by giants (or maybe more accurately, the belief is that s, the Ggantija temples are an enormous megalithic complex which has been recently reclassed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and has a small museum on-site to explain the significance of the temple on the island, as well as some information about the early settlers’ religion. 

Finally, you should visit Ta’ Kola Windmill, the home of Gozo’s largest collection of tools and the Folklore Museum. 

 

The adventurous holiday

If you’re looking for fun and adventure, there’s one thing you definitely need to consider for when you travel to Gozo, and that is diving. Gozo is renowned for its diving, with ideal conditions year-round and many diving schools that can teach you what you need to know or take you out on a guided diving experience.

If you’re a beginner, we recommend you start with the guided tours first so you can focus on enjoying the experience with the reassurance that you’re in good hands, however if you’re an experienced diver here’s some places you can go. 

Start with the Blue Hole, an underwater chimney passage that will spill you out into the Mediterraean sea. Be prepared to see a lot of fish, such as grouper and damsel fish, and tuna the deeper you go, and delight in the relatively untouched conditions.

Go early - it’s a popular place for divers.

Or else, go at twilight, the colours and experience as you fin out into the open sea from the Inland Sea are an absolute life-changing memory.

We’ve mentioned the Inland Sea before, however we’re mentioning it again for this reason: the Inland Sea has beautiful, living reefs to photograph for memories unparallelled to what you can get onland. 

If it’s fish you’re interested in, then consider visiting Crocodile Rock, where groupers, tunas, and barracudas have made their home.

You might also want to stop off at Double Arch Reef if you want to see octopi and sea urchins, Wied il-Ghasri for seahorses, and San Dimitri Point for migrating shoals of fish.

Interested in something more? There’s a scuttled ferry at ix-Xatt l-Ahmar, that you can weave in and out of, and Fessej Rock is unmatched for deep-sea diving, although those are far more advanced dives and should not be attempted alone. 

Prefer your adventures out of the water? We recommend horse-riding around the island. 

There are a number of horse-riding farms ready to tour you around Gozo, so do your research and see which would suit your budget; you’ll find one for sure!

If you’re not too fond of horses, consider a quad or bike tour instead. 

Finally, you should definetely visit Comino, an uninhabited island known for its superlative Blue Lagoon. It’s more crowded in summer than in winter, however it’s still worth a visit just for the scenery. 

 

3. Gozo Holidays with Choice

The tow islands, Gozo, alongside with Comino, are the smaller of the three Maltese Islands - but Gozo is definetely one place you need to visit on during your holidays to Malta.

Despite being only a couple of miles off the coast of Malta, Gozo has a completely different character and charm. Known best of offering a laid-back, quiet pace of life, there is still a lot to see and do on the islands.

One of the many reason why Gozo holidays are so popular with visitors!

Part of your Gozo holidays should include a visit to the St. George's basilica.

Gozo has the same enviable climate, dramatic coastline and the friendly locals are all great reasons to visit Gozo.

Often referred to as ‘the way Malta used to be’, the island proudly displays the history and traditions built up over thousands of years. It manages to retain the old ways while also appealing to modern visitors. It really has to be seen to be believed!

Like Malta, Gozo has been influenced by the many rulers of the islands and still carries remnants and ruins of each. The island is full of historical sites, quiet towns and villages and glimpses into the past of the island and Maltese culture.

4. Where to Stay

So you’ve booked your flight and ferry tickets to Gozo, you have an idea of what you want to do, and now you need a place to stay.

Fortunately, Gozo has a number of hotels, aparthotels, and rentals to suit your tastes and your budget dotted all around the island. Here’s a few places to get you started. 

Gozo accommodation types

There are a number of luxury hotels on Gozo, apartments for short rent, self-catering accommodation and farmhouse accommodation. The selection is many and varied and is often much lower key than on Malta. There are boutique and luxury hotels as well as hotels offering more value. Whatever you’re looking for, you will find it here.

One key type of Gozo holiday rental is the farmhouse. Not farmhouses as you might know them though. Think more self-catering house with all modern conveniences and often a pool too.

Other popular Gozo holiday rentals include hostels for backpackers, bed and breakfasts and self-catering apartments. Different locations have different options and most are of a high standard.

Top Value Gozo Hotels

Want something affordable and great value? We’ve got your back. 

Country Views Bed and Breakfast

Located in the heart of Victoria, this family-oriented bed and breakfast is highly rated by couples looking for a comfortable, easy place to stay at close to all amenities. It has a swimming pool and a bar open to guests, as well as free on-site parking so that you can park your rented car without any worries. 

Run by Alexa and Gary and their son, this family-led B&B only has four rooms, but the beautiful countryside surrounding the B&B make it a popular location for travellers looking to relax with good old-fashioned Maltese hospitality.

Bask in the sunlight on the outdoor seating area, or sit inside and listen to music with a warm beverage on stormy days; the choice is yours! Need tips on where to go? The family is ready to get you all the information you need during your stay there. 

Check Availability

Rose Court

Located in Xaghra, Rose Court is in a rural location, within a 5-minute drive of Ramla Bay Beach and St. George's Basilica. 

Check Availability

Casa Gemelli

Part of the Ta’ Maria Accomodation portfolio, Casa Gemelli is a stunningly-restored townhouse that has only been open since 2017, but has made waves on the island for its impeccable luxurious twist.

Boasting traditional Maltese architecture and run by the twin sisters for ‘Ta’ Maria Properties, Casa Gemelli personalises your room with your choice of bedding, pillows, dietary requirements or other special requirements. Each room has its own shower and hairdryer facilities, however toiletries and daily maid services are provided. A buffet breakfast is served every day, with a choice of continental or cooked breakfast available. 

Rooms are private, intimate, and have a beautiful view of the Gozitan countryside. 

 

Luxury 

It’s your holiday, and you should be comfortable on your holiday. These hotels all feature some of the most beautifully appointed rooms in Gozo, and are definitely worth the extra price hike if what you’re looking for is sheer, sumptuous comfort. 

Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz Malta

No matter at what price point you look at this hotel, the Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz is full-on luxurious. Start with the location, out in the middle of the wildlands of San Lawrenz, and factor in the highly-trained staff, their Ladies in Red. Rated at an average of 9.1 out of 10 over 12 websites, the Kempinski Hotel’s primary concern is your comfort and your enjoyment, and they’re dedicated to giving you a holiday that will have you coming back for more. 

 

Tucked away in 30,000sqm of garden, the hotel offers an Ayurveda Centre and Spa, three outdoor pools, and an indoor heated pool, as well as a fitness centre and two tennis courts. The hotel also has a complimentary bus service, kids club, and free parking, to really ensure that your stay with them is as hassle-free as possible. 

Check Current Prices at Kempinski

Hotel Ta’ Cenc

If you need a break, and you need it now, opt for the Ta’ Cenc Hotel, an out of the way hotel with all ground-level rooms built to be romantic hideaways and homes away from home.

Located on the highest peak in Gozo, and with just 84 rooms to pick from, the hotel has built itself around the simple mental break of being in nature, surrounded by nature, and enjoying nature.

The grounds hold a bird sanctuary, a private rocky beach, and a medieval palazzo, but beyond that there is also a Trullo-style spa with a heated sauna, steam room, and an indoor-outdoor pool artfully built into the natural surroundings. 

The hotel also has three on-site restaurants with locally sourced ingredients and Mediterranean cuisine, so that you never really need to leave your hotel until you absolutely have to. 

 

Check Prices at the Ta' Cenc

Budget

If all you want is a place to sleep, you can’t go wrong with our options below. 

 

Ghajn Damma

An adults-only accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, Ghajn Damma is a Xaghra guesthouse tucked away in the Gozo countryside and boasting incredible views of the surrounding area. Guests are free to use the shared kitchen and luggage space, and to take advantage of the bike and car rental offers available.

The surrounding area of Xaghra is particularly popular for hiking and snorkelling, so if you want to get back to basics on your Gozo holiday, this is the perfect place to start from. 

Located close to Ghajn Damma is Marsalforn Beach, which is only a 13 minute walk away, and Ramla beach. Rooms come equipped with a seating area and select rooms also have a little kitchenette area for guests who’d like to cook their own meals. 

 

Ta Jolie Gozo

Air-conditioned rooms and a garden filled with beautiful lemon trees, Ta’ Jolie has a lot to recommend it for travellers, starting with the sun deck and terrace. The property features a shared kitchen and grill for guests to use, and all of the rooms are equipped with a private bathroom, shower, and hairdryer. 

There is free wifi throughout, and the Mgarr location means that you are within wandering distance of countryside to wander through in between cultural visits. The townhouse has been meticulously restored so that it retains the original high ceilings and beams of its history. 

5. Beginning your Gozo holiday

Your holiday to Gozo will begin with a flight into Malta International Airport (MLA) just s few miles from Valetta. From there, you will likely get a bus or taxi to the ferry port at Cirkewwa and catch one of the regular ferries to the main harbour of Mgarr. From here, you can be transferred to your accommodation.

Ferries run regularly and the journey takes around 25 minutes in total. It will take you past Comino and tantalise you with views of the Maltese coastline and part of the southern coast of Gozo. It is an excellent way to take in the amazing coastline of the island before getting to enjoy it for real.

6. Gozo holiday destinations

Despite being a small island, Gozo is full of things to see, do and explore. Whatever you’re looking for, relaxation, an escape from the world or a sunshine break somewhere beautiful, you can find what you’re looking for here. Here are some of the many places to visit during your Gozo holiday.

Victoria (Rabat)

The walled city of Victoria includes The Citadel which is a big draw for visitors. The town is a maze of winding streets that have evolved over the centuries and offers the opportunity to explore every part of the town. Originally settled by the Romans, Victoria is typical of the area having been inhabited by the Arabs, Normans, Knights of Saint John and local Maltese peoples.

Other highlights within Victoria include the Cathedral of the Assumption, the statue of The Assumption of Our Lady, the famous Archaeology Museum, the main square, It-Tokk, Saint George's Basilica and hundreds of churches, shops, cafes and other fascinating buildings.

Gozo Cittadella

Marsalforn

Marsalforn was a small fishing village not that long ago. It has been recently developed into one of the island’s best destinations. It is a big draw for visitors and is served by a very fine guest house. The waterfront offers activities, the chance to relax along the pebble shore or wander around the stores, cafes and the seafront promenade.

Nadur

Nadur is a traditional coastal village where the Knights of Malta used to monitor the seas around Gozo and Malta for pirates and invaders. Surrounded by green fertile land, this historic town features the Ta' Kenuna Tower where the Knights used to keep watch, a lovely church, three bays with fantastic beaches and lots of local shops and places to visit.

Xlendi

Xlendi is a prime destination for Gozo holidays. As one of the islands most popular seaside villages on the southwest coast, it has grown from a sleepy fishing village into a popular resort destination. Traditional buildings and fishing boats sit comfortably alongside modern hotels and resort facilities to provide a rich mixture of old and new. With a lovely waterfront and a sandy beach, it is a great place to visit.

Xewkija

Xewkija is credited with being the oldest village on Gozo and features the famous Xewkija Rotunda. The dome is visible across most of the island and is the third largest dome in the world. The village is traditional and modern at the same time, like lots on the island. It has lots of character and is still the home of the present-day Order of Saint John.

7. Gozo climate

While we may be biased, we consider the Gozo climate to be ideal. Mild cool winters, warm spring and autumn and hot dry summers are the norm. This means any time of year is a good time of year for a Gozo holiday!

The average temperature on Gozo is around 23C with lows of 15C in winter and highs of 31C in summer. With around 300 days per year of sunshine and a minimum of five hours a day even in winter, it is the perfect antidote to the grey English weather!

The summer (June, July and August) are hot and dry which is ideal for sun worshippers and package holidays. March, April and May are perfect for activity breaks as the sun still shines and the seas are warm with cooler temperatures than summer. The other months are cooler but no less welcoming in their own right.

8. Getting around Gozo

Gozo is well served by public transport and taxis so nowhere is every far away. There are also car hire opportunities, fantastic cycling, guided tours and our famous trackless train. Roads are well managed and in good condition so getting around is fast and simple. There are also lots of off road trails for cycling and exploring on foot.

Boat tours are also popular with visitors. Yacht charters, pleasure cruises and watersports are all readily available and add an unforgettable experience to any Gozo holiday.

Gozo Cuisine

The cuisine of the Maltese Islands reflects our geographical position and our colourful history. A mixture of Mediterranean, North African and our own Maltese style, our food is one of the best things about being here.

The food on Gozo is very seasonal and heavily swayed by local produce and traditions. That lends it a rich and vibrant character that has to be tried to be believed. Fresh vegetables, locally caught seafood, olive oil and local sheep’s milk products all typify the food here.

9. Where to eat

With activities and accomodation sorted, there’s one thing more you need to know before you can be prepared for your Gozo trip, and it’s the one thing that everyone wants to know more about: the food.

Gozo might not have the sheer amount of restaurants that Malta possesses, however you’ll find more than an ample choice to keep you hale and hearty during your stay. 

Fine Dining

Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, so we think if you’re going to pay money for food, you should pay money for good food. 

Patrick’s

Rated as one of the best restaurants on Malta and Gozo, Patrick’s is a Gozitan staple that has been in operation for many years. With a seasonal focus and an emphasis on traditional Gozitan cuisine with a twist, Patrick’s is where you go if you want excellent, simple food at a reasonable price.

Their speciality is definitely their mains, and you’d be remiss to visit Patrick’s and not taste their Kobe-style Rib-eye or their beer-braised local pork cheeks, so if you’re a meat lover, make Patrick’s your first port of call when you’re in Gozo. 

If you don’t know what to pick, they also offer a chef’s tasting menu which is perfect for more adventurous eaters. 

 

Tmun

Do you like seafood? You can’t get better seafood than in the harbour of Mgarr.

And if you’re going for seafood, you want to go to Tmun. A restaurant with a 25 year old history, this family-run establishment has built itself around offering the freshest catch with a twist.

Try one of their chef’s tasting menus, or go wild on the a la carte option; either is a good way of making your first seafood meal in Gozo delicious. Definitely opt for the day’s catch - you won’t regret it! 

 

Ta’ Frenc

The international reputation precedes Ta’ Frenc; with references in the UK, US, and Ireland media,

Ta’ Frenc is a constantly-innovating restaurant which has introduced multiple changes to their long-standing menu, and invested in both olive trees and a well-stocked herb garden. Furthermore, the restaurant is one of the few that is capable of serving flambe dishes tableside. 

Their a la carte menu is based on the regional produce of Gozo, and so food is constantly changing depending on what there is available. We recommend going for the tasting menu, and letting the chefs select your food for you.

 

Currently, their tasting menu offers a chicken liver terrine with cherries and cocoa nibs, and an excellent beetroot risotto with deep-fried Camembert and cream of Camembert - but don’t hesitate to check again and see what changes have been made. 

 

Mid-range

If you want more affordable options, these places will give you somewhere to start. 

Osteria Scottadito

Ensconced in Nadur, Osteria Scottadito is an Italian restaurant with a reputation for exce