If Malta is difficult to see on a world’s map, then Gozo is impossible. However as they say, some of the most beautiful things in life are also the hardest to see and this is the case for the tiny island of Gozo. Nicknamed also ‘the Island of the Three Hills’, Gozo meaning ‘joy’ and in Maltese called ‘Għawdex’ (pronounced: Awdesh), is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago that, together with the smaller isle of Comino and the main island of Malta form the Republic of Malta. It has an area of 67 square km, is 14 km long and 7 km wide. With a coastline of 43 km, in the centre of the Mediterranean, Gozo is situated 93 km south of Italy and 290 km north of North Africa.
Gozo, with Victoria as its main town, lies about 5 km in the North West of Malta and the distance between Ċirkewwa port in Malta and Mgarr harbour in Gozo, involves a 25 minute ferry crossing.
While flying over Gozo and watching through the place window, one can already notice the difference between Gozo and Malta. From the air, Gozo looks greener and less inhabited compared to the main island. Enjoy the fresh Gozo air and a first taste of the island from the top sun deck of the ferry as it enters Mgarr Harbour with its colourful boats (Luzzus) and striking skyline. Gozo offers its visitors a different experience to that of its busier sister island of Malta. The island is all about relaxation and perfect for lazier travellers. It has a unique vibe and essence of beauty that is difficult to put into words.
According to legend, Gozo was Homer’s isle of Ogygia, where the nymph Calypso held the Greek hero Odysseus as her companion for seven years.
Around 31 000 people inhabit the island, which amounts to one-twelfth of the overall population of Malta and equivalent to the population of the town of Birkirkara in Malta. When compared to the overall area of the Maltese islands, Gozo covers approximately one-third of that area. This means that the island of Gozo is not overpopulated, and therefore greener and quite more peaceful. The underlying layers in Gozo are more clayey than Malta’s which makes Gozo greener. Life in Gozo is soft-paced and this is easily captured in village life.
Gozo is home to some of the oldest religious structures in the world including the fascinating Ggantija temples, which is featured in the World's Guinness of records as the oldest freestanding structure in the world. Dotted with various baroque churches, Gozo is a very religious island. One is expected to find not only the main parish church in each village but also other small churches all round. The most impressive of these is probably the church of Xewkija, a major landmark which boasts one of the world’s largest domes. The capital Victoria, hosts two of the islands' most magnificent churches, the Cathedral and the Basilica of St George. Another church which is spiritually very important to the Gozitan community is the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu, located in open countryside.
Another favourite amongst nature lovers is Ta’ Ċenċ and its imposing cliffs. The sea around the island is warm and clear, and there are dive sites for the novice but also for the more experienced. The red golden sands of Ramla Bay are perfect for families and swimming, while the spectacular Blue Hole beneath the Azure Window is a must for diving lovers. The latter is known to be one of the best diving spots worldwide. Gozo is a world renowned diving destination and there are numerous diving schools catering for all levels of expertise. The coastline and surrounding waters also offer opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and fishing.
In Victoria (or Rabat as known by the locals), one can admire the Citadel which is a historic fortified city.
Being essentially rural in character, Gozo main sources of income are from tourism, agriculture and fishing. With an abundance of fresh organic produce and traditional farming, Gozo is popular for its fresh fish, vegetables and cheese. Gozo is well served by restaurants which offer the best of the rich and varied local cuisine at reasonable prices. Gozo local cuisine features fresh produce simply and deliciously cooked; fish, rabbit and fresh and cured cheese (gbejna). One will find many affordable restaurants on the island, offering local and international dishes. For a more romantic atmosphere, there are many wine bars set in quiet and rustic surroundings, and Gozo (Calypso's Isle) is a popular destination for honeymooners. One will also notice a difference in the architecture of many Gozitan homes which feature stylish enclosed balconies. Gozitans like to decorate their homes both internally and externally.
Gozo is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and wherever you are, you are never far from a beach. There are several sandy and rocky beaches, many untouched, all safe for bathing, making the island a popular choice for families with children. Walking through Gozo’s countryside or quaint village alleys is also suggested and will provide a calming and relaxing experience. Boat trips around the island offer many sights and easy access to beautiful beaches. San blas is a very small but beautiful sandy beach which is only accessible by boat. From the sea, one can enjoy a very special view of the towering rugged cliffs and the many coves and caves which nature have formed over the centuries and now home to various bird species and other wildlife.
Relaxation will also be a major consideration when selecting your accommodation in Gozo. Traditional countryside houses, most of which come with a private swimming pool, are a popular option amongst visitors. The island being a popular tourist destination offers a number of hotels, bed & breakfasts, and apartments.
Should you happen to be in Gozo during the Summer, be sure not to miss the island’s festas. Carnival in Gozo is generally a time for fun and colour, and the spontaneous celebrations in the village of Nadur are certain to provide a memorable experience.
Gozo is tranquil, laid-back and treasures its peace. The island gives a more tranquil and sedate taste of Mediterranean life. The island’s coat of arms features three hills as Gozo is known for its flat-topped hills. Another symbol of Gozo is its boats, especially the ‘Dghajsa tal-Latini’, colourful lateen boats which are seen especially in Marsalforn port ‘Il-Menqa’ and Mgarr harbour.