The Maltese archipelago lies at the heart of the Mediterranean comprising of three islands: Malta, Gozo and Comino. The rich history of the islands, especially the various nationalities that occupied Malta throughout time, has given the islands a rich and interesting culture.
It measures around 67 square kilometers. The island has a population of around 37,000 people (all of Malta combined has 445,000). Despite being small, it’s rich history and unique landscapes, rugged cliffs along the coast, steep valleys, and beautiful bays, captures every traveller by surprise. Gozo, is much less developed than Malta and it preserves an atmosphere of untarnished natural beauty. Terraced fields, surrounded by miles of old rubble walls, slope down a myriad of hills and valleys, making the countryside an irresistible charm for hikers, especially during the winter months when the island attains a green golden shade all round. The sea surrounding the island is crystal clear and the many sheltered rocky bays provide safe swimming almost throughout the whole year.
Gozo is an island of charm and joy known for the sun, bays and beaches, best underwater sea for diving, water sports, glorious food, seafood, and its generous people. Gozo is considered the best destination for a peaceful and relaxing break. The tranquility of the island is so warm and welcoming, you will feel right at home. Furthermore, you can travel with a peace of mind, since English is the second language spoken by everyone on the island, so it will be easy to communicate. Also, Italian, is the third language, spoken by most of the locals. With mostly sunny weather, numerous sandy and rocky beaches, the glorious food, beautiful waters, water sports, and 7,000 years of history, there is a lot of things to see and do.
History: Just a short overview of the history of Gozo: Archaeologists found that Gozo has its roots set back to 5000 BC, to the Neolithic period, and some have proven that Gozo was established before Malta when Sicilians settled in Gozo. The location of the islands has historically given it great strategic importance as a naval base. It was colonized by a succession of powers, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantium, Arabs, Turks, Moors, Sicilians, Spanish, Order of St. John, Normans, who lead a long history of European domination. This history is reflected in the Medieval walls, palaces and villages all around the islands. The French also occupied Malta for a short time. The Maltese islands became a British crown colony in 1813 for more than 150 years, which is why UK roots run deep in this country. Malta became an independent state in 1964, republic in 1974, and part of the European union since 2004.
The villages you must visit in Gozo:
Victoria, the main city of Gozo, used to be called Rabat before it was granted a new name as an homage to Queen Victoria’s 1887 jubilee. It is just one bus ride away from every village and where the busses come together.
The Citadel is a huge fortress situated on a hill. The other things to see inside the fortress are; The Museum of Archaeology; Folklore Museum; where you can see some farming tools; traditional costumes; furniture and so on; The Museum of Natural Science; old prisons, and also some cafes and quaint shops stocked with handmade unique Gozitan crafts which would make nice souvenirs. Next to the church, there is a restaurant Rikardu, which serves typical Gozitan homemade food.
There is also an open market in Victoria, which is close to the bus terminal. While waiting for the bus, why don’t you take a stroll around Villa Rundle gardens. Another very popular place to visit is St. George's Basilica, which is the third biggest basilica in Europe. You can also wander around the narrow unique traditional streets around St. George’s Basilica. You can also go on the hop on and hop off bus that will take you all around Gozo, or train ride around Victoria. In Victoria there are several shops and shopping arcades. The center of Victoria consists mainly of narrow streets and some squares on which the daily life of the city takes place, shops and even fairly class boutiques, is such amazing place.
Marsalforn, a small fishing village surrounded by good bars and restaurants. There are two play fields for children, several ice-cream parlours, several BBQ spots, plenty of swimming spots and a sandy beach. Salt pans are a must see. Salt has been collected here for centuries in the time-honoured way of natural evaporation from pools carved from the natural rock
Xlendi Bay, a short 5 minute drive from Victoria, is the place where I live and definitely one of my favourite spots on the island. It is in my opinion home to the best restaurants on the island: Ta' Karolina Restaurant, Cima Restaurant, Zafiro Restaurant, Boathouse, and the Indian Restaurant Sapana (always make a reservation when dining at these restaurants since they are popular and busy). The cliffs surrounding the little sandy bay are amazing. Xlendi is an excellent spot to watch the sunset. A walk towards Kantra which is a valley on the left hand side of the way just behind the oldest tower in Gozo is a must. The view from the tower is again amazing! On the other side of Xlendi, there are stairs which take you to the top of the cliffs and lead you to some interesting caves. Very recommended. Also Xlendi is a great place for swimming and diving.
Dwejra – most recommended place for sightseeing. Azzure Window, Fungus Rock, inland sea, boat ride through the inland sea.
Dwejra is one of the best places to watch the sunset. Azure Window is a remarkable geologic feature of the island; it is a natural stone arch that was formed millions of years ago when a limestone cave collapsed. Dwejra has captured the heart of many directors. A lot of movies were filmed here including Troy (Brad Pitt), The Count of Monte Kristo, the first few episodes of Games of Thrones (yes that's right. Do you remember in the first episodes where Daenerys was forced to marry Khal Drogo? Most of the Khaleesi scenes are filmed in Dwejra and around the islands. For more info visit http://www.viator.com/Malta-tourism/Game-of-Thrones-Tours-in-Malta/d4141-t12986 ).
San Blas Bay is a hidden sandy bay in Nadur - a real hidden gem that not a lot of people know about.
Mgarr ix-Xini, is a small picturesque Bay between Sannat and Xewkija, is the location where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie chose for their honeymoon and to film their movie By the Sea. There is also a good restaurant there famous for fish, calamari and king prawns. Opens only for lunch (always make a reservation). From Mgarr ix-xini you can see the cliffs of Ta’Cenc in Sannat. You should also visit the top of these cliffs since the view is breath taking.
Mgarr Harbour - The port city on the island of Gozo all boats and ships arrive here the port is located in a small bay which is protected by a concrete headland within the harbor there is a part for the large ships and ferries, and a portion of the yachts and fishing boats.
Xaghra - On the south edge of the town of Xaghra are the remains of a temple complex called Ggantija. It consists of 2 joint buildings. Research revealed that construction must have started around 3600 BC, which makes it significantly older then for example the Egyptian pyramids or Stonehenge! The structure must have been a major Neolithic effort as the individual rocks used are truly 'gigantic'. In Ggantija as well as in similar Maltese temples remains have been found of statues of 'Fat Ladies'. Probably the temples were dedicated to 'Mother Nature' or 'Mother Earth'. Ġgantija temples, along with the other Megalithic Temples of Malta, are among the world's oldest free-standing structures. Xaghra - Windmill
Xaghra - Calypso Caves, amazingly beautiful with unbelievable spectacular views. From Xaghra one can go to Ramla Beach, the biggest Sandy beach on the island. Very recommended.
Comino - a 10 minute boat ride to the quiet naturally reserved island between Malta and Gozo. The Blue Lagoon in Comino is known for the clear blue water. A heaven on earth. A lovely walk to the Tower, then to Santa Maria Bay and back to Blue Lagoon is recommended. Take lots of cold water with you as there are only a few take away shops on the Blue Lagoon side, and a hotel at St. Maria. To get to Comino, you need to take a short boat ride from Mgarr.