We toured Gozo, a Mediterranean island in Malta, and here's why we think it should be your next holiday destination! Read on for our tips and tricks, as well as recommendations for our favourite restaurants and activities.
If you're looking for an affordable Mediterranean destination that is warm all year-round, then Malta will most likely make your list. We love Malta, with its limestone buildings, numerous historical sights, and delicious cuisine. But the fact is you most likely already know Malta. Maybe you've even holidayed there before. Either way, if you’re looking for a more authentic, slower-paced (but not boring!) holiday, then we think you should skip Malta and head straight to Gozo, an island off the coast of Malta affectionately known as Malta’s little sister.
All the things we love about Malta are amplified on Gozo. While both islands have friendly locals, due to Gozo’s size, you have more opportunity to interact with them. We met quite a few during our 4 days – one even kindly helped us out of a jam when our rental car’s engine couldn’t quite make it up the hill.
One thing was certainly clear, the love for their island was always apparent. Of course, any island as stunning as Gozo, with its beautiful vistas and views, breathtaking sunsets, commanding cliffs and the endless sea as a backdrop, would be hard not to love.
In order to get to Gozo, you'll first have to fly to Malta. Luckily, Malta's Luqa Airport is only a three-hour flight from the UK, with daily departures from all major airports across the country. Several airlines operate direct flights to Malta including Air Malta, British Airways, Ryanair, Jet2, EasyJet and Wizz Air.
We decided to hire a rental car from the airport, which cost about £100 for 4 days plus £27 for petrol. After a slightly delayed start (due to some late luggage), we drove from the airport to the ferry terminal in Cirkewwa, which was about a 40-minute drive. Once on the ferry, we were able to get out of the car and have a nice look around and watch the sunset.
The ferry ride takes about 25 minutes in total, and you'll pass by Comino - the smallest of the three islands in Malta. A standard fair costs 4.56 EUR and a car plus driver was 15.70 EUR. So in total, it was about 20 EUR (about £17.60) return for two people plus a car. You only need to pay on your return journey to Malta.
While you don't need to rent a car while on holiday in Gozo, we would certainly recommend it. There is a lot of free parking available and everything is always within a 10 - 20 minutes' drive. Local buses do serve the area, but they don't run as often, so having a car at your disposal allows you the freedom to see the island on your own time.
Pirate Tip 🏴☠️: We highly recommend downloading and using Waze, instead of Google Maps, during your time in Malta and Gozo. As an added bonus, you won’t have to listen to Google’s robotic voice butchering any destination names.
Besides the scenery and friendly locals, one thing that really stuck out to us was, of course, the cuisine. As a foodie, I usually plan my holidays around where and what I want to eat. Due to Gozo’s proximity to Sicily and its unique heritage, the cuisine is heavily influenced by Mediterranean, Arabia and North African cuisine. A fine layer of salt, brought from the sea via winds from Africa, collects and shields the local produce, lending an even more delicious flavour to fruits and vegetables.
In a nutshell, Gozo boasts mouthwatering food produced from local ingredients. Think meaty stews, delicate pastas, and my particular favourite, fresh seafood. To say we ate well while on Gozo is quite the understatement!
Our first night, we had dinner reservations at Rendez-Vous Restaurant & Wine Bar in Xewkija, which was voted one of the best restaurants on Gozo in 2022.
The restaurant is located in a small square, facing a beautiful cathedral. We walked into Rendez-Vous and immediately became giddy when we took in our view of the beautifully lit-up church across the sqaure.
The chef brought out a lobster bisque for us to start with that was particularly delicious. We ordered traditionally fried Lampuki (Mahi Mahi), which was served with roasted vegetables and a tomato sauce, and a beef ragù pasta dish. Two mains, two drinks and a bottle of water came out to £25 each, with tip.
We decided to stay in Malsaforn at the Calypso Hotel, which seemed to be the liveliest of the costal towns on Gozo. The bay is lined with restaurants and bars that are open late, so if you're looking for somewhere with a bit of nightlife, then we recommend staying here.
There are a lot of restaurants on the bay to choose from, all offering more or less the same thing. In search of pasta, which was something I hadn't had yet, we decided to stop at Il-Kartell for dinner one night, and it did not disappoint! We enjoyed the best plate of pasta we had our entire trip with a glass of local red wine from £20 per person.
Our last night, we drove to Xlendi Bay to watch the sunset before our dinner reservations at Terrazzo, which was the highlight of our dining experiences in Gozo. The restaurant has a beach bar downstairs that also offers amazing views of the Xlendi Bay and cliffs. We recommend reserving a table here to watch the sunset before going to dinner upstairs. The bar serves up speciality cocktails and has a tapas menu if you find yourself peckish.
We easily had the best table in the restaurants with bay views. We joked that it would be a great place to propose to your partner, so if you're looking for a special occasion or a romantic setting, this is the place! We ordered a pasta alfredo as a main and the chicken as our other main. They also give diners complimentary bread with a black butter spread and an amuse-bouche of fried courgette and cream – very delicious.
With two mains and drinks, our total bill came to £53.
Pirate Tip 🏴☠️: While we didn’t find it necessary to reserve a table, we highly recommend that you do to get the best table options. Most of the restaurants we went to had fantastic views, and by reserving a table early, we had some of the best seats in the restaurants! Plus, a lot of the more popular restaurants offer online reservations, which makes it very easy.
While Gozo is great for relaxing, and has a slower-pace of life than it's bigger sister, that doesn't mean there isn't a lot to do on the island. In fact, we kept quite busy during our time on Gozo. There is a lot to do for travellers looking for adventure, from kayaking and hiking to scuba diving (some of the best in Europe) and snorkelling. Of course, there are plenty of stunning beaches and restaurants if you want to just chill during your holiday.
Our favourite activity while in Gozo was hands down a boat tour of Gozo with Vitamin Sea. We took a 2-hour tour (though we could have easily gone for longer) with Adrien as our captain and local guide. During our tour we were able to hop off the boat for a swim and snorkel, visit a “secret” beach between San Blas and Ramla Beach, as well as a few caves.
A four-hour tour starts from £264 for six people (about £44 per person with a group of 6). We definitely think this price is worth it! You'll also be treated to fresh local fruit and water.
Winding your way through the quaint streets of Gozo’s capital, Victoria (Rabbat), will give you insight into just how different the island is from its big sister. Located more or less in the centre of the island, Victoria is in some ways a smaller version of Malta’s Valletta – not as busy, but still full of charm. The Cittadella, which is the main fortress of Gozo, sits perched on a hill, carved entirely out of limestone, glimmering like a jewel in the summer heat. It’s strategic vantage point allowed for those to see enemies coming from far away. Today, that vantage point allows you to get a 360 degree view of Gozo.
We had the opportunity to visit Ta Mena, a family-run winery and farm that produces local products. We had a tour of the wine-making factory, led by the founder's granddaughter herself, where we sampled some delectable Gozitan treats including: sun dried tomatoes, fresh bread smothered with a sweet tomato paste, local cheeses, sweet fig jam, the largest green olives I’ve ever had, and of course, wine.
The wine tour costs £22 per person and can be booked via email. More information can be found here.
One thing is for certain, sunsets in Gozo are top-notch! Our second night, we drove to Munxar to watch the sunset at the Sanap Cliffs. While you can easily walk to the cliffs, we opted for a more fun way to watch the sunset, via Segways! Our guide, Javier with Gozo Segway Tours, was amazing as he showed us how to use the Segways (it was our first time!) before we set off in search of the sunset.
There are a few tours around the island, which start from £13 per person. The sunset tour can be booked from £22 per person.
One of the most unique experiences we had while in Gozo was participating in a local feast our first night. We weren't quite sure what to expect when we made our way to Xagħra, a city located inland, on top of a large hill. We arrived at 11 pm to find what basically was a giant street party in celebration of the Patron Saint, Maria Bambina.
It had appeared that the entire island was in attendance, with a marching band and everyone in matching t-shirts that honoured their Patron Saint. At midnight, there was a procession up to the basilica, followed by a round of fireworks. Throughout the year, each city has a feast of their own, so if you're lucky enough to visit during one of them, we highly suggest checking it out and experiencing it yourself.