Time travel in Gozo
Prehistoric Gozo has some interesting offerings to the curious traveler. The Gozo Museum of Archeology is a perfect place to start since it offers a glimpse of all the important settlements that lived in Gozo from the early Neolithic up to the arrival of the Knights of St John. The museum itself resides within a beautiful 17th-century townhouse within the Citadel.
A visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Ggantija temples is a must if you want to see how the anonymous Neolithic inhabitants of the islands planned and built shrines thousands of years before Stone Henge and the great pyramid of Giza were even conceived.
The Ggantija temples recently gained a refurbished visitor center and it’s a great place to get a glimpse of the past with videos, information, and guided tours around the small complex. On the same hill, the Xaghra Circle echoes the wonders of the Hypogeum in Hal Salflieni, Malta. This was a burial site that dates back to 4,000 BC.
Places to visit while in Gozo
Calypso’s cave, made famous in Homer’s The Odyssey, lies on the other side of Xaghra, overlooking the largest sandy beach of the island. According to Homer’s story, Ulysses was trapped here by the nymph Calypso for seven years before resuming his journey. Update: The actual cave is no longer to the public (probably because it’s become unsafe). The view is still great but a better alternative is Tal-Mixta Cave. It takes a little bit of navigating but the view and location are very much worth the effort!
A walk along the Marsalforn promenade can take you up to Qbajjar and on into Xwejni, a remote part of the coast overlooking the open sea where it is said that on a clear summer night one can even see the lights of cars off the coast in Sicily. What’s certain is that from here you can catch a glimpse of the milky way in all its glory – there are only a few places on the archipelago where you can do that since light pollution is a big problem. If you’re not stargazing, the walk is nice. You’ll also find some of the island’s salt pans that make for a pretty picture towards the end of the day
Tal-Merzuq Hill, or as it is most popularly known nowadays – Tas-Salvatur – offers a breathtaking view of a great part of the island. It takes some hard work to get to the top, where you’ll meet the statue of the Risen Christ that gives the hill its modern name. This statue was placed here in the 1970s at an altitude of 320 feet.
Wied l-Ghasri is a secluded valley that winds down from Ta’ Dbiegi Hill through the village of Ghasri and on to Zebbug. It finally meets the sea – popular with divers who like to explore the surrounding underwater caves. It is also a good place to swim or just for a quiet walk.
The carnival in Gozo (celebrated in February) is an annual event that year after year attracts more and more audiences. It has become a much sought-after event. Although the main activities take place in the main square of Rabat, many are those who flock to Nadur to celebrate a more spontaneous, informal carnival where everything goes and there are no rules.
Near the villages of Ghasri and Gharb, you can find two lighthouses (il-Fanal Ta’ Gurdan being the more popular one), each on a separate hill, both with stunning 360-degree views over the island. il-Fanal Ta’ Gurdan, the more popular of the two is easily accessible through a side road right opposite Ta` Pinu church. The other is a little trickier to find but signs in Ghasri will guide you to the steep road up the hill. Drive slowly – it’s a narrow road.
Beaches in Gozo
The sea around the little island is as beautiful as it looks and although there aren’t a lot of sandy beaches in Gozo, there are a few beautiful ones around. Ramla l-Hamra and San Blas Bay (on the Northern coastline) are perhaps the most accessible and the most popular among swimmers.
Marsalforn (North) also has a small sandy beach, although usually quite busy and probably not the prettiest of all. Hondoq ir-Rummien (South East) is far more beautiful, but its sandy beach is pretty small and fills up easily.
Finally, Dahlet Qorrot Bay has a small sandy beach that is much more secluded and only really the locals know of. Highly recommended for an early morning swim. Peaceful, quiet, clean – a stunning little bay.
Imgarr ix-Xini, for example, is a secluded pebbled beach at the end of a long gorge and is a good spot for both swimming and diving. The movie By the Sea, starring Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt was partially filmed at Mgarr ix-Xini in 2014.
Ix-Xatt l-Ahmar is another undiscovered spot ideal for swimming and diving. Divers should take note – the crystal clear waters hide the wreck of an old ferryboat called ‘Ix-Xlendi’ which lies just beyond the bay.
The area of Dwejra is known for its small bay (“Inland sea”) surrounded by tall cliffs (a nice spot for swimming and snorkeling in a unique location) and was the site where the Azure Window (a naturally formed arch on the rocky coastline) once stood.