Gozo: a Gem in the Heart of the Mediterranean

Mgarr Harbour, Gozo. Photo: Vladimir Stoimenov

Gozo, with Victoria as its capital, lies about 5 km North West of Malta and can be reached by ferry in about 25 minutes. Nicknamed ‘the Island of the Three Hills’, and in Maltese called ‘Għawdex’ (pronounced: Awdesh), Gozo is the second largest island of the Maltese archipelago and together with the smaller isle of Comino and the main island of Malta, forms the Republic of Malta. 

The island has an area of 67 square km, and is only 14 km long and 7 km wide, which makes it approximately the same size as New York’s Manhattan island. With a coastline of 43 km, Gozo is situated 93 km south of Italy and 290 km north of Africa, in the centre of the Mediterranean.

Gozo offers its visitors a different experience than that of its busier sister island of Malta. Greener, more fertile, and not as densely populated, the island has a relaxed, easy-going vibe and is perfect for a slower-paced vacation. With a population of just around 33,000 people, Gozo with its villages, hills, and terraced fields has a unique vibe and soft timeless beauty.

According to legend, Gozo was Homer’s remote and concealed isle of Ogygia, where the nymph Calypso held the Greek hero Odysseus as her companion for seven years. Despite the nymph’s attempts to keep him as her husband on the island forever, Odyssey finally left, even refusing the offer of immortality.

Gozo is home to some of the oldest religious structures in the world including the fascinating Ggantija temples. Religion, tradition and faith are just as important in Gozo today as they were thousands of years ago, and the island is dotted with many churches and chapels. The most impressive of these is probably the church of John the Baptist in 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 in the historical Citadel, and the Basilica of St George. Another church, a Marian shrine which is spiritually very important to the Gozitan community, is the Basilica of Ta’ Pinu, located in the open countryside.

Gozo is a world renowned diving destination and there are numerous diving schools catering for all levels of experience. The sea around the island is warm and clear, and there are multiple dive sites for both the novice the experienced diver. The Blue Hole is known to be one of the best diving spots in the world, and is a must for diving lovers. 

The coastline and surrounding waters also offer opportunities for sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, and fishing.

The small windblown island of Comino with its world famous Blue Lagoon is a short boat ride away, and has regular ferries and boats connecting it to Gozo in the summer. The lagoon, which boasts clear turquoise water gets very popular in high season, and can therefore be quite overcrowded during the day. The island is small and can be walked around on foot. You can also take a boat tour around the Comino’s spectacular caves.

Wherever you are on Gozo, you are never too far from a beach.  There are several sandy or rocky beaches, all safe for bathing, making the island a popular choice for families with children. Alternatively, you can take a boat trip around the island, and find beautiful beaches which are 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 formed over the centuries.

Gozo offers many accommodation choices for those seeking peace and relaxation.  Traditional countryside houses, most of which come with a private swimming pool, are a popular option among visitors.  The island also 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 many festas when each village celebrates its patron saint with processions, fireworks, parties, street food and music. In Winter, 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. You can explore the island on your own, or book one of our private tours with a driver for a more carefree experience.