For anyone who doesn’t follow me on Instagram (you can here), I have ended up living in Gozo, Malta, for the past two months and plan on staying here indefinitely. There are many reasons I ended up coming here, and many reasons I ended up staying, but that is for a different blog post…
But for now, I thought I’d give you my guide to Gozo for the non-diver, as diving was primarily the reason I came out, but I know is not everyones cup of tea!
By no means is this extensive, as I say, I have only been here for two months and I know there is so much more to explore, which I am looking forward to doing in the not too distant future. So here is what I have experienced so far and what I’d recommend!
First of all, let’s get this big elephant in the room out the way. I flew out to Gozo on the 7th of September, post Lockdown 1 in the U.K. and long before Lockdown 2 was even conceived. Now, I am aware flights have been massively reduced from pretty much everywhere, but hopefully in the new year things will get a bit more back to normal and there will be regular flights running again (up until last week there were flights every two days virtually!) The measures in Gozo are more relaxed than the U.K., for the moment, and fingers crossed they will stay that way, but who knows at this point. At the moment:
– We have to wear masks in public everywhere.
– Bars or kiosks that do not serve food cannot serve alcohol, and in some cases cannot be open, and restaurants that are allowed to be open are only allowed to stay open until 11pm
– Group gatherings in public are limited to 10
These are the main rules that affect me, although sometimes they are not that obvious or evident. Overall, it hasn’t been too much of an issue, apart from making evenings a bit quieter and closing some of my favourite places to go!
Getting to Gozo
For those of you who don’t know where Gozo is, it is part of Malta, the island South of Sicily in the Mediterranean. Gozo is the smaller island to the north-west of Malta. From anywhere in Europe it is very easy to fly into Luqa airport on the main island of Malta. From there, it’s an easy bus ride, which is very cheap, or taxi journey, which is a little more expensive, to the ferry port. From here, the ferry is free on the way to Gozo, and you only pay €4.65 on the way back from Gozo to Malta. The ferry takes around 30 minutes and then you arrive in Mgarr, which again is only a bus or taxi ride away from anywhere you could possibly want to go in Gozo!
Places to Visit/Stay
I am slightly biased on this one, as I have lived in Marsalforn Bay for most of my time here, and definitely fallen in love with it. But here is a run down of some of the different areas on Gozo to stay or visit and what you can enjoy there!
Marsalforn Bay – I’ll start with my nearest and dearest. I fell head over heels with Marsalforn Bay. It is a hub of diving and tourism, and was a really fun and vibrant place to be up until recently. Unfortunately, road works have just started on the seafront, meaning that not only had COVID-19 made the bay a lot quieter, but also many of the restaurants and bars have had to close due to the road works. However, I’ll talk about what it will be like again once the works are finished!
- Things to do: there are (excuse me if I’ve counted wrong) more than 7 scuba diving centres around Marsalforn, so if diving is your thing, it is really the place to be. Aside from this, the bay is a beautiful place to go swimming, there is a water polo court, several beach areas/piers, and you can access many beautiful trail walks, including what is affectionately known as Jesus hill (named thus because of the small statue of Jesus on top). In the summer, it is a wonderful place to hang out, with restaurants and bars lining the sea front and a great place to go for a dip when you start to overheat.
- Eating and drinking: there are so many restaurants and bars that I could not possibly list them all and you’re really spoilt for choice, however here are some of my favourites.
– +39 (Piutrentanove) – We went to this bar and restaurant maybe 5/7 nights of the first month I was in Gozo. The staff here are amazing (big shout out to Giacomo, Antonio, Filippo and Margherita), and always made us so so welcome. The cocktails are incredible, with such a huge range on offer, and the food is really yummy too. They even have gluten-free pasta, which made me very happy. The atmosphere was always great, with lots of good music and a party feel on the bigger nights. A really lovely place to sit and have a drink overlooking the sea front.
– Pierre’s – on the pricier side of eating in Marsalforn, but, if you want good sea food, Pierre’s is the place to go. I can vouch for the fresh oysters here, as they are INCREDIBLE, but make sure you get there early so you don’t miss out. All of the food is wonderful and it has a beautiful location, where even your feet might get a bit wet it’s so close to the water. Definitely a good place to treat yourself to dinner.
– Smiley’s – this became a favourite for a post dive lunch with me. The menu here could not be more varied, from sandwiches and wraps, to pasta, fish and chips, pies, curries, jacket potatoes, chilli, you want it – Smiley’s probably has it. It is also very affordable, and their wraps with chips are the perfect lunch. It’s not fine cuisine, but it’s great if you don’t want to eat crap and want a nice warm meal.
– Smuggler’s Cave – A bit like +39, this became a regular haunt for me when hanging out with other divers. The food here is a little more expensive, but again the pizza and pasta is great (and they do gluten free too). They also do some delicious meat and fish dishes, and it is very much mid range in price. It’s also a great place to sit and have a drink with friends over looking the harbour, and again the staff are all super lovely.
– Il Magnifico – this is a coffee shop and bar on the very seafront of Marsalforn, right next to the dive school I was with for my divemasters. Again, it holds a special place in my heart, as I had coffee there every morning at 7:45am for 5 weeks virtually. It is run by some wonderful Italians, Bernado, Emanuela, Lorenzo and Alle, and they couldn’t make it feel more social and welcoming. The coffee is superb (of course), and the food and cakes are also amazing for lunch or a quick snack. They even have WiFi, so I spent many mornings studying there on the seafront. A must visit for a nice cup of coffee during the day (or a delicious Aperol spritz post work).
– Yummy Yummy – it may not sound like something you would expect from the Gozo seafront, but one of my other favourite restaurants on the bay front is this Chinese delight. They have all the classic Chinese dishes, and the duck pancakes are to die for. Again, it’s very affordable, and you can get a big plate of noodles for €6. The owner Jimmy is lovely and always happy to say hi, so well worth a visit if you’re craving a Chinese whilst on Gozo.
I have also heard really good things about Otter’s and Qbajjar, but these are on the slightly more pricey side, so I haven’t had a chance to visit them yet!
Zebbug – I lived in Zebbug for 2 weeks during my diving instructor training, and although it is mainly housing, and located up a BIG hill, there are a couple of things to see here.
- Things to do – the walk down to Xwenji Bay from Zebbug is a beautiful long winding road with views out over the sea. The north coast is also host to the beautiful Salt Pans and therefore a walk from Zebbug to the coast is a really gorgeous site.
- Eating and drinking – there is one a amazing restaurant located next to the lovely church in Zebbug called Francesco’s. You can eat amazing Italian food (the pizza is particularly critically acclaimed) whilst overlooking the amazing sunsets of Gozo.
Victoria – this is the capital of Gozo, and has pretty much anything and everything you want. As the only really big city, I tended to avoid it, as I much prefer the quieter side of life out by the sea, however there are some bits you really need to visit, and some awesome bars/restaurants/cafes. Also, if you ever need ANYTHING it is the place to get it.
- Things to do – the biggest attraction in Victoria is the Cittadella. This beautiful site, which literally looks like something out of Game of Thrones, was constructed in the Bronze age and overlooks the whole of Victoria and Gozo. There is so much history to learn about here, including the Cathedral of Consumption, the Law Courts and several museums and really provides the most beautiful views. When it is lit up at night you can see it from all over Gozo. Even just walking around Victoria there is a lot to see, with wonderful churches and squares dotted around.
- Eating and drinking – I haven’t done so much of this in Victoria, but there are a couple of places that I have really enjoyed.
– Casa Vostra – owned by Italians, this restaurant is amazing for both pizza, pasta and other classic stews. I had the wild boar ragu last time I went and it was fantastic, but the goulash is also incredibly tasty. It has a wide variety of beers, wines, and other delicious drinks too, and definitely a lovely place to have dinner with friends.
– 7ten – This cafe in the heart of Victoria not only does amazing coffees, but also gluten free and dairy free cakes and snacks. Definitely worth a visit during a walk around Victoria.
Other Places – some other areas of Gozo that are lovely to visit are Qala, Dwerja (the location of Blue Hole which I will mention later), Xaghra and Xlendi, all offering different points of note and their own special atmosphere.
One of the best things to do on a lovely day in Gozo is get in the sea. If you’re not a diver like me, there are still plenty of places to get in the water and enjoy yourself.
Marsalforn Bay is a great place for a little swim, with a small beach and a swimming zone in summer and little fishies to take a look at too.
Ramla Bay is the famous sand beach in Gozo, a long bay with lovely water to take a dip in and great sand for playing beach games and chilling out with friends.
Xwenji Bay another dive site on the island is also great for swimming and had a small cafe on the beach, great for grabbing a coffee and a snack post dip!
Blue Hole, one of the most famous parts of Gozo, is home to not only divers, but swimmers, free divers, snorkelling and more. The site of the collapsed Azure Window provides a great place for site seeing, and the walk down to the water may be a little long, but is definitely worth it! Just next door is also Inland Sea, a beautiful inlet featuring a long crack in the rocks which you can even get a boat ride through to see the beauty of popping out in the open ocean.
Ras Il Hobs, translated from Maltese as ‘head of bread’, is another dive site perfect for swimming, with lots of salt pans it is a lovely walk down on the coast and the bay on the right hand side is a great swimming spot too.
Gozo is also particularly famous for its trail walking, with winding, hilly trails across most of the island. Definitely bring a sturdy pair of shoes, and take your time exploring the island on these beautiful tracks.
This guide really is not even half of what you can do on Gozo, however it’s what I have experienced and loved so far, and a lot of the reason I have decided to move here permanently.
I’m really looking forward to exploring the island more over winter, and will be sure to keep the blog updated with anymore hidden gems I find.
Next up is my diving guide to Gozo, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re a diver and would like to know more about the diving scene and what there is to see.
And if you enjoyed this post, you can now support my work by buying me a coffee! All donations will probably be spent on coffee in the aforementioned Magnificos, and will help me continue to write for your enjoyment.
Thanks for reading!
Amy @thisgingertravels x