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Gozo & Comino Islands

The charm of Gozo is apparent the moment you arrive there. Greener, more rural and smaller than Malta, life on Gozo moves at a leisurely pace. The rhythms dictated by the seasons, fishing and agriculture.

In winter and spring, the Island is covered with flowering herbs and lush crops. In summer, it’s awash with oleander, bougainvillea and geranium. 

Gozo is steeped in myth. Thought to be the legendary Calypso’s isle of Homer’s Odyssey, it’s a peaceful, mystical backwater. Baroque churches and old stone farmhouses dot the countryside.  

Its rugged landscape and spectacular coastline await exploration. Choose from rocky inlets to red sand beaches or sail, snorkel, dive and fish. Gozo has some of the Mediterranean’s best dive sites.

But there’s more. Gozo comes complete with historical sites, forts and amazing panoramas. Plus one of the archipelago’s best-preserved prehistoric temples, Ggantija. Not to mention a nightlife and cultural calendar all its own, and some great dining out. 

Comino
Between Malta and Gozo lies Comino, a paradise for snorkellers, divers, windsurfers and walkers. The Isle’s Blue Lagoon, with its safe bathing in turquoise waters, makes an idyllic day out by boat. Comino, carefree and car-free is a favourite escape all year round.


Places to visit around Gozo

Main Towns & Villages Around Gozo

Victoria
Gozo's capital, also known as Rabat ('the town'). The name was changed to Victoria by the British Governor in 1897 at the time of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubillee. The locals however still call it Rabat. The fortified Citadel is the focus of most visitors' interest and has a cathedral and museums. The central square of Victoria, It-Tokk ('the meeting place') is a hub of activity in the morning, falls to sleep in the afternoon. The tiny bars where you can just sit and watch Gozitan life pass by and the maze or narrow winding streets of the square characterise the charm of this lovely town.

Xaghra
Xaghra, meaning 'a large open space', boasts the most enchanting village square on the island and the twisty hairpin road up to the plateau is lined with pink and white oleander trees. There are a number of important archaeological sites in the area, the most famous of which is Ggantija. You can also visit the attractive Church of the Nativity and the nearby old windmill, which is still in working order. What is worthwhile is the walk here from east of Xaghra along a footpath though the lush Ramla valley.

Xlendi Bay
A charming little village, in times gone by it was a forgotten little fishing village. Now tourism has taken a hold of it. However, Xlendi is still amongst one of the favorites with visitors and locals alike. The small promenade and beach is lined with restaurants, bars and cafeterias and if you are looking for that idyllic setting, whilst enjoying a cool drink with a pretty view, Xlendi has it.

Marsalforn Bay
In the past, Marsalforn was a fishing village frequented by a small number of prosperous Gozitans. It has now become Gozo's most popular resort. The main promenade is full of cafeterias, restaurants, gift and souvenir shops. A few colourful fishing boats occupy the pretty harbour. The saltpans all around here date from the 1700s and are still in use.


Important Churches

The Citadel Cathedral, Victoria
The Cathedral in the 15th century Citadel was designed by Lorenzo Gafa and built between 1697 and 1711. An interesting feature of this building is that, at the time it was constructed, the money short and would not run to a dome. This lack of funds was brilliantly overcome by the Italian painter Antonio Manuale who produced a magnificent "Trompe l’Oeil", where he created a wonderful impression that the flat roof was in fact a dome.

Basilica of St. George, Victoria
Located behind It-Tokk is the Collegiate Basilica of St. George built in 1678. The interior is richly adorned, with a wealth of baroque trappings and some of the interesting art works include a wooden statue of St. George. The alterplace is by Mattia Preti and the vault paintings are by Conti.

Basilica of Ta’Pinu, Gharb
The origin of Ta’Pinu goes back to June 22, 1883 when a peasant women Carmela Grima heard the voice of the Blessed Virgin in a little old chapel. In the following years many miracles and acts of Grace were manifested. It was believed that the prayers said in the little chapel saved Gozo from the plague which struck Malta at the time. It was then decided to build a much larger and more magnificent church on the site in honour of the Blessed Virgin. Contributions from Gozitans including those living abroad, together with voluntary labour, enabled the people to start construction work to start in 1920. In 1931 Ta’Pinu was consecrated and in 1932 Poope Pius XI gave the status of a Basilica to ta’Pinu. The original 16th Century Chapel was fully integrated into the newly constructed neo Romanesque structure. The Basilica is the most famous place of pilgrimage for Maltese and Gozitans all the year round. Original paintings and votive tablets adorn the sacristy.

Church of St. John the Baptist, Xewkija
A small village with an imposing church, ingeniously built around the 17th Century parish dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The dome has a width of 43 metres and a height of 75 metres, and weighs 45’000 tons. The old church was dismantled and reassembled by the alter of the new church.


Historical Buildings, Monuments & Gardens

Villa Rundle, Victoria
A fine Mediterranean garden with the addition of trees and shrubs from many countries which provide interest and colour all the year round. Local people and events are remembered with small monuments and several pathways, ponds and a ‘village pump’ by a pool give freshness and tranquility to this beautiful garden.


Forts & Fortifications

Citadel, Victoria
The Citadel or Gran Castello, dominating the heights above Victoria, has impressive battlements. The origins of this fortified enclave go back to Gozo’s early history under Roman and Arab occupation. The views from its fortified walls offer panoramas of the whole island, definitely worthwhile seeing.


Museums

Cathedral Museum, Citadel
The museum was opened in 1979 and has more than 2,000 items on display including church silver, ecclesiastical paintings, clerical vestments and a bishop’s 19th century carriage amongst other items.

Folklore Museum, Citadel
The museum is located in a group of houses with Siculo-Catalan features. It is the favorite of many visitors with its down-to-earth and fascinating display of household goods and farming tools used by the Gozitans.

Museum of Archaeology, Citadel
The museum has an important collection of Gozitan antiquities including archaeological finds from the 11 phases of prehistoric Gozo. Also on display are Punic, Roman, Byzantine, Arab and Angevin remains uncovered from various sites on the island.

Natural Science Museum, Citadel
This museum has a large collection of exhibits which include local geology, fossils, birds, marine life, the evolution of mammals and a foreign natural history section.

Armoury, Citadel
A large, vaulted hall restored in 1776 and believed to have been used as an armoury by the Order of St. John. The Armoury houses an interesting cross-section of weapons.

Pomskillious Museum of Toys, Xaghra
Indulge yourself in nostalgia for childhood memories of a time before anyone had ever heard of Power Rangers, Disneyland……Here you can free your inner child, it definitely is not just for the kids. It appeals to anyone aged between 1 and 91. Some of the toys here are 200 years old.

Mithna ta'Kola, Xaghra
Built in 1725 and named after the miller that lived and worked here, (in Maltese - mithna means windmill and ta’ Kola means Nicholas’s – Nicholas’s Windmill). The ground floor rooms were used to store grain and flour, these have now been converted into period workshops. There are also family quarters on the first floor. The mill proper, housed in the upper part of the tower, has been fully restored.

Karmni Grima Museum, Gharb
Karmni Grima’s house, the women to whom the Virgin Mary appeared at Ta’Pinu in 1883, has been converted into a folklore museum.

Gharb Folklore Museum, Gharb
This privately-owned museum in the village’s main square depicts daily life in Gozo of yesteryear. This 28-room showcase of traditional life includes the printing press used for Gozo’s first newspaper plus a fascinating collection of old tools and clothes.


Archaeological/Geological Sites

Ggantija Temples, Xaghra
Considered to be one of the earliest free standing constructions and even pre-date the Pyramids. According to the latest analysis they were built 3500 to 4000 BC. The gigantic boulders must be several tons in weight, those of the outer wall reaching as high as six meters. It is still a mystery how the people of those days where able to move them with the primitive tools of the period. According to an old myth a female giant call "Sunsuna" carried the rocks on her head from an area known as Ta’Cenc.

Calypso's Cave, Xaghra
Situated in the cliff face near Xaghra, this cave has legendary connections with Calypso. According to Homer she charmed Odysseus (Ulysses) in staying in Gozo for seven years. The view from the cave mouth is magnificent and overlooks the fertile Ramla Valley, and the beautiful red sands of the Ramla Bay below.

Albaster Caves - Ninu’s Cave and Xerri’s Cave, Xaghra
Known as Ninu’s and Xerri’s grottoes, these to caves have strange yet colourful stalactites and stalagmites. They are both located in private residences. Ninu’s cave is a small cave, whilst Xerri’s cave is located 10 metres below ground level and is more substantial in size. To view these caves call the owners before hand.

Azure Window, Inland Sea & Fungus Rock, Dwejra
The Azure Window is an impressive natural arch standing some 20 metres high. The Inland Sea is a sea locked lake, it was created when the roof of an immense cave collapsed some 80 to 100metres. And, within the vicinity is the Fungus Rock, a 60 metre high monolith, also known as Geberal’s Rock, grows a rare tubular plant (fucus coccineus melitensis) that was believed to cure dysentery and many other illnesses.


Shopping In Gozo

Fontana Cottage, limits of Xlendi Bay
The best selection of lace, knitwear, rugs and wall hangers these and many more items are popular buys in Gozo. You can also treat yourselves to a variety of local delicacies which include Gbejniet (peppered cheese), Gozitan Olive Oil, Gozo's famous Sun Dried Tomatoes and many other mouthwatering appetisers.

Ta’ Dbiegi Craft Village, San Lawrenz
Old British military huts converted into shops. Here you will find pottery, art, lace and clothes.

Victoria Market, It-Tokk
This open-air market is located in the centre of Victoria, beneath the Citadel. The usual stalls of ‘I love Gozo’ T-shirts, clothing and very good cheap straw hats. Location is the best thing about the Victoria market as it is surrounded by the narrow and winding streets where you can find some of the smaller shops selling all types of things.


Beaches and Bays

Ras il-Bajda, Xlendi Bay
Beyond the watchtower which protects the pretty bay of Xlendi is a plate of rock suspended in a flood of light. Ras il-Bajda is a beautiful bathing spot and it is surrounded by the high rise cliffs. Semi nudity is also normal here.

Mgarr ix-Xini
The pebbly beach at Mgarr ix-Xini is an inlet down a steep incline. The waters here are dark, deep and clear against the magnificent cliff face, offering good quality swimming and snorkelling. The journey down is not for the fainthearted, but is definitely worth it.

Ir-Ramla
Ir-Ramla, meaning ‘sandy beach’, is almost red in colour. The coarse sand, the colour of burnt almonds is Gozo’s most popular beach and it gets very busy at the weekend. Ideal for families with children, it has all the facilities and amenities. As legend tells it, it was here that the nymph Calypso and Odysseus are supposed to have played out their one-sided seven-year affair.

Wied il-Ghasri
The solitude of this narrow fjord extends almost half a kilometre into Ghasri Valley (Wied il-Ghasri), sheltering a tiny pebbled beach with crystal clear water of day-glo green, a snorkeller’s paradise. The beach is reached by a steep flight of steps cut into the rock face. Take something to cushion your tender parts and refreshments and snacks as you are somewhat secluded.

San Blas Bay
Like Wied Ghasri, San Blas is an excellent location but getting to it is not that easy. This semi deserted bay is the ideal retreat and the swimming, bathing and snorkelling are excellent. Take your own picnic and spend a day at the rocks and gravelly sand beach.

Dahlet Qorrot
Parking and drinks are no problem at this quiet fishing hamlet. Ideal for a quick dip if you are touring around and want to refresh yourself. There are some very tempting ‘go for it’ rocks to dive from.

Blue Lagoon, Comino
The beautiful Blue Lagoon is a must for those that want to enjoy a quality day out to a stunning location. One of the best areas to snorkle, swim and enjoy a day of total relaxation in a paradise setting. A day cruise is undoubtedly the best way to do this.

 

Information
About Malta
Getting Around

Places to Visit
Valletta
The Three Cities
Mdina & Rabat
Gozo & Comino