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
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.
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
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, 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Places to Visit
The Three Cities
Mdina & Rabat
Gozo & Comino