On our trip to Malta, we spent one day in Gozo, Malta’s smaller and quieter neighbour to the north. It’s much more rural and green than Malta and has some beautiful scenery. We had hideous weather on our day there, which didn’t help, but we made the most of it.
Here are a few things to do in Gozo (without a car)…
The capital of Gozo is Victoria, and this is where arguably the main attraction is (now that Gozo’s famous Azure Window has died). The Citadel is a sixteenth century hilltop fortress from which you can see almost the entire island. You go up some stairs into a courtyard with a cathedral in it and some pretty jazzy flowerpots. Admission to the Citadel itself is free, but you have to pay if you want to go in the cathedral.
There are also two chapels on site. When you go up to the top to see the view, you’ll see that the countryside is also absolutely full of churches. Churchtastic.
Some of the buildings are in ruins, apart from the walls. Wild flowers grow in amongst the rubble. I unintentionally matched them with my yellow jacket (which was v. much needed, given the precipitation situation).
Oh and there’s an old prison on site so you can have a look round and a go in the stocks if you so wish. We wished, obvs.
Lord Chambray brewery
When it was seriously p*ssing it down, we needed cover. And craft beer.
If you’re a crafty type of person, you’ll find that all over Malta, Lord Chambray beer is your one local option. Everything else seems to be Cisk and Heineken rubbish. Luckily, Lord C is very drinkable in all its forms.
We’d read that the brewery is on Gozo, so we decided to hunt it out. It seemed that we may have been the first (and possibly last) people to do this by bus, because the driver looked baffled and asked why we were getting off where we did (the middle of nowhere).
It’s in Gozitano Agricultural Village, which is essentially an industrial estate off a big road not very far from the centre of Victoria.
You can actually book a brewery tour if you phone ahead. We didn’t, for fear it’d be one of those awkward tours where they’ve had to open it up just for you and there’s no one else there. So we just sat at the little bar and sampled some of their excellent (and seasonal) beers, having a chat with another visitor (hello if you’re reading this!) and the friendly bar staff. Definitely worth a visit.
Explore the capital, Victoria
Only they didn’t have the crowds, so we were free to wander without bumping into people.
Quirky, independent shops
We found some really nice little shops in a square where we had lunch (one of those squares you’d normally avoid because of tourist cafes, but in Malta food is reliable so it was fine!)
Chris got some salted chocolate from The Chocolate Experience – a lovely little shop selling handmade chocolates with vegan options. We also got postcards from Organika just opposite – it sold fair trade and organic bits and bobs like soap and condiments.
Okay so it’s not some kind of Gozo speciality, but if you’ve a) met us or b) read our Stockholm post, you’ll know that finding lactose-free ice cream is a sad source of excitement to us.
Bon Bon Gelato had it, so despite being very cold and damp, we consumed it. Sheer joy.
This is where the ferry deposits you and where you have to return to if you ever want to leave.
If we’d had more time, we’d have mooched around this bit more.
We didn’t have a massive amount of time in Gozo, nor the best weather at all, but we actually preferred it to Malta. If you’ve read our posts from there, you’ll know we weren’t really into it.
Gozo wasn’t our favourite destination or somewhere we’d go back to, but compared to Malta we enjoyed it more. It’s got a more relaxed vibe and feels more like a real place where locals are going about their lives. The scenery was outstanding, and I’m sure would have been even better with a bit of sunshine on it.
One day in Gozo, Malta: useful information
How to get there (and away)
To get to Gozo, we got a number 42 bus from Valletta bus station to Cirkewwa (where the ferries are at). It took about an hour. At Cirkewwa, we got the ferry which was very cheap as foot passengers – about 4 euro, which you pay on the way back (they assume you want to return to Malta…). That took about half an hour and left quite regularly. It deposits you in Mgarr Harbour and then you can make your way by bus to wherever you’re going.
Where to stay
There are places to stay on Gozo, but unless you’re very outdoorsy or you can swim/are into watery activities (i.e. the antithesis of us two) it’s probably not somewhere to stay for a whole holiday. We actually stayed in Sliema, but wouldn’t go back there. If you could stay in Valletta, you’re near the bus station for all sorts of day trips.
How to get around
Gozo has an okay bus service – very cheap but not all that frequent, so make sure you’ve got your timetable.
When to go
We went to Malta in April, when it was busy but also unseasonably cold all week. As you can probably tell by these photos, it absolutely bucketed down when we were in Gozo for the day. We were incredibly lucky on one day, when we went to Golden Bay. But the rest of the time it was very windy, especially in Mdina. Avoid in high season, though – it can get heaving apparently.
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