Visiting Gozo in a day from Valletta
You should never visit the Malta archipelago without exploring Gozo island for at least one day. If your time is not enough or you decide not to oversleep in Gozo, but you want to make the most of your day, we recommend you to arrange your trip through the web platforms that always offer good deals and any tour to enjoy this fantastic archipelago. We arranged our Gozo daily trip through Viator.com.
Viator.com is an excellent and useful tool to find many activities and tours available in your visiting place. We love this web platform because it has a wide choice of activities/tours. It is also effortless to book them through the website or smart app for devices: after texting the city you are visiting, you’ll see in a while all the offers. After booking, you’ll immediately get the e-voucher to show at the starting time of your activity.
Our trip around Gozo
After being picked up from our hotel in Sliema and reached the Cirkewwa pier, we take a private boat to Gozo-Mgarr harbour. Here we find the 4×4 open jeep of a local agency, the Gozo Pride Tours, ready to lead us around this rural and quiet island.
1. Ramla Bay
After a quick stop at a beautiful Qala Belvedere, from where we enjoy a stunning view of Comino island, passing through the lush Simar valley, our first visit is Ramla Bay. Enclosed by two green hills which rise on each side of the fertile Xagħra valley, it’s a wide stretch of red sand (the locals call it Ramla il-Ħamra, that means the “red sand beach”) always crowded during the summer seasons when locals and tourists come here to swim in its clear water, snorkel and chill out in the sun. It’s said to be the most beautiful beach of Gozo and one of the best of Malta archipelago.
2. Ggantija Temples
After visiting Ramla bay, we should have stopped at the nearby Calypso cave, but unfortunately, it’s still closed for safety reasons. In addition to boasting a beautiful view of Ramla Bay, the cave is famous for being referred to by Homer in The Odyssey poem. According to the Greek legend, in Gozo, the nymph Calypso (daughter of Jupiter) detained Ulysses from his wanderings for 7 years.
Our second visit is the Ggantija Temples. The unique nature of these structures has made them synonymous with the Maltese Islands, making the Temples instantly recognisable as a distinctive Maltese creation. The prehistoric Ggantija temples date from around 3600 to 3200 BC and are one of the island’s main attractions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The complex owes its name to the gigantic dimensions of the megaliths, and locals believed that the temples were the work of giants (Ġgantija means giant in Maltese). It consists of two temples surrounded by a massive common boundary wall built using the alternating header and stretcher technique. Some of the megaliths exceed five metres in length, weighing over fifty tons.
The third stop is Victoria, the main town, commercial and cultural centre of all the activities of Gozo. With its narrow and winding streets and alleys, restaurants, boutique stores, markets, an opera theatre and art galleries, Victoria is an attraction not to be missed. Our exploration starts from the highlight of Gozo: the Citadel, a fortified city in the heart of Victoria. Even though the area was inhabited since the Bronze age (and developed during the Phoenician and Roman times), the present Citadel was built around the 16th century under the rule of the Knights of St. John out of the need for protection against invaders. Our visit is exciting: the ancient cathedral, the bastions, the old prison, the museums, the old gunpowder depot, the cannon battery, and indeed, the beautiful 360° view of the surrounding countryside. The citadel was inscribed in the Tentative list of UNESCO in 1998. Left the Citadel, we head to the central Independence square to join our driver for lunch (included in the tour ticket). While we are waiting for our food, we take the opportunity for a short walk in the narrow alleys behind the square through market stalls, shops and interesting spots such as the 17th century St. George Basilica. After the good lunch, we get in our jeep, ready to go on with our trip.
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4. Dwejra Bay
Leaving Victoria, after a quick stop to a handicraft shop, we reach the beautiful Dwejra bay, gem of Gozo and protected heritage park (click here for more information). During the hot months, this western part of the rugged coast becomes a place of relaxation, ideal for snorkelling, diving, or simply soaking up the sun. The park boasts rock pools, dive-sites such as the Blue Hole, hiking paths and natural beauties such as the “Fungus rock”, the Inland sea and, untill 2 years ago, the “Azure Window”. The “Azure Window” was a spectacular limestone rock arch on the sea of the Dwejra bay, a symbol of the island of the Maltese archipelago. Unfortunately, this majestic natural monument, 28 meters high and 25 meters wide, collapsed in March 2017 due to a powerful storm. It was also famous for being shot in the American TV series “Game of Thrones” and various movies such as Clash of the Titans (1981) and The Count of Monte Cristo (2002).
After a pleasant walk along the coast, we got back to the car park to reach always on foot the so-called “Inland sea”. It’s a small circular bay closed by high rock formations and connected to the open sea through a large tunnel that extends for about 80 metres, wide enough to allow the passage of boats. Here you can swim/snorkelling in the shallow water or have a boat ride to reach the open mediterranean sea (it depends on the weather) or lay on the beach and soak up the sun.
5. Our Lady of Ta Pinu Church
We would stay all day long in Dwejra Bay, but it’s time to head to Ta Pinu Church. On 22 June 1883, Karmni Grima, a woman from the village of Gharbnamede, claimed that a voice, coming from the altarpiece of a small chapel (dedicated to the Assumption of Mary) stood on the site now occupied by the church, invited her to pray. After that, the site began to be a crucial pilgrimages destination. Ta Pinu Church was then built between 1920 and 1931, and its interior features superb sculptures and splendid handicrafts made of Maltese stone. The original Chapel is behind the altar and still contains the paintings of the Assumption of Mary in Heaven from which Karmni Grima heard the voice of the Virgin. In front of the Church, there is a path that leads on the hill of Ghammar, lined by 14 marble statues representing the “Via Crucis”.
6. Salt Pans
Our visit proceeds with the north coast of Gozo, well known to be dotted by hundreds of chequerboard of rock-cut saltpans protruding into the sea. Located between Qbajjar Bay and Marsalforn town, the Salt pans stretch for over 3 km. Our driver says that they are more than 300 years old and part of the centuries-old Gozitan tradition of sea-salt production passed down within local families for many generations. Close to the Salt Pans, you’ll also find a shop where to buy the local salt. Unfortunately, the time flies, and it’s time to start heading to Mgarr harbour, where our private boat to Cirkewwa is waiting for us. Greeted our friendly and fun driver, happy for having spent a beautiful day through Gozo, we jump into the boat (with a quick stop in front of the Blue Lagoon in Comino) to get to Cirkewwa and take the minivan to go back to our accommodation.