Being on Gozo doesn’t feel like you’re still on this planet, let alone in Europe. So I hope you can butter up your bosses for a few extra days of leave, Nomads, because you won’t want to miss it. I’m trusting your appetite should be suitably whet after last week’s blog on the main island.
Boss-buttering dependent, you’ll land in Mgarr, off the ferry from Malta, where you can stock up on wringlingly-fresh fish for the BBQ at the Bugeja market if you’re cooking yourself or head to Tmun Mgarr for a taste of the island’s best restaurants.
We stayed in closeby ix-Xaghra, a pretty little town with a scenic central square for convenient and tasty restaurant options. Our AirBnB was stellar; a serene villa with plenty of zen Asian influences, great communal space for cooking, relaxing and a dainty pool to cool off from the hot Gozo heat. Each room is rented separately, so we got the benefit of great facilities without having to book out a huge space.
Use your first day on the island to explore and pick out where you want to spend some good quality sunning time. If you thought Malta was small, Gozo is teeny tiny so you can jump in your car rental and feel like a very accomplished Nomad with minimal effort (and fuel costs!)
From Xaghra, drive up to Marsalforn and follow the coastal road until you reach the salt pans at Xwieni Bay. You’ll spot the shallow rectangular pools with a white gleam, slowly drying out into that wonderful artery-clogger, the same way they have since the Knights first established them. From there continue to Wied-il Ghasri for some premium wild swimming in the picture-perfect cove. After winding down the steep staircase, you appear at a narrow shingle beach – enough for just a few people. But from there the heavenly water stretches out into a long corridor towards the sea, flanked by high rocks on either side, making a unique swimming experience. You can clamber up on to the rocks to sun yourselves in between and bask in your cleverness for finding something so beautiful and secluded.
When you’re ready to move on, head inland along the road to Ghasri, turning off on Triq il Fanal to the Basilica of Ta’Pinu, a huge remote church with 360’ views and landscaped gardens.
Stop in for lunch at Il-Kunvent in the sweet little town of Gharb. Father and son were holding fort on our visit and the local pizza pie filled our starving stomachs.
Carry on towards San Lawrenz and find the Ta’Dbiegi craft village, where you can see the artisans and work and purchase their finest lace, glass and pottery. Our spare room has benefitted from a beautiful hand-woven rug in colours that take me straight back to Wied-il Ghasri. It’s the kind of place with quality souvenirs that’ll finally shame your brother out of buying you the novelty t-shirt from his next trip.
Your last stop is Dwejra, whose geology is straight out of a fantasy novel. In fact, the Dothraki wedding in GoT season 1 was set at the Azure Window, a natural arch at sea. Though it lives on in many people’s DVD collections, the Azure Window is sadly no more, having come to an end worthy of GoT, as it fell crashing into the sea in real life in 2017. You can read the news story all about it. It’s still an incredible area, which well deserves your time though, if only for the Blue Hole underneath, a 25m deep swimming hole for you to float about in.
After the day’s exertions, head back to Xaghra for a well-earned dinner at Oleander on the market square, with great ambience and delectable local food and wine.
Your second day should definitely be a beach day. After a leisurely morning by the pool, call and place your order at Maxokk Bakery for one of the ftiras they’ve been making since the 1930s. You won’t regret it. If you can’t wait long enough to eat it at the beach, the market square in the day is a beautiful spot for a bench-based picnic (and a sneaky ice cream afterwards).
There are a myriad of beaches to choose from for your afternoon jaunt; the rocky red sands of San Blas Bay or the smoother silts of Ramla Bay.
Country Terrace in Mgarr is a wonderful spot for your last dinner in Gozo. Set above the town, a terrace table provides a stunning view across the water, all with the backlighting of Narnia-worthy lamp-posts. The fresh fish and produce makes for a tasty meal… and of course, we didn’t forego the bruschetta.
For your last day on Gozo, a popular day trip is to the island of Comino, sandwiched between Gozo and Malta. The turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon draw in the crowds during the summer months, with shallow clear waters and white sandy seabeds. Full disclosure, Nomads, that the idea of many people and little shade made us miss out on this particular attraction… so there’s no judgement from me if you spend the time on the beach finishing that novel instead.
It’s impossible to write about Malta and Gozo without it becoming a semi-evangelistic endeavour, but Nomads, you will love it and I can’t wait to hear your tips below.