Gozo Otherwise Known as Calypso’s Island
Some of Malta’s best-known sites are on this island, but you’ll also find pristine beaches, salt pans, and a fantastic cheese. Many people visiting Malta don’t spend the night here, but there is plenty to do. Here are our top 5 sights!
1. Gigantia Temples
Settled over 7,000 years ago from people coming from the Italian island of Sicily, Gozo has had its fair share of trials and tribulations. However, it is also home to one of the world’s oldest religious temples. The Gigantia temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is famous for its huge rocks. Mystery surrounds the people who built these temples, and how they were developed in such a sophisticated design. There is also a museum on site that has some fantastic artifacts, like mother figurines. It is small, but informative.
2. The Azure Window
Blue waves splashing on the shore, a stone tower on one hill, a dilapidated church on another, the area surrounding the Azure Window is a paradise. Very popular with locals and tourists alike, it’s not the quietest beach on the island, but it has a lot to offer. Climbing the rocks, looking down from the top of the arch or exploring the surrounding hills, there’s more than just sunbathing and swimming. We went during the winter and it was perfect for hiking around.
3. Stone Fortresses and Cities
Just like the island of Malta, the yellow limestone is the primary building material on the island. As you wander, you can see the stone buildings, both old and new, gleaming in the sun. Victoria is the largest city, and it has always offered the locals their best defense on the island with its citadel. Built and fortified around 1500 BC, the citadel has always been the center of activity, and today as you climb its stairs and explore its walls and alleyways, you will see village women selling their wares or even their homemade Gozo cheese. Gozo cheese is primarily made from sheep’s milk and is usually served with salads or on crackers and toast. There are a few varieties, and my favorite is the peppered.
4. Salt Pans
The Xlendi salt pans, are man-made and carved out of the natural rock. The geometrical pattern gives the landscape an other-worldly look. Salt has been gathered here by only a few enterprising families that have handed the tradition down from generation to generation for over 150 years. Still today, Xlendi salt can be found in the local grocery stores. Up the hill from the salt pans is a cave that is where Homer’s Calypso was supposed to live. From there she captured Odysseus and kept him for years before letting him continue his journey.
5. Ancient Dolmen
In the area around Ta’ Sannat on the south of the island, there is an amazing overlook. It is a plateau that looks down on the very green Hanzira valley. The area is surprisingly flat and easy to hike around to have a look at the three ancient dolmen. Locals were walking their dogs and horses as we wandered from low-hanging dolmen to fallen rocks and onto the magnificent view where we chose to have a picnic lunch.
Gozo is a small island and very easy to get to and around. There are ferries from Malta that leave about every 45 minutes all year long. Going to Gozo, there is no fee collected, but returning you pay for both directions and it costs about 9 Euros for a car. You can also take the public bus to the ferry and another will meet you when you disembark.
Gozo is so small that you can easily hike or bike large portions of it. It is worth spending a couple of days there as it is much quieter and maybe a little more traditional than the more populated Malta.
Our favorite restaurant was Tal-Furnar Restaurant and Bakery where they have used their traditional bread oven for multiple generations. (136, Gnien Xibla Str, Xaghra – +356 2155 6372).
For more info, go to VisitGozo.com.
Have you been to Gozo?
Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.