Gozo is an idyllic haven, the sort of place many of us dream of escaping to after a bad day at work. Its sleepy towns, unspoilt countryside and spectacular coastline make this sun-blessed island a perfect slice of heaven for travellers who hate touristy areas. Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Malta, Gozo is by far more tranquil, and I dare say, more picturesque than its larger sister island.
You’ll need more than a day to visit the main attractions as well as get off the beaten path in Gozo. The island might be small, but you’ll be surprised to learn that Gozo is a treasure trove of ancient ruins and natural wonders.
So once you’ve taken enough postcard-perfect shots at Ramla Bay and strolled along the impressive medieval walls of Cittadella, put your hiking boots on and go explore the follow secret places in Gozo.
TIP: If you’re thinking of spending more than a day in Gozo, I highly recommend staying in Nadur. This is a traditional Gozitan town with some very nice restaurants and bars.
1. The Prehistoric ruins at Ta’ Cenc
Gozo has been inhabited since 5000 BC. The Ggantija Temples in Xaghra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are the oldest stone structures in the world, predating Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt. Ancient ruins can be found scattered all over the island, and many of them lie tucked away off the beaten path.
Ta’ Cenc is home to some of the most overlooked archaeological remains in Gozo, including various cart-ruts and two dolmens dating back to the Bronze Age. Known as Id-Dura tax-Xaghra l-Kbira and Id-Dura tal-Mara, the dolmens are believed to have been used for burial purposes around 2500-700 B.C. They are a bit difficult to spot among the smattering of shrubs and rocks that make up the vast garigue land at Ta’ Cenc, but you’ll get to enjoy a panoramic view of the hamlet of Xewkija whilst you’re there.
Besides being the oldest village in Gozo, Xewkija is also famous for its majestic Rotunda Church, which towers over a sea of sun-baked limestone buildings.
2. The rugged cliffs of Sannat
Rising to a height of 120m, Ta’ Cenc Cliffs on the southern coast of the island are a stunning (and rather terrifying) place for a walk. The cliffs are also an important breeding site for protected bird species, like the Cory’s shearwater, Yelkouan shearwater and the European storm petrel.
Archaeological remains have been discovered within walking distance from the cliffs, which include the two dolmens mentioned above and the ruins of a megalithic temple, known as Borg l-Imramma.
3. The secluded beach at San Blas Bay
If you fancy a dip in the Med after a few hours of trekking, head to this tiny, secret beach in the north-eastern part of the island. San Blas Bay is difficult to get to, and therefore it is sparsely visited by tourists. Most people head to neighbouring Ramla Bay, a larger sandy beach which can be accessed by car.
Surrounded by picturesque valleys, San Blas Bay boasts super clear waters and rust-coloured sand. You’ll need to walk down a steep hill to get to the beach, but it’s worth every bead of sweat.
4. The narrow creek in Wied il-Ghasri
This snaky creek wedged between rugged high cliffs makes the perfect bathing place for those seeking some peace and quiet- although you might find a few people swimming there in summer. A set of uneven stairs cut into the rock will lead you to the tiny shingle beach at the end of the inlet. The fjord-looking bay is also a great spot for diving and snorkelling.
The valley of Ghasri is also home to several traditional salt pans, many of which are still in use. Whilst you’re there, take a walk along the coastal cliffs, keeping your eyes on the ground. The star-like patterns that you see embedded in the rocks are fossilized sea urchins, and there are literally hundreds of them dotting the area.
5. The rock window of Wied il-Mielah
It might not be as popular as the iconic Azure Window, but this majestic square-shaped coastal arch is equally spectacular. A staircase carved into the cliff leads to the mouth of the valley, where you can peek through the natural window. In rough weather, you can watch the sea crashing against the rocks and spilling over the gorge in ferocious tides.
Your best bet at finding the window is to get on the Gharb walking trail, unless you decide to rent a car and brave your way through the island’s confusing country roads.
6. The old battery in Qala
This 18th century military outpost is situated on the vast garigue land at Ras il-Qala, overlooking the channel between the islands. The surrounding landscape has remained almost unchanged since the battery was built. Qala is the easternmost village in Gozo and one of the earliest inhabited areas on the island.
If you’re looking for a wee adventure on the island, go for a hike along Qala’s rough and rocky coastline and keep walking along the coast until your reach Ramla Bay. You’ll need to do some bouldering along the way, so a good level of fitness is required for this walk.
7. The hidden boathouses in Dwejra
You cannot go to Gozo without stopping off at Dwejra. Go for a small hike along the coast towards the fungus rock. There you’ll find a series of boathouses carved into the rock, some of them looking rather derelict. The year 1945 is etched into the stone next to one of the boathouses, and the jetty looks like it hasn’t been used for a long while. In fact, there’s a sense of mystery about the place, which you’ll instantly pick up.
8. The Punic-Roman remains in Wardija
If you keep walking along the coast from Dwejra and past the fungus rock, you’ll come to a stunning viewpoint, as well as an artificial cave dating back to the 3rd century BC. The cave is believed to have been originally used as a nymphaeum during the Punic era, and the crosses carved into the wall suggest that the cave was later converted into a Christian place of worship.
Sadly, these remarkable remains are situated on private land, so you’ll need to get permission from the owners if you plan to go there.
9. The rocky inlets around Hondoq ir-Rummien
You can actually start exploring Gozo’s hidden spots as soon as you get off the ferry in Mgarr. Head towards the path that leads to a place known as Hondoq ir-Rummien on the east coast. The area is popular for the crystal clear water of its small sandy beach. The place is normally packed in summer, but there are a few rocky inlets in the area, such as Dahla tac-Cawl and Skoll tal-Barbaganni, where you can climb your way down for a quiet swim.
10. The quiet bay at Dahlet Qorrot
Another great place for a quick dip is the small inlet known as Dahlet Qorrot. Situated close to San Blas Bay, this charming pebbly beach also serves as a fishing harbour. One side of the bay is lined with colourful boathouses, and if you’re lucky, you might come across a few fishermen mending their nets or re-painting their boats.
If you walk up the steep, never-ending road by the side of the bay you’ll eventually get to the Isopu Tower at the top of the craggy hill. The watchtower offers staggering views of both Dahlet Qorrot and San Blas Bay.
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