How to Spend a Day in Gozo
How shall we explore Malta’s sister island of Gozo?
By car? By foot? By bike?
No, none of the above. We do love a bit of adventure whilst travelling, so we organised a full day tour of Gozo by … quad bike! No surprise there. Gozo is Malta’s smaller sister island, located in the Mediterranean sea, steeped in history – it is said to have been the legendary Calypso’s Isle from ‘Homer’s Odyssey’ – with spectacular panoramic views and rugged coastline. Our quad tour was booked with Gozo Pride Tours – the company also offers half day quad tours and Jeep tours too.
Explore the hidden charms of Gozo whilst enjoying the fun ride that a Quad Bike can offer - Gozo Pride Tours
There were a few conditions we had to follow before heading off on the quads:
- Must be 21 years of age or over and must show a valid driving license
- Must wear proper footwear
- No overtaking and racing allowed
- Must follow the tour leader at all times
Vroom! Vroom! Off we went with our quads carefully following the tour leader, driving steadily (reminding myself not to be a boy racer!) and taking in the views. After twenty minutes, Ian’s quad was rattling a bit and we immediately stopped to one side to have a look. Well this was an interesting start.
The tour guy carried his own set of tools and tried to figure out what was wrong but after a short while eventually ended up calling for help from head office. After about five minutes, a guy in a jeep came to our rescue with the spare part. During this time, the guys on the jeep tour drove past us waving goodbye. Ten minutes later the quad was fixed and off we went again to make up for lost time. No speeding of course.
We were excited to see the beautiful locations and sights of Gozo. As we were the only ones on the quad tour, we were able to stop freely for those photo opportunities when and where we liked. Always on the lookout for those ‘postcard perfect’ moments.
Let’s show you the highlights of our trip:
Qala is the most eastern village on Gozo and the furthest village from Victoria (the capital of Gozo). A rural village with many natural and historical sights to see. Stunning views can be seen from Qala Belvedere.
Here you can admire the picturesque views of Ramla Bay, the best beach on Gozo. A wide stretch of reddish sandy beach perfect for swimming, relaxing or a quick dip. As we were a bit delayed, we decided to miss out on the quick dip in the sea and carry on. This beach does get popular with the locals but never crowded.
The viewing gallery for the bay is located besides the famous Calypso cave at the top of the hill. Unfortunately we were not able to see the Calypso cave as the access was closed. Such a pity. The cave is mentioned by Homer in ‘The Odyssey’ and some believe that Odysseus was kept here as a prisoner of love by the nymph Calypso for seven years.
Our tour leader asked us if we wanted to go to the location where Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt filmed the film ‘By the sea’. Without hesitation, Ian replied ‘oh yes please!’ I had a feeling Ian would jump at the chance being a huge Angelina Jolie fan.
The Mgarr ix-Xini bay is very pretty and the area was so calm and tranquil. The road down to the bay is quite narrow and steep but does have some passing bays. Only a handful of people were there either paddling in the water, or enjoying a soft ice cream bought from the only little snack shop in the bay. We had a wander around and snapped a few pics before swiftly moving on to the next stop.
This charming bay is very popular with a narrow sandy beach great for a spot of sunbathing or swimming. Climb to the top of the cliffs to capture the stunning views of the bay and the pretty sunsets. Such a peaceful vibe here as it’s not over developed.
We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant – a three course lunch was included in the tour. We opted for pasta to start, I chose fish and Ian chose the omelette for the main and dessert was vanilla ice cream. Lunch was tasty and definitely filled a little spot, leaving us quite content.
Next stop was the limestone quarries. How deep were these quarries! The majority of the buildings and churches in Gozo have been built using this limestone. The limestone in Gozo has a different colour compared to the white limestone used in Malta. In the past the limestone quarries provided work for the community and supported the economy of the island. The stone was easily quarried and was used as décor, columns, including arches in churches. Nowadays, many of the old quarries are used as either fields or farms. In fact Limestone Heritage, in Siggiewi, is an old quarry that has been converted into a museum.
Dwejra – The Azure Window and Fungus Rock
The famous Azure Window had been featured in many blockbuster films such as ‘Clash of the Titans’, ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ and the backdrop of the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. It was such a shame to find out that earlier this year, the limestone arch of the Azure Window collapsed into the sea due to a storm. One of Malta’s famous landmark disappeared overnight into the sea. How sad were we to hear about it on the news. It was a 50m high rock arch in the Dwejra cliffs; the window was formed due to the sea and rain erosion over 500 years. The view of the window was pretty spectacular. The Azure Window will now be known as ‘The Azure Pinnacle’ or the ‘Azure Stack’.
The Fungus Rock also known as the ‘General’s Rock’ stands around 65 m tall and sat besides what was once the Azure Window. The rock was named after an Italian General who supervised quarrying in the area and fell to his death. It was also believed that the fungus (Fungus Gaulitanus) grown on the rock had healing properties and was so highly valued, that it was guarded by the Knights of Malta. If anyone was caught stealing the plant, the penalty was death.
Victoria, also known as Rabat (to the Maltese), is the capital city of Gozo. The city has a relaxed atmosphere and is well known for its ‘It-Tokk’ Market. Open in the morning until early afternoon selling fresh produce, wines, cheeses, handicrafts, knitwear and antiques. Follow the narrow streets and you’ll find the market in the central square surrounded by lovely restaurants and cafes. During the day, Victoria is all hustle and bustle however at night it is so silent, you could probably hear a pin drop!
The Citadel (also known as the “Crown of Gozo”) sits on the hill and can be clearly seen from around the island. During the Bronze Age, the Citadel was fortified and then developed further by the Phoenicians and finally finished during the Roman times. The Citadel now houses The Cathedral Museum, a few history museums including the Museum of Archaeology, the World Ward II shelter and the grain silos. If you have time, add the Citadel to your visit – enjoy the panoramic views of Gozo.
The Independence Square is located in the centre of Victoria, is often busy with tourists buying souvenirs from the local open markets and dotted with many cafés to watch the people walk by.
Top things to do in Victoria:
- Explore the Citadel
- Visit Villa Rundle public gardens
- Take a stroll around the old streets
- Shop in the markets
- Visit St George’s Basilica
The rock-cut saltpans near Marsalform can be seen as a huge chequerboard along the north coast extending into the sea. These saltpans span along 3 km along the coast. Traditional methods for salt production are still used, which have been passed down from generation to generation through the families. The salt crystals are raked up and collected during the summer months, then stored in caves. Walking past the saltpans, you’ll notice the salt crystals glistening under the sunlight. Of course, you can buy the local salt to take home as a souvenir.
We leisurely made our way back to the tour head office, dropped off the quad bikes and were shuttled to the harbour for a speedboat ride back to Malta via Comino caves.
Half day Quad Tour – 65€ per driver and 40€ per passenger. Only held on Wednesdays.
Full day Quad Tour – 90€ per driver and 60€ per passenger. Full day tours held from Monday to Saturday.
The tour company also offer a full day Jeep Tour which costs 62€ per adult and 45€ per child (3 to 12 years).
Tour price for a full day quad tour included:
- Transport to and from your accommodation
- Helmets for the passenger and driver
- Fully comprehensive insurance
- Lunch including soft drink and water
- 20 min speedboat ride via Blue Lagoon and Comino caves
- Ferry ticket to Gozo
Please note that the half day quad tour return journey to Malta is by ferry.
What to bring:
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This tour is great if you love adventure and doing something a little different. A great way to explore and see the main sights of Gozo – worth the visit.
Have you visited Gozo? What are your top things to see and do on the island?
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