Have you heard about Gozo and its so-called hidden gems? This is a small island near to Malta that offers many interesting alternatives to the busier Maltese attractions. In fact, this is the island where people from Malta will go when they want to take a break from all the excitement in their hometown! It’s located just 30 minutes from Malta (by ferry) and offers many interesting scenarios which are worth exploring. If you want to know all about the hidden gems available there, just read through this article!
If you want to see all that Gozo has to offer, you should visit with time to spare, since fully exploring this area will involve a bit of trekking around scattered villages. We recommend that you have a few days available or even a full week or two, so you enjoy the local atmosphere and go through all the postcard-quality sights available on the island. From ancient medieval walls to prehistoric ruins and natural formations, there are many noteworthy things to look for. Here are the 10 places that you should see:
Ta’ Cenc: Ancient Archaeological Remains in Gozo
If you like the idea of exploring ancient archaeological ruins, you will be happy to know there are signs of civilization in this region dating as far back as 5500 BC. Throughout the island, you will come across many man-made structures which are among the oldest in the world. Several of these have been distinguished by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, such as the Ggantija Temples in the Zaghra region.
As you start exploring this area, you’ll invariably come across the archeological remains of Ta’ Cenc – a place where once stood proudly the prehistoric settlement that would eventually evolve and merge into the bigger cities. Within the archeological remains spread out everywhere as proof of this ancient settlement, you’ll see all kinds of relevant findings such as dolmens and similar constructions. Two of the most iconic dolmens are called Id-Dura tal-Mara and Id-Dura tax-Xaghra l-Kbira, and they’re thought to be ancient burial grounds from over three thousands years ago. While looking for these structures of great historical interest (they’re much older than Stonehenge, after all!) you will come across Xewkija – the oldest village still inhabited in this island, which is notable for its primitive church raised high over scattered limestone buildings.
Sannat: Absolutely Impressive Cliff Formations
When you’re out exploring the southern coast of Gozo, you’ll come across a stretch of trekking ground that is as attractive as scary; it’s known as the Ta’ Cenc Cliffs and features breathtaking of the Mediterranean horizons; an exclusive view available only to those who are unafraid of walking over towering cliffs with more than a hundred feet of height.
Asides from the wide horizon and glorious seascapes, exploring Sannat you’ll have a chance to see many dolmens, megalithic temples, and historical ruins. Nested among all kinds of unique natural formations, you will also come across some interesting opportunities for watching birds. These cliffs are actually home to many protected bird species which are unique to this area, including some rare kinds of shearwaters and petrels.
San Blas Bay: A Beach Few People Know About
Do you like the idea of walking several hours until you reach a secluded beach that few people know about? Then you should check the map in the north-eastern section for a tiny stretch of stand called San Blas Bay. It’s located next to a bigger and better-known beach called Ramla Bay that you can reach by car, so that may be a good place to park if you don’t want to walk all the way through to San Blas Bay.
For those who appreciate walking long distances over steep hills in search of really quiet and untouched beaches, San Blas Bay offers some unforgettable sceneries that will be well worth the time and energy one must actually spend to actually get there.
Wied il-Ghasri: Creek Slithering Among Cliffs
Here’s another interesting natural formation that should please people who love taking big walks in nature and exploring unique and unforgettable scenarios while looking for a perfect place for swimming. To get to this tiny beach that’s located in a small bay at the end of an inlet, you’ll have to walk down ancient steps carved into the rock; the way there is a bit unusual, but the destination is absolutely worth the effort.
The valley surrounding this beach is known as Ghasri, and it’s also a great place to explore towering coastal cliffs. There are phenomenal views waiting for you here, but make sure to walk carefully and keep your eyes on the ground to find many fossilized sea urchins. You should be careful and watch your step since this can be an isolated and often dangerous area with many precarious roads winding around high rocky formations.
Wied il-Mielah and a Window Made of Rock
Since the postcard-perfect Azure Windows was unfortunately destroyed by a storm last year, the rock window available at Wied il-Mielah might be your next best opportunity to appreciate a similar phenomenon. This is a unique rock formation that looks like it was the work of many skilled stone-cutters, even though it’s actually a natural occurrence.
To appreciate its full splendor, you’ll have to go down a rocky staircase carved into the cliff, which is a spectacle in and of itself. This area is particularly impressive in rough weather since it provides a relatively safe standpoint to watch the turbulence and ferocity of the sea at it clashes with the rocks. To get there, just go through the Gharb walking trail or otherwise consider renting a car that will allow you to leisurely explore the many country roads winding around this quiet corner of Gozo.
Qala: an Abandoned Military Outpost
For something a little different, try asking the locals about the old battery in Qala – they usually refer to this place natively as the Ras il-Qala. This used to be a busy military outpost back in the 18th century, as it sits in a perfect strategic position to oversee the maritime passage between the surrounding islands. Qala is located on the east side of the island, and it’s one of the oldest cities in the island which are still inhabited today.
If you have time to spare for hiking, you should enjoy going all the way around the rocky coastline until you reach the nearest beach area (Ramla Bay, already mentioned above). This trekking route occasionally involves going over some big boulders, so it is only suitable for those with good athletic preparation.
Dwejra: Where Old Boathouses are Hidden
One of the mandatory stops in the island was once the Azure Windows located in Dwejra; even though this natural attraction collapsed during a storm in 2017, there are still many interesting natural settings available to those who are willing to explore this coastal area. A noteworthy example of exclusive sightings in this region is the old boathouses near the shore; these were carved directly into the rock about one hundred years ago!
There is something fascinating about this place, as it looks much older and more mysterious than what is actually known about it.
Ras il-Wardija: Ruins of Punic-Roman Times
Another famous point of interest along the Dwejra coast and its picturesque fungus-filled rocks is a rather old, man-made cave located in a strategic viewpoint atop this passage. Archaeologists estimate this unusual cave was dug as early back as the Punic era in the third century BC, but its rock-carved crosses suggest it has also been used as a Christian temple. These historical remains are however located on private grounds, so you may need to ask for permission to fully explore the area.
Hondoq ir-Rummien: Peculiar Rocky Inlets
Just as you arrive in (or as you prepare to leave) Gozo, you will find an area worthy of your time right next to the Mgarr ferry zone. There is a small trekking route pointing towards east that will take you to a place called Hondoq ir-Rummien, which is a popular bathing area in the summer with quite pleasant sand and plenty of attractive rock formations.
If you like to seize opportunities for a bit of reclusive swimming, just head through the rocky inlets and you’ll find quiet smaller beaches available to you down below.
Dahlet Qorrot: A Notoriously Peaceful Bay
This is a lovely little corner of Gozo with extensive pebble beaches and a still active fishing harbor. You will find it’s a great place to relax, as well as offering a glimpse of the local fisherman’s lifestyle. One end of the bay is fully packed with little boathouses where many families still live in present times, and often you’ll come across fishermen preparing their boats and nets for the next fishing trip.
Make sure to follow the long steep road going along the side of the bay, and you’ll get to the ‘Sopu’ watchtower located on top of the hill; from there you can see several of the other hidden gems mentioned in this article.