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Compared to some ‘lively’ European holiday destinations, Malta is pretty laid back. There is a bustling night scene if you want it but you have to go looking for it so most visitors enjoy a quiet and relaxing stay. Malta’s prevailing peace, however, is nothing compared to sister island Gozo … because if Malta is laid-back, then this place is positively flat out!
Over the years that’s why a number of celebrities have chosen the island of Gozo as a get-away-from-it-all holiday destination. Such is the relaxed nature of the island and its local population that even if they did recognise you, chances are they wouldn’t care - and certainly not enough to hound you!
Gozo is the place where the Maltese go for a change of scene, somewhere to sit on a quieter beach, kick back and relax. The pace of life here is slow. And while to the untrained eye it might look pretty similar to the main island, there is something decidedly different about it. Gozo is Malta … only less so – even more relaxed, even quieter – if they canned it and sold it they’d call it Malta Light!
Hollywood star Peter O’Toole was known to be a regular visitor to Gozo, along with England cricket hero Ian Botham and music legend David Bowie. Scottish comedian Billy Connolly so loved the life and people here that he now owns his own house here – a perfect retreat to come and write new material, or escape the harsh Highland winters.
Gozo is also famous for its scenic hill-strewn landscape. It’s far more rural and less built-up than the larger sibling. The lifestyle here is slow and steady and visitors cannot help but be lulled by this quaint island’s peaceful atmosphere.
Everything seems to revolve around the island’s capital, Victoria, a bustling metropolis compared to the rest of the settlements on the island but probably nothing more than a small town by most other standards.
Here it is possible to find pretty much anything you’ll need. It’s where all of Gozo’s main shops are, including the only two supermarkets of decent size. It’s where all the bus routes start and end and it’s where the island’s main market is too.
From here, in a car, you can be anywhere inside 20 minutes because as well as being quiet, Gozo is also very small – about 14km by 7km. In spite of its size, you’ll be surprised by the amount there is to see and do here.
Among the more popular attractions is the 15th century Citadel in the island’s capital Victoria – a fantastic fortress that provides the best views of the island and is a delight to have a wander around.
There’s the breathtaking Azure Window, the natural phenomenon that is the Inland Sea and the Megalithic Temples of Ggantija that date back to 4000 BC. The beaches and bays make for some of the Maltese archipelago’s finest swimming spots and there are few more scenic venues for a swim, ice cream or evening meal than Xlendi Bay – where fish is the obvious speciality!
To reach Gozo you will need to take the Gozo Ferry from Cirkewwa harbour at the northern tip of Malta. Two ferries run concurrently, passing each other in the middle of the Gozo Channel. The journey takes about 20 minutes so with loading and unloading they depart roughly every half hour.
The most important bit of information about the ferries though is that you only pay to get back to Malta. The trip out to Gozo is free but the return journey costs €4.65 for a foot passenger or for your hire car and all its passengers it’s €15.70 so these are effectively return fares. For more information, click on the Gozo Channel link below.
Another useful bit of info to know is when you arrive at the port, you’ll see if you’re going to get on the next boat by looking at the ground. The waiting area is painted with lanes that mirror the lay-out of the ferry’s decks. So if you’re inside the lanes, then you will make it. If you’re just outside then chances are you will too. The ferry men park the cars much closer than you will in the waiting area so they usually make room for a good few extras!
Address: Gozo Tourism Association, Flat 5, Ta' Mlied Court, Gorg Borg Olivier St, Victoria
Phone: +356 2755 1999
Website (ferry): www.gozochannel.com
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