As mentioned in the first part of this mini Malta series, on our second day we took a trip to the neighbouring island of Gozo, which I had booked through Viator. In order to get to Gozo, we took a coach from our hotel (which comes as part of the tour) and then took a 30 minute ferry across to the island.
Gozo is one of the 21 islands which make up the Maltese archipelago and it is famous for its rolling landscapes, natural beauty and prehistory. The first stop on our tour was to see the UNESCO-listed Ġgantija Temples, which are some of the oldest megalithic temples in the world. In fact, they predate both the pyramids of Giza and Stonehenge!
These temples were built by prehistoric people occupying Gozo around 3000 years BC. The temples seem to have been built with the equinox in mind; the way in which these inhabitants predicted the seasons. Without these measures, they could have missed important annual events such as the harvest and as a result, they could have died out. Remains of animal bones found in the temple indicate that religious sacrifice was carried out regularly and spherical ‘rollers’ have been found near the site, which give an indication as to how the huge stones were moved into position.
There are many other examples of megalithic temples in Malta, which you can find more on here.
The next stop on the tour was for lunch, at a restaurant called Sea Shells. This place was distinctly average, but it was a three course meal and included drinks. The meal probably didn’t last much longer than 30 minutes, but we had a choice of pasta or vegetable soup to start, for mains the options were fish/veal/omelette and ice cream for dessert. I imagine the food is probably a lot better when they’re not catering for massive tour groups but it definitely served its purpose – aside from the main course, the food was tasty enough.
We then had some free time to spend in Xlendi Bay, which has a beach, dramatic cliffs and beautiful jade sea to enjoy. Although you were quite time pressured on this tour, the guide did try and give you as much opportunity as she could to explore.
We were then whisked away for the main event – the Azure Window in Dwerja. The Azure Window is a natural limestone arch which formed due to the collapse of two caves. If you want to see this feat of natural beauty, you will need to move quickly! According to geologists, this archway is eroding so rapidly that it may be gone in a few years.
This area is very popular with scuba divers, probably due to the multitude of caves, grottos and nooks to discover, as well as the crystal clear waters. We decided to jump in a boat with a local fisherman (€4 pp), which was probably one of the most fun things we did on the entire trip.
The boat led us through narrow passages, through the famous Blue Grotto and gave us an amazing view of the Azure Window from underneath. I would highly recommend doing this if you are given the chance, as the fisherman was also able to point out kooky rock formations (such as the crocodile and the fungus) and give a little bit of history on the area.
The tour then took us to a local market, where we were able to buy famous Maltese food and crafts, such as lace, filigree jewellery, cheese, olive oil, jam and nougat. Gozo’s peppered sheep’s cheese, chilli oil and pomegranate jam are very much worth a try!
Finally, our guide took us to the capital city of Gozo, Victoria. This was originally named Rabat but was changed when occupied by the British, in honour of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. Victoria is famous for its impressive citadel and we were given time to explore this, after heading to a local cinema to watch a short film about the island’s history. This was actually really interesting because it showed how different invaders had influenced the culture and development of the Maltese islands.
Over time, the Maltese Islands have been ruled by the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Goths, the Arabs, the Normans, the Ottomans and the British (who granted independence in 1964). The influence of these rulers can definitely still be felt, as the Maltese language is derived from Arabic and English is a joint official language.
The tour ended with a return to our hotel, where we spent the evening enjoying local food such as pastizzi (pastry filled with ricotta, spinach and peas), olives, cheese and the slightly less traditional pizza.
All in all, a trip to Gozo (even for just one day) is a must if you’re visiting Malta.
I have some very exciting trips planned for the coming months (Milan and …wait for it… JAPAN!!) so keep checking out my blog if you’re interested in finding out more about these amazing places. To keep up to date with my posts, you could also follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
Thanks for reading,
~ Plane Emoji