It’s a perfect destination for Easter and for spring holidays, with a mild climate and easily reachable from many Italian airports with low-cost flights. If Malta surprises you, a long weekend with children in Gozo will give you a unique experience.
For our long Spring weekend we decided to stay in Gozo. A small island that has a lot to offer, both from the naturalistic/hiking and from the cultural point of view. Even for those who travel with children.
What to see in Gozo: the island of Calypso with children
The best way to visit Gozo – at least in spring, when the island is not crowded by tourists – is renting a car directly at Malta Airport. Head directly south, where from the port of Cirkewwa you can embark directly to Gozo (you pay on the return, from Gozo to Malta, stopping in a sort of tollbooth) with the ferries of Gozo Channel line (crossing takes about 25 minutes, for info on times and costs https://www.gchannel.com).
Arrived in Mgarr, the island of Gozo (just 14 km long for 7.25 km in the widest point) takes you in a very charming Mediterranean environment. Many sensations immediately assault the traveler in Gozo: the Mediterranean atmosphere, the vegetation lush, the intense blue of the sea, the cliffs, the towns with buildings of ocher-coloured bricks, a slow atmosphere that at times reminds the countries of near North Africa.
Gozo is also a fascinating island for children, even on the road: the distances are short and at every stop there is a corner to play, on the sand of the bays of the north or in the small fishing villages, colorful and charming.
Gozo can fascinate children even with its history that covers many eras
A very ancient history, which starts from the Temples of Gġantija, a Unesco World Heritage site, to visit absolutely. Located in Xagħra the temples are notable for their Copper Age structures: they were used between 3,600 and 2,500 BC. And they are the oldest structures of the kind in the world. Info and Prices: http://heritagemalta.org/museums-sites/ggantija-temples/
The Citadella of Gozo, which dominates from above the capital of the island, Ir-Rabat (Victoria), has its origins in the Neolithic. Today it appears as a fortified village, whose northern part dates back to the Aragonese period while the southern part was rebuilt at the hands of the Knights of St. John in the XVI Century. The visit is free, while the numerous museums – the Cathedral Museum, the Archaeology Museum, the Folklore Museum, the Gozo Nature Museum, the old prison, the old Gunpowder Depot, the grain Silos, the salve battery and the refuge of World War II – have their own entrance ticket.
The cave of Calypso which overlooks the red sandy beach of Ramla Bay is considered the cave to which Homer refers in the Odyssey. The story tells that the island of Ogygia can be identified with Gozo and the cave would be the one in which the beautiful nymph Calypso retained Ulysses as her “Prisoner of Love” for seven years. On the coast below the cave of Calypso lie the ruins of a fortification built by the Knights of Malta in the mid-Eighteenth Century as a defense against the invaders. A must to visit, but beware: the cave and part of the promontory are inaccessible to the public because of the geological movement, so you can only make a selfie in front of the cave access!
On the north coast of Gozo, just beyond the Bay of Qbajjar to the west of Marsalforn, the coast is characterised by a chessboard of salt pans dug into the rock that stretches out towards the sea. Beautiful (and free!) to visit with children, the salt pans have more than 350 years and extend for about 3 km along the coast: they are part of the secular tradition of gozitan production of sea salt that has been handed down by some families for many generations. The panorama is also breathtaking and the lunar landscape will fascinate large and small.
What to see in Gozo: Bays and towers
That sea that fascinates, adults and kids. Places that have been scenography in many film productions, like the Game of Thrones (did you know that Azure Window – collapsed in 2017, but worth the visit and the boat ride – in Dwejra Bay was the set of marriage between Daenery Targaryen and Khal Drogo?!) or By the Sea (the Brangelina have lived in Mġarr IX-Xini for 5 months).
Here are two routes, one in the north and one in the south of Gozo, to touch the most spectacular bays. A tip: at sunset they are really lovely places!
Accommodation in Gozo: The Duke Boutique Hotel
Located on the 4th and 5th floor of the Duke shopping Centre,, The Duke Boutique Hotel is located right in the heart of Victoria and enjoys excellent views of the Citadella. Guests can choose from 5 well-designed room types and suites that offer magnificent views of the Citadella, Villa Rundle Gardens or are equipped with a private terrace with Jacuzzi tub.
The hotel is a perfect base for visiting Gozo: its strategic location on Republic Street in Victoria, makes it the ideal starting point to visit the entire island as from here the roads radiate in the four directions to all the villages and bays of Gozo.
The rooms reveal a discreet luxury, cared for in the minutest detail, to guarantee maximum comfort. All rooms have marble finishes, are soundproofed and feature a contemporary classic design, luxurious
king-size mattresses (extremely comfortable!) and pillows, high-quality linens and towels. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning and heating for individually adjustable room temperature, minibar, telephone, tea and coffee making facilities, flat screen TV 42″, smoke alarms, hairdryer, Laptop safe, USB ports (very useful since sockets in Malta are UK type) and free high speed WIFI.
We chose a room with a private terrace and Jacuzzi and it turned out to be a wonderful choice even for Sissi (who wanted nothing more than to go back to the hotel to dive in her Jacuzzi!). Every day Jacuzzi is disinfected and cleaned and its temperature allowed us a relaxing bath even with outdoor temperatures quite cool. Also you can take advantage of the bathtub at night… Romantic, isn’t it?!
The breakfast is excellent: fresh fruit in large quantities and a wide choice with an eye to local typicity. Drinks are prepared and served on request, as well as different types of toast and eggs and the view of the Citadella is truly breathtaking!
Parking is not a problem: you can choose between the hotel garage, paid parking in the street or private garages and – with a bit of luck – free parking in the street.
Where to eat in Gozo
For the restaurants, we decided to always orient ourselves with the restaurants recommended in the booklet accompanying Malta Discount Card.
Malta Discount Card is a unique card that entitles the owner, a companion and a maximum of three children to access about 600 exclusive offers in Malta and Gozo. It is not just about restaurants, it also includes boat cruises, museums (such as those of the Citadella in Victoria), scuba diving, water sports, island attractions, tours with exceptional discounts up to 50%. With Malta Discount Card there are also One Time offers in a selection of the best restaurants of the Maltese Islands, with an exclusive discount of 50% on the bill (excluding drinks) the first time you visit the restaurants and an unlimited and repetitive discount of 25% for the next times. In Gozo we benefited from this discount at Otters Bistro in Marsalforn and we paid a bill for a dinner for three about €36!