Family Activities In Gozo, Malta | Fun Things To Do
Safe, small and packing a serious sense of adventure, Malta has proven itself one our favourite destinations for a European family break in 2016- a position it'll likely retain in 2017! To celebrate the best of Malta we spoke to travel blogger Samantha, who agreed to share with us a recent 10-day family trip around the northern island of Gozo.
Things To Do With The Family In Gozo, Malta:
Even if you don't intend to visit Gozo for more than a day, Samantha's daily recommendations should help you plot out which sights and attractions to prioritise, especially if you have young kids in tow.
Photo Credit: Mürvet Sarı Kanbur.
Day One - Arrival in Gozo:
We left our accommodation on Malta for a 10 day break on the Maltese island of Gozo. Gozo is the second largest of the 21 islands that make up the Maltese archipelago, though at only 67km2 it's not very large at all! We had booked a traditional style farmhouse (not an old original one) with a pool for this stay and were not disappointed on our arrival. It was quaint, cool and very welcoming.
The ferry trip over to Mgarr harbour from Cirkewwa took approximately 25 minutes and was as picturesque as promised. If you decide to travel the way we did be sure to keep plenty of space on the camera for pictures. Overall the crossing was smooth- something which my seasick prone son was pretty grateful for. We had arranged for our taxi driver to take us all the way to our farmhouse in Gharb to avoid having to transfer 4 children plus suitcases on the ferry as foot passengers! The extra cost for the taxi was well worth it!
Photo Credit: Magdalena Tama. Cirkewwa to Mgarr Harbour Ferry.
The rest of the day was spent unpacking, working out who was sleeping where, toddler proofing the farmhouse and venturing out for a walk to explore the area. We located a small grocery store only 5 minutes walk away and ate at one of the two restaurants in the village. Luckily both the store and the restaurant had gluten free options for us!
The church in Gharb is enormous and has very loud bells that ring regularly. Apparently there was a wedding and a funeral on the same day we arrived, as pretty much the entire village had gathered round for the busy occasion! Later we had our first dip in the pool. Being May it was a little cool but great once you got swimming.
Photo Credit: Muzicalicious. Gharb Church.
Day Two - Victoria:
At the start of day 2 we decided to head into Victoria, the main town and capital of Gozo, by local bus. The buses on Gozo generally run once or twice an hour and we managed to just miss one on our first go. No bother, we walked for 5 minutes and caught it on the loop back from Dwejra. This tip was from the owner of the local restaurant we had eaten at the night before. Such hospitality and advice is something you'll encounter a fair bit in Gozo.
The Malta transport app (Talinja) also works on Gozo and is handy when you know which stop you're at. Bus stops are named and numbered but it does help to know from which direction the bus is coming and roughly where you want to go! All part of the fun I guess!
Photo Credit: Ironannebonnie. Victoria Citadel.
Victoria (or Ir-Rabat) is built around a hill with a Citadel (Gran Castello) at the summit. The Citadel is often referred to as the crown of Gozo. Following the signs to the Citadel from the bus station leads you through streets you might otherwise miss including some of the narrowest alleys in Malta!
Within the Citadel walls we visited the Gozo Museum of Archaeology. The 16th Century house which is home to the collection is equally as impressive in its own right. We all had a fun time exploring the citadel, and followed it up with dinner in a beautiful restaurant overlooking the rest of the island. Returning to the bus station we encountered an air-conditioned shopping mall with a large superstore worth browsing. Conveniently, there was even a great park for the children to play in while we waited for the next bus home.
Photo Credit: Łukasz Antczak. Victoria Streets.
Day Three - Victoria Part 2:
Day 3, and back to Victoria to explore more of the Citadel, plus visit the additional sites included on our Heritage Malta Pass. These passes cost about €50.00 (half for kids), but if you're just visiting Gozo you can buy the cheaper 'Discover Gozo' Pass. The Gozo pass includes six sites: the Ggantija Temples, Ta' Kola Windmill, Gozo Museum of Archaeology, the Folklore Museum, Gozo Nature Museum and the Old Prison.
The Old Prison of Gozo was a quick visit but sparked up a discussion among the children about the living conditions of the prisoners. The Knights of St John graffiti is very interesting, along with images of galleons and more symbols carved into the walls by various prisoners.
Photo Credit: Heritage Malta. Old Prison of Gozo.
The Folklore Museum was fascinating with some really informative displays and interesting artefacts from the rural life of the Maltese people. The museum is laid out in rooms just like those of an old traditional dwelling. Be wary, however, as everything above the ground floor is inaccessible to those with limited mobility!
The Gozo Nature Museum is also located within the Citadel and was our last stop for the day. One highlight of the exhibits is the speck of moon rock donated to the Maltese Nation by US President Richard Nixon.
Day Four - Xaghra:
We never did get enough of Malta's Neolithic temples, so on day 4 we set off to see the Ggantija Temples at Xaghra. The Ggantija temples are actually two temples set within a boundary wall, each featuring some of the most impressive megaliths in the world. Some areas are currently being supported by extensive scaffolding for conservation. You have to give them a break in this regard; both were constructed before 3000 BC, making them about 1000 years older than the Great Pyramid of Giza! We encountered much larger groups here than at other temple sites. My advice would be to go early to avoid the coach tours.
Ggantija Temples Ruins.
Xaghra is also the location of the Ta' Kola Windmill so we had to visit that too! The sails had been removed, which was a shame, but it was still good fun and a nice challenge to climb up. The climb is a narrow spiral stairway with small steps. Not for people of large proportions or poor mobility.
Photo Credit: Takashi Homma. Inside Ta' Kola Windmill.
Day Five - Relax By The Pool:
Travelling with four young children you need a 'stay-at-home' day every now and again to break things up and relax! So, today was a home day with barbecue and fun by the pool. Time to relax and recharge whilst drinking some Sangria of course!
Day Six - City Sightseeing Bus Tour:
On day 6 we opted to give the City Sightseeing Gozo bus tour a whirl. We embarked at Victoria and sat on the upper deck for the best views. Remember to cover up, use sunscreen and take a hat and a bottle of water because it gets hot on top of those buses!
City Sightseeing Gozo Bus.
Our first stop took us to Dwejra Bay to see the famous Azure Window. This natural limestone arch was created by the power of the waves in a process that will one day come full circle, leaving a worn sea stack in place of the iconic blue window. With this sobering thought in mind we boarded the next bus (they run every 45 minutes) and stayed on until Marsalforn. If you stay on the bus for the entire route it take approximately 2 hours 30 minutes.
Photo Credit: WannabeTourist. Azure Window.
Marsalforn's promenade is great for a seaside walk, with its lively hotels, apartments and places to eat and shop. We had no problem finding a place to grab lunch before taking the bus all the way back to Victoria. By this point the children were tired, so we disembarked and took a walk back to the farmhouse, enjoying the scenery and snapping photos as we went.
Photo Credit: Bookhopper. Marsalforn Promenade.
Day Seven - Gharb:
Today we decided to take a walk to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Ta' Pinu from our farmhouse in Gharb. We also visited the house-museum of Karmni Grima, who was a Maltese peasant. Her mystical religious experience led to the eventual construction of the basilica for Gozo. We had lunch at the local restaurant because they make really good homemade gluten-free pizza. That afternoon was spent chilling by the pool, helping the children improve their swimming skills.
Ta' Pinu Basilica Gozo.
Day Eight - Comino:
Exciting day today. We hopped aboard the bus and headed for Mgarr Harbour to catch one of the many ferries that links the island of Comino to Gozo. Our outbound ferry was small and fast and the ride a little bumpy - hang on kids! The return ferry was, by comparison, a much smoother ride, thank goodness. Great fun was had on Comino by all, especially around the blue swimming lagoon, a natural shallow pool with the most amazing shades of blue. Glad we went early because as more boats arrived it got really busy.
Comino may look a bit devoid of services, but don't worry about food or drink. Plenty of ice-cream and fast food trailers kept visitors well fed. One warning, however, there is no shade on the island except for the sun lounger and umbrellas hires, plus the toilet block was a steep, uneven walk up the hill.
Photo Credit: Lisie Pieklo. Blue Lagoon Swimmers.
Day Nine - Victoria:
As this was our last full day we headed into Victoria again to do some last minute souvenir shopping. We did find time to visit the Heart of Gozo Museum. It's an interesting place if you like art and sculpture, but our children were not too entertained!
Photo Credit: Il-Hagar | Heart of Gozo Museum.
Day Ten - Goodbye Gozo!
Last days are always a bittersweet affair. Our final few hours on Gozo were spent hung out by the pool, packing our suitcases, tidying up and eating all the remaining food in the fridge and cupboards- and that was before heading out for a final pizza lunch. Hey, it's a holiday!
Photo Credit: Anıl Bakkaloğlu. Mgarr Harbour, Gozo.
We were all sad to leave Gozo. It's much quieter and more laid back than the main island of Malta, excluding the regular chiming of bells from the church in the village of Gharb. If we come back to Malta we will definitely be renting a farmhouse with a pool again on Gozo, but may try one of the other small rural villages- perhaps without a church!