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Glorious Gozo

Glorious Gozo    

By Caroline Dickinson

Leaving a cold and snowy Leeds Bradford airport, Verity and I were looking forward to seeing a little blue sky and sunshine on Gozo and walking the routes around the island. I had visited Malta many years ago and spent just one day on Gozo, so I was keen to explore the island properly, and the only way to do that is on foot!

Our taxi driver met us at Malta airport and we were soon travelling across the island to catch the ferry to Gozo. Alfred, our driver, was wonderful – he had so much knowledge that he wanted to share and told us lots about the history of the island and what he, as a local, reckons are the ‘best bits’. With a busy schedule we weren’t sure how much extra we could fit in but we were enthusiastic to try and see as much as we could.

The ferries between the islands are super efficient, and we were soon boarded. Alfred told us to go up on deck, have a coffee, watch the scenery go by and in 25 minutes we would be there. We got our first views of tiny Comino Island as we sailed past on the way to Gozo.

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaOur base for the week was The Grand Hotel. It’s in a great location overlooking the port and has an indoor and outdoor pool which we were so tempted by but, despite our best efforts, we never quite found time to ‘dip our toes’ in the water.

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaFor our first ‘leg stretcher’, we opted for a circuit from the hotel door. The sun was out, the swallows were swooping around and we headed out into the countryside. Every day we experienced something different, from turquoise seas, rocky coastlines and golden beaches to fragrant wildflower meadows, peaceful villages and small fertile terraces with workers quietly tending their crops. On one of the routes, we walked up and through a cave, which opened out to give the most amazing views across a bay.

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaWherever we went, the people were incredibly friendly and helpful – if we paused to check the map, someone would inevitably stop to ask if we were ok or if we needed any help. The buses too are fabulous, nearly always full but, as we soon discovered, there’s always room for a couple more people! Should you be unlucky and find that a bus actually is full, don’t worry – the next one will be along in half an hour.

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaWe soon discovered that it was well worth working up an appetite to enjoy the hearty portions and delicious food on offer each evening in the restaurants by the hotel. The local wines and beers were also excellent, and very reasonably priced. Whenever the routes allowed, we just had to stop at the small stands selling the local delicacy pastizzi. These tiny filo-type pastries are always warm and are filled with ricotta or peas. At just €0.60 each, we couldn’t not try them!

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaLeaving Gozo, we headed back to Malta and the peaceful location of Maple Farm with its beautiful gardens, outdoor pool and views over the countryside. With just a day and night here we were determined to make the most of the time we had. We explored the old Roman town of Rabat, the catacombs and amazing WWII tunnels, and the walled city of Mdina with its breathtaking views and timeless atmosphere. We then caught the bus to the capital Valetta where narrow streets clamber up and down from the Grand Harbour, each revealing something new and interesting.

Self guided walking holidays in MaltaAll too soon we had to leave, but we did so with some great memories of the tranquil countryside, fascinating history and friendly people that we met on these peaceful islands.