Mark the New Year with a self-guided single-centre walking holiday in Gozo. Explore panoramic clifftop paths, visit traditional villages and discover a wealth of architectural treasures. Includes a sumptuous New Year’s Eve dinner and free bus pass for unlimited travel.
Take your pick of our suggested routes, depending on how energetic you're feeling.
You must start and finish your break between these dates:
28 December 2019 - 04 January 2020
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The visit to Bethlehem f'Ghajnsielem around the New Year period is well worth undertaking as well as visits to the many churches that are passed on the various walks all of which have extraordinary nativity scenes which are interesting to view even if one is not religious. There was also a particularly good exhibition of artisan built nativity scenes at The Old Hospital in Victoria. The room at the Grand Hotel was excellent and on the warmer days we sat watching the many comings and goings in the harbour.
It was really eye-opening travelling to Gozo and Malta as the places were not at all as I had imagined.
On Gozo, other than the capital Victoria, the little towns and villages on Gozo were very quiet and there was a noticeable number of unfinished buildings, some with building work going on. The walks were varied and very enjoyable and reflected many of the different fascinating geological and historical aspects of life on this island and how inhabitants were managing going forward. The cliffs were dramatic and quite scary and needed to be taken seriously! When following the walking routes there were not many places to buy food/drinks so one had to be mindful of this when setting off and take some sustenance or hope that any of the venues mentioned in the notes were open. On the route to Xlendi cliffs, when we passed through Sannat feeling rather hungry and thirsty, we ventured hopefully into Hotel Ta'Cenc, a 5 star restaurant; luckily their cafe/bar was open for passers by and we enjoyed very generous portions of "light lunch" snacks, observed by many tame cats who were hoping to share our meals! During the walks we did observe quite keenly the small amount of land available for farming (animals are kept indoors) and felt the struggle with nature due to the minimal natural fresh water supply, so the majority of water used is desalinated sea water. The New Year's Eve meal and dancing were well organised and a lot of fun. The Grand Hotel Gozo was very comfortable and had a good atmosphere. I enjoyed the salt water indoor swimming pool. The outdoor pool was closed for the winter but looked inviting. There was a great view over the harbour from the bedrooms but it was a bit noisy from the constant traffic going to and from the ferry port and the noise from the ferries which ran, I believe, all through the night.
The bus travel pass was excellent and we used it frequently on Gozo and Malta; there were many bus routes but, on occasions, they only came every hour - although we were lucky and usually only waited less than 20 minutes.
Malta in contrast to Gozo was much more developed and busy, although there were still unfinished buildings. In places there was a lot of traffic and locals did tell us pollution levels could be quite high. Again there was a lot of interesting scenery and more cliff top walks but also many museums and churches, the fascinating old cities of Valletta and Mdina, to mention just a few of the places to visit, including the extensive war time history and shelters. Surprisingly, eating in Naxaar in the evenings was quite difficult as many of the restaurants were closed, as was also the case in Mgarr, Gozo, where we ended up eating in the hotel on 2 nights (including the New Year's Eve meal). Food prices were much the same as London.
Owing to the time of year we did not see a lot of birds or wild flowers (other than small yellow flowers whose name I do not know), except many prickly pears which grew in abundance and were used as hedges and field boundaries! We went onto the beach (but not into the sea) several times in Gozo but only passed it in the car on Malta, so this was another part of Malta's attractions we did not get to experience.
Overall I felt that our 2 days in Malta only enabled us to scratch the surface of what was available to be seen; easily a week could be spent there. Our time On Gozo was good, although again there was more to do than we had time for.
INNTRAVEL NOTE: We tailored this trip to arrange a couple of nights on Malta for these customers following their New Year break on Gozo
Although the weather was unusually cold and breezy, it was an enjoyable break and the hotel was well positioned and provided good facilities. The local bus service was very good and enabled access to all parts of Gozo. We thoroughly enjoyed the walks, which were not too challenging and the array of restaurants close to the hotel enabled us to have a number of good options for dinner. It is a shame that we did not have a little more time to fully explore Gozo.