Although our transfer from Malta Airport to Gozo takes less than an hour, it packs in enough culture to keep you curious for a lifetime. As you gaze out of the window in serenity and comfort, keep a particularly close eye out for these gems. And why not ask your driver to unravel even more fascinating stories?
Founded in the eighth century BC by wandering Phoenician sailors, this beautifully-preserved walled city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Successive waves of settlers have left traces of their civilization behind them, creating a dazzling kaleidoscope of cultures. It may also be familiar to some travellers from its appearance on HBO’s Game of Thrones – imagine a relic of Westeros on the road from Malta Airport to Gozo!
A Colourful Cathedral
According to legend, Mdina welcomed St. Paul when he was shipwrecked off Malta in 60 AD, and the cathedral is dedicated to the Apostle as a result. Its pink marble domes rise like upturned flowers over the tombs of the bishops below, expressing the epitome of the Baroque. The fine collection of paintings rewards a calm, contemplative visit, with an exquisite Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary marking a definitive highlight.
A relic of its Arabic heritage, the streets of the old city twist and turn in bewildering configurations, evoking the ancient souks of Marrakesh. The most enriching way to visit is simply to plunge in, have a wander and see what you can find! Artisan handicrafts and local delicacies hide behind every corner.
Breathtaking Views from Bastion Square
Perched on the colossal walls of the ancient citadel, Bastion Square offers unparalleled views over the surrounding countryside. The opal blue of the Mediterranean shimmers on the horizon, enfolding a mosaic landscape of emerald and ochre. Having been immersed in this painterly terrain on your drive from Malta Airport to Gozo, a visit to this eagle-eyed Square is a fantastic way to get your bearings, experiencing the beauty from above.
Recommended Visit Time: Although it’s a small city, a full-day trip is your best bet if you want to soak up the true spirit of this unique place.
As the principal harbour on Gozo, Mġarr has been witness to the comings-and-goings of history for over three centuries. On a fresh, breezy morning, why not take a quick hike to the awe-inspiring viewpoint above the harbour?
Suitably exercised, you can then enjoy lunch at Tmun Mġarr, renowned as the best restaurant on the whole island. This family-run affair manages to capture that idyllic island atmosphere, with a terrace open to the warmth of the sun, the sound of the sea and the bustle of the harbour. (Not to mention the mouth-wateringly delicious seafood!)
After lunch, visit the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes for a fascinating piece of Maltese history. Its story began in the 1920s, but work was put on hold due to financial setbacks and it wasn’t completed until the 1970s. Architecture-buffs continue to seek out its neo-Gothic eccentricities.
Recommended Visit Time: A half- or full-day trip, depending on how many of the sites you want to absorb. If energy levels start to flag, you can always sit at the harbour and watch the boats go by!
On the opposite end of the route from Malta to Gozo, Ċirkewwa is the place to go if you’re an avid scuba diver, with a dive in the sparkling depths of the Mediterranean creating a pleasing contrast to the lofty heights of Mġarr and Mdina. Here are just some of the treasures awaiting discovery:
- A submerged British-built tugboat
- A wrecked East German minesweeper
- A beatific, submarine statue of the Madonna
- Towering cliffs, dotted with a network of tunnels and caves
- A majestic natural arch plummeting nearly 30m to the seafloor
Recommended Visit Time: Depending on your diving passion and practice, anywhere from half to a full day will be plenty.
Just when you start to think that the tiny islands of Malta have given up all their secrets, you discover the historic riches of Xewkija. This thorny-sounding name comes from the word for ‘thistles’ in Arabic and Maltese, but the village is not spiky at all! Instead, it’s a beautiful old settlement, flanked by fertile lands and featuring the largest church in Gozo, The Rotunda.
Elsewhere in the village, there are tantalising flashes of history to engage and enthral the eye. Keep a look out for an engraved marble slab from the early twelfth century, recording the tragic death of a young Arabic girl overlaid on a set of pagan iconography. The combination of history and prehistory, reality and legend and paganism and religion epitomises the fascinating richness of Malta as a whole.
Recommended Visit Time: A half-day should be enough to explore the village, though the surrounding countryside also holds several delights, including creeks and caverns dripping with stalactites.
From Malta Airport to Gozo
As a small island country, one of the fabulous things about Malta is that its must-see sites are in close proximity to one another. In consequence, something as simple as the journey from airport to hotel moves through millennia of history and a tapestry of cultures. Frequently overlooked in favour of its more famous Mediterranean neighbours, Malta is a truly special holiday destination.
About Shuttle Direct
Shuttle Direct is Europe and North Africa’s chief provider of airport transfer services. It provides fast, comfortable and reliable transfers from Malta Airport to Gozo, ensuring that you get to your destination on time.
NB. This route guide has been compiled as an aid to visiting the region. Your airport transfer service from Malta Airport to Gozo does not include stops to these destinations.