If you enjoy cycling, Gozo is a great destination to discover on a mountain bike. The hilly structure of the island provides a fun and varied ride and the scenic views, the fresh air and the tranquillity that Gozo offers will ensure that you have an enjoyable experience.
Route 1: Rabat – Ta’ Pinu – Żebbuġ – Marsalforn – Rabat
Start off from Rabat (Victoria) the hub of the island, and pedal off to the Ta’ Pinu shrine. This is an easy stretch of road on an island that is known as the island of the three hills. As you move along relish the view of the Aqueducts, and the rolling countryside on both sides. You will know that you’re closer to your destination as soon as you notice a string of niches along the way that depict a series of religious mosaics. Once you are in this area, you can appreciate the view leading up to the far-thrown chapel of San Dimitri, up to the horizon. Once you’re at Ta’ Pinu, you can stop for a small break and visit the shrine, a masterpiece of limestone sculpture and the result of laborious Gozo craftsmen. Onwards, on route to the small village of Għasri, you cannot fail to spot the Ta’ Ġurdan lighthouse. From Għasri, you can pedal up the slope to Żebbuġ. Enjoy the tranquillity of this northernmost village that offers breathtaking views from its plateaux. From here the route works its way down to Xwejni. If you happen to tackle this route on a windy day be prepared for this can be a wind-swept descent. As you tackle the winding back road that from Żebbug leads to Xwejni, the whole view of Marsalforn engulfs you. You will end up at the cove of Xwejni, famous for the salt pans and of course the sea salt! You can take a detour and cycle placidly along the flat stretch that hugs the coast along the saltpans or you can decide to lengthen your route by cycling as far as Wied il-Għasri or spectacular Wied il-Mielaħ. Back on track to Marsalforn, you will meander through the rocky bay of Qbajjar, and get a glimpse of the watchtower. Then once in Marsalforn, you can stop for food and drink, explore the bay and pedal up to Għar Qawqla. From here you can then take the road to Rabat. This route takes you through one of the most fertile Gozitan valleys. Numerous hillocks dot the landscape, the most famous of which, is the Salvatur Hill, characterised by a huge statue of Christ the Saviour.
Route 2: Mġarr – Għajnsielem – Xewkija – Nadur – Qala – Mġarr
Another scenic route to take is the one that starts off from Mġarr and goes through the village of Għajnsielem. Pedal to the village centre and stop for a little while to admire the architectural style and splendour of the Gothic-Lombard style church with its sharp steeple. As you leave the village to progress towards the village of Xewkija, you will notice a tower and the old medieval chapel of St. Cecilia. From here you can take a small detour and pedal through the back road that skirts the edges of the valley of Mġarr ix-Xini. It’s a relatively deserted route and one can even opt to take a detour and proceed to Mġarr ix-Xini cove before exploring the village of Xewkija. To get there you will need to tackle the steep descent to the cove and, needless to say, coming back up can be rather challenging. Back in Xewkija, you can visit the Rotunda church and even take the trip up to the church’s rooftop for a great view. Leaving the Xewkija village behind and pedalling towards the hilltop village of Nadur you will cycle past by typical Gozitan countryside. Once in Nadur, you can stop and grab a Gozitan ftira from one of the traditional bakeries before taking another detour to the sandy beach of Ramla, the pebbly cove of Daħlet Qorrot or the rock inlet of San Blas. If you decide on the latter, the last leg of the route is very steep but once there, you will love its secluded and intimate surroundings. Back in Nadur, you can follow the road that leads to Qala and from here you can pass by the captivating sight of Comino and the channel of sea between the two islands. Another detour would involve the bay of Ħondoq ir-Rummien. From Qala, it’s a downhill ride to Mġarr. The road seems like it’s hugging the edge of the island and all the time you will have Mġarr harbour in view.
In Gozo, you can rent out bicycles from various centres and then these two routes are all yours to discover. Tackle them during a weekend break for a great autumn active getaway!