Gozo means joy and a visit to this relaxed little sister island of Malta should bring exactly that.
Gozo is just a few steps away from Malta
Though separated from mainland Malta by a mere 5km stretch of sea (25 minutes by ferry) Gozo is distinctly different. The Island is a third the size of Malta, more rural and much more tranquil. Gozo is known for its picturesque scenery, pristine coastline and untouched country trails. Baroque churches rise from the heart of small villages, and traditional farmhouses dot the rural landscape. Its culture and way of life are rooted in tradition and yet open to the present.
Developed just enough but not too much, Gozo is a masterpiece wrought by nature and shaped by 7000 years of culture. Myth and reality meet here on what is believed to have been the Isle of Calypso in Homer’s Odyssey, where the sea nymph held Odysseus (Ulysses) in her thrall for seven years.
The people of Gozo, numbering at 31,592, have nurtured Calypso’s Island into the beautiful place we know today. Based on the values of sustainability and the need to protect the natural environment, the Government of Malta has embarked on an ambitious yet achievable vision of Gozo as an eco-island.
Gozo protects its environment
The Eco-Gozo project, with a defined strategy to be implemented until 2020, aims to encourage development in ways that protect the environment and social cohesion and retain Gozo’s distinct cultural identity. Speciifc programmes include new ways of collecting and preserving rainwater in this relatively dry environment, schemes for keeping Gozo clean on land and at sea, and support for the drive towards renewable energy and energy-saving infrastructure.
Progress cannot be stopped, nor should it be, but it can be directed in ways that keep Gozo authentic and protect what is best. The emphasis is not on ‘not doing’ but on ‘doing well’. The Eco-Gozo project exists to enhance the experience of all Gozo’s people – residents and visitors. It aims for sustainable economic development, the creation of quality jobs and expansion into low-impact areas of tourism such as health tourism, sport tourism, cultural tourism and eco- and agri-tourism.
Visitors may encounter farmers working their land, and meet ‘cottage’ entrepreneurs turning traditional activities into small businesses. Life on Gozo is tranquil and soft-paced and everyone has time for a chat. The pace picks up a little in the Capital, ir-Rabat which has all the amenities of a modern town, but even here Gozo is relaxed. The island brings great peace but is no barrier to connectivity; there is excellent internet access across the island, with free WIFI in the villages main squares.
Why Gozo should be your number one destination
Gozo’s attractions stretch well beyond the towns, villages and countryside. Gozo is one of Europe’s top diving destinations with a remarkable range of shore as well as boat dives – all within easy reach of each other. Gozo has some world-class dive-sites. As well as awe-inspiring natural underwater landscapes, Gozo has several sites where vessels have been scuttled creating interesting wrecks for divers to explore and new breeding grounds for marine life. Infrastructure servicing the diving industry has been amply developed on the island, which also boasts top medical services in this regard – including decompression facilities at the island’s hospital. Testimonials from divers who keep coming back to the island, stress the holistic experience which only Gozo can offer.
There is already so much for the visitor to discover: from peaceful, well-restored farmhouses in picturesque villages to five-star luxury hotels; close encounters with nature on land and sea to chats with friendly locals; breathtaking dive sites to mouth watering Mediterranean cuisine, and always the island’s remarkable history and archaeology.
Gozo’s rich history
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Ġgantija Temples includes some of the oldest sophisticated stone buildings on earth dating back over 5500 years. And the fortified town of the Citadel that towers over ir-Rabat (Victoria), combines Medieval layout with the buildings of the Knights of St John on a site inhabited since the Bronze Age.
There is something for everyone on the sun-drenched, warm-hearted eco-island of Gozo. If Odysseus arrived today, he would find it even harder to leave.