Gozo and Comino

GozoMalta’s sister Islands Gozo and Comino Offer Stark Contrasts

Many people around the world may not realize it, but there’s more to Malta than just one main island. The nation is also home to its sister island of Gozo, which means “joy” in Castilian. With a population of about 30,000 people, Gozo is the Maltese archipelago’s second-biggest island. It lies about three miles from the Maltese mainland and is separated from it by the sea.

However, for somewhere so close, Gozo is also so far away when you consider the differences between the two islands. Gozo, which is about a third of the size of the mainland, offers a simpler and more rural and relaxed way of life that’s rooted in agriculture and fishing activities.

History of Gozo

But while Gozo is now considered a safe haven, things weren’t always that way. The island was exposed to invading navies for hundreds of years because of its lack of natural defences and harbours. Sea raiders took advantage of this and the island found itself being raided on numerous occasions by Barbary corsairs and Saracens from the Middle Ages to the rule of the Knights.

The Saracens took most of the island’s population with them in 1551 and forced it into slavery. This led to Gozo being under populated for hundreds of years until the Knights arrived and Victoria’s medieval Citadel was refortified.

The Gozitans

The island’s inhabitants, known as Gozitans, have a distinct identity and character about them as well as different accents, dialect, and lifestyles. They’re known as friendly people who’ll go out of their way to help strangers, making crime almost non-existent. The island’s festivals and carnivals also differ from Malta as they’re celebrated with a darker sense of humour.

The tranquillity of Gozo’s villages is one of the island’s main attractions along with its historical sites. The villages offer peace and quiet and are excellent places to enjoy a slower pace of life. The local bars open early and close late to meet the needs of villagers and visitors.

Visit Gozo

The heart of Gozo is the town of Victoria, which offers the excitement of shops and markets along with a relaxed way of life. It’s an ideal place to soak in the culture and traditions of Gozitans, such as horse racing on festa day and the opera.

You’ll find plenty of places to dine on the island where you can try popular local dishes and fresh seafood along with continental, Indian, and Chinese cuisine. Some of the most popular restaurants can be found in Mgarr, Rabat, Xlendi, and Marsalforn.

There are several types of accommodation to choose from on Gozo. This includes renting local village farmhouses or villas as well as self-catering apartments or deluxe hotels with excellent views of the sea. The best way to visit Gozo is on the Malta-Gozo Ferry which departs all through the day.

Explore Comino

Between Gozo and Malta, you’ll also find the small and charming island of Comino. The island’s Blue Lagoon features crystal-clear turquoise waters making it a haven for swimmers, scuba divers, snorkelers, windsurfers, and hikers. It’s an excellent spot for a day trip at any time of the year and its car-free streets offer a healthy and relaxed lifestyle.

If you’d like to take the time to explore the natural beauty of Comino, there’s a hotel to stay at with the rest of the island being virtually uninhabited. However, Comino used to be an important island when the Knights arrived in 1530 as it was used for hunting hares and wild boars and was set up as a defence post against invading Ottoman Turks.