Discovering Gozo with IELS

Morning walk along the Gozitan coast

For lovers of discovering new places on foot, a morning walk from Mgarr along the coast to Hondoq ir-Rummien beach provides glorious views of Comino island as the sun rises over Qala in the East. For students staying at the Grand, there is a secret path just opposite the hotel which leads you through the fields straight down to the harbour while those sleeping at the Migiarro should take a shortcut through ‘Bethlehem’ and surprise Blanca, Ghajnsielem’s resident white donkey, with an early morning carrot.

Immaculate Conception Chapel

In less than an hour you can be swimming and relaxing on the small, sandy/pebble beach before taking the winding, uphill road towards Qala itself. At the top of the hill, catch your breath at the Immaculate Conception chapel and its small cemetery with intricately carved family graves traditionally adorned with candles, flowers and family portraits.

Late Breakfast at Zeppi's Pub

By the time you reach the centre of the village you will be ready for a coffee and perhaps a late breakfast at Zeppi’s Pub on the corner of the main square. This bar is also a popular Live Music evening venue, hosting many popular local bands, visiting musicians from abroad and world-music, Maltese act Tribali.

Segway Tours in Gozo

If walking is less appealing, or it’s just too hot, the Segway is another fab way to sightsee without leaving a carbon footprint; a good style for an island aiming to become an eco-island by 2020. Segway tours are also available on Comino - useful to remember as an alternative to a boat trip around the island when the weather is a too windy and a more active excursion than simply lazing on the beach!

Salt Pans in Marsalforn

The trick to using a Segway is in the core and the hips – a movement which takes only minutes to master but which sadly won’t help you lose weight in the way other core-based activities promise! It is however heaps of fun and once you have learnt how, you can work up quite a speed and attract many admiring glances & waves from the locals as you whizz past. Personally, I love the tour of the salt-pans in Marsalforn – always an excellent spot for photos. This also takes you off-road and up to Zebbug, the highest village on Gozo where you arrive in time to drink a glass of Cisk lager and watch the sun set behind the Giordan lighthouse from the terrace at Francesco’s, a popular, down-to-earth, no frills pizza restaurant.

Malta Public Transport in Gozo

Of course there is also the bus as a low cost, efficient transport option. Buses leave regularly from just outside the school and from there you can travel all around the island – a single journey is €1.50 or €2.00 in high season while a weekly ticket can be purchased for just €21 (FYI this ticket can now by purchased from The Band Club in Ghajnsielem, 3 mins walk from IELS Gozo). Arriving at the bus terminus usually makes me think of ice-cream! My favourite is coffee & coconut from Bon Bon which is handily situated just across the road, to the right, from the bus terminal in Victoria.

Bowling at Lucky Jacks

In the time it takes you to finish your ice-cream you can be at the entrance to our recently restored Citadel with its cathedral, museums and spectacular views – first fortified in the Bronze Age, it’s here you can get a taste of Gozo’s past including its time under the Knights. Since the restoration, it looks particularly stunning lit-up at night – worth remembering on an evening out for a drink before practising your English skills with fellow students at the Citadel cinema or engaging in some competitive bowling at Lucky Jacks.

Traditional Gozitan Tailor

Other reasons for visits to the city-centre, apart from exploring the main shopping centres, include browsing in local artisan shops looking for unique gifts like silver jewellery from Prickly Pear or getting a hair cut and colour at Michele’s for a really reasonable price or indulging in massage & beauty therapies at Maluka massage. These streets are rich in atmosphere and if you are lucky you may spot one of its oldest residents, a tailor who has been working in his shop for over 50 years.

Gozo Fireworks

You will be surprised to discover that our capital city has two opera houses. Two; the Astra and Aurora. Fiercely competitive, enthusiastic and situated in the same street, both regularly put on shows during October. Rivalry is big during festa season too when streets are festooned with decorations, statues of patron saints paraded through the streets and firework displays light up the skies.

Entrance to Lunzjata Valley

Never fear, just a few minutes walk out of Victoria in the direction of Kercem is a quiet, hidden valley called Lunzjata - almost always green, this valley was used for hunting during the time of the knights but is now a more tranquil place with a natural spring, olive & pomegranate trees, a charming chapel and in Spring its abuzz with the sound of super busy bees.

Wied il-Mielah Window (Azure Alternative)

This winter our island suffered a damaging blow as a storm took down our sensational Azure Window. It is sorely missed although the area in which is was situated is still an extraordinarily beautiful destination for snorkellers, divers & day trippers with its inland sea and majestic fungus rock. There is however another window on Gozo which used to receive many fewer visitors - it was a number of years of living here before I discovered it. All I can say is that we are looking forward to showing you when you make your visit here - come soon!