Victoria – Gozo's capital
You'll see Gozo's capital city named as Victoria on maps and in guide books but it’s pretty much universally known as Rabat by the locals. Ir-Rabat is Arabic for 'suburb' and is explained by the fact that the town developed around the medieval Citadel.
The town was made a city and renamed Victoria in 1887 (when Malta was under British rule) to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.
Victoria offers a range of historical and cultural places of interest – the most obvious being the Citadel, which houses many fascinating museums and affords a breathtaking panoramic view of Gozo from its fortress walls.
Our blog post Our Guide To Make The Most Of A Day in Victoria provides a suggested itinerary.
Here are some of the things to see in Gozo’s capital:
If you're planning to go sightseeing in Victoria, a good place to start is the city's main square, Pjazza Indipendenza, also known as It-Tokk.
You'll find an open market here in the mornings and there are plenty of open-air cafes lining the square where you can rest and indulge in a spot of people watching. You'll also find the War Memorial here, which commemorates Gozitans who died in WW2.
St. George's Basilica
Just off It-Tokk, and surrounded by a maze of charming narrow alley ways, you'll find the magnificent Baroque church of St George Martyr, a 17th century church built on a site dating back to the 12th century.
The church is often called the Marble Basilica as it is completely faced in marble, and also the 'Golden Church,' due to its beautiful interior. Art lovers will enjoy the many paintings in the church, the ceiling and dome.
If you're on holiday in Gozo during early summer, then you must visit the annual Festa of St. George, which kicks off after the second Sunday of July.
This festa takes place over several days and includes religious services as well as lots of cultural activities, entertainment and food.
Heart of Gozo, Il-Hagar Museum
Found next to the Basilica of St. George, the 'Heart of Gozo' Museum describes the rich history of Gozo’s community within a religious context. This purpose-designed museum features audio documentaries providing fascinating insights into Gozo's past.
Opening times: Fully air-conditioned and with wheelchair access, the museum is open every day from 9.00am to 5.00pm.
Our Guide To Make The Most Of A Day in Victoria provides a suggested itinerary. Here are some of the things to see in Gozo’s capital:
Dwerja Bay, on Gozo’s west coast, is home to two of the island’s natural wonders – The Blue Hole and the Inland Sea.
Sadly, The Azure Window, the most iconic and spectacular natural feature of this area, collapsed into the sea on 8 March 2017 during stormy seas. It was inevitable that this huge yet fragile limestone arch would eventually succumb to the constant erosion of the pounding sea but its loss is keenly felt by the people of Gozo as well as by visitors to the island.
The Azure Window was Gozo's most dramatic and most photographed natural feature and famously appeared as the backdrop to the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen to Khal Drogo in the fantasy TV drama Game of Thrones.
To pay tribute to this iconic and special place, we ran a photo contest on our Facebook page asking for people to submit their favourite shots of the Azure Window. This beautiful and dramatic shot taken by Philip Knight was the winner:
Dwerja Bay is very popular with scuba divers and the Blue Hole and Inland Sea provide fabulous diving experiences. More information on scuba diving in Gozo’s can be found in our blog post “Plunge Into Gozo’s Gorgeous Sea”. And we can organise diving activities for you.
But you don’t necessarily have to go underwater to enjoy Gozo’s beautiful, clear turquoise waters – there are good walking paths along the coast and you can also get a different perspective by exploring the coastline here in a boat.
We can help organise guided walking tours and boat trips for you with our trusted local partners. See also our blog post See “Gozo’s Coastline From The Deck Of A Boat” for more information on boat trips.
Xwejni Salt Pans
The Xwejni Salt Pans on Gozo’s northern coast just outside the resort of Marsalforn are well worth a visit. The shallow pans, which stretch along 3 km of the coast, were hewn out of the coastal rock around 350 years ago when salt was used as a bartering currency in trade.
Sea salt is still harvested here in the traditional manner by a few local families. Salt forms by evaporating sea water in the shallow pans. If you're lucky, you might visit on a day when the salt is being collected. Once harvested, it’s stored in caves that have been carved into the coastal limestone.
The result is a totally organic and pure sea salt which is used to flavour our wonderful Gozitan cuisine. You can purchase Gozitan sea salt to take home as a souvenir.
Suggestions on other things to do and see in this area can be found in our blog post Discover The Delights of Gozo’s North Coast.
Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village
Located at the northern end of Gozo in the village of Għarb, you'll find the Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village.
Gozo has a long tradition of cottage industries and here you can watch local artisans and craftsmen in their workshops making hand-blown glassware, ceramic pottery, lace, silver filigree jewellery and much more.
There is a cafe and restaurant here and many outlets selling a wide range of locally-made artisan crafts so you can pick up some great souvenirs of Gozo here to take home.
Opening times: The Ta' Dbiegi Crafts Village is open Monday to Saturday between 9.30am and 5.00pm. Suitable for children.
Visiting undergroud caves is not only a great way to escape the heat of a Gozo summer day but you'll also get to see some amazing stalactites, stalagmites and other strange cave formations.
You'll find Xerri's Grotto and Ninu's Cave in the village of Xagħra beneath two private residences.
Ninu's Cave was first discovered in 1888.
Opening times: The cave is open daily between 8.30am and 6.00pm. Tickets cost from €1 (one euro).
Xerri's Grotto was discovered in 1923 when a well was being dug not far from Ninu's Cave. If you visit, get the kids to try to spot the strange formations that resemble a tortoise, a vulture, and even elephant ears.
Opening times: From June to August the grotto is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00am to 6.00pm and from September to May it’s open Monday to Saturday 10.00am – 4.30pm. Entrance is free for children and €2.50 for adults.
Towers, windmills and lighthouses
There are four coastal watchtowers in Gozo that survive from the times of the Knights of Malta in the 17th century – Dwerja Tower, Xlendi Tower, Mġarr ix-Xini Tower and Isopu Tower.
The Ta’ Kola Windmill in Xaghra, dates from 1725 and is now a museum. It is the last windmill to survive on Gozo – there were 12 windmills on the island at one time.
Opening times: It is open daily from 9.00am to 5.00pm. It is closed on on 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January & Good Friday, free for children under 5. You can visit the Ta' Kola Windmill on a Heritage Malta multi-site ticket.
The Ta' Gurdan Lighthouse is one of two working lighthouses on Gozo. It overlooks the village of Għasri in the north of the island. There's quite a steep walk up to the lighthouse but it's worth it for the views.
Even better, you might get a look inside the lighthouse if the keeper is there. The other lighthouse is found near the village of Għarb.