Our guide to make the most of your day in Gozo’s capital Victoria
Most visitors to Gozo will pass through the island’s capital city at some point, after all, “all roads lead to Victoria” as we like to say on Gozo. You may also hear Gozitans refer to the capital as Rabat – which was the name of the town before it was renamed Victoria and became a city in 1887 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
But don’t just pass through – we strongly recommend that if you’re booking a holiday on Gozo and planning your itinerary, then a day in our capital city should be on your list of things to do.
For centuries, the town has been the bustling heart of Gozo and is still the island’s cultural and commercial hub. There’s so much to explore here – from taking in the amazing views from the walls of the old Citadel, to watching lace being handmade in one of the ancient streets.
This blog comprises a suggested itinerary for exploring Victoria in one day, including some of our favourite places to eat and drink. Of course, this is just a taster – you should spend at least a day in Victoria at the beginning of your holiday on Gozo and can always come back for more later.
- Breakfast like a local
The best way to start your day in Gozo’s capital is to head to Independence Square (It-Tokk) to get an early breakfast.
You can get to Victoria by bus from most villages on Gozo. If you’ve hired a car for your Gozo Holiday, then you’ll find Victoria’s main car park just off Republic Street, near to the bus terminus. Other parking options can be found in St George’s Square, Savina Square, St Francis Square, and St Augustine Square.
The bars, bakeries and cafés surrounding Independence Square open from about 6am. So, why not breakfast like a local with a cup of coffee and a delicious pastizzi, filled with peas, local goat’s cheese, or even Nutella?
It-Tokk Cafe has a first floor terrace with a great view of Independence Square. And we can also recommend Jubilee Cafe in the same square.
And don’t be in a hurry. Sit back and take in the unique architecture of the buildings surrounding the square and indulge in a bit of people watching.
- Explore Victoria’s old winding alleyways
After breakfast, you can wander around the open-air market, which is held every day here, and explore the maze of ancient alleyways surrounding the square. The buildings in this old part of Victoria are made of a honey-coloured local stone and feature colourful enclosed balconies, elaborate door knockers, and distinctive niches housing various saints. It always pays to look up while you’re wandering around Victoria!
Look out for St George’s Square which is dominated by the magnificent 17th century St George’s Basilica. The Basilica is worth a visit to admire it’s spectacular architecture, impressive marble interior, and paintings. If you’re lucky enough to visit Victoria during the second week of July, you’ll be able to witness the festa of St George here.
If you’ve still got some energy left, then there are plenty of interesting, winding old streets to explore between Palm street and Savina Square. Here, in the old city you’ll find small shops where you can watch local artisans at work creating jewellery, stained glass, and traditional hand-made lace.
- Lunch with a view
After all that wandering around you’ll need to find somewhere for lunch. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in this old part of Victoria to tempt you – such as Patrick’s Lounge and Restaurant, Brookies, and Maldonado Bistro.
For a special experience, and if the weather is nice, we recommend you walk up to the Citadel and take your lunch with a great view from the rooftop terrace of Ta’ Rikardu restaurant. You can sample some wonderful Gozitan dishes, including rabbit, goat, and ravjul – Gozitan ravioli. Or simply share a delicious platter of local handmade cheese (made by restaurant owner Rikardu, himself), bread, tomatoes, capers and olives, washed down with Gozitan wine or beer.
- Circle the Citadel walls for panoramic views of Gozo
The Citadel, also known as the Cittadella, is a small fortified city located on the highest point at the centre of Gozo’s capital, Victoria. The impressive bastion walls date back to the early 17th century, the time of the Knights of Malta and you can walk along these ramparts to get breathtaking panoramic views of Gozo. On a clear day you may even be able to see Malta.
We suggest you visit The Citadel Visitor’s Centre first to orient yourselves and watch the unique 360° video which provides a fascinating introduction to The Citadel. The site itself has a long and ancient history, with archaeological evidence for Bronze Age, Phoenician, and Roman settlements.
Then you can decide which attractions you’d like to visit. The Citadel is home to Gozo Cathedral and a number of interesting museums, including the Archaeology Museum, The Old Prison, The Museum of Folklore, Gozo Nature Museum, and some WW2 Shelters. More information on what to see can be found on our website.
You can purchase a Discover Gozo ticket (including a family ticket) which gives access to a combination of different attractions, including the museums at The Citadel. Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise these tickets for you in advance.
We’d also recommend simply soaking up the atmosphere of this special place by exploring the ancient Citadel streets.
If you’re interested in traditional crafts then you might want to visit Bastion Lace Shop on Bieb I-Mdina Street in the Citadel. Here you may watch Maria Mizzi work with 50 bobbins at a time creating traditional lace in the old, painstaking way and perhaps purchase some unique souvenirs of your holiday on Gozo.
- Enjoy a late afternoon refreshment break
After an action-packed day taking in the sights of Victoria and The Citadel you’ll deserve a break. So, why not head back to the main part of the city, grab a cold drink or an ice-cream and find a shady bench to sit on in the Villa Rundle Gardens, at the bottom of Rundle Street?
- Pick up some ingredients for supper
At this point your thoughts are likely to turn to having a relaxing evening. Why not pick up some fresh, locally grown Gozitan produce and wine at the Arcadia Supermarket, which has a good delicatessen and fresh fish counter? There are also plenty of grocery outlets on Independence Square.
Then head back to your Baron Holiday Homes rental property for a refreshing dip in the swimming pool and a tasty supper!
Ask us for help
Baron Holiday Homes is happy to organise car hire, tours of Gozo, and special activities for our guests. Just get in touch and we’ll tell you all you need to know about what’s available.