I recently visited Gozo to celebrate my thirtieth birthday. It was completely spontaneous so I didn’t even know what was out there! UK winter weather is not inspiring for outdoor walks so I found myself looking up hiking routes in Gozo. I needed to make the most of that sun, and a hike was the perfect way to do so. Feeling adventurous, I decided to create my own route – this is one half of it, focused on the north east of the island.
Getting To Gozo
If you’re not staying in Gozo then you’ll most likely be travelling from the island of Malta. Whilst it can seem daunting I actually found it pretty easy! As I was staying in Sliema my journey was longer than others might be, but this was fine and a lovely way to see more of Malta before my trek. I ended up taking a bus to Cirkewwa, one of the ferry locations, and then getting said ferry across to Gozo.
Once in Gozo I decided to get the bus from Mgarr ferry terminal to the start of my trek point, a fairly remote location just north of Nadur. This was also surprisingly easy, although I recommend having Google Maps to hand just in case! Buses are frequent from Mgarr and, because I’d planned my route the night before, I felt confident knowing where I was going. Thankfully everything was also in English, and people are on board to help if needed.
My first planned destination for my hiking routes in Gozo was Tal-Mixta Cave. I chose this as it is one of the island’s hidden gems – a stunning coastal viewpoint that’s completely off the beaten track. It is only accessible on foot, either from the main road out of Nadar or Ramla Bay which sits below. I opted for the former as I wanted to see Ramla Bay in its stunning entirety before setting foot there.
The majority of the walk is on fairly rural roads – I was walking for around twenty minutes yet only witnessed two other cars. There was something so serene about the walk – it was completely quiet and still with just the right amount of warmth from the sun. Lots of cactus plants were en route so I also treated myself to a foraged prickly pear, which I’ve never done before!
There were also some nice little points of interest along the way, including Nadur Cemetery and many lovely views of the island. My favourite bit was how many dogs I encountered along the way, who would saunter up to me from their homes looking for affection.
Eventually the road became more of a lane and appeared to be leading towards a house – it looks like it’s completely the wrong way, but it’s actually where you want to go! Even though there are several signs present it is still quite confusing and feels like you’re trespassing, so I asked the owner of the house who happened to be outside and he did indeed confirm that I was going the right way. The entrance to the cave also isn’t obvious at all -an unassuming descent that’s pretty much hidden until you’re standing right in front of it. I liked this though – it felt raw, and so unlike your standard tourist attraction.
The best bit was, of course, the views! I was quite amazed, and the cave is big enough to get a couple of really good angles. The beach is the main focus, however you can also see the cliffs in the background and various architectural points of interest. There appeared to be manmade structures built into the walls of the cave – I don’t know what these are, so worth visiting to work it out for yourself!
The quickest way to get from Tal-Mixta Cave to Ramla Bay is to follow a path straight down from the viewpoint. A word of warning – it’s very steep! I recommend this route only to hikers who feel confident on unstable, sloping terrain with little to hold onto. The path itself is clear, however it’s worth taking your time to avoid any injuries. I’d also recommend doing this route with someone so there is someone to help if things go awry… Unlike me, of course, who went on my own when no one else was present – thankfully no mishaps! If you aren’t confident then you can backtrack onto the main road and make your way down from there.
The beach itself is lovely, with orange sands and a deep blue sea. It’s fairly rural, with not much about, though you can access toilets, showers, and a restaurant. There is lots to explore and look at, from natural rock formations to a statue of the Virgin Mary. When I visited there just happened to be hundreds of purple jellyfish (possibly pelagia noctiluca) washed up which made for an interesting sight. In the summer months it is much busier, however there is still lots of space for visitors.
Abandoned Ulysses Lodge
Another hidden gem I just had to visit was the abandoned Ulysses Lodge. Operational in the 1980s as a hotel and wedding venue, the building eventually closed and fell into disrepair. Being a fan of urbex, or urban exploring, I just had to check it out! The building is easy to get to from Ramla Bay, with just a short walk uphill. It’s huge so obvious from quite a distance. Once up there you can view it from afar or, if you’re brave enough, go inside.
There are no barriers, and it’s clearly had lots of visitors from the graffiti scrawled all over the room. Most of this is unimpressive, however there are several larger pieces that are quite nice to look at. The building is empty now, save for a lot of rubble and remains of internal structures.
The views are what make the building worth visiting even if you’re not into abandoned locations. If you take the stairs to the very top you can get a stunning rooftop view of Ramla Bay – the very opposite of the view you got from Tal-Mixta Cave! I spent quite some time up here soaking it all in as it truly is stunning. Given how quiet it is, it’s actually a lovely place to just hang out. If you’re visiting the lodge then I highly recommend bringing a good camera to capture those views.
After Ulysses Lodge I decided to walk up to ix-Xagħra. The initial plan was to get the bus, however this would have involved walking all the way back down to Ramla Bay and then further up the road. This is still the preferable option for those that can’t walk so far, however walking to ix-Xagħra is not that bad – it took me around half an hour. Like my walk to Tal-Mixta Cave, it was serene and peaceful.
Ix-Xagħra contains quite a few points of interest so it well worth visiting. As a rest stop it contains a whole host of different restaurants. It was impossible to locate vegan options so bring a picnic if you don’t want to compromise. However, the food is mostly traditional and gives an experience of Maltese culture.
I visited two main points of interest whilst there – the Temples of Ggantija, which are one of the oldest known manmade structures on the planet, and Ta’Kola Windmill, a functioning windmill from the 1700s that is included in the Ggantija entry ticket. The temples were actually my main reason for travelling to Malta, as I love ancient history. I essentially built my planned hiking routes in Gozo around them! The museum was informative and fascinating, and I was absolutely in awe of the actual temples. To stand with something so old was just incredible. I also got to witness some historical graffiti, too!
Whilst in ix-Xagħra you can also visit the The Museum of Toys and Ninu’s Cave. Both of these were unfortunately closed when I visited but I’d like to go back to see them. Ninu’s Cave is especially interesting as it is an underground cave, and another piece of Gozo’s ancient history. I ended this particular trek with the Temples of Ggantija and went on to complete a different trek to the south west of the island, but there are plenty of options, whether you stay in ix-Xagħra, make your way down to Gozo’s capital, Victoria, or do what I did and explore further afield.
What You Need To Know
I completed these hiking routes in Gozo during their off season, when it was mild in weather – I imagine that it could play out differently in other circumstances. Gozo can get seriously busy in the holiday season, so the colder months are your best if you want a quiet time. Weather is generally mild at this time of year but can be windy/stormy so check before you go. I have heard that Tal-Mixta Cave is considerably more arduous in high winds! I also feel like I should mention again that parts of the walk are difficult. There are likely easier hiking routes in Gozo, but this is well worth it if you are a confident walker. This one takes about half a day in total.
As with all treks, I recommend taking snacks and plenty of water. Sunscreen is also a good idea, even in winter. Good quality hiking shoes are a must, and Google Maps will be highly useful. You can buy bus tickets from the driver – these are €2 and last for two hours. There are also other options that may work out cheaper on Malta Public Transport. Ferry tickets are bought on the return journey rather than outward, but apart from this work similarly to UK ferries. You can visit from either Valetta via the Fast Ferry, or Cirkewwa like I did. I’d recommend Cirkewwa as it operates later, but Valetta works great for shorter trips.
This was the most exciting trek I’ve done in a while. This is partly because it is one of two hiking routes in Gozo that I came up with myself, but also because it contained so much to see. The second trek I devised was also great, but that’s for another post! This was the perfect way to explore Gozo during the off-season and only made me want to go again.
What part of this route would you like to see most? Comment below! And don’t forget to like and pin – you can check out some of my other favourite trekking routes here: