No visit to Malta is complete without a trip to Gozo, the smaller island just northwards of Malta. In particular, to the Azure Window. This was the destination for our second road trip of the holiday. It’s not a long journey, which was just as well given that it was midday before we managed to leave the hotel. The main attraction on Gozo is the Azure Window near Dwejra Bay. A natural limestone arch that was formed when two sea caves collapsed. It is slowly disintegrating and may not be around in another few years. Fans of Game of Thrones may recognise it as the setting for Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding.
It’s a short journey from Qawra up to Cirkewwa where you can regularly catch a ferry across to Mgar ix ini on Gozo. You simply line up to wait in lane for the next ferry to pull up, and then are guided aboard. No tickets required for the trip out to Gozo. You just pay when you return again. Once your car is stowed below, you climb up to the deck where you can get food or drink while the ferry makes the short trip across the sea, passing by Comino Island on the way. It was bright and sunny, but quite windy on the day we travelled – not an ideal day for those who suffer from motion sickness.
We followed the lines of cars back off the ferry and up the road heading north across the island. It didn’t take long to traverse, despite some road work diversions that took us along the steeper streets of the capital Victoria. By the time we reached San Lawrenze though, the Rascal’s energy levels were flagging. As our destination came into view and we took the car back down towards sea level, his eyes were closing and his head was drooping. Minutes later he was out for the count, just as we pulled up to the car park. Typical.
What had been a bright and blustery day until then turned to a stormy one on the northern tip of the island. There were none of the idyllic turquoise waters under clear sunny skies that you’ll be shown if you look up the Azure Window as a tourist attraction. More like dark roiling waves sending surges of spray high into the air under a grim overcast sky. A couple of sad looking vans huddled beside a small restaurant were serving a limited selection of icecream and coffee to the handfuls of tourists walking about huddled up in windproof jackets. The plus side to the less than appealing weather was that it was a small crowd of tourists to contend with. However the howling winds meant that exploration was limited to a brief ramble down to view the scenery before heading straight back to the shelter of the car.
Even in the dull weather, the limestone arch was impressive. It’s easy to see why the days are numbered for this natural monument as you watching the waves rise and batter the cliffs. It was taking quite the beating and unwary tourists were in danger of getting a good soaking if they ventured too far from shelter. We spent a bit longer taking in the scenery from the safety of the car while the Rascal dreamed on. At that point we decided that he would be more interested in food than stormy seas when he awoke. We returned back up the winding road in search of a snack in Victoria.
After parking on the main street we took a short walk up towards the castle and were delighted to stumble upon a cute Italian coffee shop serving cheese on toast and tasty ciabatta sandwiches. The Rascal was placated over being roused from his nap with his toast and a plump croissant while we finished off our lunch with decadent chocolate cake and coffee/hot chocolate.
There are plenty more places to see on Gozo, but our time was limited by having a three year old to keep active and entertained, so we headed back to catch a ferry over to Malta again. The return journey was a little calmer, and the sun had returned. The Rascal and I were able to enjoy sitting outside and spotting sea caves on the distant shores.
If you’re in Malta then a day trip to Gozo is definitely one to add to your itinerary. While the weather is less than ideal in February, you do have the advantage of not having to jostle for a position just to get a look at the Azure Window. But I can definitely see the appeal of visiting on a summery day and relaxing in warm calm waters (if you can find a bit of space amongst the crowds of sun-bathers). Clear blue skies and turquoise waters would completely change the scenery.
Overall, our holiday in Malta ticked most of the boxes for what we were looking for at that time of year. We weren’t expecting the weather to be great and there was definitely good food to be found if you went looking. We were a bit disappointed at how developed the island was and would find it far too noisy and overcrowded at a busier time of year. For that reason it wouldn’t be one of our top choices for a holiday destination compared to other European destinations. There are some lovely spots around the island to visit though.