Gozo’s noisy, confetti-sprinkled festas start flooding its towns and villages from May, continuing full-throttle well into September. But the local feasts and saints’ days aren’t the only reason to visit Gozo during the summer. From beach-hopping the island’s remotest coves to dining out on its prettiest piazzas, there are some fantastic things to do in Gozo as the temperature rises.
Crowning the tiny island is its capital, Victoria, which is marked by the solemn thrust of its centuries-old fortified town. These ancient, narrow streets offer shaded respite from Gozo’s soaring temperatures, and there are plenty of things to do. Duck into the cathedral, a 17th-century Baroque treasure whose cool, tranquil interiors and ancient décor are well-worth the small entrance fee. Refuel with a pastizzi and cold Cisk at one of Victoria’s many bars and eateries – Bellusa Café is popular among locals.
Gozo’s diminutive surface is scattered with ancient villages, each stamped with a grand old church that overshadows a broad piazza. This marks the busy heart of the village, and most locals pass through at some point during the day. Commandeer a table beneath a sunshade at one of the many cafés and restaurants lining the square, and while away an afternoon over a long lunch, watching the sleepy tides of island life drift by. A scenic option is the main square at Nadur, translated as ‘lookout’ for its views out to sea.
With its towering cliffs, rugged, rocky outcrops and secluded bays, not to mention sparkling Mediterranean waters, the Gozitan coastline is best appreciated from a boat. Eschew the notoriously popular golden stretch of Ramla Bay for the nearby tranquil shores of San Blas. A pretty cove around the headland from Ramla, it’s a challenging 15-minute descent to the beach from the village of Nadur (and less appealing post-dip ascent), which deters many landlubbers. Hug the coastline all the way round, exploring the island’s many secluded bays along the way, to Dwejra. This inland sea is accessible through a keyhole cave, and offers excellent snorkelling around its immense rock formations. It’s not far south from here to Xlendi’s immense cliff faces, filled with caves and fringed with lapis-lazuli waters that invite a cool dive from the deck.
The Feast of St George, celebrated in Victoria in mid-July, ranks high on Gozo’s unmissable things to do. Horse racing, fireworks, opera and brass bands guarantee a vivid weekend of celebrations that continue well into the night. If you miss the one in mid-July, there’s another, also dedicated to the city’s patron saint, in August, and a wealth of smaller festas across Gozo on most weekends throughout the summer. No visit to the island is complete without at least a glimpse of the infectious party atmosphere that spills out across Gozo’s balmy evenings.