My days backpacking in Malta were action packed with lots of hikes, and surely the ones I loved the most were my days Hiking in Gozo!
I hiked all over the island, on this post I’ll give you the details to hike the south of the island.
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My route was over 24Km as I did a circuit back to Mgarr where I was staying, but I’ll give you a few options and distances so you can choose!
On this hike you will pass by the popular sights of the Ta Cenc Cliffs and Sanap Cliffs. You cannot go to Gozo and not visit these places!
Where to stay in Gozo
One of the most common “mistakes” I found with a few travellers I met was that they only visited Gozo for one day and back to the main island of Malta. Huge mistake!
I recommend to stay at least 3 days so you can explore this marvellous island, the hikes are the best I found in Malta and the island is a lot less developed and with less people (at least when I visited in January)
I stayed in the area of Mgarr which is where the ferry from Malta will drop you, but there are a number of hostels spread all over the island. As Gozo is pretty small, find whatever place you like and you can walk or move by bus almost everywhere.
What to take to go hiking in Gozo
All the hikes that I did where relatively easy terrain-wise. You can make them as long as you wish though, so always consider food and water for this as you could be walking for quite a while without finding any places to buy anything.
The trails are normally well maintained, I don’t consider it necessary to go with hiking boots unless it has been raining (they’re always a good option though!). I did all my hikes in Gozo on trainers.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Whether you hike in summer or winter, take appropriate clothes and sun protection if needed. I generally had wonderful hiking conditions but on the same day it could change from windy and coldish to a bit warmer. Do not underestimate the cold in Malta if you go hiking until late in the day during the winter.
Hiking routes in the south of Gozo
Pretty much the entire coast of Gozo has a trail to follow (with some exceptions on private properties) so you can improvise your hiking day depending on where you are and how long you want to hike.
My route took me from Mgarr towards Mgarr ix-Xini, Ta Cenc Cliffs, Sanap Cliffs and Xlendi along the coast and then I returned back to Mgarr inland via Fontana, Xewkija and Nadur.
All in all it was just under 25Km for a solid day of hiking.
To pass via Nadur at the end of the hike was actually a small diversion as I went for a typical Maltese Ftira.
I highly recommend you to go on your days in Gozo to Mekren’s Bakery in Nadur, this is a 150 years old family business making pizzas, ftiras and qassatats to die for!!! they’re also incredibly cheap and top quality!
Other possible shorter/longer routes are:
-From Mgarr to Xlendi and back by bus 14Km*
-From Mgarr ix-Xini to Xlendi and back by bus 9.5Km*
-Wherever you start, from Xlendi you can continue hiking along the coast to Dwejra which is 6.5Km away, there you can take back a bus to Victoria and then to your accommodation.
From Mgarr to Xlendi it took me 3.5 hours, and that includes lots and lots of stops enjoying the incredible views. This hike can definitely be done faster if you don’t take so many pics! 🙂
Hiking the south of Gozo
To go out of Mgarr it’s good to use maps.me as this little town can be a bit of small labyrinth and this app will take you straight to the trails (which in some cases do not appear on google maps)
The route is pretty flat, but expect to find some short sections up and down in areas close to villages such as Mgarr ix-Xini.
The route is also really well marked, all over Gozo you will find red dots every now and then signalling the right way for all the hiking trails. Having said that, I also went off the beaten path in many places just to get a closer look at the cliffs.
The start of the hike from Mgarr took me mainly through some rural roads until I arrived to the small seaside village of Mgarr ix-Xini.
Once you pass the “beach” and start going up the hill on a paved road, keep an eye to the left side of the road as there will be an opening to the trail between two rock walls, with a clearly visible red dot indicating the route.
At this point is when I started enjoying the hike a lot as until reaching Mgarr ix-Xini it was all mainly going through civilised roads.
After a short stretch of trail, you will find yourself again on a paved road but just for a couple hundred meters and that’s when you will find another trail on theft side of the road.
Now it’s when you start hiking along the coast!
2Km after leaving Mgarr ix-Xini was my first jaw-dropping view of the cliffs! no words to describe this sight!
This was the point I started to fall in love with Gozo!
From this viewpoint you’re just about 2Km away from Ta Cenc Cliffs, to be honest I didn’t see much difference between them, they’re all just too beautiful and no need to name them.
If you’re interested in wild camping in Gozo, this is a good area to pitch your tent as there are sections of nice soft terrain and no-one around. As always with wild camping, just wait until late in the day to pitch your tent and above all: Leave No Trace!
Arriving to Ta Cenc Cliffs was the only place I saw other tourists, and only 4 of them! I guess that during the summer it may get a lot busier.
When you reach the Ta Cenc Cliffs you will have to leave the trail by the coast and enter the town, here you will be able to find some shops and bars to eat something.
Going straight through the main road you will eventually reach a small square with a sign pointing upwards (to the left side of the road) to Sanap Cliffs.
Follow these signs and you will arrive to some small farms with a small trail in between, very quickly you will be back by the coast and will not have to leave it again for the rest of this beautiful hike in Gozo!
Leaving the village of Ta Cenc will be the last time that you need to check the GPS (in case you get lost along the little streets) when you’re by the coast there’s only one way to move forwards! keep staying at all times close to the cliffs and you will at some point arrive to Xlendi.
The Sanap Cliffs are as spectacular as all the cliffs you have been admiring for a good while now. I found it hard not to keep stopping every now and then for more and more pics of this gorgeous creation of nature. That explains bit on why it took me 3.5h to do this hike, it could certainly be done in less time if you’re on a good pace.
Upon arrival to Xlendi, you will be greeted by the sight of the Xlendi Tower, this is the oldest surviving watchtower in Gozo and dates back to 1650, it’s currently closed while it undergoes some restoration works though.
At Xlendi you will find lots of restaurants, from this point you can decide to keep hiking along the coast where you will have 6.5Km more of trails to Dwejra.
Either from Xlendi or Dwejra you can call it the day and take a bus back to your accommodation. For me this was only halfway as I decided to complete a circuit back to Mgarr going through inland paths and roads.
Hiking in south Gozo verdict
As mentioned inititally, ideally put aside 2-4 days in Gozo to hike it all as it’s definitely worth it. But if you can only squeeze one long hike, this is the one to do!
The northwest and northeast of the island also have some stunning views for which I will write more posts.
If you’re looking to go hiking in Malta, make sure to do this wonderful walk along the south coast of Gozo!
Feel free to drop a line if you have any questions about hiking in Gozo, and also feel free to share your experiences if you have been there before!
Take a look at my other posts hiking around the world for more ideas on your next hiking adventure! 🙂