Ferry to Gozo – All you need to know + review
I love Malta, it has that mix of beautiful weather, amazing architecture and fantastic nature that makes this small archipelago a unique destination.
The island of Gozo, just off the main island of Malta, is one of the best kept secret in the Mediterranean sea, still a bit stuck in the past, with a fabulous coastline.
In this guide, you will find all you need to know about the ferry to Gozo, including the easiest way to get it, with either a rented car or by public transportation.
You will find plenty of tips and most importantly, you will see lots of photos of this trip between the two main islands of the country
Basically, you will get to know everything about this 30 minutes fast ferry service before even getting to Malta.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into this guide
Is there only one ferry to Gozo?
No, there are two lines.
The first line, called Virtu Ferries Gozo, is a high speed passenger craft connecting the city of Valletta directly to the Gozo Ferry Terminal
The easiest way to go to the Valletta fast ferry terminal, in the Grand Harbour, is by taking the Upper Barrakka lift and turn left on the way out.
These fast ferries are very handy if you stay in Valletta and you don’t have a car.
The trip takes around 45 minutes.
The alternative, more practical if not staying in Valletta, is to use the Gozo Channel Ferry line.
This is also the line you want to take if you are driving a car.
In this post below, you will find all the information to take the Gozo Channel Ferry using a public bus or by car.
Where can I board the ferry to Gozo
You can board at the Cirkewwa ferry terminal, in the north-west corner of the main island of Malta.
You may have already heard of Cirkewwa because of Paradise Bay Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in Malta.
This is an area that I suggest visiting anyway because of its beautiful coastline and lovely beaches around.
Ghadira Bay Beach is a stone away, another gem of the island
And I forgot to mention the unique Popeye Village, the popular film set for the Walt Disney movie and now accessible by everyone.
This is one of the most beloved attractions by families with kids.
You could think to either plan your trip a bit earlier to leave enough time to stop at one of the above destinations, or add them to your bucket list on the way back from Gozo
How do I get to the Ferry Terminal
The ferry terminal is well connected to Valletta and other towns by bus.
The cost for the trip is 2 Euro or take a multi-day Tallinja Card (discounted bus ticket) to save some money.
The bus from Valletta stops in St Paul’s Bay, Mellieha and other villages along the route.
Although very practical, the trip is not a quick one (around 1.5 hours).
The following bus routes connect Valletta directly to the Cirkewwa ferry terminal: #41, #42
The quickest bus from the Malta International Airport is the X1 (1.5 hours)
In my last holiday in this lovely tiny country, I decided to rent a car and be more flexible with my experiences.
I had the opportunity to see more of the inland of Malta, very different from most of the European destinations.
In fact, it reminds me more of the Middle East dry land.
I will talk more of the pros and cons of having a car, but one thing has to be said straight away. The trip is so much quicker.
Driving to the ferry terminal is also pretty straightforward.
The best way, from Valletta, Sliema or St Julian, is to take the Coastal Road (#1 on the map) that mostly follow the coast (except in the Mellieha part) and you will be there in around 40-50 minutes (leaving from the Grand Harbour area, based on traffic condition).
You can also think of avoiding the coast and take the secondary roads inland.
This is a great idea if you plan to visit Golden Bay, Mdina or other smaller villages on the way, to have more of a local experience.
However, budget in more time, because of the stops and because of the roads, smaller, narrower and with a lower speed limit too.
Where do I buy the ferry ticket?
You will be surprised to know that the ferry ticket to Gozo is free!!
Unbelievable great deal, isn’t it?
But there is a catch: the return ticket (Gozo to Malta) from the Mġarr Harbour is twice as much expensive.
Basically, the assumption is that everyone, sooner or later, will make it back to the Island of Malta and therefore there is no need to ask for money on both ways.
On the way back, you can easily buy the tickets at the Mgarr Harbour ferry terminal, in Gozo, once you enter the terminal.
What is the timetable for the ferry to Gozo
There is a timetable. However, the frequency in the ferry services (especially in summer) is so well planned that you will find a boat waiting for you every 30 to 45 minutes, or even less on peak time.
There are three boats going back and forward.
There were less than 100 people on board on my trip back from Gozo. The ferry left the island, anyway. It didn’t wait for more people to arrive.
It was a Saturday, and more people were going the opposite way.
How is the boarding?
The boarding is very straightforward, once again.
If you are using the Malta public transport, then you will be left at the bus stop next to the ferry terminal, around 30 metres from the boat.
You can walk up the bridge and get into the boat.
As I previously explained, you don’t need to buy any ticket for the fast ferry service to Gozo, only on the way back.
If you are driving your car, you just need to queue up at the terminal.
There are around 8 lanes marked for the ferry services, and you will be requested to queue on one of them (just follow the instructions).
Once the boat is ready, you will be asked to start your engine and board on the boat.
There are 6 lanes on the boat and you will be asked to follow one of them.
Once the car is parked, remember to close it and take note of the bridge and the stairs you take to go up to the sun deck.
That is an important step, because it is so easy to get lost.
There is a button to press for opening the door to the stairs.
How is on board the ferry to Gozo
There are 2 sun decks that you can go around.
The upper level is all open, and it is the best spot for the view.
You will get also a nice sea breeze, which is exceptional on those hot summer days.
The lower level is mostly closed, except for a few benches overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
On one side of the boat there is a lounge area with a convenience store where you can buy a few basic stuff and small gifts.
The other side is used by the cafeteria.
That is where you can grab a drink or something to eat.
Most of the food is pre-packaged, and that is why I suggest waiting for your destination to buy your fresh snack or lunch.
Toilettes are actually quite clean and you will find them on both the lower and upper level.
If you need to charge your mobile, there are plugs next to the stairs between the two levels.
On the way to Gozo, you can also book on board the tours of the island and tours to the Blue Lagoon.
The ferry route is straight point to point without stopping and it takes around 30 minutes.
Is it easy to come off the ferry?
It is very straightforward if you do not have a car, just go to the same door that you boarded in.
With the car, make your way to the lower decks once you are approaching the port area.
Do not wait for the last second or any announcement (there is none)
The locals can become very nervous if you are not in the car and ready to get off, blocking every single vehicle behind you.
Once you are out with the car, just follow the flow.
Where do I arrive in Gozo?
You will arrive at the Mġarr Harbour.
You can stop just out of the port if you need to.
Parking around the harbour area can be quite challenging, though, because there is not much parking availability.
There is a petrol station right out of the Gozo ferry terminal, on the left side.
Just a reminder that petrol stations charge the same price all around the island, so do not expect to pay more, or less, in this area of Gozo.
The price of the petrol is around 40% less than in most European countries.
In the Mġarr Harbour you can book day trips to the Blue Lagoon, just 10 minutes away
How can I go to Victoria from the Gozo Terminal?
The best way is to take the direct road that arrives straight in the capital of the island
You will find buses going to Gozo from the ferry terminal.
If you have rented a car, just follow the main road (Triq L-Imgarr)
The trip to Victoria can take anything between 20 and 35 minutes by bus, and 10 to 15 minutes by car, based on the traffic condition.
It is only 6km but it can be very busy, especially in the morning.
If you are driving your car, I suggest also a detour to the south of the island to visit
- The Rotunda St John Baptist Church, where you can take a lift to the top of the bell tower for the magnificent 360 degrees view of the Island of Gozo
- The Ta Cenc Cliffs for the unique viewpoint over the beautiful cliffs of the south coast
If you are into historic sites, I suggest stopping north of the main road, in the village of Xaghra to see the Neolithic temple of Ggantija (UNESCO World Heritage Site), dating back to 3,600BC.
Another unique place to check out in Xaghra is Xerri’s Grotto,
This is a cave located under a private house discovered 100 years ago by the grand-grandfather of the family when he was looking for a water well.
It is today managed by the nephews that will guide you around.
This was one of the most unique experiences on my last trip to Gozo, off the touristic path.
In Victoria, do not miss visiting the Cittadella, also in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list
Is it better to visit Gozo in a rented car or by bus?
You can visit Gozo on a day trip, however I suggest spending at least one night on the island.
You need a car if you want to explore the island on your own. DiscoverCars is a great website providing the best value rentals on the market (read cheapest)
There is a bus network but it will take so much time because it is all centric to Victoria.
Moreover, not all the places are covered by the Malta Public Transport network.
The alternative is to take a Yippee experience.
This company runs tuk tuk, quad and car day tours to explore the island.
I had a day tour on the tuk-tuk and I had a blast.
The driver, Jeffrey, was an excellent guide too that took us to a few local gems like the local limestone query (it was like suddenly stepping back to the Egyptian pyramid time).
Gozo is so different from the main island of Malta and it should be on anyone’s bucket list, especially if you plan a holiday of 5 or more days.