There are two ways to get to Malta’s sister island of Gozo – by sea and by air. On my visit I explored both options.
The easiest – and by far the most commonly used – means of crossing to Gozo is via ferry. This is surprisingly easy and does not need to be pre-planned. From the Floriana bus terminus simply look for the number 45 or 145 bus. This will take passengers directly to the ferry port at Ċirkewwa. The island of Gozo is located directly across the channel, just beyond Comino. The bus, as ever, was dirt cheap: less than a euro for a 65 minute journey. Heading north from Valletta rather than south we saw new areas of Malta for the first time as we skirted the yacht moorings at the bottom end of Marsamxett Harbour, rattled up past Mosta and its Dome, and then crawled through the tourist resorts of St Paul’s Bay and Mallieha. The bus seemed to be specifically timed so that we arrived at Ċirkewwa just in time to see the ferry cast off and inch away from its moorings. Thankfully there are actually two ferries that plough their way back and forth across the Gozo Channel so we only had a 30 minute wait, if that. That was a blessing because quite frankly the Ċirkewwa ferry port is a grim place. It has a carpark, a café, a closed ticket office and a chain-link fence. At least it has benches.
The car ferry was surprisingly big and certainly under-utilised when we used it in November. We were able to climb up to the deck overlooking the prow and watch Gozo looming ever-closer. It really is just a shop hop across the waterway. We passed Comino to our right, bare except for its solitary square watchtower. Almost all of Gozo could be seen ahead of us – the Ta Cenc cliffs, churches and windmills dotting the uplands, and the picturesque spill of Mġarr down to its harbour. Mġarr is much more built-up than Ċirkewwa, with a full town, a busy marina and a full ferry terminal. Yet whereas in Ċirkewwa we had found a ticket office, albeit one with a sign directing passengers to buy their tickets on Gozo, we failed to spot a ticket office over here at all. Which meant that – unintentionally – we sailed for free. According to my guidebook only return tickets are sold (for €4.65 each) which might explain the lax attitude towards checking tickets when crossing north; conceivably they are more thorough on the southbound journey. However, we had already arranged a much more interesting way to return from Gozo.