If you’re planning a trip to the beautiful Mediterranean nation of Malta, then you will likely be wondering if basing yourself on the island of Malta or Gozo is the right move to you. The Maltese archipelago is made up of three islands, two of which are inhabited, and both Gozo and Malta have different things to offer visitors.
If you’re short on time with your Malta itinerary or just want to know where to spend the majority of your time while visiting, then determining between Gozo or Malta for your main base is essential. Depending on what kind of holiday or getaway you’re looking for, both islands have vastly different things to offer (and we wholeheartedly recommend trying to spend time on both islands while you’re there!) and can give you a completely different perspective on the country.
So if you’re planning a trip to Malta and are having trouble determining whether Malta vs Gozo is the right place to base yourself in this beautiful country, then look no further. Having travelled extensively throughout Malta, we know what each island has to offer visitors and are here to make your decision just a bit easier!
Malta, the largest and main island in the eponymous country, is densely populated and packed with great things to see and do in a surprisingly small land area. On Malta, you can experience the lively capital, beautiful fishing villages, golden beaches and neolithic sites all within a 20-minute drive of each other.
The first things that needs to be discussed when comparing Malta vs Gozo is the accessibility of the island. This can be a bit more complicated when compared with other European destinations as Malta is, obviously, an archipelago so you cannot easily access it by overland travel.
The most common and straightforward way to get to the island of Malta is by plane and the country of Malta’s international airport is located in the centre of the island, about fifteen to twenty minutes by car to the cities of Valletta or Sliema. Countless international airlines, including the most popular European budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair, fly into the Malta International Airport and there are a myriad of routes connecting the island (and the country) of Malta with the rest of Europe and beyond.
You can also access Malta via ferry if you’re keen on travelling overland (or, perhaps more apt, over water). There are ferry routes connecting the cities of Catania and Pozzallo in Sicily to the ferry port in Valletta. They sail numerous times per week so this can be a great option if you want to include a visit to Malta along with a trip to Southern Italy.
Once on Malta, you will find that it is quite easy to get around the island, whether you intend to rely on public transport or are considering renting a car. The bus network across Malta is robust and easy to navigate and you can quite easily get everywhere you need to go by simply relying on this network, along with the network of ferries that shuttle from Sliema to Valletta and Valletta to the Three Cities. It is also a great affordable option for those looking to visit Malta on a budget.
Conversely, you could also easily hire a car in Malta if you want a bit more flexibility (bus timetables can sometimes be hard to coordinate). This will allow you to reach a few more hard-to-access areas and you won’t be at the mercy of bus schedules or overcrowding and it can be a great option. We suggest browsing Rentalcars.com to find the beal deal on car hire as they aggregate results across all the major providers.
It is worth mentioning that it can get very busy in cities like Sliema and finding a parking spot can be a bit of a challenge at some parts of the day. Best to walk around when it comes to exploring these areas.
It is also worth remembering that the main cities in Malta, particularly Sliema, Valletta and the Three Cities, can actually be a bit hilly and they may not be the best for those with some mobility issues. Because cities like Valletta are quite small, you generally won’t be walking uphill for too long, it can still be challenging for those who aren’t in their peak physical fitness or have other mobility issues.
All in all, Malta is quite accessible, being home to the country’s international airport and the port for international ferry arrivals. It is also an easy island to navigate, either by personal vehicle or by public transport.
Another major consideration in the great Malta vs Gozo debate is the affordability of either island. This can be an especially important topic if you’re trying to stick to a budget while visiting Malta and knowing which island has the best interests at heart for your hard-earned cash.
Malta, in general, can actually work out to be a fairly affordable destination if you’re smart about where you spend your money and how you choose to spend your time. While it certainly isn’t the most affordable destination in all of Europe, it definitely isn’t one of the most expensive, either, and it is entirely possible to spend a significant amount of time on either island and not really break the bank.
However, if you’re interested in if either Malta or Gozo is more affordable than the other, then you will likely find that Malta is slightly more expensive than the other island. This is largely to do with the fact that there is more and it is a more popular place to visit, so things like accommodation and restaurant prices are marginally higher. However, the price difference is not a significant one and it can be hard to make a major decision based off of which is the cheapest.
Things to do on Malta
If you’re looking for a base that is absolutely packed with cool things to see and do, then Malta is your answer. The largest island in the archipelago, there is no denying that there are likely more things to do on Malta vs Gozo, however, it is still relative to what appeals to various travellers.
Malta is obviously home to the beautiful capital of Valletta, the lively nearby city of Sliema, and the charming Three Cities of Cospicua, Vittoriosa and Senglea. It is also home to the old capital and former Game of Thrones stand-in for King’s Landing (circa season 1), Mdina and the neighbouring city of Rabat, and the absolutely lovely fishing village of Marsaxlokk, with its famous Sunday fish market and beautiful traditional boats.
Malta is also home to beautiful coastline and beaches like Golden Bay and the Blue Grotto along with one of the nation’s top archaeological sites, the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.
In general, there are countless incredible things to see and do on Malta that one could easily spend weeks on this island and not get bored. It is, however, very densely populated and there aren’t a lot of places where you can escape the traffic and hustle of the urban areas.
Where to Stay on Malta
If you’ve determined that Malta is the place for you on your trip to the archipelago, then you’ve got to find the perfect place to stay on the island. We recommend basing yourself in either the cities of Valletta or Sliema as they are centrally located and it’s easy to get everywhere that you may want to go from these areas. If you’re wondering where to stay on Malta, then make sure to have a look at these suggestions:
Airbnb — A great option if you’re looking for accommodation on Malta is Airbnb. There are countless properties available on the platform that will suit all kinds of travel styles and budgets, including this private room in a traditional Maltese house or this luxury apartment. Click here to browse other Airbnbs in Malta
Two Pillows Hostel — If you’re looking to save some cash or are after a great social atmosphere, then this hostel is a great choice. As one of the first hostels in Malta, they have a number of dorm beds and private rooms available and a great location in Sliema. Click here to see their latest prices
Mr Todd Hotel — A great small hotel located just off of the Sliema promenade with its countless swimming areas, they have a range of clean and comfortable rooms available, great facilities, and a hearty breakfast included each morning. Click here to see their latest prices
The Saint John — If you’re after a bit of luxury during your time in Malta, then this hostel is a perfect place for you. Located in the centre of the capital of Valletta, they have a number of plush, air-conditioned rooms, beautiful facilities and a number of other amenities to make your stay a great one. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Malta!
Gozo, the second-largest island in the Maltese archipelago, is a lot more wild and rural than its larger counterpart. Accessible only by ferry from Malta, Gozo is a great choice if you’re looking for a tranquil escape complete with gorgeous beaches, neolithic sites, vineyards and historic cities.
As when discussing Malta, one of the first things you need to consider if you’re wondering if Gozo is the place for you to stay in the accessibility of the island. This can be a major determining factor for some when it comes to deciding whether Malta or Gozo is the right place for them to stay, so it is very much worth going into detail about.
One thing that is very much worth noting about Gozo is that the island is only accessible from Malta and there is no way you can get to the island directly from elsewhere in Europe. This isn’t necessarily a big deal, especially when considering that the ferries to Gozo from Malta run extremely frequently (roughly every 30-40 minutes) and the journey only takes about 20 minutes. Because this is the only way onto the island of Gozo and you can’t leave the country directly from the island, you actually don’t pay for the ferry until you make the return trip to Malta.
Once on Gozo (the ferry lets off in the lovely port town of Mgarr), you will find that it isn’t necessarily as easy to get around the island via public transit, though it is certainly possible. The bus network can get you to the majority of areas on Gozo, however, you may find it a lot easier to get around using your own vehicle while on the island, especially if you want to explore some more rural attractions or go for some hikes.
If you do have a car on Gozo, the ferry is a car ferry meaning that you can easily bring your vehicle to the island, however, the ticket does cost more than a passenger ticket.
It’s also worth pointing out that Gozo is perhaps even more hilly than Malta and, particularly if you’re wandering around the main city of Victoria (Rabat). So if you have some mobility challenges, please to keep this in mind.
As mentioned in the same section above about Malta, the bigger island can be slightly more expensive than Gozo, so if you’re interested in saving as much money as possible, it may work out to be slightly cheaper to stay on Gozo rather than on Malta.
The main area where you will find some savings is in accommodation costs, as there are a few more budget options available on the island of Gozo rather than on Malta. This has more to do with the fact that the island just isn’t nearly as popular to stay on as Malta and people tend to only visit Gozo as a day trip.
Prices for things like meals in restaurants may also be a bit less than on Malta, but not anything to really write home about.
If you’re planning on basing yourself in Gozo to save on accommodation costs but still want to explore areas of Malta, then you also need to account for the cost of taking the ferry multiple times in your trip and the price of getting around and the time you’re spending travelling, as well. So it may not work out to be that much of a money saver, all things considered.
Things to do on Gozo
If you’re looking for a more quiet and laid-back place to stay in Malta, then Gozo is the choice for you, however, that is not to say that there aren’t a number of great things to see and do on the island. In fact, while many visitors will simply head to Gozo as a day trip from Malta rather than as a longer stint, we think there is enough to see and do on Gozo to merit spending at least a few days.
You can spend one day exploring the beautiful capital of Gozo, Victoria, with its beautiful streets and imposing Citadella that is filled with history. There is also the charming port town of Mgarr, where the ferry lets off. There are some quaint streets to explore here along with some great restaurants!
Because Gozo is a bit more wild and rural than Malta, this is also a great place to get out into nature. You could opt to hike along the Ta’ Ċenċ Cliffs or even visit one or two of the small-batch wineries that pepper the island.
Gozo is also home to its own archaeological sites that are absolutely fascinating and worth visiting, the Ġgantija Temples, which are older than the Pyramids of Giza and believed to be one of the oldest still-standing religious sites in the world, at over 5,500 years old.
Of course, Gozo also has some beautiful beaches to visit. If you want to head to the most popular of beaches, then make sure to bask in the golden sands of Ramla Bay. Alternatively, you can head to the beautiful Xlendi beach for a more subdued scene. If you’re interested in local gastronomy, then make sure to visit the salt pans at the north of the island in order to see where Gozitan sea salt is collected.
Where to Stay on Gozo
If you’ve decided that Gozo is the place for you to base yourself in Malta, or you want to include it as part of your Malta itinerary along with the larger island, you’re going to want to find a perfect place to stay. Well, luckily for you, you are spoilt for choice when it comes down to where to stay. If you’re looking for the right place, have a look at the options below:
Airbnb — If you are keen to stay in your own apartment or even a private room in a local’s home, then Airbnb can be a great choice for you. There are countless options available on the platform including this private room in a traditional house or this large house for a private stay. Click here to see the best Airbnbs in Gozo!
Casa Gemelli Boutique Guesthouse — This delightful guest house is perfect for mid-range travellers on the hunt for a traditional experience. Situated in a beautiful Maltese house, they have a handful of lovely rooms available within easy reach of central Victoria. They also include breakfast in the nightly rate. Click here to see their latest prices
The Duke Boutique Hotel — If you’re looking for a bit of luxury while on Gozo, then look no further than this modern hotel located in Victoria (Rabat). They have a range of beautiful, plush rooms available that are perfect for both couples and families and even include a delicious breakfast in the nightly price. Click here to see their latest prices
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Gozo!
Malta or Gozo: The Verdict
So should you visit Malta or Gozo on your trip to the Maltese islands? Is Gozo or Malta better for your unique travel style? Of course, the answer to this question depends on what you are after and no answer is right for every single visitor to Malta.
The island of Malta is great if you want to be in the centre of all the action, if you’re not keen on renting a car to get around and if you would rather be in a vibrant city space rather than in a more rural area.
Gozo, on the other hand, is better for those looking for a more laid-back and tranquil place to stay. There are lots of things to see and do on the island, but it is only accessibly by ferry and it is likely easier to get around using your own car rather than by public transit.
Whether you choose to stay on Malta or Gozo on your trip, you’re sure to enjoy your visit to this beautiful country and forge memories that will last for years to come. There really isn’t a bad decision that you could make as both Gozo and Malta are very much worth visiting!
When travelling in Malta, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We recommend like and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you struggling to choose between staying on Gozo or Malta? Have you visited before? Let us know in the comments!