Explore Gozo’s Mġarr ix-Xini with this wonderful walk
The walking season in Gozo initates after the start of autumn, when the first rain brings life to the island’s countryside after a scorching summer. The fragrance of wild flowers and the scent of herbs delight the senses while the mild Mediterranean climate allows for walks even during the wintry months. Indeed, whether it’s December or May, sun and warmth are the norm on the island of Gozo.
Given its close proximaty to our holiday villas in Xewkija, on top of our walks list is definitely the Mġarr ix-Xini walk. The walk combines historic places, stunning scenery, natural paths, and a beautiful little bay that was even chosen by Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as the setting for their 2015 movie By The Sea.
The first part of the walk is through the streets of Xewkija, here you will be able to see the different facades that houses here have and the beautiful stonework that most of these houses flaunt. You will also notice that most of these houses have names rather than numbers. Although this is a relatively quiet area of the village, always keep an eye on oncoming traffic and be vigilant when crossing roads.
When you're halfway through Triq tal-Kanal, the map we’ve created for you will prompt you to Triq il-Misraħ. Here you start your descend to the area known as Mġarr ix-Xini. The placename is significant in showing the location’s importance as a landing place for ships as ‘xini’ means ships in Maltese. It is said that Mġarr ix-Xini was an occoasional hiding place for the Knights’ galleys but it was also used by the Ottoman Empire for the Invasion of Gozo in 1551. Here, the Turks loaded captive Gozitans onto their ships in the worst ever raid on the island when Gozo was virtually depopulated. About 6,000 Gozitans were taken captive and ended up in slavery.
As you walk your way to the bay, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the blue seas, the fjord-like inlet, the Mġarr ix-Xini Tower, and also distant views of mainland Malta.
Although you can descend straight to the bay, we suggest you first proceed along the coastal path to the 17th century coastal tower of Mġarr ix-Xini. This Knights-period defence tower stands at the entrance of the inlet and was built in mid-seventeenth century (1658-59) during the reign of Grand Master deRedin.
If you notice a yellow flag flying over the tower, then it’s your lucky day. This flag means that the tower is open for visitors and you can climb the flight of stairs and walk over the palisade drawbridge into the tower. Once inside, you can go up the spiral staircase to the roof. When on the roof, you’ll notice the neigbouring Comino Tower. Building towers in full view of each others was no coincidence as the Knights also used these towers for communication purposes – usually through fires on their roofs.
The lonely islet you see just off the coast is known as Tal-Fessej Rock. Accoding to diving enthusiasts, this is a very interesting dive site where lobsters and octopi can be spotted.
After absorbing the beautiful views, you can walk your way down to the bay. On your way, you might wish to remember that you’re walking the same path that superstars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt walked everyday during the filming of By the Sea in 2015. You can have a look at many images here of the set.
If you’re doing this walk in and around spring, you’ll notice many small scented herbs and flowers. Prominent to them all is the Maltese Sea Chamomile, an endemic plant for the Maltese islands that is referred to by locals as ‘Bebuna tal-Baħar’.
At the end of the path you’ll be able to locate steep rocky steps which you can use carefully to descend down to the bay.
Once at the bay, you deserve to have a little break. It all depends on the time of year you’re doing the walk. If it’s in summer, late spring, or early autumn, you might want to take a dip in the clear blue sea. A small shack is also open here, ideal for a cool beverage, a cup of coffee, or a spot of lunch. If you’ve prepared a packed lunch at your Villa, you’ll find plenty of spots where you can just sit down, enjoy your lunch, and absorb in the beauty that surrounds you. You’re at a place of big historical and natural importance.
After the well earned rest, you may proceed to the uphill part of the route. Along the road, you’ll might see farmers tending to their fields on your left and a beautiful valley on your right. A valley is called ‘Wied’ in Maltese. Here you’ll notice trees, large shrubs, and lush vegetation. This valley is a popular spot for rock climbing and abseiling, two other adventure activities you can enjoy while on the island.
Mġarr ix-Xini Valley is pretty interesting as archeological excavations here revealed that parts of the valley might have been used as shrines in Punic/Roman times whilst other findings show that the area might have been used for grape pressing during Classical times, thus indicating an ancient viticulture industry.
A very interesting building here is the British-era pumping station, erected in 1901 with the purpose of extracting ground water. While in use, this site used to cater for most of the the island’s population with fresh table water. You may read more about it by clicking here.
Keep walking towards the end of Triq Imġarr ix-Xini before taking a right turn to Triq Tal-Gruwa. Here you’ll have a pleasant 10-minute walk through the streets of Xewkija to your villa.
Ask us for help
At First Gozo, we’re always out and about enjoying the wealth of beauty that tiny Gozo offers its visitors. Despite having lived here for most of our lives, we always manage to discover new nooks and crannies that leave us surprised.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask us. We pride ourselves in having hosted hundreds of guests from across the globe, and from this experience we can give you great advise on how to best experience the island.
Have a look at the holiday properties we have for rent in Gozo below. Click here to book your stay in Gozo.
All photos in this blog post are property of First Gozo.