No visit to Malta is complete without a day trip to Gozo. The traditional ferry route, which conveys vehicles as well as foot passengers, is from Cirkewwa in Malta to Mgarr in Gozo. A more recent innovation, however, is the direct Gozo Highspeed catamaran service which runs direct from Valletta to Mgarr, carrying foot passengers.
Gozo Channel Ferry
Whether you are on a scheduled bus or a coach tour, you will arrive at the modern ferry terminal at Cirkewwa, in the extreme north-west of Malta. There is no ticket office here, as you buy your return ticket when you get to Gozo. Simply enter the terminal and walk onto the ship, or at busy times you will have to queue inside the long corridors (where unfortunately you can't see anything) until the ferry is ready for boarding. The service generally runs every 30 or 45 minutes, depending on season. The timetable is available on the Gozo Channel website or at the ferry terminal. The crossing takes about half an hour.
The operator of the service is called Gozo Channel and they have three ships named Ta' Pinu, Gaudos, and Malita, delivered in 2000, 2001 and 2002 respectively. On board the vessel there are drinks and refreshments available, and you can either stay inside or there is plenty of space on the open decks to enjoy the view. En route don't forget to look out for the island of Comino (on the right going towards Gozo).
Arriving at Mgarr Harbour on Gozo you will find another modern ferry terminal. The ticket office is to the left of the exit doors and it's a good idea to buy your return ticket on arrival to use when you come back (you can leave it until you come back, but there is more likely to be a queue). The return fare for foot passengers is €4.65 and is valid on any ferry sailing; children aged 3 to 12 pay €1.15. Fares for vehicles and Gozo residents can be found on the Gozo Channel website.
Turn right out of the terminal at Mgarr and immediately there is the main bus stop, called "Vapur" (Maltese for ferry). Beyond that are the tour coaches and open top buses. Route 301 will take you directly to Victoria in around 15 minutes, whereas route 323 takes 25 minutes; the circuitous route 303 takes around 40 minutes if you want to see more of Gozo from the bus (see the Maps page). There is also cross-country route 322 to Xaghra and Marsalforn avoiding Victoria; you could always do a circular trip returning via Victoria - that's always a favourite trip when I'm visiting Gozo. See under Timetables for further details.
Recently introduced are two direct bus routes connecting the ferry terminal with Xlendi, numbered TD30, and with Marsalforn numbered TD31. These summer-only routes run every 30 minutes and avoid Victoria, calling only at Industrijali en route. The higher TD fares apply.
When arriving back at the ferry terminal you insert your ticket into the turnstiles to enter the waiting area. The doors from the waiting area will open as soon as arriving passengers have disembarked.
Needless to say the ferries can get quite crowded at busy times. My personal favourite trip was on the 0645 sailing from Cirkewwa in very choppy weather, when I was the only one on deck, having to hold onto the front rail to avoid falling over. Not a tourist in sight!
The fastest route from Valletta to Gozo is the Gozo Fast Ferry service, taking just 45 minutes, which was introduced in 2021. Since July 2023 the service is now run by Virtu Ferries and has been relaunched under the name Gozo Highspeed. It leaves from Valletta's Lascaris Wharf Terminal, and the Gozo terminal is Mgarr, where the Gozo Channel ferry service described above also terminates.
There are around 10 departures each way. Due to the type of craft, it is susceptible to bad weather, and it's advisable to check the latest information on the Gozo Highspeed Facebook page.
The standard one-way adult fare is €7.50 but I when I last checked there was an online-only return fare of €9.50; children aged 4 to 10 pay €3 single. Tickets can be purchased online, at the ferry terminal, through various agents, also through the Gozo Highspeed smartphone app, available to download from the Apple App store or the Google Play Store.
There are two high-speed passenger craft on the route, built in 2018 and seating up to 300 passengers. They are named YOUR FAITH and YOUR WISDOM and are capable of reaching a top speed of 32 knots.
The Lascaris terminal is easily reached from Valletta either on foot or by bus. On foot the quickest route is from the Upper Barrakka Gardens near Castille Place, taking the Barrakka Lift (see the Local Ferries page) down to Lascaris Wharf, then follow the signs. By bus use service X133 from Valletta Bus Station bay A1. Lascaris is also served by bus route 300 to/from Mater Dei Hospital and by the VFS minibus service to/from the Marsamxetto ferry terminal for the ferry to Sliema.
Mgarr Harbour on Gozo is linked to Victoria principally by bus routes 301 and 323 (for other routes see the details shown above under Gozo Channel ferry). The open top bus tours also start at the Mgarr ferry terminal.