Marsalforn is by far Gozo’s most popular tourist resort, well served with hotels, apartments, bars, restaurants and diving amenities. Originally a small but busy fishing community, this activity is now almost elbowed out by tourism, though a small and colourful fishing harbour still holds its own right in the centre of the bustling seaside town.
Marsalforn sits at the mouth of a lush, gentle valley which stretches all the way back to Victoria, Gozo’s main town – a mere three kilometres away. Marsalforn’s foreshore is unashamedly taken over by tourism activities, with hotels, restaurants and other facilities hugging every square inch of the shore. Nonetheless it remains a surprisingly quiet place, mercifully lacking the noise and abrasiveness of large resorts, and consequently with a very family-friendly ambience. There’s a small sandy beach right in the centre of town which caters for the safest of swimming while the rest of the bay offers great bathing off the rocks. On the outskirts of town and within walking distance there are more swimming places. Ghar Qawqla, past the last buildings on the east side of town has crystal clear seas off a smooth limestone plateau. To the west of town, past a lovely shaded promenade there’s the small bay of Qbajjar and a little beyond that the quiet shingle beach at Xwejni.
Like the rest of Gozo, Marsalforn quietens down considerably during the winter months, when high winds occasionally batter its coast with some spectacular high waves breaking on the front. Nevertheless Marsalforn doesn’t close down completely and becomes if anything a more discerning sort of place.
Marsalforn is a good base for hiking and exploring Gozo’s north coast. West of town and past Xwejni Bay there is a huge swathe of salt pans – the largest in the islands – stretching as far as the foothills leading to the hilltop village of Zebbug; and beyond that is a stretch of cliffs taking one all the way to Dwejra – arguably Gozo’s wildest and certainly remotest stretch of coast. To the east of town and accessed through a path on the road to Xaghra is the area known as Ghajn Barrani – a Natura 2000 protected site and one which makes for one of Gozo’s most spectacular coast rambles, stretching as far as Ramla Bay. It is an area rich in flora, strange rock formations and rolling clay slopes.
Marsalforn is connected to Rabat by an hourly bus service in and a more frequent one in the summer months. Another year round bus service connects Marsalforn to the Gozo ferry terminal via Xaghra, Ramla, Nadur and Qala every 90 minutes – undoubtedly Gozo’s most scenic bus route.
Hotels in Marsalforn, Gozo: Calypso Hotel, Murella Living