Gozo, the second-largest island only to Malta itself. With Valletta, Malta has one of the most beautiful and unique capitals in the world. While Malta is more hustle and bustle, Gozo operates at a far more sedate pace of life that will suit digital nomads who wish to alternate between focused batches of productivity and a cultured European island with great food and friendly people.
A Brief Introduction
Gozo as an island is only a few miles across in each direction. It is easy to ride across it. As a small place, the local community is friendly and used to seeing foreign visitors there. The island does bring in plenty of tourists attracted to its somewhat quieter, slower lifestyle vs Malta. It is also the location of the Ggantija Temples which are a UNESCO protected site that’s older than the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Day visits by ferry to Malta to hang out in Valletta, the capital, is a good day’s shopping and roaming around. And when wanting to get a completely different flavour, then Sicily is to the north about 60 miles distance. Therefore, while Gozo is a small island, it has much to offer plus nearby places to visit to mix in a little contrast too.
Flying into Malta directly is possible from places like Heathrow in London, UK. It’s also possible to fly into Sicily in Italy, and then take a ferry across to Malta’s Valletta Waterfront using VirtuFerries.com. A connecting ferry from Malta to Gozo takes less than a half hour from there.
Eating and Drinking
Food and drink is a key part of staying for weeks or months in any location. With Gozo, it has an unusual cuisine that’s taken on some historic North African along with Lebanese flavours, plus some Italian too. The Maltese fitra, a flatbread that resembles a pizza, is seen in many restaurants.
Given the proximity to the ocean, seafood dishes are very popular locally too. So, there’s plenty of fish and seafood available when the fishing has been good that day. There’s delicious local wines on the wine list and they’re very affordable too.
Tastes from Home
Along with local food, expats often enjoy a little taste from home from time to time. When walking around Gozo, or especially when taking a one-day trip into Malta, you’re bound to see some familiar brands and snacks. There’s even a classic British phone box on the streets. Brits will certainly feel right at home.
Language and Culture
While the Maltese people have their own language, English is widely spoken and to a high enough standard to give any visitors few difficulties communicating. This is in stark contrast to some other European islands where it’s necessary to know some local language to manage when staying more than a few days.
The culture is also easy to get along with without feeling restrictive or oppressive. The local people are often found to be friendly and welcoming to visitors and have a great reputation.
Now we start getting to the crux of the matter. One of the first questions that every digital nomad asks about is the internet access and its speed. When there’s spotty internet coverage, they’re usually unable to get anything done. If this continues, they may have to cut a visit short to relocate to a place that has more reliable internet. With Gozo, the news is good.
There are multiple competing telecommunication companies operating in Malta and on Gozo. The connection to the internet backbone is provided via a submarine cable from St. George’s Bay in Malta running 245 kilometres to Catania, Sicily’s second largest city in Italy. Underwater cables then provide internet to the different islands in the Maltese archipelago, including Gozo.
On Gozo, there is a Wi-Fi Hotspot system operated by more than one provider. For instance, Melita have their MelitaWiFi with 75,000 Wi-Fi hotspots (both indoors and outdoors) spread across the 7 main islands of Malta. The service is free and useful to look up a quick web site, scan your Facebook notifications and check your emails. We’d recommend using a virtual private network to encrypt the connection for security when using a Wi-Fi hotspot to avoid having any unfortunate security issues.
GO, Melita and Vodaphone each have their own 4G LTE mobile network on Gozo. Mobile Wi-Fi devices are usable with data plans available either on a monthly plan or pay-as-you-go. For instance, with Vodaphone, the cost is €26.50 for 22GB of data per month on a contract. Pay-as-you-go is €25 for 10GB over 28 days. Additional data can be purchased beyond these data limits.
There are also fibre optic connections from 15 Mbps to around 70 Mbps download (1-10Mbps upload) speed in some parts of the island where it’s been installed. Most require a two-year contract, so a Maltese landlord would need to sign up if they haven’t done already. Co-working spaces and apartment buildings are likely to have made some arrangements for fibre optic access, but if you stay in a populated settlement on Gozo, then a Wi-Fi hotspot or 4G LTE signal makes for a workable backup connection in a pinch.
The interest in Gozo as a digital nomad hub to rival other European spots like Portugal and Spain is growing nicely. Similarly, the growth in people wishing to work together in cafes or to find a co-working space with desks and a solid fibre-optic internet connection is increasing along with it. For instance, there are just under 100 people signed up to a MeetUp for Digital Nomads on Gozo.
It’s likely that co-working spaces will continue be opened due to demand. However, for now, digital nomads will need to either hustle on their laptops from their apartment or visit a local café, order up a coffee or a breakfast and then get busy.
There are different choices of accommodation in Gozo depending on where you wish to be situated and the kind of setup you’re looking for. For groups of digital nomads traveling together, you could always rent a larger property and share it. Why not rent a whole farmhouse in Gozo?
A hotel or using Airbnb is useful for the first day or two when you haven’t already made a booking, but it gets overly costly for longer stays. Renting by the month is necessary to get accommodation costs down.
Look for places with enough outdoor space to relax. Riding a bicycle, a moped or hiring a car to drive around the island is possible, but usually two wheels or two feet are all that’s needed due to the short distances from one place to another on Gozo; it’s a compact island.
The whole of Malta currently uses Central European Summer Time (CEST) which is two hours ahead of UTC. It’s usually only one hour ahead of UK time, which makes it a useful destination for digital nomads who need to get in touch with British or Europeans contacts during office hours. The United States is 8+ hours behind Malta time. Certainly, keeping in touch with American or Canadian contacts is easier than when staying in Asia.
The climate is reasonable from spring through to autumn. Temperatures can peak in the hotter months to over 40 degrees C with high humidity levels, but when staying closer to the coast it’s more manageable.
If you dislike heat, then do your venturing out in the mornings and evenings while staying indoors during the afternoon to avoid the hottest time of the day. You can either nap for part of the afternoon or hammer away on your laptop’s keyboard to get work done while avoiding much of the simmering heat.
It’s definitely a good idea to equip a flat with fans and to check whether it comes fitted with AC units. Be aware that use of the AC will increase the electricity costs noticeably which may fall outside of the fixed costs for the accommodation. Budget accordingly.
The winters get colder like many European island destinations where you’d need to bundle up if you’re staying later in the year too.
Activities on Gozo
Other than visiting the aforementioned protected UNESCO site, there’s plenty to do on Gozo. When staying near the coast, there’s regular sun bathing, swimming, and various water sports depending on the organisers and the time of season. Snorkelling in the clear Mediterranean is fun to do too.
Going off-road towards the rockier landscape on Gozo is challenging and requires tyres with chunky lugs for them to survive the journey. Trekking across the undulating landscape is also a great way to keep fit away from a gym, and we’d recommend hiking boots for that. Enjoy the cleaner air and the beautiful landscape while listening to the latest Digital Nomad themed podcast. It doesn’t get much better.
Safety on Gozo
When abroad in any foreign country, it pays to be careful in unfamiliar surroundings. Certainly, the whole of Malta has been found to be far safer than some other destinations. Most people living there mean others no harm. With that said, common sense is necessary to avoid issues. Getting drunk and finding your own way home is not a great idea! Similarly, traveling as a solo traveller in a taxi late at night isn’t ideal either.
Walking around, the pavements can be slippery and so extra care should be taken. When acting sensibly, Gozo is a safe place to spend several months.
As a destination for Digital Nomads, Gozo ticks many boxes. It’s developed enough to offer creature comforts and access to some tastes of home to not feel isolated. There’s excellent internet connectivity options, good quality accommodation, friendly locals, and plenty to do when putting away the laptop too. Also, when wanting a livelier destination, a short ferry trip to Malta and an overnight stay allows you to see the sights there too.