Gozo Island is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s famous for its cliffed coastline, idyllic coves, and pastoral landscapes.
It is also believed to be the mythological island of Ogygia, where the nymph Calypso held Odysseus prisoner for seven years, according to Homer’s Odyssey.
Gozo is indeed a splendid destination, worthy of its legends. The best way to uncover Gozo’s beauty is by walking along the island’s coastline.
The out-and-back hike from Xlendi Bay to the Sanap Cliffs (also called Ta’ Saguna Cliffs) is the best place to start, and in our opinion, the most beautiful coastal hike in Malta.
The entire route hugs the pristine southern coastline and showcases Gozo’s high, sheer cliffs which slice into the sea.
This Sanap Cliffs hiking guide includes a trail map, trail description, and detailed instructions on how to get to Xlendi Bay and Gozo Island from Malta (ferry info, etc…).
Read Next Hiking Malta: Best Coastal Trails
Sanap Cliffs Coastal Walk
- Trailhead: Xlendi Beach
- Distance: 7.1 km out-and-back
- Time needed: 2:40 hours
- Elevation Gain/Loss: Minimal
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum Elevation: 4 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 163 meters
- When to Hike: Fall, Winter, Spring
- Best Time of Day: We highly recommend hiking to Sanap Cliffs in the late afternoon. Time your visit with sunset at the Xlendi Tower, or anywhere along the trail. Just before sunset, the coast lights up in pink and gold tones.
- Where to Stay in Xlendi: San Antonio Guesthouse – Bed & Breakfast (budget), Villa Dolman Apartments (midrange), or Viewpoint Boutique Living Xlendi Gozo (luxury)
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Sanap Cliffs Hiking Map
Xlendi Bay to Sanap Cliffs Trail Description
Xlendi Beach to Xlendi Tower
Walk to Xlendi Bay, lined with restaurants, and follow the pedestrian path along the bay. The smooth paver walkway wraps around the bay to an idyllic picnic area with a smattering of benches. The trail continues hugging the bay and then crosses a stone bridge.
Next, the path ascends to the Ras il-Bajda cliffs, home to the historic Xlendi Tower. The coastal watchtower dates back to 1650 and was designed to guard the mouth of the bay from smugglers, pirates, and quarantine evaders.
From the tower, you can detour down to the salt pans by the sea.
Or, simply continue south along the high cliffside trail.
Xlendi Tower to Sanap Cliffs Walkway
The trail clings to the coast, parallel to terraced fields. After wrapping around another small cove, flanked by an arched cliff, the path gently ascends.
Soon, you’ll reach the beginning of a flat paver walkway. Follow this pedestrian path towards the Sanap Cliffs.
As you progress, the views of the vertical cliffs crescendo in beauty. There are multiple viewpoints and photo opportunities along the path.
The paver walkway ends at the Munxar-Xlendi Heritage Trail info board, which explains the origin of the cliffs’ name. Sanap comes from the Maltese word “senapa,” which means mustard plant.
Sanap Cliffs Walkway to Il-Pinnur
Continue hiking along the coast all the way to Il-Pinnur, the highest point in the area. The slender Il-Pinnur cliff sharply protrudes to the sea.
When you reach the Il-Pinnur cliff, be extra careful around the cliff edge. The views to the north are magnificent.
Il-Pinnur to Xlendi Beach
We decided to turn around here, and follow the same path back to Xlendi Bay.
We detoured to the salt pans, below the Xlendi watch tower, to watch the sunset.
Where to Stay near Sanap Cliffs
Xlendi, Gozo Island
Xlendi is a small seaside village, huddled around Xlendi Bay. Though small, this Gozitan village boasts a number of bustling seaside restaurants and a few accommodations. We ate a delicious meal at Sapana (very good Indian cuisine) after hiking from Xlendi to the Sanap Cliffs.
Xlendi Bay is also a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. If you want to wake up and fall asleep by the sea, stay here. The sunsets are life-affirming.
Budget | San Antonio Guesthouse – Bed & Breakfast is a friendly, budget-friendly guesthouse in Xlendi, offering clean rooms, a stunning location with sea views, and a very good breakfast. The renovated villa also has two outdoor pools.
Midrange | Set in a quiet area overlooking Xlendi Bay, Villa Dolman Apartments boasts stellar views of Xlendi Bay, hospitable hosts, and an excellent location. Apartments are outfitted with well-provisioned kitchens, washing machines, air conditioning and heating, and dining tables.
Luxury | Viewpoint Boutique Living Xlendi Gozo is a top-rated accommodation in Xlendi, 1.1 km inland from Xlendi Beach. With its idyllic surroundings, beautiful furnishings, and private outdoor pool, Viewpoint Boutique Living is the perfect getaway on Gozo Island. Breakfast is excellent. And, the staff is very obliging.
Victoria, Gozo Island
Victoria (Citta’ ir-Rabat) is the vibrant capital and beating heart of Gozo Island. Perched on a hilltop in the middle of the island, the historic city of Victoria serves as a busy crossroads, where all roads converge. Here, you’ll find a plethora of accommodations, restaurants, cafés, and historic buildings, including the impressive medieval Cittadella. Stay here if you’re traveling without a car.
Budget | B&b la Fenice by giancarlo is a clean and tidy bed and breakfast in Victoria with rave reviews. Guests love the views of the Citadel and the warm hospitality of the host. Street parking is free in front of the building.
Midrange | Maria Townhouse Heart of Victoria B&B is tucked away on a quiet pedestrian street in historic Victoria, walking distance to St. George’s Square, Independence Square, the Citadel, and the bus station. With its charming atmosphere, limited capacity (only 4 rooms) and a room-delivered breakfast, staying here is a treat. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and washing machine. This is an ideal place to stay, if you’re traveling without a car. There’s no on-site parking.
Luxury | Located in the center of Victoria on the 4th and 5th floors of a shopping mall, The Duke Boutique Hotel pampers guests with its spacious and modern rooms, citadel-gazing terrace, and superb breakfast. Rooms are sound-proofed and have air-conditioning. There’s free parking in the public car park behind the hotel, or hotel parking (10 EUR extra charge).
How to Get to Xlendi Bay and Gozo Island
If you’re coming from Malta, drive to the Iċ-Ċirkewwa ferry terminal. The Gozo Channel Line car ferry connects Malta with Gozo. Ferries run all day, every 30 – 45 minutes. Here’s the Gozo Channel Line Schedule.
When you get to Ċirkewwa, follow signs to the ferry (not the terminal). Guided by attendants, you’ll be ushered into the waiting area. In a very orderly fashion, each row of vehicles is then directed into the car ferry.
After parking in the ferry, you can head up to the deck or the ferry cafeteria.
The crossing takes about 25 minutes.
The main source of confusion is the payment. You do not pay anything when going to Gozo. You only pay on the return journey back to Malta.
When returning to Malta, head back to the same Mgarr ferry terminal in Gozo. Cars pass through a line of ticket booths, where you purchase the fare.
- Payment Method: cash or card
- Payment Fare: 15.70 EUR (car and driver). Each additional passenger: 4.65 EUR (standard), or 1.15 EUR (children).
- More info about fares: Gozo Channel Line Fares
Xlendi village is located on the southwest coast of Gozo Island. From the Gozo ferry terminal in Mgarr, drive 10 km to Xlendi (16 minutes without traffic).
- Google Maps Driving Directions: Gozo Terminal to Xlendi
There’s a free parking area in Xlendi Village, next to the bus stop. Exact location: Google Maps.
If you’re based in Gozo, you first have to head to Victoria. From Victoria, take bus line 306 or 330 from Victoria to Xlendi Beach.
If you’re based in Malta, you have several options.
Those based in Valletta, or nearby, should take the Gozo Fast Ferry. These ferries depart Valletta 10 times a day, starting at 7 am. The ferry takes 45 minutes.
Alternatively, you can take the Gozo Channel Line from Ċirkewwa ferry terminal to Gozo. This ferry runs more frequently and takes 25 minutes.
Both ferries disembark at the Gozo Ferry Terminal in Mgarr. From here, you have to take a bus to Victoria followed by another bus to Xlendi Beach.
Use Google Maps or the Malta Public Transport journey planner to find the best connections.
It takes 42 minutes – 1 hour to travel from the Gozo Ferry Terminal to Xlendi Beach by bus.
Malta Hiking Essentials
- Hiking Backpack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- Polarized, CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Camera Body: Sony Alpha a6400
- Mid-range Zoom Lens: Sony Vario-Tessar 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS ZEISS
- Wide angle Zoom Lens: Sony – E 10-18mm F4 OSS Wide-angle Zoom Lens
- Backpack Camera Clip: Peak Design Camera Clip
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