Mdina is one of the most popular attractions in Malta, and it’s easy to see why.
Knowing as “the Silent City”, this ancient citadel is packed with history and old-world charm. It’s also home to some of the most beautiful buildings on the island.
Let’s look at some of the best things to do in Mdina.
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A bit about Mdina
Mdina has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the ancient Phoenician period.
The city was originally founded as a small settlement by the Phoenicians around 700 BC and was later inhabited by the Romans, who built many of the city’s impressive fortifications.
Over the centuries, Mdina was occupied by different rulers, including the Arabs, the Normans, and the Knights of St. John, all of whom left their mark on the city’s architecture.
Today, the city remains one of the most well-preserved examples of medieval architecture in Europe, and a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history and culture.
How to get to Mdina
Mdina is a popular attraction among both local and tourists, so it’s quite easy to get to – even by public transport.
The ancient city is located just outside Rabat, which is a hilltop town in central Malta. You’ll find several direct buses to Rabat.
If you’re staying in St. Paul’s Bay (including Bugibba and Qawra), you can get on bus 186 or bus X3 from the main terminus.
If you’re staying in Sliema, you can get on bus 202.
Don’t worry if there are no direct buses to Rabat from your location. You can simply get a bus to Valletta, and from there, you’ll just need to get on bus 51, 52, or 56.
Most buses will stop just outside Mdina, right next to Howard Gardens. You can take a leisurely walk through the gardens and enjoy the sight of the beautiful bastions and the main Mdina gate.
Best things to do in Mdina
Mdina is quite small, and you can explore the entire place in a couple of hours (though you may need more time if you plan on visiting the museums).
Here are the best things to do in Mdina, Malta.
1. Walk through the quiet alleys
Mdina was built by the Phoenicians around 700BC. Throughout the centuries, it was inhabited and developed by different rulers, including the Romans, the Normans, and the Arabs.
As you walk through the city’s winding alleys, you can admire a variety of architectural styles, from the 15th-century Norman Window on Villa Falzon to the neo-Gothic facade of Casa Gourgion.
If you’re Game of Thrones fan, some of the streets might look familiar. This is because Mdina starred as King’s Landing in season one.
Mdina is like a maze, but don’t worry if you get lost – you’re always a few streets away from the nearest gate!
2. Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is Mdina’s star attraction. This 17th century building has an impressive facade and boasts a wealth of gems, including paintings by Mattia Preti and beautiful frescoes. Tombstones with marble slabs cover the floor.
According to legend, the cathedral stands on the site where St. Paul converted the the Roman governor Publius to Christianity.
You can also visit the Cathedral Museum, which houses a collection of religious art, Roman antiquities, woodcarvings by Albrecht Durer, and more.
3. Have lunch at Fontanella
Fontanella Tea Garden is a very popular cafe among locals. It’s situated on the city’s ramparts, and offers stunning views of the island.
Fontanella is particularly known for its delicious cakes and milkshakes. It also serves a selection of local dishes and snacks.
This place is always super busy, especially at lunchtime, so you might need to queue for a table.
4. Check out the views from the ramparts
Mdina’s fortified walls were built to protect the local population from pirate attacks. The city stands on a hill in the centre of the island, overlooking the northeastern coastline.
From the ramparts, you can enjoy sweeping views of the Maltese countryside and nearby towns, including Mosta and Imtarfa.
In the summer months, you can watch fireworks let off from villages celebrating the local festa.
5. Go for a stroll through the Mdina Ditch Gardens
If you want to escape the crowds while you’re in Mdina, head down to the ditch gardens (known as “il-Foss”).
You can walk along the impressive bastions, sit on a bench in the shade, and take in beautiful views of Mdina from below.
6. Visit the National Museum of Natural History
If you’re looking for interesting things to do in Mdina, you might want to check out the National Museum of Natural History near the main entrance.
Housed in an 18th-century palace, the museum boasts a huge collection of specimens, including a 4000-year-old mummified Nile crocodile and a flying squid.
7. Explore Mdina at night
Mdina is simply magical at night. The main gate is beautifully lit up, and old-fashioned lanterns cast a golden glow over the dark alleys.
Mdina is the perfect place for a romantic dinner date. Alternatively, you can have dinner at one of the restaurants in neighbouring Rabat, then go for a late-night stroll in Mdina.
8. Travel back in time at the Roman Villa
The Roman Villa is one of the most unique attractions in Malta.
Situated right next to Mdina, this building houses a collection of Roman antiquities, as well as mosaics and ruins of an ancient dwelling.
Here, you can learn about different aspects of Roman life and culture, including food, education, and fashion.
9. Marvel at the beautiful Palazzo Falson
Palazzo Falson is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful buildings in Mdina. The palace dates back to the 13th-century and features a cosy garden with a Renaissance staircase and many other architectural gems.
You can explore the rooms and chapel of the Mdina on a guided audio tour. There’s also a quiet little cafe that offers stunning views of the city.
10. Take a trip to Rabat
The main square of Rabat is always bustling with activity. There are shops, cafes, and an impressive basilica dedicated to St. Paul.
A walk through the streets of Rabat is the perfect way to immerse yourself in local village life.
Recommended Mdina tours
Want to explore Mdina with a local guide? Check out these highly-rated tours.
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