Malta is full of beautiful towns, offers many things to do and is surrounded by crystal clear blue water. It is a perfect destination for a vacation, or even a weekend break if you live in Europe! If you are lucky enough to spend some time here, make sure you put some time aside for exploring Mdina, the charming old city. Surrounded by walls, and made up of quaint little streets, it lives up to it is often referred to as”Silent City”. Mdina lies on a hill top, offering spectacular panoramic views of the Maltese countryside. Getting around Malta is easy as it is so small so Mdina can easily be reached from anywhere on the island. Spending a few hours just wandering the streets is a pleasure, however if you want to get the most out of your time, check out my tips on the best things to do in Mdina below.
Whilst there is no bus stop inside the city walls, local buses run from all over Malta to Rabat. From here you can easily wander into the walls of the city. Buses is Malta are very cheap, with journeys costing less than 2 euros, however they can be extremely crowded and slow. Try to avoid peak times, allow plenty of time for your journeys, as in Malta you never quite know how long a journey will really take! Taxi’s will also be happy to take you there, and just outside the main gates of the city there are plenty of drivers willing to take you back to your accommodation. The tourist hop-on hop-off buses also stop at Rabat.
St Pauls Cathedral
The absolute centre piece of the city is the stunning St Pauls Cathedral. Originally built in the 12th century, it was damaged by an earthquake in 1693. Later, it was rebuilt in the baroque style that you see today. Just adjacent to the cathedral you will find the museum, and here you can buy a combined museum and cathedral entry ticket for €5. While I usually enjoy museums, I have to say I found this one rather dull. However, the entrance is included in your cathedral ticket so you may as well take a quick look around. The cathedral itself opens onto St Paul’s square, and is really a beautiful building inside and out. We were lucky enough to arrive just in time for a wedding. It felt kind of strange, watching from the back with a load of other tourists as 2 random strangers tied the knot! I was so intrigued by all the glamorous guests and the 3 camera men who were filming the whole event, that I asked a steward if the couple were local celebrities! He replied that they weren’t, and that all weddings here in the cathedral were this extravagant. Wedding or not, the interior of the cathedral is still a beautiful sight and well worth paying the small entrance fee for.
Get lost in the winding streets
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, as soon as you arrive in Mdina you will quickly feel as though you have been transported to “kings Landing”. Many scenes from the series were filmed here, and with the tiny streets and sandy colours all around, it is easy to see why. The city is small, so don’t fear just taking wander around and seeing what you can find. You will most likely end up going back on yourself, or passing the same bench or door several times! From certain points at on the city walls, the views across the surrounding area can be amaxing, so take the time to soak up the scenery that Mdina has to offer.
Take some photos!
In a city this pretty it is near on impossible not to pull your camera out at every opportunity! The narrow streets look as though they were made for Instagram! There are countless photo opportunites, but one particularly popular location is a building that is covered in bright pink flowers which frame a cute wooden doorway. the only problem you may have is that you may have a bit of an audience as you try to get your perfect snap, as everyone wants a picture in front of this flowery building! The views from the walls also make for great shots, as well as the interesting balconies and narrow streets. Check out the weird fish shaped door knockers too, on doors around the city!
Dine on the terrace
There are several restaurants located on the walls of the city that offer stunning views. The level of service and food is high, and it is advisable to book if you want to bag a table for sunset! As night falls you are almost certain to be able to spot fireworks in one direction or another! My absolute favourite restaurant in Mdina is Bacchus. Head through the main gates and turn right down a quaint side street until you find the sign. On first entrance you may believe it to be empty, however most people choose to dine up on the roof in the pretty garden terrace. Food and service are impeccable, a real fine dining experience but without a huge price tag! The Maltese are famous for letting them off, and from the walls of Mdina you will have a great viewing platform. After dinner, take a walk around Mdina as the city looks different at night, and the walls are lit up beautifully.
Step back in time at Palazzo Falson
For those who enjoy history, a visit to Palazzo Falson is a must. Named after the Falson family, it is one of the oldest buildings in Malta, dating back to the 13th century. This museum is comprised of 17 rooms, and kept as authentic as possible. Among the rooms you will find a kitchen, library and armoury, with all rooms filled with artifacts ranging from original paintings to silverware.
When to visit
Malta has the benefit of lying in the very south of Europe, meaning even in winter, it doesn’t get unbearably cold. If you want to avoid crowds, then “shoulder” months like October and April would be great times to visit. Temperatures are warm but not uncomfortable, without the huge summer tourist crowd. There are a few annual events that take place in Mdina, such as the Mdina Medieval Festival, usually around the beginning of April.
Where to stay
As Malta is such a small island, Mdina is accessible from every corner in less than a few hours. This means even if you are staying on the beach somewhere, you can easily take a day trip and experience all the things to do in Mdina. If you would like to stay within the city walls and truly experience the “Silent City”, there are a few rather luxurious options, including the 5 star Xara Palace Relais and Chateaux. For those on a budget, the better option may be to stay in neighbouring Rabat, which is walking distance to the city walls.
Have you visted Mdina? What was your favourite activity? Comment below!
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