Comprehensive Mdina Travel Guide - All You Need To Know

Comprehensive Mdina Travel Guide

 


Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of a medieval walled city and has an extraordinary mix of both medieval and baroque architecture. This ancient city is a popular tourist destination in Malta and it is easy to see why.

 

gateway mdina malta
The gateway to Mdina.

 

Mdina’s history goes back thousands of years, all the way to prehistoric times, making it the oldest city in Malta. It has had a few names over the millennia, from Maleth by the Phoenicians to Melite by the Romans, and it was once larger than its current size, but until the Order of St. John came to Malta, Mdina served as its capital.

 

st pauls cathedral outside mdina malta
St. Paul's Cathedral from outside the city.

 

During the Middle Ages the city of Mdina was reduced to its current size to better protect it from invaders. Fortifications were built and it became the walled city on a hill that we see today. Not much has changed with the walls since then. The winding cobble streets are still lite by lamps and the many of the houses are still passed down through the family. The fact that little has changed coupled with the fact that only select cars are allowed within the walls have gained Mdina the nickname of the ‘Silent City.’

 

door mdina malta
There are so many great views within the city of Mdina.

 

Just outside the city walls, in the city of Rabat, there are many remnants of when Mdina was the larger Roman Melite. Between the two cities there is lots to see and experience. Here, I have out together a list of the best things to see and do both within and out of the walls of Mdina.

 

What to Do

Within the Walls of Mdina

 

Walk the Streets

 

street view mdina malta
One of the many winding streets of Mdina.

 

Mdina is a beautiful example of a medieval city and not much has changed over time within its walls. Meander through the winding stone streets of this ancient city and enjoy the views of a city frozen in time. Even more, for those who are fans of the Game of Thrones, Mdina was the filming location for King’s Landing in the first season.

 

Palazzo Falson

 

palazzo falson mdina malta
The garden of Palazzo Falson.

 

Built in 1495 using the parts of the existing 13th century building, the Palazzo Falson is one of the oldest building in Mdina. Now a house museum, the house was originally built for Maltese nobility to reside in Mdina. This medieval townhouse has 17 rooms of domestic furniture and belongings, as well a number of antique collections. A visit to the Palazzo is a great way to see inside the private dwellings of medieval Maltese nobility.  

 

Cost: Basic - €10.00/$10.15; Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €5/$5.27; Children (6 – 12 years) – Free; Children (under 6) – Not Admitted
Hours: 10am – 5pm (Tuesday – Sunday)

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral and Museum

 

st pauls cathedral mdina malta
St. Paul's Cathedral

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral holds a prominent spot in Mdina, once the site of the Roman Governors Palace and the site where Roman governor Publius met St. Paul following his shipwreck on Malta. Not nearly as ornate as its sister church in Valetta, the cathedral is still worth a visit. You must purchase a ticket the museum to enter the cathedral. The museum offers a number of religious and secular collections to view.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €10.00/$10.15; Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €8/$8.43; Children - Free
Hours: 9:30am – 4:45pm (Monday – Friday), 9:30am – 2:45pm (Saturday)

 

Mdina Dungeons Museum

 

mdina dungeon museum mdina malta
Entrance of the Mdina Dungeons Museum.

 

Located under the medieval palace (now the National Museum of Natural History), the Mdina Dungeons Museum is a look into the history of ancient cities imprisonment and torture techniques. With displays of many of the techniques, some might think it’s a bit eerie and creepy and others too childish, but if you’re interested in the macabre it is worth the short time it takes to see the museum.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €5/$5.27; Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €2/$2.11
Hours: 10am – 4pm

 

Nearby in Rabat

 

Domvs Romana

 

mosaic domvs romana mdina malta
A mosaic that was once a prominent feature on the floor of the Roman villa.

 

The Domvs Romana is the site of a 1st century Roman villa that was once in the ancient city of Melite. The villa today is in ruins, but many beautiful Hellenistic mosaics and statues were found mostly still intact. Today the museum displays the remnants of the villa, as well as many other Roman artifacts found across the island of Malta.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €6/$6.32; Youths (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €4.50/$4.74; Children (6 – 11 years) - €3.50/$3.16
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm (Tuesday – Sunday)

 

St. Paul’s Catacombs

 

st pauls catacombs mdina malta
A few of the many tombs within the catacombs of Malta.

 

The St. Paul’s Catacombs are the most well-known of the catacomb clusters in the Mdina area. The 22,000 sq ft of space consists of a ceremonial space and 30 tombs of different burial types. Used during the 7th and 8th century, the St. Paul’s Catacombs are great example of Christian burials during that era.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €6/$6.32; Youths (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €4.50/$4.74; Children (6 – 11 years) - €3.50/$3.69
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm

 

St. Agatha Catacombs

 

The 2nd and 3rd century catacombs of St. Agatha offer a great example of early burial rites in the city of Melite. The St. Agatha Catacombs are much larger than the before mentioned St. Paul’s Catacombs, nearly double the size, but only a portion is open to the public for viewing. Even so, these catacombs offer some amazing frescos not found at St. Paul’s, as well as a small museum. Located just across the street from, if you had to choose only one, I would suggest St. Agatha.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €5/$5.27
Hours: 1pm – 4:30pm (Monday – Friday), 10am – 1:30pm (Saturday)

 

Wignacourt Museum

 

wignacourt museum mdina malta
Wignacourt Museum might look boring on the outside, but there is lots to see within.

 

Once the home for the chaplains of the Order of St. John, the Wignacourt Museum is now a multipurpose museum. The main floor of the museum houses a number artifacts and art pieces, namely a series of paintings and sculptures, the Hospitallers alter, maps, and rare books like King Henry VIII's 'Septem Sacramants.’ Below ground are a number of areas. These include catacombs, World War II shelter, and St. Paul’s Grotto (where he is believed to have lived after he was shipwrecked on the island).

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €10.00/$10.15; Youths (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €7.50/$7.89; Children (6 – 11 years) - €5.50/$5.79
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm

 

Casa Bernard

 

Casa Bernard, like the Palazzo Falson in Mdina, is a house museum. This 16th century house has been restored to its former glory. Once owned by a Maltese family of nobility, you can take a guided tour to get an insight into the typical private life of nobility at that time.

 

Cost: Adults (18 – 59 years) - €10.00/$10.15; Youths (12 – 17 years), Senior Citizens (60+ years), and Students with ID - €7.50/$7.89; Children (6 – 11 years) - €5.50/$5.79
Hours: 9am – 4:30pm

 

Where to Eat

 

view of valletta mdina malta
Mdina is on the highest point in Malta. View of Valletta from the Fontanella Tea Garden.

Many different cultures have called Malta their home and throughout the ages they have left their mark on the cuisine there. Possibly the most popular street food in Malta is the pastizzi. This flaky, savory pastry can be found all of the island filled with a number of different fillings like cheese, peas, or corned beef, just to name a few. Little pastizzeria shops can be found tucked into small slots all over the place. One of my favorite cafes within the walls of Mdina is Fontanella Tea Garden. Along the northern wall of the city, this café is a great place to grab a small bite or a drink and enjoy the views from atop the city wall.

Where to Stay

 

Mdina is one of the largest tourist attractions in Malta, and as such has an array of hotel options around the city. There are very few options within the walls of Mdina itself and these are fairly expensive. Just outside the city, in Rabat, there are a number of other hotels. While there are no budget hotels, there are a few cheaper options. When booking my hotels, I always use Agoda to find the best hotel in my location and price range. 

 

How to Get Around

 

horse carriage mdina malta
Horse and carriage in Mdina.

 

Mdina itself is a very small area, so getting around the city is easiest by foot. At its longest distance, from the Mdina Gate to Bastion Square is only 0.2 miles. Even the furthest sight, St. Paul’s Catacombs, is only ½ a mile away from the Mdina Gate.

 

Bus

 

For sightseeing in Mdina and Rabat you are able to do it all by foot so there is no reason to use a bus. There are a number of bus routes that make their way around the Mdina area though if you are in need of transportation. If you do plan to take the bus frequently to get in and out of Valletta or plan to explore more of the country, then I highly suggest getting the Tallinja bus pass for easier and cheaper access to the bus system.

 

How to Get There

 

pin point map mdina malta

 

Most people arrive in Malta by plane at the international airport or by ferry from Italy, but Valetta is also a stop on many Mediterranean cruises as well. Once in the country traveling to Mdina is best done by public bus.

 

Ferry

 

If you are traveling to Valletta from Italy, then you can take a ferry from Pozzallo, Italy to Marsa, Malta. The ferry only takes 1 hr 45 min to make the journey, but you will want to check the ferry’s website for the schedule as it differs depending on the day of the week. The cost of the ticket also changes depending on the season. One-way passenger fares for Oct – April: 42/44.28 USD (14+ years), 32/$33.74 (4 –14 yrs); May – June: 56/$59.04 (14+ years), 47/$59.56 (4 –14 yrs); July – Sept: 66/$69.59 (14+ years), 57/$60.10 (4 –14 yrs). From the ferry terminal in Marsa, you can catch a bus at the Hatab stop just outside the terminal.

 

Airplane

 

Malta International Airport (MLA) services many of the international airlines, but there are no direct flights from the US.  The airport is located in Luqa, 7 miles southeast of Mdina, but there are a number of ways to get to Mdina from the airport.

 

Bus

The bus is by far the cheapest option, especially if you get a bus pass. Without the bus pass a cash ticket (you will need exact change) costs 1.50/$1.58 (winter), 2/$2.11 (summer), and 3/$3.16 (night). If you arrive between 5:30am – 10:30pm, then the X3 bus will take you from the airport terminal entrance to just outside the city gate of Mdina. This bus comes by every hour depending on the time of day and will take about 50 minutes.

 

Shuttle Bus

If you are wanting to be dropped off directly at your hotel, then a shuttle bus is your best option. Suntransfers is a great company and has a few options at different price ranges. Their cheapest is a shared Express Shuttle. There will be other stops along the way, up to four, but it only cost 7.47/$7.78.

 

Taxi

A taxi is always an option for leaving the airport, but it is also one of the most expensive. Although a private transfer, a taxi from the airport to Mdina will cost around 22/$22.91.

 

Car Rental

Car rental is an option and there are rental companies at the airport, but this may not be the best option. The roads can be narrow and often congested. Public parking is also fairly hard to find and there are no cars allowed within the walled city of Mdina. Mdina can be fully toured by foot, so unless you plan to tour the country as a whole I would not recommend renting a car. Even touring the country can mostly be done by public bus with possible short walks.

 

What did you like most about Mdina?

 

Comprehensive Mdina Travel Guide


Join my mailing list


17 comments:


  1. When traveling to such distant and "exotic" countries, a careful and detailed ride like this is a real life saver!

    ReplyDelete
  2. While the castles look beautiful I just love those quiet authentic back road views!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is somewhere I'd love to visit. This is really helpful. It's good to know where to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should definitely visit at some point. It is a great place to see.

      Delete
  4. This is interesting, I would love to visit these places. I will writ time on a note so I won't fogret. Thank you for the suggestinos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your welcome. It is a wonderful place to visit!

      Delete
  5. Oh wow! This is truly a comprehesive travel guide. The garden of Palazzo Falson really caught my attention.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The whole view of the garden of Palazzo Falson, looks very mesmerizing. The walls might be as old as time, but tells a lot of stories and secrets. I'll include Mdina in my dream travel list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mdina is a great place to see. It is wonderful to be able to walk the streets of a medieval town that hasn't changed much.

      Delete
  7. Great right up. I love the architectural details of the buildings you showcased. Never thought about visiting Malta, but will pin on pinterest for future reference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Malta was a great place to visit and has so much history. I had never been on my radar, but after being there I found that it had so much to offer.

      Delete
  8. Great right up. I love the architectural details of the buildings you showcased. Never thought about visiting Malta, but will pin on pinterest for future reference.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Mdina looks amazing! I've always wanted to visit Malta, hopefully soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should! Malta is such a great place to visit. There is so much hisotry there and the island is so beautiful.

      Delete

4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14