the enchanting Mdina in Malta

Things To Do In Malta While You Are Here,
Vilhena Palace Tours, Mdina Glass

Mdina in Malta is an ancient, unique, fortified city of incredible historical value. Built on a hill overlooking the rest of the island from the north and east to west.

So beautiful and historic, the city filled with Medieval, Norman and baroque architecture. Several palaces, churches, cathedral, monasteries and high fortification walls that stretch all round visible from many parts of the island.

Throughout the ages it has been maintained.  It was shaken by Sicily’s earthquake of 1693 which left many buildings damaged.

What You Need to Know About mdina in Malta

It is an enchanting old capital that has kept its character with a tiny population of around 240 people.

During the day it is a major tourist attraction. There is no other place like it on the island. At night it is quiet with a unique character also pleasant to visit lit by lanterns, quiet alleys, people walking the main road to the rear fortifications for the incredible view.

People roaming around Mdina square Malta

Just next there is the village of Rabat, which once formed part of it. But during the Normans the defensive walls were narrowed to the present size for better defence.

What can I do in Mdina? There are some great things to do. Visit historical museums, old palaces, cathedral, not least Mdina has become popular as it served as the backdrop for King’s Landing, part of the first season of the HBO’s series Game of Thrones.

Many restaurants are busy for lunch and dinner in old amazing buildings nicely restored great both Maltese and tourist for quiet quality time at the silent city.

Mdina is on the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage Site. so beautiful and historic that will tempt you to revisit. See all the features you can find here, we summarize all that you can see and do within this page.

Mdina In Malta Facts

  • The region was first inhabited in 700 BCE.
  • Mdina possesses origins that go back 4,000 years old.
  • One of Malta's Top Instagram location.
  • It has become known as the Silent City.
  • Mdina is the oldest and first capital of Malta.
  • Around 1.5 million people visit Mdina each year.
  • The city of Mdina is among the tentative list as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998.
  • Mdina is a location featured in the series Game of Thrones Season 1.

How To Get To Mdina

Mdina is located on the west side of Malta, a calmer part of the island. Getting here is rather easy. Villages located close to Mdina are Zebbug, Mosta, Attard and Dingli.

You can get to Mdina by car, bus, sightseeing tour or taxi and this how.

How to get here by car

If you are coming from the central part of Malta, it is mostly a main road leading to Mdina. You will find lots of signage to get here. It is basically the main road from the villages mentioned above. See the map below for more details.

mdina in malta parking

Parking outside the Fortifications of Mdina is both easy and difficult. It all depends when and what time you go.

here are a few suggestions of where to find parking in mdina

  • There is a small car park beside the playground area just outside the Mdina gate. Parking is limited on busy days.
  • There is a larger car park 200 meters away from Mdina Gate, just beside the Rabat bus terminus. 
  • The ditch just under the Fortifications of Mdina there are parking places. You will need to pass through a narrow tunnel to get there.
  • At the nearest village of Rabat around the narrow streets.

In the car parks mentioned above there will be a parking attendant. Payment is under your own free will.

You cannot park inside the city of Mdina as it is prohibited. Only Mdina residents are allowed inside with their vehicle as they have a special permit. So you will need to park outside the bastions.

How to arrive by bus

There is a bus stop just outside the Mdina Gate called 'Mdina'. It is a very popular bus stop so you can expect lots of people.

  • To 'Mdina' Bus Stop (Direction to Valletta): Direct routes 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 109, 181, 182, 186, 201, 202.
  • To 'Rabat Saqqajja' Bus Stop (Direction to Mdina): Direct routes 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 109, 181, 182, 186, 201, 202.

Just 5 minutes away from Mdina Gate there is the Rabat bus terminus.

  • To 'Rabat 1' Bus Stop (Direction to Rabat): Direct routes 50, 51, 52, 53, 56.
  • To 'Rabat 2' Bus Stop (Direction to Rabat): Direct routes 109, 181, 182, 186, 201, 202, X3.
  • To 'Rabat 3' Bus Stop (Direction to Rabat): Direct routes 50, 51, 52, 53, 56, 181, 182.
  • To 'Rabat 4' Bus Stop (Direction to Rabat): Direct routes 109, X3.

How to arrive by Sightseeing bus

  • There is a sightseeing tour that stops exactly outside the Mdina Gate. You will need to hop on the Sightseeing North Tour (Blue Line).
  • The best solution would be by taking one of the many coach tours available incorporating Mdina where it stops you just in front of the main entrance leading inside the city. The hop-on hop-off also gives one the opportunity to stop at this location for any duration.

other ways to get to mdina Malta

grab a taxi

All taxi companies in Malta take passengers to Mdina. The taxi will stop you just outside the gate and not inside the city. The fare of the taxi depends from where you take it from.

go on a tour

Mdina and Malta highlights is a full-day tour that visits a combination of villages around Mdina. One stop is Mdina the Silent city. 

airport transfer

If you booked to accommodate in Mdina, then you can opt for an airport transfer for around €22 (one-way) or a shared mini-bus for two adults is €14 (one-way).

Hotels in Mdina Malta

There aren't many hotels in Mdina. You will only find one hotel.

Xara Palace Hotel Relais & Châteaux

Unique Mdina hotel located within the silent city of Mdina with luxurious interiors, imposing building and excellent service. The hotel is a beautiful 17th century palazzo built as a residence for the noble family Moscati Parisio. It has beautifully decorated baroque architecture built on the edge of the bastion with a stunning view of Malta.

  • Rates including breakfast: €150 - €450 single/double
  • Location: Council Square, Mdina

Point De Vue Guesthouse

This guesthouse is located around 100 meters from the fortifications of Mdina. Since it is situated up on a hill, there are breath-taking views of the island. The guesthouse is equipped with 12 pleasant rooms.

Situated some 100m outside Mdina, with breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside, this charming guesthouse offers value for money, with 12 comfortable rooms equipped with ensuite facilities an excellent in house restaurant. Half board options are also available.

  • Location: Saqqajja Square, Rabat
  • Rates including breakfast: €60 single | €90 double

What To Do In Mdina - Attractions & Points of Interest

The National History Museum

The National History Museum is at the Vilhena Palace, which was the former home of Knights of Malta Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena during 1726. This is on the right, just as you enter the main gate of Mdina.

The museum includes details about Maltese insects, birds, exotic animals and marine fauna.

They build it in the French Baroque style, a beautiful palace designed by Charles François de Mondion. It was the redesigning of the original medieval Universita’ building.

Vilhena Palace and the Main Gate

The present main entrance gate leading to Mdina, which we find today is not the original one. The architect Charles Francois de Mondion designed the new gate in 1724 for the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Manoel de Vilhena. On entering the gate one can see the coat of arms of this Grand Master showing his outstanding successes during his war.

The Grand Master had enlarged the Vilhena palace, and for this purpose he had to shift the position of the gate sideways. It is still visible today from the outside of the fortifications.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral, also known as the Mdina Cathedral, at the main central square noticeable from many areas of Malta and a clear landmark over the fortification walls.

They rebuilt this elegant cathedral in Baroque style in 1693 after suffering damages by an earthquake.

Today it is elegantly decorated and since the 19th century it is the seat of the Roman cathedral Archdiocese of Malta. Many tourists visit this church on a yearly basis.

Cathedral museum

The Cathedral Museum is located on the side of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Built in baroque style between 1733 and 1742 by architect Andrea Belli. 

It was used as a seminary, but today it is open to the public with various collections that are worth visiting apart from the beauty of the building architecture. The collection contains vestments, coins, silverware and religious ornaments.

They had saved the museum treasures after a heavy earthquake during 1693 in Sicily that had partly destroyed the cathedral and many other buildings.

The Mdina Dungeons

The Mdina Dungeons are beneath the Vilhena Palace. Entrance is just next to the inner side of the main Mdina Gate. Here you will view the methods and instruments that were used for torture in Malta until the year 1813. It is a journey that takes you back when justice was very different than today, with a flavour of horror mixed with historical facts.

Palazzo Falson - norman house

Palazzo Falson, also known as the Norman house, is a typical two-storey medieval palace built in 1495. Various owners built and decorated the building in the Sicilian, Spanish style. The palace contains unique features that were incorporated over time since the 13th century.

It is worth visiting as it contains exterior features including splendid collections by Capt Olof Frederick Gollcher that spread over various periods and it gives you an insight about our ancestors’ way of life.

Audio Visual Shows

The Mdina Experience is an audio-visual show which enraptures 3000 years of developing the history of a national that saw many conquerors and eventually becoming a Republic led by the Maltese themselves in a 30 minute spectacle.

It is in one of the old buildings at Mesquita Square. It is a journey back in time which helps you visualise how life was at the time when Mdina was still the capital city of Malta but also along to recent years.

Signal Tower of the Standard - Torre dello Standardo

On entering the main gate on the right side you see the Torre dello Standardo. It is part of the main fortification walls and a communications tower. The Knights of St. John between 1725 and 1726 reconstructed it.

During the time of the French occupation between 1798 to 1800, the Maltese hoisted Neapolitan and Portuguese flags when the latter’s navy came over to assist.

During the British rule, they still used it as a signal tower. Now it is the tourist information office.

Carmelite Priory Museum

The Carmelite Priory Museum is the first one that has opened its doors on these islands. The Carmelites have restored this 17th century building including the exhibited artefacts to give the visitor an experience of the daily priory life and the spiritual side where the tours are conducted by one friar.

These convents have incredible beautiful architectural features that we rarely find today.

Mdina Narrow Streets

Immerse yourself in a world that has gone by. Roam the narrow and winding streets of the old capital, which are still the lining houses and palaces of the Maltese. Observe the untouched architecture spreading several eras of conquerors. With only 300 residents, the streets are frequently empty. Only the main central roads are very active with visitors.

the three gates of the walled city

The Mdina fortifications have three gates. The main gate side and back doors.

first gate - the main gate

The main gate was built during the reign of Grand Master Vilhena when he decided to enlarge the Vilhena Palace and for this purpose he had to shift the position of the main entrance gate sideways.

The old door position is still visible from the outside. Here there are three stone statues. St. Agatha, the patron saint, St. Paul who brought Christianity to Malta and St. Publius who was the Governor of the Island when St. Paul was shipwrecked. During that time a Maltese family named Inguanez used to govern and you can see the coat of arms on the city walls.

second gate - greeks gate

The second gate (at the side) the Greeks gate leading to St. Nicholas Square, which is the oldest of the three where a small Greek community used to live. During those times, slaves used to enter Mdina through this gate and not through the main one.

third gate

The third one at the back of the fortification walls and called Gharreqin. The British rule constructed this gate within the walls with an outside ramp leading to the level of the road. It leads to the 19th century train station, which formed part of the train network. This was the last train station from where one could walk to Mtarfa, where British soldiers used to live in purposely built quarters.

Archbishop Square

Archbishop Square is the main attraction point in the centre of Mdina with the plan of a large rectangular shaped square with the cathedral taking up one of the four sides.

During the 18th century Grand Master Antonio Manoel de Vilhena re-designed Mdina with the latest baroque style innovation of urban open spaces where old damaged buildings were demolished to make space for this square.

Walking through the main narrow road coming from the entrance gate you arrive immediately here surrounded by beautiful palaces.

Banca Giuratale

The Banca Giuratale also known as the Municipal Palace was purposely built between 1726 and 1728 to house the city’s administration council and courts.

The Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena had taken over their original premises as he wished to build his own palace, which today we call it Vilhena Palace.

The Municipal Palace had various used as time passed by. During the French occupation 1798 it was the meeting place of the Maltese National Assembly.

Today it houses the court records from 1530 to 1899 forming part of the National Archives of Malta.

What to see in Mdina Malta

The fortification walls of mdina

The Fortifications of Mdina are defensive walls surrounding the natural plateau on high ground in the centre of the island. From here there is a formidable view of the island’s principal ports, which was the most ideal location for a fortified capital at the same time overlooking the open Mediterranean Sea for any invaders.

Mdina Ditch Garden

The Mdina Ditch is another area which should be explored. It is a walk outside the fortifications within the wide ditch. It starts from the Ghareqqija gate to the other side beside the Veduta restaurant where you find a purposely built lift to bring you down and up to the main road from the ditch.

The fortification walls have been restored and the ditch floor has been paved with a mix of green lawn, paving and trees. You have various location where you can sit down and admire the tranquility and setting around you.

What is Mdina for the Maltese

For the Maltese population, it is a favourite. Apart from its attracting character, the Maltese like to come here for serenity, fantastic views and for a quiet walk both during the day or at night. in summer, it is pleasant to come here for the fresh breeze over the bastion walls.

Magnificent view from the rear of the fortifications showing Valletta the capital city and all the surrounding areas. They built Mdina on a high promontory having a strategic location enabling the defenders to protect the island from invaders.

Not least to the restaurants that have made a name for themselves. There is a very popular cafeteria called ‘Fontanella’ which offers delicious food and sweets. It is on the edge of the bastions overlooking the vast landscapes of Malta. Do not miss this opportunity. Vey often full and have to wait to be seated.

New! Comments

Have you enjoyed what you read! Leave a comment in the box below.