Mdina, Malta is a fascinating city whose origins date back over 4000 years. It may seem impenetrable — it is surrounded by thick, fortified walls — but don’t let that imposing barrier discourage you. There is a lot to explore here, including palaces once lived in by nobles, widely varying styles of architecture spanning multiple historical eras and cultures, and even a grotto where St. Paul the apostle was said to have lived.
Intrigued? Let’s take a look at some of the things you can explore in Mdina, Malta.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Mdina, Malta?
The best time to make your way to Mdina is mid- to late spring and early summer. During the months of April, May, and June, the weather is ideal, because the sun is almost always shining, but the temperatures aren’t too hot to bear. At night, things cool down, making it a lovely time to go out and take a stroll in the moonlight.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Mdina, Malta
Eat Your Way Around the City
Mdina is full of restaurants that showcase the city’s unique cuisine and cultural traditions. Most dishes are inspired by Italy as well as Malta, but one of the best places to eat sounds like a place you would find in Great Britain. The Fontanella Tea Garden in Bastion Square offers guests a spectacular view from the top of Mdina’s fortified walls, as well as some truly delicious homemade cakes, snacks, and sandwiches.
Get the Knights of Malta Experience
History buffs can’t visit Mdina without stopping in at the Knights of Malta exhibit. Located within the city’s walls with the Casa Magazzini at its back (an ammunition store built by the Knights of Malta in the 1500s), this exhibit takes you back in time with a thirty-minute audio-visual presentation complete with special effects and life-size (and lifelike) figures that portray significant moments in the history of the Knights of Malta. You can be with the Knights from their arrival on the island in 1530 all the way up to the moment they were expelled from it in 1798.
Take a Stroll in Nearby Buskett Gardens
Although technically located in Rabat, a stone’s throw from Mdina, Buskett Gardens should still make it onto nature lovers’ itineraries. Wooded areas of this nature are not very common on Malta, which makes this one all the more beautiful. The trees here were planted by the Knights of Malta to create a hunting area, but now the gardens are full of peaceful, winding paths that lead you past natural springs, wildflowers, olive and lemon groves, vineyards, orange trees, and even cacti, making it one of the top sights in Malta.
Some of the Best Attractions in Mdina, Malta
Mdina Dungeons Museum
“Not all will leave, ye who enter here!” warns the official website of the Mdina Dungeons Museum. If you are brave enough to enter this series of secret passageways deep within the earth beneath the Magisterial Vilhena Palace, you’ll be able to take a look at a dark chapter of Mdina’s history: much of which involves mysteries and tales of torture that are the stuff of nightmares. This Medieval Dungeon is filled with lifelike statues and even recorded audio to put you in the moment and reenact hair-raising scenes from ancient times that you won’t soon forget.
St, Paul’s Cathedral
Built in the 17th century, St. Paul’s Cathedral is a stunning example of Baroque-style architecture. On the inside, you will see a breathtaking, gilded vault with an arched ceiling, as well as stone and marble statues and a painting of St. Paul’s Shipwreck, which is said to have happened in Mdina. On the outside, you can see two twin bell towers that are so enormous that they can be viewed from anywhere in Mdina and its surrounding areas, as well as several large, ornate clocks. Interestingly, these clocks and every other church clock in Malta depict a different time, with only one actually being correct. The purpose of this, according to the locals, is to confuse the devil so that he won’t show up to mass at the same time as the townspeople.
The Cathedral Museum
Located next to St. Paul’s Cathedral in Archbishop Square, Mdina’s Cathedral Museum was constructed in the 18th century by Bishop Alpheran de Bussan in the Baroque style. It was originally intended to be a seminary, but now it holds multiple collections of artwork, including silver statues, wax reliefs, and a numismatic collection filled with ancient coins. If you want to see a large portion of Mdina’s history all in one place, this is the place to go.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Mdina, Malta
Like Buskett Gardens, St. Paul’s Catacombs are technically located in the village of Rabat, but they are still definitely worth a visit. This is another series of underground chambers, this time used as a burial place for those who died during Punic and Roman times. This site is the earliest and biggest sign of Christianity in Malta, making it a highly significant find.
If you are a history buff, you will be in heaven in Mdina, where it seems like everything within its thick stone walls is calling you back to times long past. Just be sure not to linger in the dungeons, because we can’t be responsible for your needing a nightlight to sleep when you get home!