Mdina & Rabat

Mdina is an ancient walled city in the heart of the Mediterranean island of Malta. At one time it was the country’s capital city but today it is a Mecca for tourists – 1.5 million of them flock here every year to experience how life was in years gone by. This city has remained largely unchanged for hundreds of years and as you walk around, you can easily imagine walking the same streets in medieval times. No one knows for sure when the ancient fortified walls were built, but the best guess is around 1048 when the history books show that Mdina was a thriving Muslim town.

As with all walled cities, you can only enter Mdina through a small number of gates. The one above is the main gate, which you might recognise from the Game Of Thrones TV series. Once inside, to get the most out of your visit to Mdina and Rabat, we’d recommend taking a walking tour. This one gets great reviews from other visitors: Mdina & Rabat Walking Tour with Catacombs. If you’d prefer to explore on your own, the best thing to do is simply walk the streets. What you’ll find is a winding stone pathways, sleepy houses, the odd horse and carriage and beautiful historic buildings. Mdina is known as the ‘silent city’ and it feels peaceful when you walk around the streets even if they are busy.

St Paul’s Cathedral sits in the biggest square in the city and is the tallest structure in Mdina. You can see its dome from all around the city and it’s the most striking feature on the Mdina skyline when viewing from afar. The interior is sumptuous but we actually preferred the nearby Church of The Annunciation Of Our Lady which has an even more striking skylight (pictured below) and is free to enter. Look out for the oldest building in Malta which has the date 1233 inscribed on the windows. It’s a palace called Palazzo Santa Sofia but as it’s not open to the public, you can only enjoy the outside. Another notable home is Casa Gourjion in the main square, which is operated as a museum.

The size of Mdina would always be limited by its huge walls. As such, Rabat started to grow on the outside of those walls. The town is well worth visiting too and there are many enjoyable sights here. Buildings of note include a 16th century palace called Casa Bernard and St Dominic’s Priory on the outskirts of Rabat (pictured below). The central courtyard and church building are beautiful. This was another location used in Game of Thrones and you can see why. Rabat also has some impressive catacombs under St Paul’s which are open to the public and operated by Heritage Malta.


Mdina is only 8 miles from Valletta, but it will take you almost an hour on a bus. From the bus station, take bus number 50, 51, 52 ,53 or 56.  The map below shows Mdina. Rabat sits outside the ancient city’s walls.


Mdina – Wikipedia
Rabat – Wikipedia
St Paul’s Cathedral, Mdina – Official website
St Paul’s Catacombs – Heritage Malta
Casa Bernard – Official website
Hotels in Valletta –
More Things To Do In Valletta – GetYourGuide