Mdina (the so-called "Silent City") is rightly considered the most beautiful city in Malta and one of the most visited places. Rabat, a suburb of Mdina that is now much larger and more vibrant than Mdina itself, is also worth a visit.

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Driving past the town of Ir-Rabat, historic Mdina is unmissable, as the entire historic centre stands at Malta's second highest point at around 200 metres above sea level.

The nickname "Silent City" probably originated when the capital moved from Mdina to the Three Cities near Valletta. Mdina became completely orphaned and became a ghost town.

In a way, Mdina remains a silent place to this day, as cars are not allowed in the historic centre (the only exceptions are supplies, parish employees and emergency services).

History of Mdina

Mdina's roots date back to around 4000 BC, and it was first fortified by the Phoenicians in 700 BC. When Malta came under Roman control, the first palaces were built in Mdina and its boom began. The city took its name, which persists to the present day, from the Sicilian Arabs who ruled Malta in the 1st century AD.

Until 1565, Mdina was the capital of Malta. The vast majority of Mdina's buildings date back to the 16th century, because at that time Malta was hit by a massive earthquake and nothing of the original ancient monuments remained.

Sights and attractions

Although small in size, medieval Mdina is full of historical monuments.

Among the most important are the fortifications and walls surrounding the entire historic centre. The main part of the walls is free to access and offers breathtaking views of the island's hinterland and the east coast.

Mdina's biggest landmark is the 18th century St Paul's Cathedral, which dominates the entire town. Tickets cost 10 eur.

Inside the walls of the old town sits the Museum of Natural History, open Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Admission is 5 eur.

However, in Mdina you will most enjoy wandering aimlessly through the narrow streets and exploring the orphaned corners. Although Mdina is very small, you can easily spend more than an hour here.

Entrance fees and opening hours

As there are still regular inhabitants living inside Mdina, the gates of the walls remain open 24/7 and you can therefore wander the streets of the old town without any time limit.

The various monuments are usually open between 9:00 and 17:00.

Entrance to Mdina itself is free. There is only a charge for admission to the cathedral or the Natural History Museum.

Accommodation Mdina

Let the centuries-old walls impress you, even in the evening when the tourist traffic dies down, and stay right in the old town.

There are only three luxury 5-star hotels in Mdina:

For much more budget-friendly deals, look in the adjacent town of Rabat.

How to get there

Mdina lies in the central part of the island near the town of Ir-Rabat and road signposts from all over Malta head here.

By car

Cars are banned from the historic core itself, but you'll always find free parking on the approach routes, which can be crowded in the summer season.

You can park for free anywhere in the Mdina area, but expect a long detour around Rabat to find a free space.

Book a car at Malta Airport

By bus

However, the city is easily accessible by bus. There are 8 bus routes to Mdina, each with an interval of 30-60 minutes. The main bus stop "Rabat" is located about 50 metres from the entrance to Mdina.

Due to the very busy traffic from Valletta, we recommend using buses instead of cars to get to Mdina.

Click on the line number to see the exact timetable and route map.

  • Line X3 - Airport, Bugibba, Tarxien, Birkirkara
  • Line 50 - Valletta, Birkirkara
  • Line 51 - Valletta, Birkirkara, Imtarfa
  • Line 52 - Valletta, Birkirkara and Dingli town
  • Line 53 - Valletta, Birkirkara and Ir-Rabat city tour
  • Line 56 - Valletta, Birkirkara, Ta'Qali Park and Dingli town
  • Line 109 - Siggiewi, Zebbug and Bahrija
  • Line 181 - Birkirkara, Dingli town, Mater Dei
  • Line 182 - Birkirkara, Mater Dei, Imtarfa
  • Line 186 - Mosta, Bugibba, Ta'Qali
  • Line 201 - Dingli cliffs, Blue Grotto, Hagar Qim, Dingli town, Siggiewi
  • Line 202 - Mosta, Pembroke, San Giljan, Sliema, Ta'Qali

For ticket prices and more information about buses in Malta, see the Transport chapter.

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