There are enough things to see and do in Mdina, Malta’s old capital, to comfortably fill an entire long weekend. If you only have half a day to spend in the Silent City, however, then here’s what you absolutely must experience whilst you’re there.
To help you fit the most in, we’ve broken it down into hour-long periods – so there’s no excuses for missing anything out!
We’ve assumed you’ve just arrived and have already had lunch, so the first step is to make a start on the plethora of sightseeing activities to be explored in the area. Upon entering the City Gates on foot, you will be met with a mass of beautiful baroque architecture that continues throughout the City (remember to look up!).
There are also several souvenir shops along the way in which you can purchase a piece of authentic Malta lace, or visit Mdina Glass to witness the fascinating manufacturing process of local glass ornaments, and buy a unique piece to take home with you.
Next up is Mdina’s spectacularly- decorated Cathedral, St Paul’s. Situated in front of a beautiful cobbled market square, the inside of the Cathedral displays various decorative styles that have been added through the centuries, whilst a neighbouring museum exhibits artworks and antiquities that were formerly housed within the Cathedral.
After touring the Cathedral and exiting the square, you come to Palazzo Falson, which is one of Malta’s historical homes of note. It is brimming with artefacts collected through the ages, and is well worth rounding out the hour by taking a look.
Follow the narrow streets and continue to appreciate the intricate Baroque architecture, before arriving at the Bastions, which affords an incredible panoramic view across Malta (remember your camera!).
Now is also an ideal time for afternoon tea, and it just happens that one of Malta’s most famous coffee shops, ‘Fontanella Tea Garden’ is situated directly next to the Bastion wall. Serving a wide range of beverages and a selection of homemade cake that is renowned across Malta, you can relax there and take in the view whilst indulging in your sweet treat and Italian-brand coffee.
Having had your coffee break, walk back over to the Bastion wall and from there hail a ‘karrozin’ – a Maltese horse-and-passenger carriage that will guide you through a tour of the Silent City, to go back towards the City Gate.
Once back at City Gate (at the horse’s leisurely pace, which we anticipate should take most of the hour), disembark, and go to the famous Mdina Dungeons, which are situated immediately there. A series of underground passageways with a colourful past, there are frequently some dark and mysterious events from Maltese history reenacted within these authentic Medieval Dungeons.
Carry on with your tour of Mdina’s Dungeons, before paying a visit to the National Museum of Natural History next door. Housed within an impressive eighteenth century Baroque palace, the museum’s exhibits cover various topics including Maltese geology and palaeontology, exotic wildlife, and marine life large and small.
With the afternoon drawing to a close, if you have a little more time in the area we suggest you indulge in some of the best examples of Maltese pastizzi from the ‘Crystal Palace’ bar in Rabat, which is just opposite Mdina’s entrance, or perhaps purchase an ice-cream from one of the numerous vendors in the area. Whilst enjoying your delicacy, take a stroll through the lush green gardens located in the trench surrounding Mdina’s fortress walls, before settling down on one of the seating areas there to discuss the evening’s or following day’s itinerary, as the sun sets.