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The tiny walled, hilltop settlement of Mdina traces its history back 4,000 years and it was just outside the city that St Paul took refuge in a cave when he was shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD. The town was once Malta’s capital and is crammed with glorious golden-stoned mansions built for the aristocracy in the 15th and 16th centuries. Chief among these is the grand Palazzo Falson, with a series of elegant rooms clustered around a central courtyard in typical medieval Spanish style and a charming little museum full of eccentric bygones.

Among its tangle of cobbled streets and splendid medieval architecture, Mdina’s pride and joy is massive St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Maltese architect Lorenzo Gafa and completed in 1702 in an exuberant Baroque style similar to Valletta’s St John’s Co-Cathedral. The interior features a nave covered with marble tomb slabs of the rich and famous and the vaulted ceiling is covered with frescoes from St Paul’s life. The cathedral’s museum has a small but excellent collection that includes works by Rembrandt and Dürer.

To learn more about Mdina’s checkered history, head for the audio-visual Mdina Experience on Triq Villegaignon. The area immediately outside the ancient city walls is Rabat; visitor attractions to catch here include the Domus Romana for its fine Roman mosaic pavements and the catacombs of St Agatha, dating from the fourth century AD and whose tunnels are aglow with 16th-century frescoes.

Practical Info:

A 20-minute ride on bus routes 80 and 81 from Valletta bus station or a 10-minute drive by car, in the summer Mdina can get overrun with visitors admiring its splendid medieval architecture. Stay overnight to capture the atmosphere as it reverts back to being Malta’s ‘silent city’, steeped in tranquility and mystery. The Heritage Malta Multisite Pass can be used at the Domus Romana.

Tours & Tickets

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Malta Shore Excursion: Malta Hop-on Hop-off Tour

4 star rating: Recommended 10 Reviews

No matter when your cruise ship arrives in Malta, this is the perfect do-it-yourself shore excursion. Discover Malta’s top attractions on a hop-on hop-off ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $20.65

Malta Sightseeing Tour: Mdina, Mosta Dome and Ta Qali Crafts Village

4 star rating: Recommended 4 Reviews

Admire Malta’s architectural treasures and watch skilled local craftspeople in action on a full-day tour of the island! With an expert guide, visit attractions ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $66.07

Malta City Hop-on Hop-off Tour

3 star rating: Worth doing 10 Reviews

Experience the perfect introduction to Malta aboard this hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour! You'll see all the beautiful sights of the city in a comfortable and ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 1 day (approx.)

From USD $20.65

Malta Shore Excursion: Private tour of Valletta and Mdina

While you’re in port in Malta, get to know its two capitals – Mdina, the ancient one, and Valletta, the current one – on this shore excursion that will ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $74.72

Viator Exclusive: 'Game of Thrones' Private Tour of Malta

Immerse yourself in the epic fantasy land of 'Game of Thrones,' on a private tour of Malta’s filming locations, designed by the original location manager for ...  Read more

Location: Valletta, Malta
Duration: 5 hours (approx.)

From USD $82.59

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