Is Mdina, Malta Worth Visiting? What To Do in Mdina For Free
Updated: Apr 19
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission from the discount codes used or when a link/ad is clicked. All purchases made will come at no extra cost to you, and I only include products and services that I have personally used and would recommend.
Mdina is one of the most unique places to visit in Malta and is the perfect option for a day trip from Valletta. The history of Mdina can be dated back to the Bronze Age and for thousands of years this site has always been a fortified area due to its strategic position. The city has passed through Phoenician, Roman, Arab, and Norman hands but hasn’t changed much from the 9th century when the Arabs separated Mdina from Rabat for defensive purposes.
Visiting the Silent City is like taking a walk through time. Barely any vehicles are allowed inside the walls and Mdina at night becomes almost ghostlike apart from the few restaurants in Mdina that remain open. Once the capital of Malta, Mdina still draws in millions of visitors a year and remains the highlight of many people’s trip to the island.
But is Mdina, Malta worth visiting? Here are some of the top free things to do in Mdina, Malta that we came across. It should take you no more than half a day to see everything due to the very small size of this walkable fortified city so you’ll also have plenty of time to visit Rabat too.
The first attraction you’ll come across during your day trip to Mdina is the famous Mdina Gate, also known as the Vilhena Gate. There are a total of three gates leading into Mdina but this is the main one with the current structure being built in the 18th century in the Baroque style. The gate was already a popular tourist attraction in Mdina, but it was made even more famous by the filming of Game of Thrones in Mdina where it was first featured in season 1.
If you would like to get photos or videos here without the crowds then visiting at either sunrise or sunset is your best option when most of the tour buses have departed.
Browse Mdina Glass
Inside the Mdina Gate is where you’ll find Mdina Glass sitting diagonal from the National Museum of Natural History. Mdina Glass was founded in 1968 making it Malta’s first glass making company. They use a mixture of traditional glassblowing techniques as well as those from the 1960’s to create their masterpieces. Their unique glass creations are the perfect souvenir from Malta if you like unique and collectible pieces, but if you don’t want to purchase anything you can always take a quick browse at their collections too.
Walk around Pjazza Mesquita
One of the most iconic Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta is Pjazza Mesquita. This small historic square is only a few minutes from Mdina Gate and was used as the exterior of Littlefinger’s brothel. In reality the square is home to a couple of nice eateries and is a lovely place to sit and relax for a while before continuing your exploration of Mdina.
Admire the Maltese balconies
No matter what city you visit in Malta you have to stop and admire the Maltese balconies. These balconies were designed so that people could look out onto the street without being seen and are usually vibrantly painted to match the door and shutters of the building. There are quite a few unique designs of Maltese balconies dotted around Mdina so don’t forget to look up while you’re walking!
St Paul’s Cathedral
If I haven’t convinced you that Mdina is worth visiting yet, take a look at this stunning cathedral. Visiting St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the best things to do in Mdina, Malta and is a very imposing building among the narrow streets of the city. The original cathedral was built in the 12th century on the site that the Roman governor Publius met St Paul while he was shipwrecked on Malta, but today’s cathedral was rebuilt in the early 18th century following an earthquake.
Take a photo with the red telephone box
At the entrance to the square in front of the cathedral is a unique photo spot in Mdina. You can find these red telephone boxes throughout Malta which have been left in place following Malta’s independence from Britain. In this location however the phone box really stands out against the stone walls so you can’t miss it.
Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady
Often overlooked in favour of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Church of the Annunciation of Our Lady is certainly worth popping your head into. It was built in the 17th century and is also known as the Carmelite Church. This really is a hidden gem in Mdina that’s much more impressive inside than its exterior would suggest. When we entered we were the only ones inside and the silence was deafening but peaceful.
Grab a photo with the famous blue door
Surprisingly one of the main things to see in Mdina is a blue door. This is a very Instagrammable location in Mdina and during the warmer months the door is complemented by beautiful flowers on the wall. A nearby sign indicates that it’s a holiday rental so make sure you’re respectful if you do visit this popular photo spot in Malta.
Get lost in the historic streets
It’s easy to see why Game of Thrones chose to film in Mdina. The beautiful narrow winding streets seamlessly blend into one another and there’s something interesting to see at almost every turn. How long you spend in Mdina depends on your own schedule, but I would highly recommend leaving some extra time to walk along the historic streets at a leisurely place so you can explore some of the back streets too.
Take in the countryside views from the bastions
And finally one of the best free things to do in Mdina is to take in the stunning views of the Maltese countryside from the bastions. There are various viewpoints along the perimeter of the defensive walls where you can gaze out across the landscape. One of my favourite spots is located just around the corner from the blue door.
This short guide to Mdina was put together during the 2 days we spent in Rabat. It only took us the afternoon to walk around Mdina and since we were visiting Malta on a budget we decided to skip the more touristy attractions such as the Mdina Dungeons. There are plenty of places to eat in Mdina but eating inside the city walls can be pricey so I would recommend eating in Rabat instead where you can find more budget friendly eateries.
Is Mdina, Malta worth visiting during your trip to the island? Absolutely! It may be small but this very walkable historic city is fascinating to explore and well worth spending at least half a day at. If you have any questions about visiting Mdina from Valletta or where to stay near Mdina please let me know in the comments section below, via email, or by reaching out on Instagram where you can find more travel tips.