Mdina & Rabat
Mdina is a small city covered by walls and the former Capital of Malta. Rabat (name meaning suburbs) is a municipality outside Mdina walls, an important part of the early development of Malta as well. They are tightly attached to each other, so it's natural to combine them in one article.
Mdina is known as Silent City, since the are hardly any cars in the narrow streets inside the city walls.
Tourists often take a day tour to Mdina and then head back to their original holiday destination, so it can get busy in the daytime. There is so much to see in both Mdina and Rabat, that it could be a good idea to spend a night or two instead of a day trip. And maybe buy an item of colourful and famous Mdina glass to take back home.
Where to stay
The distance between picture 3 and Mdina gate on the map below is only 700 meters, so everything is pretty close by in the area where the pictures were taken.
Outside that the terrain starts to go downhill and more and more rural.
Things to do in Mdina
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral (Mdina Cathedral) is located on the east side of Mdina inside the city walls. A ticket is needed to enter the cathedral, but with the same ticket it's possible to visit also the impressive Cathedral Museum and Palazzo de Piro.
Museum and exhibitions in an old palace.
More information: palazzofalson.com
Museum and ruins of an old house from the Roman Empire. Known also as Domvs Romana.
Location: Right outside the Mdina walls by the airport bus station. Close to picture 12 on the map.
Things to do in Rabat
Wignacourt museum, St. Paul's Grotto, Catacombs and WWII shelters
Three places with the same ticket:
- Wignacourt museum is on two levels.
- St. Paul's Grotto is found under the museum. St. Paul is said to have lived there for three months after having shipwrecked on the way to Rome. That is believed to be the starting point of Christianity in Malta. The church on top of the Grotto is named after St. Paul.
- Catacombs and World War II shelters make a large complex of tunnels underground. They can be visited at one's own pace.
Location: By Pjazza San Pawl, east of picture 3 on the map.
St Paul's Catacombs
Unlike in other catacombs in Rabat, in St Paul there are aboveground parts on top of many of the tombs, as well as an underground network of catacombs.
The area is spread on both sides of the street, the ticket office and visitor centre are located on the left side when coming from Pjazza San Pawl. The same ticket can be used to enter the gates on the opposite side of the street.
Despite the name, this place has nothing to do with St. Paul's Grotto and catacombs.
More information: heritagemalta.org
Location: South of picture 3 on the map.
Agatha's Historical Complex
The main attraction in Agatha's Historical complex is the short but informative guided tour in the catacombs. The network of tunnels under Agatha is bigger than in other places in Rabat, but only about 10% of them are open for visitors. There is more to see compared to the other catacombs, including well-preserved frescoes and an altar in the crypt.
On the street level there is a small but diverse museum that includes items from religious paintings to prehistoric remains.
Location: South of picture 3 on the map on the right side of the street coming from Pjazza San Pawl, after the St Paul's Catacombs. It's located in a small inner yard and the alley leading to it looks like this on the Google Maps Street View.
St Paul's Church
A beautiful church located at Pjazza San Pawl, number 2 on the map. It is open for public usually only for a few hours a day. In spring 2018 it opened at 17.00 and only the smaller side doors on both sides of the church were open. No admission fee.
St Cataldus Church
A smaller and more modest church close to Pjazza San Pawl. If you wish to take a quick look at some catacombs instead of buying a ticket to the other ones, it's possible to do so in just a few minutes under this church. The admission fee is voluntary.
Location: Number 3 on the map.
Various art pieces in a privately owned palace from the 16th Century. The owners arrange guided tours.
Location: At Triq San Pawl, between Pjazza San Pawl and Mdina.
From the airport
Malta airport is located 10 kilometers from Mdina and Rabat. Timetables can be found here.
Line X3 runs between the cities towards north to Bugibba. The right stops are under Ir-Rabat, Malta on the timetables.
Coming from the airport the stop just outside the Mdina walls is Rabat 4 and going back to the airport it's Rabat 2. They are located on the west side of the picture 10 on the map. Rabat 2 is visible on the Google Maps Street View in here. And rotating the view 180 degrees you can see the Rabat 4 stop, right where the bus is stopped.