If you are looking for an interesting, unique and family-friendly day out in Malta, then you have to visit Mdina. Mdina is the island’s ancient capital city famously dubbed the ‘silent city’ for its distinct lack of cars making Mdina a great family-friendly day out! It’s also one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones and not to mention Mdina is incredibly beautiful!
There’s also the option to visit the Catacombs of Rabat and Domvs Romana, a preserved Roman villa, all within walking distance of the centre of Mdina. This undoubtedly makes Mdina a brilliant option if you’re looking for a full day out exploring with your kids!
Here’s our comprehensive list of the top things to do for a family-friendly day out in Mdina, Malta.
The main entrance into Malta’s ‘Silent City’ is called Mdina Gate. It’s certainly an impressive entrance to a gorgeous city and a great first impression. Also, those with keen eyes will notice this is the gate that is used in season one of Game of Thrones!
Mdina Dungeons –
The dungeons are located just inside the main gate and my eldest loved the idea of going into some creepy dungeons!
However, we decided not to go in. Some of the installations looked a little gruesome and our little girl is only four – no need to give her needless nightmares!
Instead we chose to explore the catacombs at Rabat, which were a 10 minute walk out of the city gates.
The Mdina Dungeons takes you through Malta’s dark past by exploring cells, pathways and subterranean passages with some pretty gory exhibits.
An adult ticket around the attraction is about five Euros, so it is one of the cheaper ways to learn about Malta’s history.
Vilhena Palace and Natural History Museum
The Vilhena Palace is named after the man who restructured the building in the 18th century and now it houses the National Museum of Natural History.
The first part of the museum is free to walk around. Here you can learn about the history of the Mdina Gate and other parts of the city before you have to pay for a ticket.
There is also a large section dedicated to Game of Thrones where you can watch some of the scenes from the first season that were filmed in the city. For Game of Thrones fans, this might be a great first stop before you go out and explore the rest of the city.
It also has free maps available on the counters around the windows, which you may find helpful when exploring Mdina with kids!
St. Paul’s Cathedral and Museum
To enter St. Paul’s Cathedral you must first purchase a ticket from the Cathedral Museum, which is located next to the cathedral itself. The ticket is €5 and gives you access to the museum and then the cathedral.
This is an excellent sight-seeing option when trying to add a little culture to a family-friendly day out in Mdina and travelling with kids. The museum is really interesting and the Cathedral is beautiful as the entire place is full of light and colour. The visit won’t cost you a fortune so you can show your little ones something impressive without breaking the bank.
Before you dismiss the idea of a museum about a church with kids, it’s actually very good. It’s not a huge museum, but big enough to give your little ones a good experience of this type of setting.
You can also meet Petronila – the oldest bell in Malta! She is 800 years old and was only decommissioned from the cathedral belfry 10 years ago due to changes in the climate that led to erosion of the bronze.
The cathedral is like nothing I have seen before. The alter, the statues and murals on the ceiling are all amazing. However, the most impressive part of St. Paul’s is the floor.
It is covered with ornate and vibrant marble commemorations of canons and bishops of the cathedrals past.
The colours, patterns and designs really are a sight to see. I haven’t seen as much marble and as much detail on a church floor anywhere else in the world.
Palazzo Falson – things to do in Mdina Malta
This is an incredibly lovely square right next to the city wall that offers amazing views over the Maltese countryside around Mdina.
Il-Foss Tal Mdina – family-friendly day out Mdina
The name Il-Foss Tal translates into Of The Ditch, which is pretty much what it is.
Il-Foss Tal are the landscaped gardens that surround the walled city. A visit here makes a great respite from the bustling streets for your little ones.
Here they can explore and roam a little bit more freely and it’s another great place for a fabulous family picnic.
The Greek Gate is another way into the walled city of Mdina. It’s not as ornate as the Mdina Gate, but it does lead down to the entrance to Il-Foss Tal Mdina.
Howard Garden – family-friendly day out Mdina Malta
Howard Gardens are the green spaces before you cross the bridge over to the walled city of Mdina.
Here you will find some public toilets and outside cafes where you can spend some time relaxing away from the crowds, grab a bite to eat and a coffee or have a picnic on the grass.
There are some beautiful shops selling some stunning Valletta Glass. Even if you’re not in the market to buy any, it’s great to have a little look whilst you’re in Mdina with your kids.
Horse Drawn Carriage Ride – a family-friendly day out in Mdina, Malta
If you want to do something a little special you can take a horse drawn carriage ride around the city. The drivers will give you a little guided tour and it’s a unique way to see the sights. Although this will be a bit pricey.
Wander the Streets of Mdina – a family-friendly activity on a day out in Mdina
Wander the streets of Mdina with your kids, simply because they are so beautiful.
Mdina is as impressive as it is beautiful. It really is a must see when visiting the island of Malta!
Catacombs of Rabat – a great addition to a family-friendly day out in Mdina, Malta
If you take a day trip to Mdina you must take some time to visit St Paul’s and St Agatha’s Catacombs of Rabat with your kids!
Finding the Catacombs of Rabat
Rabat is a very simple 10 minute walk from Mdina down one very simple and very pretty straight road.
On the way you will walk past the monumental and very grand looking St Paul’s Cathedral. The cathedral overshadows the little streets and cute square that surrounds it, therefore you can’t miss it.
To reach the catacombs of Rabat, continue walking over the square in a straight line.
Then keep going until you come to a square and grey building that looks very modern. This is the entrance and where you can get your tickets!
What are Catacombs?
Catacombs are man-made tunnels that ancient communities would inter their dead into. The catacombs in Rabat date back from the third to the eighth century and are thought to belong to Malta’s early christians.
St. Paul’s is the largest Roman subterranean cemetery on the island of Malta. It is also evidence of the earliest Christians on the island.
Ten years ago the Catacombs were hidden in amongst a huge apple orchard! Now, the apple orchard has gone and the catacombs are open to the public.
In different periods of their history the catacombs have been used as:
– air raid shelters in World War Two
– rubbish dump
– a church
– water cisterns
– shelter for livestock…. and the list goes on and on.
My little girl absolutely loved the catacombs of Rabat! We chose to have a look around the catacombs of St Pauls.
Inside the different catacombs we found:
– ancient inscriptions
– remnants of patterns and designs
– marble traces
– and even human remains!
Are the Catacombs of Rabat Worth a Visit?
My husband and little boy got a bit bored of the catacombs by about the fifth one so then started to explore the cacti instead.
However, myself and my daughter made sure we went into every single one and we loved every minute of it!
Admission is a relatively fair price at €5 for an adult ticket. You can certainly spend a couple of hours wandering around and it makes a great excursion after a trip to Mdina.
Domvs Romana – Mdina’s Roman Villa – family-friendly day out Mdina
Just outside the city walls is Domvs Romana which is the remains of a private house owned by a Roman aristocrat. The site was discovered in 1881 and had been a museum on the island since 1882.
There are Roman artefacts to see, intricate mosaics to study and lots of history about the area to learn.
Tickets are relatively well priced, so might be a good option if you are looking to experience a little history, but don’t want to spend the earth doing it. You can find out more here.
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