Time travel, as we are all too well aware, remains the stuff of science fiction. One day, maybe, but not for now. Sadly that means we will never be able to flick a switch and appear in the middle of a medieval joust armed with a six pack and digital camera. However, in Malta we do have one of the closest things you will ever find to time travel – the ancient city of Mdina.
From the second you step through its imposing gates it will truly feel like you have turned back the clock several hundred years. The narrow streets, fascinating architecture and overall ambience of this stunning place make it one of Malta's most visited sites.
As you walk in, try to block out the image of the tourists clicking their way down the cobbled lanes and, instead, imagine knights in armour marching up and down looking important and generally acting as if they owned the place – which they pretty much did. And, to top it all off, if you walk to the end of the city – not that far, so non-walkers need not panic – you will be rewarded with the most magnificent view of the island imaginable.
For the more cultural amongst you there are plenty of attractions within the wall of Mdina like numerous musems and historical sites as well as the city's imposing Cathedral. Getting there is easy whether by car, bus or taxi and there are plenty of officially organised tours which visit the former capital city every day. Visiting Malta without visiting Mdina is not a criminal offence. But it certainly should be. So go.
Getting to this must-see location is easy with buses leaving regularly throughout the day from Sliema. You need to look for the number 65. Just be careful you don't miss the last bus back. Alternatively, if you have a car then take a quick look at your map before setting off although, due to its touristic importance, Mdina is very well signposted on all major roads.
Mdina by Night
Mdina during the day is a beautiful, beautiful place. But we have gone into that in more detail elsewhere. What we are looking at here is how the Silent City fairs by night. Although, obviously, all the museums and attractions are closed at night, a visit to this stunning fortified city after dark is very much worth the effort.
To make it a truly memorable occasion, why not pack a few goodies in a bag – a bottle of wine, some cheese, maybe some crackers – and head towards the far end of the city. There you will find the bastions which overlook large parts of Malta.
Climb up on top, break open the wine and enjoy one of the most memorable picnics you are ever likely to have. Lie back and look at the stars as you let your mind wander – but just be careful not to let your body wander as the drop down the other side would cause some serious injury if not worse.
In our experience, the best time to visit Mdina at night is when there is a full moon, as this helps bring the entire city to life. The picture we have painted may sound ideal for romantic couples but what if you are past all that?
Well, just have a quiet wander round the city's streets and see if you can spot any of the many ghosts that are believed to inhabit the buildings. For example, you may come across one house near the bastions with pretty flowers outside.
This is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of a knight who killed himself after the woman that lived there rejected him. It is said you can sometimes see his shadow on the balcony from where he plunged to his death…
Getting to this must-see location is easy with buses leaving regularly throughout the day from Sliema. You need to look for the number 65. Just be careful you don't miss the last bus back. Alternatively, if you have a car, take a quick look at your map before setting off, although, due to its touristic importance, Mdina is very well signposted on all major roads.