One of the most popular places to visit in Malta are the two interconnected cities Mdina and Rabat. Together they form a city complex and should be both in a Malta day trip. But each has its very own attractions, history and highlights. So without further ado here’s what to do in Rabat, Malta.
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The glorious church of St Paul’s in Rabat shouldn’t be confused with the St Pauk’s Cathedral in Mdina. They are different religious buildings in different cities. That being said, both feature stunning Baroque architecture made from the typical honey coloured Maltese sandstone.
The collegiate church St Paul is an important memorial place and pilgrimage destination dedicated to the Apostle Paulus. It was rebuilt in between 1664 and 1683 on the site of a medieval church and above the famous tunnels.
Those are said to have served as a refuge for the shipwrecked Paulus and his companions while on a mission to get to Rome. He stayed in Malta for three months and left quite the impression on the island.
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St Paul’s Catacombs
In Rabat, Malta, the catacombs are where to head first. They are some of the greatest in the world, and St Paul’s Catacombs are the most well known. For one, they are some of the earliest archeological evidence of Christianity in Malta.
Also, the underground system of tombs and galleries really is an impressive architectural feat. The complex, underground burial site was used up until the 4th century AD.
In total, there are over 30 tombs shared among St Agatha’s and St Paul’s grotto and catacombs. You can only see 20 out of these. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a tour of the extensive underground galleries and tombs.
Howard Gardens form a natural border between Rabat and the silent city of Mdina. It’s one of the largest public gardens in all of Malta.
As such, it’s the perfect place to sit back, relax, and enjoy a tasty pastry or two and soak up the beautiful nature of the area. It’s a great place to people watch to and just rest your feet after sightseeing Rabat.
Plus, it’s next to the main bus station, from where you can easily get to Valletta and other places in Malta. Or you can walk through the Gate of Mdina and enter the city of Mdina for further explorations.
The Victorian Lines are unofficially known as the Great Wall of Malta. These fortification walls span 12 kilometers around the perimeter of Malta, dividing the north and south sides of the island.
The walls were built by the British in 1897. Walking along them for any length of time will offer stunning views of the island and It’s one of the best things to do in Rabat.
After all, the location of Mdina and Rabat was strategically chosen for its grand views over the surrounding countryside. You can even see the ocean in the distance.
This elegant 16th century palazzo is an especially fancy place to spend a day in Malta’s Rabat. Through a guided tour you can catch a glimpse of the lifestyle of Maltese nobility.
Passed on for generations, the current tenants of Casa Bernard are still descendents of its original owners. It’s not a museum but a private family home, so it’s very easy to get a taste of the life here.
On the tour you will visit the Chapel, several Drawing rooms, the Library, the main bedroom, important pieces of furniture and art and so much more.
St Agatha’s Crypt, Catacombs and Museum
If you didn’t quite get your ancient tomb fix at St. Paul’s Catacombs, head over to St Agatha’s Crypt. While it’s much smaller, you can take a guided tour through the winding catacombs, where you will find many well-preserved frescoes and even some real skeletons.
The tour of the catacombs includes small and dark spaces, and may be difficult for those suffering from claustrophobia.
Be sure to check out the crypt’s history museum above ground before you leave. Here you will find a grand collection of fossils, pottery, coins, religious items and statues.
Bahrija Oasis Permaculture Bio Farm
When looking for things to see in Rabat, Malta, Bahrija Bio Farm is well worth checking out if you’d like an experience that’s a little more off the beaten path. It’s a stunningly peaceful place to reconnect with nature and yourself.
This well loved permaculture bio farm is the best place in Malta to get back to the earth, learn about permaculture, and really feel the energy of the natural world around you.
The idea of it came to be in 2003 after the owner returned from his travels in Australia, where he worked on permaculture and forest projects. The central idea behind permaculture is to restore soil fertility and revive plant life and diversity.
Still super keen on learning even more about St Paul’s grotto? Enter the Wignacourt Museum, which is directly connected to it as well as to other tombs and WWII air raid shelters.
The building is above ground and a stunning 18th century piece. As in so many places on the island of Malta, it used to belong to the Order of St John and was named after former ruler Alof de Wignacourt.
Another hypogea (underground tomb or temple) complex in Rabat, Malta, is Abbatija Tad-Dejr. They were formed from a former quarry as early as the 4th century AD. In total, five complexes were created here.
The most impressive one is the largest too and features Baldacchino tombs, which are believed to belong to the richest tomb type. Hence, they are decorated as well. After the Romans left Malta, they served as a church.
Be aware that it’s not usually open to the public, only on special days. Check out special events like these on the official site of Heritage Malta.
Rabat, Malta Restaurants
Rabat is a wonderful city for traditional Maltese food. And when in Malta, you gotta try it. While you can get classical Maltese dishes in cities like Valletta, St Julian’s or Sliema, you will find many more regional restaurants here.
Even though Malta is an island, there isn’t so much fish on offer as there is rabbit, which is the national dish. Be sure to taste traditional dishes, such as rabbit stew (Stuffat Tal-Fenek), pastizzi (filled pasty) and bread with oil (Ħobż biż-żejt). To give you some pointers, here are some of the best restaurants in Rabat.
The Fork and Cork
This restaurant is one of the highest rated places to eat in town. It’s a great place for local Mediterranean food and wine, plus it’s friendly for vegetarians and vegans. They serve an a la carte menu that changes with the seasons.
For a fancier treat, Grotto Tavern has everything you need for a high end evening out. The restaurant features an interconnected cellar that connects to a 2,000 year old cave.
Come for the unique atmosphere and stay for the decadent food prepared with local, seasonal produce. Prepare yourself for a long, leisurely dinner. This is one place you will not want to leave.
Crystal Palace is a laid back bar in Rabat, Malta. It’s a cheap, laid back place to have a drink, a bite to eat, make some new friends or kill a little time.
It’s said they to have the best pastizzi on the whole island, so you absolutely cannot miss it when you’re in town. In case you’re new to Maltese cuisine, pastizzi is a traditional pastry that is usually stuffed with ricotta or mushy peas.
If you’re looking for great atmosphere, local food and cheap prices, Ta’ Doni is your spot. The menu is loaded with traditional Maltese dishes, and the friendly staff will happily walk you through your options if you’re a Malta-newbie. Ta’ Doni offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
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