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I love Game of Thrones and when I found out that I was going to visit Malta, I knew that I needed to find the Game of Thrones locations around Malta. Since I had limited time, I chose to take the Game of Thrones tour with Malta Film tours after reading the glowing reviews.
This is an independent review of the tour for my Game of Thrones lovers with some additional tips for finding GOT filming locations in Malta! No spoilers beyond season 1, I promise.
This is an independent review, which means that I paid for myself and it is 100% my opinion. As I don’t want to discourage people from going on the tour itself, so I will not be revealing the exact locations.
I’m bit obsessed with finding filming locations and whenever I’m watching a show/movie that is shot somewhere beautiful, I want to know where it was filmed. (That’s how I ended up in the Wadi Rum desert to retrace the steps of the Martian!)
As a long-time Game of Thrones fan, I wondered where was Game of Thrones filmed? Malta was my third country to visit on the look out for Game of Thrones set locations after finding Jon Snow’s love cave in Iceland and the Alhambra in Spain.
Malta as Game of Throne filming location
Malta was used the Game of Thrones season 1 filming locations. Filming was done as part of the pilot for Game of Thrones, so the producers were seeking a country with a diverse landscape and old cities that didn’t require that much work to dress up for the show. As a result, the Malta filming locations are so close to how they appear in the show. It makes visiting Malta a dream for Game of Thrones fans!
Assessment of GoT filming tour: 9.5/10
I usually prefer to do things myself and as a result, we went Game of Thrones location hunting on our own in Iceland. It worked out well, but in Malta, we didn’t have a car. I really loved this tour and it was worth every penny.
We chose the Game of Thrones Tour in Malta as Malta is quite small, so you can see a lot of locations within one day. Similarly, Malcolm is the ultimate insider into the film industry as someone who works both in acting as well as in insurance (for filming), which meant that I learned so much about what happens behind the scenes for filming Game of Thrones (as well as other productions) in addition to seeing the location and laughing at his hilarious stories.
He did a great job bringing us to lesser known Game of Thrones shooting locations as well as showing the beauty of Malta, so if you’re even a slight fan, this is a great introduction to Malta as you will see a lot of Malta within one day.
My only complaint is not visiting the other Maltese filming locations for the Red Keep, the Sept of Baelor, Verdala Palace as well as the Azure Window (which doesn’t exist anymore).
The World of Westeros in Malta
Malta is such a beautiful country and it is easy to see why HBO chose this Mediterranean island to film Game of Thrones on. The tour includes quite a few filming locations that are part of the world of Westeros, including the Red Waste, Essos and King’s Landing. This post will be a brief review as well as a photo essay of Malta’s beautiful architecture/nature.
San Anton Palace: King’s Landing Gardens & the Tower of the Hand
The Presidential gardens (where quite a few scenes from King’s Landing were filmed) is absolutely beautiful. This is where Sansa and Tyrion had their famous chat in Season 1. I loved listening to Malcolm’s hilarious story about chasing Arya around the gardens.
We were lucky enough to see the president of Malta passing as we toured the grounds of her palace. A few extra stops relevant to Maltese history were added to the tour, which including visiting a small painted chapel. The grounds were also used for the filming locations for the hallways of the Red Keep and the stables of King’s Landing.
King’s Landing: “When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.”
The iconic exchange between Ned Stark and Cersei Lannister was filmed in a church slightly outside of Mdina. As this church is lesser known, we had it to ourselves (unlike Mdina which was quite crowded!).
It was one of the most beautiful churches that we saw in Malta and one of the priests let our group into a historic room with painted wallpaper that is typically off-limits to the public.
Cersei’s famous scene was filmed in the middle of this garden in the Centre! It wasn’t possible to walk to the famous fountain, but it was a beautiful courtyard to see!
Mdina: Little Finger’s Brothel & The Street of Steel
Mdina is one of those cities that takes your breath away and it still lives/breathes history. It was used as Malta’s capital during medieval times, however the elite of Malta still live in this stunning city. Despite the many tourists, it is still has retained its charms.
Be aware that if you go in summer or peak season, Mdina will be cramped. (I already thought it was quite busy!) In Game of Thrones, we see Catelyn and Ser Rodrik Cassel ride through the gate into King’s Landing.
Quite a few scenes from Game of Thrones were filmed here, including the fight scene between Jaime Lannister & Ned Stark’s men as well as Littlefinger’s brothel. (The fight scene was filmed in the same square.) You’ll also find the Street of Steel.
Red Waste & Essos
This remote location on the NW side of Malta is where Khal Drogo infamously fell off his horse after being poisoned by a witch in the Red Waste. “A Khal who cannot ride is not a Khal.”
This stunning seaside location on the Northwest side of the island is fairly difficult to access (compared to other locations), however absolutely beautiful to visit.
It is also where Daenerys creates the funeral pyre for Khal Drogo…and most importantly, it is where her dragons hatch and she emerges naked out of the flames.
I had my own moment pretending to be the Queen of Dragons although I wish we had more time to hike down to the sea. There’s a mysterious staircase carved into the nearby rocks that leads down to the sea.
There was also a sword fight scene filmed nearby and you’ll spot this beautiful landscape as part of stock footage used as Daenerys looks out of her window in Pentos.
Not included on the tour 🙁
Sadly, the Azure window is gone. I was lucky enough to see it before it fell into the sea, however it had been the filming location for Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding. The Azure window as also reason that Game of Thrones stopped filming after season 1.
For filming, many locations were covered with sand. For the filming of the wedding, the contractor hired (and vetted) for filming used a less expensive sand, which ended up leaking into the sea. The environment close to the Azure Window is protected under Maltese law.
Unfortunately, the sand leak destroyed part of this unique environment, which put an immediate end to filming Game of Thrones in Malta for the foreseeable future.
Included on the tour, but not in Game of Thrones: Popeye’s Village
This is not a Game of Thrones filming location, but the strange and stunning Popeye’s Village is a remnant from the filming of the 1980 live-action film of Popeye. It is built intentionally to look ramshackle and it has been lovingly maintained (and kept ramshackle) over the years. (A lookout over the village is included on the tour.)
The tour that I went on was only 8 people, however the tour can be quite a bit larger. Pick-up and drop-off anywhere in Malta is included, which makes it perfect for those staying in Malta without a car.
At the time, the tour cost 59 euros per person and there was a lunch break at a lovely restaurant in Malta overlooking the historic city of Mdina. (Lunch cost not included although it was very reasonable.) The tours are every Saturday (at time of publication).
What to bring on your tour
Yourself, your camera, a pair of sneakers (a fair amount of walking and some walking is on uneven terrain) and a knowledge of Game of Thrones. Season 1 is the main season discussed here, so even if you’re not a big fan, watch the first season beforehand. Optional: wear your game of thrones shirt. Click for the men’s version.