Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Tunisia. Former British colony, an island known as one of the tax heavens but most of all a place where many scenes from season 1 of Game of Thrones were filmed.
Tourists go to Malta to enjoy the sea, the beach, and the great food. There are good dive sites, amazing architecture and lovely views BUT my agenda for visiting Malta was very specific – see the Game of Thrones filming locations. However not all were easy to get to and some are completely not available for visiting. Let’s go one by one of the list I had made with some help of google.com
ATTENTION – for those of you who haven’t yet seen the show there will be spoilers.
1. The Gate of the Mdina
Easy to get to, publicly available, no admission fee. It was featured in Season 1, Episode 3 when Catelyn and Ser Rodrik Cassel enter King’s Landing.
2. Mesquita Square, Mdina
Again, easy to get to, publicly available, no admission fee. Featured in Season 1, Episode 4 and 5. This is where Ned Stark and Jamie Lanister had the famous fight as well as the Street of Steal where Ned was searching for King Robert’s bastard. When I got to the square and started taking pictures in every corner a waiter from one of the cafés said – huh… you must be a Game of Thrones fan. Well, I had to go into that café to have a bite to eat. Besides, the city of Mdina itself is very worth visiting. Great architecture and lovely narrow streets.
3. St. Dominic’s Convent, Rabat
Not very far from Mdina, around a 15 min walk on foot from the Mdina gate. Also, easy to get to, publicly available and no admission fees. However, it felt odd to be inside. It’s a church and when I pushed the door to get in it was empty. I didn’t know if I could go inside but hey no one stopped me as nobody was there. The convent was featured in Season 1, Episode 7. It was featuring the gardens in the Red Keep where Ned Stark confronts Cersei and tells her that he knows the truth about her children. It’s also the scene where Cersei says the famous sentence – When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die. There is no middle ground. There actually is a garden but when I was there – June 22 it looked shabby like nobody was taking care of it. But hey ho… It was good to see it. Additionally, the St. Dominic’s Convent was featured in a scene where Ned Stark gets arrested by the King’s guards and then being accused of treason by Joffrey.
4. San Anton Palace and Gardens
Again, easy to get to and no admission fees but I didn’t find it as overwhelming as I imagined. The gardens appeared in Season 1, Episode 3, 8 and 10. It mostly features the exteriors of the Red Keep and in real life it’s the official residence of Malta’s president. When it comes to sightseeing you can only walk around the gardens and see the palace from the outside as you can’t go inside. Which on one hand is understandable but on the other hand there could be open days for visitors. Personally, I found the gardens disappointing because they simply miss the wow factor.
5. Verdala Palace, Buskett Gardens
Ahhh not easy to get to and most of all not open to the public. It was so disappointing as the Verdala Palace featured Illyrio Mopatis’s mansion in Pentos in Season 1, Episode 1. This is where Daenerys meets Khal Drogo for the first time. I could only see the palace from behind the closed gate. In real life it’s the summer residence of Malta’s President. Funny enough I didn’t see any security in front of the gate, nothing… odd. Again, a couple of days open for visitors would be nice.
6. Mtahleb Cliffs
Not very easy to get to. I got there by coincidence after the Verdala Palace disappointment. Entered the destination in the stanav and kept driving. Well, the navi won’t get you to the point where Khan Drogo collapsed, as this when Mtahleb Cliffs were featured – Season 1, Episode 9 and 10. The navi will take you to a viewpoint and from there you just need to walk around the cliffs. Quite a breath-taking place and very much worth the drive, especially as there were not many people so I could enjoy the astonishing views in peace and quiet.
7. Azure window, Gozo Island
Sadly, the azure window no longer exists. In 2017 after heavy storms the window collapsed. It was featured on Season 1, Episode 1 and this was the place where we saw the marriage feast scene of Daenerys and Khal Drogo. It’s easy to get to. When you rent a car you just need to take the ferry to Gozo – it sails every 30 or 60 min. Not sure about the public transportation as I rented a car to drive around Malta.
8. All the forts
There are three forts where different scenes were shot. Sadly it’s impossible to visit any of those
a. Fort Manoel
the most famous one as this is the place that featured the Great Sept of Baelor in Season 1, Episode 9 where Ned Stark gets executed. Again, you can’t get inside. It looked like it was possible in the past as there was some information about what you can find in the Fort but in June ’22 some kind of construction work was going on there. However, you can get a good look at the Great Sept of Baelor from the other shore side.
b. Fort Ricasoli, Valletta
featured in Season 1, Episode 3 and 5. It was representing the exterior of Kings Landing. You can’t get in but you can see it from a distance.c. Fort Saint Angelo – featured in Season 1, Episode 5. Walked close to it but again no chance to visit it from insight.
c. Fort Saint Angelo
featured in Season 1, Episode 5. Walked close to it but again no chance to visit it from insight.
Somehow, I don’t get why it’s not possible to visit some of the sights. Enabling visitors to see some of the places or make special Game of Thrones tours would attract the GOT geeks and bring the city some extra cash. Maybe Malta is making enough cash on other entrance fees so that they don’t want extra attention or something. Think it’s just a wasted potential of sights. Anyway, aside from not being able to see some of the place from close distance it was very much worth going to Malta. Can only recommend it.
Malta for non GOT fans?
Right and what if you are not a GOT fan and want to visit Malta? Yes, sure do it as you won’t be disappointed. If you are a beach person – it’s the perfect destination. If you are not a beach person and prefer sightseeing, Malta is amazing. The capital Valletta is spread on three peninsulas – Sliema, Valletta and Kalkara. There are ferry services that run between those, and the entrance fee is like 2 Euros or so. Instead of taking the bus from one peninsula to the other you can simply use the boat… and it’s better coz the views are stunning. My personal favourite was Kalkara. Liked the architecture and the number of boats in the harbour. To be frank I didn’t have a specific sightseeing agenda I just walked around the city and spontaneously took a golf buggy tour around Valletta. There are two things you need to be aware of before you hit the sightseeing trail. One – Valetta is quite hilly so most of the time you will end up climbing stairs up and down. Two – if you are a fan of walking the whole day don’t go to Malta in the summer season as it’s way too hot – mid June it was over 30 degrees. I had to do 15 min breaks every hour as I was sweating like hell. To avoid that, pick the autumn or winter months, this way you will get to see lots more and avoid the crowds in the city. Besides, the prices in the off-season period are also lower.
Finally! Malta is also a great scuba diving destination. I went diving one day on the Island of Gozo. There is not much sea life, but the underwater rock formations, canyons and caves were amazing. Can’t judge the rest of the dive sites after just one diving day but would like to go to Malta again just to do diving.