Film and TV set locations in Malta

Many films where sea, sun and sublime ancient architecture are needed have come to call on Malta to make their movie magic happen. In fact, some of the most definitive hits of TV – from swashbuckling epics to conspiracy theory thrillers – have used Maltese backdrops and scenery.

If you’re wondering why film-makers and television producers adore Malta, take a moment to really soak in those dramatic hills, richly rugged coastlines and cosy, winding old town streets.

If you’re planning a visit here, you can even follow the footsteps of your favourite actors and set-pieces directly if you know where to look.

Starks, Lannisters and more besides

Perhaps the most recent breakthrough TV series to make tales of fantasy mainstream has been Game of Thrones.

The interwoven storylines of this bold and racy series take place across a range of environments, but the great coastal city of King’s Landing could only be brought to life in one real-world location.

Although later scenes in King’s Landing were filmed in Dubrovnik, the grand fantasy city originally found its home in Mdina in Malta. The tanned buildings, historically rich streets and coastal grandeur made it a brilliant fit for the vision the directors needed to make the unforgettable scenes.

The dawn of cinema

Nowadays, there’s a specialist organisation that works as a go-between for the Maltese government and various studios keen to use the island for filming.

This alone speaks volumes on just how popular Malta is with film-makers. Recent hits like the film adaptation of Assassin’s Creed and definitive thriller The Da Vinci Code prove great examples of the city’s big screen personality.

However, that legacy actually stretches back to almost the very beginning of movie-making.

Studios were making use of Malta’s tremendous natural beauty as early as the 1920s, with some of the classics of the golden age of Hollywood calling this island home during production. Murphy’s War and The Battle of Britain both brought their portrayals of conflict to life here.

Licensed to thrill

Cinema’s most famous secret agent, 007, has been a staple part of the movie world for over 50 years.

And Bond’s 1981 outing, For Your Eyes Only, was in part shot in Malta. It makes sense that the exotic feel of Malta would translate well to James Bond’s adventures, and the island has served the films well more than once. For example, The Spy Who Loved Me also took some secret agent capers to Malta.

Swashbuckling show-stoppers

Historic tales of adventures in bygone eras are also quick to set up their film equipment in Malta, whose architecture and landscapes bring the lifestyles of ages past to life.

Cutthroat Island – a 1995 pirate movie that tried to make a swashbuckling epic decades before Jack Sparrow and the like took to the seas – was filmed in Malta for its scenes on dry land.

On a related note, it’s not just studios who love Malta, but famous actors too. You might have heard of The Black Pearl, a restaurant within a gorgeous wooden sailing schooner of old. It’s located on the shores of Ta’ Xbiex, and featured in the Robin Williams movie Popeye.

Yet the true tale of The Black Pearl goes back even further. Famous fencer, actor and superstar Errol Flynn was the owner of that same ship through his love for the sea.

It sank off the coast of Malta after he sold it, yet it was refloated not only for the role in the Popeye movie, but also to today become the restaurant tourists continue to enjoy.

Stories from the silver screen can be found in every corner of Malta. Don’t be shy in digging into the history behind the island’s most magical movie moments.

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