From TV film sets to historic towers, indulge your passions with some themed hiking in Malta
Undeniably beautiful and richly historic, the island of Malta is a prime walking destination. This year, instead of taking the same route as thousands before you, why not combine your passions with sightseeing and opt for a themed hike instead? Whether you’re interested in history, wine or even television, there’s a walk to inspire you. From the filming locations of Game of Thrones and Byron, to historic Maltese towers and the island’s best vineyards, this guide to hiking in Malta goes beyond the well-trodden path.
Game of Thrones is one of the most successful fantasy television series of all time. Follow in the footsteps of your favourite characters in Malta, where the crew and its star-studded cast filmed many famous scenes. Start your journey in Valletta where the 17th century Fort Ricasoli doubled as The Red Keep at King’s Landing. Then, take a 20-minute drive (or a two-hour countryside walk) to Mdina, stopping off on the way at another Red Keep site, San Anton Palace and Gardens in Attard. This location is just steps from Corinthia Palace Hotel & Spa. Upon arriving in Mdina, pass under the main gate, which was used as the entrance to King’s Landing, and explore the labyrinthine town that played a big part in filming – Piazza Mesquita, for example, held Littlefinger’s brothel. If you still have some energy left, take a one-hour walk to St Dominic’s Convent in Rabat, which played the Red Keep courtyard; or visit the equidistant Verdala Palace, the summer residence of the President of Malta, which acted as Illyrio’s mansion in the critical episode when Daenerys meets Khal Drogo.
The foodie hub of Malta is known for its fresh seafood, Mediterranean delicacies and home-grown wines, so why not spend some time eating and drinking your way around the island’s local markets and vineyards. Start in the crafts village of Ta’ Qali and make your way to the Ta’ Qali Farmers’ Market, where a must-try specialty is Bigilla (a Maltese dip made from mashed beans). Then, take a five-minute walk to Meridiana Wine Estate for a tour of the fermentation hall and underground cellar, and tastings overlooking the picturesque vineyard. Next, take a 45-minute walk through historic town of Attard and its surrounding farmland to reach the Maria Rosa Wine Estate, a boutique winery offering tours, tastings and snacks. If you’ve still got room, complete a day of hiking in Malta with a 90-minute walk to Monte Kristo Estate, home of an olive oil mill, a winery and a host of excellent dining options in the heart of the beautiful Siggiewi valley.
If you love history, take a hike around the Malta’s medieval watchtowers. Focusing on structures outside of the historical towns of Valletta and Mdina, which you’ll no doubt have already ticked off your bucket list, this 14.5km walk takes visitors on a circuit of the north of the island. Departing from Ghadira Bay and taking in the stunning countryside of the Ghadira Nature Reserve, this tour visits historic sites such as Saint Agatha’s Tower, nicknamed Red Tower due to its distinctive colour; Aħrax Tower, known as the White Tower; and the Chapel of Immaculate Conception. Get your camera out for coastal highlights like Paradise Bay, Slugs Bay and Dragunara Point.
Visit the neighbouring Maltese island of Gozo to discover filming locations in BBC biographical drama Byron, inspired by the poet’s life. Start at the medieval hilltop Citadel, which doubled as a Greek fort in the popular series. Admire the beautiful views of Gozo and its historic landscape from the fortification walls, before embarking on a one-hour hike through the Gozo countryside to Ramla Bay, passing sights such as Ta’ Kola Windmill, Ġgantija and Xagħra Stone Circle. The golden sandy beach of Ramla Bay was the base for one of the series’ most dramatic scenes: the cremation of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. On your way back to the hotel, stop off at 19th century Palazzo Parisio in the Maltese town of Naxxar, which played the part of an Italian palace in this series.