Northern Ireland to Morocco: A ‘Game of Thrones’ travel guide
If you’re a dedicated member of the Brotherhood without Banners, you were on the edge of your blood-soaked throne in anticipation for the eighth season of HBO M.V.P. Game of Thrones.
The new season dropped on HBO on Sunday, April 14th 2019 for the eighth and final season. We returned to Westeros once more, but now the season is ended, there’s no more GoT. We’ve got a few ideas for how you might heal the gaping hole in your bingewatching schedule with some elaborate travel plans.
Over the course of its eight seasons, Game of Thrones took us to some fantastical realms, from the balmy Free City of Pentos to the frozen lands beyond The Wall. But while the landscapes of GoT are fictional, their locations are real – and dozens of the scenes were filmed in actual medieval castles, wild forests, and craggy mountain sides across Europe, Africa, and Iceland.
If you consider yourself a bit of a traveler, or the show has provided you with enough wanderlust to pack up ship for a few weeks and explore foreign lands, a Game of Thrones vacation is actually more feasible than you think. Thanks to the period settings of the show, whose scenes were filmed in rich natural landscapes and historical sites, a GoT-themed trip would certainly make for one of the most aesthetically breathtaking vacations.
If we’ve tickled your travel bug, perhaps it’s time to awaken the Khaleesi within you, grab your Valyrian steel sword (don’t actually bring a sword – airport security would have a meltdown), and embark on the fantastical journey of a lifetime.
Here’s our ultimate Game of Thrones travel guide of places every fan needs to check out on their Westeros pilgrimage.
Rule with an iron fist at the Seven Kingdoms’ sunny capital
As the site of the Iron Throne and the Red Keep and the largest city of the Seven Kingdoms, King’s Landing enjoys a warm climate and is a beautiful place of luxury for those who can afford it.
The seaside areas of Dubrovnik in Croatia proved the perfect place to set King’s Landing, with its sunny weather and old-timey city walls. Although they might remind you of Cersei’s Walk of Atonement in S5, there’ll be no shame for you and your travel buddy as you discover the beautiful nooks and crannies of the city.
Bonus tip: Dubrovnik’s Ethnographic Museum was used as the setting for a brothel in GoT season four.
Experience a gruesome reenactment at the scaffold of King’s Landing
Fort Manoel, Manoel Island, Malta
While you’re in Malta, be sure to stop by the Fort Manoel on Manoel Island in Gżira, Malta, where the scaffold of King’s Landing is set. This is an ideal spot for anyone interested in the more gruesome locations of Game of Thrones (of which there are many), as it’s where Ned Stark met his end on King Joffrey’s orders.
Have your own GoT-inspired wedding at the stunning Azure Window in Malta
Azure Window, Gozo, Malta
Grab your partner (or your bestie if you’re single) and have yourself a Game of Thrones-style wedding in the same venue as Daenerys and Khal Drogo did in season one, which was filmed at the stunning site of Azure Window in Malta. Although if you don’t want to dedicate yourself to a lifetime of marriage, you can just enjoy the stunning site of the island of Gozo, famed for its crystal clear waters and historical ruins.
Endure the harsh conditions of the Iron Islands at Ballintoy Harbour
Ballintoy Harbour, Ballintoy, Northern Ireland
The scenes set in Pyke, the Iron Islands capital – just off the west coast of Westeros and home to the Greyjoys – were in fact filmed at the harbor of the small town of Ballintoy, close to Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.
While the Iron Islands in Game of Thrones are portrayed to have harsh weather conditions and limited natural resources, IRL Ballintoy Harbour is set in a picturesque village that boasts blissful ocean views and lush cliffside walking spots.
Bask in the glory of the ancestral home of House Stark
Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland
For the pilot episode of Game of Thrones, Doune Castle in Scotland was used for some exterior shots of Winterfell. However, the remaining episodes were filmed at the National Trust location of Castle Ward in Northern Ireland, including scenes of sparring in the castle yard and the arrival of Robert’s party at Winterfell’s gates.
Ride into the abode of the White Walkers at the Haunted Forest
Tollymore Forest Park, Bryansford, Northern Ireland
If you’re looking for a truly authentic Game of Thrones experience, why not visit the stunning woodland locations of the Haunted Forest by booking yourself in for a special Game of Thrones walking tour. Not only can you trek through the natural settings of Tollymore Forest Park where these scenes were filmed, but visitors are given a Stark wool cloak to wear so you can fully immerse yourself in the world of GoT. Heck, why not go the whole hog and put on a dodgy British accent while you’re at it?
Who knows – maybe you’ll even find some direwolves puppies! (Side note: You definitely won’t, don’t be silly now.)
Travel beyond The Wall (and remember to bring a coat)
Svínafellsjökull glacier, Skaftafell, Iceland
While the GoT producers had to make do with fake snow in season one, by season two their budget allowed them to venture to Iceland for snowy scenes beyond The Wall. Overall, Iceland is a great destination to visit, having been the home to some of the world’s most breathtaking sites. If you do wind up here, be sure to visit the breathtaking Svínafellsjökull glacier, which features prominently throughout the show.
Get steamy with your very own Jon Snow inside a lava cave
Grjótagjá, Mývatn, Iceland
It’s not all frosty snowscapes in Iceland. Grjótagjá is a small lava cave near lake Mývatn boasting a thermal spring inside. As such, it’s one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and was used as the filming location for when Jon Snow and Ygritte sleep together in season three. Feel free to get steamy with your loved one as you bathe in the warm waters, but maybe don’t go all the way – you don’t want to run the risk of traumatising some fellow travellers.
Liberate yourself at the Bay of Dragons
Aït-Ben-Haddou and Essaouira, Morocco
Bay of Dragons – formerly known as Slaver’s Bay before Queen Daenerys Targaryen finally put an end to slavery in the region – is the area on the southern coast of Essos, located to the southeast of Westeros..
Scenes for the Bay’s city Astapor were shot in the serene and peaceful Moroccan port city of Essaouira. Meanwhile, the village of Aït-Ben-Haddou – where visitors can explore the clay houses that make up this traditional pre-Saharan habitat – provides the backdrop for scenes filmed in the region’s cities Yunkai and Pentos.
Descend into a frenzy of bloodlust at the great pit of Daznak
Osuna Bull Ring, Osuna, Spain
Did you know Daznak’s Pit is a place IRL? You can visit the exact site where Ser Jorah takes part in a battle to fight for the Queen’s honor by heading on down to the Osuna Bull Ring, located an hour’s drive from Seville in Spain. Oh yeah, and if you’re not into the idea of seeing an actual bull fight while you’re there, you can just visit the ring when it’s not in use and gawk at its immense splendor.
Bonus tip: While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the Water Gardens of the Palaces of Dorne, which were filmed at the Alcázar of Seville.
We’ll leave you with one of our favorite-ever scenes from the show.