The HBO epic fantasy of Game of Thrones has taken the world by storm on television, intriguing many to venture to these exotic locations that provide the show with an authentic feel.
The sets, locations and environment are as much of a character in the show as are the Lannisters and Starks. These relatively remote locations are becoming tourist spots and vacation destinations that will have you immersed in the Game of Thrones world, but beware, winter is coming.
Here are the more prominent locations where the show has been filmed:
Never underestimate the hospitality of the Irish as they are the proud wards of the Westeros-based production of Game of Thrones. Geographically speaking, production is based in Northern Ireland, its landscape providing many exteriors for the show.
Some notable locations among the Northern Ireland landscapes are the Mourne Mountains which play the part of Vaes Dothrak.
Even though Winterfell is in ashes in the show, you can still visit Castle Ward and Saintfield Estates in County Down which stand in for the Stark’s home.
Other locations used include Cairncastle (where Tyrion Lannister was captured and Ned Stark first uttered “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword” before beheading the Night’s Watch deserter), Tollymore Forest (Season one’s prologue and where they found the Direwolf pups), and Magheramorne Quarry (exterior shots of Castle Black and the frozen North Wall).
Here’s a helpful map from Budget Ireland to guide you on your Game of Thrones journey. But beware of White Walkers:
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Malta provided locations for the southern lands of the story. Mdina provided exteriors for King’s Landing. Fort Manoel became the Sept of Baelor. The Dothraki wedding site was shot at the Azure Window on the island of Gozo (pic below).
Additional locations in Malta were used for scenes in the Red Keep. Although, production has moved to Dubrovnik, Croatia, mainly to shoot more scenes of King’s Landing and the Red Keep by the sea, it is definitely still part of the canon of memorable locations to visit.
In Season Two, Croatia took on roles previously provided by Malta. The medieval Walls of Dubrovnik were used for both King’s Landing and the Red Keep.
Scenes in Qarth were shot on the island of Lokrum, not far from Dubrovnik. Other locations for Qarth are Trogir’s St. Dominic monastery, the Duback quarry and the Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik.
Morocco provided locations for scenes set in southern regions of the story. The ancient sea-town of Essaouira became the backdrop for scenes of Daenerys (mother of Dragons) in Essos.
This first stop of our beloved Khaleesi’s journey to the Iron Throne is where she builds her army of the unsullied. Her next stop is in the city of Benhaddou where she liberates the slave city of Yunkai.
Benhaddou is located in the Sahara Desert which is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you know you are stepping into some history when you visit.
If you haven’t already guessed, Iceland stands in for northern regions in the series. The Svinafellsjokull Glacier and nearby regions were used to portray the land north of the Wall in the Frostfangs Mountains. Our beloved bastard, Jon Snow, left the cozy confines of Castle Black to venture deep undercover among the Wildlings. To portray the unwelcoming environment of vast frozen landscapes, they shot all over Iceland, most notably at Lake Myvatn and most recently Thingvellir for season four.
The stark beauty and extreme conditions of the southern regions of Iceland give a visual appeal to the series. Because of the warm Gulf Stream, it has rather mild weather. But the weather is variable with both rain and sunshine.
There are many tours that allow you to experience everything from climbing glaciers to relaxing in hot springs and beautiful waterfalls. In the end, as Ygritte said to Jon Snow, “you know nothing” until you experience this otherworldly beauty that only Game of Thrones can imagine up and that only Iceland can provide.
There is no word in Dothraki to thank Jason Kane for guest writing this post. Jason is a huge fan of Game of Thrones (both the novels and the shows) and has visited the Northern Ireland sets. He hopes to visit Iceland next and take some of the Game of Thrones tours. He recommends Travel Docs for all passport, visa or any travel documentation needs when venturing out into the Seven Kingdoms.
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