Gorgeous Game of Thrones Film Sites To Plan Your Next Vacation Around
Winter is coming– and with that, vacation season.
For those of you who dream of hopping on a plane to fairer destinations the moment the weather gets cold: look no further. We’ve compiled a simple itinerary of castles and filming locations that feature prominently in HBO’s wildly popular Game of Thrones television series. From Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik, Croatia (The Red Keep in King’s Landing, Capital of Westeros) to Doune Castle in Stirling, Scotland (also known as Winterfell, home of House Stark), there are a number of ancient and mysterious locations throughout Europe where any dedicated GoT fan could easily find shelter– and a good bite to eat.
At Castle Ward in Strangford, Ireland, guests can stay in Potter’s Cottage, which opens to the show’s fictitious Courtyard of Winterfell. In Seville, Spain– the perfect warm-weather vacation destination– travelers can visit the “Palace of Dorne” at The Alcázar of Seville. Aït-Ben-Haddou in Morocco serves as the backdrop for Yunkai and Pentos, while Essaouira in Morocco is Astapor. Further out in the Atlantic, Fort Manoel in Gżira, Malta is the show’s Great Sept of Baelor.
Over in Iceland, Grjótagjá is home of the scene in which Jon and Ygritte first break Jon’s oath to the Night’s Watch, while Dimmuborgir is where Mance Rayder set up his camp. At Thingvellir National Park, wherein the season followed Arya and Sandor “The Hound” Clegane while they traveled together, visitors can go cold-water diving at Silfra, which is the site where the Eurasian and North American continents split (a stunning location that is a favorite travel destination of Garden Collage Photo Editor, Andreana Bitsis). The mountains in Vatnajökull glacier area also provide the scenery for “North of the Wall,” home of the White Walkers.
For the most bang for your buck, head to Croatia, home to the majority of Game of Thrones’ iconic scenes. Lokrum Island in Dubrovnik is Qarth; Trsteno Arboretum in Dubrovnik is the Gardens of King’s Landing; Belvedere Atrium, also in Dubrovnik, is the set of the fight between Oberyn Martell and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane; nearby Minceta Tower is the House of the Undying; and Klis Fortress in Klis Village, Croatia is the set of a brief scene in which Daenerys plans her return to the throne (dedicated viewers know the one).
Ireland is also a heavy-hitter: several scenes were shot at Tollymore Forest Park in the Mourne Mountains of Ireland, including the pilot episode’s opening scene, the moment when the Stark children’s direwolf pups are found, and Ramsay Snow chasing Theon Greyjoy. Sandy Brae in the Morne Mountains is the setting of Vaes Dothrak, sole city of the Dothraki, and Corbet near Banbridge, Ireland is the fictional location of Riverrun, home of the House Tully.
In Spain, visitors to Barcelona who don’t want to stray too far off the beaten path are encouraged to visit Castell de Santa Florentina, which is Horn Hill in the show (home of House Tarly). Roman bridge of Córdoba in Andalusia, Spain is also the site of the Long Bridge of Volantis. For a more rugged landscape, venture out to Bardenas Reales in Navarre, Spain for a look at the Dothraki Sea, or head to Zafra Castle in Guadalajara, Spain to relive the flashback scene of Lyanna Stark’s death in the Tower of Joy.
With its majestic cliffs and sparse coastal population, many seaboard locations in Northern Ireland make up the backdrops that give GoT its magical, medieval-vibe: Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach in County Londonderry, Ireland are Dragonstone; The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney are The Kingsroad; Ballintoy Bay in County Antrim represent Pyke, home of House Greyjoy; and Murlough Bay, also in County Antrim, represent The Iron Islands. Whether you’re a seasoned traveller or just want to get out and see some of Europe’s more rare, enchanting destinations, Game of Thrones has a lot to offer. It may be a show steeped in fantasy and imagination, but the natural landscapes that bring the story to life are realer than most would imagine.