Game of Thrones Tour // How to See Game of Thrones in Real Life
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What is Game of Thrones?
In case you don’t have as excellent taste as me and don’t know what Game of Thrones is – it is an American fantasy drama HBO series that was created and based off of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The series has been filmed in a studio – the studio is located in Belfast – and on location in several different areas of the world including Northern Ireland, Malta, Scotland, Croatia, Iceland, Spain, and Morocco meaning you can put together your own Game of Thrones tour.
The series is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and follows the realm’s noble families and their struggles for control of the Iron Throne.
Game of Thrones Malta Locations
Mdina – The Crowded Planet
Azure Window // Mind of a Hitchhiker
One of the very first episodes of Game of Thrones was shot at the Azure Window in Gozo. Daenerys’ wedding had the backdrop of this surreal rock formation dipping into the Mediterranean Sea. Even though the window has since collapsed, this part of Gozo is still worth a visit. With or without window, Gozo’s natural beauty will make you understand the director’s choice to have it represent the Dothraki territory in Essos.
Take the ferry into Malta from Italy or, more commonly, take a plane from a European or African city. From there, take local transport to the ferry to Gozo in Cirkewwa. Enjoy the 45-minute ferry ride across. It goes many times a day and the crossing is generally smooth. Ask on arrival in Mġarr for local transport to the Azure Window. If people tell you it doesn’t exist anymore, ask for Dwejra Bay. San Lawrenz is the nearest town and has accommodation.
Game of Thrones Croatia Locations
City Walls, Dubrovnik // Megan Starr
The City Walls of Dubrovnik are one of the first things that come to mind when tourists think of the Croatian city. The defensive stone walls that we see today were built during the 12th-17th centuries and were never breached by hostile armies, helping them stay intact for tourism today. The walls are seen in several scenes in Game of Thrones, including the Battle of Backwater Bay in season two. The west wall near Pile Gate was also used in Game of Thrones as a practice yard during the fourth season. The walls have become one of the most prominent aspects of the series.
Stradum, Dubrovnik // Megan Starr
The Stradun is the main street of Dubrovnik and it runs for over 300 meters through the city’s old town. The street became the main street of Dubrovnik during the 13th century and its current appearance was created after the 1667 earthquake demolished many parts of the city. Today, the street is the main thoroughfare for tourists as it is surrounded by the famous City Walls and it offers a luxurious shopping experience, several restaurant options, and many other things to cater to Dubrovnik tourists. Stradun came to fame in Game of Thrones when Cersei Lannister took her walk of penance there.
Fort Bokar, Dubrovnik // Megan Starr
The Bokar fortress, or Zvjezdan, is one of Europe’s most famous and recognizable forts and has played a major role in Dubrovnik’s history. The two-story Medieval structure allows the sea to pass beneath it just as it did when it was initially built in the 1400-1500s. Bokar’s current state is the same of that in 1570 and it helped Dubrovnik achieve UNESCO status as a city. Its role in Game of Thrones took place during the second season when Tyrion and Lord Varys were talking about defense plans of King’s Landing. The fortress is the oldest casemented one in Europe and is open to visitors.
St Dominika Street, Dubrovnik // Eat Sleep Breathe Travel
St. Dominika Street, located within the old walled city of Dubrovnik, is easily recognized by Game of Thrones fans. Many market scenes and Gold Cloak scenes all take place here, though perhaps it is best known for being the backdrop in season 5 when Queen Circe walks down the iconic flight of stairs naked as she then makes her way through the winding streets in penance to the cries of shame! Shame! Shame! It’s definitely a must-see for any GoT fan, though I suggest keeping your clothes on during your visit!
For those wishing to visit the location, it’s easy and free to get to. The baroque style stairs, which are known as the Jesuit Steps, are located on the south side of Gundulic Square and lead up to the Jesuit Church of St. Ignatius. They are, understandably, very popular and home to plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating at the base.So if you want to escape the crowds, I’d suggest getting up really early. I visited mid-morning and evening and they were packed both times.
Fort St Lawrence (Fort Lovrijenac) // Kollecting Koordinates
“Power is power.” Remember that hair-raising scene between Cersei and Littlefinger? What about the tourney on Joffrey’s name day? And who can forget the epic Battle of Blackwater? These memorable scenes were all filmed at Fort Lovrijenac in Dubrovnik, which was Season 2’s Red Keep in King’s Landing.
Fort Lovrijenac is located just outside the Old City of Dubrovnik. Entrance fee is included in the ticket to walk the walls, or with a Dubrovnik Card. You’ll have to hike up some stairs but the phenomenal view of the Old City makes it worthwhile. Visit both during the day and at night, when you can see King’s Landing all lit up.
Minceta Tower // The Travelling Pinoys
Minceta Tower is a symbol of the unconquerable city of Dubrovnik. The tower is the strong port located in the north of the famous Walls of Dubrovnik – a series of defensive walls surrounding the city of Dubrovnik. It is named after the Mincetic family who owned the land where it was built. Minceta is also the highest point of its defense system and is known to be the most visited part of the wall.
The tower is famous for its gothic-style crown that is more of aesthetic than a defensive design. The base of the tower was used as the exterior of the House of Undying in Season 2 where Daenerys Targaryen walks around to find her stolen dragons. These days, the tower provides a magnificent view of the city that no other place in Dubrovnik can provide.
Trsteno Arboretum // Wales to Wherever
Located in Trsteno, a district of Dubrovnik, Trsteno Arboretum, which dates all the way back to the 15th Century, is the oldest arboretum in that part of the world, and most recognizable as the place where Lady Olenna Tyrell seems to meet everyone to scheme and drink tea. It’s featured quite frequently throughout the series, although mostly in passing so you’d be forgiven for having to take a second glance. If you’re staying in Dubrovnik, there are at least 7 daily departures from the bus terminal to Trsteno, and it takes anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes to get there. You’ll know when to get off the bus as there is a really big tree (an oriental plane, which is kind of a big deal) and a sign saying ‘Trsteno Arboretum’. There’s also a camping site right next door to the Arboretum if you like it enough to stay. In the summer months (May to October), the site is open from 7am to 7pm, but from November to April it’s open from 8am to 4pm. The entry fee is 50 Kuna for adults, 30 Kuna for children.
DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE, SPLIT // Passing Thru
Split (Croatia) is a popular destination for GOT fans who will immediately recognize Diocletian’s Palace from the earliest episodes of the series. This UNESCO site is one of the rare cases where modern day people still live in the historic monument. The majority of visitors to Split either disembark for the day from the many cruise ships that use this as a port of call or opt for inexpensive lodgings in the city. Instead, we recommend you book accommodations in the Palace itself; there are a variety of quite affordable options ranging from small one or two room inns to boutique hotels with a dozen or more rooms. During your stay, it will be easy to imagine yourself transported back to Roman times, or even subject to the evil House of Lannister. Enjoy live entertainment in the squares and courtyards, shop for souvenirs and artisan goods, and drink and dine in the numerous restaurants and bars within the Palace walls. This stop is one of our most favorite memories in Croatia.
LOKRUM ISLAND // BETWEEN ENGLAND & IOWA
SIBENIK // TRACY’S TRAVELS IN TIME
Sibenik was used by Game of Throne producers as the city of Braavos. The Cathedral of St James is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and appears in the series when Arya Stark is seen in the courtyard in front of the Cathedral.
The Cathedral is special because over the 105 years it took to be built 3 different architects were involved and it ended up being built in a blend of Gothic and Renaissance forms.
It is built entirely of stone – just stone…like a giant lego construction. No mortar – it is held together by well-cut blocks! It also has a very impressive portal apparently in competition with the one in Trogir – trying to out-portal each other (probably not a lot of entertainment in the middle ages).
TROGIR // TRACY’S TRAVELS IN TIME
Trogir is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe. The town is surrounded by walls built in the 15th century – it takes about 30 minutes to walk around the town. The main buildings are the 15th-century town hall the Cathedral of St Lawrence with its very impressive Portal of Radovan. In Game of Thrones, Trogir represented the trading harbor of Qarth.
Trogir is about 30 kms from Split and can easily be reached by bus within 25/30 minutes. It is then possible to then travel onto Sibenik by bus. This is a further 50 kms. We took a tour from Split which incorporated both sights.
Fortress of Klis // Wales to Wherever
Situated slightly north of Yunkai and Astapor (or just outside of Split, for those not living in George R.R. Martin’s fictional world), Klis Fortress is better known to some as the City of Meereen. The history of Klis Fortress is almost as interesting as that of Meereen – built “somewhere around 3 B.C.” and originally intended as an Illyrian stronghold, the fortress has passed from Empire to Empire and has certainly seen its fair share of bloodshed over the years. Due to its ideal location and natural defenses, Klis Fortress has long been considered one of Croatia’s most important defensive structures. Overlooking the village of Klis, it offers unrivaled panoramic views of the city of Split and surrounding areas. Yet despite being broadcast to millions of people worldwide, Klis Fortress remains relatively unknown to visitors and is the perfect half-day trip from Split. The easiest and most direct way to get there is by hopping on the Number 22 bus right outside the National Theatre. This bus stops right outside the Fortress but doesn’t run on weekends. Entrance to Klis Fortress is 20 Kuna for adults, 10 Kuna for children. Read more about the Fortress of Klis.
Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Locations
Make sure to check out all the things you to do in Ireland while you’re there!
Downhill Demesne is located in County Londonderry and is a perfect addition to a road trip along the Causeway Coast or as a day trip from Derry. Downhill Beach is one of the most visited and beautiful beaches in Northern Ireland. You can even drive your car on the beach!
Downhill Demesne and Beach made a few appearances in Game of Thrones. Most noteworthy is the scene in which Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon burn the statues of the Seven in Season 2.
Larrybane Quarry is directly next to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and, in fact, is used as overflow parking for this one of a kind attraction. Larrybane Quarry used to be a chalk quarry until the 1970s. Aside from its role of parking lot, it was also used as the setting for Renly Baratheon’s camp in Season Two of Game of Thrones.
Ballintoy Harbour ended up being one of my absolute favorite spots in all of Northern Ireland and Ireland combined. Don’t get me wrong – there were plenty of contenders and some other places that beat it, but there was something so peaceful about this little harbor. I was definitely loving the vibe here.
When driving along the Causeway Coast, definitely make a stop at Ballintoy Harbour. It’s very close to the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and not too far from Giant’s Causeway.
Ballintoy Harbour is most notably known as the exterior of Iron Islands. It is also used as Lordsport.
Probably one of the most well-known filming locations for Game of Thrones is the Dark Hedges. After seeing these magnificent giant trees, I know why. The Dark Hedges is a long row of trees lining the road on the backroads of County Antrim.
This magical spot was used as part of the Kingsroad. You’ll find them in the scene where Arya Stark passes through as part of the Night’s Watch recruits headed North.
Dunluce Castle is a ruined medieval castle in County Antrim. The castle sits on extremely steep drop-offs and is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Dunluce Castle is used as the filming site of Pyke of House Greyjoy. This was actually one of my favorite castle stops on the trip. I got to see Dunluce Castle and Kinbane Castle (this actually ended up being my favorite!) on the same day.
Cushendon Caves // Faraway Lucy
Castle Ward – Best Bits Worldwide
Sometimes it’s better to refrain from visiting GOT locations and just leave it to the imagination. Winterfell might just be one of those places. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth the visit. About an hour’s drive from Belfast, Castle Ward, as it’s called in real life, is much more interesting than the tower that inspired Winterfell. These pictures above are not of two buildings but the same, revealing the differing tastes of the 18thC Lord Bangor and his wife. He preferred the Georgian style and she the Gothic – so they compromised and got one side each. The sunken garden is also a treasure – walled and off to the center. One of the Best Bits of County Down, Northern Ireland.
Murlough Bay – McCool Travel
Adventurous Game of Thrones fans should definitely include Murlough Bay on their list of filming locations to visit in Northern Ireland. The steep cliffs and fields appear in several seasons of the show and the drive to reach the bay is absolutely spectacular. Take the Torr Road, a scenic drive off the main Causeway Coastal Route, on a narrow, steep, and winding road with gorgeous views across the bay to Scotland. The site has appeared in Game of Thrones as the Stormlands, Slavers Bay, and the Iron Islands. A sign marks the scene where Renly and Stannis parlayed in Season 2. Murlough Bay was also the site of Theon and Yara’s ride, Sir Davos’s rescue after the Battle of the Blackwater, and the spot where Tyrion and Jorah faced slavers. It’s easy to see why the dramatic setting calls the show, and GoT fans, back for repeat visits.
Game of Thrones Scotland Locations
Doune Castle // Adventures Around Scotland
More than one location has been used for filming the traditional home of House Stark in Winterfell but Doune Castle in Scotland was the first. In the pilot episode of Game of Thrones, the scene of the great feast was filmed in the hall of the 14th-century castle along with some exterior shots.
However, this is not the only claim to TV fame for this medieval castle. Long before Game of Thrones, Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed here and actor Terry Jones narrates an excellent audio tour revealing the history of the castle. More recently, Doune Castle has featured in the popular Starz production of Outlander as the fictional Castle Leoch, which has
caused the visitor numbers to skyrocket even further.
Doune Castle is situated near Stirling in Central Scotland and is a very popular attraction for both history and TV fans. It is opened all year round to the public and admission is by payment with the option of hiring an audio guide. The castle is occasionally closed for filming so it is best to check for closure dates on the Historic Environment Scotland website before your visit.
Game of Thrones Iceland Locations
Lake Myvat // Reflections Enroute
Volcanic Myvatn Lake, located in northeastern Iceland with its dark, jagged lava rocks is foreboding even in summer. The permafrost ground is squishy to walk on, and unless your waterproof boots, your feet are going to get wet. Slogging over the rounded hills and craters takes a bit of an effort, but the views are definitely worth it. While we were here, we rode Icelandic ponies, a hearty breed, short and strong. They carried us up and down the craters and around the lake doing all the hard work for us.
Grjótagjá Cave // See Her Travel
I travelled Iceland with a huge GOT fan, so naturally we stopped at some obscure locations because of her fandom. One such place happened to be the illustrious cave wherein the virginal Jon Snow loses his, erm, virtue to Ygritte. The cave, actually named Grotagja, is located just east of Lake Myvatn in North Iceland and can be easily located from the main road leaving the area. The cave has a steamy hot water pool of clear mirroring water and a distinct sulphur aroma. All the best for romance I guess! The cave itself is on private property, but the owners clearly know there is no way to keep GOT fans away so have embraced the visitors, but do be respectful, and there is definitely no bathing allowed.
Kirkjufell // Hopping Miles
Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland. It totally deserves that much attention for its strategic location from Kirkjufellsfoss from where it looks like a sharp arrow head with beautiful waterfalls of Kirkjufellsfoss in the foreground. This scenic location was used in filming of Game of Thrones in more than one time in the series. First time, it was seen as ‘The Door’ when the Children of the God were shown and the recent one was the previous series, where it was seen as ‘Arrow Head’ mountain beyond which the Army of the dead live. So, if you are on a road trip in Iceland, then add this to your Iceland Itinerary, especially if you are a GOT fan, you should not miss this place by any chance!
Vatnajökull // Happiness Travels Here
Vatnajokull featured in season 2 of Game of Thrones, the largest glacier in Europe was used for scenes shot “beyond the wall”. During the winter it is possible to visit the ice-caves formed by the glacier, daylight filtering through the 1000-year-old ice creates a mesmerising aqua interior. The glacier can be experienced from about by joining a guided hike, don warm clothes and solid shoes to trek over the solid mass of ice. Or view the glacier from a boat. Cruise over the powdery blue waters of the Jokulsarlon Lagoon, and watch as huge icebergs break away from the ice cap, sending waves out across the lake as they submerge and bob back to the surface.
Vik // A Brit and A Southerner
The coastal town of Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland and is certainly one of the spectacular spots worth visiting if you are planning a road trip around the Icelandic Ring Road. Whether you are intrigued by the opportunity to admire the gorgeous Icelandic horses that gather in the nearby fields or perhaps head down to the beach to enjoy the spectacular sight of the Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks, Vik is undoubtedly a location that should be on everyone’s radar when visiting Iceland.
The nearby Reynisfjara beach is one of the most iconic around the world, primarily because of the black pebbles and basalt sea stacks that can be found in the ocean. It’s no surprise that this spectacular black sand beach was a location chosen in season 7 of the Game of Thrones. Not only can you appreciate the natural beauty of this iconic Icelandic landscape, you may enjoy a variety of wildlife sightings including puffins, fulmars, and guillemots.
In much the same vein as the rest of Iceland, Vik is famous for the natural beauty that surrounds this town. However, anyone that has visited Vik will recall the gorgeous church that sits on top of the hill overlooking the town.
Thingvellir National Park // A Brit and A Southerner
Thingvellir National Park is one of Iceland’s most historic landmarks in conjunction with being a spectacular location for geological beauty. It’s these two components that makes Thingvellir such a popular spot among visitors to the “Land of Fire and Ice” and likely the reason why this was chosen as a location in season 4 of the Game of Thrones.
For the historians out there, Thingvellir is known as being the site of a parliament between 930 AD and 1798. Today, visitors can take a stroll around some of Thingvellir’s iconic sites and reminisce over many decisions that likely took place on this sacred land.
If you prefer a little more adventure, the two submerged rifts – Silfra and Davíðsgjá are two of Iceland’s iconic diving spots. However, if that sounds a little too chilly for you, head over to the gorgeous Oxarafoss waterfall to admire one of Iceland’s spectacular natural landmarks.
Visitors to Thingvellir likely won’t be short of things to do and we strongly recommend camping here by the lake if you are looking to save money on accommodation while exploring this beautiful country.
If you’re not a huge Game of Thrones fan, there are plenty of things to do in Iceland.
Game of Thrones Spain Locations
Osuna – Surfing the Planet
Osuna is one of the most charming towns in Andalusia, located at only 90 km from Seville (a great stop in an Andalusian road trip between Granada en Seville). It’s full of Baroque houses, especially in the historic center around the main square, Plaza Mayor, and Calle San Pedro, one of the most picturesque streets in Southern Spain. Osuna became quite famous recently when one of the most impressive scenes of Game of Thrones Season 5 was filmed in its bullfight arena from the 1900s, the Plaza de Toros. The area represented Daznak’s pit, the largest fighting pit in the city of Mereen. In the fascinating scene the Sons of the Harphy surprisingly start killing everyone in the stands and also try to attack Danerys, who manages to escape on the back of one her dragons.
Almeria // Migrating Miss
Girona // Tales of a Backpacker
Girona is a beautiful city in the Catalan region of Spain. Just an hour’s drive or train ride from Barcelona, Girona also has an international airport with flights from the UK and Europe. The city combines Roman ruins with medieval architecture, narrow cobbled streets and a bridge over the river designed Gustal Eiffel to create a stunning city, perfect to explore on foot.
Games of Thrones fans will recognise filming locations used for scenes in series six for King’s Landing, Braavos and Oldtown. Be sure to visit Plaça dels Jurats, Calle del Bisbe Cartaña, and the Arab Baths, which appear as Braavos, the magnificent cathedral which doubles as King’s Landing, and the Benedictine monastery Sant Pere de Galligants which was used as a citadel in Oldtown.
Castell de Santa Florentina // Travel-ling
Castell de Santa Florentina is better known to Game of Thrones fans as Samwell Tarly’s home, Horn Hill. Located in the small coastal town of Canet de Mar, the castle dates back to the 11th century, and has been meticulously maintained by the same family for over five generations. The castle and its courtyard provided scenes for Game of Thrones (remember that tense Tarly family dinner?) in season 6. Castell de Santa Florentina opens its doors to the public on Saturdays and bookings are recommended (although the visits are only done in Catalan and Spanish). General admission is €12. The easiest way to get to the castle is by car or taxi; there is parking onsite.
Castle of Zafra // Adventure Travel Family
Recently appearing in the Game of Thrones as the Tower of Joy, a site for one of Bran Stark’s visions, the history of the Castle of Zafra is enough to convince anyone of its worth as a location in the hit series. Built in the 12th century at an elevation of 1400 metres above sea level, the castle was created on a sandstone outcrop and holds the prestigious label of remaining undefeated despite sieges. The castle is the only building for miles around so visitors either need to hire a good car or be prepared for an all-day hike! Visitors are welcome to take in the view of the castle from the outside but will need the permission of the owning family, Antonio Sanz Polo of Molina de Aragon, for permission to go inside.
Alcazar of Seville // Speck on the Globe
Cordoba // Happiness and Things
When visiting Cordoba by car, we prefer parking to the south of the city centre, just on the other side of the river. This has a couple of advantages. For example, it is much easier to find secure, free parking without the hassle of having to navigate the narrow streets of the old town. But also, when you park south of the river Guadalquivir, you enter the city of Cordoba via the old Roman Bridge, which may indeed look familiar to Game of Thrones fans. Some CGI was necessary to enhance the length of the bridge and turn it into the Long Bridge of Volantis. A walk across the pedestrianised bridge with a view of the Mezquita and the old town panorama is definitely a must-do when visiting Cordoba.
Italica // Happiness and Things
Just 9km from Seville you will find the little town of Santiponce. Santiponce was built on ruins of once a thriving Roman port town, Italica. Today, all that remains of Italica is a couple of foundations, well preserved floor mosaics, and the ruins of a stunning amphitheatre. Game of Throne fans will recognise it as the Dragon Pit which features in Season 7. With some added CGI, the former theatre which seated up to 25,000 spectators and which used to be the third largest in the Roman Empire, looks even more impressive in the show. Stil, a visit to Italica is a worthwhile day trip from Seville, no matter whether you are a GoT fan or not. More about the Amphitheatre in Santiponce (Italica) here:
Getzalugatxe // My Adventures Across The World
Located in the Basque Country, in the Bay of Biscay, Gatzelugatxe is a islet connected to the mainland by a man made bridge. The island is surmounted by a hermitage dating back to the 10th century and dedicated to John the Baptist. The combination of the fabulous location and of the beautiful hermitage is simply stunning, making it a must on any trip to the Basque Country.
The area where Gatzelugatxe is located can be reached by car, following road BI-631 from Bilbao, or by bus (Bizkaiabus A3524 from Bilbao to Bermeo, the bus stop is right in front of San Juan de Gatzelugatxe and is called Gatzelu Begi).
Right next to the parking lot there is a lovely restaurant with a terrace that has amazing view of the bay and of the hermitage. On its right, there’s a path that leads all the way down to the hermitage. The path is around 1.5 km long but it is quite steep and, due to the regular rain of the Basque Country, also muddy and slippery.
Cacares // Travelnuity
It’s no surprise that the Spanish town of Caceres was used as a stand-in for Kings Landing during Season 7 of Game of Thrones. Its medieval walled old town has changed little in centuries, the sheer stone walls of its century old buildings towering over narrow cobblestone streets, and 30 towers still remaining along its walls, dating back to its Moorish period. Located in the western Extremadura region, it’s only 3 hours from Madrid, but has been virtually undiscovered by tourists compared to other Spanish towns, despite its UNESCO World Heritage listing. A visit is best combined with a trip to the fortress of nearby Trujillo, also used for Game of Thrones, or as a stop on a road trip between Madrid and Lisbon.
Game of Thrones Morocco Locations
Essaouria // Along Dusty Roads
Aït Benhaddou // Reflections Enroute
Driving down the mountain highway through the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and into the Ounika Valley, our first glimpse of Ait Benhaddou filled us with awe. The red crenelated towers poking into the sky reminded us of times gone by, a magical era of caravans and camels. As well it should have, because this city was part of a trading route between northern Africa and Marrakesh. We eagerly climbed to the zenith and took in the amazing views of the old city and its environs while we sipped on Moroccan tea and the sun began to dip behind the hills.
While this isn’t a complete list of all the Game of Thrones locations, it’ll sure give you a start to making your own Game of Thrones tour. To see a complete list of all filming locations, check out this site.
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