Game of Thrones is one of the world’s most loved fantasy series, for its intense action and dramatic twists. It is also filmed in some spectacular locations, which the public are welcome to visit and tour. This is the ultimate Game of Thrones inspired trip itinerary for super-fans who want to see the real-life Westeros.
The magnificent home of the fan favourite Stark family, Winterfell is instantly recognised for its snow-topped turrets and enchanting Whispering Wood. An hour from Belfast, Northern Ireland, the farmyard of Castle Ward in County Down is used for the courtyard of Winterfell where most of the action takes place. Robb Stark and Jon Snow taught Bran archery before being upstaged by sister Arya, and Theon Greyjoy infamously hanged the two farmer boys above the entrance. Visitors can enjoy an authentic Game of Thrones experience by dressing up as their favourite character and taking part in Castle Ward’s archery lessons. A cycling tour is also available for visitors to see more of their favourite sights of Winterfell.
Iron Islands/ Ballintoy Harbour
The Iron Island capital of Pyke, in the village of Ballintoy in County Antrim, has a stunning coastline. The harbour features dramatic jagged rocks that cut into the sea and vast stretches of grassland. It is perhaps most recognisable when Theon arrives in Pyke and meets his sister Yara. They ride together along the most picturesque backdrop that is definitely worth seeing, and the town itself has small shops, restaurants and a quaint little parish church you can visit while you’re there.
Haunted Forest/ Tollymore Forest Park
This location is perfect for Game of Thrones AND nature fans. The sprawling and lush forest, located in County Down, Northern Ireland, stretches for 2.4 square miles. It is perhaps best known as the forest where Bran, Hodor and co. find the terrifying ‘children’ of the forest. The forest was also used for the scenes where the Starks found the direwolf puppies in the series pilot, as well as scenes north of the wall where the dreaded White Walkers were lurking. But if you visit the forest today, you won’t face any Game of Thrones villains – just beautiful scenery including statuesque redwood trees, rocky caves and Clanbrassiliana, the oldest tree in Ireland.
Cushendun Caves/ Birthplace of Shadow Baby
One of the most memorable scenes in Game of Thrones was filmed at Cushendun Caves in County Antrim. It is here that red priestess Melisandre gives birth to a terrifying demon, known as the ‘shadow baby’, while smuggler Ser Davos Seaworth looks on. It’s dark, cold and a little cramped, but this cave is a must-see for fans, and it’s said that the sea waves crashing against rocks can be heard echoing through the cave – a truly unique experience.
If you don’t fancy the colder climate of Northern Ireland and would prefer to see the warmer, more exotic locations of King’s Landing, then Dubrvonik in Croatia is the place for you!
Jesuit Staircase/ Sept of Baelor
This is probably one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable areas of Dubrovnik for Game of Thrones fans: the steps leading to the Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing. The Jesuit Staircase has been used for the scenes in which Margaery and Joffrey address their public, where the High Sparrow makes his speech, and most infamously, where Cersei Lannister begins her torturous walk of shame. The beautiful stone steps are usually packed with tourists but it’s worth a visit as one of the best photo points of the city.
St Dominic Street/ Market Scenes
Cersei’s walk of shame continues along this street, now the most culturally significant part of Dubrovnik because of its numerous cameos in Game of Thrones. The Gold Cloaks also kill one of Robert Baratheon’s illegitimate sons here, and Bronn and Tyrion watch a peasant uprising here in season 2. It is also a background feature for many other episodes, but fans who see this street in the flesh will instantly recognise it and can easily follow it to reach the Jesuit Staircase.
West Pier/ Blackwater Bay
The West Pier is a much quieter and more relaxed part of the city, away from the bustling of the narrow streets and heat-enclosing walls. If you find a spot along the pier, you can easily let yourself escape to Westeros with the soothing sound of the sea crashing against the citadel walls and the light spray of water on your face. This pier is probably best known for the location of the Battle of Blackwater Bay, set at night, but it makes for a beautiful sunset spot as seen in one episode where Shae and Sansa sit and discuss her marriage to Tyrion.
Rector’s Palace and Lokrum/ Qarth
Dubrovnik wasn’t just used for scenes in King’s Landing – in fact, many of the scenes set in the Essos city of Qarth in season 2 are filmed at the Rector’s Palace and also on the island of Lokrum, which is a 15-minute water taxi from Dubrovnik. The palace’s pale stone pillars and elaborate staircase look familiar as the meeting point between Daenerys and powerful merchant Xaro Xhoan Daxos. The island’s beautiful exotic gardens are used for the scenes in Qarth where Dany and Ser Jorah Mormont walk through the busy market. The island itself is well worth a visit if you’re in Dubrovnik already and it means you get to visit across the Narrow Sea without having to go too far!