Forget the realms of fantasy, we’re about to take you on an armchair adventure to 8 of the most beautiful locations from Game of Thrones that you can visit in real life…
Belfast: Most of the interior shots are filmed in the city’s Titanic Studios, but head outside of the city centre and you’ll discover a treasure trove of GoT film locations. Castle Ward Gardens in County Down and Larne’s Cairncastle provided the backdrop for exterior shots of Winterfell in series one.
In Co. Antrim, the tunnel-like avenue of beech trees known as Dark Hedges also featured in the first series. Then there’s Co. Down’s Tollymore Forest Park, used to depict most Westeros scenes that take place in forested areas. The park is located not far from Castle Ward – local tours include stops at both.
Derry: Downhill Strand provides the setting for exterior beach scenes of Dragonstone island. It’s where Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon burn the statues of the Seven in the first episode of series 2. It also made an appearance in the third series as the beach of Dragonstone when Davos sends Gendry packing.
If you get the chance…drive the Causeway Coastal Route, it’s one of Europe’s most scenic road trips, stretching for 120 miles between Belfast and Derry. Along the way, make a pit-stop at the Giant’s Causeway, grab an ice-cream in Portstewart and face your fears at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
Doune Castle near Stirling is no stranger to on-screen action, having appeared in Monty Python and the Holy Grail and time-travelling TV series Outlander.
Serious GoT fans will recognise the castle from way back in the pilot episode, when King Robert Baratheon and co. are seen arriving at the fortress for a slap-up Winterfell feast.
Also in the area: The pretty village of Doune is close by, plus the excellent Deanston Distillery where, for under a tenner you can take a 50 minute tour of the distillery and sample their signature 12 year old single malt.
Locations all across Malta were used as the backdrop for Westeros in the first series. Mdina, Malta’s former capital, provided the setting for King’s Landing, while Mdina Gate, the old city’s main entrance, popped up in episode two. Mdina Bridge, Pjazza Mesquita, and Verdala Palace also made the cut.
While you’re in Malta…check out the prehistoric temples, take a dip in the Blue Lagoon and get lost in the honey-coloured streets of Valetta.
For series 2, producers waved goodbye to Malta, moving all King’s Landing scenes to Dubrovnik. Not far from the city, they re-imagined the historic Arboretum Trsteno as the Gardens of King’s Landing Palace.
A number of other locations in Croatia were also chosen, not just for King’s Landing but for scenes set in Qarth and Slaver’s Bay. Krka National Park was used for woodland scenes during season 5, while the seaside village of Kaštel Gomilica, appeared as the port of Braavos and also plays Klis Fortress, whenever Daenarys is seen in Meereen.
Split’s old town, which was built within the walls of the Roman Emperor Diocletian’s ancient palace featured in series 5.
Not to be missed on the Dalmatian Coast: The beautiful city of Zadar, with its mix of ancient architecture and terracotta rooftops definitely evokes the medieval look and feel of Qarth.
Check out the Roman Forum, the medieval church of St Donat and the famous Sea Organ, a sculpture that plays music by way of the wind and the sea.
Windswept, brooding and exotic, the seafront town of Essaouira played a blinder as Astapor in the third series when Daenerys freed the slaves and showed everyone what she’s made of (hint: it’s not sugar and spice and all things nice).
Some of the scenes based in King’s Landing were also filmed in the UNESCO- listed Medina. Not far from here, the Ounila River and red citadel of Ait-Ben-Haddon doubled up as the city of Yunkai.
In real life: Essaouira is a popular surf spot and its chilled out vibe draws plenty of day-trippers from Marrakech. Mild temperatures in November and December make this the perfect winter sun destination.
Seville: For the fifth series, Seville’s historic Royal Alcazar was transformed into Dorne Palace, home to the seat of House Martell, while the arches in the Alcazar’s Courtyard of the Maidens doubled up as the setting for House Martell’s Water Gardens of Sunspear.
One of the most memorable scenes from the same series was filmed just a short distance away in the Andalusian town of Osuna. Almost 600 extras, as well as the show’s cast and crew packed into the local bullring, the Plaza de Toros for the dramatic Meereen battle scene.
While you’re in Seville… Try flamenco, world-class tapas and the local sherry.
Girona: The sixth series sees Girona replacing Dubrovnik as the setting for King’s Landing, while the cathedral and other historical sites fill in as backdrops for the fictional cities of Oldtown and Braavos.
- Fiona Hilliard