The Dark Hedges, Ireland
The geniuses behind the camera knew their work was cut out for them after deciding to adapt the popular book series to screen. Martin’s world calls for drastic landscapes, grand castles, and ancient allure that can be difficult (and pricey) to create through green screen. Location scouts trekked across the globe for ideal backdrops, finding magic in countries and cities that otherwise may have gone unnoticed by locals and travelers alike. Recognizing the positive impact the show can have on these destinations, many countries have embraced the fandom and now offer visitors a chance to get lost in the world of Westeros with set and location tours both in and outside Europe’s beloved cities.
The King of the North: Dublin, Ireland
This 15th Century Tower in Ireland served as one of Walder Frey's Twins
Attracting about 4 million visitors every year, Dublin’s enchanting atmosphere, rich history, and laid-back locals have transformed Ireland’s largest city into a top destination. Unsurprisingly, tales of Ireland’s beautiful countryside and captivating coast have drawn visitors out from the pubs in Temple Bar in search of Ireland’s seemingly untouched landscapes. Combine this with some of the oldest castles in the world and behold the perfect fit for a fantasy adventure. The Emerald Isle’s small (but mighty) size affords Dublin visitors the opportunity to head north for a day and immerse themselves in the fictional story they love on an Ireland Game of Thrones tour.
Depart Dublin’s Centre nice and early towards the first stop on your quest, Tollymore Forest Park. Ireland’s first state park has been privy to GoT cast and crew, and will surely be recognized for hosting notable scenes such as where the Starks find the dead Direwolf and her pups. Your 1.5 mile trek through the forest includes this stop, as well as Tyrion and John’s camp site on their journey to the Wall, and the captivating first scene where the Nights Watch witness the dead rise again and encounter the White Walkers. Stage your own set with wool cloaks, swords, and shields provided by the tour group for photo opportunities that will leave your friends at home green with envy.
A photo posted by Game of Thrones Tours (@gameofthronestours) on Jan 6, 2017 at 11:27pm PST
In the early afternoon, imagination turns reality when you take those first steps through Winterfell’s gates. Castle Ward Estate has the honor of hosting nine filming locations for the series. Most notable for Winterfell, other scenes include Robb’s camp in the Riverlands, the battle of Baelor, and a 15th century Tower House that will leave you resisting the urge to turn back in fear of Lord Walder Frey and the infamous Twins that hosted the Red Wedding. One final stop at Inch Abbey where Rob is declared King of the North after he and Catelyn hear of Ned’s death is the seamless end to your adventure.
Inch Abbey, a filming location for Robb Stark's camp
Tip: If you’re planning on making Northern Ireland’s capital Belfast a stop on your trip, be sure to take Ireland’s other Game of Thrones tour that’s only available from this city. Stops include filming locations for the Iron Islands, Milisandre’s cave, and Renly’s camp. Plus, this tour stops at the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Giant’s Causway, a natural marvel steeped in its own myths and legends.
White Walker Territory: Reykjavik, Iceland
Frozen waterfall in Thingvellir National Park or inspiration for The Wall
Iceland’s appeal has always been its natural wonders and icy frontier. Its wintery façade has made it a popular destination in the colder months for travelers searching for natural phenomena such as the Northern Lights and geothermal activity at Geysir and the Blue Lagoon. It wasn’t hard for location scouts to imagine scenes of the Nights Watch battling with White Walkers in the snow. Iceland’s Game of Thrones tour from its capital Reykjavik affords the opportunity to take in the country’s natural beauty while exploring the Wildling Trail north of the Wall at Thingvellir National Park. The highlight of the day is a visit to Pjorsardalur Valley where some of the show’s most gruesome massacres took place. Lose yourself in time at the valley’s Viking era settlement that acted as Mole’s Town, the village ransacked by the Wildlings in Season 4.
Home of the Iron Throne: Dubrovnik, Croatia
King's Landing! Oops, we mean Dubrovnik
From the moment you set your sights on Dubrovnik there’s no doubt it’s King’s Landing. The azure waves crashing against high medieval walls and cluster of red roofs sheltering the hustle and bustle of cobblestone streets clearly had the same effect on the GoT crew as well. The jewel on Croatia’s coast is an up-and-coming destination, grabbing the attention of Europe’s glamorous and sun worshipers alike. Visit Dubrovnick and take the King’s Landing Game of Thrones walking tour which winds through the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Town, where you’ll walk in the footsteps of Cercei, expecting to hear the shrill shouts of, “Shame!” Climb Lovrijenac Fortress for perfect views of Blackwater Bay and explore Trsteno, filming home for the beautiful gardens of the Red Keep. Dubrovnik has also served as a setting for Qarth; you’ll visit the House of the Undying where Daenerys experiences visions from her past and future. As if you couldn’t be more immersed in the world of GoT, your guide is an extra straight from the screen and will entertain you with stories from the set and histories of the noble families that have called this city home.
The gardens in Trsteno served as the gardens of the Red Keep
As Game of Thrones progresses in story and popularity, so will the appeal for its tourism. New filming locations are found with each new instalment; season 6 featured the lovely Spanish city of Girona, and a set location day tour is now available from Barcelona. Escape the wait for the next installment of this beloved series with a Liberty Travel exclusive EURObreak or Journey vacation. EURObreaks are short getaways to iconic cities that feature exclusive benefits and a two-hour meeting with a City Insider, a native who will introduce you to the city they love, offer tips, and reveal local hotspots. If you plan on visiting multiple cities on your trip, enjoy all of these extra amenities on our longer Journeys packages with the added services of a Travel Butler, who will provide you with in-depth knowledge and tips about your destination while adding special touches like restaurant reservations and special celebrations.
Contact your Liberty Travel consultant to discover the secrets of your favorite scenes by getting lost in the fantasy that is Game of Thrones.