Destinations
April 27, 2016

Summer in Westeros: A guide to visiting the Game of Thrones shooting locations

Words by Kayo Cosio

Welcome to the Seven Kingdoms. Find out how to get everywhere from the glaciers beyond the Wall to the Free Cities beyond the Narrow Sea

Hoffellsjokull Glacier, Iceland

Make like a crow of the Night’s Watch and join a guided tour of the glaciers in Iceland.

Beyond the Wall: Iceland

All scenes filmed “North of the Wall” are done in this snowy wilderness. Reykjavik hosts all the GOT cast and crew, by merit of being the only city in the entire nation. When visiting, go between June and August. The weather will be most manageable during this time, but it’s still wise to gear up for freezing temperatures and for ice-cold rains nonetheless.

Literally a land of ice and fire, don’t miss these attractions:

Scale a Glacier: Channel Jon Snow with the seasoned guides of www.mountainguides.is —this is the closest you’ll get to the “North of the Wall” experience. Otherworldly ice vistas as far as the eye can see make it an ideal location for a place that represents the limits of the civilized world. Beginners should try hiking Sólheimajökull—but keep your eyes peeled for White Walkers.

The Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool: A great example of Reykjavik’s steaming hot springs. After your glacier hike, relax in the naturally bubbly and warm volcanic water that is completely chemical-free.

The Southron Lands: Croatia

Dubrovnik

A small Mediterranean coastal town in the region of Dalmatia, Dubrovnik hosted cast and crew for all the King’s Landing sequences. It’s a quaint yet regal town of only 42,000 people. Seated right on the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik’s wealth came primarily from its maritime trade industry. If you’re a seafaring Greyjoy, you can take your war boats to dock here. The St. Lawrence Fortress on the water doubled as King’s Landing, particularly during the siege at the end of Season two. The Hotel Bellevue now has a “Discover King’s Landing” package. What’s included? Luxury ocean-view accommodations, a welcome bottle of wine, and a replica of a “key to King’s Landing” which will grant you special access to all the attractions included in the package’s tour.

Lokrum Isle

Just 600 meters off of Dubrovnik is Lokrum Isle, a lush little chunk of land that served as the filming location for the city of Qarth. It is under a square kilometer large, but hosts a veritable plethora of fauna. Legend has it that Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked here during the Crusades. Nowadays, most visitors arrive on one of Dubrovnik’s day-trip ferries.

What to do on Qarth—I mean Lokrum:

Botanical gardens. Pines to palms to large oaks, the isle is now a special forest vegetation reserve and the site of an unusual saltwater lake.

Peacock families. They were not native to the island, but Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand of Habsburg brought them in when he built his mansion in the 1800s.

An abandoned 11th century Benedictine Monastery. Instead of the monks who lived here over 200 years ago, talk of kings and dragons fills its ancient halls.

Castle at the seaside

THE SEVEN KINGDOMS. Medieval ruins and rocky coasts make Northern Ireland ideal for shooting the Kingdoms of the North.

Ride for the North: Ireland

The main filming locale for Game of Thrones so far. From the near-inhospitable kingdom of the Greyjoys, to the dank dungeons of Kings Landing, a great number of castles, gardens, and ruins in Northern Ireland have been blended together to achieve the desired kings-of-old effect.

A hit-list of places that have been found worthy:

Ballintoy Harbour: You may recognize this location as the harsh group of rock islands slightly off the west coast of Westeros. Yes, Balintoy is what becomes the Iron Islands, home to the Lord Reaper of Pyke.

Shane’s Castle in Randlestown, County Antrim: A ruin on the shore of Louth Neagh, Shane’s Castle has become one of the most versatile shoot locations for the show. It is used extensively throughout all seasons filmed so far. Try to spot where King Robert Baratheon arrived at Winterfell, where the Tourney of the Hand was held, and a particularly conspicuous arched bridge that has made many an appearance on your TV. With the estate grounds covering 2,600 acres, Shane’s Castle is not only perfect for long, extensive filming days, but also a great place to play Frisbee with your pet direwolf.

Moneyglass Estate, Toomebridge, County Antrim: While in county Antrim, visit another versatile filming location. Many scenes have been shot here, but you’ll probably have the most fun reenacting a particular sequence filmed on these grounds: the infamous Red Wedding.

Berber Tale

Much of the Dragon Queen’s scenes are shot in Ouarzazate, Morocco, which serves as the quintessential desert city backdrop in films from Lawrence of Arabia to The Mummy.

Across the Narrow Sea: Morocco

Ouarzazate

A town is aptly nicknamed “The Door of the Desert,” Ouarzazate is also the door to Morocco’s entertainment industry. It serves as home to pretty much all of the country’s movie studios. Not only does GOT film here, but so did The Mummy, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Hanna, and—of course, the movie that defined the desert cinema experience—Lawrence of Arabia. That said, this is not the most tourist-friendly of destinations because of its studio city nature.

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Essaouira

If you’re in Morocco, you’d best travel up on to the northwestern coast, where you’ll find Essaouira. At the hands of GOT’s creative team, this city becomes Astapor, the desert where Daenerys Targaryen transforms into a dragon queen. If you’re not filming a cable-TV juggernaut, the best things to do in this North African town are: 

Visit the bustling Essaouira Harbor. An old fortress city, cannons still line the coast to this day. Visit Skala du Port, well known for its picturesque view of the Île de Mogador across the water.

Shop the colorful Old Town Bazaar for interesting trinkets that gypsies and traders have been exchanging here for centuries.

Sit at Taros Café and enjoy the delicious local food and coffee with strong coastal winds blowing through your hair. In the evenings, you can expect some bellydancing.

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