Gather the troops for an epic journey through Westeros, Essos and beyond
Gather the troops for an epic journey through Westeros, Essos and beyond
- By KKday
- | May 13, 2019
When Game of Thrones wraps up its final eighth season this month, we’ll be left with a serious case of GoT withdrawal. So what’s a travel addict and true GoT devotee to do as the series comes to a close? Chase the throne for themselves. In honor of the final GoT season, we’ve put together a list of five Game of Thrones tours featuring filming locations that you can see IRL. Explore GoT spots in Croatia, Iceland, Spain, Malta and Ireland that were actually featured in the show and take in some awesome sights while you’re at it.
Game of Thrones filming locations in Croatia
Within Croatia, Game of Thrones was primarily filmed in Dubrovnik and in Split. Tourists can make their way to these cities (roughly three hours apart by car) to see spots like King’s Landing and the Red Keep.
Dubrovnik is located in the south of Croatia, on the Adriatic sea. Picture enchanting Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings, steeped in history, and a skyline dotted with rolling hillsides against the sea. Split, the second-largest city in Croatia, is located on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and features stunning beaches and impressive Roman palace ruins in the city center.
Explore King’s Landing (aka the Old City of Dubrovnik)
Dubrovnik plays the role of King’s Landing in Game of Thrones. If you need a quick refresher, King’s Landing is the capital and the largest city of the Seven Kingdoms. Head out on a day tour of the Old City of Dubrovnik to immerse yourself in the GoT world.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, visitors can stroll down cobblestone streets and witness historic churches and elaborate fountains. You can almost see its notable residents like the Lannister clan, walking along the streets!
During your Dubrovnik day tour, stop at Lovrijenac Fortress. Lovrijenac Fortress is also known as the Red Keep, in King’s Landing. The Red Keep is the residence of the King of the Andals and the First Men. Overlooking the sea, Lovrijenac sits on a 37-meter high cliff. It dates back to 1018 and played an integral part in the military history of Croatia. In GoT, the Red Keep is home to the Great Hall, the throne room where the Iron Throne is situated.
See Lokrum Island (aka Qarth)
Be sure to pay a visit to Lokrum Island, just off the coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia. Lokrum Island is the site of Qarth, a trading city located on the southern coast of Essos, on the straits linking the Summer Sea to the Jade Sea. The GoT-obsessed fans can take a sunset cruise from Dubrovnik and catch sight of the island, against a backdrop of orange and red. Truly live like a King for the night and take in breathtaking views of Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island while dining aboard a 16th century wooden Karaka ship.
Adventure around Split (aka Meeren)
Tour Split, just a few hours from Dubrovnik, and find yourself wandering around the city of Meereen from the GoT universe. Meereen is the northernmost and greatest of the three great city-states of Slaver’s Bay, north of Yunkai and Astapor. Along the coast of Split, bask under the sun and appreciate the turquoise-blue water, then head to the town center to admire the ruins- remnants of the Roman Empire.
While touring Split, Diocletian’s Palace is a must-see attraction. The Roman palace ruins are sprawling; having once occupied around 30,000 square meters. The ruins, erected in the 4th century, are located in the heart of Split and today, around 3,000 people live on the territory of Diocletian’s palace. The palace is not only the site of Cersei’s Walk of Shame, but the palace’s cellar is where Daenerys kept her dragons when she was in Meereen. In the fourth season, the Diocletian cellar is where the Meereenese slaves lived and where the Sons of the Harpy waited for the Unsullied.
Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland
Game of Thrones was filmed in numerous locations throughout Iceland. Though, many of the spots are a little more remote and may not be super accessible to the average traveller. For instance, in season three, episode five, Jon Snow and Ygritte have a romantic moment inside a cave. This geothermal cave is Grjotagja, in North Iceland, close to nature reserve Myvatn. The black beaches of Vik, the southernmost village of mainland Iceland, play northern Westeros and the beach by Eastwatch.
However, many Iceland tourists head to Reykjavik or perhaps only stopping in Reykjavik for a layover, and a trip across Iceland might not work for their schedule. If you’re headed to Reykjavik and still want to check out a Game of Thrones tour, check out a day tour of Thingvellir National Park (a.k.a. The Bloody Gate).
Walk through Thingvellir National Park (aka The Bloody Gate)
East of Reykjavik, you’ll find Thingvellir National Park. The park was the site of Althing, Iceland’s parliament from 930 to 1798, making it a significant and sacred site for Icelanders. Althing is located in the rift valley between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. In Game of Thrones, the park doubles as the location of the Bloody Gate. The Bloody Gate is a castle that guards the western edge of the Vale of Arryn. It seems fitting that the rocky cliffs and old stone ruins of this national park would play that part of gates that have defended the Vale for thousands of years.
Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain
Spain has played a prominent location role in Game of Thrones throughout the years. For instance, Castell de Santa Florentina, a magnificent Spanish castle, was the site of Samwell Tarly’s ancestral home, Horn Hill. However, for travellers on a budget, or without a rental car, making your way to the more remote locations isn’t always feasible. Game of Thrones day tours from Barcelona, (one of the most popular cities in Spain to visit) take care of the transportation for you, and are cost-efficient.
Check out the scenery in Passeig de la Muralla, Girona (aka Braavos)
Leave Barcelona for a day tour of nearby Girona. This charming riverside town is the setting for Braavos in GoT. Girona was an excellent choice for Braavos, with its canals and romance culture. Interestingly, Venice is said to be the inspiration for Braavos, though we think Girona, with its idyllic streets and views of flowing water, works just as well. Braavos is one of the Free Cities, located to the east of Westeros. The city is wealthy and powerful, and home to some fierce fighters. You may not run into any Braavosi while you’re there, but you can take rows of vibrantly-colored houses. Climb a hill to reach the Girona Cathedral and look down to witness a familiar GoT landscape.
Game of Thrones filming locations in Malta
From Croatia or Spain, Malta is really just a hop, skip and jump away so if you’re going to spending time checking out the Game of Thrones filming locations in either of those destinations, consider taking two days to explore the small island of Malta. Malta plays numerous Red Keep and King’s Landing locations in the show. With 7,000 years of history under its belt, Malta is rife with ancient temples, forts, and castles. Head out on a tour of Malta to visit the city of Mdina and witness numerous GoT spots along the way.
Step into the GoT universe of Mdina, Malta and see King’s Landing, the Tower of Hand, and more
Head out on a day tour of Malta and make your way to the walled city of Mdina (a.k.a. King’s Landing). Enter the city through Greek’s Gate and relive the touching farewell between Ned and Catelyn Stark. Wander the winding alleyways until you reach Mesquita Square, where they filmed Jaime Lannister’s ruthless capture of Ned Stark. Head on to the Rabat catacombs, and recognize the Red Keep fortress.
As you explore Mdina, spot the Tower of the Hand, located in the Red Keep castle in King’s Landing. It contains the chambers of the Hand of the King and has stood for 300 years. Explore the infamous Maegor’s Holdfast, also located in the Red Keep.
Take a scenic drive out into Malta’s beautiful Mtahleb Cliffs or the “Shadow Cliffs,” and gaze out into the dazzling blue sea. Trace the intense journey of Daenerys, Khal Drogo, and the Dothraki along the jagged terrain.
Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland
Dark Hedges, Belfast
Northern Ireland is home to multiple GoT locales. When watching the series, you can admire the Belfast scenery in many shots. There are many important Game of Thrones scenes in Belfast, so we’ve picked out two tours that you can book that allow you to get the most bang for your buck. One lets you spend the day touring ‘The North’ and get acquainted with Westeros' Haunted Forest and Wolfswood. The other brings you to Dark Hedges (King’s Road) and Ballintoy Harbour (Iron Islands).
Meet direwolves in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Get ready for a wild ride as you depart from Belfast and spend the day exploring ‘The North’ (i.e. Northern Ireland); stopping by the Haunted Forest, Wolfswood, before meeting with actual direwolves, then making your way to Winterfell.
Your Game of Thrones day tour brings you to Tollymore Forest (i.e. Haunted Forest, Wolfswood), the first state forest park in Northern Ireland. The Wolfswood forest is so-named because of the wolves that populate the area. So, in true style, once you experience the picturesque Tollymore Forest, you’ll get to meet two of Stark’s direwolves before grabbing a pic on a GoT replica throne.
Head out to Northern Ireland’s Castle Ward Estates farmyard, the location of Winterfell. Winterfell is the backdrop for the series pilot and much of season one. It’s also where you will find the Whispering Wood and key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and when Brienne confronts the Stark men.
Walk through the Dark Hedges (aka King’s Road in Belfast)
Journey from Belfast to Giant’s Causeway on a day tour to see sights like Dark Hedges (i.e. King’s Road), Iron Islands (i.e. Ballintoy Harbour), and various villages along the Glens of Antrim.
The Giant’s Causeway is a magnificent coastline boasting unique rock formations. There are 40,000 interlocking columns and the ‘stepping stones’ leading from the cliff foot disappear under the sea. On the drive along this awe inspiring coast, you’ll stop at King’s Road, which plays the Dark Hedges in GoT. The Dark Hedges is the scene of Arya’s nail-biting escape from King’s Landing. The curved trees loom overhead in this forbidding but enchanting footpath. Find yourself at Ballintoy Harbour which served as the location for Theon Greyjoy’s return to the Iron Islands, as well as Theon’s baptism, Euron’s crowning, and the burial of Balon Greyjoy.
A version of this article first appeard on KKday.