King’s Landing – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik provides the exotic setting for Westeros’s capital city, King’s Landing. A walled city nestled in the Adriatic Sea, it’s easy to see why its otherworldly charm caught the eye of HBO as a filming location. It’s architecture is a unique balance of the old and the new. After the great earthquake of 1667, most of the medieval city was destroyed. The mammoth outer walls remained standing, and inside them today are a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture found nowhere else.
Game of Thrones themed tours now run across the city, allowing fans of the show to stand in the shoe prints of the characters they love (and love to hate). Fancy taking Cersai’s shame walk, or strolling around The Red Keep? Then perhaps book yourself a tour!
Beyond The Wall – Grjótagjá, Iceland
Fans may recognise this as the spot where Jon and Ygritte took a dip in season three. This cosy lava cave is home to a geothermal hot spring. From 1975 to 1984, the Krafla volcanic system erupted nine times. Visitors used to be able to swim in the waters until this time, when they became too hot due to volcanic activity. After 1984, the temperature has slowly cooled, but has been known to rapidly heat again. As such, bathing is no longer allowed in the hot spring. However, you are welcome to at least feel the water and dip your feet in to relax.
The lava cave and hot spring, however, have such an ethereal, otherworldly beauty that they attract many visitors a year. The scenes of Jon and Ygritte in the water were actually filmed in a studio since the location itself was too, erm, steamy.
The Bloody Gate – Thingvellir National Park, Iceland
This Icelandic National Park is home to the Thingvellir Rift Valley, which Game of Thrones fans will recognise as the the road to the Eyrie (and the infamous moon-door!). The valley is a geological wonder as it is the visible site of the mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. The plates are being pulled apart at a rate of 2 centimetres per year, creating the winding crevice that attracts nature lovers from all over the world.
It also holds historical significance worthy of Westeros. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century it was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althingi, the world’s oldest parliament. The unique geology of the area created a natural amphitheater perfect for public speaking. Here parliament’s members, godar, discussed, decided new laws and passed judgements.
Yunkai – Ait Benhaddou, Morocco
In Season 3 of Game of Thrones, Daenerys, still in exile, frees the slaves of Yunkai who eagerly turn to her as their saviour. Ait Benhaddou sits between Marrakech and the Sahara, located on an old trade route. The city takes around three hours to reach from Marrakech but is a popular tourist destination for those willing to take the trip through the dunes. The walled citadel is made of mud, clay, wood and straw and is a perfect example of the architecture from Moroccan pre-sahara region.
Interestingly, this city was also heavily featured in the hit movie Gladiator starring Russell Crowe.
Winterfell – Tollymore Forest, Northern Ireland
Tollymore Forest definitely charmed the HBO producers, it was used for multiple locations within the show. These include, the Wolfswood near Winterfell where the Stark children found their Direwolf pups and The Haunted Forest near The Wall, the opening scene of the first ever episode (how long ago that seems now!). You can take a 2 mile walking tour of the filming locations within the forest or simply amble through the trees, waterfalls and historic ruins at your own leisurely pace.