7 Must Visit Countries For Game Of Thrones Fans
Ireland, Croatia, Scotland, Iceland, Morocco, Malta and Spain are destinations in themselves. They’re also countries where fans of cult TV show Game of Thrones, with months to wait until the final series, can get their fix…
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Ireland
Northern Ireland is probably the most famous Game of Thrones destination of them all, starring key locations such as Castle Ward as Winterfell, Cushenden Caves as The Stormlands, and Magheramorne Quarry as Castle Black, to name just a few. Most of these wildly beautiful locations are dotted around the east coast, and Discover Northern Ireland is a good place to start when you begin planning your trip. If it’s a road trip you have in mind, check out the Causeway Coastal Route, which stretches 120 miles from Belfast Lough to Lough Foyle in Derry.
Cushenden Caves (credit: Jonathan Tweed)
The route of this stunning coastal drive takes in a number of filming locations and weaves through the Nine Glens of Antrim, via the pretty villages of Glenarm, Cushendun and Ballintoy, the spectacular seascapes of Portstewart and Downhill, and the mountainous terrains of Slemish and Binevenagh.
Game of Thrones Tours Ltd is another obvious choice for a Game of Thrones themed trip, offering an amazing Dublin Winterfell Locations Trek, a Tollymore Forest Trek and the Belfast Winterfell experience. Game of Thrones fans who are also foodies will also be thrilled to hear that Ballygally Castle, part of the Hastings Hotels group in Northern Ireland, has launched a brand new Game of Thrones afternoon tea.
LarryBane Quarry (credit: Jerry Dohnal)
During the tea you can indulge in a “game of scones”, with tasty treats inspired by the fantasy lands of Winterfell, Iron Islands, King’s Landing and Stormlands, including Lannister egg Rolls, Baratheon Bread, Little Finger Chicken Caesar wraps, Jon Snow Cakes and Dothraki Trifle with mini Dragon’s eggs before heading out to explore one of the regions where the series was filmed.
Filming of seasons 1-4 took place in the Titanic Studios in Belfast and across various locations throughout Northern Ireland including the Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour, Larrybane Quarry, Antrim plateau, Castle Ward, Inch Abbey and Downhill Strand. One of the most iconic spots in Northern Ireland is the atmospheric Dark Hedges in Stranocum.
The Dark Hedges (credit: Andy Withers)
Other hotels in Ireland which offer Game of Thrones packages include the Maldron Hotel Belfast, The Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast and family-run hotel The Cuan.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Croatia
But it’s not just Ireland that travelling Game of Thrones fans should have on their itinerary.
Ahead of the final series, TripAdvisor have crowned the world’s top ten Game of Thrones tours across the globe, and the top 10 list includes a walking tour of Dubrovnik in Croatia, that takes in the real-life attractions used for some of the show's fictional locations including Lovrijenac Fortress, Blackwater Bay and the Trsteno Arboretum.
Dubrovnik (credit: Jorge Franganillo)
On this tour, you will be taken through all the parts of the Old City where some of the most memorable scenes from the ongoing cultural phenomenon were filmed, including: The Pile Gate where King Joffrey was faced with a citizens’ riot and pelted with dung, and the Lovrijenac fort where the unsuccessful attack on King's Landing - the Battle of Blackwater - took place.
Another option is a tour with Karaka Cruise, which will take you on an action-packed 2-hour cruise and walking tour of King's Landing. You can board the same ship that Daenerys Targaryen sailed, and then walk through Dubrovnik's Old Town, too. The Old Town is so striking that it seems to have leapt directly from the pages of George R. R Martin’s addictive series of novels and it is no coincidence that Dubrovnik was also a capital city in its own right – of the now extinct Republic of Ragusa.
Others to tick off the list in Croatia include a 3.5-hour guided walking tour in Split, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the fictional city of Meereen and the fortress of Klis, ending at Diocletian's Palace.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Iceland
There’s also a filming locations tour from Reykjavik in Iceland, which will take you to Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Iceland's largest geothermal power stations at Nesjavellir, Lake Thingvallavatn's panoramic vistas and the beautiful Thjorsárdalur valley.
Vik (credit: Trevor Green)
Vik, Iceland, has experienced a large increase in tourism (an incredible 1300%), thanks to those visiting the fictional filming location of The Wall and Beyond. In Vik, you can check out the dormant subglacial volcano Katla, and then head south for black sands and rolling Atlantic waves. The natural beauty of the area is spectacular, and you can spot wildlife including artic terns and puffins there too.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Spain
Another more surprising trip that made the top ten and which is also easily accessible on a cheap flight is a guided day trip to Girona from Barcelona, following in the footsteps of the Lannisters and the Targaryens. On an 8-hour GOT-themed tour, Game of Thrones fans can explore the medieval city through the eyes of key characters, sample King's Hand ice cream, and enjoy free time to see the city's Roman walls, Jewish district and more.
Girona (credit: Jochen Bullerjahn)
Around 12 destinations in Spain serve as fictional backgrounds for King's Landing, Dorne, Vaes Dothrak, and more. Local Spanish landmarks like the Castle of Zafra saw a 488% year-over-year increase in interest from international travelers after its appearance in Season 6. Osuna’s bullfighting ring, appearing as the Fighting Pits of Mereen, has experienced a 215% increase in traveler interest. The city of Girona, which served as King´s Landing, Braavos, Dorne, Hornhill or Oldtown, has also become a popular destination.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Scotland
In Scotland, the one to visit is real-life fortress Doune Castle – aka Winterfell. The 14th century courtyard castle has one of the best preserved great halls in Scotland and has also featured on Monty Python, so it makes for an incredible historic day out for culture vultures. You’ll really feel as though you’re going back in time as you descend the steep cobbled tunnel to the courtyard and cellar.
Doune Castle (credit: Stephanie McGucken)
It has about 25,000 visitors each year, so make sure you’re one of them, and head to the Visit Scotland or the Secret Scotland website to find out more and plan your trip. It’s worth noting that TripAdvisor run a West Highland Lochs and Castles day trip from Edinburgh, which might be a good base if you want to combine a tour with a stay in the Scottish capital.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Morocco
In Morocco, the three Game of Thrones fictional settings to have on your radar are Essaouira (Astapor), Ait-Ben-Haddou (Yunkai and Pentos) and Ouazazate (Pentos).
Ait-Ben-Haddou (credit: Fabian Kron)
The ‘Winter is Coming’ location tour in Morocco is your best bet for making the most of these stunning locations and for experiencing Morocco in a truly unique way. The 5-day journey includes meals, hotels, entry to sites and monuments, internal transport and guides. It starts out in Marrakesh in southern Morocco. Ait-Ben-Haddou, or Yunkai city, is a real highlight of the tour with its ancient fortified castle and maze protected by Unesco.
Alternatively, if you want to take your time, you could plan your own route. Moroccan public transport is, on the whole, pretty good, with a rail network linking the main towns of the north, the coast and Marrakesh, and plenty of buses and collective taxis. Renting a car can open up routes that are time-consuming or difficult on local transport.
Game of Thrones Destinations to visit in Malta
Malta is a beautiful Mediterranean island, and it’s easy to see why HBO chose it for so many Game of Thrones settings.
Azure Window, north of Malta, was the setting for Daenery’s and Drogo’s wedding back in the first season of Game of Thrones. But that’s not all: Mdina Gate also features as the King’s Landing gate, Fort St Angelo as The Red Keep dungeon, and Fort St Elmo as Sowbelly Row.
Mdina Gate (credit: Gwendolyn Stansbury)
The Malta Film Tours tour is good value, and includes plenty of filming locations that are part of the fictional world of Westeros, including the Red Waste, Essos and King's Landing. It’s an awesome way to enjoy the island on a tour led by two local actors, and to unravel the adventures of characters like Arya Stark, Daenerys Targaryen, Joffrey Baratheon and Cersei Lannister while you’re there.