Fit for a Khaleesi: Travelling Game of Thrones Style

You’ve watched the show week in, week out, cheered your favourite characters’ successes (and villains’ downfalls) and cried when the Gods have been cruel.

Maybe you’ve read the books and despite knowing what lies ahead you still come back to see the world expertly created by George R R Martin (and your imagination) brought to life.

Now into its fourth season, HBO’s Game of Thrones has captured the hearts and minds of audiences around the globe and fans just can’t get enough of the award-winning fantasy series.

Part of what makes the series so engaging, and really brings the story to life, are the spectacular filming locations chosen by the show’s producers.

From the sun-kissed Mediterranean to the wind-swept Artic, Game of Thrones shows off some of the most beautiful locations around the world.

If you fancy living out your own Game of Thrones fantasy, pay a visit to these destinations…

Iceland

With volcanoes, glaciers and an otherworldly landscape, Iceland is the perfect setting for the land North of the Wall.

Hofdabrekka Heath and Svinafellsjokull glacier in Skaftafell National Park stood-in for the frighteningly jagged peaks of the Frostfangs mountain range.

To venture where even Wildlings (sorry, Free Folk) fear to tread, take the easy 4km, 1.5 hour round trip to Skaftafellsjökull from Skaftafell Visitor Centre in the National Park. The Wildling’s camp in Season Three was filmed on a lava field in the Mývatn Lake region, a few hours from the northern town of Akureyri.

Iceland is truly a land of Fire and Ice.

Just watch out for White Walkers…

Jon Snow may know nothing, but he knows Iceland is the place to be. Photo by BSkyB

Jon Snow may know nothing, but he knows Iceland is the place to be. Photo by BSkyB

Svinafellsjokull glacier in Skaftafell National Park , Iceland. Photo by Guillaume Baviere

Svinafellsjokull glacier in Skaftafell National Park , Iceland. Photo by Guillaume Baviere

Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, Iceland. Photo by Ben Husmann

Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, Iceland. Photo by Ben Husmann

Blue, green ice at Svínafellsjökull, Iceland. Photo by Ben Husmann

Blue, green ice at Svínafellsjökull, Iceland. Photo by Ben Husmann

Wildlings (Free Folk) in Iceland. Photo by BSkyB

Wildlings (Free Folk) in Iceland. Photo by BSkyB

Svínafellsjökull glacier walk, Iceland. Photo by Arian Zwegers

Svínafellsjökull glacier walk, Iceland. Photo by Arian Zwegers

Scotland

The famous Doune Castle in Stirling, Scotland, made an appearance in the original pilot episode for exterior and interior scenes at Winterfell.

Originally built in the thirteenth century, Doune Castle is an hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow and is packed with history.

It’s not the castle’s first time in the spotlight; you might recognise it as one of the castles featured in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Doune Castle Scotland. Photo by Jaime

Doune Castle Scotland. Photo by Jaime

Northern Ireland

The real star of the series so far has been the beautiful Emerald Isles.

Most of the shooting for Game of Thrones was done in Northern Ireland, and it provides a fantastic backdrop for the series.

The exterior of the Castle Ward, located just south of Belfast, was converted to Winterfell’s courtyard while Tollymore Forest Park became the surrounding wilderness.

Not only is Giant’s Causeway one of the most unique and beautiful places on earth, it was also the setting for several important scenes in Game of Thrones.

The Glens of Antrim and its rugged landscapes were used as parts of the Dothraki Sea while Cairncastle was where Ned Stark famously beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter.

The remote Ballintoy Harbour served as Iron Islands, the salty, bleak and inhospitable home of the seafaring (and traitorous) House Greyjoy.

Ballintoy doubled as Lordsport Harbour (The Iron Islands) and the beach at Ballintoy is where Theon Greyjoy was baptized into the faith of the ‘Drowned God’.

The caves at Cushendun, easily accessible on foot, are where the crew filmed the rather frightening scene of the sorceress Melisandre giving birth to the infamous Shadow Baby.

The eerie Dark Hedges became the Kingsroad; the Hand’s Tournament in honour of Ned Stark took place at Shane’s Castle; Inch Abbey near Downpatrick was used for the Twins at Riverlands; while Downhill Beach became Dragonstone for the burning of the seven Old Gods in honour of the Lord of Light.

Castle Ward aka Winterfell. Photo by William Marnoch

Castle Ward aka Winterfell. Photo by William Marnoch

Tollymore Forest Park. Photo by William Marnoch.

Tollymore Forest Park. Photo by William Marnoch. 

Ayra and Gendry in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Ayra and Gendry in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Bran and Hodor in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Bran and Hodor in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Ballintoy Harbour as the Iron Islands. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Ballintoy Harbour as the Iron Islands. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Ballintoy Harbour sunset. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Ballintoy Harbour sunset. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

The Greyjoys in Ballintoy Harbour as the Iron Islands. Photo by BSkyB

The Greyjoys in Ballintoy Harbour as the Iron Islands. Photo by BSkyB

Cushendun - birthplace of the Shadow Baby. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Cushendun – birthplace of the Shadow Baby. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Dark Hedges aka the Kingsroad. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Dark Hedges aka the Kingsroad. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Ayra in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Ayra in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

The Hound in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

The Hound in Northern Ireland. Photo by BSkyB

Inch Abbey - the Twins at Riverlands. Photo by Northern Ireland Screen

Inch Abbey – the Twins at Riverlands. Photo by Northern Ireland Screen

Monument at Downhill Beach - Dragonstone. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism

Monument at Downhill Beach – Dragonstone. Photo by Causeway Coast and Glens Tourism 

Malta

Rural and scenic, Gozo is the second largest island in the Maltese archipelago and is famous for its natural beauty.

The island’s natural arch – the Azure Window – provided the setting for the wedding between Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo.

The Azure Window was created thousands of years ago when two limestone caves collapsed into the sea. The stunning geography of the area and the nearby scuba diving sites of Blue Hole and Inland Sea make Gozo a popular spot for travellers and locals alike.

Gozo is believed to be the site of legendary Ogygia, the mythical home of the nymph Calypso who holds Odysseus captive in Homer’s Odyssey.

The island is also famous for its annual February carnival in the village of Nadur complete with feasts, costumes, fireworks and music.

The Dothraki would surely approve!

The Azure Window, Gozo. Photo by David Sim

The Azure Window, Gozo. Photo by David Sim

Morocco

The charming port town of Essaouira, Morocco was transformation into exotic Astapor – home of the fearless Unsullied warriors and where Dany shows off her true strength as the Mother of Dragons.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Essaouira is an artsy, cultured destination, with a cool sea breeze and a real bohemian feel and it’s just 2.5 hours from Marrakesh by bus.

Nicknamed the door of the desert, on edge of Sahara lies another Moroccan World Heritage Site – the fortified city Ait Benhaddou.

Aït Benhaddou was part of the former caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It doubled for city of Yunkai on the eastern coast of Slaver’s Bay and as the as the free city of Pentos in the pilot episode.

High in the Atlas Mountains at an elevation of 1160m, Lawrence of ArabiaThe MummyGladiator and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen were also filmed here.

Essaouira Harbour - Astapor. Photo by Mark Fischer

Essaouira Harbour – Astapor. Photo by Mark Fischer

Essaouira. Photo by Alain Feulvarch

Essaouira. Photo by Alain Feulvarch

Aït Benhaddou - Yunkai & Pentos. Photo andreaphotos

Aït Benhaddou – Yunkai & Pentos. Photo by andreaphotos

Daenerys lifted by the freed slaves of Yunkai. Yunkai was inspired by Aït Benhaddou. Photo by BSkyB

Daenerys lifted by the freed slaves of Yunkai. Yunkai was inspired by Aït Benhaddou. Photo by BSkyB

Croatia

The Pearl of the Adriatic, the Dalmatian city of Dubrovnik has been attracting intrepid travellers for centuries and its grand outer walls provide the perfect setting for Westeros’ capital city – King’s Landing.

While the ancient port city Qarth might be far removed from the politics of King’s Landing, its filming location on island of Lokrum is a mere 600m from the city of Dubrovnik.

A popular daytrip destination, Lokrum is easily reached by ferry from the city’s port. Austrian archduke Maximilian once had a holiday home on the island and a monastery and a botanical garden survive.

Northwest of Dubrovnik, Trsteno Arboretum was built by the Gozze family in the 15th century and in the series it’s a favourite spot for the gossiping highborn ladies of King’s Landing. This Gothic-Renaissance park holds a collection of over 300 exotic and decorative trees and shrubs.

Season four also saw production shift north along the Dalmatian coast to the city of Split with scenes shot in the cellars at Diocletian’s Palace and the nearby Klis Fortress.

Dubrovnik, Croatia. King's Landing. Photo by Woody Hibbard

Dubrovnik, Croatia. King’s Landing. Photo by Woody Hibbard

The walls of Dubrovnik. Photo by gravitat-OFF

The walls of Dubrovnik. Photo by gravitat-OFF 

Tyrion Lannister and Varys walk the city walls in Dubrovnik. Photo by BSkyB

Tyrion Lannister and Varys walk the city walls in Dubrovnik. Photo by BSkyB

Tyrion Lannister, Bronn and Podrick walk the city walls in Dubrovnik. Photo by BSkyB

Tyrion Lannister, Bronn and Podrick walk the city walls in Dubrovnik. Photo by BSkyB

Fort Lovrijenac or St Lawrence Fortress, Dubrovnik. Photo by James Diggans

Fort Lovrijenac or St Lawrence Fortress, Dubrovnik. Photo by James Diggans

Sansa Stark at King Joffrey's name day - filmed on Dubrovnik's Fort Lovrijenac. Photo by BSkyB

Sansa Stark at King Joffrey’s name day – filmed on Dubrovnik’s Fort Lovrijenac. Photo by BSkyB

King Joffrey in King's Landing aka Dubrovnik’s Fort Lovrijenac. Photo by BSkyB

King Joffrey in King’s Landing aka Dubrovnik’s Fort Lovrijenac. Photo by BSkyB

Lokrum Island - Qarth. Photo by Martijn.Munneke

Lokrum Island – Qarth. Photo by Martijn.Munneke

Lokrum Island - Qarth. Photo by Alistair Young

Lokrum Island – Qarth. Photo by Alistair Young 

Daenerys and Ser Jorah  meet Pyat Pree in Qarth aka Lokrum Island. Photo by BSkyB

Daenerys and Ser Jorah meet Pyat Pree in Qarth aka Lokrum Island. Photo by BSkyB

Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by Dick Schmitt.

Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by Dick Schmitt.

Margaery and Olenna Tyrell in King's Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Margaery and Olenna Tyrell in King’s Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Olenna Tyrell and Varys plot in King's Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Olenna Tyrell and Varys plot in King’s Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Olenna Tyrell in King's Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Olenna Tyrell in King’s Landing aka Trsteno Arboretum. Photo by BSkyB

Klis Fortress (Tvrđava Klis) in Split made its debut in Game of Thrones Season 4. Photo by Croatian National Tourist Board/Sergio Gobbo

Klis Fortress (Tvrđava Klis) in Split made its debut in Game of Thrones Season 4. Photo by Croatian National Tourist Board/Sergio Gobbo

Main Image by BSkyB