20 Amazing Game of Thrones Filming Locations You Can Actually Visit
Game of Thrones is more than just a TV show, it’s a cultural phenomenon. Based on a series of books by fantasy and science fiction author George R. R. Martin, the HBO show debuted on April 17, 2011, and quickly became a hit. Across seven seasons the families of Westeros battled for control of the Iron Throne, making for some epic television full of twists and turns and surprise deaths. The show gave many of its unknown cast their breakthrough role (Richard Madden, Sophie Turner, Iwan Rheon, Maisie Williams, and Kit Harington to name five) and was praised for its writing and direction, although the final season suffered. Another star of the show that often goes unnoticed is the Game of Thrones filming locations, with the series set in some of the most breathtaking places on Earth.
As the show covers an entire world, almost every type of terrain and weather condition is encountered during Game of Thrones. You have the snow-covered landscape Beyond the Wall, the sandy deserts of Dorne, the green countryside surrounding the capital, King’s Landing, and the rainy and bleak surroundings of the Iron Islands. These locations are as much part of the show as the characters.
As many of these exotic locations are situated across Europe, it means fans of the show can visit them in real life. Iceland, Croatia, and Spain are just some of the countries where Game of Thrones was shot, so organizing an adventure traveling across Europe to discover these places is much easier than you might think.
To give you a helping hand we have selected some of the best locations to visit on your journey through Westeros. But be warned, there are spoilers ahead, so if you have somehow never watched Game of Thrones, you better stop reading now and start.
20 Amazing Game of Thrones Filming Locations You Can Actually Visit
1. Beyond the Wall (Vatnajökull, Iceland)
The first episode of Game of Thrones opens in the snowy and dangerous land known as Beyond the Wall. Vatnajökull in Iceland makes for the ideal backdrop for this harsh landscape. The largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland, Vatnajökull is an expansive stretch of icy tundra surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The area is a national park and is a popular tourist destination where you can visit the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon as well as go seal watching.
GOT isn’t the only production to have filmed there either, with the James Bond flicks A View to Kill and Die Another Day, Batman Begins, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Prometheus all using this gorgeous location.
2. Winterfell (Castle Ward, Northern Ireland)
This 18th-century mansion doubles as the home of Ned Stark and his family. It plays a major role in the series and is an interesting structure architecture-wise, with one side of the building Gothic style and the other side classical Palladian. You can visit Castle Ward all year round with tours taking you through the castle and its surroundings, including the archery range where Bran Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow practiced in an early episode.
Fun fact: The 14th-century Doune Castle in Scotland was first used as the filming location for Game of Thrones until Castle Ward was chosen as the home of the Starks for the following seasons.
3. The Iron Islands (Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland)
Depicted as a harsh environment inhabited by the Greyjoys, the Iron Islands aren’t always wet and wild. In the show, it is always raining and miserable, with crashing waves and thunderstorms pounding the island nation, but in real life, it’s a picturesque harbor with towering cliffs and marvelous views.
Ballingtoy Harbour in Northern Ireland is the location of the Iron Islands. When the sun is out this lovely stretch of coastline offers great views and has several grassy areas ideal for having a picnic and enjoying the serenity.
4. Dothraki Wedding Spot (Azure Window, Malta)
In season one the vulnerable Daenerys Targaryen is wed to the vicious warrior Khal Drogo. The wedding scene was shot at the spectacular Azure Window in Malta. Already a major tourist attraction before Game of Thrones, thousands more flocked to Azure Window to get the perfect Instagram shot where Daenerys married the “blood of her blood” and “moon of her life” Khal Drogo.
Sadly, just like Drogo who was killed off shortly after the wedding, the Azure Window is no more, with the archway collapsing in 2017. Still, it remains a bucket list place to visit for Game of Thrones fans.
5. King’s Landing I (Mdina, Malta)
The capital of Westeros is where the king lives throughout the seven-season of Game of Thrones. There are several notable characters who get the chance to sit on the Iron Throne, including Robert I Baratheon, Joffrey Lannister, and Cersei Lannister. The medieval city known as Mdina in Malta doubles for King’s Landing.
Built in the 18th century, it is UNESCO listed and is seen several times during the show, including when Ned Stark first visits Littlefinger at his brothel and Ned’s showdown with Jamie Lannister that results in his arrest. The sandstone gates that act as an entrance to the castle are also featured prominently when Catelyn Stark rides into King’s Landing before her husband Ned’s demise.
6. Execution of Ned Stark (Fort Manoel, Malta)
Speaking of poor old Ned, the location of his execution is also in Malta at Fort Manoel. This 18th-century battlement is a star fort with Baroque architecture that is supposedly haunted by the Black Knight.
In Game of Thrones, this is where Ned, having been put through the wringer while acting as Hand of the King, is finally put to death as his daughters watch on. It’s one of the most shocking moments in the show and set the scene for the following seasons, with no character safe from death.
7. Sunspear (Alcázar of Seville, Spain)
Away from the chaos of Westeros is Sunspear, the capital of the Dornish people ruled by House Martell. The Alcázar of Seville doubles as the palace House Martell resides in. It was first built as a royal place for Christian king Peter of Castile. Taking over 500 years to complete, Alcázar of Seville contains many different architectural styles, from Gothic to Renaissance, and several large gardens.
Parts of the palace and the gardens were used to shoot several important scenes, with official tours of the palace the best way to explore the Alcázar of Seville.
8. Dothraki Sea (Bardenas Reales Natural Park, Spain)
A vast area of desert land occupied by the Dothraki, Bardenas Reales Natural Park in Spain is the ideal location to represent the Dothraki Sea. A UNESCO-listed site since 2000, Bardenas Reales is split into three Nature Reserves with much of the landscape desert in nature, with several hills and cliffs and lots of native animals and birds living in the area.
9. The Mountain Beyond the Wall (Kirkjufell, Iceland)
Another famous location you can visit in Iceland is Kirkjufell. Kirkjufell mountain and the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall are two of the most visited places in all of Iceland.
In Game of Thrones, Kirkjufell mountain is known as Arrowhead mountain, the birthplace of the Night King. It’s a magical location that is a must-visit for anyone who travels to Iceland, whether you are a GOT fan or not.
10. Highgarden (Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, Spain)
Spain is featured heavily in Game of Thrones, with the Castillo de Almodóvar del Río doubling as Highgarden, the home of House Tyrell. It is the place where Lady Olenna Tyrell is eventually captured by Jamie Lannister, poisoning herself before revealing it was her that had king Joffrey murdered, much to Jamie’s shock.
The incredible castle was built in 740 and sits atop a hill offering amazing views of the province of Córdoba. Visitors can stroll through the castle on their own or join a tour and discover more about the origins of Castillo de Almodóvar del Río and the myths surrounding it.
11. King’s Road (Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland)
Bregagh Road in Armoy, known as the Dark Hedges in the real world, is part of the King’s Road that leads to King’s Landing. The dirt road is surrounded by centuries-old beech trees that twist and bend over the road, blocking out the sunlight.
It features prominently in “The North Remembers,” the first episode of season two where Arya Stark has escaped King’s Landing dressed as a boy and is riding in a cart bound for the Night’s Watch with friends Yoren, Gendry, and Hot Pie. The Dark Hedges is so popular with tourists that traveling by car down the road has been banned.
12. Eastwatch by the Sea (Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland)
The majority of Game of Thrones that takes place at The Wall is centered around Castle Black, but Eastwatch by the Sea gets its moment to shine in “Eastwatch,” the fifth episode of season seven. With the undead making their way toward the Wall, Jon Stark sets off for Eastwatch by the Sea, planning to go beyond the Wall and capture a wight.
During the episode, we get a small look at the settlement that is positioned on Iceland’s south coast. The caste of Reynisfjara, along with the black pebbled beach and huge cliff faces are the perfect stands in for the fictional Eastwatch by the Sea.
13. Yunkai (Ait Benhaddou, Morocco)
Yunkai is one of the cities in Slaver’s Bay that Daenerys liberates. After freeing the slaves and turning out the rulers, she can be seen receiving applause from the servants outside the city gate.
In reality, Yunkai is the Moroccan city of Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO world heritage site that is an eye-catching example of south Moroccan architecture. Although only a few hundred years old, the majority of buildings are made from clay, making Ait Banhaddou one of many unique Game of Thrones filming locations.
14. King’s Landing II (Dubrovnik, Croatia)
While the first season of Game of Thrones shot King’s Landing in Malta, the following seasons used Dubrovnik to represent the city where the king of Westeros ruled from. While many of the interiors were shot on studio sets, the Old Town of Dubrovnik was used for the exterior, with the ancient city the perfect backdrop for King’s Landing.
It would take an entire article to list all the places used in Dubrovnik during the shoot (here is one prepared earlier), but some of the most notable include Fort Lovrijenac, Pile Gate, the Gardens of Trsteno Arboretum, and the famous Walls of Dubrovnik that surround the city.
15. Braavos (Šibenik, Croatia)
The Seven Kingdoms has many mysterious and compelling locations, with the Free City of Braavos being one of the richest cities in all of Westeros. It is home to the Iron Bank (the exterior of the Cathedral of St. James), which loans vast sums of money to various characters throughout the show, especially the Lannisters.
Braavos is also where Arya comes to train with the Faceless Man, with most of the scenes featuring the youngest Stark child filmed in the old town of Šibenik. The city is well worth visiting, not only for its architecture and old-time vibe, but for the several UNESCO heritage sites dotted around the city, its music culture (known for the traditional “klape” choir), and its interesting history.
16. Dragonstone Beach (Itzurun Beach, Spain)
Itzurun Beach is the setting for Dragonstone Beach, the ancestral home of Daenerys Targaryen. While the interior was shot on a sound stage in Belfast, the Spanish beach and footbridge, where Jon Stark sees a dragon for the first time, were used for the outside shots.
The beach is like any Spanish beach; warm, tranquil, and relaxing, and is a great place to catch some rays while also ticking off another Game of Thrones filming location.
17. Altavaddy Bridge (Tollymore Forest Park, Northern Ireland)
Several scenes have been shot in the lush Tollymore Forest Park, but the most memorable involved the Stark children finding the direwolve puppies at Altvaddy Bridge. The forest is Northern Ireland’s first State Park covering 630 hectares and is a favorite spot for campers and walkers, with many trails crisscrossing through the forest.
18. Jon Snow and Ygritte’s Cave (Grjótagjá, Iceland)
The two lovebirds finally got it on while hanging out in a hot spring Beyond the Wall. Jon Snow loses his virginity to a willing Ygritte, his first true love.
The steamy cave where the two get it on is another incredible Game of Thrones filming location in Iceland. Grjótagjá is a cave with a geothermal pool, and while you can visit, there is no swimming allowed due to the water temperatures being unpredictable.
19. Tower of Joy (Castillo de Zafra, Spain)
The Tower of Joy first appears when Bran Stark has a flashback about his father, Ned Stark, trying to find his kidnapped sister Lyanna Stark. Discovering her at the Tower of Joy, this sequence in season six reveals a major plot point concerning the true lineage of one Jon Snow.
The impressive-looking castle where Lyanna is being held is called Castillo de Zafra in the real world. Built sometime in the 12th century, it was a strategic point during the Crusades and was one of the few castles never captured. Now privately owned, you can only see the castle from the outside, but it is still worth a look.
20. Meereen (Klis Fortress, Croatia)
Once a medieval fortress that became a royal castle, Klis Fortress made the perfect location for the city of Meereen. One of the three great cities of Slaver’s Bay, it plays a pivotal role during the later season when Daenerys takes up residence there to oversee the three cities of Slaver’s Bay – Meeren, Yunkai, and Astapo – and make sure the slaves are kept free.
Klis Fortress is perched above the village of Klis and gives unparalleled views of Split in Croatia and the surrounding areas. It’s one of the region’s major tourist hot spots, with travelers able to experience the castle and view ancient armor and weaponry from centuries back.
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