As many Game of Thrones fans are finding themselves immersed in Series 7, super-fans are planning their pilgrimage to see the locations first-hand.
A range of rugged, arid, ancient and beautiful locations across Malta, Spain, Croatia and Iceland were used to create the contrasting hot and wintry climes of Westeros. The series itself is primarily filmed in studios in Belfast. It is no wonder, then, that the craggy coastlines and ancient forests of Northern Ireland were deemed suitable for shooting some of the series’ most ethereal scenes. In fact, with over 16 filming locations spread across three counties, Northern Ireland is a massive playground for Game fans!
Tollymore Forest Park – Haunted Forest
The magical landscape of Tollymore Forest Park will be familiar to Game of Thrones aficionados. Walking tours through Westeros’s Haunted Forest are available and will guide you through the soaring redwood trees and centuries-old stone structures to key locations including Wilding Pit, where the Night’s Watch dismembered bodies in the snow, Altavaddy Bridge, where the Starks found the new-born direwolf puppies, and the Campfire location, where Jon and Tyrion talk on their journey to the Wall. Watch out for White Walkers!
Inch Abbey – Where the War of the Five Kings Began
Built in 1180, the remains of this delightful Cistercian Abbey are truly magnificent to behold. But for GoT lovers, the site holds much more meaning. It is here that the War of the Five Kings began, when the houses of the North rallied with cries of “the King of the North”, spurring Robb on to war after learning that his father, Ned Stark, had been killed.
Castle Ward – Winterfell
With its unusual combination of classical and gothic architectural styles, rolling hills and dramatic views over Strangford Lough, this 18th-Century National Trust mansion has long been a favourite sightseeing spot in County Down. Castle Ward has been home to the Ward family since the 16th Century, but in that parallel universe of the Seven Kingdoms, it is known as Winterfell, home to House Stark. Immerse yourself in the GoT: follow in Jon Snow’s footsteps as you practise archery, feast on a Games-inspired banquet, and adorn yourself in Westeros clothing.
Downhill Beach – Dragonstone Beach
Downhill Beach is one of the most beautiful in Ireland. The vast, 7-mile stretch of pristine white sand is also one of the country’s longest. Usually, Dragonstone’s Beach is overlooked by Dragonstone Castle, but in reality, the beach is presided over by the tiny Mussenden Temple, which teeters on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was here that Stannis Baratheon rejected and burnt the seven old gods of Westeros, before Melisandre proclaims him the champion of the Lord of Light and he enters Dragonstone, into the War of the Five Kings.
The Dark Hedges – Kingsroad
No CGI was needed to make The Dark Hedges look more imposing; when you visit this site, you can instantly place yourself in Arya Stark’s shoes, as she flees down the Kingsroad to flee the Lannisters. Depending on the time of year and weather, the 200-year-old beech trees, with their twisting trunks, are either enchantingly beautiful or ominously eerie. Whatever time of year you visit, you will be whisked straight to the Seven Kingdoms.
Binevenagh Mountain – Dothraki Grasslands
Binevenagh Mountain offers breath-taking views across Counties Armagh and Londonderry; on a clear day, you can even glimpse the western coast of Scotland. Its remote position made it the perfect place for Daenerys to hide with her dragon after escaping from Meereen’s fighting pits; you can almost imagine her fear, isolation and determination as she plans her next move.
Murlough Bay – Slaver’s Bay
Murlough Bay is a jewel in the crown of Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast. However, in the Seven Kingdoms, it is much more sinister. On their way to Meereen, Jorah and Tyrion cross through the bay, only to be discovered and captured by a slave ship.
Ballintoy Harbour – Lordsport
Usually, Ballintoy beach is a quaint, picture-postcard harbour, packed with cafes and quirky shops. In the Seven Kingdoms, however, friendly locals and tourists are replaced by some of Westeros’s most formidable inhabitants. When Theon Greyjoy returns to Lordsport after serving away for years as Ned’s vassal, he arrives at the harbour (known in the Seven Kingdoms as Pyke). Ballintoy beach, meanwhile, is where Euron Greyjoy was drowned in order to become king of the Iron islands.
Shillanavogy Valley – Dothraki Sea
In the shadows of the Slemish Mountain, the undulating grasslands of Shillanavogy Valley, where St Patrick served as a shepherd, are usually tranquil. In the Seven Kingdoms, this tranquillity is shattered, as it becomes the Dothraki Sea. If you visit the Valley, you will almost be able to see Khal Drogo riding across the Sea to Vaes Dothrak with Daenerys, his new bride, and her evil brother, Viserys.
Glenariff Forest Park – Runestone
Glenariff is a valley of glittering forest canopies and cascading waterfalls, shaped by Ice Age glaciers over millions of years. In Game of Thrones, the enchanting forest is used for the location of Runestone, where the Lord of the Eyrie, Robyn Arryn, is taken by Lord Yohn Royce to raise him in safety.
Northern Ireland is awash with hauntingly beautiful locations; at times, you will wonder if you are still in the real world or if, somehow, you have been transported to the Seven Kingdoms. If you want to plan your GoT pilgrimage to Northern Ireland, or if you just want to explore the country’s rugged natural beauty and famous hospitality, click here to find cheap flights to Belfast.