With the exceptions of perhaps Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, there have been a few film and television franchises to inspire travel strongly as Game of Thrones. Take a whirlwind trip through the main destinations where Game of Thrones was filmed, complete with corresponding settings and scenes featured in the series.
And yes, there are spoilers ahead.
Stands in for: Winterfell, The Wall, The Kingsroad, Riverrun, the Iron islands
The main filming location for the series, Northern Ireland’s rugged terrain provides the perfect setting for many of the harsh lands of northern Westeros – so much so, in fact, that both Tourism Ireland and Visit Northern Ireland have incorporated the show into their promotion of the destination.
The country’s many historic castles have also been featured on-screen, including Castle Ward, providing exterior shots for the Stark family home at Winterfell; and Gosford Castle, standing in for the castle of Riverrun.
In addition to the outdoor scenes, several interior shots are filmed in-studio in Belfast. The encircling branches of The Kingsroad – one of the most iconic shots on the series – was filmed at the Dark Hedges, a stand of beech trees planted in the 1700s along Bregagh Rd., located between Armoy and Stranocum in County Antrim.
Stands in for: King’s Landing, Meereen, Braavos
While skyline shots featuring King’s Landing often get a healthy dose of added CGI architecture before going to air, the medieval streets and walls of Dubrovnik are the real deal.
The connection between reality and fiction is so strong here that a GoTbranded tourist map of the city was issued by the Dubrovnik Tourist Board, identifying local landmarks from the Jesuit Steps where Cersei Lannister’s walk of shame took place to Gradac Park, the filming site of King Joffrey’s deadly "Purple Wedding."
Croatia also provides locations for the fictional cities of Meereen and Braavos. These include the former palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian and Klis Fortress in the city of Split, used for interior and exterior Meereen shots respectively; and the towns of Šibenik and Kaštel Gomilica where filming for the island city of Braavos took place.
Stands in for: Dorne, Dragonstone, Highgarden
Game of Thrones’ fifth season saw the introduction of Spain as a filming location, with the country providing the backdrop for many regions of Westeros, most notably the fictional city of Dorne.
Filming of the Dorne scenes was concentrated in Seville, with the Alcázar of Seville used for the fictional Dornish capital of Sunspear, including its lush Water Gardens; and Guadalajara, where the Castillo de Zafra becomes Dorne’s Tower of Joy.
Meanwhile, the castle of Highgarden, Dorne’s neighbouring kingdom, is portrayed by Spain’s Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, a Moorish fortress located just outside of Cordoba. The landscape of Spain’s Basque Country also provides the perfect backdrop for the rocky island of Dragonstone in the seventh season, filmed along Itzurun Beach in Zumaia.
To the west, the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, which houses a medieval hermitage, provides Dragonstone’s winding staircase in the form of a stone causeway connecting the island to the mainland.
Stands in for: North of The Wall, various scenes
It’s only too fitting that Iceland would provide scenery for the cold and mysterious lands north of The Wall.
The majority of filming took place there during the second and third seasons of the series, amidst a backdrop of Icelandic glaciers including Snæfellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull, which portrayed the mountains of the Frostfangs.
Another scene, depicting the camp of Wildling leader Mance Rayder, was filmed at a frozen lava field near Mývatn Lake and took months for film crews to assemble.
Portraying a landscape far south of The Wall, Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park is featured in the fourth season, when The Hound – with a captured Arya Stark in tow – is confronted by Brienne of Tarth in a showdown for the ages.
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