With the latest season of the hit HBO series Game of Thrones in full swing there is more interest than ever in George R. R. Martin’s fantasy universe. And while you might not be able to take a trip to Westeros itself, going to the locations where the iconic television show is filmed is the next best thing.
If you’re not an avid Game of Thrones fan, don’t stop reading because the set locations are both beautiful and enticing whether you know your Lannister’s from your Stark’s or not.
Stage and Screen’s top Game of Throne’s set locations worth a visit:
Many of the most memorable shots of Kings Landing (the capital of the Seven Kingdoms) are filmed on location in the Croatian capital. This ancient city, tucked away on the shores of the blue Adriatic, was considered a gem by travelers long before it was chosen for filming. Featuring soaring cliffs, winding medieval alleyways, baroque churches and astonishing views, Dubrovnik is not to be missed. Fans of the show will recognize the Church of Saint Ignatius and surrounds where Cersei took her walk of shame, and the majestic battlements of the fortress that stand in for the Red Keep in many shots.
The Alcazar, Seville, Spain
This royal palace in Andalusia is one of several world-heritage listed sites used in filming. One of Europe’s great architectural marvels, it was one of the capitals of the Moorish kingdom of Al Andalus, and is used as the location for Dorn in the TV show. While the upper levels are home to the royal family, the manicured grounds and fountains appear as the Water Gardens of Dorn in seasons four and five. This is one of the most visited attractions in Seville, and for good reason. The fine carvings, frescoes, open porticos and balconies of the palace have inspired European architects for centuries. Even those who have never seen the show will find something here to wonder at.
Mountains of Mourne, County Down, Ireland
These breathtaking mountains provided the backdrop for Daenerys entrance to the sacred lands of the Dothraki. Situated in Northern Ireland’s County Down, they include some of the highest mountains in Ireland, commanding panoramic views of the green countryside. This landscape is also connected with another iconic fantasy series, apparently serving as an inspiration to C.S. Lewis when he created his Narnia novels. The Mournes area also includes the beautiful Tollymore Forest, which is likewise used in filming, as well as luxurious spa centers near Slieve Gullion and light aircraft tours of the region.
Doune Castle, Scotland
Located in the Stirling district of central Scotland, Doune Castle sits within rolling green fields and forests in a region filled with picturesque and quintessentially Scottish attractions. The Wallace monument, Blair Drummond safari park and the historic town of Stirling are all in the area and make this a wonderful destination in its own right. Fans of the show will, however, remember this medieval stronghold as a filming location for some of the external shots of Winterfell, the home of House Stark. In particular, the Lords Tower and Eastern Wall of Doune provide a backdrop to the exact shot of a certain Stark son’s infamous fall. But the castles value to TV fans and cinema buffs doesn’t end there. Doune was also used in several scenes from the iconic British comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Essaouria, Ait Ben Haddou and Ouarzazate, Morocco
Game of Thrones travels to Morocco for a number of on-screen locales; however the breathtaking scenery and iconic architecture were justly famous long before they appeared as part of the Thrones universe. The gorgeous town of Ourazazate was used by the show as the location for the Free City of Pentos, and has previously been used as a setting for movies such as Babel and Kingdom of Heaven.
Additionally the bastion of Essaouria stands in for Astapor, the slaver city where Daenerys frees her army of mercenaries. The distinctive red masonry will be easily recognizable. Another city in the fictional Slavers Bay is located in Morocco, with Ait Ben Haddou filling the role of Yunkai on-screen. Like Essaouria, Ait Ben Haddou is also a UNESCO world heritage site, and for good reason. Nestled in the foothills on the southern slope of the Atlas mountains, Ait-Ben-Haddou is an outstanding example of Moroccan architecture. With houses crowded together on the hilltop like urban castles, its high towers and winding streets represent a tradition dating back centuries.
Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, Iceland
This unspoilt land of crystal-clear glacial lakes, rugged mountain ranges and magnificent views lends itself to hiking and exploring just as well as it does for filming. Iceland served as the backdrop for much of the filming of the wintery ‘Lands Beyond the Wall’ scenes in Game of Thrones and while Iceland may be free of armies of the undead and white-walkers there is still more than enough to do, with a thriving hospitality industry and unmatched natural beauty.
Even if seeing the sites of Westeros isn’t your thing, each of these locations are fantastic travel destinations in their own right. So why not incorporate them into your next trip, and play the game of thrones for yourself?