Throughout HBO’s Game of Thrones series, production designers (including wig experts) create a visually stunning world that emphasizes George R.R. Martin’s rich world. Moreover, the show is a study in mind-blowing landscapes: the frigid wastelands and the forests beyond the Wall, the densely-wooded Kingsroad, the turquoise waters across the Narrow Sea, and the sunny, medieval King’s Landing.
Despite GOT’s recurring sets (like the Iron Throne) being filmed at Paint Hall Studios in Belfast, the show shoots most of its scenes on location, primarily in Northern Ireland and Iceland for scenes in the North, and Croatia and Spain for scenes in the South. Cast members who have scenes beyond the Wall have reportedly filmed in freezing temperatures, sometimes on lands that were buried under feet of snow.
Several European locations were used to film Game of Thrones. Despite some scenes being filmed on studio sets in Belfast, Northern Ireland, many major moments of the HBO drama feature real landscapes and medieval fortresses as a backdrop.
Doune Castle in Scotland was used to shoot scenes at Winterfell, the home of the Stark family in the pilot episode. Daenerys is also seen marrying Khal Drogo at the (now collapsed) Azure Window in Malta in the first season, which was a natural limestone archway that collapsed into the Mediterranean Sea in 2017. Listed below are a few other Game of Thrones filming locations to put on your “want to visit” list.
It should come as no surprise that a GOT location tour around Europe would be the perfect vacation, with medieval cities and stunning islands on the shoot list. Our Game of Thrones travel guide is here for all you Travel Junkies out there to help inspire your next trip.
Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia
During Game of Thrones’ second season, Dubrovnik’s Old Town first appeared as “King’s Landing”. There has been a surge in GOT-inspired tourism to the medieval walled city since then. On a GOT-themed walking tour, tourists can meander through the capital of the Seven Kingdoms, passing Old Town’s famed St. Ignatius of Loyola Church (the location of Cersei Lannister’s shameful “walk of shame”) as well as Fort Lovrijenac, situated where the epic battle of Blackwater was filmed.
The exteriors of King’s Landing were also filmed in Split, Croatia’s biggest city in Dalmatia, approximately three hours north of Dubrovnik. In the fifth season of the show, Ibenik, located about an hour up the coast from Split, appears as the real-life location for the Free City of Braavos.
Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
Beyond the Wall
Wildlings and White Walkers roam the frozen lakes, ice fields, and snow-filled craters located beyond Castle Black and “North of the Wall.” in Game of Thrones. However, this vast tundra is actually part of the Vatnajökull National Park, a protected wilderness east of Reykjavik. There are places you can actually visit in Vatnajökull National Park, as well as the large glaciers, ice caves, and active geothermal areas that are used as filming locations for the show. Although the “Land of Always Winter” required a fair amount of CGI, the landscape is, well, as natural as it gets. In addition to the Grjótagjá geothermal hot spring and the Myrdalsjokull glacier, Game of Thrones filming locations near Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park include the Hverfjall volcano and the Myrdalsjokull glacier.
Alcázar of Seville, Spain
Water Gardens of Dorne
The Water Gardens of Dorne, the seat of the House Martell of Sunspear, occupied this 700-year-old Andalusian palace in HBO’s hit show. This UNESCO World Heritage site of the Royal Alcázar of Seville is Europe’s oldest still-in-use royal palace (the upper chambers serve as residences for Spain’s royal family). Mudejar (Moorish-style) architecture is also well-preserved in the intricately detailed building in Seville. The lavish grounds are open to the public for guided tours, which is great news for fans of GOT and architecture.
Bardenas Reales, Spain
The Dothraki Sea, an expansive expanse of expansive Essos grasslands that comprises the Dothraki Sea in Game of Thrones’ sixth season, is populated by nomadic horse tribes who hold Daenerys Targaryen (the Mother of Dragons) captive. Members of the show’s cast and crew filmed these scenes in northern Spain’s Bardenas Reales Natural Park, a landscape that resembles Mars. The arid badlands in Navarre, the country’s southernmost region bordering Basque Country, cover 100,000 acres and are accessible by car, foot, or bike. There were also scenes shot in the lush Glens of Antrim in Northern Ireland as part of the Dothraki Sea.)
Dunluce Castle, Ireland
Ireland’s moody, rugged coast is where Theon Greyjoy first returned to the Iron Islands from Winterfell. Dunluce Castle in County Antrim was the setting for some of the pivotal scenes from season two, which were filmed two hours north of Dublin. In addition to filming Iron Islands scenes at Ballintoy Harbor, the area was also used for filming at Dunluce Castle.) However, don’t expect to find an exact replica of House Greyjoy’s towering castle at Pyke; you’ll have to use your imagination: the structure was significantly altered before Game of Thrones.
The Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn
No scenes were filmed at this UNESCO World Heritage site by the cast and crew of Game of Thrones. Meteora’s famed mountain-top monasteries have been digitally mastered, however, to serve as a backdrop for Tyrion Lannister’s imprisonment in the Sky Cells. You can hike, bike, or raft through the northern Greece valley, which is accessible by train from Athens, to see these natural pinnacles.
Fans of Game of Thrones will remember Essaouira most as Astapor, home to the highly skilled slave-soldiers known as the Unsullied. As a real-life city, Essaouira is renowned for its fresh seafood, Argan oil production, kitesurfing, and 18th-century medina filled with local artisan shops, as well as its UNESCO-inscribed architecture.
Castle of Zafra, Spain
Tower of Joy
The most revelatory moment in GOT history happens at the Tower of Joy during a flashback. It was filmed at the Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain, in this fundamental scene. (Spoiler alert: Bran Stark sees a vision of his father, Ned Stark.) Located in the Sierra de Caldereros about two hours east of Madrid, this castle was built in the 12th century. It can be reached by car or by foot from Hombrados.
The Forests of Winterfell
Have you ever thought about the direwolf puppies the Stark boys found in Winterfell’s forests? In Northern Ireland, Tollymore Forest Park was used as the setting for the scene. The forest was the first to be designated a state forest in Northern Island and it is still open to campers, hikers, and visitors.
Daenarys and Khal Drogo’s Wedding
A pre-dragon Daenarys married the “blood of her blood” and “moon of her life” Khal Drogo in season one of Game of Thrones. Malta’s Azure Window served as the setting for the wedding. Before and after the filming, it was a popular tourist attraction. Sadly, it was destroyed by a storm in 2017.
It makes sense that the Dark Hedges were used to film the grandest road in the land, aka the Kingsroad, in Northern Ireland, home to some of the world’s most picturesque landscapes.
Dragonstone Beach is the setting for several pivotal scenes in the show. Dany goes home to roost in season seven at the same place where the Burning of the Seven took place. A sound stage is used to film the interior of Dragonstone, while the beach, cave, and footbridge are real locations shot at Itzurun Beach in Zumaia and Muriola Beach near Barrika. The two beaches can be visited simultaneously on a trip to the northern coast of Spain.
Jon & Ygritte’s Cave
Ygritte and Jon Snow spend an intimate evening together, perhaps the sexiest scene in Game of Thrones history, as Snow proves he does not know nothing. The pair spends the night north of the Wall in the show, but in reality, the filming location is inside a lava cave in Iceland called Grjótagjá.
The filming of the “Greatest City that Ever Was or Will Be” took place on Lokrum, an island in the Adriatic Sea. In season two’s fifth episode, we see Xaro Xhaon Daxos’ mansion, which is the Benedictine Monastery on the island.
Fans got their first glimpse of Highgarden, the ancestral home of the House Tyrell, in the fourth episode of season seven. Unfortunately, it was seized by Jaime Lannister. Castillo de Almodóvar del R*o in Córdoba, the location where the series is filmed, remains unaffected by Lanister control. You can explore the towers and walls, and you can pick up some Game of Thrones swag before the final episode airs this summer.
The Great Pit of Daznak
During the ninth episode of season five, Sir Jorah engages in combat in Daznak’s Pit, the largest fighting pit in the Slaver’s Bay city of Meereen. Daznak’s Pit is the location where Sir Jorah fights for the Queen’s honor. It was actually the Osuna Bull Ring in Sevilla, Spain, that served as the Great Pit.
Beyond the Wall
Several locations in Iceland have been used for the scenes beyond the Wall, including Myrdalsjokull glacier, the Hverfjall volcano, and the Vatnajökull glacier.