The majority of Game of Thrones has been filmed in Northern Ireland, transforming the country into a screen destination similar to New Zealand, where at every turn the landscape recalls the mythological, fantastical realm of The Lord of the Rings. A trip through the gorgeous vistas, fascinating landscapes, and striking coasts of Northern Ireland is sure to transport you into Martin’s world. Visit the Dark Hedges, an avenue of heavily-intertwined, ancient beech trees that were planted by the Stuart Family in the eighteenth century, to follow Arya along the Kingsroad as she flees King’s Landing. To stop by Storm’s End, the ancestral seat of House Baratheon, make a trip to Downhill Beach, a stunning 11-kilometer sandy beach on the very northern tip of the country where you will also see the exterior of Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of House Targaryen. If you would rather visit Bran at Winterfell (before it was sacked) seek out Castle Ward, an 18th century manor completed in two differing architectural styles - one facade is Georgian Gothic while the other is in a classical Palladian style.
To visit the mysterious and dangerous land Beyond the Wall, home to free folk and White Walkers, plan to hop over to rugged, mystical Iceland. Follow in the steps of the Night Watch as they venture north by visiting Höfðabrekkuheiði, a surreal green and black volcanic plain next to the looming Myrdalsjokull glacier. While there, you can also find some sets that remain from the filming of the Beowulf and Grendel movie. Next, a land of ice awaits you at Svínafellsjökull glacier, a remarkable wonderland of glacial ice structures, and Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier, which are both host to scenes from the show. Lastly, to complete your adventure Beyond the Wall, journey north to Lake Mývatn, a stunning lake lying near the Krafla Volcano in an area of active volcanism.
Croatia has provided the backdrop for much of southern Westeros, imparting a (deceiving) air of relative warmth and ease to the cities and towns of the south in contrast to the harsh cold of the north. Visit Dubrovnik’s Old Town to explore King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms where the tyrant Joffrey and his court reside. Be especially sure to stop by St. Dominic Street, Bokar Fortress, Sponza Palace, and Pile Harbour while enjoying this ancient, UNESCO World Heritage site to see some of the locations where King’s Landing was filmed. Lokrum Island, a notoriously cursed island that lies just beside Dubrovnik in the Adriatic Sea, is the setting for some of the scenes in the great trading city Qarth. Now inhabited by peacocks, there was once an active Benedictine Abbey and Monastery on the island. Legend has it that after a French general ordered the monastery closed and all its inhabitants expelled from the island, the monks put a curse on the island, promising damnation to whoever tries to claim it as their own. Purportedly, since then, bad things have happened to anyone who has tried to live on and take ownership of the island. As with Qark, visit here, but don’t plan to stay.
To complete your tour of George R. R. Martin’s world, visit Essaouira, a UNESCO-listed sea-side city in western Morocco. In this fascinating and well preserved example of a late 18th century fortified town you can explore Astapor, one of the three great city-states of Slaver’s Bay and home to the infamous Unsullied warriors. Essaouira has also played host to some scenes from King’s Landing, and, during the 50’s, was famously the setting for Orson Welles’ Othello.