Based on the bestselling books by George R. R. Martin, HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones is one of the biggest TV shows ever. Even if you don’t watch it, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of it. Though its set in a fictional place, the show films in very real locations around the world. These stunning and beautiful Game of Thrones filming locations provide the perfect backdrop for the epic show. (Though almost all indoor scenes were shot on sets at Paint Hall Studios in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast).
With shooting wrapping up on the final Season 8, we even have some hints of what’s set to happen in Westeros and Essos. When the show ends in 2019 (although a spin-off has already been announced), fans are sure to be left at a loose end. So why not plan a Game of Thrones-inspired trip?
Also Read: 22 Fictional Places You Can Actually Visit!
WARNING: Here be spoilers for Seasons 1-7
The beauty of Spain has long made it a favourite destination for filmmakers to use as a location on film or TV. The hugely popular HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones has followed suit. Game of Thrones has used Spain as locations for various fictional destinations.
Alcázar of Seville (Dorne’s Sunspear)
Built by the Moorish kings, the Alcázar of Seville is a lavish royal palace known for its gardens with lovely flowers and landscapes. It serves as the setting for the Water Gardens of Sunspear in Dorne, the verdant summer home of the Martell family.
Also Read: Top Five Places To See in Seville
Osuna (Daznak’s Pit)
The small historic town of Osuna near Sevilla is home to a large and magnificent bullring, which was used as Daznak’s Pit, where Daenerys settles a score with Meereen slave masters after a gladiator-style battle.
Castillo de Zafra (Tower of Joy)
Located between Madrid and Barcelona lies the Castillo de Zafra, which became the iconic Tower of Joy which plays an extremely important role in the stories of Ned and Lyanna Stark, and uncovers the true parentage of Jon Snow.
Bardenas Reales (The Dothraki Sea)
Better known as the “Spanish Badlands,” the 104,000-acre Bardenas Reales are home to some stunning sandstone landscapes that have been moulded by centuries of water and wind. It served as the backdrop for parts of the Dothraki Sea, along with the more lush Glens of Antrim in Ireland.
Itzurun Beach (Dragonstone Beach)
Itzurun Beach in the Basque Country serves as the beach of Dragonstone, where Daenerys lands on Westeros for the first time, with her Dothraki warriors, Varys, and Tyrion in tow.
San Juan de Gazte Iugatxe (Dragonstone)
Located near Itzrun Beach, the islet of San Juan de Gazte lugatxe stands in for the winding entry stairs to the castle of Dragonstone, though the building itself was created through visual effects, and the interiors were filmed on sets.
Castillo de Almodóvar del Río (Highgarden)
Apart from the Alcazar of Seville, another Spanish castle makes an appearance on the show. The Castillo de Almodóvar del Río outside Córdoba stands in for the Tyrell stronghold Highgarden, though it finds itself conquered by the Lanisters one minute after appearing on screen in Season 7.
Los Barruecos (Battle of the Goldroad)
The Los Barruecos nature reserve near the city of Cáceres served as the backdrop for one of the most epic battles of Season 7 – when Daenerys unleashed her dragon against the Lannister army on the Goldroad. You can check out how they created the dragon fire here.
Itálica (King’s Landing Dragonpit)
Located in Seville, the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater of Italica, which once housed 25,000, were used as the Dragon Pit of King’s Landing, along with the Reales Atarazanas (Royal Shipyards), which served as its basement. This Westerosi landmark was originally built by the conquering Targaryens, themselves often compared to the Ancient Romans. It was where Daenerys and Jon met Cersei to negotiate an alliance against the Army of the Dead in Season 7.
The Italica Amphitheatre will return as the Dragonpit, in season 8.
As the Game of Thrones production team’s home base is in Belfast, where most of the interior sets can be found, the surrounding areas of Northern Ireland are used for numerous on-location shoots. It is the perfect backdrop for the cold lands around Winterfell.
Ballintoy Harbour (The Iron Islands)
Ballintoy Harbour in County Antrim served as Lordsport Harbor and Pyke in the Iron Islands. The castle was digitally added to the rocky Northern Irish coastline, though the harbour is seen multiple times across the seasons.
Magheramorne Quarry (Castle Black)
A few minutes drive north of Belfast lies the abandoned Magheramorne Quarry where sets were built for Castle Black in the early seasons. It also became home to the fully realized set of Hardhome, a fishing village north of the Wall, in Season 5.
Dark Hedges, Ballymoney (The King’s Road)
Bregagh Road in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, popularly known as the Dark Hedges thanks to its tunnel of beech trees, is used as the longest and grandest highway in the Seven Kingdoms. The Kingsroad runs from the Wall in the north, all the way to the capital city of King’s Landing.
Castle Ward (Winterfell)
The ancient and sprawling Castle Ward in County Down, Northern Ireland was used as the home of the Stark family in Game of Thrones, Winterfell. However, shooting also took place at Moneyglass, while the Rowallane Gardens were also the location of Winterfell’s sacred Godswood.
Tollymore Forest, County Down (The North)
Tollymore Forest Park in County Down is located near Castle Ward and has been used for many wooded scenes throughout the TV series, though it most famously features in the scene where the Stark children find their Direwolf pups in Season 1.
Croatia is the perfect destination to emphasize the contrast between the cold North and the warm southern lands of Westeros. Though Malta was used to film scenes for King’s Landing and Pentos in Season 1, production did not return there, instead shifting to Croatia as its main location for scenes set in warmer climates.
Dubrovnik Old Town (King’s Landing)
King’s Landing, the capital of the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, was originally filmed in Mdina, Malta, though they were relocated to the medieval coastal city of Dubrovnik. Its iconic red roofs have now become a must-see for many fans. You can see the site of Cersei’s walk of shame down the steps in front of the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola or visit the Pile Gate, which is the entrance to King’s Landing’s Old Town.
Much of Arya Stark’s explorations of Braavos were filmed in the narrow alleyways and plazas of the old town of Šibenik. More exterior shots were filmed at Kaštel Gomilica which lies west of Split.
Minčeta Tower, Dubrovnik (The House of the Undying)
Minčeta Tower is the highest point along Dubrovnik’s city walls and was used as the exterior of the House of the Undying in Qarth where Daenerys Targaryen goes looking for her kidnapped dragons in Season 2.
Trsteno (King’s Landing Palace Garden)
The Trsteno Arboretum which lies 20 minutes north of Dubrovnik, was used as the lush green King’s Landing palace gardens, where we see Sansa Stark, Olenna Tyrell and others scheming and plotting throughout the seasons.
The icy landscapes of Iceland were the perfect choice to film scenes Beyond the Wall, where it is always winter. Game of Thrones has also led to a massive boost in tourism to the country.
Kirkjufell (Arrowhead Mountain)
Kirkjufell (literally church mountain) lies on the north coast of Iceland, near the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and close to the town Grundarfjörður. It has been used as the Arrowhead Mountain in the show, where the Children of the Forest create their first White Walker during the flashbacks in Season 6.
Also Read: Top 11 Things To Do in Iceland
Reynisfjara Beach, Vík (Eastwatch-by-the-Sea)
The black sand Reynisfjara Beach in Vík stands in for the stronghold at the farthest east side of the Wall, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. The beach was also featured in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the Planet Eadu.
Lake Mývatn (Jon Snow’s Love Cave)
Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland, and its numerous hot spring baths, including Hverir, Krafta, and Mývatan, will be familiar to fans of Game of Thrones. Both the Dimmuborgir frozen lava fields and the Grjótagjá cave were used in scenes beyond the Wall, most famously as Ygritte and Jon Snow’s love cave.
Vatnajökull (Beyond the Wall)
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe and has been used in many sweeping scenes of the landscape Beyond the Wall.
Mdina, Malta (King’s Landing Gate)
The old capital of Malta, Mdina is often called the “silent city’ due to its peaceful atmosphere and lack of cars. The old gate of Mdina stood in for the entrance to King’s Landing in the first season of Game of Thrones, while Pjazza Mesquita was used as the exterior of Littlefinger’s brothel.
Also Read: Top 11 Things To Do In Malta
The Island of Gozo, Malta (Daenerys’s Wedding)
The Island of Gozo features truly breathtaking scenery and amazing rock formations. Unfortunately, the famous Azure Window which can be seen at Daenerys’ wedding to Khal Drogo, collapsed into the sea in 2017. However, this beautiful stretch of beach with its bright blue-green water is absolutely worth visiting, window or no window.
Ait Ben Haddou, Morocco (Yunkai)
The fortified village of Aït Ben Haddou outside Ouarzazate was used as the city of Yunkai in Slavers Bay. Daenerys Targaryen liberates the city from its masters. Nearby Essaouira was also used to film the ramparts of Astapor, another city in Slaver’s Bay.
Are there any Game of Thrones filming locations that we’ve missed? If so, be sure to share them in the comments below.