The fantasy world of Game of Thrones has some serious die-fans and they are pleasing many tourist boards. Iceland and Ireland are seeing increasing visitor numbers as many people are flocking to filming locations to immerse themselves in the world of Game of Thrones.
The filming production crew went to many beautiful locations around the world including Croatia, Malta and Iceland, but a lot of the filming was done in Northern Ireland. To get the real Game of Thrones experience Northern Ireland is the location to visit.
It’s not hard to see why Northern Ireland was chosen, it is well known for its beautiful forests moorlands and mountains. The beautiful landscapes made the ideal backdrop to many iconic scenes in the series. Off course CGI was used in most locations but today you can visit some of these iconic locations and really immerse yourself in the world of Westeros. You can even meet the actual Direwolves as seen in the show.
Fans of Game of Thrones who want to discover the real Westeros and Essos need to head to Northern Ireland.
Winterfell – Castle Ward Estate, County Down
The Castle Ward estate is an 18th-century National Trust property located near the village of Strangford, in County Down, Northern Ireland.
Castle Ward became Winterfell in the first series of the show. The crew spent 8 weeks at the 18th-century farmyard filming the first series. Today there is a replica of the Winterfell Archery Range in the courtyard in the same spot the filming took place.
Many iconic scenes were filming in and around this area. This is where the Whispering Wood is found and where they did the scenes of Robb Stark’s Camp. Remember when Bran falls from Winterfell Castle. That was filmed at Castle Ward. The Baelor Battlefield, Winterfell brothel, and the tree where Robb Stark and Talisa got secretly married are all in and around this location.
Haunted Forest – Tollymore Forest Park, County Down
Tollymore Forest Park in County Down was used as a filming location in a few scenes. It is a place of natural beauty and easy to see why they chose it as a filming location. With views of the surrounding mountains Tollymore Forest Park is 1,600 acres of sprawling ancient woodlands with old remnants of an 18th century estate.
It is where the White Walkers marched into the realm of men and where the Three Night’s Watch men encounter a White Walker. It was also the filming location where Ned Stark found the dead stag, and where Theon Grevjoys made his escape attempt from his torturers and the ‘bastard of Bolton’ hunted Theon here.
Shane’s Castle – Randlestown, Co. Antrim
Shanes Castle was built in 1345 so again it’s easy to see why this was another chosen filming location. Today it is working Estate spread out on 800 acres of farmland with about 1000 acres of woodland.
The Tourney of the Hand which was the festival held at King’s Landing in honour of Ned Stark was actually filmed on the estate. The dungeons, ruins and Winterfell crypt were filmed here. Remember seeing Ned Stark chained in the castle dungeons? Again this scene was filmed at this location and many other ‘dungeon’ scenes were filmed.
Dothraki Home – The Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Want to walk in the steps of the Dothraki folk? Then you need to head to south-east Northern Ireland, and check out the stunning scenery around the Mourne Mountains. Also known as the Mournes, or Mountains of Mourne. It is an area of granite mountains and include the highest mountains in Northern Ireland. Slieve Donard is the highest at 2,790 ft and not surprisingly is now known as an area of outstanding natural beauty. Part of the area is now being looked after the National Trust and it attracts many tourists each year.
The Kings Eoad – Dark Hedges
The Dark Hedges is an atmospheric, tunnel-like avenue of intertwined beech trees which were planted in the 18th-century. In the first episode of Season 2 we see Arya Stark has escaped from King’s Landing, disguised as a boy and heads down the King’s Road with Yoren, Gendry and others who are off to join the Night’s Watch.
There are many more locations around Northern Ireland and you can do some research yourself and draw up a plan and visit the locations yourself. However a guided Game of Thrones Location Tour might be more fun. You will be with a handful of other likeminded fans and can really get into the world of Game of Thrones.
Article by Brit Movie Tours who offer a Game of Thrones Location Tour as well as many other movie and TV location tours.