Visiting Westeros: A Complete Guide to Game of Thrones Filming Locations

Westeros

The immense landscape across which the multiple stories of Game of Thrones unfolds is rich in geography and culture. The continent of Westeros that has sprung from the fertile imagination of George RR Martin provides the sumptuous setting that its vast array of characters and creatures inhabit. With the highly successful TV adaptation, the production team has the (un)enviable task of globetrotting and filming the various storylines - from the frozen north of 'Beyond the wall' to the scorching desert landscapes of the free cities of Essos.

The avid traveler and a fan of the stories who wants to combine a great holiday with an opportunity to visit the locations where the TV series has been/is being filmed needs to look no further. This handy guide will give you up to date information, map of locations and pictures of these delirious landscapes. Many of these locations has seen a significant increase in Tourism and have benefited from the Game of Thrones phenomenon.

So come join me as we visit the vast continent of Westeros straight from the imagination of George RR Martin - as visualised by the wonderful creative team behind the TV series.

Westeros and Essos
Westeros and Essos

Game of Thrones

The Epic phenomenon that is Game of Thrones is taking over the world. What started as a series of popular fantasy novels with a niche audience has now grown into a global juggernaut.

When author George R R Martin started penning his original series of novels 'A Song of Ice and Fire' ( the first book of the series is called A Game of Thrones) the sf/fantasy readership rejoiced at the richly detailed world creation, the social and political allegory, a vast number of characters that one could relate to, thrilling spectacle, mind boggling plot twists and assured story telling.

What really elevates the novel to higher echelons of literary fantasy is the meticulous world building. Martin based his fantasy grounding it on medieval European - especially British- history. In order to distinguish the Seven Kingdoms within Westeros Martin wanted to create distinctive cultures, habits, politics, personalities and allegiances. He felt strongly that the nature of the land they originate from will temper these traits.

So the land of Westeros has the frozen uncharted territories of rugged north, the exotic land beyond the sea where the free cities of Essos reign, the stark grey landscape of iron islands, the fertile riverlands, the lush Vale of Arryn, the marches and red mountains of Dorne and the uncharted territories of the grassland that is Dothraki Sea.


Political Map of Westeros
Political Map of Westeros

Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and other lands

Area
Ruling House
Landscape
Beyond the Wall
Uncharted north/ Wildlings
Cold, harsh, frozen, inhospitable
North
House Stark of Winterfell
Cold , Harsh, frozen but habitable
Iron Islands
House GreyJoy of Pyke
Infertile, Rich with minerals, mines
The Riverlands
House Tullys of Riverrun
Lush, Fertile,
Vale of Arryn
House Arryn of Eyrie
Surrounded by mountains, Valley
Westerlands
House Lannister of Casterly rock
Rich in Silver and Gold mines
The Crownlands
Iron King
Area surrounding the capital city
The Reach
House Tyrell of Highgarden
Fertile, farming, villages
Stormlands
Baratheons
Harsh, rainy, forests
Dorne
House Martell
Dry, Arid, Red soil
A markerPaint Hall studios, Belfast -
Belfast, UK
[get directions]

Painthall Studios is the base of Game of Thrones filming crew

Ireland

The Game of Thrones production team has set its base in Northern Ireland There are many reasons for this. The landscape is rich with medieval castles, craggy shores, lush forests and rivers; the Government provides ample support and tax rebates for the crew; majority of the cast hail from UK making it easier on the travel costs; the Irish base also makes it easier to travel across Europe onto further locations. For those who don't know UK - Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom - Southern Ireland is a separate country- The Republic of Ireland.

Primary filming takes place in sound stages of Painthall Studios in Belfast. Originally a shipyard where parts of the Titanic were built, the vast buildings now form one of the largest film studios in Europe. New extended soundstages have also been built to accomodate the behemoth that is Game of Thrones.

Lets have a look at the various locales in Northern Ireland where the series has been filmed.

Tollymore & Magheramorne

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Tollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.IrelandTollymore in the seriesTollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.IrelandDirewolf pups foundMagheramorne Quarry, Co. antrim, N.IrelandCastle BlackThe Wall as it appears in the SeriesAnd the original shot at the Quarry
Tollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.Ireland
Tollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.Ireland
Tollymore in the series
Tollymore in the series
Tollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.Ireland
Tollymore Forest, Co. Down, N.Ireland
Direwolf pups found
Direwolf pups found
Magheramorne Quarry, Co. antrim, N.Ireland
Magheramorne Quarry, Co. antrim, N.Ireland
Castle Black
Castle Black
The Wall as it appears in the Series
The Wall as it appears in the Series
And the original shot at the Quarry
And the original shot at the Quarry
show route and directions
A markerTollymore forest -
Tollymore Forest Park, Down, UK
[get directions]

B markerMagheramorne quarry -
Magheramorne, Larne BT40, UK
[get directions]

Tollymore Forest, County Down

This lush forest is location for key scenes in the pilot episode where Ned Stark and his sons find the Direwolf pups.

Although snowbound in the episode, the forest is renowned for its lush greenery and trickling streams, making this National Park a scenic place to visit in summer.

Magheramorne Quarry, County Antrim

The steep limestone quarry provided a suitable location for filming some aspects fo the 'Wall' for the first series. A set was built complete with the gates of Castle Black and the rickety wooden lift that takes the Nightswatch to the top of the wall.

Using disused timber and stone from the quarry the set was built and filmed. CGI trickery was added was added later to give it the frozen makeover for the mammoth wall built of ice (500 miles long and 700 feet wide according to the stories)

Ballintoy & Castle Ward

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ballintoy Harbour, N. Antrim coastBallintoy Harbour ....... and how it appears in the seriesThe Set at BallintoyCastle Ward standing in for WinterfellWinterfell arrival of Robert Baratheon filmed at Castle WardWinterfell after CGI added to Castle WardOld Castle Ward and FarmyardWinterfellCastle Ward, the  House
Ballintoy Harbour, N. Antrim coast
Ballintoy Harbour, N. Antrim coast
Ballintoy Harbour ...
Ballintoy Harbour ...
.... and how it appears in the series
.... and how it appears in the series
The Set at Ballintoy
The Set at Ballintoy
Castle Ward standing in for Winterfell
Castle Ward standing in for Winterfell
Winterfell arrival of Robert Baratheon filmed at Castle Ward
Winterfell arrival of Robert Baratheon filmed at Castle Ward
Winterfell after CGI added to Castle Ward
Winterfell after CGI added to Castle Ward
Old Castle Ward and Farmyard
Old Castle Ward and Farmyard
Winterfell
Winterfell
Castle Ward, the  House
Castle Ward, the House
show route and directions
A markerBallintoy, Country Antrim -
Ballintoy, Moyle BT54, UK
[get directions]

B markerCastle Ward, County Down -
Castle Ward, Downpatrick, Down BT30 7LS, UK
[get directions]

Ballintoy Harbour, County Antrim

The Craggy harbour at Ballintoy in North Antrim served as the seat of Pyke, the Iron islands of House Greyjoy. Shots of Theon Greyjoy arriving by sea and walking down the harbour were filmed here.

Although visual effects were added to remove some of the modern features from the harbour and to cast a medieval look, much of the original stonework of the old harbour and the coastline were used extensively in filming.

Castle Ward, County Down

The exteriors of Winterfell especially scenes in the first episode where King Robert Barratheon arrives to meet the Starks were filmed at Old part of Castle Ward in County Down. Situated in a vast estate this place is full of character. The house itself is a stunning building ( not used for filming) that has a gothic facade and is surrounded by a vast 820 acre landscape with sunken gardens and beautiful vistas.

Sandy Brae & Dark Hedges

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sandy Brae, Newry & MourneVaes DothrakDark Hedges, Ballymoney, County AntrimKings Road
Sandy Brae, Newry & Mourne
Sandy Brae, Newry & Mourne
Vaes Dothrak
Vaes Dothrak
Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, County Antrim
Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, County Antrim
Kings Road
Kings Road
show route and directions
A markerSandy Brae, Ireland -
Sandy Brae, Newry, Newry and Mourne BT34, UK
[get directions]

B markerDark Hedges, Ireland -
The Dark Hedges, Bregagh Road, Ballymoney BT53 8TT, United Kingdom
[get directions]

Sandy Brae, Newry & Mourne

The vast grasslands of Vaes Dothrak ( Dothraki Sea) needed a suitably vast vista adorned by distant mountains. A location was found in Sandy Brae, Newry in N.Ireland that fitted the bill. The two large horse statues rearing up high provide a majestic foreground to the landscape as the Dothraki ride onto their homeland.

Dark Hedges, Ballymoney

This magnificent road adorned by beech trees is over 200 years old. The trees were originally planted to impress the visitors arriving at Grace Hill, the household of Stuart family, two centuries ago. It now impresses as one goes down the road. One of a popular destinations for photographers this amazing natural phenomena serves as the setting for Kings Road in the series.

Iceland

Iceland with its glaciers and frozen vistas is an ideal place to represent the icy wastelands of the land 'beyond the wall' where wildlings roam and the undead whitewalkers stalk. As the story moves to the adventures of Jon Snow more the scenery moves to an snow clad landscape. A large portion of his episodic narratives were filmed in Iceland around some well known locations.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scenes from Beyond the WallSvínafellsjökull glacierScenes from Beyond the WallMývatn lakeJon Snow and Ygritte make out in the caveGrjótagj cavesHverjfall volcanic crater
Scenes from Beyond the Wall
Scenes from Beyond the Wall
Svínafellsjökull glacier
Svínafellsjökull glacier
Scenes from Beyond the Wall
Scenes from Beyond the Wall
Mývatn lake
Mývatn lake
Jon Snow and Ygritte make out in the cave
Jon Snow and Ygritte make out in the cave
Grjótagj caves
Grjótagj caves
Hverjfall volcanic crater
Hverjfall volcanic crater

Iceland Locations

show route and directions
A markerSvínafellsjökull -
Svínafellsjökull, Iceland
[get directions]

B markerMývatn -
Mývatn, Iceland
[get directions]

C markerHverfjall -
Hverfjall, Iceland
[get directions]

Svínafellsjökull Glacier

The panoramic vista of Svínafellsjökull glacier served as the main shooting spot for Season Three. These depict scenes where Jon Snow joins the wildlings and meets the King beyond the wall. The volcanic ash following Icelandic volcanic eruptions had disrupted soem of the white landscape however fresh snowfall arrived on time to make shooting possible in this rugged landscape. It is a beautiful place to visit in summer and if you're feeling brave, winter.

Grjótag Caves

The picturesque caves of Grjótag with its natural lakes and streams forms the setting for a romantic interlude between Jon Snow and the wildling Ygritte in season three.

Lake Mývatn

The scenes of wildlings camps and march were also filmed in and around Mývatn lake. This shallow lake is in an area of active volcanos. In summer this area has rich flora and fauna due to the nutrient rich springwater that flows in. The surrounding wetlands provide rich diversity of insects and birds.

Malta

With its mediterranean climate, ancient monuments and surrounded azure blue sea Malta has been a favorite destination for filmmakers. Many films such as Gladiator, The Count of MonteCristo, Midnight Express and recently WordWar Z have been filmed there.

The First Season of Game of Thrones used Malta's unique visuals for several scenes. Parts of Valetta's harbour front and its forts were used to represent King's Landing and the beautiful Azure window in the nearby Gozo island serves as the backdrop for Daenerys Targaryen's wedding ceremony.

Valetta & Gozo

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Gozo, Azure windowDaenerys Wedding campDaenerys Wedding Fort Ricasoli, MaltaFort Ricasoli in GoTFort Manoel, MaltaFort Manoel, as King's LandingDaenerys and ViserysMdina gate, MaltaMdina Gate, as Ned Stark rides up with his daughters into Kings Landing.
Gozo, Azure window
Gozo, Azure window
Daenerys Wedding camp
Daenerys Wedding camp
Daenerys Wedding
Daenerys Wedding
Fort Ricasoli, Malta
Fort Ricasoli, Malta
Fort Ricasoli in GoT
Fort Ricasoli in GoT
Fort Manoel, Malta
Fort Manoel, Malta
Fort Manoel, as King's Landing
Fort Manoel, as King's Landing
Daenerys and Viserys
Daenerys and Viserys
Mdina gate, Malta
Mdina gate, Malta
Mdina Gate, as Ned Stark rides up with his daughters into Kings Landing.
Mdina Gate, as Ned Stark rides up with his daughters into Kings Landing.
show route and directions
A markerGozo, Malta -
Gozo, Malta
[get directions]

B markerValetta ,Malta -
Valletta, Malta
[get directions]

C markerMdina, Malta -
Mdina, Malta
[get directions]

Azure window, Gozo, Malta

The natural stone arch in the island of Gozo is known locally as Tieqa Żerqa. This beautiful natural landmark is surrounded by other picturesque locations such as the Inland sea and Dwejra bay. The natural limestone formation makes it an attractive filming location due to the vivid colours against the blue backdrop of the sea.

The wedding of Daenerys with Kal Dothrak was filmed here and later enhanced by CGI with crowds and camps. Scenes involving Daenerys and her brother Viserys discussing dowry and the wedding were also filmed in Malta.

Valetta, Malta

The capital of Malta is also known for its ancient fortifications. These unique forts serve as Kings Landing in the first season of the series. Scenes where Ned stark first rides up to Kings landing, his subsequent capture and shock exit were all filmed around Forst Ricasoli and Fort Manoel in Valetta.


Mdina, Malta

Mdina is the ancient capital of Malta. This ancient phoenician fortification still has charming buildings fort walls and cobbled streets. all of which were desirable for the Game of Thrones crew. The fantastic Mdina gate served as a backdrop for key scenes. Visiting Malta would be an an enchanting holiday with so much history and atmosphere not to forget the beautiful blue seas.

Morocco

To capture the travels and adventures of Daenerys Targaryen, the mother of dragons, in the lands of free cities beyond the narrow sea, the team needed sun scorched landscapes with ancient buildings. Morocco, with its confluence of cultures and red brick fortresses seems a right fit for the cities of Astapor, the Slavers Bay, Qarth and others.

Essaouira & Ait Benhaddou

Click thumbnail to view full-size
OuarzazateSlavers BayEssaouiraGates of QarthEssaouiraSlavers BayWalls of QarthAit Benhaddou
Ouarzazate
Ouarzazate
Slavers Bay
Slavers Bay
Essaouira
Essaouira
Gates of Qarth
Gates of Qarth
Essaouira
Essaouira
Slavers Bay
Slavers Bay
Walls of Qarth
Walls of Qarth
Ait Benhaddou
Ait Benhaddou
show route and directions
A markerEssaouira -
Essaouira, Morocco
[get directions]

B markerOurzazate -
Ouarzazate, Morocco
[get directions]

C markerAit benhaddou -
Aït Benhaddou, Morocco
[get directions]

Essaouira, Morocco

The scenic coastal city with its medieval ramparts serves as the site of slavers bay. Daenerys and Ser Jorah's search for an army takes them here.The beautiful backdrop of sun and sea serve to enhance the vivid colours and exoticism of the setting. This is a developing tourist destination and hotels have begun to spring up in the coastline.

Ait Benhaddou, Ouarzazate

Ait Benhaddou is a UNESCO world Heritage site in the city of Ouarzazaote. This fortified village harks back to ancient times with is reddish brown buildings and ramparts. The visuals here have been used to represent various free cities in Essos. Including Astapor and Qarth.

The gates of Qarth were represented by reusing the set for the film Kingdom of Heaven which is still preservedat the Atlas film studios in Ouarzazote.

The name Ouarzazote literally means 'the door of the desert' as south of the city lies the Sahara.The city itself is located high at the foothills of the Atlas on a bare plateau.

Croatia

The latest addition to the location map is the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The sunshine, sea and the ancient fortified walls of the old Dubrovnik have taken over from Malta as Kings Landing. The Croatian government is very supportive of the filming no doubt due to increasing influx of tourist revenues.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dubrovnikdubrovnik old cityKing's LandingTrsteno ArboretumKings LandingKings LandingLokrum IslandPeacocks in Lokrum island
Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik
dubrovnik old city
dubrovnik old city
King's Landing
King's Landing
Trsteno Arboretum
Trsteno Arboretum
Kings Landing
Kings Landing
Kings Landing
Kings Landing
Lokrum Island
Lokrum Island
Peacocks in Lokrum island
Peacocks in Lokrum island
show route and directions
A markerDubrovnik -
Dubrovnik, Croatia
[get directions]

B markerLokrum -
Lokrum, Croatia
[get directions]

Dubrovnik, Croatia

This delightful city on the Adriatic coast has now taken over from Malta as the 'new' Kings Landing. A long maritime history, multiple influences from Greek, Byzantine, Venetian and Austrian influences have all shaped the city's unique scenery, old and new buildings and culture. The stunning coastline along with the delights of the old walled city make it an ideal spot for filming. The Trsteno Arboretum has served as the location for the palace gardens where Sansa Stark converses with the Tyrells. Dubrovnik has become a highly popular holiday destination and has some fantastic hotels, beautiful medieval buildings and a sunny climate.

Lokrum Island

This lush island that is overlooked by the city has been used ot film a few scenes depicting Qarth. The presence of many peacocks in this scenic location may have influenced the decision somewhat.

King's Landing
King's Landing

Plan your trip

There are many holiday makers that are now offering Game of Thrones themed tours in their respective countries. You could either book with one of these tours or perhaps plan your own for maximum impact and freedom. Many of the locations are quite close to popular tourist spots and travel to key cities and locations is not that difficult.


Even without the added value of being in a Game of Thrones filming location, many of these are fantastic holiday destinations in their own merit- rich with culture and local colour. They will all offer you a memorable holiday experience worth savouring.

What are you waiting for?


Game of Thrones Trailer for Season 3

How they create Westeros- VFX Showreel

Dragons over Asthapor
Dragons over Asthapor

© 2013 Mohan Kumar

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Comments 16 comments

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 3 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan, have read all of the books so far, and love the TV series. I'm not a big enough fan to actually go on a Game of Thrones tour, but I really enjoyed reading about these different locations. Voted up beatufiful and interesting - and sharing. I loved the way you presented this - excellent!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

Mohan (Docmo),

Thanks for doing this research for, and writing, this very comprehensive article. Game of Thrones fans should bestow an honor (honour) upon you for all the work you have done.


tolstoytherapy profile image

tolstoytherapy 3 years ago

That's interesting that they filmed in Iceland - I wonder if it's the same glacier I've been to. It's a fantastic place, and perfect for the series.


theluckywriter profile image

theluckywriter 3 years ago from Canada

What a great idea for a hub! I'm a huge Game of Thrones fans (although I've only read the book...I haven't watched the show yet).

Very cool. Sharing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

This was so cool! lol! yes I am a big fan of Game of Thrones, and would watch each and every episode all night if I could. Wonderful hub Mohan, and very clever too, nell


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

I have never watched the Game of Thrones, after reading your hub I will check it out. Great video. The locations are awesome and breathtaking, interesting and enjoyed reading, voted up. I hope to get on the themed trip someday.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I feel so out of touch, i've never watched the Game of Thrones. Your presentation is magnificent. Thank you..Sharing...


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

I have to say that I love the game of thrones!! I am sharing this.....awesome!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK Author

@mperrottet: Same here, I've read all the books and am re-reading them as the series unfolds. I think the TV series can stand on its own with tighter slicker storyline and maximum impact of visuals. Glad to see a fellow fan here. Thank you!

@Daisy- thank you. I was impressed by the location shooting and did a bit of research. There are others in the web who done similar articles - I thought hubpages deserved a more comprehensive one with a video. thank you!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK Author

@tolstoytherapy: The Svínafellsjökull seems to be a popular destination for a holiday in ICeland due to its panoramic views.. maybe you visited there too. Thanks for your comment here.

@theluckywriter: Try and watch the show as you wont be disappointed when you see those characters come to life. glad you liked this hub. Thanks for sharing!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK Author

@Nell: me too Nell. Big fan and watched the first two series again before season 3. a-may-zing. The books are great too. long but great! thanks for your visit.

@Nithya: Give it a go - you'll really enjoy it. I can be brutal at times and has some graphic scenes but the characters and the story lines are fantastic. thanks for your visit and comment.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 3 years ago from UK Author

@Ruby: You'll like it if you watch it I am sure. thanks for your visit and comment. Glad you like this presentation.

@Michelle: thank you so much for sharing. Much appreciated.


Elias Zanetti profile image

Elias Zanetti 3 years ago from Athens, Greece

Great idea for a hub and wonderful presentation! Die hard fans of the series would be excited to visit soe of the places that the shooting took place. Haven't seen the third season yet and perhaps, as you say, I should watch the first two seasons again. Voted and pinned!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Amazing Docmo and so well presented. Voted up and shared.

Eddy.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

This hub is just spectacular! The amount of work, research and planning that you put in this hub is highly evident. It is interesting and presents us with so much good information.

I love Game of Thrones, and though I've been to N. Ireland and County Antrim, I haven't seen the other places and probably never will, but now at least I know where they are thanks to you.

I can't imagine how long it took you to put this wonderful hub together but thank you for doing it! I'm sharing this one all over the place.

Voted all buttons except funny.


Sugahware profile image

Sugahware 3 years ago from California

WOW is about all I can say - beautiful pictures/video, wonderfully written, well-researched, and presented and organized spectacularly. I am a huge GOT fan so I truly appreciate this hub. Nice work! Shared and voted up.

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