We’re spotlighting some of the shows and movies we’re loving—and traveling vicariously through. Here, learn how you can visit Game of Thrones’ world of Westeros in real-life.
Game of Thrones isn’t just HBO’s biggest hit—it’s one of the largest productions in television history. Now in its penultimate season, the show has filmed in almost 50 different locations to capture the expansive (and unpredictable!) story. Even when the dragons and White Walkers aren’t around, you might recognize some of Westeros’ most iconic sites if you add a pre- or post-tour stay to visit these European destinations on tour.
Daenerys returned to her home, the former Targaryen stronghold of Dragonstone, early in season seven. In the story, Dragonstone is an island in the south of Westeros but with a little movie magic, HBO turned the Basque Country’s coastline into a would-be queen’s castle. You can walk the long stairway leading up to Dragonstone on the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, but don’t expect to run into the Mother of Dragons—the castle itself is all CGI.
Elsewhere in Spain, Game of Thrones’ sunnier spots come to life. Locations the region were used for scenes in Dorne, including the famous Alacázar de Seville and the Alhambra in Granada. In Córdoba, you might recognize the Roman Bridge, which became the Long Bridge of Volantis on screen, and Almodóvar del Rio, a Moorish castle, as the Tyrells’ home of Highgarden.
Want to explore King’s Landing? Head to Dubrovnik on tour, where many of the scenes from around the capital were filmed. You’ll be able to spot everything from the Red Keep (Lovrijenac Fortress) to the stairway of the Sept of Baelor (the Baroque Staircase). Then, take a quick trip to Quarth to find your missing dragons—Minčenta Tower’s exterior was used in shots of the House of the Undying.
Farther up the coast in Split, there’s Diocletian’s Palace, which has appeared a few times throughout the series. The 1,700-year-old fortress, along with the neighboring Klis Fortress, set the scene in Mereen, one of Daenerys’ first conquests.
Continue your travels north, and you’ll end up in Šibnek, a medieval town that became Braavos on screen. You might even recognize the St. James Cathedral as the House of Black and White, where the Faceless Men train Arya in their mysterious ways.
The travel hot spot owes some of its trendiness to the show, which sparked interest in the country’s beautiful and otherworldly sites. Some locations around the country, like Thingvellir National Park, have been used for scenes in Westeros and beyond the wall. The park’s rocky landscape has appeared in several episodes as the Eyrie and the Riverlands, as well as wildling territory.
As one of the largest glaciers in Europe, Vatnajökull’s snowy expanse made the perfect setting for Night’s Watch campsites and encounters with the White Walkers. The lava fields of Dimmuborgir, near Lake Myvatn, are also where Jon Snow first met the fearsome King Beyond the Wall, Mance Raider.
Still to come? Rumor has it that the cast was spotted along the black sand beaches in Vik. Stay tuned!
The show’s production studio is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which makes it easy for the crew to take advantage of some of the region’s incredible scenery.
One of the real-life Game of Thrones locations you can visit? Kingsroad. The Dark Hedges in Ballymoney make for a spectacular setting, both in the show and in real life. The tree-lined lane was where Arya made her escape from King’s Landing after her father Ned was killed.
Magheramorne Quarry is the end of the world, as far as the Westerosi are concerned. The abandoned mining site helps make up The Wall, the 700-foot-tall barricade patrolled by the Night’s Watch. In real life, the quarry wall isn’t nearly that tall—or snowy. With a little help from set dressing and CGI, it becomes a suitable spot for Castle Black.
Northern Ireland’s coastline was perfect for recreating Pyke, the capital of the Iron Islands. Along Ballintoy Harbor, you can spot the shores where Theon Greyjoy first returned to his homeland.
Last but not least, you can stop by Winterfell—or Castle Ward, as it’s called in real life. Manager of Quality Control Katie spent extra time in Ireland after her tour and got to explore some of Game of Thrones’ coolest locations. “It was really fun! At ‘Winterfell,’ we crowned a King of the North, and everyone got to wear cloaks. We looked like we belonged on set.” The other highlight? Meeting a few furry stars of the show—the direwolf puppies.
Have a favorite show that transports you to another place? Tell us about it in the comments!