A Travel Guide to Exploring the Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Northern Ireland

A trip to the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland is one of the most incredible experiences a fan can have. According to Game of Thrones Tours, HBO considered no less than 14 countries before they chose Northern Ireland as the principal filming location for the award-winning series. And they chose well. They have captured some of our earth’s most breathtaking landscapes alongside dramatic castles, caves, and vistas known as the Causeway Coastal Route.

 

The route is rated as one of the world’s top five road trips. It stretches 120 miles from Belfast Lough to Lough Foyle and links the villages of Glenarm, Carnlough, Cushendall, and Cushendun.

 

This was the second time I was invited to Belfast to explore this region and its Seven Kingdoms. I made this trip back in 2014 to explore the Game of Thrones filming locations for seasons 1-4. It was incredible then too, but there has certainly been some sophistication of the tour since then. This time I was joined by my Geek Girl Travel partner in crime Emma Loggins (Fanbolt.com, the CW Couch Up with Emma, Walker Stalker).

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About Exploring the Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Northern Ireland

 

The first and possibly most important thing you should know is that both the Tourism Ireland and Discover Northern Ireland websites are going to be your best friend on this adventure. These are Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s official tourism authorities on all things travel. They do a lovely job in helping you plan your trip. There is also a GOT filming locations App for Android and iOS.

 

While the hit TV series is filmed all over the world and known for its remarkably breathtaking filming locations, Belfast is the Official Game of Thrones Territory. Its main soundstage, Titanic Studios, is located in Belfast. There is no other place in the world which caters to GOT fans the way Northern Ireland does.

 

Follow the three-eyed raven through Northern Ireland, where crumbling castles and ancient landscapes become key Seven Kingdoms filming locations in Game of Thrones® – Ireland.com

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, Titanic Studios

Soundstage for Game of Thrones

 

Traveling to Northern Ireland to Game of Thrones Territory

 

Getting There and Where to Stay

 

You’ll want to get the best flight opportunities to Belfast. You can learn more about cheap flights here. Once you’re in Belfast there are a few places I can personally recommend. The last place I stayed at was the Bullitt Hotel. This trendy boutique hotel is located in the heart of Belfast and is great for those looking for a nightlife experience. Its rooms are very small, but clean and nicely decorated. Across the street is the Malmaison Hotel with a much more chic glam feeling and larger rooms.

 

Bullitt Hotel Belfast

My room at the Bullitt Hotel

 

Belfast tip: There is a really good and somewhat trendy restaurant next to the Bullitt Hotel called Bootleggers. I highly recommend giving it a try. I found it funny that they were named after American moonshine and even had mason jars with Georgia labels (I live in Atlanta).

 

Bootleggers Belfast

Bootleggers Belfast

Bootleggers Belfast, Christa Thompson

 

Getting Around Belfast and to the Filming Locations

 

Most everything in Belfast can be done on foot. You can grab a Lyft to some key places in town like the Titanic Musem (right next to Titanic Studios). You can do the Game of Thrones filming locations experience on your own but you’ll have to rent a car. Tourism Ireland offers a great map and three-day itinerary here.

 

Taking a Guided Tour

 

If you’re not so hot on driving in the UK, you might feel more comfortable getting a tour guide. There are a variety of tours out there, but in my experience, the best tour is Winterfell Tours. Not only because they know the region well, but because they have worked beside the production. You’ll get to see actual footage of the scenes you’re visiting and that makes the experience quite different. I’ve experienced it first hand twice and it is amazing.

 

 

This is one of those videos you can take at face value. Northern Ireland is very magical with its craggy cliffs, dark mossy forests, ancient castles and unique landscapes. One trip to this fantastic edge of the world will undoubtedly leave you shrouded in awe and inspiration. There is no question why HBO chose Belfast and Northern Ireland to be home to the Game of Thrones filming locations.

 

Experiencing the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in Northern Ireland

 

There is no other place in the world where you can visit as many parts of the Seven Kingdoms as Northern Ireland. Each location has an experience of its own. From its serene and peaceful landscapes to donning HBO branded Game of Thrones cloaks and even taking archery lessons at a film location, it’s memorable. Here are the experiences I’ve had broken down:

 

Belfast

 

Pub hop to the best bars in Belfast where cast and crew regularly visit during filming. Take a picture with Titanic Studios in the background (cause that’s about as close as you’re going to get) but still uber cool. You can also check out the Titanic Museum because history.

 

Titanic Museum Belfast

Titanic Museum Belfast

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, Titanic Studios

The Game of Thrones soundstage, Titanic Studios.

 

The Spaniard Belfast

The Spaniard is one of the go-to pubs for the cast and crew of Game of Thrones

The Spaniard Belfast

Have a cocktail and find Jesus. Literally.

 

Canal Steps in Braavos

 

The Canal at Carnlough Harbour is where Arya Stark was repeatedly stabbed by the Waif. Arya then jumps into the freezing water (it’s legit pretty cold) to escape and crawls up the steps into the streets of Braavos. It was a very “jump at you” kind of experience to visit this location. In part because it was so fresh in my memory (S6E7 The Broken Man), but also because the steps were very prominent in the scene.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, braavos, arya stark, in water

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, braavos, arya stark, in water

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, braavos, arya stark, in water, christa thompson

 

Melisandre’s Shadow Baby

 

Tucked away on an elevated beach in the Village of Cushendun are the Cushendun Caves. This cove in the Stormlands is where the unforgettable scene (S2E4 Garden of Bones) between Melisandre and Davos takes place. Here she had the shadow baby that ultimately kills Renly.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, melisandre shadow baby

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, melisandre shadow baby

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, melisandre shadow baby, christa thompson

 

The Stormlands & Nagga’s Hill, Oak Wyk

 

Larrybane is one of the most scenic locations along the Causeway Coast. It is home to massive sea walls which tower over turquoise waters that violently beat against an ice aged sea cave. It’s also where Brienne beat Ser Loras in a tournament. Where she is given a place in Renly’s Kingsguard. And where Renly swore to Lady Stark he would avenge Ned Stark’s death (S2E3 What is Dead May Never Die). Later on (S2E5 The Ghost of Harrenhal) it’s where Renly meets his fate by Melisandre’s shadow baby. Where Margaery confides to Littlefinger that she desired to be “the queen”. And where Davos tries to tell Stannis about the shadow baby.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the stormlands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the stormlands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the stormlands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the stormlands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the stormlands

 

Off the tour tip: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a famous tourism site, sits just to the side of the Larrybane film location. It’s an incredible view and will give you a visceral understanding of the coastal waters beneath you. There is also a charming little Irish cottage restaurant called “The Red Door” which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice now. If you’re looking for an authentic Irish dish, I highly recommend the fish chowder.

 

Pyke, the Iron Islands, and Dragonstone

 

A very recognizable location, Ballintoy Harbour has been the set of five episodes across three seasons and has served as Pyke, the Iron Islands and part of Dragonstone in S2E2 The Night Lands, S2E3 What is Dead May Never Die, S4E2 The Lion and the Rose, S6E2 Home, and S6E5 The Door. Here are some key points about the location; Iron Islands, the funeral scene in Home, the drowning and rebirth of Euron, Yara and Theon’s escape in The Door, Theon’s baptismal in What is Dead May Never Die, Pyke.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, iron islands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, iron islands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, iron islands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, iron islands

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, iron islands

Standing where Theon stood… yes.

 

The Kingsroad

 

This picturesque natural phenomenon is known as the Dark Hedges. It’s where Arya Stark fled King’s Landing dressed as a boy accompanied by Yoren, Gendry and Hot Pie (S2E1 The North Remembers). It’s also home to a spirit known as “The Grey Lady” who is said to appear at dusk amongst the trees.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, dark hedges, kingsroad

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, dark hedges, kingsroad

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, dark hedges, kingsroad

 

Photo tip: The best angle to take the trees at is from the top of the hill where the official GOT signage is.

 

Off the tour tip: I highly recommend a detour to Giant’s Causeway. This natural phenomenon is best experienced late in the afternoon when the crowds are thin. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the remarkable remains of a volcanic eruption. It’s not to be missed.

 

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway, Christa Thompson

Giant’s Causeway is not to be missed!

 

Coast of Dorne

 

A perfect spot to arrive to at the end of your day is Portstewart Strand. Filmed as the Coast of Dorne, from its beaches you can get views of Inishowen and Mussenden Temple. This location can be remembered from S5E4 Sons of the Harpy when Ser Bronn and Jaime Lannister arrive at the coast of Dorne where they fight and kill the Dornish soldiers. Also a great spot for a sunset.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, dorne, chrosta thompson

Dorne Coast

 

Off the tour tip: If you’re hungry, Harry’s Shack has incredible seafood and giant windows which you can enjoy the sunset from.

 

Harrys Shack Portstewart

 

Direwolves and White Walkers

 

Perhaps one of the most magical forests I’ve ever seen is the Tollymore Forest. It’s the kind of place where bright green moss wraps around towering trees and where it’s always dark and mysterious. It’s also where you’ll be taken back to S1E1 Winter is Coming when Ned Stark, his sons Robb, Bran and Jon Snow and Theon Greyjoy stop after returning from Will’s execution. Here they come upon a dead stag and a mauled mother direwolf. Her cubs, as many as there are Stark children, are taken back to Winterfell. This is also where the Night’s Watch deserter discovers the haunted forest and discovers dismembered Wilding bodies.

 

Tollymore Forest

Entering Tollymore Forest is magical…

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

I love how Winterfell Tours brings along the iPad so they can show you the scenes!

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest, christa thompson

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Here William of Winterfell Tours is showing us how HBO covered the forest in paper snow during production. It took months.

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest, christa thompson

William and I where the dismembered bodies were found in S1E1.

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest, christa thompson

 

Winterfell

 

In my opinion, one of the most exciting of all the Game of Thrones filming locations is Castle Ward. (Home to Winterfell and where we are introduced to key characters in S1E1 Winter is Coming). Castle Ward is a 16th-century tower that sits on 820 walled acres of gardens and woodland. It’s also the exterior of where Bran falls from a window, arguably one of the most memorable scenes in the series.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

William giving production notes.

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

Where Bran fell. This is real life Winterfell.

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

 

But your experience doesn’t stop at a pretty property and an infamous tower. Here you’ll get to meet with the great folks at Winterfell Tours who will get you into costume and teach you a thing or two about archery with their official Game of Thrones Experience.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, winterfell

 

The Twins & The Red Wedding

 

Another unforgettable spot among the many Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland is the where the Red Wedding was filmed. Known for hundreds of years as Audley’s Castle, the tower is one of “the Twins”, the other being CG. Scenes filmed here are; Ned’s picnic, Robb’s camp, where Robb Stark meets Talisa, the Twins, where Brienne confronts the Stark men, where Alton Lannister is imprisoned with Jamie, the Baelor Battlefield and the Lannister camp (S2E4 Garden of Bones).

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the red wedding, the twins, audleys castle

The Twins, or twin in real life. Also the Red Wedding.

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the red wedding, the twins

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the red wedding, the twins, chrosta thompson

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, the red wedding, the twins, christa thompson

Inside the tower!

 

In Closing

 

Take all your comic cons, all your geek toy hoarding, all your binge watching and social sharing, then smush them all together into a big ball of epic. That’s what it’s like to find yourself exploring Game of Thrones Territory. It’s true when people tell you Ireland is beautiful in every stretch, cave, and corner, it’s all true. There is no other fandom experience that I have had, which is filled with as much geekdom as this. None. Period.

 

Game of thrones filming locations in northern ireland, tollymore forest, christa thompson, emma loggins

With my Geek Girl Travel partner in crime, Emma Loggins who joined me on this journey through Westeros.

 

If you experienced the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland or want to know more, share your thoughts in the comments below And follow my adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


About Christa Thompson

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Christa Thompson is the Founder and Senior Editor of The Fairytale Traveler. Christa has been traveling the world since 2003 when she attended a summer abroad study at the University of Cambridge in England. Since then, her wanderlust has been fierce. Her three passions in life are her son, traveling, and being creative. The Fairytale Traveler brand gives Christa the opportunity to do all of these things and to live intentionally every day. "It's never too late to believe in what you love and to pursue your dreams." -Christa Thompson

39 Comments on this post

  1. Well, damn! Now I need to book a trip to Ireland. This is amazing.

    thistalkaintcheap / Reply
  2. Oh my god, what beautiful views! I better think of Ireland, as my next vacation destination.

  3. I’ve never watched Games of Thrones before but it’s always so fun to visit where it was filmed. It’s so interesting and feels like you are reliving inside the tv show!! Ireland looks like an amazing place to travel.

  4. The country has excellent scenery.. Added to bucket list..

    Dinesh / Reply
  5. Looks amazing! Great photos. I’ve never been able to get into the series but my other half watches them back to back! Drives me mad lol

    Chelsea Elizabeth / Reply
  6. […] Fancy a trip to Ireland? Here’s a travel guide to exploring GoT filming locations! […]

  7. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones but I know a lot of people who would love to visit the places it was filmed and live out this fantasy. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland though and these pictures are breathtaking and make me want to go even more.

    sierraschomburg / Reply
  8. What an adventure this is. Wow, I don’t watch this show but know that it is madly popular. This makes me want to watch it now to see some of this awesome scenery!

    Kimberly C. / Reply
  9. I’m such a big fan of Game of Thrones and I’ve been to Belfast twice now for GoT related reasons (1st was a day trip to see the GoT exhibition & 2nd was for Belfast Comic Con) but I’ve yet to do an actual tour of the filming locations but it’s definitely something I want to do because it all looks so amazing!! Northern Ireland is such a beautiful place xoxo

    Cate / Reply
  10. Good to know capital city of Northern Ireland’s. Wow photos are really looks great. I can feel that you thoroughly experienced the beauty of city. Thanks for sharing.

    Vijay / Reply
  11. This looks so cool. I love how indepth the tour looks, and all the signposts telling you what happened there. The whole place looks beautiful as well!

    Samantha Bye / Reply
  12. I am not a GOT fan but the pics and your blog really have peaked my interest. I would love to go to Ireland and visit The Spaniard Pub.

  13. I have to put my hands I put and confess, I’ve never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones, and it’s really not my kinda thing, but… I have been to Northern Ireland a fair bit as an ex boyfriend lived in Ballynahinch in Co. Antrim, so I know just how beautiful a place it is – you’ve managed to capture that beauty in all your photos! X

    beccajtalbot / Reply
  14. Oh this looks like so much fun! I have never watched the show, but my husband loves it. Wouldn’t mind going there with him just for the fun of it! Great pics btw!

    ourliveswithbella / Reply
  15. Of course just seeing the beginning of season seven last night has me excited about this. I love Game of Thrones and a trip to Ireland to see all of the location settings would be awesome.

    toastycritic / Reply
  16. Well, now I want to visit and watch the Game of Thrones. LOL. That is absolutely beautiful. When is our next trip? LOL

    Via Bella / Reply
  17. I have purposely avoided GoT mainly because I didn’t watch it from the beginning and have no desire to binge. But everytime I catch bits and pieces, i really regret it. How fortunate to have visited where they’ve filmed. It looks like it was tons of fun. 🙂

    Angela East / Reply
  18. Wow, I always kinda forget that GOT is such a big franchise! Belfast looks amazing though

    frederika / Reply
  19. I want to see Ireland and I want to see the location where Games of Thrones were shot. The photos really looks great! By just looking at them seems adventurous already. Thanks for sharing

    Kelly Reci / Reply
  20. My son and I would love to visit GOT shooting locations. So cool.

  21. I want to see Ireland for this reason too. I love GOT and it’s amazing that you get to wear their costumes and feel it.

    Surekha / Reply
  22. this is great i planning this one for my upcoming week !! Your pictures really pushing me to book this tour right now

    travelnidajourney / Reply
  23. […] I caught on to how Mr. Owl worked, I was eager to share my latest article about Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland. It seemed timely leading up to the premiere of Game of Thrones Season 7 last […]

  24. love seeing all the great places including beautiful nature but I am not familiar with this show at all

    angie / Reply
  25. I want to see every single place you mention here! What a fun way to “do” Northern Ireland! I love the idea of dressing up Game of Thrones style.

    Rachel Heller / Reply
  26. […] of this article. I was invited as a guest of Northern Ireland to explore these locations along with film locations on an all expenses paid trip to Belfast and the northern coast. This in no way shaped my opinions […]

  27. […] And with the northern coast of the emerald isle being known for its astounding natural beauty, the Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland is a must see for everyone. Even if you’re not a […]

  28. Wow, that’s so cool. I am big fan of GOT, and would love to visit all those places. Thank you for sharing!

    Courtney Blacher / Reply
  29. Amazing! I love Game of Thrones, so I would love to go to the filming locations! Winterfell Tours sounds like an awesome company:) Will check it out sometime!

    Helene Choo / Reply
  30. Wow. That was one fantastic experience! Northern Ireland is so pretty, So idyllic! I wish I would get a chance to see those Game of Thrones movie locations too.

    Kristine Nicole Alessandra / Reply
  31. I love Game of Thrones and plan to visit Northern Ireland in Spring of 2018. I appreciate this guide. It will help me be more strategic during my visit rather than just winging it!

    Queens of Virtue / Reply
  32. Those are such a great place to visit. I will definitely put this on my bookmark as my future references to my next travel visit.

    Elizabeth O / Reply
  33. THIS IS AWESOME!!! We are huge GoT fans- I need to get in on this locations tour!

    Chelley Martinka / Reply
  34. OMG! Totally jealous of this adventure! Keeping this on my bookmarked pages! Thank you for sharing! Truly a bucketlist for all Game of Throne fans 🙂

    Ruth / Reply
  35. Wow! Would love to visit the place too, soon! Looks amazing!

    RonRon / Reply

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