LONDON As summer draws to a close, Game of Thrones fans might be beginning to feel the creeping chill of a long, Westeros-less Winter as the comedown from Season 6 gives way to withdrawals during the excruciating wait for Season 7.
What better way to fill the Throne-less void than with a GoT themed vacation?
From glaciers to gardens, the following trips are based not just on filming locations, but attempt to capture the distinguishing spirit and lifestyle of Houses Martell, Targaryen, Lannister, Stark and the Free Folk.
House Martell Seville, Spain
Prideful and passionate, House Martell is also known for its dedication to the pursuit of pleasure, so prepare yourself for a sensuous trip intended to beguile the senses. The Kingdom of Dorne is located in the continent of Westeros southernmost region, so youll be heading to sunny Seville to enjoy some arid weather, fine wine, and the rich cultural heritage of medieval Spain that heavily inspired the Dornish kingdom.
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As is Dornish wine, Andalucian wine is considered a top notch import around the globe, so oenophiles be sure to plan a visit to a local winery. The regions gastronomy scene also deserves its due: tapas served with a Mediterranean flair and Sevilles prized oranges and olives will undoubtedly summon to mind the flavours of Dornish cuisine.
Seville is also the birthplace of the sexy Flamencodance, an incredibly powerful performance that captures the essence of Spains unique cultural and political legacy. Much as Spain has a distinctive lifestyle and history from the rest of Europe, House Martell is socially and culturally independent from the rest of Westeros catch a Flamenco show to get into the spirit!
As you meander through the hazy streets of Andalucias capital city, you’ll notice the incredible Moorish architecture that is used to illustrate the Dorne capital, Sunspear. Be sure to visit the Alczar of Seville, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the filming location for the incredible Water Gardens.
If you fancy a day trip, there are several spots not far from Seville used for filming in Dorne and beyond. An hour outside the city, you can visit the Plaza de Toros in the town of Osuna used to film the fighting pit scene in Meereen. The province of Crdoba is less than an hour away by train and offers two additional GoT filming locations: the Roman bridge of Crdoba appears as the Long Bridge of Volantis in Seasons 2 and 5, and Castillo de Almodvar del Ro, a Roman fort with Berber origins, makes an appearance at the start of Season 7. Alternatively, you can take a quick bus ride just outside the Seville city limits to the Roman ruins of Italica, where you can explore a well-preserved amphitheater also used in Season 7.
House Targaryen Morocco
Formerly one of the most powerful families in Westeros, the remaining members of House Targaryen now live mostly in exile on the continent of Essos, plotting their return to power. To capture the thrill of Daenerys’ campaign to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms, Morocco offers an incredible destination for those that are drawn to the Bay of Dragons’ dramatic coastline set against the harsh desert and that have a keen thirst for adventure.
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Vaes Dothrak, the only city in the Dothraki Sea, boasts a large bazaar called the Western Market where merchants from around the world gather to sell their goods. You will recall the marketplace in Season 1 as the place where Khaleesi survived a wineseller’s assassination attempt ordered by King Robert Baratheon. To capture the chaos and vibrancy of the market, lose yourself in the colourful souks of Marrakech a labyrinth of exotic sights and scents. While you needn’t fear assassination, do avoid drinking tap water and prepare to barter hard for any treasures you find.
For the truly intrepid seeking a profoundly experiential vacation, Berber desert camping is a must. Arrange to have a guide lead you through the rolling Atlas Mountains deep into the vast Moroccan wilderness. Berber sleeping tents are admittedly more cushy than Dothraki dwellings, but sleeping beneath the stars with an ancient nomadic tribe should give you the gist of life with the khalasar.
Filming for GoT in Morocco took place in Season 3 primarily to depict scenes from Slaver’s Bay. To experience Yunkai, visit the centuries-old earthen dwellings known as the Ksar of At Benhaddou, a UNESCO world heritage site that has been featured in over 20 major films, including Gladiator and The Mummy. In the oceanside Medina of Essaouira, another UNESCO site, you will recognize scenes from Astapor, home of the Unsullied. The city’s landmark Skala de la Ville was used to depict the Astapor battlements and offers some breathtaking views of traditional North African architecture cast against a coastal backdrop.
House Lannister Dubrovnik, Croatia
Currently reigning House of the Seven Kingdoms, the Lannisters are also the wealthiest dynasty in Westeros. To experience the splendour of life at King’s Landing under the Lannister regime, the Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik is the perfect place. The famously rocky shores and sparkling waters of this Mediterranean oasis make frequent appearances in GoT, predominantly to illustrate the dynamic King’s Landing.
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To truly capture the Lannister experience in Dubrovnik, one need only stride about its rocky passages and gaze intensely to sea, scheming how best to maintain your power. But when you need to recuperate from all that angst, explore Dubrovnik’s world-class dining scene for a feast fit for a Lannister. If you’re feeling really extravagant la Tyrion, Restaurant 360 is a Michelin Star eatery that serves classic Mediterranean dishes. For the Cersei sympathiser, Croatian viticulture is an art certainly worth appreciating.
While exploring this Dalmatian city’s winding pathways, you will undoubtedly come across the Stradun, a main pedestrian street paved with limestone that runs through the centre of the historic Old Town. The bustling Stradun was used to film a portion of Cersei’s infamous Walk of Penance in Season 5. To view the staircase used at the start of that scene, visit the incredible St. Ignatius Church to see the grand Jesuit Stairs.
Just a quick bus ride outside of Dubrovnik, you can explore Trsteno Arboretum, the filming location of the Red Keep’s exquisite palace gardens. You will recall these gardens in Season 3 as the spot where Sansa lunches with Olenna and Margaery Tyrell in a gazebo with sweeping views of the sea.
House Stark Northern Ireland
Why Northern Ireland?
Diehard devotees of the noble House Stark will find that the rugged natural beauty of Northern Ireland provides an authentic impression of life in the North; indeed, the region is widely featured throughout the GoT series. For the traveler who enjoys the great outdoors and a more rustic environment akin to the Stark’s traditional home of Winterfell, Northern Ireland is the ultimate GoT vacation location.
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Production HQ for the series is based at Paint Hall studios in Belfast where many of the show’s interior sets are located. Although you cannot currently tour the studios, several independently operated guide companies offer themed tours out of the Northern Ireland capital city that will take you to other filming locations. Some such as the Winterfell Tours even offer cosplay opportunities and the chance to demonstrate your prowess as an archer.
To truly get into a Stark-state-of-mind, Tollymore Forest Park is an excellent place to channel your inner direwolf on a hike. Roam the enchanting leaf-strewn foothills of the Mourne Mountains used as the backdrop for the discovery of the orphaned wolf pups.
As mentioned, GoT filming location tours are numerous throughout Northern Ireland, but for the fan who’s seeking a more solitary experience, an application is available that maps the publicly accessible filming locations dotted around Northern Ireland, allowing for self-guided exploration. Highlights include the misty moors of Caircastle, used in scenes from Season’s 1, 4 and 5 such as Eddard Stark’s somber execution of a Night’s Watch deserter, and Castle Ward, an 18th century mansion used to depict much of Winterfell’s exterior. Open year-round, the castle sits on 820 acres of rolling heathlands overlooking the shores of Strangford Lough.
Free Folk Iceland
Do you find yourself identifying less with Westeros’ noble houses and more with the wildlings braving the seemingly uninhabitable geography and sub-zero temperatures beyond the Wall? For the fan of the Free Folk, the harsh beauty of Iceland offers breathtaking insight into what life in the “the real North” might entail.
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To truly experience the North, sign up to take a guided glacier walk and immerse yourself in the arctic environment used to depict the unruly realm north of the Wall. Tours are offered on Glacier Svinafellsjokull, an outlet near Skaftafell National Park that was used in filming.
When you need to recover from exploring in its frigid climate, Iceland’s natural hot springs offer a relaxing escape from the cold. Grjtagj is the name of the small cave where Jon and Ygritte have sex in a geothermal spring, and you can also bathe in the soothing waters of this popular tourist spot although maybe refrain from engaging in any on-site reenactments.
Filming to depict the frozen wilderness beyond the Wall such as the Fist of the First Man and the Frostfang Mountains largely took part on actual glaciers. Locations used for those scenes include Snfellsjkull, a stratovolcano covered by a glacier, and the rugged region of Hfabrekkuheii. You can also visit Dimmuborgir, a large, frozen lava field near Mvatn Lake where scenes from Mance Rayder’s wildling army camp were shot in Season 3.
[H/T Game of Thrones Wikia]
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