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Where was Game of Thrones Filmed?
Game Of Thrones Film Locations and Tours in Europe and Beyond
There is no doubt that Game of Thrones showed us some incredible landscapes and beautiful cities over the year. Of course, many of the places look quite a bit different in real life, but it is still fun to visit some of the most iconic Game of Thrones film locations. So where was Game of Thrones filmed?
Most scenes of Game of Thrones were filmed in Northern Ireland and we already published a post about the top Game of Thrones Tours from Belfast and Dublin. This post also includes all the locations in Northern Ireland, top tour recommendations and all the info about the Game of Thrones App.
But in this post, we want to go a little deeper and share where Game of Thrones was filmed all over Europe and even in Morocco, so you can visit the 7 Kingdoms on your travels. Let me take you on a GOT Filming Location World Tour!
Northern Ireland Game of Thrones Film Locations
Dunluce Castle – Greyjoy Castle
If you want to check out the stronghold of the Greyjoy family, Greyjoy Castle, then you have to travel up to Northern Ireland to see its real-life counterpart, the beautiful Dunluce Castle. There are parts of coastal Northern Ireland that really feel like you are in an episode of Game of Thrones itself! Located near the town of Bushmills, Dunluce Castle is a medieval castle that is perched out on the edge of the ocean.
The creators of the show went a little overboard with the CGI so the castle in the TV show looks a bit different in real life but still manages to be amazingly breathtaking! The castle is in ruins and slowly falling away into the sea but you can pay to go in and explore the grounds and learn about the history of the site.
Aside from the castle, there is a really interesting cave that you can explore underneath the castle. If you do end up in Dunluce Castle and want to see more epic Northern Irish locations, head on over to Kinbane Castle, which is only a short drive away.
Ballintoy – Pyke, Iron Islands
Ballintoy is a village on the coast of Co Antrim with a small fishing harbor located at the end of a narrow, steep road down Knocksaughey hill. It was used as the location of Pyke, one of the eight major Iron Islands. The Village itself has a population of 165 and the Harbour has been used for centuries by fishermen on the North Antrim Coast.
Nearby you will find Dunluce Castle also used in the Game of Thrones series, Larrybane which was used for Renly Baratheon’s camp in the Stormlands, and where Brienne of Tarth was named to Renly’s Kingsguard in Season 2. Ballintoy hosts a dawn service every Easter Sunday and is home to some of the best views on the Causeway Coastal Route of Northern Island.
Pyke is the largest of the Iron Islands ruled by the Greyjoys and home to Theon and his sister Yara. Ballintoy Harbour was used in Season 2 where Theon is seen sailing home and arrives back in the Iron Islands and where he first sees his ship, the Sea Bitch. This is also where he first meets his sister Yara. The beach at Ballintoy is used for the scene where Theon is baptized into the religion of the Drowned God. The beach was also used for Dragonstone in season 4 when Melisandre burns at the stake several of Stannis’ bannermen who refuse to stop worshipping The Seven. Once again in Season 6 episodes 2 and 5 the Harbour was used in the scenes where Euron Greyjoy returns home and kills Yara and Theon’s father and is named King.
Dark Hedges – The King’s Road
There are multiple Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland. So much so, there are even tour companies offering GoT-themed tours. However, with a little research, you can find them on your own. But be warned, they can get extremely busy – especially in the summer months.
One of the most iconic, and therefore extremely popular, Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland is The Dark Hedges. If you only see one, this is it. The unique, scenic road is lined with twisted beech trees and makes for stunning photos – if you happen to get there at a slow time (plan for early morning!)
In the beloved series, it is known as part of ‘The King’s Road’- shown first in Season 2, Episode 1: The North Remembers. In the iconic scene, Arya Stark and others are on their way to join the Night’s Watch. If you are lucky, perhaps the same foggy scene will greet you on your visit!
While you certainly wouldn’t be the first person to travel all the way to Northern Ireland to see Game of Thrones filming locations in person, there are many other beautiful places nearby that shouldn’t be missed. Only a 30-minute drive from The Dark Hedges is Giant’s Causeway – a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with unique rock formations. It is not to be missed! Visits to Dunluce Castle and Glenariff Forest Park are also highly recommended. And since you’ll likely be flying in and out of Belfast, be sure to make time to explore everything this interesting city has to offer – including its link to the infamous Titanic.
Castle Ward – Winterfell
When you think about how fantastic the CGI is in the Game of Thrones, you wouldn’t imagine that you could walk on the streets of Winterfell and feel the atmosphere from the series, in real life. However, in Northern Ireland, 40 minutes away from Belfast, lays Old Castle Ward, the filming location of Winterfell. As soon as you step through the main gate memories from the first season of the series will start to come up. You will clearly notice the corner from where Arya Stark was shooting arrows much better than Bran.
Winterfell Castle & Demesne, as Castle Ward is called today, has been transformed into a tourist attraction where you can enjoy a medieval banquet, practice your bow and arrow skills, and even meet two special guests from the series: the direwolves! The grounds of Castle Ward, due to their diversity, were used to film many different scenes from Game of Thrones. You can take a guided tour around the area to discover them all. You can also rent a bike or spend the night at the property. Castle Ward is open every day from 9 AM until 5 PM.
Cushenden – Stormlands
Cushenden is a lovely seaside village in County Antrim, on Northern Ireland’s stunning Causeway Coast. It’s a tiny place, with less than 200 residents, sandwiched between Cushendall and Ballycastle. One of the main reasons visitors come to Cushenden, as I did while on a Northern Ireland road trip, is to visit the Cushenden Caves. The rugged Cushendun Caves were formed over a period of 400 million years, and are set right on the coast.
It’s a stunning spot and it’s easy to see why they were chosen as a filming location for Game of Thrones. They featured early on in the show, in season 2, episode 4 as the Stormlands. It was here that Ser Davos Seaworth and Melisandre arrived in a rowing boat, and Melisandre then gave birth to the shadow baby/assassin. The Cushenden Caves were also used to film series 8 of Game of Thrones, although it’s not yet clear which episode they were featured in. There is a sign with some information on the episode, but otherwise, nothing here to indicate filming took place.
The caves are easily accessible by foot along the coast from the village. After visiting the caves, grab some lunch in one of the village pubs before moving on to your next GOT location!
Boyne Canal – A Game of Thrones Experience
Boyne Canal The Battle of the Boyne was Ireland’s real-life Game of Thrones – and paddling a ‘currach’ down the Boyne Canal has a connection with both Irish history and the Game of Thrones tale. A currach, which is a traditional Irish boat, falls somewhere between a rowboat and a canoe. It has rib frame and is made of wood, and has such a unique look it was used in the Game of Thrones series. On a Boyne Canal tour, you can paddle a currach yourself – in fact, it might even be one that was used in the series.
Taking a tour of this newly-restored canal in Meath County is fascinating for history as well as lush scenery, and is a good way to learn about the Battle of the Boyne, a ferocious battle fought in 1690, one that sowed the bitter seeds of dissent between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland.
Ideal for both families and history buffs, the King’s Boat Tour is an easy 90 -minute guided trip on the canal. It’s good to combine it with a visit to the Battle of the Boyne Visitor Centre, where there is parkland to explore, interactive displays and a model of the battle site. The Visitor’s Centre is located in Oldbridge House, which dates back to the 1880s.
The Boyne Boats Adventure is based in Oldbridge, Drogheda, Ireland, County Meath. Tel: +353 86 361 6420. Cost is 20 Euros per person.
Where was Game of Thrones Filmed in Croatia
Trogir – Trading Harbor Qarth
The town of Trogir is located 30 km north of the city of Split in Croatia. The town is recognized as one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trogir is located on a small islet between the Croatian mainland and the island of Ciovo and is accessible by bridge.
The town is small and only takes about 30 minutes to walk around but I would recommend stopping along the way to admire the many beautiful buildings you will see. The narrow streets are full of character and although it is busy in the summer months there are lots of cafes in the town squares to find some shade and a cool drink. In the town don’t miss the Cathedral of St Lawrence with its stunning entrance – the Portal of Radovan. For great view of the entire town climb up to the belfry in the Cathedral. The waterfront promenade is an ideal location for a drink or an ice cream and a great place to admire the many boats moored in the harbor.
Trogir makes an appearance in season 2 episode 6 of Game of Thrones as the trading harbor of Qarth. It is described as the “greatest city that ever was or will be” and is where Khaleesi’s dragons have been imprisoned by the warlocks of Qarth. Many of the scenes were filmed at St Dominic’s Monastery in the town. Trogir is an easy day trip from Split on public transport or on a tour. It is a beautiful town and well worth adding into your Croatian itinerary.
Dubrovnik – King’s Landing
If you’re looking for Game of Thrones filming locations in Europe, you’re hard pressed to do better than Dubrovnik! This city is basically synonymous with the famous TV series, as the majority of the shots of King’s Landings were filmed here. There are countless filming locations in Dubrovnik, so many that several Game of Thrones-themed tours have cropped up.
Here are a few of the most famous Game of Thrones Film locations that are certainly worth a visit during your trip to Dubrovnik. The Dubrovnik Walls, obviously, are a major fixture in Game of Thrones and walking them is a must. While it’s not cheap – at the nearly raised fee of 200 kuna, about $30 USD – walking the walls of this UNESCO city is simply a must on any Game of Thrones lover’s bucket list.
Another must-visit is Fort Lovrijenac, which forms part of the Red Keep (though it is heavily CGIed to be more impressive) – luckily, this is included in the hefty price of walking the Dubrovnik Walls, so definitely hang onto your ticket! You shouldn’t miss the West Pier down at the base of the city walls, which is Blackwater Bay in the show — the sight of one of the most famous battles in Game of Thrones history.
And if you’re itching to sit on the Iron Throne, you can sit on it (well, a replica) in the Lokrum Visitor Center, a small island just off of Dubrovnik (it’s also the setting for some of the scenes in Qarth). For one of the more offbeat Game of Thrones filming spots, do a day trip from Dubrovnik to Trsteno just 18 kilometers away to see the beautiful arboretum, which stands in for the Palace Gardens in the series.
Trsteno Arboretum Botanical Gardens – King’s Landing Gardens (Season 3&4)
The Trsteno Arboretum Botanical Gardens in Croatia featured as the King’s Landing gardens in Seasons 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones. The cliffside Trsteno Arboretum Gardens overlook the Adriatic Sea and are located just outside Dubrovnik. The lush green gardens are believed to date back to the 15th Century and were once the summer residence of the noble Gozze family. The gardens were created when the Gozze family requested that ship captains returning to Dubrovnik bring back seed and plants from their travels across the globe.
Trsteno Arboretum sprung to life. The gardens first appeared in Game of Thrones in ‘Dark Wings, Dark Words’ (Season 3, Episode 3). Sansa met with her grandmother in the gardens’ beautiful pergola overlooking the sea. Known as the Tyrell family gardens, Sansa and Lady Olenna Tyrell discuss whether Joffery will be a good husband for Margarey. They later appeared in ‘Frist of His Name (Season 4, Episode 5) when Oberyn promised Cercei he will have a gift delivered to Mycrella.
Trsteno Arboretum is easily accessible from Dubrovnik and is adjacent to the seaside village of Zayton. The highlights include two giant 500-year-old plane trees, Japanese banana trees, and cactus as well as a fountain overlooked by statues of Neptune and two nymphs.
This tour from Dubrovnik includes a visit to the Trsteno Arboretum.
Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Spain
Italica – Dragon Pit King’s Landing
Italica lies just 15 minutes by taxi from the Seville city center. the Italica site was the birthplace of 2 Roman Emperors and ty site of one of the largest Roman Amphitheatre outside the capital. Today Italica is known as one of the many outstanding filming locations from Game of Thrones. It is home to the Dragonpit in King’s Landing, the place where the old Targaryen kings used to keep their dragons. It was where Sersi, Kahlisi and John Snow all came together for a meeting to discuss the white walkers.
There was a bit of CGI Tv magic used when filming but Italica itself proved to be an amazing location. So much so that game of Thrones returned to film again in Season 8. Itallica is my favorite location because of its age. The city was founded in 206bc in a time where life would have been similar to Game of Thrones. Power struggles between kingdoms would have been happening, kings and queens would have been coming and going. Game of Thrones, in this case, may have actually mirrored life.
Real Alcazar de Sevilla – Sunspear, Dorne
While walking along the immaculately-maintained Real Alcazar de Sevilla, our guide suddenly stopped and pointed at the small fountain square within the complex. She explained that this was the primary filming location for the Dorne and the Water Gardens in Season 5. The 700-year-old former royal palace in Spain has been used for the Water Gardens in the fictional city of Sunspear, seat of the House Martell and capital of Dorne. The Ambassadors’ Hall, Mercury’s Pool, the Baths of Maria de Padilla, and the gardens have been extensively used in the series for various scenes.
Devoted fans can sign up for the Game of Thrones tour of the place to learn more about how the hit HBO series shot here, how much they paid per day for shooting and other tidbits. There are no cutouts or caricatures of the series here – yet – so you can experience the place without feeling its too tacky or touristy.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – Dragonstone
The church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a must-see if you’re visiting the Basque Country. Back in the ninth century, this small isle was transformed into a peninsula with a stone bridge that climbs the slope up to the church. For centuries, it has faced pirate attacks, outbreaks of war and fires. Thus, it has even rebuilt many times, the last one a few years ago.
The place has always been much visited by locals and foreigners alike. However, the influx of tourists has increased tenfold since the location was featured on Game of Thrones. If you didn’t know, San Juan de Gaztelugaxte has become Dragonstone, a spectacular island fortress located at the coast of Blackwater Bay.
The main access is along the route from Baquio to Bermeo, not far from Bilbao. The best time to visit San Juan is during spring or autumn, so you can enjoy the place in peace. Actually, you’ll find the best weather from June to August, but the place can get quite crowded in those months. Admission is free, although you’ll need to get a ticket (they use it to control the number of visitors). Tickets are sold at the access point and also online. I recommend that you book your ticket online if you’re visiting the place during the high season. There are not many activities to do on the island, as it is pretty tiny. However, the walk up to the church offers incredible views of the Basque coast. The scenery is truly spectacular.
Cáceres – King’s Landing (Season 5 & 7)
If you love medieval towns and Game of Thrones, Cáceres is the place for you. Cáceres is located 3 hours south-west of Madrid and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Like many Spanish towns, Cáceres has a rich history and contains a spectacular mix of Roman, Islamic, Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
When you step into Cáceres Old Town, you will think you have stepped back in time. There are hardly any cars or tourists to be seen, and the stone buildings are still in impeccable condition. A favorite thing to do is wander through the charming medieval streets without a schedule or destination in mind. At some point, you’ll find yourself in the main square, Plaza Mayor and from there you can admire the impressive city wall, dating back to Roman times.
For a small fee, you can climb parts of the walls for views over the town and the chance to feel like you’re living your own Game of Thrones scene. For fans of the show, you might recognize some of the buildings and streets from Season 7. Cáceres replaced Dubrovnik as the filming location for Kings Landing for Season 7. You can retrace the steps Euron Greyjoy took when he proudly paraded his captives, Yarra Greyjoy, Ellaria Sand and Tyene Sand through the streets of Kings Landing. It was also the backdrop for when Sam and Gilly left the Citadel and Old Town in Episode 5.
Osuna – Daznak’s Pit (Season 5)
Osuna, situated halfway between Seville and Malaga is one of the most charming beautiful small towns in Andalusia. In Spain, it was always known for its beautiful baroque houses and palaces. In addition, the beautiful street of Calle San Pedro is one of the most beautiful streets in Southern Spain, as also recognized by the UNESCO.
Nevertheless, Osuna was put on the map for foreign travelers, when it was picked as a location for Game of Thrones Season 5. Amongst several scenes that were filmed in the area, the most famous is the mass murder committed by the Sons of Harphy in Daznak’s pit, which was filmed in the local bullfight arena. People from Osuna are proud of their involvement in the shooting of these scenes, and there’s an exhibition in town with original Game of Thrones filming material and some restaurants even named dishes after the main characters of the series.
Girona – Sept of Baelor/Braavos
If you’re a huge Game of Thrones fan (like me!), I highly recommend visiting the Catalonian town of Girona! Girona can be done as an easy and convenient day trip from Barcelona (trains run regularly and only take 1.5 hours) and I certainly enjoyed exploring the streets of Girona’s old town.
One of the most famous attractions in Girona is the big Cathedral, which you might recognize as the Sept of Baelor – the location where Jaimie and the Tyrell troops tried to stop Margaery’s walk of atonement in season 6.
Girona was not only used as Kings Landing – but it’s also the place where Arya’s storyline in Braavos took place! You’ll find the narrow streets where Arya was chased by the Waive, the bridge from where she fell into the river (spoiler: there’s no water below the real bridge!) and the plaza where the theater scene took place. You also shouldn’t miss the Arab Baths, where Arya and the Waif had some scenes as well during their fight.
The good thing about all of this? Compared to other filming locations such as the dark hedges and Dubrovnik, Girona is much less crowded and touristic and you might even have some of the locations just for yourself!
Almeria – House Martell/Meereen/Dothraki Kingdom
Spain has been used as a Game of Thrones location since the early series, and while places like Girona and Seville might be well-known filming spots, Almeria is a little further off the beaten path and less recognized.
Located in the southeast corner of Spain, Almeria is the driest place in Europe, so there’s plenty of sunshine and not a lot of rain. The city has a rich history, with Moorish and Catholic influences, and it’s close to some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain at Cabo de Gata National Park, as well as the Tabernas Desert, which was a popular spaghetti Western filming location. The tapas in the city are some of the best in Spain (in my opinion!) and usually come complimentary with your drink rather than incurring an extra charge like elsewhere.
But what where was Game of Thrones filmed in Almeria? There is a large Moorish fortress called the Alcazaba, that posed as the residence of the House Martell, in conjunction with the Alcazar in Seville. It’s free to visit for EU citizens and not often crowded at all, sometimes you will even have it all to yourself! Cabo de Data also featured, with part of Meereen located at Torre de Mesa Roldán. And of course, the dry desert featured as the land of the Dothraki.
Cordoba – Volantis/Highgarden
Two locations in the charming Spanish city of Cordoba have featured in Game of Thrones. The Roman Bridge in Cordoba was used to represent the Long Bridge of Volantis. Castillo Almodovar del Rio was the setting for the Highgarden, the residence of the House of Tyrell, and Casterly Rock.
Originally built in the 1st Century, the 16 arcades of the Roman Bridge in Cordoba span across the Guadalquivir River. It appears as the Long Bridge of Volantis In the Game of Thrones Episode ‘High Sparrow’ (Season 5, Episode 3). Tyrion Lannister and the Court Fixer, Varys, cross the Long Bridge on their journey from Pentos to Meereen. On the Long Bridge, the people of Volantis can buy goods and Tyrion and Varys pass houses, shops, and a brothel. The GOT production crew used CGI to enhance the Roman Bridge and the filming was completed in a studio, not on the bridge itself.
The stunning Castillo Almodovar del Rio is located just outside Cordoba. The castle appeared in ‘The Fall of Highgarden’ (Season 7, Episode 3). It featured the Lannister and Unsullied armies at Highgarden and Casterly Rock.
As well as being famous for its Game of Thrones filming locations, Cordoba is a beautiful city which wholly deserves to be explored. Its most famous attraction, the Mesquita Cathedral, is a highlight. It is also home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the historic center of Cordoba and The Caliphate city of Medina Azahara.
Where was Game of Thrones Tour Iceland
Iceland is where many of the “North of the Wall” scenes were filmed for Game of Thrones. If you don’t have a car, I recommend taking a Game of Thrones tour from Reykjavik.
Vik Black Sand Beach Reynisfjara – Eastwatch-by-the-Sea
The real-life Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach located in Vik, a city in southern Iceland, was one of the most memorable spots in season 7 of Game of Thrones. Its jet black sands along with geometric columns and foggy atmosphere made for a unique and moody vibe for the episode. In the hit HBO series, it was known as Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, a castle at the far eastern part of The Wall. Here, Jon Snow, Davos Seaworth, Jorah Mormont, and Gendry meet up with Tormund Giantsbane who has been commanding the castle.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the best places to visit in Iceland and is known for its beautifully geometric basalt columns, Reynisdrangar sea stack columns, and of course its black sand! In fact, this beach has been rated one of the most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world. This amazing black sand beach is great to explore, especially when the weather isn’t too windy, which admittedly is a bit rare. If you’re feeling peckish while at the beach, there is a visitor’s area with a cafeteria by the parking lot above the park. It’s a great place to warm up if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the wind at the beach.
Be sure to check out the small cave on the beach and definitely take in the views of the sea stacks amidst the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Legend has it that the stacks originated when two trolls were attempting to drag a three-masted ship onto land. However, day broke and they were unsuccessful and turned to stone.
Dimmuborgir – Mance Rayder’s Wildling Camp
During our visit to North Iceland, we stopped at the Lake Myvatn area, Godafoss, Akureyri, fumarole fields of Hverarond (Námaskarð) and other breathtaking vistas. You hear a lot about Iceland Golden Circle Tour, but you don’t hear much about Iceland Diamond Circle Tour which covers this lesser-known route of Godafoss, Lake Myvatn and the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss with an average water flow of 633 cubic feet per second.
One of the places on the tour was The Dimmuborgir area (Dark Castles) which consist of a massive, collapsed lava tube formed by a lava lake flowing in from a large eruption.
Dimmuborgir was the Games of Thrones setting for Mance Rayder’s wildling camp and was filmed during Iceland’s winter when there was plenty of snow and temperatures were as low as -10C. Dimmuborgir also served as the filming location in Season 3, where Sam Tarly and Lord Commander Mormont were attacked by White Walker where Ygritte steals Jon Snow’s sword.
Dimmuborgir translates literally to Dark Fortress. Some Icelanders even refer to Dimmuborgir as the Gateway to Hell since the rocks can be mistaken for mysterious creatures. Dimmuborgir is open to the public and is free to visit.
Grjótagjá Cave – Jon and Ygritte’s Love Cave
The frozen landscapes North of the Wall in Game of Thrones are both haunting and beautiful. You can find the snow-covered valleys and mountains of Northern Westeros in Iceland. While you won’t see the Wall or Castle Black, you can see other iconic Game of Thrones locations in Iceland.
One such iconic place can be found in Northern Iceland near the volcanic lake Mývatn. Grjótagjá Cave sits on private property just a short detour off the Ring Road. The owners of the property graciously opened the cave to tourists due to its popularity. In the show, as Jon Snow is moving with the wildlings to climb the wall in season 3, he and Ygritte take a detour into a cave that has a hot spring inside. The inside of the actual cave is just as steamy as the scene of Jon and Ygritte.
A difference you will notice is that it is not as spacious and there is no waterfall inside. Grjótagjá Cave was a hot spring used by locals until a volcanic eruption caused the water to boil in the 1970s. It has since calmed down but has been known to rise sharply in temperature occasionally, and rocks fall at times. Due to this instability, it is clearly marked that you should not swim in the cave and to enter at your own risk. There are places to hold onto if you choose to enter the cave. It is humid, but the water is a beautiful clear blue. There were three places to enter the cave, so take your time to explore each one!
Based on my own experiences inside the cave and the events that take place after they left, Jon and Ygritte should not have left that cave. Other things to see nearby include Hverir, Hverfjall Crater, and Mývatn. The landscape in this part of Iceland was heavily impacted by volcanic activity, and it shows! Pretend that a dragon could fly over at any moment, look out for white walkers, and have an adventure!
Where was Game of Thrones Filmed in Scotland
Doune Castle – Winterfell (Season 1)
If you’ve watched Game of Thrones since the very beginning, Doune Castle will likely feel very familiar. That’s because all of the Winterfell scenes in the series’ first few episodes were shot there, including the jaw-dropping one in which Jamie Lannister pushes Bran Stark out one of the tower windows after he’s caught spying on Jamie and Cersei.
But this is hardly Doune Castle’s first brush with cinematic fame: It was also featured in Ivanhoe (both Liz Taylor’s 1952 film and the 1996 BBC adaptation), Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Outlander, and numerous other films and TV shows.
As a result, Doune has become one of the most popular castles among visitors to Scotland. Doune is strategically located in Scotland’s Stirling district, where the Ardoch Burn and the River Teith meet, making it a fairly easy day trip from Edinburgh.
It was built in the 14th century for Robert Stewart, the great-grandson of Robert the Bruce and a Regent who ruled for both his father (King Robert II) and his elder brother (King Robert III). After his death in 1420, the castle served as a hunting lodge and retreat for Scottish royals for centuries. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed in the rooms above the kitchen. her son King James (who ruled England, Ireland, and Scotland) visited on occasion and had the castle renovated, and Bonnie Prince Charlie occupied it during the famous Jacobite Rising of 1745 before his Highlanders were defeated at the brutal Battle of Culloden.
If you visit Doune Castle today, get there when they open if you’re traveling in summer and want to avoid the large organized tour groups. Our advice is to avoid guided tours altogether and go for the audio tours, which are narrated by Monty Python’s Terry Jones or Outlander star Sam Heughan (depending on which track you choose). Using sound effects and vivid descriptions, the audio tracks really bring the ancient castle’s medieval history to life, with signs throughout the castle cueing you on when to move to the next section. It’s sure to be a highlight for any Game of Thrones fan.
Malta Game of Thrones Film Locations
Mdina – King’s Landing (Season 1)
Before filming moved to Croatia in Season Two, Mdina on the island of Malta was used as the set of King’s Landing. You’ll find filming locations scattered all over the island including the wedding of Daenerys and Khal Drogo at the Azure Window before it collapsed in 2017 and many exterior shots filmed at the capital of Valletta.
However, Mdina, also known as the ‘Silent City’, features some of the most recognizable locations. The small fortified city was once the capital of Malta until the 1500s when the population moved over to Valletta. Now it’s home to only a few hundred people and it’s the quiet and peaceful streets that give Mdina its nickname. You’ll mostly hear the sounds of quiet chatter and horse-drawn carriages as you walk around the city. Aside from the multiple filming locations from the series, the city is home to many restaurants, museums, boutique shops and narrow streets to explore.
Arguably the most recognizable scene filmed in Mdina is the fight between Ned Stark and Jaime Lannister outside of Littlefinger’s brothel from Episode 5 – The Wolf and the Lion. As Ned leaves the pleasure house, he’s ambushed by Jaime and his guards which results in Ned being stabbed. Although some of the fixtures were changed or covered up, the small courtyard is instantly recognizable from the columns and crosshatched roof above the brothel.
Despite providing the series with some fantastic shots and locations, filming in Malta was not without controversy. Rumors suggest the show was banned from filming on the island after allegedly causing damage to the local ecosystem. The crew subsequently relocated King’s Landing to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Gozo – Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen Wedding
Even though this scene takes place in the very first episode of the entire series, any Game of Thrones fan can remember the wedding between Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen. The marriage was arranged to forge a strategic alliance and access to the Dothraki army. Khal Drogo and his new Khaleesi receive their gifts with the Azure Window and ocean scene as the backdrop. Daenerys watches the violent Dothraki celebration in disgust and shock. After all, it’s considered a “dull affair” to have less than three deaths at a Dothraki wedding.
In Game of Thrones, the scene takes places in a continent far from Westeros and the Seven Kingdoms. Today, you can actually visit the rocky landscape on the island country of Malta located between Italy and Africa. The Azure Window was along the coastline of the tiny island of Gozo. In 2017, the natural arch collapsed during a storm. The limestone formation has changed from the viewpoint for most tourists above water, but the scenery underwater is attracting even more scuba divers today. If you don’t scuba dive, the landscape and rock formations are still interesting and worth visiting for any GOT fan.
Flights arrive to Malta’s airport on the main island frequently from Europe. Then, take a short ferry from Cirkewwa port to reach the neighboring island of Gozo. You can visit the Azure Window ruins by public bus leaving from Victoria or private tours from the Mgarr port in Gozo. And here are some hotels in Gozo, if you plan to stay a few extra days.
GOT Film Locations in Morocco
Ait Ben Haddou – Yunkai & Pentos
Not strictly in Europe, Game of Thrones used locations across the Mediterranean in Morocco for some of its more arid scenes. Ait Ben Haddou, with its traditional forms and magical ornamentation, was one such location.
Set in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, four hours east of Marrakech, Ait Ben Haddou is seen in GoT Series 3 Episode 10 when Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) meets the slaves of Yunkai. The town is almost unoccupied now, apart from a very few of the houses. As romantic ruins go, it is right up there at the top. Listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, its ancient form is mostly untouched.
The modern village sits on the opposite side of the valley at a respectful distance. Morocco’s “Hollywood” is the town of Ouarzazate, with film studios said to be the second largest in the world. There in the Ouarzazate stables, you can find Daenerys Targaryen white horse.
Ait Ben Haddou is just 16km away and has been used for numerous films. It was Jewel of the Nile (1985) which probably had the most significant impact on the place. What appears now to be the main gate of the town was actually both built and destroyed in that film. Michael Douglas’s character drove through it in a jet fighter!
The joy of the town for us has nothing to do with Game of Thrones or movies. Its mountain site, narrow streets, and courtyard houses form a genuinely fabulous setting just to wander. Here it is easy to soak up the romance of the ancient Berber and Arab world for yourself. Some people come to Ait Ben Haddou as a trip out from Ouarzazate. For us, it was the other way around. We stayed in Ait Ben Haddou and experienced the beauty of its sunrises and sunsets against the red adobe walls first hand and highly recommend to spend at least 1-2 nights there as well. Find hotels in Ait ben Haddou here.
Essaouira – Red City of Astapor
Only two filming locations for Game of Thrones exist outside Europe. Both in Morocco. The fort city of Ait Ben Haddou and the fishing village of Essaouira, on the Atlantic coast. This beautiful port city is home to the Red City of Astapor, one of the three major cities of Slaver’s Bay. It was here that Daenarys Targaryen freed the Unsullied slave warriors. Visit the ramparts of the old Medina and walk in the footsteps of the Mother of Dragons.
Aside from the fame of “the Game,” Essaouira is a beautiful coastal town that will win your heart as it did ours. Known as Morocco’s windy city, it is a prime location for kite surfing. Throughout the day you’ll see amateurs and pros alike whipping across the water, tethered to their flapping sail. Whether you want to give it a try yourself or simply observe those more skilled, there is plenty of clean, sandy beach to relax under the sun.
Another fantastic draw of Essaouira and one of the highlights for food-lovers like us are the amazing restaurants. During our time in Essaouira, we enjoyed some of the best food in all of Morocco. Nearly everything we ate was outstanding! Slurp back fresh oysters in the rustic market, famed for its photogenic blue fishing boats. Or stop by Miyame, a small, four-table restaurant with one of the best tajines in the entire country! Whether you come as a fan of the show, a lover of food, water sports, or some of the best shopping in Morocco, Essaouira should not be missed! Spend a few days here and you won’t regret it. Find hotels in Essaouira here.
Game of Thrones was an incredible series that brought together millions of fans all across the world. Now that the series has aired its last episode, we can relive our favorite scenes by exploring the places on earth that take us back to the 7 Kingdoms and beyond.
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