25 Gorgeous Game of Thrones Filming Locations You Can Visit in Real Life

Courtesy of HBO
Apr 11, 2019

As Game of Thrones gears up for its eighth and final season, we have many questions: Who will win the war between the living and the dead? Is Jon Snow going to take the Iron Throne? What inevitably ghastly scheme does Cersei have up her sleeve? And, most of all, what glorious new filming locations will we get to see? For the past 8 years, tons of real-world locations have starred as King’s Landing, Braavos, Dorne, and countless Westerosi estates. The best part: You can visit almost all of the show’s backdrops.

So before HBO airs the big premiere this Sunday night, take a break between binges on seasons 1 through 7 to feast your eyes on something different: 25 of the most notable filming locations across the Seven Kingdoms. Warning: Spoilers for seasons 1 through 7 ahead. If you’re not caught up, proceed with caution!

House of the Undying: Minčeta Tower; Dubrovnik, Croatia

Minčeta Tower is the highest point along Dubrovnik’s walls. Aside from offering some of the best views of the old city (hi, King’s Landing!), the tower served as the House of the Undying in Qarth during Season 2. The exterior is easily recognized by its circular, sloped walls—the ones that so confused Daenerys and Jorah as they searched for the entrance.

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Dragonstone: Itzurun Beach; Zumaia, Spain

Near the end of Season 7’s first episode, Daenerys arrived at Dragonstone with Tyrion and her growing army of Dothraki and Unsullied warriors. The island’s profile rose with the discovery of the local dragonglass—aka one of only two substances that can kill White Walkers. Find the real-life shorelines (minus the impossibly handsome dragonglass-mining kings, alas) at Itzurus Beach in Spain’s Basque Country, about 30 miles east of Bilbao.

Courtesy of HBO


Arrowhead Mountain: Kirkjufell, Iceland

In season 7, knowing that the Army of the Dead’s HQ was somewhere near “a mountain that looks like an arrowhead,” Jon Snow and co. set out in search of a capture-able White Walker. When Arrowhead Mountain finally appeared in Episode 6, they knew things were about to get real stressful, real quick. The mountain’s real-life counterpart—Kirkjufell in eastern Iceland—isn’t nearly as foreboding, but is just as impressive. In fact, the peak is one of the most photographed spots in Iceland and a popular place to view the Northern Lights.

Courtesy of HBO


Brienne and the Hound's battleground: Thingvellir National Park, Iceland 

Giving new meaning to fiercely protective, Brienne and the Hound faced off in an epic battle over Arya against a backdrop of jagged mountains and cliffs. The fight scene was filmed in the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Thingvellir National Park, where you'll find the Silfra Fissure, a famous (and very cold) snorkeling and scuba diving site.

Courtesy of HBO


King’s Landing Dragonpit: Itálica, Spain

The climax of Season 7 (make that one of the climaxes—the season was pretty thrilling) took place in King’s Landing Dragonpit, where Cersei, Tyrion, Jon Snow, and Daenerys finally, finally met. The iconic scene was filmed in the Roman ruins of Itálica near Seville. You can take guided tours of the amphitheater, and while you won’t see any dragons or kidnapped wights, the site’s 2,200-year-old groundwork will leave you nearly as awestruck.

Courtesy of HBO


Highgarden: Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, Spain

Home to House Tyrell (what’s left of it, anyway), Highgarden made a brief appearance in Season 7, shortly before the Lannisters took over in an offscreen battle. To get a longer look at the place IRL, head to Castillo de Almodóvar del Río near Córdoba. The castle is open for both guided and non-guided tours, and its hilltop perch will give you panoramic views of the Cordovan countryside.

Courtesy of HBO


Iron Islands: Ballintoy Harbour, Northern Ireland

The rocky coastline of Northern Ireland’s Ballintoy Harbour, in County Antrim, body-doubles for the Iron Islands, home to the Greyjoy family and the Iron Fleet. We’re sure to see more of the harbor as Theon sets out to rescue his sister from bad-boy (no, we mean really-bad-boy) uncle Euron.

Courtesy of HBO


Tower of Joy: Castillo de Zafra, Spain

The Tower of Joy played a pivotal role in Season 6—in fact, the entire season felt like build-up to one big tower-bound reveal: Who, exactly, would Ned Stark find inside? The answer, of course, was his sister Lyanna, whose secret marriage to Rhaegar Targaryan turned out to have spawned both Robert’s Rebellion and—gasp!—the possibly-future-king Jon Snow. Castillo de Zafra, a 12th century fortress in the Guadalajara badlands between Barcelona and Madrid that passed from Visigoths to Moors to Christians without ever actually being conquered, served as the backdrop for those game-changing scenes.

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The Kingsroad: Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

The Kingsroad—which stretches from Castle Black to King’s Landing—has long been the series’ main superhighway, hosting everyone from gluttonous King Robert to  assassin-in-training Arya Stark (just “Arry” back then) during their journeys. To hit the road yourself, head for the mysterious, beech tree-shrouded Dark Hedges, near Ballymoney in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim.

Courtesy of HBO


Winterfell: Castle Ward; Belfast, Northern Ireland 

With its Gothic architecture and sunken gardens, Castle Ward (aka Winterfell) is one of the most brooding stars of the North—and that’s saying something. Home to House Stark—and ever so briefly, House Flayjoy (aka the Boltons)—the estate overlooks Strangford Lough outside Belfast and offers Winterfell Tours for GOT fans, who can even dress up in character and visit a replica of the archery range from the fateful pilot episode.

Courtesy of HBO


The Citadel: The Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants; Girona, Spain

How do we love Samwell? Let us count the ways. One: his pure, bibliophile bliss at the Citadel—or love at first sight of the library stacks. The real-life building that doubled as his beacon at the end of season 6: the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants in Girona, where he also spent much of season 7 pondering life's little mysteries: how to get into the restricted section, dermabrade greyscale, and save humanity. 

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King's Landing: Dubrovnik, Croatia

This drop-dead gorgeous city’s UNESCO-protected medieval center, complete with walkable stone walls, has been a star of the show since the beginning: Fort Lovrijenac (Fort of St. Lawrence) is where King Joffrey held his name day tournament in season 2; Gradac Park is the setting of his, um, eventful Purple Wedding in season 4; and the Jesuit Staircase is where you can set off to retrace Cersei’s walk of shame from season 5. Just be aware that violating Article 14 of the Croatian Law on Offenses against Public Order and Peace with a little public nudity may land you a fine of 185 to 750 kuna.

Courtesy of HBO


King's Landing Gardens: Trsteno Arboretum, Croatia

Just outside Dubrovnik, Trsteno Arboretum stars as the gardens of Red Keep, home to the Andals and the First Men (House Baratheon) in King’s Landing. GoT buffs will recognize the garden as the backdrop for many a stroll by the likes of Margaery, Olenna, Lancel, Sansa, and Tyrion (among others). But even without their GOT tie-in, these gardens are impressive: They span more than 70 acres and contain hundreds of species of exotic plants and trees.

Courtesy of HBO


Braavos: Šibenik, Croatia

Season 4 ended with Arya Stark setting sail for Braavos, and the so-called Free City became one of the main settings of Season 5. While the oh-so-creepy House of Black and White was created from scratch, many of the city scenes were filmed in the old town of Šibenik. In fact, the Iron Bank is really the 15th-century Cathedral of St. James.

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Beyond the Wall: Vatnajökull, Iceland

Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest glacier, located in southeast Iceland just east of Reykjavik. Collectively, these endless ice plains, snowy mountain peaks, and glacial lagoons star as the land Beyond the Wall.

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Jon & Ygritte’s love cave: Lake Mývatn, Iceland

The North’s answer to the love shack, Grjótagjá lava cave is where Jon & Ygritte shared their steamiest, most vow-breaking time together in season 3 (given the real-life vows the pair made after that, we assume the acting can’t have been too tough). Though you can enter the cave near the shores of Lake Mývatn, you can’t (safely) re-enact the pivotal scene: The water’s way too hot IRL.

Courtesy of HBO


Dorne: Alcazar de Sevilla; Seville, Spain

In Season 5, the Alcazar de Sevilla starred as House Martell’s Water Palace—scene of the shortest reunion ever: Jaime’s retrieval of his daughter-niece Myrcella. This was also where Ellaria tried to convince Prince Martell to avenge the death of Oberyn (because trials by combat are all fun and games 'til someone loses an eye—or both, plus some collateral grey matter).

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Meereen: Peñiscola, Spain

Starting in Season 6, the walled, coastal town of Peñíscola began filling in for the slave city of Meereen, formerly filmed in Croatia. To spot the real-life background of Tyrion and Varys’s conversation in “The Red Woman” episode, head about 75 miles north of Valencia—and look up.

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Daznak’s Pit: Osuna, Spain

The historic town of Osuna offered up 500 of its citizens—plus its bullring—for one of the most pivotal scenes in Season 5: the attack by the Sons of the Harpy on Daenerys in the fighting pits of Meereen, said to be one of the most expensive television scenes ever.

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Braavos & King’s Landing: Girona, Spain

Located an hour north of Barcelona, Girona did double-duty as both Braavos and King’s Landing in Season 6 of Game of Thrones. The Cathedral was particularly hard-working: It served as the backdrop to Arya’s Braavos begging scenes, and its steps led to the Great Sept of Baelor in King’s Landing.

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The Red Keep: San Anton Palace, Malta

San Anton Palace in Attard is the official residence of the President of Malta—appropriate, given that the building also stands in for the Red Keep, home to the royal family of King’s Landing and a little something called the Iron Throne. NBD.

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King’s Landing Gate: Mdina, Malta

Malta’s first capital, the walled city of Mdina (whose name is a holdover from the nation’s Arabic past) is now a top tourist draw. If you’ve got a good memory—or have recently binge-reviewed the entire series—you’ll recognize the narrow limestone streets and squares from Season 1, when they starred as the King’s Landing Gate and Littlefinger’s House of Pleasure.

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The Great Sept of Baelor: Fort Manoel, Malta

This 18th-century star-shaped fortification on Manoel Island is said to be haunted by the Black Knight of the Order of St. John—and the Hand of King Robert Baratheon: This is the place where Ned Stark lost his head in season 1.

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Yunkai: Ait-Ben-Haddou, Morocco

Among the most dramatic slave cities Daenerys stormed in season 3 was Yunkai, aka Ait-Ben-Haddou—a UNESCO World Heritage-designated stop along the old caravan route between Marrakech and the Sahara. Given that only a handful of families still live here, GOT pretty much had the run of the place—as have other crews through the years (Lawrence of Arabia’s, for one).

Courtesy of HBO


Astapor: Essaouira, Morocco

Another stop on Dany’s slave-freeing tour, Astapor is the infamous Red City of Slaver’s Bay—or Essaouira IRL. The bonus to making the two-hour drive from Marrakesh to this atmospheric port town? The goat trees (or more accurately, argan trees full of goats) that you’ll see en route.

Courtesy of HBO

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