Winter is here.
The much anticipated final season of pop culture phenomenon Game of Thrones premieres in April, and we’re all hyped up to see the final battle between the armies of Westeros and the fearsome white walkers. While the creatures in the show such as the dragons and zombies may be CG, some of the beautiful places the series was shot at are very real – you can even visit them! To get you in the mood, here are some of the most gorgeous locations used for filming: from the medieval castles of Scotland and Croatia, to the icy, ethereal landscapes of Iceland.
Dubrovnik, Croatia (King’s Landing)
With its towering walls, fortifications and ancient castles right by the coast, the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia already looks like something out of a medieval fairytale. In the show, it becomes the fictional city of King’s Landing, the stronghold of the Lannister family. “Game of Thrones” tours are now a thing, as groups are led through parts of the Old Town with its narrow, cobblestoned streets, or up to the Lovrijenac Fortress an impressive structure built on an outcropping of rock.
Seville, Spain (Water Gardens of Dorne)
With its soaring archways and intricate, opulent tiles and detailing, the Alcazar Palace in Seville, Spain is a wonder of Moorish architecture. Fans might recognise it as the Water Gardens of Sunspear, Dorne, seat of House Martell. In fact, it fit the vision producers had in mind so well that very little changes were made for filming. The castle is the oldest one in Europe to still be in use, as the Spanish royal family occupies the upper chambers.
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland (Road from King’s Landing)
Being the countryside, there doesn’t seem like there’s much to do out in the town of Ballymoney in County Antrim – but busloads of tourists flock there anyway. That’s because the usually quiet town is home to The Dark Hedges – a quiet road lined with over 150 300-year-old beech trees that form a sweeping arch overhead. The road was used as the backdrop of Arya Stark’s escape from King’s Landing.
Grjotagja, Iceland (Jon Snow and Ygritte’s Love Nest)
Actors Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie may have gotten hitched in real life, but before that, the characters they play (namely Jon Snow and Ygritte) had their own little ‘love nest’ – deep in the cave of Grjotagja near lake Myvatn in Iceland. The cave is home to a thermal spring, which locals have used for bathing as early as the 18th century, although temperatures have risen following an eruption in the 1970s and has since been disused. The contrast of the clear blue waters with the cave’s walls create an ethereal, enchanting effect.
Thingvellir, Iceland (North of Westeros)
Much of the beautiful landscapes of the ‘north of Westeros’ area was filmed at Thingvellir in Iceland – a national park abundant with valleys and gorges. It’s also home to the largest natural lake in Iceland. Pay a visit to the gorges where the fearsome White Walkers first emerged from, the rocky lava fields of Dimmuborgir and the ‘Haunted Forest’ where part of the Night’s Watch is attacked by White Walkers.