Did You Know Millions Of Tourists Are Flocking To These Locations Featured In Game of Thrones?
Game of Thrones has become possibly the most epic and thrilling television series of all time. Complex characters, brutal and devastating battle scenes and, of course, the dragons. Not to mention those breath-taking fictional locations. Sadly, for those of us who have been following the fortunes of House Stark, the Lannisters and the White Walkers, the show had to wrap sometime. But for fans of Game of Thrones, especially those who love to travel, it needn’t mean The End.
That's because some of the world’s most dramatic tourist destinations are getting a boost thanks to HBO’s blockbuster adaptations of George R.R. Martin’s novels. So if you’re pining more things Game of Thrones after the epic final season, there are plenty of opportunities to strike a pose just like Kit Harington’s Jon Snow and Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen. Just be sure to wear a seatbelt at all times when traveling by dragon.
Here, we list 5 top Game of Thrones destinations you’ll love to visit.
Dubrovnik Old Town, Croatia
Recreate Cersei Lannister’s Walk of Shame, fully clothed that is, down St Dominika Street and visit some of the most beautiful locations that doubled as the streets of King’s Landing, capital of Westeros. The absolute heart of Game of Thrones’ ills as far as most GoT fans are concerned. It’s where Kings and Queens have ruled down the ages with iron, mad and drunken fists. Take in a Game of Thrones tour, during which an expert guide will show you around the maze of stone cathedrals and terracotta-roofed houses. Many of them are spots where the most famous Game of Thrones scenes were filmed.
For those not quite so interested in who ruled the Seven Kingdoms down the ages, you’ll enjoy the majestic and medieval beauty of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Walk the Old City walls of Dubrovnik, 2km long and built to defend the city in the 13th century. From there, you’ll enjoy spectacular views across the Adriatic sea. Or, as Game of Thrones fans might prefer, Blackwater Bay.
From Dubrovnik, you can also take a short boat ride to Lokrum. This is a small island that is home to a monastery and gardens. It was the location of the city of Qarth, where the styled King of Qarth steals the dragons from Daenerys.
Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
A magical place at the best of times, Iceland often hits the headlines when one of its many volcanoes decides to erupt. The truly stunning landscape is largely made up of lava that has poured out of them down the centuries, but there are also glaciers and waterfalls and stunning greenery that will suit those who consider themselves an outdoor type. Sometimes, however, you’ll feel like you’re walking on the moon. Which is perhaps why it is such a perfect Game of Thrones location.
Iceland’s Kirkjufell is where the Children of the Forest created the first White Walker and where some of the show’s key characters including Jon Snow, Sandor Clegane and Ser Jorah Mormont take a stand against the Night King. It’s also where Jon Snow is captured by wildlings. Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull ( that’s easy for you to say ), is also situated East of Reykjavik. It’s where many of the dramatic scenes Beyond the Wall were filmed including the setting for The Fist of the First Men.
Visitor numbers to Iceland have quadrupled in recent years. Many put the appeal of visitors down to stunning locations such as Vik beach, with its black sand and striking black rocks. Situated near the southernmost point of Iceland, about two and a half hours from Reykjavik, Vik beach appears in Season 7 as Eastwatch-by-the-Sea – a port town where Wildlings come ashore to trade with men of the Night’s Watch.
And you may also have time to visit northeast Iceland’s Grjótagjá – a small volcanic cave and where wildling Ygritte and Jon Snow’s love scene was set.
Not a Game of Thrones fan? Iceland is also the perfect place from which to watch the Northern Lights.
Set in Essaouira in Morocco, Daenerys Targaryen proved early determination to become Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in the rather exotic Slaver’s Bay, home to the fictional ports of Astapor, Yunkai and Meereen. On the Atlantic coast, this is where she overcame the Great Masters, the heads of Meereen’s slaving families. The fictional Astapor is where Daenerys buys her army of Unsullied in preparation for her quest to conquer the Seven Kingdoms.
But in reality, Morocco’s hip seaside town is steeped in a fascinating history of its own. First established as a trading post in the 5th century, it drew artists and musicians such as Jim Hendrix and Cat Stevens in the Sixties.
Dragonstone is the island fortress where the mighty Stannis Baratheon held out in his attempt to seize the throne from the evil tyrant, Joffrey. It’s also the island where Daenerys is fabled to have been born during a wild storm. The real name from the Basque language translates as Castle Rock.
The island is connected to the mainland by a man-made stone bridge, a narrow path made up of 241 steps. These wind towards the 10th century San Juan de Gaztelugatxe church. It was sacked by the famous privateer Sir Francis Drake, who killed the hermit who lived there by throwing him off a cliff. The church was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1980.
Just 22 miles from the Spanish city of Bilbao, located off the shore of the Bay of Biscay, Gaztelugatxe is where Jon Snow first encounters the towering dragons. He is standing on the winding footbridge when the dragons soar overhead.
The nearby Itzurun Beach in the Basque Country serves as the dragon queen's entry point to Westeros.
County Down, Northern Ireland
According to Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin, Hadrian’s Wall, built by the Romans to protect the wild northwest frontier of the Roman empire from the unconquered people of Scotland, was the inspiration for The Wall. And since The Wall separates Westeros from the frozen lands beyond, this must mean the Scots are the inspiration for the Wildlings and the White Walkers.
However, Scotland didn’t have a film studio that HBO required for much of the shooting of Game of Thrones and Northern Ireland was instead chosen as a key location. The rolling hills and dramatic coastlines on this side of the Irish Sea provided plenty of wonderful locations and even without the tie-in with the fantasy series, Northern Ireland has long remained a top tourist destination for Americans.
Castle Ward in County Down is seen in the first episode of Game of Thrones. The 16th century clock tower and courtyard fills in for Winterfell, the ancestral home of the Starks. Visitors to the attraction can embark on a Westeros Cycle Trail, touring several other key locations. There are also archery lessons in the courtyard and you can explore the nearby forest where the Stark children find their direwolves.
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