The successful TV-series Game of Thrones steps into its 8th and final season. This show shows fictional and fantastic landscapes next to a thrilling story, which put the spectator in this world of „Ice and Fire“. Imposing castles are the sceneries for powerful sovereigns and their battles. Medieval places show the world of those acting characters and are an essential part of the series. The most important scenes were shot at real locations, most of them in Northern Ireland. We take a look at the British Island, as fans of the TV-show and as fans of interesting journeys.
The north of Ireland is for most of the traveller a blind spot at their map. Mostly the people visit the more popular Republik of Ireland instead of Northern Ireland. But today we set the focus at the north of the Island.
Tollymore Forest – Haunted Forest
Our small journey through Northern Ireland starts around 60 km in the south of Belfast. Close to the tiny town Bryansford is the Tollymore Forest Park. The Starks found their direwolfes in the „Haunted Forest“. This forest is surrounded by a medieval aura. You can discover old lodges which are hidden behind redwood deep down in the forest. This also a good opportunity to hike alongside the Shimna River, which flows through the Tollymore Forest. But please keep you eyes open, then you may find the place where Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister had a chad in the first season at a bonfire. Ohh, and before I forget, some of the White Walkers were spotted in that forest…
Castle Ward – Winterfell
An absolute highlight awaits you and every fan a bit up in the north. – Winterfell! – or that what the Set-Designer left of the scenery. The scenes were shot at Castle Ward. You have the chance to shoot some arrows like the brothers „Jon and Bran“. The yard looks similar to the set in the series. A cycling tour with guide, who gives you interesting information about the development and shooting process of the TV-Production. The guide will show you smaller set pieces around the area, too. Please do not expect a whopping castle. Castle Ward is a beautiful property, which was accommodated by the famous scientist Mary Ward. You can have a walk or a small hike around the property. Whatever you do, you can spend a whole day at this wonderful property.
If you take a car, the Antrim high plateau is about 45 minutes away from Belfast. You can discover green landscapes, impressive rock formations, and – of course – the ‚Kingsroad‘. The county Antrim is made to discover it by yourself. You find bizarre coastlines and beautiful beaches, when you go eastward. Wide mountain landscapes and the ‚Dothraki Sea‘ can be found in the west. On your hike to the coast prospect the old caves of Cushendun. Lady Melisandre born her legendary ‚Shadow‘ in one of them. Furthermore on one hand the weather on the coast is perfect to surf and for long or short hikes.
If you stay in the county and go northbound, then it is possible that you bump into the Dark Hedges. Let’s hope that the Lannisters are not chasing you! If not, you have enough time to marvel at these mystical tree formations. It is „only“ a street, but it is definitely worth a visit. You have the best experience of the Dark Hedges, when the day comes to an end and the fog banks are rising and you get the feeling to be chased by someone.
You see the ‚Iron Islands‘ when you are up at the top of the north. You can see the small seaport Ballintoy Harbour in the scenes with ‚Theon Greyjoy‘, mostly before his transformation to ‚Reek‘. If you stroll westward you will see Dunluce Castle, which shows parts of the shows castle Peak. It is the home of the Greyjoys. Otherwise you can lose your way in one of the small old villages. You can enjoy the whole Irish-culture there. I really recommend that.
The direction to Vase Dothrak is the path to lake Lough Neagh. You could bump into some Dothraki…or maybe some Dragons. Besides the fiction, there is a huge area that you can discover or walk on. Small streams cover the steppe, which shows up in an intense green or dry gold-brown color shade. You can relax on the lake after all of the activity at the end of the day.
These are just a few selected places. Northern Ireland has more Game of Thrones film locations then any other country. Additional there are a lot cool sights besides the sets of the TV-Show and it is worth a trip.
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Have you ever been in the north of Ireland? Do you looking forward to a tour of the Game of Thrones sets? Do you have further recommendations? Then let us know and share a comment with us!