It’s easy to get sucked into the world of Game of Thrones. The HBO series has it all: intrigue, sex, politics, dragons, nudity, resurrection, and gorgeous scenery that transports viewers to The Wall, King’s Landing, Winterfell, and other iconic locations in Westeros.
As the eighth and final season approaches in April, die-hard fans might consider a trip to one of their favorite locations to perhaps wander the forests of the North to find their own dire wolf or recreate Cersei’s walk of atonement (but stay clothed, please).
Imagining yourself in these dramatic locations is easy; getting there can be a bit more difficult. We used some of Tyrion’s cleverness and our Scott’s Cheap Flights know-how to share the cheapest ways to visit GoT sites in Europe and northern Africa. Warning: mild spoilers through season 7 ahead.
Northern Ireland is one of the few filming locations that has been utilized throughout the series.
Many of the Winterfell scenes were filmed here. Magheramorne Quarry, on the shores of Larne Lough, is home to The Wall and Castle Black; the incredible Battle of the Bastards in season 6 was filmed at The Saintfield, just south of Belfast. It’s also home to the village of Ballintoy, which becomes Pyke, the capital of the Iron Islands and the home of the Greyjoys, and Downhill Strand, a seven-mile beach visited by Stannis Baratheon and Melisandre for her “for the night is dark and full of terrors” line. And of course, the now-famous Dark Hedges (the King's Road in the show) are located in Northern Ireland, about an hour's drive north of Belfast.
For those who are interested in touring several locations on two wheels, check out the Westeros Cycle Trail, which starts at Castle Ward, featured in the very first episode of GoT.
Northern Ireland was the filming location for what will be the biggest yet-to-be-seen battle scene in the show, shot over 55 consecutive nights.
Deals to Belfast are super rare (though not impossible to find). However, Ireland is not a big island and the drive from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland to the areas you’re looking for in Northern Ireland takes just two to three hours. Deals to Dublin are plentiful from all corners of the world—the United States, India and Colombia, to name a few—so see what works best from your departure city. You can also fly into any major UK airport and then book a regional flight on to Dublin. Flights from London or Manchester will be cheapest —roundtrip flights cost as little as £20 (~$26) outside of peak season. Alternatively, fly into Edinburgh or Glasgow and visit a bonus destination—Doune Castle was used as Winterfell Castle in the pilot—then fly to Belfast for around £50 (~$65) roundtrip.
Northern Ireland is part of the UK, so prices are in British Pounds, while the Republic of Ireland is part of the EU and uses the euro currency. If you fly into Dublin and rent a car, fill up the tank with petrol in euro prices before you cross the border, but don’t change too much money into euros as you can’t use them in Northern Ireland.
For most fans, Iceland is synonymous with the area known as “Beyond The Wall.”
In season 3, Mance Rayder’s Wildling army camp was filmed at Dimmuborgir, a frozen lava field near Lake Mývatn; the cave where Jon Snow and Ygritte consummate their relationship is also located near there in Grjótagjá (though the actual scene was filmed on a soundstage). Skirling Pass in the Frostfang mountains is actually Höfðabrekka in south Iceland, and viewers will glimpse several of Iceland’s famous glaciers (including Vatnajokull) in many scenes.
Vik’s black sand beach (and frozen troll sea stacks) appear in the penultimate episode of season 7 and Kirkjufell mountain plays host to the battle with the White Walkers. Thingvellir National Park is also a popular film location: The fight between Brienne of Tarth and the Hound in season 4 was filmed here, and you’ll find the pass to the impregnable Eyrie here, too.
Iceland will once again be a featured backdrop as the frozen land north of the Wall (a wall which—spoiler alert—may or may not still be standing after the season 7 finale); the cast was spotted filming there in February, 2018.
We see a ton of deals to Iceland from the US and Canada—like this one and this one. International flights arrive at Keflavik airport, in the southwest of the country. Once you’re there, there are several companies that offer specially themed GoT tours, or you can rent a car and plot your own route. The island is roughly the size of Ohio so you can make it halfway around the country with 8-10 hours of driving (though you should take longer), and you can easily visit locations like Kirkjufell and Thingvellir on day trips from Reykjavik.
While in Thingvellir National Park, you can go a little “wild” by snorkeling or diving in Silfra, the only place in the world where you can dive or snorkel directly in a crack between two tectonic plates. Be forewarned: it’s glacier-fed, so bundle up or you might become a White Walker.
Spain is the setting for several very different locations in Westeros.
Perhaps the most picturesque is the kingdom of Dorne, home to House Martell. Most of the shots of Sunspear, the capital, were filmed at the Alcázar in Seville, in southern Spain; you can wander the gardens and visit the Ambassador’s Hall, which serves as Prince Doran’s Great Hall. You can also visit the Anfiteatro de Itálica, located in Santiponce outside of Seville. It plays King’s Landing’s Dragonpit in season 7.
The Dothraki Sea and the Dothraki camps where Daenerys was held at the beginning of season 6 are the badlands of Bardenas Reales in Navarre, and the bullring of the Andalusian town of Osuna stands in for the fighting pits of Meereen.
If you’re interested in visiting the Free City of Volantis, don’t expect it to look exactly like the series: These scenes are shot on a Roman bridge in Cordoba with some digital features added later. For those who are looking for more out-of-the-way locations, Horn Hill, the palatial ancestral home of Samwell Tarly, is actually the 11th century Castell de Santa Florentina in the town of Canet de Mar in Catalonia; the site of one of Bran’s visions, the Tower of Joy, was filmed at the Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain; and Dragonstone, the home of House Targaryen where Dany and Jon meet for the first time, is the islet of Gaztelugatxe in northern Spain's Basque country.
Spain won’t get as much (scene) love in season 8, but you’ll see the King’s Landing’s Dragonpit, an important site in season 7, again.
The best option is to look for deals to Madrid or Barcelona, which we see fairly often, and then head out from there. Though buses and trains are good options to traverse the country (check Rome2Rio to find options for bus, train, and carshare), be sure to price a regional flight if you’re short on time. Fly into Seville to visit the Alcázar and nearby sites, or fly to San Sebastian or Bilbao to visit Gaztelugatxe.
If you’re thinking of renting a car in Spain, be sure to budget for the tolls on the highways. While the highways seem like a quick option between major cities, the tolls add up quickly and the travel time often isn’t that much faster than the regular roads.
If you’re interested in walking the streets of King’s Landing, head to Dubrovnik, Croatia. This real-life city seems as if it was built to serve as the capital of Westeros and, since season 2, it has.
Wander Old Town and you can explore the walls of the Red Keep (which are open to tourists), or stroll the streets where Cersei took her walk of shame and scheme like Tyrion and Varys at Fort Bokar. The Green Gardens of King’s Landing are actually Trsteno Arboretum, located about 20 minutes away from Old Town. If you’d be happy with just a glance at the gardens, you can take a boat trip from Dubrovnik’s Old Town; you’ll get incredible views along the way and the gardens are easy to recognize even from a distance.
But not all of Croatia is King’s Landing. Minceta Tower, the highest point in Dubrovnik, is where Daenerys escaped from the House of the Undying, and Lokrum, a small island just off the coast, is home to Qarth. In Split, you can visit the former slave city of Meereen (season 4), and in the town of Sibenik, St. Jacob’s Cathedral serves as the Iron Bank of Braavos.
A copy of one of the city’s landmarks, Blaise Cathedral, has been built in the studio lot in Belfast. Just going off of the gleeful destruction of other iconic sites, this structure might not survive season 8.
It’s expensive to travel to Croatia from outside of Europe (though deals can be found). A more affordable option is to figure out the cheapest European hub from your home airport (flying from Italy is particularly cheap, but consider Amsterdam, Paris, London, Munich, Brussels, etc.) and then fly a low-cost European carrier to Dubrovnik or Split from there.
Croatia is no longer an undiscovered gem and tourists pack the streets of Dubrovnik pretty much year-round. Consider visiting in May or September, which is considered shoulder season, or visit more out-of-the-way locales like Krka National Park, home to stunning lakes, rivers and waterfalls—and the setting for the Riverlands of Westeros.
If King’s Landing looks different from season 1 to season 2, there’s a reason: Before the producers found Dubrovnik, the fortress city of Mdina in Malta served as the capital of Westeros.
Its town gates can be seen when Ned Stark arrives; the Great Sept of Baelor (nearby Fort Manoel) is where he leaves his head behind. San Anton Palace, where the president of Malta lives, was the site of the Red Keep. The Lhazareen village raided by the Dothraki is really the small town of Manikata, and Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre was lit in Mtahleb Valley, near Rabat.
Unfortunately, the Azure Window, a natural rock arch standing over the sea on the Maltese island of Gozo, which was seen at Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding in season 1, fell in March 2017 after a severe storm.
It’s not cheap to get to Malta, an archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and the coast of north Africa. Though the rare deal may pop up, you’re better off choosing your favorite cheap European hub (London, Paris, Zurich, etc.) and flying from there. If you find a deal to Rome, Milan, or Athens, they’re great options to consider, too.
You can easily combine a trip to Malta with a visit to Sicily. A 90-minute ferry runs between the two islands.
If you’re interested in following Daenerys through Slaver’s Bay, head to Morocco. In season 3, Morocco was the setting for the cities of Astapor and Yunkai. The city of Ouarzazate also served as Pentos, the home of Daenerys in the pilot.
In Essaouira you can walk where Daenerys tricked the traders of Astapor, met Missandei and Greyworm and freed the Unsullied warriors. The Scala, an 18th-century fort, can be seen when Daenerys, Jorah, and Barristan Selmy walk along the “Walk of Punishment.”
The incredible ancient city of Ait Benhaddou was seen during the siege of Yunkai by Daenerys in season 3. It is instantly recognizable from the iconic scene where the newly freed slaves crowd around Daenerys calling her “Mhysa.”
Morocco, and north Africa in general, is not a cheap destination to reach from the US or Canada. Though deals do pop up, particularly to Casablanca, you’re likely better off flying to Spain or a major European city which has Ryanair routes to Marrakech (London, Milan, Paris, etc.). It's easy to find flights for under $100 roundtrip. Both Ait Benhaddou and Ouarzazate are around a 3-4 hours’ driving from Marrakech. You can reach Essaouira by bus from Marrakech in 2.5 hours.
Keep in mind that Morocco is a Muslim country, so many shops are closed on Friday (a holy day). It can also be difficult to find meals during the day during Ramadan, a traditional month of fasting between sunrise and sunset.