Photo: Pfeiffer/Shutterstock

23 Real-Life Settings You Can Visit From Game of Thrones

by Matador Creators Jul 24, 2017

GEORGE R.R. MARTIN’S fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in Game of Thrones are so lushly, fully imagined that it takes an entire nonfictional world to depict them. The Game of Thrones TV show, based on his book series A Song of Ice and Fire, is shot in dozens of different locations spread around the world. You could rent a nearby Game of Thrones Airbnb— or you could check out one of these real-life filming locations.

Northern Ireland

More than any other area, Northern Ireland is the home of Game of Thrones. The main studio is in Belfast in a former shipyard where parts of the Titanic were built, and that’s where a lot of the show’s interior sets are built and shot. But the Northern Ireland locations are not limited to the studio. Since the country has an extremely diverse range of terrain in a very small area, and since it still retains a lot of its medieval architecture, it’s an ideal spot to base operations from. Here are some of the highlights.

Castle Ward — Winterfell

Castle Ward, County Down, Northern Ireland

Photo: Paul Krugman/Shutterstock

Ballintoy Harbour — Iron Islands

Ballintoy, Antrim, Northern Ireland

Photo: Paul J Martin/Shutterstock

The Dark Hedges — Kingsroad

The Dark Hedges

Photo: Pfeiffer/Shutterstock

Sandy Brae — Vaes Dothrak

Skara Brae Neolithic Settlement in Orkneys, Scotland

Photo: Claudine Van Massenhove/Shutterstock

Gosford Castle — Riverrun

Gosford Castle in Northern Ireland

Photo: Artur Nagalski/Shutterstock

Downhill Strand — Dragonstone

Benone Strand and Downhill Beach, a large sand strand in Castlerock, Derry County, Northern Ireland

Photo: Joaquin Ossorio Castillo/Shutterstock


Croatia’s Mediterranean climate, combined with its beautiful, medieval architecture, makes it the best possible spot to shoot scenes in King’s Landing. The producers have also used Croatia for a few scenes set in Essos.

Dubrovnik — King’s Landing

Dubrovnik ancient fortress, Croatia

Photo: Valentina Photo/Shutterstock

Minčeta Tower — House of the Undying in Qarth

Minceta Tower in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Photo: ansharphoto/Shutterstock

Diocletian’s Palace — Meereen

Stone arches of the remains of Diocletian's palace in Split, Croatia

Photo: Arpad Laszlo/Shutterstock

Šibenik — Braavos

UNESCO town of Sibenik, Croatia

Photo: xbrchx/Shutterstock

Kaštel Gomilica — Braavos

Kastel Gomilica old town on the sea near Split, Croatia

Photo: xbrchx/Shutterstock


Iceland is used primarily for outdoor scenes set north of and near the Wall. The Wall itself (and Castle Black) are shot in an abandoned quarry in Northern Ireland which is not open to the public.

Snæfellsjökull — Fist of the First Men

A lonely house at the foot of volcanic hill, in Arnarstapi, Iceland

Photo: Gloria Martie/Shutterstock

Mývatn Lake — Mance Rayder’s camp

Lake Myvatn

Photo: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH/Shutterstock

Grjótagjá — Jon Snow and Ygritte’s cave

Grjotagja Cave, Iceland

Photo: axz/Shutterstock

You can actually swim in the geothermal pools in Grjótagjá cave — it was a popular bathing site until eruptions in the 1970s raised the temperature of the pools to dangerously high levels. In recent years, it has begun to cool off, and they’re beginning to let tourists into the pools again.


In the first season, King’s Landing and Pentos were filmed in Malta, as well as some of the Dothraki Sea shots. Since then, most of these locations have been shot in either Croatia or Spain. The city of Mdina can basically be considered the first King’s Landing.

The Azure Window — Dothraki Sea

The beautiful Azure Window, a natural arch and famous landmark on the island of Gozo, Malta

Photo: ZGPhotography/Shutterstock

While the area around it is still beautiful, the Azure Window itself collapsed in a storm in 2017.

Fort Ricasoli — Gate of the Gods

Ricasoli Fort, Malta

Photo: Iakov Filimonov/Shutterstock

Fort Manoel — Great Sept of Baelor and Ned Stark’s execution site

Fort manoel in Valletta, Malta

Photo: Jaroslav Moravcik/Shutterstock


Before the series had been greenlit, scenes from the pilot were shot in Morocco. When the series got off the ground, these scenes were shifted to Malta (and later to Croatia), before the film crew finally returned to Morocco in the third season, specifically for shots in Slaver’s Bay.

Aït Benhaddou — Yunkai

Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

Photo: Laurens Hoddenbagh/Shutterstock

Essaouira — Astapor

Essaouira, Morocco

Photo: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock


Spain has become the go-to spot for scenes set in Dorne and Essos. The country has a more arid climate, and its medieval architecture has a more Islamic flair to it, thanks to the Iberian Peninsula’s 700 years under Islamic rule. One of the more arresting shots from the beginning of Season 7 — Daenerys’ arrival at Dragonstone — was filmed on the islet of Gaztelugatxe, where an old stone bridge connects a hermitage, which sits atop a small scrap of land, to the Basque country.

Seville — Dorne

Palace of Alcazar, Seville, Spain

Photo: Visual Intermezzo/Shutterstock

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe — Dragonstone

Gaztelugatxe island at basque country, Spain

Photo: John Chica/Shutterstock

Girona — Oldtown

Historical jewish quarter in Girona, Barcelona, Spain

Photo: Lena Serditova/Shutterstock

Peniscola — Meereen

Peniscola castle, Spain

Photo: Anna Nahabed/Shutterstock

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