Here Are 11 Game of Thrones Locations You Can Visit

The HBO series is as revered for its heart-wrenching plot twists as it is for its stunning filming locations. The good news: The tales might be fictional, but these destinations are not.

When Game of Thrones aired its eighth and final season in spring 2019, diehard fans had to bid farewell to beloved recurring characters like Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, and for some, even Jaime Lannister. Luckily, the real-life GOT destinations, many of them national parks or UNESCO World Heritage sites, are places you can actually see. From frozen lava fields in Iceland to centuries-old palaces in Spain, here are 11 Game of Thrones filming locations you can (and should) visit.

Where was “Game of Thrones” filmed?

Game of Thrones was filmed primarily on location across Europe. Although various scenes were shot on studio sets in Belfast, Northern Ireland, many major moments from the HBO hit drama feature real landscapes and medieval fortresses in the backdrop.

In the pilot episode, for example, scenes at Winterfell, the Stark family home, were shot at Doune Castle in Scotland. During the first season, fans also see a young Daenerys marry Khal Drogo at the (now collapsed) Azure Window in Malta, a famous natural limestone archway that collapsed into the Mediterranean Sea in 2017. Here are a number of other Game of Thrones filming locations to put on your “want to go” list.

Dubrovnik’s coastal Old Town is protected by stone walls.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town is protected by stone walls completed in the 16th century.

Photo by Guilleon/Shutterstock

1. Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia

Game of Thrones in-universe location: King’s Landing
Dubrovnik’s Old Town first appeared on screen as “King’s Landing” during the second season of Game of Thrones. Since then, GOT-inspired tourism to the medieval walled city has skyrocketed. Visitors can meander through the capital of the Seven Kingdoms on a GOT-themed walking tour, passing the steps of Old Town’s magnificent St. Ignatius of Loyola Church (the site of Cersei Lannister’s brutal “walk of shame”) as well as Fort Lovrijenac, the real-life fortress where filming of the epic Battle of Blackwater took place.
Several King’s Landing exteriors were also filmed in Split, the largest city in Croatia’s Dalmatia region, some three hours north of Dubrovnik by car. (About one hour up the coast from Split, the historic city of Šibenik appears in show’s fifth season as the real-life filming location for the Free City of Braavos.)

An aerial view of Fort Manoel in Malta

Fort Manoel in Malta plays the town’s square in King’s Landing where Ned Stark was executed.

Photo by Karina Movsesyan/Shutterstock

2. Fort Manoel, Malta

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Kings Landing

One of the most heartbreaking—and shocking—turns of events to happen early in Games of Thrones is when Ned Stark is executed for discovering Jaime and Cersei Lannister’s scandalous secret. In the series, Stark is beheaded in a square in King’s Landing, but in real life, that square is actually Fort Manoel in Malta. Constructed in the 18th century under the rule of Portuguese Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena (the building is named for him), the star-shaped fort could hold 500 soldiers in its heyday and saw action during Napoleon’s invasion of Malta in 1798 and during World War II. The fort is temporarily closed for restorations (a reopening date has not yet been set), but admission is normally free.

Field of blue crevasses of Vatnajökull, the most voluminous ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest glaciers in Europe

Vatnajökull is the most voluminous ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest glaciers in Europe.

Photo by Shutterstock

3. Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Beyond the Wall On Game of Thrones, the frozen lakes, icy lava fields, and snow-filled craters located beyond Castle Black and “North of the Wall” are the uncharted territories that wildlings and White Walkers roam. In real life, however, this vast tundra is Vatnajökull National Park, a protected wilderness east of Reykjavík. Although it required a fair amount of CGI to create the “Land of Always Winter” that GOT fans see on screen, the massive glaciers, ice caves, and active geothermal areas used as filming locations for the show are places you can actually visit in Vatnajökull National Park, and the landscapes are about as natural as it gets. (Other Game of Thrones filming locations near Iceland’s Vatnajökull National Park include the Myrdalsjokull glacier, the Hverfjall volcano, and the Grjótagjá geothermal hot spring.)

Inner courtyard at the Alcázar of Seville, surrounded by loggias of pointed arches

The Alcázar of Seville is fortified palace composed of zones constructed in different historical stages of architecture.

Photo by Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock

4. Alcázar of Seville, Spain

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Water Gardens of Dorne
During the fifth season of HBO’s hit TV show, this 700-year-old Andalusian palace appeared as the Water Gardens of Dorne, seat of the House Martell of Sunspear. Known in real-life as the Royal Alcázar of Seville, this UNESCO World Heritage site is recognized as Europe’s oldest still-in-use royal palace (the upper chambers are residences for Spain’s royal family). The intricately detailed building in Seville is also considered one of the best-preserved examples of Mudejar (Moorish-style) architecture. Luckily for GOT and architecture fans alike, the lavish grounds are open to the public for guided tours.

Bardenas Reales’s stark, abstract landscape is the result of centuries of erosion to the soil’s clay, chalk, and sandstone.

Bardenas Reales’s abstract landscape is the result of centuries of erosion to the soil’s clay, chalk, and sandstone.

Photo by Noradoa/Shutterstock

5. Bardenas Reales, Spain

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Dothraki Sea
During GOT’s sixth season, Daenerys Targaryen (the Mother of Dragons) is held captive by nomadic horse tribes in the expansive Essos grasslands known as the Dothraki Sea. To film these scenes, the show’s cast and crew members traveled to a Mars-like landscape in northern Spain known as Bardenas Reales Natural Park. These arid badlands stretch some 100,000 acres across the country’s Navarre region bordering Basque Country and can be explored by car, foot, or bike. (Some scenes from the Dothraki Sea were also filmed at Northern Ireland’s lush Glens of Antrim.)

Distant view of castle on shoreline of Ireland, with dark clouds above

“Game of Thrones” tours are now offered in many parts of Ireland; much of the show was filmed in locations across the country.

Photo by Amedeo Lunco/Shutterstock

6. Dunluce Castle, Ireland

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Iron Islands
To visit the harbor where Theon Greyjoy first returned from Winterfell to the Iron Islands, head to Ireland’s moody, rugged coast. Some of those pivotal season two scenes were filmed at Dunluce Castle in County Antrim, about two hours north of Dublin. (Ballintoy Harbor, located about 20 minutes east of Dunluce Castle by car, was also used to film Iron Islands scenes.) Still, don’t expect to see an exact replica of House Greyjoy’s towering castle at Pyke; you’ll have to use a bit of imagination: The structure was heavily embellished before it appeared on Game of Thrones.

Aerial view of Meteora, Greece, with 11th-century monastery atop towering natural pillars

In Meteora, Greece, 11th-century monasteries sit atop towering natural pillars.

Photo by Akugasahagy/Shutterstock

7. Meteora, Greece

Game of Thrones in-universe location: The Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn

The GOT cast and crew didn’t actually shoot scenes at this UNESCO World Heritage site. However, Meteora’s famed mountain-top monasteries were digitally mastered into the series’s first season as a backdrop for the Sky Cells where Tyrion Lannister was imprisoned. Travelers are free to catch remarkable views of these natural pinnacles by hiking, biking, or rafting through the northern Greece valley, which is reachable by train from Athens.

Waves breaking against Essaouira’s walled medina (formerly known as Mogador), a UNESCO World Heritage site

Essaouira’s walled medina (formerly known as Mogador) is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Photo by Olga Kot Photo/Shutterstock

8. Essaouira, Morocco

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Astapor

Essaouira is most familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the ancient city of Astapor, home of the highly skilled slave-soldiers known as the Unsullied. In real life, Essaouira is a port city on Morocco’s Atlantic coast recognized for its fresh seafood, traditional argan oil production, and world-class kitesurfing, as well as its UNESCO-inscribed 18th-century medina filled with local artisan shops.

The Castle of Zafra atop a rocky outpost at an altitude of 4,600 feet in Spain’s Sierra de Caldereros

The Castle of Zafra sits at an altitude of 4,600 feet in Spain’s Sierra de Caldereros.

Photo by Pedro Oliva/Shutterstock

9. Castle of Zafra, Spain

Game of Thrones in-universe location: Tower of Joy
One of the most revelatory moments in GOT history takes place during a flashback at the Tower of Joy. (Spoiler alert: The supernaturally gifted Bran Stark sees a vision of his father, Ned Stark, and learns a game-changing detail about a vital character’s familial past.) This fundamental scene was filmed at the Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, Spain. Located in the Sierra de Caldereros about two hours east of Madrid, this 12th-century castle can be reached by vehicle from the village of Hombrados—or by a few hours of hiking.

s10. Šibenik, Croatia

Game of Thrones in-universe location: The free city of Braavos

In the fifth season of Game of Thrones, Arya Stark begins training to become a Faceless Man in Braavos, the richest, and arguably, most powerful Free City in Essos. Although scenes set in the House of Black and White (the temple in the city dedicated to the Many-Faced God) were filmed on a soundstage, the historical Croatian city of Šibenik on the Adriatic Coast, with its stone-walled alleyways, plazas, and buildings, played Braavos. The Cathedral of St. James, built in the 15th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, served as the Iron Bank, the most influential financial institution in the GOT universe.

The blue hot springs inside rocky Grjótagjá Lava Cave in northern Iceland

Though it may look enticing, swimming is not allowed in the hot springs of Grjótagjá Lava Cave.

Photo by Borkovec/ Shutterstock

11. Grjótagjá Lava Cave, Iceland

Game of Thrones in-universe location: The site of Jon Snow and Ygritte’s trist

In the fifth episode of the third season of Game of Thrones, Jon Snow and Ygritte spend a steamy night together north of the Wall in a cave. In real life, that cave is located in northern Iceland, near Lake Mývatn, and contains a thermal hot spring. But be forewarned: the Grjótagjá Lava Cave is one of the most difficult destinations to travel to in Iceland. The mouth of the cave can be difficult to spot in fog and can only be accessed after traversing a hiking trail from Dimmuborgir. Visitors are also not allowed to enter the hot springs.

A version of this article originally appeared online in April 2016; it was updated on May 11, 2020, and on July 31, 2023, to include current information.

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