Anyone who is a fan of the medieval fantasy series Game of Thrones has probably noticed the many beautiful environments and settings in which the characters on the show interact in. Westeros is the name of the fictional land where the characters reside. You might think that it was created in CGI like everything else that you see in movies and television shows these days. But, in actuality, Game of Thrones is primarily filmed in Northern Ireland. And there are some fantastic Game of Thrones Northern Ireland tours.
Why Northern Ireland? The reason is that it has the most picturesque backdrops which are perfect for a storyline that takes place in medieval times. There are moorlands, mountains, beaches, forests, caves, valleys, canals, and more. Nothing about these Northern Ireland locations looks modernized, which is why they work so well for filming this series there.
If you are heading out to Northern Ireland to get your GOT fix, it is recommended that you stay in the capital Belfast as most of the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland tours will pick you up from there. Here’s a run down of the top filming locations in Northern Ireland that you really should not miss….
Top 5 Best Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Places to See
1) Tollymore Forest – You might remember this forest from the pilot episode of the series. It is supposed to be located outside of Winterfell. In reality, it is a state forest park which was founded in the year 1955. It is roughly 1,600 acres in size. If you remember the scene where Ned Stark finds the direwolves, then you will get to see that exact spot when you visit the forest.
2) Cushendun Caves – On the outskirts of Belfast, there are the stunning Cushendun Caves. If you remember season 2 of Game of Thrones, then you will remember the cave where the priestess named Melisandre gave birth to a shadow baby. This scene was filmed at the Cushendun Caves. But even if you didn’t catch this part of season 2, you will still enjoy simply visiting the caves and admiring their natural construction.
3) Ballintoy Harbour– Remember the Iron Islands from Game of Thrones? It has a breathtaking harbor and a coastline filled with rocks. This area is really the Ballintoy Harbour and it is so beautiful that you will never want to leave. On the show, it is a community filled with seamen who are constantly traveling on sea expeditions. Some tours will spend the whole day there while others may spend multiple days – that’s how much there is to see at the harbour.
4) Dark Hedges – A lot of people who visit Northern Ireland are familiar with the Dark Hedges. These are actually a series of beech trees which surround Bregagh Road and create a dark shadowy look over it. Many photographers have known about these trees way before Game of Thrones was ever created. But, thanks to the show, the world knows the Dark Hedges as the location where Arya Stark had escaped from King’s Landing during the 2nd season.
5) Castle Ward – House Stark is a common location that you’ll see on the show. It is the primary noble house of the Stark family. Well, it is really a castle in Winterfell and the central location of the Kingdom of the North. In real life, Castle Ward is a mansion that was built in the 18th century and features a historical farmyard around the property – a lot of Game of Thrones Northern Ireland tours will bring you to the castle.
Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Tours
Most of the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland tours are based in Belfast, which is the capital of Northern Ireland. If you visit Viator.com, you will find all the best tours that will take you to recognizable filming locations like the ones mentioned above. You will find a variety of tours at different price ranges. Some are $32 while others are over $500. A lot of the more expensive Game of Thrones tour packages involve private tours for just you and your party. Just choose the one that is within your budget and enjoy the experience of transporting yourself into your favorite Game of Thrones locations.
Top Tips on Travelling in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is an extremely easy place to travel, and is perfect for solo travellers, couples, friendship groups and families alike.
The weather can be a little unpredictable in Northern Ireland, so do pack several different types of clothing, but particularly a warm jacket or rain coat just incase. Something that will roll up into your bag is ideal.
How to get to Northern Ireland
If you are travelling from England, you can get the ferry to Liverpool. There are cheap direct flights from Belfast to Manchester with Ryanair. Belfast itself can get busy and tours can get booked up, so we recommend that you sort out your accommodation, travel and tours sooner rather than later. If you are travelling from the USA there are flight links from most major cities including Boston, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
If you enjoyed these Game of Thrones locations, you might also like to read about Game of Thrones filming locations in Scotland (Doune Castle) and Iceland. If you’ve been to any of these destinations, please comment on my blog – I’d love to hear your thoughts!