The Selfish Guide to a Game of Thrones Tour
After hearing many, many friends recommend the HBO television series Game of Thrones to me, I decided to give it a try. I agreed to watch the first two episodes, and if I wasn’t hooked by then, I would stop. Well, needless to say, I proceeded to binge watch the first three seasons of GoT. By the time the fourth season aired, I was already caught up.
When Mr. Selfish asked me where I wanted to go for my birthday, I decided that we would do our own customized Game of Thrones tour in Northern Ireland and Croatia.
Northern Ireland: The North, Iron Islands, and Dragonstone
Mr. Selfish and I landed in Dublin but the real GoT nerd fest didn’t start until we crossed the border into Northern Ireland. Here was our itinerary:
- Tollymore Forest Park
- Castle Ward
- Murlough Bay
- Dark Hedges
- Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge
- Downhill Beach
- Port Stewart Strand
Also, here is our Google map for the Northern Ireland portion of our GoT tour:
Northern Ireland was quite adept at capitalizing off of HBO filming so many GoT scenes there. There are quite a few websites for a self-drive GoT tour, and as you can see below, there are also group tours you can take.
Tollymore Forest Park = Haunted Forest
The first place that Mr. Selfish and I visited was Tollymore Forest Park, which is where HBO filmed scenes of the Haunted Forest from the first episode of GoT. Specifically, the Haunted Forest is where the Starks discover the dead mother direwolf and her pups.
Castle Ward = Winterfell and The Twins
Mr. Selfish and I visited Castle Ward to see more scenes from the first episode of GoT – the ones set in Winterfell. Yes, there was a lot of CG but that tower is undoubtedly Winterfell.
We also found the Twins (well, at least one of them) within Castle Ward’s grounds. The Twins is the seat of House Frey of the infamous Walder Frey and is, of course, where the Red Wedding takes place.
Cushendun = Red Woman Giving Birth
Mr. Selfish and I made our way to the caves at Cushendun along the northwestern coast of Northern Ireland. The caves are where HBO shot the scenes of the Red Woman giving birth to the monstrosity that killed Renly.
Murlough Bay = Iron Islands
Then, we visited Murlough Bay, which is one of the filming locations for the Iron Islands. The Bay is where HBO shot the scenes of Theon Greyjoy meeting his sister, Asha, and awkwardly flirting with her.
This location is also, strangely, where Tyrion Lannister and Jorah were taken by slavers in Season 5.
The Dark Hedges = King’s Road
Mr. Selfish really enjoyed the ambiance of the Dark Hedges. It is easy to see why HBO shot scenes of Arya Stark joining the Knight’s Watch and going north on the King’s Road here.
Ballintoy = Pyke, Iron Islands
Although the weather was brutally windy and wet, we visited Ballintoy to see the harbor where Theon Greyjoy comes ashore on the Iron Islands and is later baptized in the name of the Drowned God.
Car Park at Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge = Renly’s Camp
Even though Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge was closed while we were there due to strong winds, Mr. Selfish and I visited its overflow car park to see where HBO shot scenes of Renly’s camp.
This overflow car park is also where HBO shot the scenes of Catelyn Stark and Brienne of Tarth meeting for the first time.
Downhill Beach = Dragonstone
Finally, we visited Downhill Beach, which is where scenes of Stannis Baratheon burning effigies of the gods on the command of the Red Woman in Dragonstone were shot.
Port Stewart Strand = Dorne
We were informed by our airbnb host that HBO had just finished filming scenes for the upcoming GoT season at Port Stewart strand prior to our arrival. This is where Jamie Lannister and Bronn come ashore to Dorne, and also where we meet the Sand Snakes for the first time.
Croatia: Time for King’s Landing and Khalessi
After the cold and wet weather in Northern Ireland, Mr. Selfish and I welcomed the sunny and warm days in Croatia. Of course, we were also excited to visit King’s Landing and reenact so many Khaleesi scenes. Here was our itinerary:
Most of the GoT filming locations in Croatia are clustered around Split and Dubrovnik, which is fine with me since they are both beautiful cities. Here is our Google map for the Croatian portion of our GoT tour:
Kaštel Gomilica = Braavos
Mr. Selfish and I also rented a car in Croatia, so the first sight we visited was Kaštel Gomilica on our way to Split.
We had heard rumors via the Internet that HBO was actively preparing a set near Kaštel Gomilica to be filmed as Braavos. Sure enough, the sight was full of props and burly Croatian security guards telling us not to take photos. If only we had known this is where Arya Stark would be leaving Needle, I would have waited around to grab it for myself!
Split = Meereen
Mr. Selfish, Cousin Selfish, and I spent a couple of days in Split to track down the Khaleesi scenes in Meereen.
We found the below alleyway outside of the Muzej Grada Splita. It was in this alleyway that HBO shot the scenes of the masters in Meereen looking scared of the imminent slave revolt.
Next, we had to go into the basement of Diocletian’s Palace to see where HBO shot the scene of the Unsullied convincing the slaves of Meereen to rebel against their masters. This is also where the unsullied fight the Sons of the Harpy in Season 5.
Hotel Zagreb = The House of Black and White
Outside of Split, Hotel Zagreb is an old abandoned building set on the water. We found rumors on the Internet that HBO was preparing Hotel Zagreb as a potential filming location for Dorne or Braavos in the upcoming season of GoT. It turns out this was the House of Black and White from Season 5.
Klis Fortress = Meereen
Klis Fortress is a medieval fortress outside of Split. It is also one of the filming locations for where Khaleesi currently resides and rules, Meereen.
Needless to say, we had a lot of fun reenacting scenes here.
Moreover, the HBO filming crew had left behind sets and props that looked like they were to be used again soon. Plus, there were no security guards around so we could take photos with impunity.
Dubrovnik = King’s Landing, Qarth, and the House of the Undying
Mr. Selfish and I saved Dubrovnik as our last stop in our GoT tour because we figured it would have the most epic reenactments. We were definitely right!
Dubrovnik was full of silly reenactments. In the following photos, you’ll see King’s Landing (inside the walled city eastern entrance), Qarth (the Rector’s Palace), and the House of the Undying (Minceta Tower).
From the photos below, it is clear that Lovrijenac Fortress outside of the walled city doubles as the Red Keep in King’s Landing.
Lokrum Island = Qarth
A ten-minute boat ride from Dubrovnik is Lokrum Island. HBO shot scenes of Khaleesi meeting a warlock in Qarth at the monastery on the island.
Church of St. Nicholas = Walk of Shame
While Mr. Selfish and I were in Dubrovnik, all of the locals were discussing the controversy between HBO and the Church of St. Nicholas. Apparently, HBO wanted to film Cersei’s walk of shame in or near the Church (spoilers!), and the Church disapproved of the nudity.
HBO and the Church apparently worked out some kind of deal to shoot the scenes, but we’ll have to see the compromise in the next season of GoT. April 12, 2015 cannot come soon enough!
[Disclaimer: These were our personal Google maps for our Game of Thrones tour in Northern Ireland and Croatia. It is possible that not all of the pins are accurate since we did not visit all of them.]