With a super-smart special effects team and a seemingly bottomless budget, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Game of Thrones’ incredible landscapes and backdrops are all figments of a designer’s imagination.
Nope. Sometimes nature – and ancient architects – can outdo even the slickest CGI.
From mighty castles and impenetrable city walls to windswept islands and tiny harbors, join us on a whistle-stop tour of some of the series’ top locations. Then start booking your flights to visit for real.
With its ancient city walls and distinctive terracotta roofs, the Croatian city of Dubrovnik has doubled as King’s Landing since season two. A stroll around the labyrinthine streets of the Old Town reveals Game of Thrones monuments at every turn, while not far up the coast you’ll find Trsteno Arboretum, better known as the gardens of King’s Landing.
The seat of House Stark can be found in County Down, on the east coast of Northern Ireland. The 18th-century Castle Ward’s a popular tourist spot in its own right, offering everything from Game of Thrones-themed archery lessons to outdoor concerts in the summer. You can even stay in a cottage on the edge of the Whispering Wood.
The Isle of Pyke
Meanwhile on the north coast of Northern Ireland, the picturesque fishing village of Ballintoy is the real-life location of Lordsport, gateway to the Isle of Pyke. You might remember it from season two, when Theon Greyjoy returned home to the Iron Islands to form an alliance with his father, Balon. To commemorate this sleepy hamlet’s brush with fame, there’s now a Game of Thrones plaque at the harbour’s edge.
Further south in warmer climes lies Casterly Rock, stronghold of House Lannister. First appearing in season seven, filming took place at Castillo de Trujillo in Cáceres, Spain. This ancient Arab fortress was the scene of the bloody battle between the Unsullied and the Lannister armies, and you can climb the towers and stroll the real battlements for just a couple of euros.
Just outside Córdoba lies Castillo de Almodóvar del Río, AKA Highgarden, seat of House Tyrell. Perched atop a hill overlooking the little town of Almodóvar del Río and the Guadalquivir river, the castle was originally a Roman fort. It was conquered and rebuilt in the 8th century by the Moors when they arrived in Al-Andalus – modern-day Andalusia.
Off the north coast of Spain not far from Bilbao, the tiny islet of Gaztelugatxe is the windswept setting for Dragonstone. But forget Daenerys Targaryen, this little gem has its own dramatic history. As a strategic spot for invaders from the sea, it’s been the site of numerous battles over the last 800 years. It’s much more peaceful these days, so put your best foot forward and set off across the bridge and up the 200 or so steps to the little hermitage at the top of the rock.
Find out more about GOT past seasons and if you can't wait until 2019 to get your fix of Game of Thrones watch all the past seasons on OSN Play from June, plus watch TV episodes of all your favorite TV shows also.