'Game of Thrones' Travel Itinerary: All Men Must Fly
As season six kicks off, we explore some of the most travel-worthy filming locations in the Seven Kingdoms.
Season 1, Winterfell/The Iron Islands: Northern Ireland
The crumbling 18th century farmyard of Castle Ward provided the historical backdrop for the citadel of Winterfell. Here, we’ve seen the Stark boys practice archery—and the Boltons hang skinned corpses from the walls. Alternatively the steep, isolated ruins of Dunluce Castle in the North double for the harsh Iron Islands, home of House Greyjoy.
Explore like a Stark… with Game of Thrones Tours ($451), which will take you down the muddy roads of the Stark bannermen and through the ruins of a 12th-century Cistercian abbey where Robb Stark was crowned “King in the North,” or north to explore the cold, hard Iron Islands and the legendary Giant’s Causeway. www.gameofthronestours.com
Season 2, King’s Landing: Dubrovnik, Croatia
Remember the fateful Battle of the Blackwater at the end of Season 2? GoT fans will find it hard to forget the scene in which eerily green wildfire set fleets ablaze. This epic battle scene was actually shot in Dubrovnik, with its medieval city wall providing the perfect stage setting for King’s Landing. Take a stroll through the intricate maze of forts and towers along the stone wall while gazing at the brightly colored rooftops of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Live like a King… at the Hotel Bellevue, which offers a “Discover King’s Landing” package. Starting from $3,153 per night, the package includes a private guided tour through the shooting locations within the Old Town of Dubrovnik. www.adriaticluxuryhotels.com/en/hotel-bellevue-dubrovnik
Season 3, Slaver’s Bay: Morocco
Follow Daenerys Targaryen in her slave-freeing quest through mountainous and sandy Morocco. Travel to Essaouira in the west (Astapor in GoT)—this UNESCO World Heritage fortified seaport is where we cheered as Daenerys released the Unsullied, an army of eunuch slave-warriors. Next, it’s a six-hour ride southeast to Aït Benhaddou, the clay city where Daenerys continued her conquest of Slaver’s Bay. The fortified castle, now home to only four families, has been sitting on a caravan route in the Sahara since the 17th century.
Live like a Targaryen... at the Auberge Bagdad Café. It may not be a five-star hotel, but this cozy B&B boasts exemplary Moroccan hospitality and probably the best tagine in town. $318 per night, book on www.expedia.com
Season 4 The Eyrie/Beyond the Wall: Iceland
The cast filmed a major part of season four in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park during summer, where Arya went on her little adventure to the Eyrie: Tramp across the countryside and soak in the natural beauty of Lake Thingvallavatn. Remember Jon Snow’s steamy sex scene in the cave in season three? While the passion may have been acting, the steam was certainly real. Grjótagjá, where they shot the scene, is a cave with a naturally formed thermal spring, thanks to volcanic eruptions in the late 70s. It’s the perfect secluded spot—turns out Jon Snow did know something after all.
Ride like a Stark… with the horses at the nearby Skógarhólar horse camp. There are two riding trails in the park, both of which take you through majestic scenic spots. www.thingvellir.is/plan-your-visit/horseback-riding
Season 5 Dorne: The Alcázar, Seville
When golden-haired Jaime Lannister ventures into Dorne to rescue his daughter-slash-niece, we are introduced to the magnificent Water Gardens of the House Martell, covered with geometric ceramic tiles in a riot of rich colors. You can retrace Jaime’s steps at the Alcázar Palace in Seville, where the Water Garden scenes were filmed. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts stunning Moorish architecture—wander in the plush gardens or marvel at the gold domed ceiling inlaid with thousands of tiny mirrors.
Live like a Lannister... at the grandiose Alfonso XIII hotel, where the cast actually stayed during the shoot. With its baroque-style courtyards and ornate arches, the hotel is named after the Spanish king who banqueted in one of its extravagant halls in 1929. $3,226 per night, www.grandluxuryhotels.com
The Shooting Game
We asked New Zealand actor Joe Naufahu, who plays newcomer Khal Moro on “Game of Thrones,” about his favorite places to film on the series.
“Spain was an amazing shooting location and I was fortunate enough to spend time in a couple of beautiful Spanish towns—Olite and Almeria. We visited a wonderfully quaint winery in Olite and stayed at the most exquisite boutique hotel there. Almeria was equally beautiful—I was amazed at the architecture and the warmth of the locals.”