With a landscape that has inspired fantasy writers like C.S. Lewis for decades, it is no surprise that Northern Ireland has served as a filming location for the HBO series “Game of Thrones” since 2010. Many of the otherworldly landscapes that serve as the backdrop for the make-believe show can actually be visited in real life.
Though you can find “Game of Thrones” locations in Croatia, Spain, and Iceland, it might also be time to book a trip to Ireland if you have been inspired by the castles, mountain ranges, and forests featured in the award-winning show.
1. Dark Hedges: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Dark Hedges is an avenue of intertwined beech trees that were planted by the Stuart family more than 200 years ago. The trees were planted as an impressive lead up to their mansion (Gracehill House), but it serves as the Kingsroad in “Game of Thrones.” Park at the Hedges Hotel in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim and then walk over to experience the striking street for yourself.
2. Glenariff: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Glenariff is sometimes known as “Queen of the Glens,” and is considered one of the prettiest valleys in Antrim. The lush glen in Northern Ireland was the setting for the dueling practice field in the Vale of Arryn. You can visit the gorgeous greenery at the Glenariff Forest Park in Ballymena, and walk through three miles of trails.
3. Dunluce Castle: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Built on the edge of a cliff, stunning Dunluce Castle is only accessible by a narrow bridge. The ruins of the 16th-century castle served as the House of Greyjoy in “Game of Thrones.” One of the best castles in all of Ireland, you can check out the visitor’s center before exploring the beautiful stone ruins.
4. Binevenagh Mountain: Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Real life Binevenagh Mountain became the peak overlooking “Game of Thrones’” imaginary Dothraki Sea. You might recognize it from the scene when Daenerys is rescued by her dragon. The beautiful natural landscape can be found in County Londonderry and outdoor lovers can lace up their hiking boots and hit the trails here.
5. Tollymore Forest Park: Co. Down, Northern Ireland
The trails of Tollymore Forest Park were portrayed as the Haunted Forest in this beloved HBO series. You can visit the park in County Down near the town of Newcastle and pack a picnic to enjoy under the trees. Then, follow in the footsteps of White Walkers who marched through this forest into the realm of men. This is also where Theon’s failed escape was filmed. Keep an eye out for the numerous structures that blend into their natural surroundings, including a grotto and hermitage stone house that seems straight out of a fairytale.
6. Audley’s Field and Castle: Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Audley’s Field, with its distinctive stone castle, has appeared in three seasons of “Game of Thrones.” The most memorable scene was in Season Two when Robb Stark pitches camp and meet Talisa here. Outside of GoT, the 16th-century castle is really part of the Ward family estate in Downpatrick, Co. Down. Stop in for a walk along the country lanes that lead up to the castle to admire the stone structure up close.
7. Mourne Mountains: Co. Down, Northern Ireland
Located near Tollymore Forest Park (another filming location), the Mourne Mountains were an inspiration for C.S. Lewis’ fantastical Narnia and can also be seen in the make-believe world in the “Game of Thrones.” The incredible mountains make an appearance as Vaes Dothrak, the only city on the Dothraki Sea. Stop into Leitrim Lodge in County Down to take in the views that appeared in the series as part of the Seven Kingdoms.
8. Murlough Bay: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
Murlough Bay is fairly remote but it is worth the trek out to Ballycastle in County Antrim to take in the views along the rocky coastline. The bay looks out towards some of the Scottish Isles, but on TV it was used as the shore where Tyrion and Ser Jorah are captured by a slave ship in season five. Eagle-eyed fans might notice that this is also where Yara rides her horse with Theon.
9. Cushendun Caves: Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
When Melisandre gives birth to a Shadow in a cave near Renly’s encampment in “Game of Thrones,” she is really at the Cushendun Caves in County Antrim. The moss-covered caves were formed more than 400 million years ago and can be found just outside the village of Cushendun.
10. Portstewart Strand: Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland
The two miles of golden sand at Portstewart Strand are some of the prettiest beaches in Northern Ireland. They made for a picturesque backdrop during Jaime and Bronn’s approach to the Water Gardens during the War of the Five Kings. You can see them for yourself near the seaside town of Portstewart in County Londonderry.