Unless you’re brand new around here (in which case, HI!), you probably know that I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones. Unsurprisingly, that comes with the ultimate dream of visiting pretty much all of the filming locations used in the show (and pretending not to be disappointed to discover they were enhanced with CGI and lots of green screens), most of which are fairly “easily” accessible to me living in Europe. I’m still trying to convince Luke, though, to do one long Game of Thrones adventure.
So, in honour of my Game of Thrones obsession and the premiere of the eighth final season Sunday night in the States (or at 5:00AM for us…and again Monday night), I’m sharing the eight filming locations that top the list for me, one from each season. (Which was really difficult to do so I’m going to mention scenes from other seasons for most locations too.)
This post may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones through season eight, episode one.
SEASON ONE - KING’S LANDING
We’re introduced to a lot of castles, cities, and regions in both Westeros and Essos in the first season. But it is the game of thrones we’re talking about here, and as Queen Cersei tells us in episode 1.7, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. From the very beginning, the show is built around this idea and of course the throne everyone is after is the Iron Throne, located in Westeros’s capital city of Kings Landing. So with everything building to who will sit on the Iron Throne, I figured Kings Landing would be a good place to start.
Dubrovnik, Croatia is used for many exterior shots of Kings Landing and has been the location of some iconic scenes, not just in season one, like:
Joffrey’s name day tourney, when Tyrion arrives as Hand of the King, in episode 2.1 was filmed at Fort Lovrijenac
Myrcella’s departure to Dorne in episode 2.6 was filmed at West Harbor
Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod walk around the City Walls of Dubrovnik in episode 3.1, which are actual medieval city walls and a UNESCO World Heritage site
The gardens, first seen in episode 3.2 when Sansa dines with Olenna and Margaery, then throughout seasons three and four were filmed at Trsteno Arboretum
Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, AKA the Purple Wedding, in episode 4.2 was filmed at Gradac Park
The trial by combat between The Mountain, Gregor Clegane, and The Viper, Oberyn Martell, in episode 4.8 was filmed at Belvedere Atrium, but is not open to the public and only visible from outside
Cersei’s walk of atonement (SHAME!) in episode 5.10 was filmed on St. Dominic Street and the scene in which she crosses into the Red Keep was filmed at the Ploče Gate, the entrance to Dubrovnik's Old Town
SEASON TWO - DRAGONSTONE
Even though the season seven premiere is named for Dragonstone, we’re first introduced to the castle (and it’s amazing carved table) in the season two premiere, when it was held by Stannis Baratheon. Historically, it was the seat of the Targaryens, as its where they landed when they first sailed to Westeros, but Stannis was given the castle when Robert Baratheon won his rebellion. It’s not a glamorous castle, but probably befitting Stannis. In episode 7.1, Daenerys finally lands in Westeros and arrives back at her home.
The steps to the castle were filmed at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Bermeo, Spain, though the dragon gates and castle are of course digitally added
The beaches of Dragonstone that we see especially in episodes 7.1 and 7.3 were filmed Itzurun Beach in Zumaia, Spain
SEASON THREE - BEYOND THE WALL
Again, there’s an episode literally called Beyond the Wall in season seven, but we spend quite a bit of time with the Wildlings in season three before they climb the wall with Jon is episode 3.6. Like many of these locations, we go beyond The Wall every season, but it just seemed to fit best here. We did see the first spiral from the White Walkers in season three. Anyway, if you’ve ever heard Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) on a talk show, you know they filmed A LOT in Iceland, from season two and beyond. (Season one’s scenes that take place north of the Wall were filmed at a quarry in Northern Ireland.) All the scenes and locations below were filmed in Iceland, but keep in mind there were some other awesome scenes filmed in Iceland, but took place south of the Wall in the show (like the path to the Eyrie, seen in episode 3.8 and the Hound and Brienne’s fight in episode 4.9).
The Frostfang mountain range is filmed at Höfðabrekkuheiði glacier
Jon and the Night’s Watch capture the Wildling Ygritte in episode 2.6, filmed at Svínafellsjökull glacier
Sam first finds dragonglass at the First of the First Men in episode 2.8, filmed at Mýrdalsjökull glacier
Sam and Lord Commander Mormont are attacked by the Army of the Dead in episode 2.9, Jon is brought to the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, in episode 3.1, and Ygritte steals Jon’s sword (before going into the cave) in episode 3.5, all filmed at Dimmuborgir
Sam running from the Army of the Dead in episode 3.1 was filmed at Hverir
Jon and Orell’s confrontation about the Night’s Watch in episode 3.5 was filmed at Lake Myvatn
Ygritte seduces Jon in the cave in episode 3.5, partially filmed at Grjótagjá, though reshoots had to be done on set as the steam from the pool kept fogging up the camera lens
The Hound sees a mountain in the flames in episode 7.1 and in real life in episode 7.6, the Westeros which was filmed at Kirkjufell
Jon and company sail to Eastwatch-By-The Sea (technically on the Westeros side of the Wall though) in episode 7.5, filmed at Reynisfjara Beach
The Westerosi Avengers capture a wight in episode 7.6, filmed in Stakkholtsgjá Canyon
Jon rides Rhaegal with Daenerys on Drogon in episode 8.1, using Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon as the setting
They land the dragons at Skogafoss waterfall (though the surrounding area, including higher waterfalls, were digitally added later)
SEASON FOUR - MEEREEN
Daenerys Targaryen first lays seige to Meereen in season four, taking the city. She then spends the next three seasons in control of the city before finally sailing toward Westeros at the end of season six. It was a long three seasons in Meereen, there’s no arguing with that.
The underground passages Grey Worm and the Unsullied use in episode 4.4 was filmed in the cellars of Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia
The execution of a Sons of the Harpy prisoner and subsequent riot outside the city walls in episode 5.2, was filmed at Klis Fortress in Croatia
The Meereenese Fighting Pit seen in episode 5.9 when Daenerys first rides Drogon was filmed at Plaza de Toros de Osuna in Seville, Spain
Exterior shots for Meereen in season 6 were filmed in Peñíscola, in Castellón, Spain, including Portal Fosc, Calle Mayor, Parque de la Artillería, and Plaza de Santa María
SEASON FIVE - DORNE
The Dorne story line from season five is arguably the worst show-original plot they’ve had. Personally, when I realised Bronn and Jaime would be paired up for some buddy adventures, I was stoked. And when they introduced three of the eight Sandsnakes, I had high hopes. But it was all a major flop and instead gave us some of the worst lines ever uttered by any of the characters. Regardless, we still journey to the southernmost kingdom of Dorne for the first time in the fifth season and it gives us some gorgeous locations.
The water garden scenes seen throughout season five was filmed at the gardens of the Alcázar of Seville, Spain
Jaime meets with Prince Doran to discuss the release of Bronn in episode 5.9, filmed at he Ambassador's Hall (Salon de los Embajadores), the throne room of the original Arabic Palace at the Alcázar of Seville
Scenes at the castle of Sunspear in season six were filmed at Alcazaba of Almería
The scenes at the Tower of Joy in Bran’s visions, where a young Ned Stark, with Howland Reed, fights Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard and Lyanna gives birth to a baby later revealed to be Jon Snow, her legitimate son with Prince Rhaegar, throughout season six were filmed at Castillo de Zafra in Spain
SEASON SIX - THE GREAT SEPT OF BAELOR
The Great Sept of Baelor was the setting for one of the most iconic scenes in the whole show—maybe even television. We as viewers visited Baelor in hopes Ned Stark would be sent to the Wall by Joffrey and got the shock of our lives when he was promptly beheaded. But there’s no arguing that our visits to the Great Sept picked up later in the show. The coronations of both Joffrey and Tommen were inside, as were the weddings of Tyrion and Sansa, Joffrey and Margaery, and Tommen and Margaery. But once the High Sparrow showed up in the fifth season, we spent a lot more time on the steps. But we all know the real reason I put Baelor in season six happened in the beautifully scored opening sequence of the season six finale.
Ned is executed by order of King Joffrey in episode 1.9, filmed at Fort Manoel in Gżira, Malta
Jaime attempts to rescue Margaery from the Faith Militant in season 6 episode 6 culminating in a stand off between the Faith Militant and the Lannister and Tyrell armies, which was filmed at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona in Girona, Spain
SEASON SEVEN - THE DRAGON PIT
The Dragon Pit was the set of the big meeting between so many of the main characters in the final episode of season seven and it’s one of my favourite scenes to date, so I had to choose it to represent the whole penultimate season. They talk a little bit about the history of the dragon pit in that episode, but it’s also mentioned earlier, in episode 7.1 by Ed Sheeran and his merry men. It’s considered one of the great structures of King’s Landing, along with the Red Keep and the Great Sept of Baelor. The Targaryens built it hundreds of years ago, when it was first home to Balerion the Black Dread, though they mention what a cruel joke it was to have the tiny dragons contained there before they went extinct.
The gathering between Cersei, Jon, Daenerys and their advisers (AKA the group project Jon and The Hound presented) took place at the Roman Ruins of Italic in Seville, Spain
SEASON EIGHT - WINTERFELL
Winterfell is seen throughout all eight seasons, has been the subject of many conflicts, and has been prominently featured in the opening credits since the very first season, first with the Stark banners, then burning, then with the Bolton banners. And now we get to see the inside in the credits! The reason I chose Winterfell for season eight is simple: The episode 8.1 is named Winterfell and it’s one of two locations seen in the episode we’ve seen so far.
Exterior shots for Winterfell in the unaired pilot were filmed at Doune Castle in Scotland, but production never returned to Scotland for the series
Exterior shots for Winterfell have been filmed at Castle Ward in Northern Ireland (where you can now travel back in time to practice archery and attend a feast fit for a Royal Visit)
Ned and his sons finding the dead direwolf and her pups in episode 1.1 was filmed in Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland
Arya’s escape from King’s Landing on the Kingsroad and the start of a journey intended to return her to Winterfell in episode 2.1 was filmed at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland (Yes, it’s closer to King’s Landing on the Kingsroad, but being in Northern Ireland like much of Winterfell, I figured it would fit here.)
Which one of these—or other—filming locations would you most like to visit? Luke and I are seriously considering a roadtrip around Northern Ireland in the next year or so to see all the locations they used there. (Most of which, I didn’t even include!)
Fingers crossed they’ll one day create a Game of Thrones studio tour like they did with Harry Potter because many of the interior shots (including the Great Pyramid of Meereen and the Great Sept of Baelor) were shot on set.
PIN FOR LATER!