On the Game of Thrones trail in Northern Ireland

Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Winterfell sign

 

When I lived in Belfast around 20 years ago, tourists never came. You’d get the occasional American researching his roots, but that’s all. The whole risk of getting shot thing really was a bit off-putting.  So it was a welcome surprise when I visited Northern Ireland last week to see that the place was heaving with tourists from all over the world. And most of them were there for one reason – Game of Thrones.

HBO’s Games of Thrones has filmed in multiple locations all over Northern Ireland. As yet you can’t visit Titanic Studios, where indoor filming takes place.  But many of the outdoor locations are open to the public and free to visit.

One must-stop on your Game of Thrones Northern Ireland journey is Castle Ward. Castle Ward’s farmyard was the original location of Winterfell (it’s now filmed on a dedicated set).

 

Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Castle Ward

 

The grounds of Castle Ward also house the Whispering Wood and were the setting for key scenes including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle and Brienne’s confrontation of the Stark men.

 

Castle Ward Game of Thrones Northern Ireland

Castle Ward Northern Ireland Game of Thrones

 

There are guided and self-guided tours available around Castle Ward. If you’re not taking one of these then do your research beforehand as to which locations you want to find. One tree looks much like another, and the wifi connection isn’t great in these rural areas. You can’t rely on Google maps to help you out.

 

Game of Thrones Northern Ireland cycle tour

 

Probably the most beautiful place we visited was the enigmatic Dark Hedges, better known as The King’s Road in Game of Thrones. This is one of the world’s top five tree tunnels (how good can the other four be?). It’s where Arya Stark dressed as a boy to escape from King’s Landing on the back of a cart in Season 2.

 

The Dark Hedges Game of Thrones Northern Ireland

 

The Dark Hedges are on the Bregagh Road in Ballymoney. They’re slightly tricky to find, but worth it when you do. There’s limited on-road free parking, so try and get there early. The rumour in Northern Ireland is that this road may eventually be closed to visitors, so walk it while you can.

 

The King's Road Game of Thrones Northern Ireland

 

There are many more Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations. These are just the ones I managed to visit. I got the sense that Northern Ireland has been slightly taken by surprise by the influx of Game of Thrones visitors. Many of the locations simply aren’t set up for the number of people who want to visit. We tried and failed to get a parking space in Ballintoy Harbour (AKA an Iron Island port), but it’s quite tiny and was too full to stop at.

The knock-on effect is that the Giant’s Causeway is also much busier than it used to be. It doesn’t have a starring role in Game of Thrones, but if you’re in Norn Irn then you might as well. You will know your fellow Games of Thrones Northern Ireland pilgrims as they will all be wearing black t shirts and unsuitable shoes for hiking.

 

Giant's Causeway Northern Ireland

 

Have you been to any of the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations? Where would you like to visit? leave a comment below.

  • My partner would love to visit this place. He is obsessed with GOT at the moment. Fab post.

    • Oh he would love visiting the locations. It’s really fun because you can mix with lots of other GOT fans there.

  • Tas D

    Oh wow I’d love to do this tour. We went to castle doune in Scotland which I think was winterfell for a tiny bit. #triedtested

  • Like love do

    Thank for visiting my blog and I’m so glad you did! We love Game of thrones and so does my eldest son. We didn’t even realise this existed. We also love cycling so this is right up our street! Pictures are fantastic.

    • This is totally made for you, you would love it. Next time I go back I want to do one of the cycling tours as they are all through a lovely forest.

      • Like love do

        Will be looking in to this , ill already told my husband!

  • VintageFolly

    I enjoy Game of Thrones but more so I enjoy travel. It’s quite embarrassing that of all the places I’ve been, I’ve never visited Ireland!
    I’d love to take myself in one of tours x

    • Oh my goodness you have to put it at the top of your list. It’s not even expensive to get to, lots of airlines do pretty cheap fares.

  • Wendy Hughes

    I now want to visit Ireland more than ever. This looks amazing, I love Game of Thrones and would love to visit all these places xx #TriedTested

    • Ah Wendy, you have to go, you will love it. It’s not an expensive place to get to now and there is so much to do.

  • Thanks for sharing your review on #TriedTested this week x

    • Thank you Colette! I have enjoyed going through the linky and finding some great posts to read.

  • Helen

    Ohh wow this looks cool, would love to visit and have a walk around to visit the sites! Popping over from #triedtested

    • Thank you Helen! It’s a fascinating place to visit.

  • It looks like it was stunning, I really have to try and visit it the next time I’m home – although maybe not in Winter. It might be a Spring thing 🙂

    Honestly Aine

    • Definitely make it part of your trip Aine, it helps you see Norn Irn in a whole new light

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