Game of Thrones, the iconic fantasy TV series, captivated audiences worldwide with its epic battles, intricate politics, and richly detailed world. Much of the show’s magic came from its amazing story, actors, and stunning filming locations. You can visit some of these real-world settings in Northern Ireland.
While filming took place in various places to create the backdrop of Westeros, four countries heavily contributed, including Spain, Croatia, and Iceland. These locations were shown in different seasons. However, Northern Ireland was featured over the entire eight seasons of the show. From the rugged landscapes of Winterfell to the eerie beauty of the Iron Islands, here’s your guide to the best Game of Thrones Northern Ireland filming locations.
Game of Thrones Northern Ireland Filming Locations
The main airport in Northern Ireland is Belfast, so you can easily visit all of these locations from the city. For a leisurely journey where you can take your own time and explore each place, hiring a car and making your way to each spot is the best option. However, if you have limited time or would prefer being amongst other Game of Thrones fans—even dressing up as a Stark—you might want to check out Game of Thrones Sightseeing Tours.
South of Belfast
The following three locations are about an hour’s drive south of Belfast.
1. Castle Ward: The Home of Winterfell
Located a 50-minute drive from Belfast in County Down, Castle Ward is an 18th-century National Trust property that serves as the backdrop for Winterfell. The Georgian farmyard and the picturesque Strangford Lough make it a perfect setting for the series. You can explore key scenes, including Robb Stark’s Camp, the Baelor battle, and Brienne’s confrontation with the Stark men.
2. Inch Abbey: A Medieval Gem
Inch Abbey, a medieval ruin, doubles as the location for the Riverlands scenes and is a short distance west of Castle Ward. It’s where Robb Stark’s army waits at the Trident to cross and is also the camp of The Houses of the North and the Riverlands in Game of Thrones. The abbey offers a breathtaking view of the River Quoile and Downpatrick Cathedral, the burial place of Ireland’s patron saint, St. Patrick.
3. Tollymore Forest: The Enchanted Woodland
Another 30-minute drive southwest will bring you to Tollymore Forest Park, and this is where the journey to Winterfell begins. It’s the place where the Night Watch first encounters the dismembered bodies in the snow. Fans will also recognize it as the woodland where Nightwalkers were spotted and the Direwolf pups were found. Tollymore Forest Park is open year-round and offers excellent facilities for tourists and campers.
North of Belfast
The following filming locations are north of Belfast, with the first stop being only a 40-minute drive from the city.
4. Magheramorne Quarry: Castle Black and the Wall
Magheramorne, a small hamlet in County Antrim, is home to an old stone quarry that served as Castle Black and The Wall in Game of Thrones. The quarry is located south of Larne and offers a distant view across Larne Lough. It’s where some of the most iconic scenes at the Wall were filmed.
5. Sallagh Braes: Dramatic Scenery of the Riverlands
Sallagh Braes, part of the Glens of Antrim, offers dramatic and picturesque scenery and is only 20 minutes from Magheramorne. Close to the village of Ballygally, you’ll recognize this location from Game of Thrones Episode 7, Season 6, where Sandor Clegane, the Hound, finds peace with a band of villagers in the Riverlands after surviving being left to die by Arya Stark.
6. Cushendun Caves: A Mystical Setting
Cushendun Caves, located in County Antrim, played a crucial role in Game of Thrones. They were the setting for Melisandre giving birth to her ‘shadow baby’ along the Antrim Coast. These caves are a must-visit for fans and treasure hunters of unique tourist spots. You’ll also get to sightsee along the beautiful coast of Northern Ireland, as this spot is a 45-minute drive north of Sallagh Braes and is mostly by the sea.
7. Larrybane Quarry: The Site of Brienne’s Introduction
Another 30 minutes along the coast and past the ruins of Kinbane Castle will bring you to Larrybane Bay on the North Antrim Coast. This was the setting for Brienne of Tarth’s introduction in season two. She fought Ser Loras Tyrell in a tournament before King Renly and Queen Margaery Tyrell. The old quarry offers scenic views of the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
8. Ballintoy Harbour: The Iron Islands
Ballintoy Harbour, a small village in County Antrim, featured as the Free Cities where Varys was born and as the coastal nook where Theon Greyjoy arrives back in the Iron Islands. It’s the northern point of the Antrim Coast and Glens coastline, offering outstanding natural beauty. There are some quaint Bed and Breakfast establishments in Ballintoy where you might want to spend the night before continuing your Game of Thrones Northern Ireland journey.
9. Downhill Strand: Scenes of Dragonstone
Downhill Strand in County Londonderry is a charming beach dominated by the elegant 18th-century ruins of Mussenden Temple. It was used as the exterior beach scene of Dragonstone Island, where Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon burn the statues of the Seven. It’s a 40-minute drive west of Ballintoy on the coast of Northern Ireland.
10. Binevenagh: The Dothraki Sea
Another 20 minutes west of Downhill Strand will bring you to Binevenagh, located on the edge of the Antrim plateau. It offers panoramic views stretching for miles. You’ll also find a pinnacle known as the Devil’s Thumb. Binevenagh was chosen as the Dothraki Sea, high above Meereen. This is where Daenerys is rescued by her dragon, Drogon, and brought to his lair.
11. Ballymoney: Game of Thrones Doors
From Binevenagh, you can make your way back southeast to Ballymoney, located about 40 minutes away. In 2016, storm Gertrude caused damage to the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland, famous for their appearance in Game of Thrones. Instead of using the fallen trees for firewood, they were repurposed into ten intricately designed doors depicting scenes from the show’s sixth season. The Dark Hedges, also known as the King’s Road, is a must-visit location near Ballymoney, with beech trees dating back to the 18th century. These trees played a prominent role in the series, including Arya Stark’s escape from King’s Landing on the orders of King Joffrey.
12. Glenariff Forest: Runestone
Glenariff Forest Park is found within the picturesque Glens of Antrim, boasting a landscape of lush woodlands, cascading waterfalls, and breathtaking scenery. The area known as Galboly served as the setting for Runestone in the show. It was at Runestone that Lord Yohn Royce escorted Robyn Arryn. Additionally, Glenariff Forest was the backdrop for a memorable scene where Sansa Stark observed Robyn Arryn’s attempts at dueling.
13. Slemish Mountain: The Plains by the Dothraki Sea
Just below the majestic mountain lies Shillanavogy Valley, which was cleverly transformed into the Dothraki Sea for the show. In a memorable scene, viewers witnessed Khal Drogo embarking on a journey to meet his new bride in the sprawling expanse of Vaes Dothrak, which was portrayed by this very landscape. Legend has it that the valley was where St. Patrick tended sheep after being brought to the area by pirates who slaughtered his family.