The UK has always been one of my dream destinations, so before I left Dubai, I made sure to step foot on the land of British tea and scones (also the Queen). When I was plotting all the things I want to do, a friend of mine sent me a message and she was excited for my trip (it’s somehow a Filipino trait), that I will get to visit the Game of Thrones (GOT) shooting locations……right…..well, to be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about it (SHAMEFUL), I was in a way, thankful that my friend blunted that out and I ended up plotting these places around the map of Northern Ireland.
Good thing about it, I am traveling with an Irish local and our route was from Belfast going to the Republic of Ireland along the Wild Atlantic Way.
Though a lot of GOT scenes are heavily done in CGI, they still use beautiful actual-locations as the basis for these scenes.
Thank God for the internet, I was able to find several resources to help me plot each location. The official Tourism Website of Ireland has a detailed DIY Itinerary all dedicated for Game of Thrones fans, that’s how serious Ireland on being a Game of Thrones Territory. (if you don’t fancy doing a DIY tour, there are a lot of independent tour operator banking on the Game of Thrones bandwagon).
So here are the places we successfully visited. Some, we got to visit not knowing that it is a shooting location, while some I have to research about it (some a bit underwhelming) but hey, it is GAME OF THRONES!!!
We started our journey in Belfast. We were there to attend a wedding, YES, I crashed a wedding and it was amazing (hopefully I’ll get to write about this soon).
TOLLYMORE FOREST PARK – HAUNTED FOREST
Believe it or not, I didn’t know that the Tollymore Forest Park is a known Game of Thrones shooting location. I went there to do some horseback riding with friends as this is a good spot to walk the horses around.
Surprisingly this is also the location of the very first Game of Thrones scene, the Haunted Forest. The place where the first encounter with the White Walkers happened. Also, this is the location where the Stark family found the newborn direwolves.
TITANIC STUDIOS – GAME OF THRONES STUDIO SET
The Titanic Studios is the main Game of Thrones studio set. Here, they do a lot of green screen and studio scenes. We weren’t able to explore the set that time, so we just toured around the Titanic Museum haha. (we can see the studio from a distance though).
CUSHENDUN CAVES – THE SHADOW PRINCE
The Cushendun Caves located at the small village of Cushendun is the location of one of the darkest scenes in GOT history, the birth of the Shadow Prince. During our visit, there were no signs stating this, you just have to trust the map and your instinct. Until know, I am assuming that the cave we went to was the correct one.
MURLOUGH BAY – SLAVERS BAY
Although located just in between Torr Head and Fair Head, we had a hard time finding Murlough Bay. We parked at Torr Head and just walk around the area assuming that we were already at Murlough Bay (the landscape here is amazing).
Murlough Bay is the location for the Slavers Bay. The scene where Tyrion and Jorah encountered the slavers on their way to Meereen .
BALLINTOY HARBOUR – HOME OF THE IRONBORN
Ballintoy Harbour is the location for Pyke. The home of the Ironborn. There were several scenes shot here. The arrival of Theon Greyjoy after his long “captivity” at Winterfell. The beach also witnessed the drowning of Euron Greyjoy to become the kings of the Iron Islands.
CARRICK- A -REDE – RENLY BARATHEON CAMP IN STORM’S END, STORMLANDS
The Carrick- a – Rede is a famous rope bridge in Northern Ireland, it is just a walk away from the Ballintoy Harbour; you are hitting two locations in one stone (plus it is near Giant’ Causeway–so basically 3 locations). Though the bridge itself isn’t part of any filming locations, the nearby Larrybane Quarry is the site of Renly Baratheon’s Camp (before he got killed by the Shadow Prince — SPOILER!! Haha).
DARK HEDGES – KINGS ROAD
I think this is the most famous and picturesque GOT location in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges is an avenue of beech trees planted during the 1800s. The lined (huge) trees creates an eerie feel while you cross along the road.
The Dark Hedges is the location set for the Kings Road, remember in season 1 where Arya left Westeros to escape the Lannisters and traveled along with the Night’s Watch.
DOWNHILL STRAND – THE LORD OF LIGHT
Last but not the least, we ended our location hunting at the Downhill Strand as it was already late when we arrived there. Also, this is a good place to catch the sunset.
This place was seen also during the 1st season of Game of Thrones where Stannis Baratheon rejects the seven old gods of Westeros while Melisandre proclaimed him as the champion of the Lord of Light.
There are a lot more Game of Thrones locations around Northern Ireland which we weren’t able to cover on a full day roadtrip. But in the end, just to stand on one of the sets feel really good and a big tick on the Bucket list as an avid Game of Throne fan.
Leaving Game of Thrones behind, Northern Ireland is indeed very beautiful. The landscape is very rich with vast plains and jaw dropping cliffs. Surely a place worth visiting. I definitely write about the whole Ireland (North and Republic) on a future blog.