It’s hard to deny the power that Game of Thrones has on our culture. The juggernaut series for HBO has permeated into our lives in almost every way. We cook Westeros food. We drink Dothraki cocktails. And we travel to far-flung corners of Europe just to walk the mythical lands where Westeros and Essos come to life. That’s a pretty damn powerful reach for a TV show. And we love it, because any excuse to try new food and travel to new places is a win in all the columns.
Game of Thrones launched its seventh season last night and the internet is full of spoilers for this season’s filming locations. We decided to compile some of the coolest locations we could source to give you the opportunity to plan a grand summer 2017 vacation around the world’s favorite TV show.
Spain, Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Croatia are all backdrops this year for Westeros. They’re also very accessible countries for the casual tourist.
The important thing to remember is for you to travel the way that suits you. You can easily grab a discount airfare, sling a rucksack full of chucks and jeans over your shoulder, and wing it around Europe like a shoestring vagabond. You can also drop a little cash and go first class the whole way. Or, you can do a little shopping and find yourself a set tour that covers your transport, accommodation, and meals so you can just chill and enjoy the scenery around you. Companies like Friendly Planet Travel are actually offering decent discounts (promo code: GOT2017) on trips to places like Croatia, Spain, Ireland, and Iceland that highlight Game of Thrones locations specifically. They do all the hard work for you. Find your sweet spot and dive in!
If you’re up for a little Game of Thrones inspired adventure around Europe this summer, here are the locales that’ll be popping up in season seven to whet your wanderlust appetite.
The Mother of Dragons is about to land in Westeros and it looks like HBO has chosen locations all over Spain to serve as the backdrop for that landing. Spanish mayors have supposedly been too excited about HBO and GoT coming to town and spilled a lot of beans on filming locations around the country.
Spain is the land of salty, cured hams, piquant cheeses, and sunny red wines. And, now, it’s the land of Game of Thrones, which adds an extra layer of awesome to the place. GoT and amazing food and drink is an all around vacation win.
Here are some of the locations around the country.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe — Basque Country
This idyllic beach has a winding cobbled path along the cliffs that feels truly transportive. The beach is about two-hours north of the awesome city of Bilbao — with delectable food and wine flowing freely enough to please even Cersei.
Itzurun — Basque Country
Further along the Basque coast towards France is a remarkable beach where huge rock slabs plunge into the azure waters of the Atlantic. Itzurun is in the heart of Basque Country with pastoral rolling hills, quaint villages, and picturesque vistas in every direction.
Atarazanas Reales de Sevilla — Andalusia
The ancient Royal Dockyards in Seville were earmarked last year to play a role in season seven. The ancient arches date back to the 13th century and have a decidedly Gothic feel, making them a perfect Game of Thrones backdrop. Plus, they’re in Seville — which is another one of Spain’s delectable and beautiful cities.
Seriously… there are so many cool cities in Spain. It almost seems unfair.
Castillo de Almodóvar del Río Córdoba — Andalusia
On the road from Seville to Córdoba, you’ll find the village of Almodóvar del Río. Looming large over the village is Moorish castle dating back to 760. Even if this wasn’t a GoT filming location, it’d still be worth hitting up on any trip to Spain just to walk around a 1,300-year-old castle from Spain’s Muslim days.
Cáceres — Extremadura
Further north in the Spanish state of Extremadura, filming occurred on the ancient Roman streets of Cáceres. The city was founded in the year 25BCE and the walled inner city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can be assured the food’s going to be stellar and the wine will be flowing… it’s still Spain after all.
Los Barruecos — Extremadura
Not far from the Cáceres is the rock formations of Los Barruecos. The shallow lakes, grassy terrain, and smoothed rock outcrops feel and look magical — perfect for a little escapism into the world of Westeros.
Iceland has had a massive tourism boom since Game of Thrones came to town. The country of ice and snow only has 330,000 residents. Yet it regularly sees well over one million tourists every year — a number that doubled since it became the backdrop for the land north of the Wall.
Iceland is a sparse and majestic land of glaciers, hot springs, small horses, big waterfalls, and geological wonders at every turn. This year should be the year you discover how amazing the volcanic island is.
Mývatn is one of those majestic spots. Rolling green hills with wild horses grazing surround a massive deep blue lake. Getting there is going to take time, since it’s about 2/3 the way across the whole of Iceland from your entry point at Reykjavik. But the cross-country drive is worth it for a slice of natural wonder.
Svínafellsjökull glacier has popped up in films before. McConaughey landed there in Interstellar. It’s also popped up in Game of Thrones in the past and is slated to appear this season as well. We’re guessing Jon Snow will be there, still not knowing things.
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park is a nice, easy jaunt outside of Reykjavik. The park is the site of the Rift Valley, where the North American and European tectonic plates butt up against each other, forming a canyon. Which, come on, who doesn’t want to walk in between two tectonic plates at least once in their lives? There’s also a huge lake, the old Parliament, and waterfalls. It’s the perfect day trip outside the capital.
Northern Ireland has played a big role over the years as part of Westeros. The craggy seaside has a stand in role for The Pyke and Arya and the Hound spent plenty of time wandering the moors and bogs through the Irish countryside.
For travelers, Northern Ireland is more attractive now than ever before — with the Brexit-induced pounding the British pound has taken. Exchange rates are very favorable against the US dollar right now, making this cool, pub-filled corner of the world that’s suddenly much more accessible.
Stranocum The Dark Hedges
Deep in Northern Ireland, the night is dark and full of really cool looking beech trees. The Dark Hedges already have a mythical quality to them as they curve out over an Irish country road. It’s easy to see how this location was chosen for a Game of Thrones background.
Due north of The Dark Hedges is the coastal hamlet of Ballintoy which often stands in for The Pyke and the Iron Islands. The windswept and craggy beaches are quintessential Northern Ireland, with plenty of pubs with crackling fires and flowing Guinness providing shelter on a rainy Irish day.
Croatia is a mainstay of the Game of Thrones universe as the stand-in for King’s Landing and the surrounding area. The ancient cities and seaside beauty of Croatia has helped to create the real world feel of Game of Thrones over the years. And no GoT-inspired adventure to Europe would be complete without a stop in Croatia.
Dubrovnik is another UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 700s. The city’s walled neighborhoods and cobbled streets have become synonymous with King’s Landing and that mythical city’s septs and slums.
Travelers discovering Dubrovnik will find a scenic city full of deep history, delectable food, and a real sense of wonder.
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