TVH Team Trip: Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Northern Ireland!!
If you haven't noticed so far, we are HUGE Game of Thrones fans - any chance we get we try to work it into our surprise trip clues! We had read all the books before the show was even announced on HBO, and in addition to diligently watching the show, we spend probably way too much time speculating about what is going to happen (for those of you that don't know, a lot of the storylines are different in the two versions).
Anyway, we have been to quite a few places where portions of the show were shot, including Iceland and Spain, but this was the first time we decided to take a special themed tour to visit the harder to reach filming locations.
We started off our tour in Dublin (where we were staying) and along with about 40 other people, drove over the border into the UK and Northern Ireland. The first Game of Thrones stop was the Dark Hedges (aka the King's Road). The hedges were neat because they are so instantly recognizable but unfortunately, storms in the last year had knocked down a few of the trees creating some gaps in the otherwise gorgeous tunnel.
Next stop was Dunluce Castle which was the inspiration for Harrenhal in the show. Our guide told us that they ended up not being able to film inside the ruins of the castle because the ground was unstable underneath (it's perched on a seaside cliff) and had to use a lot of CGI for the outside castle shots.
We then visited Ballintoy Harbor (Iron Islands and Pyke). This was one of our favorite stops because not only was it just beautiful in it's own right, but was also recognizable from the show as the place where Theon first comes back to Pyke and where Euron is crowned king.
After Ballintoy, we visited a stone quarry where Renly's camp was located and where Brienne wins her fight and is allowed to join Renly's King's Guard. In the show, Catelyn Stark and Brienne are also seen leaving this area after Renly is killed.
We took a break from visiting Game of Thrones sites at this point and went to see one of Northern Ireland's best known landmarks (and a UNESCO Heritage site), the Giant's Causeway. We did a short hike up and over the cliff behind the Causeway for great views, and then came back down to actually walk on natural the hexagon-shaped stones of the Causeway. The guide told us that in Irish legend, the giant Finn McCool built this Causeway to reach Scotland (and then later destroyed it).
Our last Game of Thrones stop was at Cushenden Caves where Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby that later slays Renly. We saw the beach where her and Davos land in a small boat and then went inside the caves to the exact spot where she gives birth. It was pretty hilarious to see other fans try to reenact the birth sequence : )
The very last stop on our tour was in the charming town of Belfast, the capitol of Northern Ireland. We walked around, got some coffee, and enjoyed the evening. After about an hour, we boarded our bus and were on our way back to Dublin. Overall, it was a very good experience and tour! We normally enjoy seeing the sites on our own so we can spend as much time as we want (instead of being on a schedule) but recognize that there was no way we would have been able to see this many filming locations on our own in such a short amount of time.
To have your very own Game of Thrones adventure, just let us know you are fans of the show and we'll try to work a tour into your surprise vacation, get started by filling out our trip survey!