Series 8 of Game of Thrones is only a few weeks away and during our visit to Northern Ireland in February half term we visited many of the shows fantastic filming locations, many of which are dotted along the Northern Ireland Coastal Route.
Numerous key scenes have been filmed in the country and to help you locate them, Discover Northern Ireland have launched the Game of Thrones Filming Locations Northern Ireland app, available for Apple on AppStore and Android on GooglePlay.
Having the app allows you to visit and explore the locations at your own pace and it links to Google Maps, which gives you exact directions, whereas relying on postcodes can leave you a long way out of your chosen destination.
Some of the locations are located via a plaque from the show, with little to see or do, other than take pictures, however others are perfect for spending more time exploring.
Game of Thrones Filming Locations
Castle Ward – Winterfell
The first location on our list was Castle Ward and Audley’s Castle, both National Trust properties on the same site, whose historic farmyard is the location of Winterfell, the backdrop for the series pilot and much of season one.
This is the one location we spend the most time in as there was so much for the kids to explore, as well as several filming locations dotted around the property including Winterfell Castle, the Baelor battle, where Brienne confronts the Stark men and Robb Stark and Talisa got secretly married.
Although the sets have now gone, there is a large photo book in the courtyard showing how they set up and filmed some of the scenes, plus a huge replica Winterfell Archery Range, where you can dress up and try your hand at the sport, just like Jon Snow, Robb and Bran Stark. Please note you need to book this in advance with gameofthrones-winterfelltours.com
Just a short drive from Castle Ward is the River Quoile, which was used as the location for Hoster Tully’s funeral, attended by his daughter Catelyn and grandson Robb Stark, where is body was set ablaze by a flaming arrow, eventually, in season 3.
TOP TIP: The actual filming location is up a road marked as a dead end. Continue up this road to the second layby on the left hand-side to find it.
Home to Robb Stark’s Riverrun Camp, Inch Abbey is the stunning ruins of a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey set on the banks of the River Quoile.
As well as being the location where Robb Stark was proclaimed King of the North, in the distance you can see Downpatrick Cathedral, the burial place of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.
Located at the foot of the Mourne Mountains and a short drive from the popular coastal town of Newcastle, Tollymore Forest was used in season 1 as the location where Ned Stark and his sons found the Dire Wolf pups.
Cairncastle – The Neck and North of Winterfell
This one was the trickiest one to find, as it is set amongst farmland on single track country roads, but does offer some of the most spectacular inland scenery.
This wild landscape is where Ned Stark beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter in the very first season of Game of Thrones.
Carnlough Harbour: Braavos Canal
This picturesque harbour is situated in the pretty coastal town of Carnlough and is the location where Arya surfaced from the water after being attacked by the waif and crawled up the harbour steps.
After showing Isaac a picture of the scene that was filmed here, he could not wait to try and recreate it himself!!
Galboly: The Glens of Antrim – Runestone
Although we found the plaque by the side of the road, this was one where we could not find the exact filming location as it is all fenced off, however, the views over the bay were stunning.
This is the location where Sansa and Littlefinger watch Robin practice is swordsmanship in season 5 and where the latter agree to march to Sansa’s aid with the Knights of the Vale.
Cushenden Caves – Stormlands
Possibly the location we visited that the kids most enjoyed exploring.
Hubby tried to dodge the waves to get to the cave and ended up getting soaked before we realised there was a path to access them above the beach.
These 400 million year old caves were used in season 2 when Melisandre gave birth to the shadow creature which goes on to kill Renly Baratheon.
Murlough Bay – Slavers Bay and Renly’s Camp
From Cushenden Caves we experienced one of the most beautiful, but hair-raising drives we have ever experienced, to find Murlough Bay.
We were rewarded with a stunning rainbow sat over Fair Head, which rises 600ft above sea level and doubles as Dragonstone Cliffs.
Several episodes of Game of Thrones have been filmed in this and the surrounding areas including where Tyrion and Jorah were captured by Slavers in season 5 and where Tyrion and Daenerys share a moment in episode 6.
Larrybane – The Stormlands and Nagga’s Hill, Old Wyk
We actually fell across this location by complete accident when visiting the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge on our first day in Northern Ireland.
This location was used in season 2 as Renly Baratheon’s camp and where Brienne was named to Renly’s Kingsguard. It was also used in season 5 as the setting for the Kingsmoot.
Ballintoy – Lordsport and Pyke
If you didn’t know that Ballintoy Harbour was there, you would drive past oblivious to its beauty and it is obvious as to why it was chosen as a location for the Iron Islands when you first set eyes on it.
Theon returns here and is baptised in season 2 and in season 6, it is where Euron’s drowning and rebirth is held.
The Dark Hedges
Possibly the most iconic of the Game of Thrones locations, the Dark Hedges feature as the Kings Road, as Arya escapes Kings Landing in season 2.
Being iconic does have its downside, as it was also the busiest Game of Thrones location that we found.
TOP TIP: Park at the Hedges Hotel and walk through the fairy garden to find the Dark Hedges road. When you return, head into Gracehill House to find one of the Doors of Thrones and enjoy a warming cup of coffee.
Portstewart Strand – Coast of Dorne
Portstewart Strand is a stunning beach which features golden sand dunes and stunning sea views.
It is here that Jaime and Bronn come ashore to rescue Myrcella, only to be discovered by Dornish soldiers.
It is also where Ellaria and the Sand Snakes vow vengeance against the Lannisters in season 5.
Downhill Beach – Dragonstone
This stunning beach is home to Mussenden, a tiny temple perched on top of a 120ft cliff and is where Melisandre burnt the effigies of the seven gods of Westeros in season 2.
We managed to find 23 of the 26 listed locations on the app, missing Lough Neagh – the Summer Sea, Toome Canal – Old Valyrian Canal and Pollnagollum Cave – Hollow Hill, but have vowed to return soon to explore more of Northern Ireland and the Game of Thrones Studio Tour when it opens sometime this year.
Are you a Game of Thrones fan – do you recognise any of the locations?