With the formal grand finale of the hit series “Game of Thrones” having rocked the world, the echoes of Thrones-mania can still be felt in much of everyday life. And whether you’re just picking up the series (better late than never) or re-watching it for the seventh time, the overall effect is the same: goosebumps, chills, strikes of stars and awe, those moments of living-room cinema that make you exclaim “Oh. My. God.” The show truly is a milestone of modern culture, a banner of fantasy and intrigue for us all to rally around in the everyday.
But, much of the show’s magic is not CGI or special effects—those sweeping sets of grandeur are rooted firmly in the real world, allowing for the possibility to relive those instances of awestruck goosebumps in the flesh. To find yourself living in a few well-known moments from Westeros (Warning: Major spoilers ahead), here’s where to head and what to see on a Game of Thrones tour.
Arguably the most famous, most eventful location in the entire show, Winterfell is the home of the Starks, briefly home to Ramsey Bolton before being won back by Jon Snow. Suffice to say, much of the action transpiring in the North happens here. In the real world, Winterfell is a combination of a duo of historic castles in Europe’s northern isles—Ireland and Scotland, precisely. While Doune Castle in Scotland was used for much of the first season (you’ll certainly feel déjà vu strolling its courtyards), it’s Castle Ward in Northern Ireland that composes a good section of meaningful Thrones moments: the entrance to the Winterfell crypts, the tower Bran was pushed off of in the first episode, and the nearby fields of Saintfield that provided the setting for the Battle of the Bastards. Witnessing the rolling green fields, sans armies, leaves plenty of room for your imagination to run wild.
While this was a compelling moment in Cersei’s character progression, the truly memorable star of this scene will always be the angry nun with a bell. While this excruciating walk spans the entirety of King’s Landing in the show, in reality, the walk takes place within several different sections of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The tall, instantly recognizable church steps where Cersei’s walk begins are actually the Jesuit Staircase, and the conclusion of her walk occurs at Ploče Gate. When visiting either, you might feel compelled to bring a bell and chant, “Shame!” but, please, think of the locals.
In one of the most quintessential Oh-my-God-a-Dragon moments of the show, Daenerys Targaryen survives an ambush within Meeren’s gladiatorial arena, the Great Pit of Daznak, when her dragon flies in and saves the day by literally torching the assassins. In reality, the Great Pit is actually the already-storied Plaza de Toros de Osuna in Seville, Spain. While bulls have long since stopped being the main attraction of the arena, you’ll find tourism is still up—thanks in part to the influx of “Games of Thrones” interest.
For all the instances of frigid landscapes occurring beyond the Wall, be it the free people or the Whitewalkers, we have the scenic settings of Iceland to thank. For a country so comparatively small to the rest of Europe, there is a massive amount to see and do, especially in regards to the show. Myrdalsjökill glacier is the setting for the Fist of the First Men (and subsequent Whitewalker attack), Gígjökull was the location for much of season seven’s electric quest by John Snow and co. to capture a Wight, and the iconic fight between Brienne of Tarth and the Hound occurred around the stunning hikes of Hengill mountain. This barely scratches the surface of scenes worth revisiting in Iceland, making it the certified can’t-miss country for any diehard “Game of Thrones” fan.
Want to get lost in the show in a whole new way? It helps to have a guide, so give one of our travel agents a call. Their expertise, knowledge and professional relationships with specialty travel partners like CIE Tours International help you to find the magic in the real world on your Game of Thrones tour to destination countries throughout Europe.