Travels

A Game of Thrones Experience

If you are a fan of the books or the acclaimed show on HBO, come to Belfast to immerse yourself in the Game of Thrones saga. While tours of the physical sets (aptly named Titanic Studios) are not an option, you can see the studio where production takes place, at Paint Hall in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast. If you want to see more than the exterior of a building, you’re in luck. In Belfast and the surrounding areas, you can find severalcharacters’ homes and some of the outdoor locals of the series’ more memorable moments.You can find out more about the specific locations through your travel agent or online, and even set up a tour if you’re so inclined. If you’d like to go about it on your own, I’ll give you a few hot spots both in and around Belfast to check out and what they represent in the show.

The abandoned Magheramorne quarry area has been repurposed for Game of Thrones. Here you will find Castle Black, Hardhome, and the Wall. With the help of CGI, these places look incredible onscreen. They do look pretty cool in person even without the digital enhancements.

Although it is outside Belfast and will take you a little over an hour’s travels, Tollymore Forest Park is a must see for GoTfans. In real life, it was the first forest park in Nothern Ireland, and it certainly is a beauty. If you watch the show, you’ll probably know it as the Forest of the North. Some memorable scenes that took place here were when the Nightwalkers were spotted, as well as where the Direwolf pups were discovered by Ned Stark. Walking around the park, you’ll be able to see some non-native trees like the eucalyptus and giant redwood, as well as oldest tree located in an arboretum in Ireland—the Clanbrassiliana.

And speaking of trees, if you’re looking for the memorable Kingsroad that Arya Stark travels during her escape, you’ll find it at Ballymoney’s Dark Hedges. Located about 78 km (49 miles) north of Belfast, it’s worth the hour or so car ride. The beech trees, planted in the 18th century, that line the road are just as eerie and beautiful in person as they are on screen.

While you’re north of Belfast, another worthwhile stop is Ballintoy Harbour. This small fishing harbour has a second life serving as Pyke Harbour and as the Iron Islands. When you visit, you’ll remember it as the place where Theon Greyjoy returns to the Iron Islands and where he meets his sister Yara for the first time. There’s even a plaque to show you how the view looks in the show to help refresh your memory.

If you travel southeast toward the coast, you will find Castle Ward. Some of the scenes that take place at Winterfell are shot here, especially those in the first season. Castle Ward is an 18th-century mansion that you will recognize by the farmyard and the Lough as Stark’s home. You can take a tour and walk around the grounds and the mansion. You can also try your hand at archery in the same place Bran was taught by Jon Snow.

There are many other places around Northern Ireland that have served as exterior locations for various scenes inGame of Thrones. I highly recommend a professionally guided tour, as you’ll be transported to the different places by an experienced guide and all you will need to worry about will be taking photos!