3 day Game of Thrones Itinerary

Game of Thrones Itinerary Map
Game of Thrones Itinerary Map

Welcome to the real world Westeros!

The Game of Thrones world can be uglier than the Hound’s face and darker than King Joffrey’s heart. Thank the gods then, that the scenery is so damn beautiful. Scenery that can only be found in Northern Ireland.

This three-day itinerary brings you right into the bloody heart of the Seven Kingdoms. Along the route, we’ll pass through the most memorable locations from the show, where the wicked Lannisters, honorable Starks and all the rest play out their parts.

So sharpen your sword, tighten your shield-strap and set forth on a journey into the real world Westeros.

Day 1

Tollymore Forest Park to Belfast City 39.6 miles (63.8km)/79 minutes at 30mph

Tollymore Forest Park to Inch Abbey

Your quest begins in Tollymore Forest Park in County Down. Just a beautiful park? No, not just. It was here where the first scene from Game of Thrones episode one, season one was filmed. Three Night’s Watch men ride into The Haunted Forest, aka Tollymore, and before long they fall foul of a dreaded White Walker.

Tollymore Forest was also the setting for Theon’s failed escape attempt. He crashes through the woods only to be captured by the twisted Ramsay Snow in season three. With plenty of rich woodland, bridges, caves and gothic-style gates, Tollymore is an appropriately dramatic start to your Westeros adventure. But the fantastical fun doesn’t stop – next is Inch Abbey just further north and west. The 800-year-old abbey and its surrounds pop up in the show as often as Hodor says “Hodor”… and that’s a lot.

Inch Abbey to Castle Ward, County Down

It was here that Catelyn Stark crossed over a bridge to The Twins to negotiate a treaty with the cowardly Freys. The Quoile River was used to depict the Riverlands area – home of the Tullys – and the Red Fork. Inch Abbey’s surrounds, too, were used to shoot Hoster Tully’s funeral.

In the same neck-of-the-woods, Arya and The Hound ride horseback towards the Red Fork. Of course, the 12th century ruins of Inch Abbey make for a fascinating visit despite all the fantastical bloodshed.

Next, we creep west and to the shores of Strangford Lough. Castle Ward in County Down was used to depict the home of House Stark: Winterfell. This 18th century National Trust property was transformed for the memorable scene in series one when Robert Baratheon and his court arrive in Winterfell.

With both classical and gothic architecture inside and out, Castle Ward makes for a perfect afternoon’s adventuring. If you haven’t had enough fantasy for the day, pop into the farmyard or walk along the shore of the lough before making your way back to Belfast.

County Down

Down offers an alternative literary inspiration – the Mourne Mountains were the inspiration for C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. Step into a different fantasy world as you scale the peaks and explore the grottos and Celtic myths hidden in the folds.

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Castle Ward, County Down to Titanic Studios, Belfast

As well as Titanic Belfast, this city is also home to Titanic Studios. Many of the memorable Game of Thrones' interior scenes were shot here. The Throne Room in King’s Landing (home of the Iron Throne), the Sept of Baelor and the interiors of Riverrun and The Twins...

Unfortunately, the studios are not open to the public, but the amazing Game of Thrones Exhibit will make a long-awaited return to Belfast in the near future.

And so the day is done. All that’s left to do is to find a good inn for the night and treat yourself to a hearty flagon of mead. Or local Antrim beer. Your choice.

Day 2

Belfast to Antrim 17.7 miles (28.6km)/35 minutes at 30mph

Leaving Belfast and its Titanic footprint behind you, set your sights further north. Cairncastle is the destination and we’re right back into episode one, season one. It was here that Ned Stark took his long-sword Ice and struck the head off a Night’s Watch deserter, as John, Bran, Rob and Theon looked on.

Shillanavogy Valley to Cushendall, County Antrim

Heading west from Cairncastle and Shillanavogy Valley is the next stop. It was here, in season one, that the ferocious Dothraki set up camp. This green valley was seamlessly transformed into the swaying grasslands of Vaes Dothrak.

North along Antrim’s stunning coastline, the Cushendun Caves are calling. Davos Seaworth is acting against his better judgment and ferrying Lady Melisandre to assassinate Renly in season two. Cushendun Caves were used for that unforgettable scene where Melisandre gave birth to a monstrous “shadow baby”.

The nearby coastal town of Cushendall is the perfect place to rest up and prepare for day three.

Day 3

Antrim to Londonderry 52.9m (85.2km)/105 minutes at 30mph

We travel from Cushendall to the very top of the island now and into Ballycastle. This small seaside town makes an ideal base from which to explore several Game of Thrones settings. First up, Ballintoy Harbour. This sleepy little port was transformed into the rugged Iron Islands for Theon’s homecoming scene. Parts of the beach here were also used to depict Dragonstone.

Slightly east from here is Murlough Bay, and the setting for Theon’s awkward horse ride with his sister Yara; and the scene where Davos is rescued from the Fingers by a passing ship. A quick trip back to Ballycastle for lunch and then it’s off to one of Northern Ireland’s iconic sites: The Dark Hedges.

This stretch of road was used to depict the King’s Road, which is usually plagued by bandits and thieves. Thankfully, it’s safe as houses in real life, so take your time and take pictures.

Ballycastle, County Antrim to Downhill Strand, County Derry~Londonderry

Our final stop brings us from Ballycastle to the ancestral seat of House Targaryen: Dragonstone. Downhill Strand in County Derry~Londonderry is famous for its seven-mile stretch of golden beach. With the iconic Mussenden Temple in the background, the strand was used for the scene where Lady Melisandre burned the seven gods of Westeros in sacrifice to her god R’hllor.

County Antrim

Good news: Antrim’s fantasy world doesn’t end at Winterfell. This is the quirky county that brings us the Giant’s Causeway, and the swinging, knee-jangling Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.

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Back to reality… for now

So ends our epic quest into the real world Westeros. We’ve journeyed from one end of the Seven Kingdoms to the other. But with so much of this saga left to tell, it’s only a matter of time before Game of Thrones returns to the greatest fantasy setting of them all: Northern Ireland.

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