1. Take aim: time to test your skills with a bow
Find out if you’re as apt as Arya (or as bad as Bran) in the courtyard of Winterfell Castle, aka
Castle Ward. You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones ® fan to appreciate the jaw-dropping surroundings (but it helps).
This eccentric 18th-century mansion is a collision of Gothic and classical architecture, so it’s easy to see why it was chosen as a stand in for Winterfell. Careful with your aim – you’re standing on the exact spot where Robb and Jon first showed Bran how to string a bow. An archery expert is ready to show you the ropes, so you’re in good hands.
2. A feast fit for kings
Remember the feast the Starks held in honor of Robert Baratheon, before relationships disintegrated and heads began to roll – literally? Now it’s time to re-live it. The Castle Maester will greet you and your comrades at the north gate and escort you to the Armory. Here, you will don appropriate attire before being seated to break bread, sink your teeth into a roasted hog, and wash it all down with a pitcher of Winterfell’s finest ale. And what’s a party without entertainment? Expect live music, re-enactments and plenty of banter.
Castle Ward isn’t the only place to enjoy an epic meal. The Cuan in Strangford, County Down, provided accommodation for Game of Thrones ® stars while filming was taking place at Castle Ward. Book your place at the king’s banquet and you never know, you might be bedding down in a Stark’s old room…
If you’re looking for something a little lighter, then the Game of Thrones
® Afternoon Tea at Ballygally Castle Hotel is the perfect midday delight. Munch on scrumptious Jon Snow Cakes, Baratheon bread and even mini Dragon’s eggs!
The direwolves at Castle Ward
"There are five pups, one for each of the Stark children,” said Jon Snow to Ned Stark. Now it’s YOUR turn to meet them. These mighty beasts are not actually wolves, but Northern Inuit dogs. Odin and Thor, aptly named after the Norse gods of war, have made Castle Ward their home. But don’t worry, they know friend from foe, so they won’t harm a surrogate member of the Stark clan!
3. All that glistens
From direwolves we move to royal adornments. And as the late Tywin Lannister rightly observed: “Any man who must say, I am the king, is no true king.” But a good crown? Now that speaks for itself.
The making of Joffrey's crown
Take a trip to
The Steensons, where the resident goldsmiths are the master craftsmen behind the crowns worn by the late King Joffery and his bride Margaery. The Steensons also created several other fantastical pieces, such as the formidable Lannister lion pendants and Daenery’s dragon brooches. Admire the replicas at The Steensons gallery, and watch this space: they’ll soon be launching their Game of Thrones ®-inspired range...
4. The Haunted Forest
“Things are not always as they seemed, Much that may seem evil can be good.” So said George RR Martin. But do you think you’re brave enough to spend a night in the home of the fierce Wildling tribes and White Walkers? Yes? Then you might as well do it in style in a snug glamping pod in
Tollymore Forest Park. Go kayaking, off-road mountain biking or simply explore the bridges, grottos, caves and exotic trees that surround you. But keep your eyes open. In the Haunted Forest, you never know who’s watching.
“If I look back I am lost.”
Well, this won’t be the case if you take a guided tour of Winterfell or Westeros. How about a coach tour with the chauffeurs who ferried the Game of Thrones actors to their stunning Northern Ireland filming locations? Get chills as you pass by Castle Black and travel along the Kingsroad, before exploring tiny
Ballintoy Harbour where Theon landed on his return to the Iron Islands.
As Jon Snow once said, sometimes different roads lead to the same castle… Try the Game of Thrones
®/Giant’s Causeway double whammy day trip, or a Game of Thrones itinerary that ticks off all the places die-hard fans know and love. Or maybe you think you’re brave enough for the Stormlands and its savage elements? Discover the 400-million-year-old Cushendun Caves, Storm’s End (where a walk along the base of the cliffs towards Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge leads to even more hidden nooks) and plenty more.
Want to go it alone – but with the help of an itinerary? The
Causeway Coast and Glens’ three-day Game of Thrones ® itinerary is perfect for you. Grab your map, and set off on your adventure.
Of course, if you’re looking for something more intimate, then allow yourself to get swept away with a private Belfast Black Cab 150-mile round trip, and get up close and personal with the Game of Thrones
® epic locations. If you’re feeling REALLY adventurous, why not hire a campervan, and see all the stunning locations in your time, and your own way.
Choose Robb, Tywin or the direwolves' trail...
The glamping pods were amazing...set up among trees, fantastic facilities and great service!
5. By the waters of the Narrow Sea
“Soon you will cross the Narrow Sea and take back your father’s throne." So was told to Viserys Targarey, before the crown he longed for became the death of him. Experience the moment for yourself with your own crossing of the Narrow Sea.
Set sail on
Strangford Lough with the Stark flag flapping in the wind, and soak up the coastal wonders of Westeros, from Winterfell Castle to The Twins and Robb Stark’s Camp. These are the very waters where Brienne of Tarth brought Jamie Lannister ashore in a canoe on her way to King’s Landing.
The Game of Thrones
® sea safari is another great way to make your watery way around Westeros, taking in Ballintoy Harbour, Murlough Bay, and much more. As you travel around the coastline, the skipper will even show you the cliffs that were filmed as backdrops in the series.
Back on dry land, grab your Game of Thrones
® map, don your cloak and choose your path for a tour on two wheels: Robb Stark, Tywin Lannister or the Direwolf pups’ trail. Robb Stark’s trail will take you to Audley’s Castle and Field, where Jaime Lannister was held as Robb’s prized captive. Highlights of Tywin’s trail include Baelor Battlefied, where Arya Stark tried to escape the surging riots after her father’s shock execution. Add the Direwolf pups’ trail to your trip and visit the deep crater in the Haunted Forest where the Nights’ Watch men meet their icy end.
Your only dilemma? Which path to take!
Ready for action
6. Like Tyrion, you can whistle while you walk
In the Seven Kingdoms much travelling is done on foot. Just think of Arya and the Hound’s arduous journey on the Kingsroad, or Bran’s search for the three-eyed raven haunting his visions. Now is your chance to walk in their footsteps: step off your coach from
Dublin or Belfast, and into Winterfell.
But be warned: you’ll need your hiking boots for this four-mile trek. Of course, once you’ve donned the Stark family cloak and gambeson, and felt the weight of a mighty sword in your grip,
you’re ready for an epic adventure.
HBO®, Game of Thrones®, and related service marks are property of Home Box Office, Inc. Used under license.