Where is Game of Thrones Filmed? Visit the Shooting Locations in Northern Ireland.

Regular readers will know that I can’t watch anything Irish without wondering where it was made. Lately, I’ve been interested in where Game of Thrones was filmed as quite a lot of the show is shot in Northern Ireland.

Game of Thrones features many Irish actors and is shot all over Northern Ireland.

Game of Thrones features many Irish actors and is filmed all over Northern Ireland.

I’ve also been playing around with Google Maps, and have created a map showing the major Northern Ireland locations used for Game of Thrones thus far — just in case anyone’s planning to visit. You can explore the map below to find the locations (blue pins) and see what was filmed where, or you can scroll down and read the location notes on this page instead. There’s also a wonderful slideshow of location photos that I found on flickr at the end of the post. 

Warning: plenty of spoilers ahead if you’re not up-to-date with the show!

Interactive Map of Game of Thrones’ shooting locations


View Games of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland in a larger map

 

Castle Ward, Downpatrick, Co. Down

Castle Ward is stately home set in a 820-acre estate. It has served as parts of Winterfell, the ancestral seat of House Stark. However, much of the exterior views are of an actual castle in Scotland improved with some CGI.

The grounds of Castle Ward Forest Park housed the Lannister encampment in the first season.

Games of Thrones fans can visit Shane's Castle on a variety of package tours

The Tourney of the Hand, filmed at Shane’s Castle

Shane’s Castle, Randlestown, Co. Antrim

Shane’s Castle is a ruin on the shore of Louth Neagh, and as such is a very versatile location for Game of Thrones. Multiple scenes have been shot in and around the 2600-acre estate; it’s hosted the Tourney of the Hand in honor of Ned Stark, was seen to good effect when King Robert Baratheon and posse arrived at Winterfell, and served as the King’s Landing dungeons. (I still get the shivers when I think of that newly-minted knight getting a lance in the neck.)

The shores of the nearby lough saw Brienne of Tarth despatch a group of wildmen while escorting Jamie Lannister to King’s Landing, and a distinctive arched bridge has been seen several times. The fact that Shane’s Castle has provide locations for both the frozen northlands of Westeros, and the more-temperate south, would seem the perfect testament to Northern’s Ireland’s changeable weather.

Read about the legend of the Banshee of Shane’s Castle….

Moneyglass Estate, Toomebridge, Co. Antrim

Various scenes have been shot here (Winterfell in season 2; when Arya meets the caged men on the Kingsroad), but they all pale in comparison to the “Red Wedding” scene that shocked viewers so much. (Those who had already read George R.R. Martin’s books, just smirked smugly.)

Shillanavogy Valley, Co. Antrim

Below the slopes of Slemish mountain (where St. Patrick slaved away minding sheep when first brought as a slave to Ireland), lies the Shillanavogy Valley, which provided the location of the Dothraki camp early in the series.

Cushenden Caves, Co. Antrim

This location is where (in season 2) the ‘Red Priestess’ Melisandre of Asshai gave birth to her ‘shadow baby’ who later kills Renly Baratheon. The caves are a short walk from the village.

Murlough Bay, Co. Antrim

With views of Rathlin Island and the scottish mainland, Murlough Bay is breath-takingly beautiful, but hard to get to. Visitors have to follow a narrow road winding down a steep incline, andd some simply give up and go to one of the more-accessible strands. For Game of Thrones actress Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), shooting at Murlough Bay was very special, because she used to swim there as a child. Murlough Bay provided the backdrop for Theon Greyjoy and Asha riding to the road to Pyke.

The Dark Hedges, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim

The Dark Hedges is an avenue of 200-year-old beech trees on the Bregagh Road near Ballymoney. They were already one of Northern Ireland’s most-famous landmarks long before Ayra Stark escaped from King’s Landing disguised as a boy. The avenue is said to be haunted by the Grey Lady, a ghost who appears at dusk, but she has not made her debut in the series just yet.

Ballycastle, Co. Antrim

Around the other side of Fair Head, you’ll find the village of Ballycastle, birthplace of both Conleth Hall (Varys) and the character he plays, as some of the Free Cities’ scenes have been filmed there.

 

The Dark Hedges as it appears in GOT and real life.

Larrybane Head, Co. Antrim

Perhaps better-known as the site of the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge (which has not yet appeared in the series), the famous peninsula accessed by the bridge has been seen in the background several times in the series, but most notably as Storm’s End, seat of House Baratheon (again, with the help of some CGI). Several key scenes were filmed there.

Larne, Co. Antrim

The exterior set for Castle Black was built near Larne, in the Ballylumford area, on the northeast side of the harbor. Another may have been built on the south side, at Mahermorne.

Cairncastle, Co. Antrim

A small village north of Larne, Cairncastle has proven another versatile location. Ned Stark beheads the Nightwatch deserter here in episode one, and Catelyn captures Tyrion. Various other minor scenes have been shot around the area. No direwolves are currently thought to be roaming these hillsides, however.

Ballintoy Harbour

Ballintoy Harbour (note correct, British spelling) served as Lordsport Harbor on the Iron Islands in the second season. (See the photo slideshow below for some pics from the set at Ballintoy Harbour.)

Winter is Coming!

A White Walker in Tollymore Forest Park/North of The Wall

Downhill Strand/The Mussendun Temple, Castlerock, Co. Londonderry

Viewed from the beach below (Downhill Strand) the Mussendun Temple was seen on the cliffs overlooking Dragonstone, when the seven idols of Westeros were burned. (For location shots for this scene, see the slideshow below.) The Temple was originally built as a library in imitation of an ancient Roman temple, it’s now used as picturesque setting for weddings. The temple is part of the Downhill Estate, but Downhill House itself was gutted by fire in the 1800’s, and is just a shell today. Perhaps it will be used in a future season of Game of Thrones?

Tollymore Forest Park, Co. Down

The opening scenes of the pilot episode (much of which became episode 1, season 1) where a white walker slaughters some wildlings before reanimating one of them, was filmed in Tollymore. The snow-covered woods have been the regular stand-in for the wild lands north of the wall.

Expert Irish Travel Advice

Tyrion being arrested by Catelyn Stark’s bondsmen.

Poulnagollum Cave, Co. FermanaghNo, the filmmakers haven’t imported Gollum into GoT to try and secure a tie-in deal with Lego, Poulnagollum (which translates roughly as “hole of the doves”) is a cave in the Marble Arch Caves Geopark. It appears in the show when Beric Dondarrion hides out there in season 3. Co. Fermanagh is rich with caves, some of which are accessible through the Marble Arch Caves’ visitor’s center. The Poulnagollum cave is only accessible by trained cavers, but it can be seen by following the Poulnagollum Cave Walk route in Belmore Forest.

Inch Abbey, Downpatrick, Co. Down

The ruins of Inch Abbey provided the backdrop for “The Twins,” Walder Frey’s twin castles in the riverlands. It is here that Catelyn Stark learns of her husband’s fate and vows revenge.  

Slideshow of Game of Thrones’ Location Photos

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR. Photoset (c) Amanda Killen/craftedfromtheheart from flickr Local photographer Amanda Killen managed to get pics from two of the Northern Ireland locations as the production was shooting, Ballintoy Harbor and Downhill Strand.     Video #1: A preview to season 2, in which the producers sing the praises of Northern Ireland locations. (May contain spoilers!)     Video #2: A preview of the new locations for season 3, including some in Northern Ireland. (Naturally, beware of spoilers…)     Those are the major Game of Thrones‘ locations to date — as far as I can discover — in Northern Ireland. I’ll attempt to update this page as future episodes are made, and if anyone has shooting news or corrections, please let me know in the comments. (Photo credits: HBO, unless otherwise stated.)   More like this… If you enjoyed the film Once, you may like my Once” walking tour of central Dublin…   My guide to the locations used in Amy Adams’ Leap Year     Location guide and walking tour map for the History Channel’s Vikings series...   We’re launching a free monthly email newsletter! Sign up to receive the first atriptoIreland.com monthly newsletter…    


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

23 comments

  1. Jeff Hitchcock’s avatar

    If you’re interested in locations outside of Northern Ireland (and some more minor locations), I’ve put together a fairly exhaustive list for Movie Maps:

    http://moviemaps.org/movies/aa

    1. Rich’s avatar

      Excellent! Thanks for putting that international list together Jeff. I doubt I’ll get to visit any of the others, but hoping to visit a few of the Irish locations sooner or later.

    2. Atlas of Wonders’s avatar

      Hi Rich, these are the perfect complementary film locations of GoT for my post, as I discarded the ones from Northern Ireland for Season 3 here:

      http://www.atlasofwonders.com/2013/03/game-of-thrones-film-locations.html

    3. heretherebespiders’s avatar

      We have had SO much fun saying ‘yep, Ireland’ while busting our way through the series. I’ve read all the books so yes, I did have that smug look on my face when hubby said, ‘daaaaamn. I didn’t expect that!’

      1. Rich’s avatar

        I only read the first, years ago, and should probably go back and read on. Ah, there aren’t enough hours…

        1. heretherebespiders’s avatar

          I lost about 2 months to those books, and I read very fast! So, yeah. I don’t have kids either so!

        2. George Hickey’s avatar

          My brother is visiting Ireland and just left Antrim (our mother was born in village of Ligg just outside Larne/Glenarm). Relatives just informed him that Game of Thrones just filmed in Ligg. Possible to confirm that/ get details?

          Thx…George

          1. Rich’s avatar

            Haven’t seen any pics or info that label Ligg as such, but there were sets built somewhere around Ballylumford and Mahermore, which I believe are just outside Larne.

            1. Rich’s avatar

              George, just remembered, there were some scenes filmed to the North of Glenarm, in the Cairncastle area. Some exteriors, just moody mountains and the like, and a set was built somewhere for Catelyn capturing Tyrion. Perhaps that was in or near Ligg? (I can’t find the village on my maps, so I can’t confirm exactly.) Sorry.

              1. George Hickey’s avatar

                Ligg is I believe what they call a “clachan” (collection of homes) that once existed just outside Glenarm. Only deteriorating cottages now. One was where our mother was born in 1922. She emigrated w/ her family to Chicago around 1928-29. Now 91 and still of sound mind and body.

                Brothers Tom and Dan just visited cousins in Larne. While there they visited Ligg and Mom’s birthplace. Tom is still visiting other parts of Ireland. Heard from family that Ligg was used in some G of T scenes. Know it will be hard to confirm, but thought I’d try. Mom is excited to near her “village” might be famous!

                Thx Rich

              2. June’s avatar

                Just started reading the game of thrones series ,can’t put it down ,I’m on the fourth book now . I just started watching the first series

Comments are now closed.

%d bloggers like this: