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Game of Thrones’ Irish Roots

Vacation is coming. If you are one of the many people following Game of Thrones and the intrigue of the competing tribes, you might like to plan your vacation around it. While you can’t buy a ticket to Westeros, you can visit the amazing locations where the iconic television series has been filmed, including Northern Ireland.

This year is actually the tenth anniversary of the pilot episode being filmed, in case Brexit wasn’t enough of an incentive to visit Northern Ireland this year. If you’d like to walk in the footsteps of Westeros’s various tribes, then Northern Ireland has a lot to offer you.

You won’t be a trail blazer. Northern Ireland has reportedly benefitted from more than $100 million tourism dollars so far. Tourism Ireland launched a whole marketing campaign with a Game of Thrones theme. Of course, the fact that it has been so successful just confirms what an amazing destination Northern Ireland actually is. And with Brexit pushed back until October 31st, this summer is an ideal time to visit, especially if you want to see places on both sides of the border.

Top 6 GOT Locations in Northern Ireland

You can choose from a few different guided tours of GOT locations in Northern Ireland. But if you want to take it at your own pace, here are six amazing spots GOT fans and anyone else will love. Each of these spots is more than a pretty backdrop for the show. Here’s the story behind them.

  1. Winterfell/ Castle Ward – This 18th century mansion features a quirky blend of classic Palladian and Gothic architecture designed for the very different tastes of the husband and wife who built it. Take time to stroll through the beautiful gardens on the estate.
  2. King’s Road/Dark Hedges – Any GOT fan surely needs a selfie here, on this pedestrianized road in rural County Antrim. Planted 200 years ago to impress visitors to an estate, these beech trees are still wowing everyone. It isn’t easy to find parking, but walking down the road is free.
  3. Dornish coastline/Portstewart Strand – The spot where Jaime and Bronn battled the Dornish is actually a popular family beach where you can relax. You can even join a butterfly safari if you go in August.  If you are seeing the Dark Hedges and the Giant’s Causeway, this is nice place to stop while you are in the area.
  4. Dragonstone/Downhill Demesne – From the Gothic gate lodge to the stunning library perched on a cliff to the delightful gardens, this is a beautiful spot to explore and relax with a picnic. The colorful Earl of Bristol, who was also the Bishop of Derry, built it in the 1770s.
  5. Haunted Forest/ Tollymore Forest Park – Long popular with campers, this 630 hectare forest lies at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, offering hikes with gorgeous views. Pitch your tent as a base for exploring Northern Ireland. While you aren’t likely to meet any dire wolves or white walkers, you will probably see rain.
  6. Storm’s End (Melisandre’s cave)/Cushendun Caves – They might not impress hardcore spelunkers, but Cushendun Caves are ruggedly beautiful. Boots or sturdy shoes are recommended.  The caves even feature a sign explaining the GOT link. And nearby Cushedun village is lovely spot too, where you can spot one of the famous GOT doors.

Northern Ireland offers much more than GOT locations. The Titanic Museum is a must-see spot, and children too young for GOT will love the W5 science museum. Giant’s Causeway is unlike anywhere else on earth. Derry has an intact city wall offering a stunning stroll along the ramparts with brilliant views. Your love of GOT could be the key that opens the door to Northern Ireland’s beauty and charm.

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