Exploring Westeros: How to travel the Seven Kingdoms for real

By KAYAK

The Seven Kingdoms may be part of a fictional, fantastical world, but those breathtaking landscapes and extravagant castles are very real — and with this guide, you’re well on your way to seeing them for yourself.

From the icy north to the medieval-inspired south, Westeros has destination inspiration for all types of travelers.

We can’t tell you who will sit on the throne in the end, but we can help you plan a Game of Thrones getaway to celebrate the show’s final season. We know we’ll need at least a week’s vacation once it ends.

The North

 

If you’re hoping to take in some of the sprawling views used in those panoramic landscape shots, you’re in luck. It’s actually easy and affordable to visit the land of House Stark — Thingvellir National Park in Iceland. Just fly into Reykjavik Airport and rent a car. It’s a short and scenic hour-and-a-half drive to Thingvellir National Park, Iceland’s first National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet — adventurous travelers can even dive between them.

If you’re hoping to visit Winterfell itself, you have options. House Stark is actually a composite of Castle Ward in Northern Ireland and Doune Castle in Scotland. For Castle Ward, fly into Belfast International and drive a little over an hour to Castle Ward. You’ll even find tours dedicated to exploring the destinations seen on the show. For Doune Castle, fly into Edinburgh Airport and it’s a quick 45-minute commute to Castle Doune. There’s a small admission fee (around $8) and it’s recommended that you book in advance. Pop culture tip: Monty Python fans will also recognize it from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Can’t choose between the two? Why not see them both. Easily travel between Belfast and Edinburgh by a quick (and affordable) 3-hour flight or take a bus and ferry combo (which will take you around 7 hours).

Beyond the Wall

 

For a look into Wildling territory, head to Iceland. A flight to Reykjavik will get you close to many of the series’ filming locations, and a lot of them are shooting spots for settings Beyond the Wall. For general landscape views (after you’ve checked out the North at Thingvellir National Park, of course), head to Skaftafell National Park, a 4-hour drive from Reykjavik.

Or scope out Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, which is actually a real-life black sand beach in Vik on Iceland’s south coast less than three hours from Reykjavik.

The Vale of House Arryn

 

The Vale’s Castle of Eyrie may look fantastical, but it’s an actual place that you can visit. While digitally mastered into the series because of its protected status, travelers are more than welcome in Meteora, Greece. Just fly into Athens and rent a car or take a train, and you’ll be there in less than 5 hours. “Meteora” means “suspended in air” and it’s clear to see why the area received that moniker — the city of monasteries sits nearly 250 miles above the ground. Because of ongoing renovations, be sure to research opening and closing times before you make the trip so you’re not left waiting at the Moon Gates.

The Riverlands

 

For the sprawling landscapes of Riverrun, look no further than the 42-miles spread of lush greenery and waterfalls that is Krka National Park in Croatia. Fly into Split Airport and rent a car or hop on a bus for the 1.5-hour ride to the park. There are five entrances to the park, but use the Lozovac entrance for the best views of Skradinski waterfall. Note that swimming is not permitted from December to May.

The Westerlands

 

Sitting on the highest point in the city, you might recognize the medieval Castle of Trujillo and its idyllic hilltop town as the Lannisters’ Casterly Rock (season 7). To visit the castle, fly into Madrid Airport and rent a car to make the 3-hour drive to Trujillo. If you want to spend more time in the town, book a stay at Trujillo Villas Espana, which offers three restored villas next to the castle and one property in the main square.

The Iron Islands

 

For an Iron Islands experience, one flight to Belfast will get you close to three filming locations. For a real-life look at those epic landscape shots, rent a car and drive a little over an hour to Murlough Bay (which is also the filming location for the Stormlands’ House Baratheon). Walk the 2.5-mile-long Murlough Nature Trail for a look at the ancient sand dune system, bird life and seals. From there, it’s only a half-hour drive along the coast to Ballintoy Harbor, which you may recognize as home to Theon and Yara Greyjoy (or was until Euron came along). Another 20-minute drive along the coast will get you to the actual castle used in shooting, Dunluce Castle. You can take a guided tour from the visitors center.

As a bonus, you’ll also find the real-life Kingsroad nearby. This tunnel of beech trees is actually known as the Dark Hedges, and, while it doesn’t actually connect seven kingdoms, you can easily add this stunning view to your Northern Ireland — err Iron Islands — adventure.

The Crownlands

 

Dubrovnik, Croatia is a destination topping many a travel list. After all, it has tons going for it. Think Adriatic Sea views, a picturesque Old Town perfect for wandering and architecture begging to be front and center on your Instagram feed. But for fans of the Throne, there’s even more reason to head to the European hot spot — it’s King’s Landing, after all. Easily accessible (just fly into Dubrovnik Airport), the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Climb up the stone walls and walk the circumference of the city, but go early to beat the crowds. While in Dubrovnik, it would be a shame, shame, shame if you didn’t also check out the Jesuit Stairs of St. Dominka Street, where they filmed Cersei’s Walk of Atonement, as well as the Tresteno Arboretum — the filming location for the Red Keep’s Garden.

True fans traveling to Dubrovnik should make the trip to Lokrum Island — a 30-minute drive plus 15-minute ferry will get you there. Head to the one-time Benedictine monastery turned museum, where you can sit on the original Iron Throne used in filming. Be sure to get a photo and update your profile picture on all your social accounts immediately.

Now, if you think the Crownlands is currently in the wrong hands, take a trip to Dragonstone, the ancestral seat of House Targaryen and the Mother of Dragons. Located on the real-life island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe — in Basque Country, Spain —  you can walk the 241 steps of the man-made stone bridge that connects the island to the mainland, and relive Daenerys’ arrival to her former home.

The Reach

 

Traveling to the Reach is as easy as hopping on a flight to Spain. To visit the real-life Citadel, where Samwell Tarly trains to become a maester, you’ll want to head to the Monastery of Sant Pere de Galligants in Girona, Spain. Fly into Barcelona and make it your home base (you’ll find plenty to see, do and — most importantly — eat) before driving less than two hours to the monastery. You can also take the train from Barcelona to Girona (with one transfer).

Also in Spain, you can check out the real-life Highgarden. To visit the Tyrell ancestral home, you’ll want to head to Castillo de Almodovar overlooking the Rio Guadalquivir. Fly into Seville and drive a little over an hour.

Dorne

 

If you are planning on visiting Castillo de Almodovar, you can make it a 2-for-1 trip by checking out the filming location for the Castle of Sunspear while you’re in Seville. The capital of Dorne is in actuality the Alcazar of Seville, one of the oldest palaces in the world. The entrance fee is around $10.

The film location for Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark’s Tower of Joy, the Castle of Zafra, is also in Spain — a 6-hour road trip from Seville in Guadalajara. Or you can hop a flight to Madrid and drive there in less than three hours. You can walk the grounds of the tower, but you’ll need special permission from it’s owners to go inside, and (spoiler alert!) check out the place where Jon Snow was born.

Ready to make your own play for the throne? You could send a raven to your crew, but we prefer our Trip Huddle tool to keep group travel planning organized.

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