Although the show finished well over 10 years ago, each week, without fail, we get emails looking for info on the Game of Thrones Ireland connection.
In a nutshell, a whopping 25 different locations in Northern Ireland were used during the filming of the hit HBO series.
Some, like Dunluce Castle and the Dark Hedges, are well known while others, like the beautiful Tollymore Forest Park and Inch Abbey, tend to get missed.
In the guide below, you’ll discover where to find the different Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations, what scenes they appeared in along with info on Game of Thrones tours.
Some quick need-to-knows about the Game of Thrones Ireland connection
Below, you’ll find some quick info about the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland connection that’s worth a quick read before you scroll on past to see the locations.
1. Why Ireland
According to reports, the Game of Thrones Ireland connection could have easily been a Scottish one instead! It’s said that the producers were debating both places, but that Northern Ireland offered incentives (finance, tax relief, studio space and location access) to secure the deal.
2. The filming locations
Although there were reports of 25 Game of Thrones Ireland locations, the main ones are Tollymore Forest Park, Inch Abbey, Castle Ward, Toome Canal, Slemish Mountain, the Glens of Antrim, Cushendun Caves, Murlough Bay, Ballintoy Harbour and The Dark Hedges. Discover more below.
3. The writers met in college in Dublin
Yep, randomly enough, two of the writers for the show, Dan Weiss and David Benioff, met in Dublin while studying at Trinity College in 1995.
Game of Thrones filming locations Ireland map
The map above has the various Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations plotted out on it. As you can see, the bulk are in Antrim and Down.
However, there’s also one (Pollnagollum Cave) over in County Fermanagh. The only thing this map leaves out is the studios in Belfast where certain scenes were recorded.
An overview of each of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland
It’s time to dive into the different Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland, and there’s plenty to get through.
Below, you’ll discover the places that were used to depict everywhere from Lordsport Harbour and The Stormlands to Dothraki Sea, Slaver’s Bay and more.
1. Murlough Bay (Slaver’s Bay)
The first of our Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations is the glorious Murlough Bay – arguably one of the most overlooked of the many Antrim Coast attractions.
It was here that Tyrion Lannister and Jorah Mormont happened upon on their way to Meereen. Alas, there journey hit a bump when they encountered slavers.
There’s a lovely ramble at Murlough Bay that’ll treat you to views of everything from the Scottish Islands to Rathlin Island on a clear day.
2. Fair Head (Dragonstone Cliffs)
The towering Fair Head Cliffs stand just up along the coast from Murlough Bay where the measure a dizzying 600 feet in height.
The cliffs were used to depict Dragonstone and it was here, on Antrim’s blustery coast, that Jon Snow had an encounter with Daenerys… and her big aul dragon!
If you visit, you’re a stone’s throw from both Torr Head and the town of Ballycastle, where you can grab a bite to eat, if you fancy.
3. Larrybane Quarry (Renly Baratheon’s Camp)
The next Game of Thrones Ireland location is the often-overlooked Larrybane Quarry, which can be found a short distance from the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge.
The quarry was used at Renly Baratheon’s Camp (a section of the Stormlands) and the scene showed Renly and his queen, Margaery Tyrell, watching a battle.
It was also at Larrybane Quarry that Renly met with Catelyn Stark. Now, a warning – this is one of several Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland that doesn’t really resemble what was shown in the show.
4. Ballintoy Harbour (Lordsport Harbour)
Westward from Larrybane Quarry lies Ballintoy Harbour. After descending a steep and narrow road (and I mean narrow) you’ll reach a small fishing harbour.
The well-protected bay shields the harbour, nearly enclosing it on all sides and making for a very scenic rest stop. Ballintoy was used to depict Lordsport Harbour in Season 2.
It was at Ballintoy that Theon Greyjoy returned home. It was at Ballintoy that Theon Greyjoy returned home. You’ll find a plaque at the harbour with info on the scene.
5. The Dark Hedges (Road from King’s Landing)
The Dark Hedges are arguably the Game of Thrones Ireland location that receives the most attention online. The trees here were planted in 1775 by James Stuart to make the approach to his Georgian estate more impressive.
The Dark Hedges were used Season 2, episode 1: On the King’ s Road to depict, unsurprisingly enough, the King’s Road.
The scene that they feature in shows Arya Stark escaping from the King’s Landing and travelling with the Night’s Watch, dressed as a boy. You’ll find it a stone’s throw from the Old Bushmills Distillery.
6. Portstewart Strand (Dorne Coast)
Portstewart Strand in Derry is arguably one of the best beaches in Northern Ireland, and it was here, on the nearly 2 miles of glorious sand, that Jamie and Bronn got into a bit of bother.
The pair were captured at Portstewart by some Dornish soldiers. It was also here were Ellaria and the Sand Snakes discussed a going up against the Lannisters.
There’s plenty of things to do in Derry after you visit Portstewart, from the historic Derry City to our next, very close by attraction.
7. Downhill Beach (Dragonstone)
You’ll find few temples in Ireland (or anywhere, really!) with a location as dramatic as Mussenden – a replica of Rome’s Temple of Vesta.
The temple offers a magnificent view over Downhill Beach, which is right next to Portstewart Strand.
If you cast your mind back, it was at Mussenden Temple that Stannis Baratheon rejected the old gods of Westeros and is proclaimed of the Lord of Light.
8. Cushendun Caves (The Stormlands / Shadow Creature Scene)
The Cushendun Caves are another of the better-known Game of Thrones Northern Ireland locations, and a quick glance above should give you an idea as to why.
Formed over a period of 400 million years, the caves can be found a stones throw from the little village of Cushendun, designed in the style of a Cornish village.
The Cushendun Caves were made famous by Game of Thrones in Season 2 Episode 4 where they were used as the Shadow creature’s birth site.
9. Castle Ward (Winterfell)
You’ll find the 16th-century Castle Ward, which was the backdrop for the series pilot and a chunk of season one, just 40 minutes from Belfast.
Castle Ward was used as ‘Winterfell’ – the home of the Stark family. Its towering medieval walls and now-iconic castle tower gate made it an ideal shooting location for the show.
It’s also here that you’ll find what is arguably the most popular Game of Thrones tour Northern Ireland has to offer. More on the tours later in the guide.
10. Inch Abbey (Riverrun)
You’ll discover the ruins of Inch Abbey situated on the northern bank of the Quoile River, where it has been since the 12th or 13th century.
You might recognise Inch Abbey as the setting for the Riverlands scenes, i.e. the beginning of the War of the Five Kings.
If you visit when the weather’s fine, keep an eye out for Downpatrick Cathedral. It’s said that this is where St. Patrick is buried.
11. Dunluce Castle (Pyke Castle)
Home to the House of Greyjoy, GOT fans may not immediately recognise Dunluce Castle as the filming location for Castle Greyjoy, AKA Pyke Castle. This is due to the fact that a fair sprinkling of CGI was used.
However, as you near the ancient castle – originally dating back to the 13th century – you’ll soon see how and why they filmed these scenes here.
Similar to nearby Kinbane Castle and Dunseverick Castle, the ruins of Dunluce Castle are located right next to the sea.
12. Tollymore Forest Park (The Haunted Forest)
Tollymore Forest Park is another of our favoiurite places to visit in Northern Ireland – few parks on earth pack a punch like this place.
This expanse of forest is home to medieval gates, bridges that look like they’ve been plucked from Lord of The Rigs and endless, beautiful red woods.
The park was used to portray The Haunted Forest and it was here where the Starks met their baby Direwolves for the very first time.
13. Slemish Mountain (Dothraki Sea)
Our next Game of Thrones Northern Ireland location has a mighty tale attached to it – it was here, on Slemish Mountain, where St. Patrick was taken…
After he was kidnapped by pirates as a kid! It’s right below the mountain that you’ll find Shillanavogy Valley, which was used to portray Dothraki Sea in the show.
It featured in a scene where Khal Drogo travelled to see his new wife, Vaes Dothrak (it was the land here that he rode across!).
14. Glenariff Forest Park (Runestone)
You’ll find our next location, Glenariff Forest Park, tucked away in the Glens of Antrim, where it’s home to woodland, waterfalls and stunning scenery.
It was here (or Galboly, to be specific) that was used as Runestone in the show. It was Runestone where Lord Yohn Royce took Robyn Arryn.
There was also a scene where Sansa Stark watched as Robyn Arryn tried his hand at dueling. There’s some great walks to tackle here!
Binevenagh Mountain is a Game of Thrones Northern Ireland location that many miss! It was here that Daenerys fled to with her dragon after escaping Meereen.
Binevenagh sits at the outermost edge of the breath-taking Antrim Plateau, and those that conquer the hike here will be treated to views out over Armagh and Derry.
When you finish up, you’re a short spin away from Downhill Beach and Portstewart Strand. You’re also a handy 40-minute drive from the lovely little town of Portrush.
16. Pollnagollum Cave
Our final Game of Thrones Northern Ireland location takes us out to County Fermanagh and into the Marble Arch Caves Geopark (not far from the Cuilcagh boardwalk).
It’s here that you’ll also find Pollnagollum Cave, where it’s hidden away behind a waterfall. It was here that the Brotherhood Without Banners hid from the forces of Lannister.
There’s plenty of unique things to do in Fermanagh, and the walk out to see the waterfall is just one of them!
Game of Thrones tours from Belfast
Thanks to the Game of Thrones Northern Ireland connection, a handful of tours have sprung up that make the perfect day trip from Belfast.
We’ve featured several of them in this guide over the years, but only one has maintained consistently good reviews – this one (affiliate link).
This is a 9-hour tour that’ll take you to everywhere from Dunluce Castle and Ballintoy Harbour to popular locations that weren’t used during filming, like Carrickfergus Castle and the Giant’s Causeway.
Review wise, they’ve racked up 4.6/5 from 890+ reviews, at the time of typing.
Check prices + read reviews here
Game of Thrones Northern Ireland FAQs
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from where can you get a Game of Thrones filming locations Ireland map to what scenes were shot here.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What is the Game of Thrones Ireland connection?
The Game of Thrones Ireland connection is that many scenes for the HBO series were shot here over a number of years, for example, Ballintoy Harbour and Cushendun Caves.
Where are the Game of Thrones filming locations in Ireland?
The main Game of Thrones Ireland locations are: Tollymore Forest Park, Inch Abbey, Castle Ward, Toome Canal, Slemish Mountain and the Glens of Antrim. See above for the rest.
Where was Game of Thrones filmed?
Although there’s a strong Game of Thrones Ireland link, the show was filmed across the world, with locations in Malta, Iceland, Croatia and more.