Which Game of Thrones scenes inspire you

The Game of Thrones Highlights in Northern Ireland

Unfortunately, the fight for the Iron Throne is finally over! The story of Jon Snow, Daenerys, Tyrion, Cersei and the Night King is over. But trips to the filming locations are of course still possible. The eighth and final season of “Game of Thrones”, with 31 million viewers in almost 200 countries, the most successful series of all, I took the opportunity to look for the real Westeros again.

I was drawn to Northern Ireland, where most of the real "Game of Thrones" locations are and where the series has left its mark over the past ten years.


I listen almost reverently to the babbling of the brook Tollymore Forest. It is nice to be in this peaceful place, at the same time I am overcome by a melancholy that I did not expect.

But it is probably like this: If you have been following a story for a very long period of time, you look wistfully at the beginning of the scene. Especially when you had to say goodbye to some of the main characters over the course of the seasons - a circumstance that became a specialty of “Game of Thrones” because winter never came for dozens of characters. On my trip through Northern Ireland and looking for locations that would slip into the role of the fictional Westeros, several such moments were waiting for me.



The Tollymore Forest is definitely the perfect place to start this journey, because this is where the scenes from the very first episode of "Game of Thrones" were filmed. Here, in the "Accursed Forest", the guards of the Night's Watch met the White Walkers, who had been believed to be extinct for centuries. For the eerie scene, a large piece of forest was artificially snowed in for days, as William van der Kells, who himself worked as an extra in the series, reports.



And at the said stream, the Shimna River, Ned Stark and his sons found the dead direwolf and her surviving pups, who became loyal companions for the Stark children Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Rickon and finally Jon. To get to the exact spot, you have to climb a bit, because the small wooden bridge that was attached for production is now missing. The place can be easily recognized by the large stone bridge, the Parnell Bridge.



About an hour northeast of Tollymore Forest, whose red oak was also used for the interior of the Belfast-built Titanic, is the Inch Abbey. The 12th century castle ruins served as the backdrop for Robb Stark's camp in the first season. Here Catelyn brings him the sad news of his father's death.



That's right around the corner River Quoile, better known in the "Game of Thrones" cosmos as Schnellwasser, on which Catelyn's father, host Tully, is buried on a burning boat. The river flows into Strangford Lough, to which we will return later for another scene.



Less than a quarter of an hour later, I get there Castle Ward, which slipped into the role of Burg Winterfell for the first season of "Game of Thrones" with the help of some CGI extensions and turns out to be a true paradise for fans of the series despite a considerable difference to the well-known screen Winterfell. Exactly at the point where Bran Stark practices archery under the observation of his brothers, you can become an archer yourself in the appropriate outfit.



If you want, you can also put on the bloodhound's helmet here. Sure I want! With the heavy thing on your head, however, it is impossible to hit the target. Then a medieval feast awaits all successful and less successful shooters. On my archery account I can post an arrow in the neighboring target as well as a direct hit in the exact center of my target. Robb and Jon would be proud!



On some days the GoT Direwolfs visit the Castle Ward. These are the two Northern Inuit dogs Odin and Thor, who appear in the series as Direwolves of Bran and Robb can be seen. They were trained by Will Mulhall for the requirements on set and their master was also seen in several scenes. If you want, you can book a special Direwolf tour to other locations with the two of them. After the tragic end of the wolves in the series, I am happy to see the fluffy companions here safe and sound.



After a fun round of ax throwing, you can go on a tour of discovery on bicycles to other “Game of Thrones” locations in the area. I was particularly impressed by that Audley’s Castle, a small 15th century castle perched high above Strangford Lough. Robb, who is declared King of the North after the death of Ned Stark, meets Talisa from Volantis for the first time here after the Battle of Oxcross. A love that, as we know, unfortunately comes to a shocking end at the Red Wedding.



The setting, the twin castles of Walder Frey, was located on the hills of Strangford, just opposite Audley Castle. Per CGI, of course, and somehow you're glad that the set of this horrible event doesn't really exist.



The impressions of my first day of exploration in Ireland I then end with a “Game of Thrones” dinner, more precisely the “King’s Banquet of Winterfell”. This is offered in the restaurant The Cuan in Strangford. People eat on slates, there is a lot of wine, chicken, but also cod cake and winter squash. For dessert there is blueberries and shortbread, adorned with the Starks' coat of arms, the head of the direwolf. The inspiration for the dishes comes directly from the lines by George R. R. Martin in "A Song of Ice and Fire", the book template for the series.



The next day, head north from Belfast, where the Game of Thrones locations form another perfect itinerary to some of Northern Ireland's highlights. The first short stop on the coast at the small port of Carnlough is a jump from Westeros to Essos. A short scene was created here in which Arya saves herself in one leap into the water during an attack by the homeless in Braavos, actually on the location Girona. On the stairs of the port, she dragged herself back on land, injured.



Half an hour further along the coast you can imagine yourself back in Westeros: The Cushendun Caves on the Antrim Coast set the scene for the setting in which Melisandre gives birth to the eerie shadow creature under the horrified eyes of Ser Davos. A creepy scene in a peaceful location from which you can even see the Scottish coast in the distance. By the way, they returned to this location for the final season 8.



Even better views are now available on a hike to the Fair head on the program. 180 meters above the Atlantic I find myself here on the windswept cliffs of Drachenstein, where Varys Melisandre recommends leaving Westeros and Jon makes his very first acquaintance with Daenerys ’dragon Drogon. The circular route takes around an hour and a half, but if you want, you can do the hike for up to several hours Murlough Bay expand. Some characters from "Game of Thrones" have already been to this bay: In the second season Renly and Stannis meet here, in the fifth season Tyrion and Jorah fall into the hands of slavers in the same place.



The next target that Dark Hedges from Ballymoney, takes me inland from the coast. The centuries-old avenue of beech trees became part of the royal road for “Game of Thrones”, via which Arya Stark flees northwards, disguised as a boy. The trees are among the most photographed subjects in Northern Ireland and many Thronies also stop here, even if this location is actually only seen for 18 seconds in the series.



Bregagh Road, which runs through the avenue, is now closed to traffic, which I am very happy about. On my last visit, I had to jump to the side because not all drivers kept to the prescribed speed limit of 30 mph. In addition, many people parked their cars right next to the trees, which permanently damaged their roots.



Some trees on the avenue were knocked over during the Getrude storm in spring 2016. Ten wooden doors have been designed from them, the "Doors of Thrones”, On which various carvings related to the story of“ Game of Thrones ”can be seen. The doors can now be found in ten different pubs and bars near ten filming locations. At the end of the Dark Hedges, one of them is in Gracehill House, Stranocum. If you take a coffee break there, you should definitely try the homemade scones with clotted cream and the shortbread there!



The journey continues back to the Antrim coast Larrybane. There is a huge parking lot directly at the Kreidebruch, which served as the venue for a tournament in the series. Renly Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell admire the martial arts of Brienne von Tarth, whereupon she becomes a member of the Kingsguard. Renly's huge camp has also been set up here, and Catelyn Stark concludes an agreement on behalf of her son Robb. Just a short walk away you get to the place where the iron men celebrate Yara Graufreud as the new Queen of the Iron Islands, before their uncle Euron Graufreud claims the salt throne. From up there you have a wonderful view over the coast. The Carrick-a-Rede suspension bridge is also worth a visit. In contrast to the location, however, this one currently costs 9 pounds.