The long-awaited final season of Game of Thrones premieres tonight and fans are ready to see how the epic tale unfolds. With only six episodes left, it might seem like the series will be over too – soon but perhaps that makes it the perfect time to extend your Game of Thrones experience with a trip to some of its incredible filming locations.
When it comes to season eight, cast and crew did their best to keep filming under wraps – with reports that the directors even shot fake scenes to throw sleuths off the track. While the series will return to key locations like Winterfell and King’s Landing, we can also revisit some of the show’s most famous filming locations that just might turn up again this year.
Croatia’s tourism boom is closely tied to the popularity of Game of Thrones, as Dubrovnik serves as King’s Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. The real city – which has just 40,000 residents – has been grappling with the massive influx of tourists in recent years. While wandering through the walled city is an incredible experience, travellers and Game of Thrones fans will find that there are plenty of amazing places to explore in Croatia. The series also filmed in Split, in the stunning Diocletian’s Palace, while Klis Fortress outside of Split stood in for the Slaver City of Meereen.
While Iceland’s popularity among travellers can be attributed to a number of factors, Game of Thrones use of the country’s icy landscapes is certainly one of them. In it’s more lush form, Iceland was used for a number of scenes, but it’s best known for serving as the lands North of the Wall. In fact, season seven saw Jon Snow and his group seek out the White Walkers, which was filmed a Kirkjufell mountain and Svínafellsjökull glacier.
Perhaps more than any other filming location, Northern Ireland has truly embraced being the home of Game of Thrones. Certain spots around the country – like the iconic Dark Hedges that was used as the Kingsroad and Castle Ward as Winterfell – are instantly recognizable to fans. Indoor shots were filmed on sets in the Paint Hall Studios in the Titanic Quarter of Belfast, and the largest Game of Thrones touring exhibition will run until 1 September in the city. Next spring, a permanent studio tour will open in Linen Mill Studios, Co. Down, where visitors can see original set pieces, costumes, props, and weapons used in the series.
In the early episodes of Game of Thrones, Malta stood in for King’s Landing. However, it’s most famous location is one that travellers can sadly no longer see for themselves. The famous Azure Window in Gozo was the backdrop for the wedding of Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen on the coast of Pentos. Unfortunately, the natural stone arch collapsed in 2017 in a storm.
With its warm climate and ancient cities, Morocco provided the real-life locations for the Yunkai and Astapor, slave-trading cities in Essos. The fortified town of Aït Ben Haddou is so incredible that it was also featured in Lawrence of Arabia and Gladiator. The coastal city of Essaouira stood in for Astapor, home of the Unsullied, where Daenerys killed the masters and freed the slaves in the Sack of Astapor.
Seville was used to film much of the scenes that take place in Dorne, with the Real Alcázar used for some of the most beautiful scenes in the palace of House Martell. With most characters from this region dead, it’s unclear whether Seville will feature in the new season. However, we may be more likely to be Dragonstone, the ancestral home of House Targaryen, to which Jon and Dany belong. Scenes there were filmed on the incredible islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in the Basque Country. However, actors filming season eight were spotted at the Italica Amphitheatre of Santiponce, in the province of Seville, which was used at the Dragonpit in King’s Landing – where most of the characters convened and seemingly agree to unite against the White Walkers.
Perhaps this is where the new season will begin? We will find out tonight.