If you’re ready to fulfil a personal prophecy to take a road trip through Northern Ireland to see some of the Seven Kingdoms, listen to the will of the gods (the old or the new), follow that three-eyed raven, and begin your journey in the North before travelling southeast.
Northern Ireland is the backdrop to idyllic views, rugged terrain, endless greenery, and gorgeous stone castles that have been frequently utilized as film sets for the hit HBO series, Game of Thrones. For any fan, this magical itinerary is sure to make you feel like a true born Stark.
DAY 1- Dorne and Dragonstone
The Dornish are arguably some of the most unique people in the entire Seven Kingdoms. As Dorne is portrayed as a warm, southern climate, fans of the show might be surprised to hear that one popular scene from Dorne in Game of Thrones was filmed in Northern Ireland.
Near River Bann exists gorgeous golden beaches and dunes where Jamie Lannister and Bron made landing in the southern kingdom in an attempt to rescue Myrcella Baratheon. Portstewart Strand is a great place for a photo op and a picnic, but watch out for patrolling Dornishmen. It is located in the northernmost part of County Antrim.
This beautiful temple overlooking vast, breathtaking cliffs is visited by Melisandre (the Red Lady) and Stannis Baratheon. It is also known as the ancestral home of the House Targaryen. Located along the shores of Northern Ireland in County Antrim, this is a stunning stop that is sure to restore your faith in the Lord of Light; but be careful, for the night is dark and full of terrors.
Total driving distance: 3 miles
Day 2 – Iron Islands and Renly’s Camp
Those that are Ironborn will want to make the a stop in Ballintoy Harbour. After a two hour drive from Mussenden Temple, you will be in another of the Seven Kingdoms. Just one kilometre from the small, friendly village of Ballintoy is a picturesque raised beach where Theon Greyjoy first returns home and meets his tenacious sister, Yara.
Theon is baptised here, and this quaint harbour is later revisited when Aeron Greyjoy speaks of the fate of the Ironborn and a possible new ruler. Located in County Antrim, Ballintoy makes a lovely pitstop on your way East.
Continue through the Seven Kingdoms with a ten-minute drive from Ballintoy Harbour to Larrybane. Here, you will be greeted with a breathtaking view of the Causeway Coast and Sheep Island. Larrybane is where we were first introduced to Brienne of Tarth in her fight against Loras Tyrell where her win rewarded her the position of Renly’s Kingsguard.
This is also where Renly Baratheon sets up camp for the ever impending war. Just a short walk away is the iconic Kingsmoot scene where the Ironborn rally in support of Yara Greyjoy’s claim to the Salt Throne. Larrybane is on the North coast of County Antrim and is also home to a magnificent quarry.
Total driving distance: 25 miles
Day 3 – Kingsroad and the Stormlands
The Dark Hedges
It’s on to Kingsroad! Don’t forget to pack your armour because you never know who you might come across. A twenty-minute drive south from Larrybane and you will arrive at one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland. The Dark Hedges is used as part of the legendary Kingsroad that connects Castle Black to Winterfell and onwards, south of King’s Landing.
Arya travels along this road with Hot Pie, Gendry, and Yoren on their way to the Wall as new recruits of the Night’s Watch. The picture-perfect Beech trees were planted in the eighteenth century by the Stuart family to impress visitors. The Dark Hedges is located in Stranocum, County Antrim.
Caves of Cushendun
If it’s dark magic you’re after, the Caves of Cushendun are the place for you. Here is where the Red Lady, Melisandre, gave birth to a shadow creature that killed off a key character.
Don’t be afraid, the beautiful scenery will make up for the eerie scene from Game of Thrones. The village of Cushendun is on an elevated beach at the mouth of the River Dun. An easy walk will take you to the exact film location on the Northeast coast of County Antrim. For an extra treat, nearby pub Mary McBride’s Bar has a door with intricate carvings depicting scenes in Braavos.
Total driving distance: 27 miles
Day 4 – Winterfell and The Battle of Oxcross
At last, winter is here. After a two hour drive south of the Caves of Cushendun, you’re going to feel more like a northerner. For the epitome of a Game of Thrones experience, all fans of House Stark will want to stop at Castle Ward. For all of season one, Castle Ward served as Winterfell. It is an eighteenth-century farmyard south of Belfast. Here, visitors are encouraged to dress up Game of Thrones style to learn about archery on set replicas taught by extras on the show. If you look hard enough, maybe you’ll see Ned Stark’s ghost or hear the howl of a direwolf. Castle Ward is in County Down.
Just ten minutes from Winterfell is Audley’s Castle, which is home of the scene where Robb Stark’s army remains in preparation for the Lannisters. Audley’s Castle was originally a battlement named after a Norman family that arrived in Ireland in 1210. Beside the castle is Audley’s field, otherwise known as the field where the Battle of Oxcross took place. Audley’s Castle is in County Down.
Total driving distance: 90 miles
Day 5 – The King of the North and The Haunted Forest
Crown yourself the King of the North in Inch Abbey. That’s exactly what happened to Robb Stark in this very spot after the Battle of the Whispering Wood against the Lannisters. On the north bank of the River Quoile just twenty minutes from Audley’s Castle, these ruins date back to the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Not only is Inch Abbey camp to the houses of the North, but it offers spectacular views of medieval architecture and is a short walk away from St. Patrick’s final resting place. It is located south of Belfast in County Down.
If you’re afraid of White Walkers, you might want to skip this one. The Haunted Forest, whose true name is Tollymore Forest, is home to the original White Walkers as seen in the very first episode of Game of Thrones. In the series, deserters of the Night’s Watch receive corporal punishment, but fans know that a few unlucky fugitives met another, more sinister fate. Listen out for dire wolves or Ramsey Bolton in the throes of a hunt where Tollymore Forest served as the setting for these iconic scenes as well.
Although real snow seldom covers the forest floor (sorry, Ned Stark, winter isn’t coming today), guests can stroll scenic paths lined by redwoods and eighteenth-century arches. Tollymore Forest is located in Newcastle, which is in the southwest corner of County Down.
Total driving distance: 30 miles