Mapping Out the Game of Thrones
One of the fun aftermaths of a TV show or movie taking the world by storm is the fact that its filming locations turn into instant tourist spots. Sometimes, what draws people is the sheer novelty of being somewhere the show was shot. Sometimes, that place turns out to be tourist-worthy by itself, with lots of great things to see. Luckily for the fans, Game of Thrones attracts on both counts.
Brit Movie Tours is a company that specializes in location tours of famous series like Sherlock and Dr. Who. They also offer two GoT tours. The first one spans the locations set in Northern Ireland, with a bonus trip to the spectacular Giant’s Causeway. The second one concentrates on the southern locations, with a trip to Castle Ward and a chance to see the show’s Direwolves up close and personal. I had a friend who took the southern tour, and they got to meet the two puppies who played Summer! Between the two, however, I opted for the Northern tour.
The tour assembled at the Belfast Visitor Center at 9AM. We were introduced to our tour-guide Gale, and our driver Jimmy. Gale had served as an extra during filming, so she had a lot of inside scoop to share. Jimmy, on the other hand, is a seasoned driver. He got us to the locations in time, with lots of extra five-minute stops for picture taking! It was a good day when we headed off, and we were in good company.
The first stop was Castle Black, which was actually located in the Magheramorne Quarry. Actually, this wasn’t included in the tour, but Jimmy allowed a quick stop for photos. Along the way, Gale heralded us with GoT info and trivia. She was a great storyteller, and she even asked us to participate by reenacting scenes! She asked for our opinion too, and it was an interactive experience with our jolly group.
From Castle Black, we headed up the Antrim coast, passing castles and villages along the way. We stopped at one of the iconic locations in Season One, where Ned Stark beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter. From there, we headed to Carnlough which was a Season Six set. We also went to the place where Melisandre gave birth, the caves in the coastal village of Cushendun.
One of the places we passed through was the town of Ballycastle, where the actors portraying Varys and Catelyn Stark were originally from. This was along the way to the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, a famous tourist attraction. While not part of the filming locations, this is a great spot for a little adventure. There were proper safety measures, though the bridge was a little bouncy. But I liked it a lot! The payment is extra and isn’t covered by the tour, but there’s a discount. We only paid 6 instead of 7 Pounds.
Other locations we visited included The Iron Islands (on the Ballintoy harbor), and the Dark Hedges — the famous King’s Road that Arya took to flee from King’s Landing. We were even allowed to wear coats and swords at this stop, so we conquered it in full costume! We’re lucky the place wasn’t busy when we got there.
Before we reached the Dark Hedges, however, we first stopped by the UNESCO site popularly known as the Giant’s Causeway. It was a little crowded, though, but it was still awesome! We walked it up and down, and each way takes around 10-15 minutes. It’s a steep climb up, though, so those not into hiking can take the bus instead (1 Pound each way). We stayed here for an hour, though half of that was just for the walk. The remaining half was for picture taking! We would have loved to stay a little longer, but I guess the time was okay. The ones in the group who took the bus had a little extra time to get coffee in a shop at the top, called The Nook.
It was a long day after the tour, but it was a really interesting one. This is a must-see for fans! Even those with only a marginal knowledge of the series would enjoy the beauty of the sights.
This was a really cool experience! It was 35 Pounds well-spent for a very memorable day. If you have more days in Belfast, check out my Belfast Itinerary here