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Epic 'Game of Thrones' Filming Locations You Can Visit

No broadswords required

The show might be fictional, but luckily for us the filming locations are very real. (Courtesy HBO)
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No broadswords required

Game of Thrones may have one of the most beautiful and sprawling worlds in fantasy, but the colossal realms of Westeros and Essos as depicted on the television show are within relatively easy reach. Just book a ticket to Iceland, Spain, Croatia, or Northern Ireland and be ready to explore.

Itzurun Beach, Spain

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(Sima_ha/iStock)

Dragonstone is House Targaryen’s ancestral seat, but their castle’s real-world stand-in is actually perched over Itzurun Beach on the Basque Coast. Grab a board at Flyschsurf in the town of Zumaia and surf or SUP the left-hand and right-hand breaks along what locals call the Flysch, a five-mile spine of sedimentary rock. Then take in 60 million years of geologic and cultural history on the three-hour guided tour of Basque Coast UNESCO Global Geopark, or hike nine miles of coastal trails from Zumaia to neighboring Deba, where you’ll walk among ancient rock formations and tour the hermitage of San Telmo, named for the patron saint of fishermen. Stay at Jesuskoa, a rustic boutique hotel just outside Zumaia, and dine on veggies grown in its large organic garden (from $51).

Kirkjufell, Iceland

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(DieterMeyrl/iStock)

In season seven, when Jon Snow and company head north of the Wall in search of an arrowhead-shaped mountain—where a vision says the army of the dead awaits—what they are really looking for is Iceland’s Kirkjufell. The massif, located just outside the tiny town of Grundarfjodur on the Saefellsnes Peninsula, is the country’s most photographed peak. You can snag your own vision of the mount at Hotel Framnes (from $112), which looks across the fjord to Kirkjufell, before tackling the half-mile, Class 3–4 scramble it takes to summit. The Kirkjufellsfoss (the stunning stacked waterfall at the massif’s toes) and the surrounding beaches are worth exploring before you head back to the 24-hour sauna and hot tub in your digs.

Krka National Park, Croatia

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(Zoran Kurelić Rabko/Wikimedia)

Sail the Dalmatian coast from Split, Croatia’s second-largest city, to Westeros’ Riverlands, a 42-square-mile expanse of emerald cascades also known as Krka National Park. If you’d rather stick to solid ground, rent a 29er from Riki Bike in Skradin, the small town at the park’s entrance, and you’ll receive a map and local beta for exploring Krka’s seven waterfalls, including the multitiered pools of 150-foot Skradinski Buk and Roski Slap, where whitewater tumbles 50 feet down the Krka River. Stay at Hotel Skradinski Buk in central Skradin, an easy walk to the marina where you can catch a boat into the park and sip walnut brandy on the terrace (from $40).

Reynisfjara, Iceland

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(Olga_Gavrilova/iStock)

The Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, where the Night’s Watch guard the end of the Wall, is better known in Iceland as Reynisfjara, a black-sand beach on the South Coast. But the real-world location is steeped in just as much legend. Local folklore says the towering sea stacks, columnar cliffs, and crashing North Atlantic waves are where giant trolls once pulled ships in from the sea before turning to stone. Amble along the beach to Halsanefshellir Cave, tucked among the basalt rock columns, or walk up the 1,000-foot Reynisfjall for commanding views of the stone trolls, black beach, and boundless sea.

Bardenas Reales, Spain

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(MarioGuti/iStock)

The badlands of Bardenas Reales Natural Park, an hour south of Pamplona in northern Spain, are familiar as the Dothraki camps where the horseback hoard held Daenerys Targaryen captive. The 104,000-acre UNESCO Biosphere Preserve is best explored by mountain bike to take in the wrinkled sandstone canyons, dry riverbeds, and barren plateaus. Bike from Activa Experience in Tudela and pedal the 20-mile Poligono loop, with a stop at Castildetierra, an iconic, isolated rock hoodoo. Or ride the one-way haul down the 42-mile Gran Bardena, a north–south track with 1,700 feet of climbing and a challenging descent.

Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland

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(MichaelStephenWills/iStock)

Remember when Sansa and Lord Royce watch Robin Arryn training in the Vale? The Irish know this verdant spot as the Glens of Antrim, an 80-mile swath of rugged cliffs and deep, green valleys. Grab your rucksack and Hillwalk Tours will lead you on a three-day, 32-mile trek over the hills and along the coast between Ballycastle and Portstewart, with stays in quaint guesthouses along the way. Climbers should stop by Fair Head, the cliffs where Jon Snow and Daenerys first meet and where steep corners, crack lines, and massive boulders that boast more than 50 test pieces beg to be scaled.

Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

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(Sjo/iStock)

You’ll find the pass to the Eyrie and the setting for Brienne of Tarth and the Hound’s vicious duel in Iceland’s lava-strewn Thingvellir National Park. Hike to Oxararfoss Waterfall, also seen in the show, then pitch your tent on an abandoned farm at the Vatnskot campground on the shores of Lake Thingvallavatn. Don’t miss the opportunity to ride between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates on Bike Company’s two-wheeled tour of the park, or go deeper with Dive.Is and scuba dive the continental divide at the Silfra, a fissure filled with crystal-clear glacial water and created by the two continents’ slow drift apart.

Filed To: Iceland / Croatia / Ireland / Spain / Travel / Adventure
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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