Our amazing roadtrip to the Game of Thrones locations around Northern Ireland took less than four days, but covered over a dozen different spots around the country and much of the coastal area. We started early each morning and drove around looking for the locations until sunset… and sometimes long after.
If you’re planning to follow in our footsteps, do consider adding a day or two to our schedule. Or if you can, spend a whole week instead of rushing through it all like we did. Our trips are in no way what people generally consider “holidays”, so if you’re looking for a relaxed and enjoyable Game of Thrones locations adventure, our pace might not be for you.
Whatever your pace, this trip is something you could call the trip of a lifetime: stunning scenery, incredible history and some of the loveliest locations we’ve ever visited! We’ve put together an extensive list of locations we visited during our own roadtrip. Hope it helps you on your way to the hidden Game of Thrones secrets of Northern Ireland!
Game of Thrones locations on Google Maps
This is a handy map for all the locations we visited. At the end of this post, you’ll also find a complete map of our driving route to all of these Game of Thrones location, and of course below, a long list of fantastic things to see.
1. Marble Arch Caves
Whether you’re into caving or just want to experience one of the more exciting Game of Thrones locations, Marble Arch Caves is a good destination. There’s a lot of stairs and some uneven paths to manage, but if you’re in basic physical health, you’ll be good.
We took a guided tour with two lovely guides and learned a lot about the history of the area in general and the early explorers who first started mapping out the cave system. Plus, we now know the difference between a stalagmite and a stalactite! For more on this amazing place, check out the full article.
Location: Marble Arch Caves (website | Wikipedia)
Admission price: Adult £9.50, Child £6.50, Under 5′s go free. Discounts available for families, students and groups.
Please note: Closed between November – February, check website for further details.
Accessibility: The Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre; carpark; audio visual presentation; souvenir shop; toilets; and restaurant are fully accessible. To exit the Showcave visitors are required to climb over 160 steps; therefore the attraction is not accessible for wheelchairs or prams/pushchair.
As a bit of a Irish freedom history nutter, Tiia demanded that we make a stop at Derry/Londonderry to see the incredible murals. The murals themselves didn’t disappoint us (incredible!), but while leaving the city, we accidentally took a turn into the old parts of it. That is some unpleasant driving for someone who isn’t (still quite) used to the narrow British roads and driving styles!
The names of the city and county of Derry or Londonderry in Northern Ireland are the subject of a naming dispute between Irish nationalists and unionists. Generally, although not always, nationalists favour using the name Derry, and unionists using Londonderry. Legally, the city and county are called “Londonderry”, while the local government district containing the city is called “Derry and Strabane”. Wikipedia
3. Downhill Beach
Downhill Beach is a tourist attraction, but because we were travelling in the early spring and happened to be there on a windy, chilly day, we got it all to ourselves. And that’s a really good thing: this beautiful location is one of the most impressive beaches we’ve ever visited and part of the attraction was indeed the emptiness of it.
The feeling you get when you stand on a beach like this, with the loudest noise in the world being the ever-uneasy ocean next to you, and the mist in the air diffusing the sunlight into a million little diamonds is just something else. A great addition to our Game of Thrones roadtrip, so should be on your list as well!
Location: Downhill Beach (info on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
Accessibility: Cars are allowed on the beach.
Please note: The little parking spot near the Game of Thrones part of the beach is easily missable when approaching from the west. Public beach, so no entrance fee.
Downhill is an Area of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) and is also a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) offering opportunities for nature walks and sightings of bird life amongst a backdrop of cascading waterfalls, extensive sand dunes, and the prominent Mussenden Temple, one of the most photographed buildings in Northern Ireland.
4. Giant’s Causeway
We arrived at Giant’s Causeway a little bit too late: they had already closed down the visitor centre for the day, so at first, we figured we weren’t allowed to go visit until the next day. However, after snapping a few photos of the scenery from the parking lot, we noticed there’s a road leading down to the Causeway. And it wasn’t closed to the public: it was just an ordinary road covered in asphalt.
The sun was already going down, which meant we were quickly losing light, but we decided to go for it… even with our travel-sore feet. Tiia decided to run most of the way to not miss all the light and to get some photos. Satu and Johanna followed at a more leisurely pace.
In the end, we made it and had at least half an hour of beautiful sunset to watch. We had time for tons of photos, we were there practically alone without masses of fellow tourists, and we got some peace and quiet with the sea alone.
So, pro tip for visiting Giant’s Causeway: go there late. Go after everyone else has left. You’ll get an experience of a lifetime.
Location: Giant’s Causeway (website | Wikipedia)
Admission fee: Adult £8.50, child £4.25, family and group discounts available. Prices include car parking and entry to the visitors centre.
Good to know: Wear sensible footwear and clothing as the stones can be very slippery.
Where to stay / eat:
Carnside Guest House: A comfy, friendly, super cute guest house on top of a hill next to Giant’s Causeway that we’ll gladly recommend for anyone planning a Game of Thrones roadtrip. Good for families and groups of friends as there are rooms you can easily share. (Carnside Guest House website)
The Smugglers Inn: Their food was so good & plenty and their staff so friendly that we still sometimes talk about it. (The Smugglers Inn website)
5. Ballintoy Harbour
We always talk about what an amazing way of travelling film tourism is, but there’s a good reason for it: after all these years, we’re still constantly amazed by the treasures we find in every country — simply because we’re fans of a simple TV show.
Ballintoy Harbour is one of those examples: it wouldn’t quite work as a tourist attraction alone as there’s only a few pretty buildings and a beach there, but since it has that special Game Of Thrones flavour to it, some people get curious and visit… and find themselves on an incredible, super cool beach with waves crashing, winds blowing and the edge of the world in plain sight.
Location: Ballintoy Harbour (more information on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
Things to be aware of: No entrance fee or opening times, curvy little road leading down that can be a bit exciting for an uncertain driver. Bring good shoes and a camera!
Fun facts: There’s a beautiful plaque you can spot & read, featuring Game Of Thrones / Theon.
At the time of our visit the Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge was not technically a filming location, only the additional parking lot was used for the scenes depicting Renly Baratheon’s war camp. Still, we couldn’t come so close to one the most breathtaking attractions ever and not visit the actual site. Despite Satu being ridiculously afraid to cross the narrow, swaying bridge, we made it to the small island it connects to the maindland. The views were well worth the terror!
Recently we’ve even heard rumors that the rope bridge itself might make an appearance in season 6, so we’re especially glad we made the terrifying crossing.
Location: Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge (website | Wikipedia)
Admission fee: Adult £5.90, Child £3. There are discount available for groups and a family ticket for £14.80 but the site does not clarify how many people are included.
Good to know: While children are welcomed at the attraction, pushchairs are not permitted over the rope bridge. The site is not wheelchair accessible. There may be a wait on either side before crossing as only 8 people at a time are allowed on the bridge.
7. The Dark Hedges
This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted already in the 18th century and provides a stunning backdrop for Arya and Gendry’s journey from King’s Landing towards The Wall.
Location: The Dark Hedges (on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
Good to know: It’s a public road, so there’s going to be traffic. So make sure you look both ways before posing for selfies in the middle and take good care of the kids!
8. Murlough Bay
This beautiful bay runs along the coast from Fair Head to Torr Head and high above on the cliffs lining the shore is where Renly and Stannis Baratheon meet for a very tense discussion. Sadly we didn’t have time to visit the bay itself, but the views from the cliffs are stunning and even more impressive is the drive along the Causeway Coastal Route.
Rather than take the bigger road straight to our next destination we stuck to the narrow road that runs along shores all the way to Cushendun. It was slow going at times, but it’s definitely worth taking the time to drive this way. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Scotland!
Location: Murlough Bay (on TripAdvisor|Wikipedia)
Good to know: It is advisable to park in the small parking area (this is marked on our location map) as the road down is very narrow and when two cars meet it can cause a problem. Wear sturdy shoes as the pathways can be slippery and rocky.
9. Cushendun Caves
This is where Melisandre gives birth to the creepy shadow baby, but don’t let that scare you away from a pretty location. While not as impressive as some of the other sites we’ve visited, this is definitely worth a stop for Game of Thrones enthusiasts. Don’t be discouraged by the road leading up to the caves looking like a dead-end, at the end of the cul-de-sac there is a small space where you can park the car and the beach with the cave is right there!
Location: Cushendun Caves (on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
Good to know: As many of the other locations in Northern Ireland, this requires good shoes as the beach is rocky and slippery. Keep an eye on the tide so as to not get your feet wet on the way back to the car!
We were very excited about this location, as the folks of the Throne have used it as their location several times. We had all our screenshots ready to go, and were prepared to climb the hillside to get our photos. While following the map directions, we spotted the hills from afar, but as we got closer we realised we might not be able to access the exact spots we wanted to.
The field beneath the hills is private property, and was filled with cattle. Plus, there were gates. So we snapped a few photos of it and turned back.
11. Inch Abbey
Located conveniently on the way from Belfast to Castle Ward, these ruins of a 12th-century monastery are one of the more heart-breaking places we visited. Another location for Robb Stark‘s camp, this is where Robb and Catelyn hear the news of Ned Stark’s death.
Location: Inch Abbey (on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
No admission fee
Good to know: Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Some wheelchair users may find access difficult away from the path which leads from the car park to the ruins.
12. Castle Ward & Audley’s Castle
We had a lot of amazing experiences in Northern Ireland but our favorite by far was the Game of Thrones Archery Experience at Castle Ward! Not only did we get to dress in perfect Game of Thrones costumes and practice archery at the very same spot where Bran, Robb and Jon shoot in the first episode, our awesome tour guide Fred drove us to Audley’s Castle, another filming location on the grounds of Castle Ward.
He also pointed out the spot where Brienne and Jamie find the bodies hung from a tree that we didn’t know was filmed there and even helped us find the scene on YouTube so we could frame it!
Location: Castle Ward & Audley’s Castle (Castle Ward’s website | Winterfell Tours website | Discover Northern Ireland’s info)
Admission price: Adult £8, Child £3.80. Discounts available for families and groups. Access to Audley’s Castle is included in the admission.
Archery experience price: There are two packages available, the Bran package for £29/person or the Ned package (beheading included) at £95 for up to 3 people, which gives you private access to the experience and more targets to shoot at. We highly recommend the Ned package!
Good to know: Fun for the whole family, but also excellent for groups of friends. Unless you’re on a guided tour by car, there’s a bit of a walk from Castle Ward to Audley’s Castle.
14. Tollymore Forest Park
Nestled at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, Tollymore Forest Park offers not only panoramic views of the mountains but also beautiful walks along the Shimna river. This vast park is where the rangers of the Night’s Watch encounter the White Walkers in the very first scene of the series. Later on in the episode the Stark family finds the direwolf pups here. The scene was filmed at one of the park’s many picturesque bridges, the Altavaddy Bridge. The exact location of the bridge can be found on our locations map and it’s pretty easy to find following the paths from the parking lot. If you wanna know more about how we found the right spot, check out this post on Facebook.
Location: Tollymore Forest Park (on Discover Northern Ireland’s website)
Admission price: parking is £5/car and includes admission to the park for all passengers
Good to know: There’s quite a bit of walking inside the park to get to the actual location but the roads and paths are in excellent condition.
15. Sandy Brae
Now, this was another inaccessible filming location. Again, we saw the right mountains in the background, but not only was the area very private looking, it was also flooded with water. We took a little walk as far as we could go without trespassing into anyone’s private roads or lands.
However, we could not leave the country without sceneframing Khaleesi and Ser Jorah. That was just unacceptable. So we cheated just a little tiny bit, so here’s our first frame that’s way off the real location. It still has the same hillside in the background, but we’re just half a mile off from their actual riding paths.
Still, it’s pretty cool that we got so close!
We got a really good tip on this location. We were certain we would find it, but ended up driving around an area for half an hour, and never finding a public footpath to access the place. The forest was supposed to be somewhere in Moneyglass, a small town northwest from Belfast. However, it all looked like private lands so we didn’t risk it.
Pity, as we really wanted to sceneframe these shots! We could’ve even feature Eros Vlahos, one of the funnest guys around and also known from Da Vinci’s Demons. (Here, check out the interview we did with Vlahos and Tom Riley!)
17. Bridge over River Maine
While we mostly trust Google Maps for routes there are times when it gets things wrong. For example, if you google a route to Tollymore Forest Park, it tells you to drive to the middle of the park, when in fact you need to leave your car at the designated car park and walk from there.
So when Google told us we could drive straight to this bridge near Randalstown, through roads that, on the map, look very much like footpaths, we were suspicious. Very suspicious. We decided to drive to World of Owls on the other side of the bridge and leave our car there. The walk through the forestry park from there didn’t seem too bad. Wrong call. We ended up having to traipse through some fairly wooded terrain, in the mud, over a couple of small ditches and finally crossing a barbed-wire fence that had luckily mostly fallen down…
Once we finally got to the bridge the road on the other side did in fact look pretty accessible. After we were done sceneframing (and traipsing back all the way to the car), we still had some time so we just had to try the route suggested by Google. And so we drove our car right next to the bridge, took the photos again because the sun had come out and the light was better and then got into our car and drove off. That simple!
Location: Bridge over River Maine
Good to know: This is just for the hardcore Game of Thrones fans as there is not much to see other than the bridge itself. If you do end up driving there: trust Google.
Bonus photos from the Game of Thrones locations on our Instagram
Check out our #FQgoesNI photos on Instagram!
Belfast: a great base for your locations trip
We stayed in Belfast for a couple of days as it was a good base when doing daytrips in different directions and locations. We didn’t have much time to explore the city (which means we have to go back some day!), but we did do a quick stop at the Northern Ireland Film and Television Studios where they’ve filmed the show.
In Belfast, you’ll also find the Titanic Belfast museum with lots and lots of fun looking things to do and see. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to actually go in (boo!) but we did stop for a few touristy photos.
For affordable accommodation in Belfast, we can recommed the Botanic Rest, where we shared a comfortable room among us three.
Fangirl Quest’s Game of Thrones locations roadtrip map
We arrived in Northern Ireland from (Southern) Ireland by car and our first stop were The Marble Arch Caves. From there, we did all the locations up until Giant’s Causeway where we spent the following night. On our second day, we visited all the locations on the way to Belfast. From Belfast, we did separate day trips. All of them are marked as separate layers on the map – if you want to understand it fully, please visit the full map on Google Maps and pay attention to the layers.