Skip to content

Game of Thrones filming locations

The Starks during Game of Thrones filming at Castle Ward
The Starks during Game of Thrones filming at Castle Ward | © Helen Sloan/ HBO

Ever wondered where Game of Thrones was filmed? Based on the best-selling novels by George RR Martin, HBO's TV adaptation charts the brutal power struggle between seven fictional kingdoms. In reality, much of the action took place in Northern Ireland, where places we look after doubled for those in Westeros.

Northern Ireland becomes a fantasy land

With everything from historic buildings to rugged coastline and wild countryside, there was no shortage of backdrops in Northern Ireland that could pass as parts of Westeros. Eagle-eyed viewers can spot them scattered throughout the series, serving as everything from battlegrounds to family strongholds.

Why not see how many of them you can recognise in the show, or better still, plan a trip to our places and spaces Northern Ireland to explore the filming locations in real life?

Castle Ward, County Down

Lying on the shores of Strangford Lough in County Down, the Castle Ward Estate provided some of season one’s most recognisable locations. The historic farmyard stood in for parts of Winterfell, including the archery range where the Stark children practised their skills.

Take a wander round the wider estate and you might also recognise other sites such as Robb Stark’s army camp, and the setting for The Twins – home of the treacherous Lord Frey.

The battle between the Starks and Lannisters in episode nine (‘Baelor’) was also filmed here, along with the scene in episode ten (‘Fire and Blood’) where Brienne confronts three Stark men.

Download the Game of Thrones location map to see the scenes shot at Castle Ward.

As I was exploring the countryside, it soon became apparent that some of the most beautiful areas here are owned by the National Trust.

A quote by Robbie BoakeGame of Thrones Supervising Location Manager

Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry

Portstewart Strand in County Londonderry was also chosen as a location for season five. The dune-covered beach made the perfect stand-in for the Dornish coastline, where Jaime and Bronn came ashore on their way to fetch Princess Myrcella.

Downhill Demesne, County Londonderry

Perched dramatically on the cliff edge, Mussenden Temple gave the Game of Thrones camera crew a perfect view of Downhill Beach (not National Trust owned) which became Dragonstone in season two. The beach was the place where Stannis Baratheon rejected the Seven Gods, and allowed Melisandre to burn their effigies.

Murlough Bay, County Antrim

Remote Murlough Bay became the Iron Islands in season three. It was used as the location where Theon meets his sister Yara on the way home to Pyke, and also as the place Davos Seaworth was shipwrecked after the Battle of the Blackwater.

Behind the scenes of Game of Thrones

Castle Ward had no idea what it was getting into when it agreed to the filming of a pilot for a fantasy series. There had been some small shoots before Game of Thrones, but nothing on this scale. 

The staff were a little star struck when the team of producers and executives flew in from LA to check out the site. It was agreed that the area was the perfect setting for the home of the Stark family. 

In total the crew spent eight weeks building sets at Castle Ward ahead of time, and during filming there were hundreds of cast and crew on site. The main set was the Winterfell set up in the farmyard, although it was helped by a large amount of CGI in post-production.

After the first season aired, it was clear the show was a hit. A version of the Winterfell set was then built in Titanic studios in Belfast, as continued filming at a busy heritage site like Castle Ward was no longer sustainable.

Supporting special places

As well as showing off beautiful locations, filming directly benefits the places in our care that star in the production. The income from location fees goes straight back into conservation work to care for historic houses and landscapes, so that we’ll all be able to see them both on screen and in real life for years to come.

You might also be interested in

Millie Bobby Brown as Enola Holmes, movie filming took place at Benthall Hall in Shropshire, and Ashridge, in Hertfordshire

Solving mysteries with the filming of Enola Holmes 

Go on a mystery adventure to the filming locations of Neflix film Enola Holmes to Benthall Hall in Shropshire, and Ashridge in Hertfordshire, and find out about how these places were transformed for the production.

Kristen Stewart, Snow White, Frensham Ponds, Universal Pictures

Visit the setting of Snow White and the Huntsman 

Visit Frensham Ponds in Surrey, the backdrop of Snow White and the Huntsman. Find out about how it was filmed and what it’s like to work with a film crew in a Special Area of Conservation.

A large metal cauldron in the middle of a room at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Explore Harry Potter filming locations 

From Hogwarts to Malfoy Manor, explore the wizarding world of Harry Potter through the places in our care.

Crimson Bedroom at Montacute House, Somerset, featured in Wolf Hall

Visit the settings of Wolf Hall 

Wolf Hall, based on Hilary Mantel’s novels, was filmed in several National Trust properties. Here’s how to visit the backdrop of the hit TV series and imagine the Tudor times of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII.

A large metal cauldron in the middle of a room at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

Holiday to a film location 

: Fancy taking a break somewhere you've seen on screen? From The Secret Garden to Game of Thrones and Harry Potter, many of the places we care for have been filming locations for much-loved movies and TV shows.