Since George R R Martin penned A Song of Ice and Fire and the series was first aired on TV in 2011 it has built up a massive international audience.
And that has delivered great news for book sales, television viewing and tourism.
The historic cities, rugged landscapes and eerie forests that feature in Game of Thrones, from the wilderness of Winterfell to the exotic Water Gardens of Dorne, have all given fans the travel bug.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, visitor numbers to Iceland, the set of ‘The North,’ has risen from 500,000 in 2010 to around 2.2m in 2018 – an increase of 340 per cent.
The story is similar in Croatia, since Dubrovnik became the recurring set of King’s Landing. There, tourism figures have increased 100% in the region according to the Croatian tourist board.
Rosie Panter, Head of Content at dealchecker, a UK-based travel comparison website, said: “While Dubrovnik and Iceland have certainly benefited from the ‘Game of Thrones effect,’ there are plenty of other beautiful destinations on the UK’s doorstep that have hosted dragons and White Walkers over the years. With the much-anticipated final season airing in April, now’s the perfect time to visit the destinations that are at the heart of the much-loved series.”
dealchecker’s five must-visit Game of Thrones destinations are:
This Spanish palace features intricate tile mosaics and beautiful gardens, thanks to its Moorish heritage. The palace’s many fountains and pools, installed by the Moors to impress visiting dignitaries, are a perfect fit for Dorne’s regal water gardens. Located in the centre of Seville in Southern Spain, visitors can enjoy an afternoon in the shade of the gardens before learning how the country’s colourful history influenced the series.
Dunluce Castle, Ireland – Iron Islands
The iconic ruin of Dunluce Castle has experienced as much mystery, violence and magic as the Iron Islands themselves. Stories in the castle’s history tell of banshees hidden in the depths of the fortress, Irish warrior chieftains battling for dominance and even the disappearance of the kitchens into the sea below one stormy night. Rural Ireland is a great destination for travellers in search of a peaceful countryside escape.
The lush greenery of Meteora made the perfect set for the fertile Vale of Arryn. First featured in series one, the towering stone rock formations which dominate the landscape housed Tyrion Lannister in his sky cell. Meteora is a hiker’s paradise, with various trails leading to the region’s famous mountaintop monasteries.
Kings Landing – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Perhaps the most iconic of all the series’ locations, Dubrovnik is the set of the Westerosi capital, King’s Landing. Visitors to Dubrovnik can visit Fort Lovrijenac, otherwise known as the Red Keep, where the series has shot some of its most dramatic scenes. Travellers can explore the city’s ancient winding streets like Arry, or even follow in the footsteps of Cersei’s infamous ‘Walk of Shame’. But best to book your trip soon; Dubrovnik plans to cap the number of tourists allowed into the city in order to preserve its UNESCO status.
Iceland’s dramatic landscape, with frozen lakes and isolated forests, has been used to film The North throughout Game of Thrones. White walkers and giants aren’t a fantasy far from the country’s own mythology, which includes tales of elves living in small wooden houses, mysterious hidden-beings living in rock formations and volcanic eruptions caused by the rage of the sea gods. Iceland is the perfect destination for those after a balance of modern cities and tranquil countryside.
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