X

Real-life 'Game of Thrones' locations

The fantasy world of Westeros from "Game of Thrones" looks a lot like our world...because it's largely shot on location on Earth. Here's a tour of several amazing locations, inset with actual scenes from the show.

Geoffrey Morrison
Geoffrey Morrison is a writer/photographer about tech and travel for CNET, The New York Times, and other web and print publications. He's also the Editor-at-Large for The Wirecutter. He has written for Sound&Vision magazine, Home Theater magazine, and was the Editor-in-Chief of Home Entertainment magazine. He is NIST and ISF trained, and has a degree in Television/Radio from Ithaca College. His bestselling novel, Undersea, and its sequel, Undersea Atrophia, are available in paperback and digitally on Amazon. He spends most of the year as a digital nomad, living and working while traveling around the world. You can follow his travels at BaldNomad.com and on his YouTube channel.
Geoffrey Morrison
game-of-thrones-in-real-life-1.jpg
1 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

The world of Westeros

We start our trip around Westeros in the far south: Dorne. We've seen Dorne multiple times throughout the seasons, but the most visually interesting is the Water Gardens, also known in the real world as the Alcazar de Sevilla in Spain.

By the way, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD, so consider yourself warned.

For the full story behind these tours from all over Europe, check out From King's Landing to the Iron Isles: Game of Thrones locations in the real world.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-2.jpg
2 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Water Gardens

If all of Dorne is as lovely as southern Spain, sign me up. Inset, you can see Ellaria Sand about to have words with Doran Martell.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-3.jpg
3 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Princely vew

Sadly, you can't access that balcony, where Doran Martell sat in his wheelchair.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-4.jpg
4 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Sand Snakes scheme

Under the Alcazar de Sevilla is this cistern where the Sand Snakes plotted their coup.

gotrl5.jpg
5 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Imagine dragons

From Dorne we head east, to Essos. Under the mighty pyramid of Meereen lay the catacombs where Daenerys kept her dragons. Sadly, in the actual catacombs under what was once the Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia, there were no dragons. There weren't even any stairs. It looked vaguely like the show, but the huge stairs that multiple characters walk down was absent, built (and removed) by the production team. Even the door, which you can see in the middle of this photo, isn't a real door.

gotrl6.jpg
6 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Still no dragons

I demanded a refund for lack of dragons. The woman running the ticket desk was not amused.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-7.jpg
7 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Qarth

Even farther east is Qarth, where baby dragons were stolen by the Warlocks of Qarth. Though in the show the actual tower looks different, the base around it (shown in the frame from the show) is the base around Minceta Tower in the Walls of Dubrovnik. Because so much of the show was shot in that town, this tower was used for a lot. You'll see another picture of it later.

gotrl8.jpg
8 of 41 Thaynara Castro/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

The night is dark and full of terrors

Now we head far west, both in the fictional world and the real one. In season 2, episode 4, Melisandre gives birth to a shadow assassin, freaking out Ser Davos. These caves are in Northern Ireland and are called the Caves of Cushendun, which sounds like something George R.R. Martin could have written himself.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-9.jpg
9 of 41 Thaynara Castro/CNET

Caves of Cushendun

I looked hard for shadows in the shadows, but alas, nothing.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-10.jpg
10 of 41 Thaynara Castro/CNET

Private

It's hard to tell if these bars were the ones in the show or if they added additional fake bars.

gotirl11.jpg
11 of 41 Thaynara Castro/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Out to the sea

A view back, roughly where Melisandre is standing in the inset photo.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-12.jpg
12 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Iron Isles

From the southeastern shores of Westeros, we swing around and head up to the northwest, to Pyke, on the Iron Isles. Though in the real life, we've only traveled a little farther up the Northern Irish shore, to Ballintoy. This is from season 3, episode 2.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-13.jpg
13 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Winter is coming

East to The North, the lands near Winterfell, and the scene in the first episode where Eddard Stark kills a deserter from the Night's Watch. Much of the show is shot in Northern Ireland, and it doubles for much of The North. This is near Knockdhu Promontory Fort, a bit north of Belfast.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-14.jpg
14 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

The Eyrie

South we go, to the Vale of Arryn (though in the real world, we're in Greece). In the show the Eyrie is all computer graphics, but they wanted to shoot at the real Meteora -- and it's easy to see why. That's a real place! I did a full tour of it and several of the other "flying" monasteries in the area. You can check that out at From James Bond to 'Game of Thrones,' the impossible and incredible monasteries of Meteora.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-15.jpg
15 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

The Kingsroad

In the show the Kingsroad runs from all the way from The Wall to King's Landing. In real life, it's a small road called the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland. From my Instagram.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-16.jpg
16 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

King's Landing

And finally, we arrive at King's Landing, also known as Dubrovnik, Croatia.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-17.jpg
17 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

The city gates

So many parts of this city have been used, often for completely different episodes, and often to double for different "GoT" cities entirely.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-18.jpg
18 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Enter!

Several episodes featured characters entering King's Landing by featuring the actors entering Dubrovnik. This tiny gate is one of the only ways into the city.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-19.jpg
19 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Ramps

This area, part of the main entrance to the city, was where the riot against King Joffrey happened in season 2, episode 6.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-20.jpg
20 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Many scenes, many tourists

According to the Game of Thrones tour I took in Dubrovnik (because of course I took one), as the city's popularity increased over the last few years, it became harder and harder to use this area for the show. Blocking off the main entrance to a city with streams of tourists presents problems.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-21.jpg
21 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

The Great Sept of Baelor

Behold, the Great Sept of Baelor! Sort of. These are the famous "Shame" steps that lead to the Great Sept. There is a church at the top, but you can't see it from here (what you see is a different building). It's definitely not as big as the one from the show.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-22.jpg
22 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Shame!

Cersei's view before her epic walk in season 6. There's no Red Keep on the hill ahead, but you can take a cable car to the top to get a nice view.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-23.jpg
23 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Not-sept

This is the area where the Grand Sept would have been, had it been real. That is a church on the right though. This is standing roughly above where Cersei was.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-24.jpg
24 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Across the square

The last photo, and the beginning of the stairs, is directly ahead, between the umbrellas and against the decrative stone wall.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-25.jpg
25 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Red wedding

The crack of road flares caused more than a few heads to turn. All the tourists looked concerned. The locals, not so much.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-26.jpg
26 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Now that's lighting

Apparently this is fairly traditional way of doing things at a Croatian wedding. One heck of an entrance, I'll give them that.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-27.jpg
27 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

City walls

For a few kuna you can walk along the city walls. Doubt they would have let you do that in King's Landing. In many shots of the city, the water below is replaced with computer-generated buildings, and the small keep on the right is replaced by the Red Keep. As you'll see, they play around with the locations of many buildings throughout the series.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-28.jpg
28 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Planning and plotting

Season 2, episode 8, Tyrion and Varys preparing for the Battle of the Blackwater.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-29.jpg
29 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Blackwater Bay

Yep, that's Blackwater Bay. Seems bigger in the show, with less-colorful longboats.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-29a.jpg
30 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Not quite the Red Keep

That "other" keep on the other side of "Blackwater Bay." That's Lovrijenac and has been used inside and out for countless scenes. If you rewatch the show, you'll see this little stretch of corridor inside Lovrijenac multiple times.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-29b.jpg
31 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Lovrijenac

Another spot used a lot. The screenshot is from season 3, episode 1, but you'll see that area in other episodes. The famous "Power is Power" scene between Cersei and Littlefinger (season 2, episode 1) was shot on the lower level you can see here.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-30.jpg
32 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Purple wedding

Ahhh, the Purple Wedding. The King Joffrey scene we were waiting years to see. This area, adjacent to Lovrijenac, is a park with walking paths. You can barely recognize it in the episode, but it's one of the biggest, flat, outdoor spaces around Dubruvnik, so it's not surprising they picked it for that scene.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-31.jpg
33 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

View of the city

The Lovrijenac in the foreground, with Dubrunik behind. This is a stunning city, by the way. I highly recommend checking it out... though not in August. Way too crowded with cruise ship people.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-32.jpg
34 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Blackwater Bay redux

The view from Lovrijenac. The production team uses every cool area they can find. As you'll see in the next few images.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-33.jpg
35 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Just a dock

Another area used in multiple scenes. This was another from season 3, episode 1, where Petyr Baelish offers to help Sansa escape.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-34.jpg
36 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

In the rocks

In the opener of the second season, King Joffrey orders all of Robert's bastards killed. There are a few shots of the doors in the rock here.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-35.jpg
37 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Out to the narrow sea

Hey, there's no castle there.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-36.jpg
38 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Towers

Not much done to the Lovrijenac, just a few CG towers. Fun fact! The walls of the Lovrijenac are thinner on this side than the side that faces the sea. In case it was captured by an enemy the defenders of the city could deny their enemy such a fortified beachhead.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-37.jpg
39 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

Minceta tower

In the distance you can see the Minčeta Tower, part of which was Qarth. It's the highest point in the city.

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-38.jpg
40 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET (Inset Copyright: HBO)

View from the Walls

A view of Dubrovnik from near Minčeta Tower. As you can see from the screenshot, "Blackwater Bay" is covered over, and Lovrijenac is the Red Keep. However, if you're standing on the stairs in front of where the Sept "is," you're actually facing this way (not towards the Keep as is seen in the show). Such lies!

game-of-thrones-in-real-life-39b.jpg
41 of 41 Geoffrey Morrson/CNET

Goodbye, King's Landing

There's good reason the creators of "Game of Thrones" chose these locations for the show: it's easy to make the show look good when the locations themselves look so amazing. This one's from my Instagram.

For the full story behind these tours from all over Europe, check out From King's Landing to the Iron Isles: Game of Thrones locations in the real world.

More Galleries

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera
A houseplant

My Favorite Shots From the Galaxy S24 Ultra's Camera

20 Photos
Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra
magic-v2-2024-foldable-1383

Honor's Magic V2 Foldable Is Lighter Than Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra

10 Photos
The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum
Samsung Galaxy S24

The Samsung Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus Looks Sweet in Aluminum

23 Photos
Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design
The Galaxy S24 Ultra in multiple colors

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra Now Has a Titanium Design

23 Photos
I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites
img-0368.jpg

I Took 600+ Photos With the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. Look at My Favorites

34 Photos
Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?
Invitation for the Apple September iPhone 15 event

Do You Know About These 17 Hidden iOS 17 Features?

18 Photos
AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?
img-1599-2.jpg

AI or Not AI: Can You Spot the Real Photos?

17 Photos