10 best Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland

As Alan Titchmarsh visits Winterfell, discover the real Westeros and Essos...

6. The Dark Hedges

These photogenic hedgerows – planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their Gracehill House – were transformed into the Kingsroad for Thrones’ second season. This was the path where Ayra, Gendry and Hot Pie started their journey north on the back of a cart (spoilers: it doesn’t end well for them. At all.)

Game of Thrones location, the Dark Hedges

So, why are they called the Dark Hedges? The treelines are supposedly haunted: The Grey Lady (a lost spirit from a long abandoned graveyard) is said to appear at dusk amongst the trees.

Which episode was filmed here?

The Dark Hedges were used for Season 2, Episode 1: The North Remembers.

Where is it?

North of Belfast, you can get to the hedges by following the A44 past Lissanoure Castle.

7. Ballintoy beach

Ballintoy – from the Irish “Baile an Tuaigh”, meaning “the northern townland” – is a tiny fishing village that doubles as many of the Iron Island’s landmarks.

Ballintoy bay is Lordsport Harbour in season two of the show (the one where a disappointed Theon Greyjoy arrives to a lukewarm reception) and its nearby beach is the one Theon was baptised into the religion of the Drowned God.

Game of Thrones location, Lordsport Harbour

Parts of this beach were also used for the scene in series six where a priest and Balon’s brother, Aeron Greyjoy, remind Yara that the new ruler of the Ironborn will be decided at a Kingsmoot.

Game of Thrones location, Ballintoy Beach

Which episodes were filmed here?

In the episode Season 2, Episode 2: The Night Lands, Ballintoy beach is the one where Theon Greyjoy moors.

Theon’s baptism in Ballintoy can be seen in Season 2, Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die.

Yara can be seen talking to the priests of The Iron Islands in Season 6, Episode 2: Home.

Where is it?

You can find Ballintoy on the B15 coast road, 17 miles north-east of Coleraine, and six miles west of Ballycastle.

8. Portstewart Strand

By the mouth of River Bann lies the golden beaches and domineering dunes of Portstewart Strand, the filming location for the sweeping sands of Dorne.

Game of Thrones location, Portstewart Strand

Yes, the scenes in season five where Jaime Lannister and Bronn storm the scorching south of Westeros weren’t filmed in Spain or Croatia, but on this this National Trust beach on the Northern Irish coast.

Which episode was filmed here?

You can see Jaime and Bronn on Portstewart Strand beach Season 5, Episode 4: Sons of the Harpy.

Where is it?

At the northern tip of the country, 7 miles north-west from Coleraine.

9. Inch Abbey

Cast your eyes over the remains of a Cistercian abbey on the north bank of the River Quoile and one phrase will come to mind: “THE KING OF THE NORTH!” Why? This 12th century building was where Robb Stark’s bannermen rallied to their leader after taking victory (and Jaime Lannister prisoner) at the Battle of the Whispering Wood.

Game of Thrones location, Inch Abbey

As well as being the camp of The Houses of the North and the Riverlands in Game of Thrones, Inch Abbey is home to a breathtaking view of the River Quoile – in the distance you can see Downpatrick Cathedral, burial place of St Patrick, Ireland’s patron saint.

Downpatrick Cathedral, Inch Abbey, Northern Ireland

Which episode was filmed here?

Season 1, Episode 10: Fire and Blood used Inch Abbey as a filming location.

Where is it?

South of Belfast, and 2 miles north of Downpatrick.

10. Tollymore Forest

It all started here: the opening of Game of Thrones season one, episode one – the scene where a Night’s Watch deserter rides into a circle of dismembered Wildling bodies – was filmed deep within Tollymore in the Mournes.

Although the fake snow and protective mesh has been removed from the forest floor, you can still see the clearing that played canvas to the White Walkers’ corpse decor.

Game of Thrones location, Tollymore Forest

As well as hosting the opening to the show, Parnell Bridge in the Forest was the filming location for the first scene that George RR Martin ever imagined in his Song of Ice and Fire series: the finding of the dead direwolf and six live pups.

Game of Thrones location, Tollymore Forest

Which episode was filmed here?

You see the debut scenes of the direwolves and White Walkers in Season 1, Episode 1: Winter is Coming. 

Where is it?

In the south-west of Northern Ireland, just below Newcastle. Once in the park, follow the signs to Parnell Bridge to get to the Game of Thrones locations.