10 best Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland

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

Dark Hedges Northern Ireland, unique looking roadway down a path of curving trees.

In tonight’s episode of Secrets of the National Trust, Alan Titchmarsh visits Castle Ward, the 18th-century mansion that provided the setting for Winterfell in Game of Thrones (Channel 5, 8pm).

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Castle Ward
Castle Ward

What do Dorne and Winterfell have in common? You get no points for saying “they’re both places in Game of Thrones”.

Answer: the southern dunes of Dorne and the Starks’ homeland were filmed in Northern Ireland.

In fact, you can explore a huge chunk of Essos and Westeros in a single weekend…


1. Castle Ward

This 18th-century farmyard, overlooking Strangford Lough, was the Winterfell in season one of the show: it’s where the Starks greeted King Robert Baratheon and his royal party, and where Bran undergoes his (unsuccessful) archery lessons.

Visitors can don Game of Thrones-esque costumes and learn archery skills directly from extras off the show – concentrate hard enough and you’ll be able to boast Ramsey Bolton-level feats with a bow (minus actually killing anyone).

You can also stay the night at Castle Ward in cosy, dog-friendly Potter’s Cottage (from £196 for two nights, sleeps four). If you’re planning a GOT-themed weekend with a group of mates, Castle Ward also has a well equipped bunkhouse (from £320 for two nights, sleeps 14) and a caravan park.

Which episodes were filmed here?

If you see an exterior of Winterfell in season one, it’s Castle Ward (with a bit of CGI clamped on).

Where is it?

To the south of Belfast. From Downpatrick, take the A25 8 miles north, turn left onto Park Road at a brown signpost for Castle Ward National Trust Grounds.


2. Audley’s Field & Castle

A five-minute bike ride away from Castle Ward (from where you can catch a cycle tour) is Audley’s Castle, a battlement named after the Norman family who arrived in Northern Ireland around 1210. And it’s by this battlement that Robb Stark stashed his army while they prepared to face the Lannisters.

Just beside the castle is Audley’s Field, where the aftermath of the battle of Oxcross was filmed (the one where Robb meets future wife Talisa – a meeting that ultimately leads to the infamous Red Wedding).

Which episodes were filmed here?

You can see Audley’s Castle and Field in Season 2, Episode 1: The North Remembers and Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones.

Where is it?

It’s a 10-minute walk north of Castle Ward.


3. Cushendun

This small village in the country’s north might seem a cushy sea retreat by the mouth of the river Dun, but a short walk around the coast takes you to a place full of dark and terrors: the cave where Melisandre (aka the red woman played by Carice van Houten) gives birth to the shadow creature.

Cushenden Cave, Game of Thrones

You can recreate the scene (providing you don’t mind getting your behind or imaginary shadow child too muddy) in this cave, or simply admire the sea view where cliff meets the ocean.

And if you need fortification after the evils of the caves, then recover at the nearby Mary McBrides Bar, a proper ye-olde pub where you’ll see scenes of Braavos, a free city of Essos, carved into one of the doors.

Mary McBrides Bar door, Game of Thrones

Which episode was filmed here?

You can see Melisandre’s extreme home birth in Season 2, Episode 4: Garden of Bones.

Where is it?

North of Belfast, just south-west of Bally Castle. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from the capital.


4. Larrybane

This spot on the North Antrim coast was where the show first introduced behemoth Brienne through her fight with Loras Tyrell. Yes, the former chalk quarry is now an overflow car park Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, but it’s where the Thrones crew set up camp: Renly Baratheon‘s war camp in the Stormlands, to be precise.

Game of Thrones, Stormlands, chalk quarry

And while the walls of the former quarry aren’t a feast for crows your eyes, turn around and you’ll be treated to the spectacular views of the Causeway Coast, Sheep Island and another filming location. The Kingsmoot scene – the one where Theon Greyjoy rallies the Iron Islanders to support his sister Yara’s claim to the Salt Throne – was filmed less than a minute’s walk away from the quarry.

Game of Thrones location, Kingsmoot scene, Northern Ireland

Which episodes were filmed here?

The quarry was used for Renly Baratheon’s camp in the Stormlands in Season 2, Episode 3: What is Dead May Never Die. Episode 5 in Season 6: The Door used Larrybane as the location of the Kingsmoot.

Where is it?

Larrybane is on the very northern tip of Northern Ireland, just under six miles from Ballycastle.


5. Carnlough

This picturesque harbour may be small, but it’s home to a critical Braavos-based scene from season six. The stony staircase leading down to the sea were the steps Ayra crawled up after being stabbed by the troublesome Waif.

Game of Thrones location, Carnlough

Which episode was filmed here?

The harbour steps were used in Season 6, Episode 7: The Broken Man.

Where is it?

Carnlough is on the northern coast, about half an hour’s drive north-east from Ballymena.

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