If you are a true Game of Thrones fan, we’re sure you among many others across the world are eagerly awaiting the next instalment of the series which isn’t due to hit screens until next year. In Northern Ireland we have so many ways to fill the current GOT void by immersing yourself in some of the most iconic moments created by the renowned George R. R. Martin. As home to more locations from the Seven Kingdoms than anywhere else in the world, Northern Ireland is the perfect place to whet your appetite whether you’re living locally or travelling on holiday from further afield.
Nestled on the shore of the beautiful Strangford Lough, we are very fortunate to have many of the show’s iconic filming locations located right on our doorstep in County Down. If you’re in the mood for an adventure – and some possible celebrity spotting – then make sure to check out our very own self-guided Game of Thrones tour. Enjoy!
Depart from Dufferin Coaching Inn
After a relaxing overnight stay at Dufferin Coaching Inn, kickstart your morning with a hearty and mouth-watering breakfast courtesy of guesthouse owner Leontine. As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and when staying with us you will be treated to the best of breakfasts including locally-sourced porridge and jam, Clandeboye Yogurt, home-made breads, eggs cooked to order or even a fully-cooked Ulster Fry – a favourite among many of our guests.
Pack up a Picnic
Before you head off on your adventure make sure to grab some nice treats to enjoy along the way. Our neighbour Picnic offers gorgeous ingredients for a tasty picnic that can be packed up and enjoyed at any point on your tour, and we’ve made sure to include some beautiful spots on your day trip perfectly suited for an al fresco meal! With a deli counter bursting with some of the finest local produce including cheeses, hams, home-made pies and ragouts, alongside free-range eggs, honey, raspberries and yogurts, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your fancy.
Tollymore Forest ‘The Haunted Forest’
Tollymore Forest Park is otherwise known as ‘The Haunted Forest’ in Game of Thrones and made its debut in the very first episode where the Stark family discovered their beloved direwolves and viewers were introduced to the formidable white walkers. Spanning over 1,600 acres, the Forest Park continues to make regular appearances in the series, with all scenes North of the wall filmed there. Dating back to 1955, Tollymore is the first state forest park in Northern Ireland and was also named as the top picnic spot across Northern Ireland in 2015 – it’s the perfect place to unwind with a hamper of treats!
Inch Abbey ‘The Twins’
Founded in 1180, Inch Abbey not only carries great local history but also marks a significant moment in Game of Thrones and is where the War of the Five Kings began. The remains of the beautiful Cistercian Abbey are mainly from the 12th and 13th centuries whilst the church itself is older than that at Great Abbey, built around 1193. Viewers may remember that this was where the phrase ‘The King of the North’ was first coined by Robb Stark’s bannerman after victory at the Battle of the Whispering Wood which also saw the capture of Jamie Lannister. As well as serving as a backdrop to Stark’s success, Inch Abbey also features breath-taking views of the River Quoile and Downpatrick Cathedral, the resting place of Ireland’s patron Saint, Saint Patrick.
River Quoile ‘Trident River’
Located right beside Inch Abby is the River Quoile, which will be more familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the Trident River and Riverrun, and home to the Tully family. Made up of a large wetland with a network of woodland riverside trails, the Quoile is the perfect spot to stretch your legs. One of the most memorable scenes from this particular location was the funeral of Hoster Tully who made his final journey up the Red Fork of the Trident River in season three.
Castle Ward ‘Winterfell’
Representing a combination of architectural styles, both gothic and classical, Castle Ward was sure to be a perfect location for Game of Thrones. As home to the Stark Family, Castle Ward – known as Winterfell – is featured often in the first episode of the series with the historic farmyard serving as the backdrop to King Robert Baratheon’s arrival. It also played host to some memorable family moments like Bran, Jon and Robb practicing their archery skills in the courtyard. In preparation of the pilot episode, the crew of Game of Thrones spent eight weeks at Castle Ward building the set of Winterfell. Eager fans can now don Game of Thrones-esque costumes and walk in the footsteps of some of their favourite characters through guided tours of key locations and archery lessons from Winterfell Tours. There’s even the opportunity to come face to face with some of the impressive direwolves!
Audley’s Castle and Field - ‘Robb Stark’s Camp’
Located just a five-minute bike ride away from Castle Ward, Audley’s Castle and Field which were named after its 16th century owners, have featured in several scenes from season one and two of the series. Alongside Castle Ward’s farmyard, it also served as the setting for King Robert Baratheon’s arrival to Winterfell and featured as Robb Stark’s camp in season two. Fans may also remember that this was not just a key setting for Robb and his men, but it also was where he first meets his love Talisa.
Enjoy a tasty evening meal
After a day filled with adventure, there is truly nothing better than settling down to a beautiful evening meal. As you begin to wind down at the end of your tour, make sure to pay a visit to The Smuggler’s Table in Killyleagh and treat your taste buds to delicious locally-sourced food served with great local charm. It’s safe to say we’re not the only fans!
Relax and unwind
Fully fed and watered, make your return to Dufferin, unwind with a favourite novel in front of the fire – or perhaps a bubble bath – and enjoy a blissful night’s rest.