I am a bit of a Game of Thrones fan, and something I really appreciate is the vast array of real life filming locations you can visit so easily from the UK. It’s hard to believe that the fantastic other-worldly scenes of the series are all a short flight from where I live right now, and without making any real decision to do so, I have managed to see quite a few of them over the past year. I figured I might as well write some posts about them!
With the exception of season one (when they used fake snow! I guess the budget got a bit bigger in subsequent seasons) most scenes north of the wall have been filmed in Iceland, and this has been credited at least in part for their recent massive boom in tourism. GOT showrunner David Benioff describes Iceland as “really kind of shatteringly beautiful and barren and brutal” and it’s a pretty apt description.
I had only 3 days in Iceland which was really not enough time, but in spite of this I still managed to stumble across a few Game of Thrones filming locations.
These are the locations I did see.
The Höfðabrekkuheiði hiking area near Vik, on Iceland’s south coast, appears as the frozen wastes of northern Westeros. The Mýrdalsjökull glacier becomes the Fist of the First Men.
Vik isn’t too difficult to reach from the capital Reykjavik. The local bus service Straeto has a handy route-planning app, and run a regular service to Vik (although it’s fairly irregular on weekends).
To get to the actual glacier you will need a taxi – or hire a car, or join one of the many many local tours.
Thingvellir National Park
Iceland doesn’t just fill in for the land beyond The Wall. The pass to the impregnable Eyrie is actually found in the Thingvellir National Park. It features in season four when Brienne and the Hound have a big ole barny over Arya.
Any tour of the Golden Circle will take you here, otherwise I don’t know of any very good public transport options, so you would have to hire a car.
There are many other filming locations in Iceland that I didn’t get to see, including:
Dimmuborgir is a frozen lava field near Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland. It is where Mance Rayder’s wildling army camp was built in season three.
Dimmuborgir is also the name of a black metal band, no doubt inspired by Nordic Christian lore, which says that Dimmuborgir is the place where Satan landed when he was cast from the heavens.
The cave, also close to Mývatn, is where Jon Snow and Ygritte got it on.
Skaftafell and Vatnajökull
The Svínafellsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers near Skaftafell feature prominently as the land beyond the Wall, chosen because their sheer size provides ample space to shoot a variety of scenes in one place, while remaining undisturbed by one of Iceland’s major tourism products — geologic hikes.
Complete your experience
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,” said Jojen. “The man who never reads lives only one.”
-George R. R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons
If you’re already a fan of the TV show, why not start reading the books? The first one is – unsurprisingly – called A Game of Thrones (by GRRM) and they are full of wonderful gems like the above. Yes, they’re lengthy but you know the story is going to be worth it …
You thought I was going to say A Game of Thrones right? Well, yes, watch that.
A traditional Icelandic dish which I thought sounded very close to our A Game of Thrones theme, is Svið. A sheep head is singed to remove the hair, then brained, boiled and served with mashed turnips, potatoes and rhubarb jelly. Then you eat its face. Have at it.
Empire by Of Monsters and Men – because they are from Reykjavik, and what else is A Game of Thrones about but building empires?
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