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Six “Game of Thrones” Sites in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is a land of stunning landscapes and medieval architecture, which made it the perfect place for the makers of the “Game of Thrones” to film much of their footage. Here are just a few of the many fascinating places that were used as backdrops or props for the show, evoking a sense of the magical and timeless.

1. Cairncastle

It was from here, in this verdant expansive land overlooking the sea, that they filmed the scene where Ned Stark beheaded a Night’s Watch deserter.

Though the scene appeared to be on a snowy highland, the actual landscape is a green coastal hillside, clearly portending that Spring is Coming.

A visit to the site today just includes some very curious sheep.

2. The Dark Hedges

This hedge was featured in the scene where Arya Stark disguised herself as a boy and escaped from King’s Landing with her friends.

The trees were planted in the 18th century to highlight the approach to Gracehill mansion.

Today they take on a mystical quality, especially at dusk or in the fog. Fortunately, the only Hound that travelers will encounter here is the occasional local hunting dog.

3. Fair Head

This distinctive cliff (here as seen from Rathlin Island across the water) was used as the backdrop when Theon Greyjoy and his sister rode to Pyke. It is also featured in the scene when Davos Seaworth is shipwrecked. Navigating these waters is not nearly as hazardous in real life as it appears to be in the show.

It is a striking view from a distance, and driving its cliffs (called the Torr Drive) offers equally stunning views.

4. Mussenden Temple and Downhill Beach

Downhill Beach, which is pictured here beneath Mussenden Temple perched on the cliffs above, was the beach used for Dragonstone and the scene in which Melisandre burned the Seven Idols of Westeros.

The Temple is a part of Downhill Demesne, a National Trust site that also includes other monuments, lush gardens and gorgeous cliffside walks, and thankfully excludes any maniacal witch-priestesses.

5. Cushenden Caves

These impressive caves, pictured just to the left of Cushendun (the white houses), are where they filmed the scene in which Melisandre gives birth to the shadow baby. (Visitors here should have no fear, however, as long as they aren’t planning to usurp power from their older sibling.)

After a walk on the beach to the caves you can enjoy a great lunch at the locally famous Mary McBride’s pub.

6. Glenarm

Steenson’s Jewelers in Glenarm has been in the same family for over 40 years, crafting gold, other precious metals and jewels.

This jeweler created King Joffrey’s crown, Daenerys’ dragon brooches, Margaery Tyrell’s wedding tiara, and the Lannister lion pendants. Steensons also creates beautiful pieces commemorating the Titanic, and others depicting the Giant’s Causeway.

These are just a few of the many sites in Northern Ireland that served as “Game of Thrones” sets. They are also just a tiny fraction of all that there is to see in this land that is rich in history and in scenery.

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We – Matt Walker and Zeneba Bowers – are the creators of, a travel consulting business. We craft personalized itineraries for travelers who want to avoid the typical tourist "checklist" locations in favor of more authentic and immersive experiences. Our Little Roads Europe Travel Guides are award-winning, small-town foodie guidebooks to Italy and Ireland. In these books we explore the breadbasket of Emilia-Romagna and the iconic cuisine of Tuscany; our guide to Ireland visits all of our “Little Roads” secrets of the Emerald Isle. We have just completed our fourth guidebook, available in Fall 2018: "Italy's Alpine Lakes: Small-town Itineraries for the Foodie Traveler". Our guides are about where we love to travel, but more importantly they illustrate how we travel. They are available in handy and beautiful color print versions, and also in Kindle format from Amazon. We have also written articles for various media outlets including Budget Travel and Gannett publications. We are classical musicians who perform in a symphony orchestra and in the Grammy-nominated ALIAS Chamber Ensemble, and we can be found on many recordings, both classical and popular. Off the stage, we travel as much as possible. We visit Europe 5-6 times a year, focusing most of our time on Italy and Ireland, with some excursions into England, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.We find places to visit based on intense scrutiny of detailed maps, exhaustive research, and experience of stumbling on these places ourselves, which itself is made possible by our style of travel. We wish to share with fellow travelers (and would-be travelers) the immense knowledge we have of very small towns that can’t be found in other literature or websites. We also share travel and packing and driving tips, and trip-planning ideas based on our many years of trial and error. We offer tips on how to get in and out of some of the major tourist sites (e.g. Cliffs of Moher, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Florence) with a minimum of stress and tourist hordes; and we also suggest alternatives that are equally gorgeous but less crowded. Come travel with us, and see how rewarding it is to visit Europe in Little Roads style...

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