It may be July, but winter is (finally) here. HBO’s epic series Game of Thrones returns this weekend for its penultimate season. In honor of the hit drama, here are a few Game of Thrones filming locations you can visit. From Croatia to Morocco, these are the places that helped make the books come to life.
Warning: spoilers for the first six seasons ahead.
Dubrovnik, Croatia – King’s Landing
It’s easy to see why the “Pearl of the Adriatic” was chosen as the setting for King’s Landing. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with buildings dating back to the 13th century. The churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, along with a postcard-worthy seaside location, lend themselves perfectly to the fictional southern metropolis that’s fit for a king. In the final episode of season 6, Cersei Lannister looks out over the iconic orange-tiled roofs while she waits to burn all her enemies to the ground.
Essaouira, Morocco – Astapor
The Marrakech medina can be a sensory overload. For a more laid-back experience, head to this hip beach town instead, where you’ll find a similar shopping experience within the whitewashed medina walls — and without the pressure to buy. Grab lunch at the fish stalls for a fresh (and cheap) catch of the day, or ride a camel on the beach. Don’t miss the Portuguese Fort: this is the spot in the fourth episode of season three that Daenerys orders her new Unsullied army to kill all the slave masters, and commands her dragon Drogon to burn Kraznys mo Nakloz.
Portstewart Strand, Northern Ireland – Dorne
Owned and managed by the National Trust, this 2-mile golden strand on County Derry’s northern coast is one of the country’s best beaches. You might recognize the 6,000-year-old sand dunes from a scene in episode six of season five, when Jamie Lannister and Bronn arrive in Dorne. The scenes where they are discovered by Dornish guards, and the fight where the duo kills them, were also filmed in this area.
Ballintoy, Northern Ireland – Iron Islands
“What is dead may never die” in the quaint seaside village of Ballintoy. Located in County Antrim, the town has served as the backdrop for several Iron Islands scenes throughout the series. The Ballintoy Harbour was featured in season two, when Theon Greyjoy sails back from Winterfell and meets his sister Yara. Scenes were filmed in the surrounding areas for exterior shots of Pyke and the Kingsmoot.
Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland – Kingsroad
Straight out of a fairy tale, one of the most photographed spots in Northern Ireland served as the Kingsroad. It’s shown in episode two of season one, when Ned Stark agrees to become the Hand of the King and rides south with Robert Baratheon. (If only we could tell him to turn back!) The beech trees were planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century to impress visitors as they arrived to Gracehill House.
Alcázar of Seville, Spain – Dorne
Seville’s royal palace was the perfect setting for House Martell in Dorne. Built in 712 as a fortress, the UNESCO World Heritage Site became a royal residence in the 13th century. The Moorish-built castle and its surrounding formal gardens with pools and fountains served at Dorne’s Water Gardens, where gout-ridden Doran Martell, confined to a wheelchair, spends most of his days. Several scenes for season five were filmed here, including Myrcella Baratheon walking with Trystane Martell, Ellaria Sand confronting Doran Martell to avenge Oberyn’s death, and the fight between the Sand Snakes and Jamie Lannister and Bronn.
Thingvellir National Park, Iceland – Various
This stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site was used for several Game of Thrones filming locations. The Almannagjá gorge served as the road to the Eyrie, where Catelyn Stark took Tyrion Lannister in season 1. In season 4, episode 1, Tormund Giantsbane and Ygritte made camp along the rocky canyons in the park, and were soon introduced to the Thenns. But it’s probably most recognizable as the backdrop to the fight scene between Brienne and the Hound in season 4, episode 10.
Downhill Strand, Northern Ireland – Dragonstone
“The night is dark and full of terrors” on this scenic beach in County Londonderry, where the Red Woman, Melisandre, and Stannis Baratheon burned the Seven Gods in season 4, episode 2. Mussenden Temple, built in the 18th century and one of the most photographed icons in the country, presides over the shore.
Grjotagja, Iceland – Cave Beyond the Wall
In season 3, episode 5, Jon Snow and Ygritte steal away to a grotto to, ahem, you know. The gorgeous filming location is Iceland’s Grjotagja, a natural hot spring heated by volcanic activity that is a frequent bathing spot for locals.