After seven series of unrelenting drama and dragons, winter has finally come – which means it’s a perfect time to take a Game of Thrones pilgrimage, though hopefully, to sunnier climes. By now, fans of HBO’s record-breaking series will know the locations that provide a fantastical backdrop to the quest to reinstate the Starks to their rightful position. It’s involved the greenery of Northern Ireland, the winter scenes of Iceland, the Mediterranean architecture of Seville and the ancient cityscape of Dubrovnik.
But that’s only telling part of the Game of Thrones story. Look closely, and you’ll find some incredible wonders of the world in other memorable scenes. Thronies til the end, the Flexicover team has compiled its favourite five ‘other’ locations for your consideration.
Meteora Monasteries, Greece
You don’t need to be a Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the wonder of the Meteora Monasteries in the mountainous centre of Greece. ‘Meteora’ means ‘suspended in the air’ and rightly, it’s an ancient monastery perched atop dramatic vertical cliffs. The UNESCO-protected site is now a pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians as well as a destination for sightseers keen to explore the complex. That’s especially the case since it was used as The Eyrie, the ancestral seat of House Arryn – and most famously where Petyr Baelish pushed Lysa Arryn to her death. Now that Baelish is no longer, you’re safe to hike to the top to visit the monastic complex for yourself.
Two hours west of Marrakech, the bustling seaside city of Essaouira might be familiar to Game of Thrones fans as the Slaver’s Bay city of Astapor. It’s the place in which Daenerys aka the Mother of Dragons set the slaves free, earning their allegiance in her battle to take the Iron Throne. Head to the waterfront to see exactly where the show was filmed, and once satiated, check out more of what this surfer’s hangout has to offer. You’ll find the charming old town is heavily influenced by its French heritage - not least in the delicious cuisine.
The Azure Window, Malta
It’s a travesty that the Azure Window – an unusual rock formation in the Maltese Archipelago whose gaping hole offered a framed view to the other side – was washed away in heavy storms in 2017. Back in the first series, when Ned Stark was King of the North and Arya was a little nipper, this is where Daenarys married Drogo in a Dothraki ceremony. The good news is that it’s now a popular dive site, with the sharp edges of the fallen rock now settled and providing a home for marine life in its home of Gozo Island. It’s worth the adventure for those who have that all-important PADI certificate.
While the Alcázar of Seville is the most famous filming location in Spain, thanks to the exotic images it conjured up of the sun-kissed land of Dorne, Girona is an oft-overlooked alternative. It’s where many of the scenes of Oldtown were filmed in season six. It was also the location of Braavos, where assassin-in-the-making Arya Stark and Jaqen H'ghar performed their tricks and training. You most certainly will recognise the magnificent Girona Cathedral, where Arya began the season as a beggar. Cunningly, the 15th century building also doubled as the interior of King’s Landing, such are its majestic features.
Doune Castle, Scotland
Here’s a niche option, for well-informed Thronies only. When the series was still an idea floating around the world of HBO, producers David Benihoff and D. B. Weiss had Doune Castle in Scotland pegged as Winterfell. Eagle-eyed viewers might remember it from Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Outlander - but while it was used in the pilot of Game of Thrones, it didn’t make the final cut. It’s still an impressive place to visit, as one of last medieval castles still standing in Scotland. Explore its spiral staircases and impressive grounds with an audio guide, which digs deeper into its fascinating story and film history.
Wherever you plan on heading to this year it’s good to know that Flexicover Travel Insurance is committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure you are safe and secure 24 hours a day when away.