By Chris Ayliffe, Arctic Meta
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably spent a good portion of the COVID-19 period catching up on all the box sets your friends and colleagues had been telling you about relentlessly over the past few years. Well, I can assure you, you’re not alone!
5 weeks, 8 series, and at least 73 raised eyebrows from my partner later, and I completed watching all the episodes of the HBO classic, Game of Thrones.
In this blog, I’m going to walk you through all the awesome and spectacular film locations which were used for the Game of Thrones series in Iceland. And, don’t worry, this blog won’t be written completely in Dothraki.
So, plug in your headphones to the main theme song and let’s head north of the wall so you know exactly where to go to see these spectacular locations.
If you’re heading straight out from Reykjavik then the first stop on your Game of Thrones journey should take you to Hengilssvæðið, or Hengill mountain.
This large volcanic mountain sits to the south of the famous Thingvellir National Park – south of route 36. It takes a bit of hike to reach this location but, depending on weather conditions, it’s relatively straightforward to complete, and is even quite a popular route for the locals alike.
In episode 10 of season 4, this was the main location for the filming of the tiresome battle between Brienne of Tarr and the infamous Hound.
As this was a fight scene, we can’t provide exact coordinates of where the filming took place. But if you rewatch this scene on YouTube the night before, we’re sure you’ll start to recognise this battleground quite easily on your hike!
Photo: Wikimedia. CC. Jakub Fryš
If you’re an avid hiker and keen to explore more of Iceland’s outdoors, then this hiking route links up with the much better-known Reykjadalur valley.
Though more commonly discovered by travellers along the trail from Hveragerði, the natural hot springs are well worth the exploration and serve as the perfect spot for a nice dip to relax the muscles in before continuing on your journey.
Photo: Wikimedia. CC. Anna Jonna Ármannsdóttir
Þórufoss (or ‘Thorufoss’) is a completely underestimated waterfall in Iceland. At around a 30-minute drive from the centre of Reykjavik, and part of Iceland’s incredible Golden Circle trail, Þórufoss can be found at the base of a canyon just off of route 48.
There is a ‘car park’ listed on Google maps. But this is Iceland – when it says ‘car park’ it can regularly just be a rough area of tarmac. Finding Þórufoss falls into this category.
One you’ve parked up and grabbed your camera, on your right-side you’ll see a small crevice which leads into the canyon below.
Take your time following this path to the base of the canyon, as particularly in winter, the snow depth can be misleading. However, if you’re a child at heart like me, it simply adds to the fun!
For the avid Game of Thrones fans among you, Þórufoss was the setting of the scene (Season 4) where the hungry dragon, Drogon, roasted a herd of goats with a remonstrating shepherd in the foreground.
If you happen to visit this area and see a dragon, don’t hesitate to tag us on instagram!
14. Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park (or ‘Thingvellir’) is one the most visited locations in Iceland. As the usual first stop-off for Iceland Golden Circle tours, it is the ultimate setting for geology enthusiasts, snorkeling fanatics, and outdoor lovers.
First and foremost, Þingvellir is situated directly on the visible fault line of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You will literally get the chance to take a very obvious run, hop and jump between both geological continents.
For the snorkelers among you, you can take this one step further by joining a Silfra diving tour directly between these two tectonic plates in the perfect silvery waters which open the doors to the underwater canyons below.
How can I say this clear enough? If you come to Iceland, you have to visit Þingvellir. There’s no other place on the planet where you can visibly see the splitting of 2 major tectonic plates, let alone walk through them.
Þingvellir was also the setting for a number of scenes from Game of Thrones. Most notably, it was the filming location of the canyon neighbouring Öxarárfoss waterfall, which was the spot of the Bloody Gate.
Scenes featuring Þingvellir appeared mostly in Season 4, predominantly to feature the castle which guards the western edge of the Vale of Arryn (the road Eyrie).
You can find Öxarárfoss quite easily. There are a number of signs and sturdy footpaths that will take you there. If you park at the main car park outside the visitors centre it will take you around 15 minutes to reach. Alternatively, you can drive past the main car park to the second entrance which will allow you to park much closer to the waterfall (c5 minute walk).
13. Þjórsárdalur Valley
Þjórsárdalur Valley (or Thjorsardalur) is a vast area which hosts the incredible Háifoss waterfall, which translates to ‘high waterfall’ in English – you will probably work out why when you visit!
There are a delightful selection of towering waterfalls, views of the famou Hekla volcano, the famous Þjórsárdals hot springs, and most notably it’s also only around a one hour drive from the Panorama Glass Lodge.
For the Game of Thrones megafans amongst you it’s Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng within Þjórsárdalur Valley which should spike your curiosity. Here you’ll find a reproduction of a viking era longhouse and farm.
This region was featured in episode 3 of season 4 as Olly’s village was stormed by a group of Wildlings, including Tormund and Ygritte, killing everyone in sight. Olly ended up being the only survivor in the siege having been saved by the quick actions of his desperate mother.
Aside from the morbid scene filmed here, the settlement village is in full tact (despite the aims of the Wildlings) and is open every day throughout the summer months (June – August).
You’ll find this charming spot just off of route 32. The roads there are paved so you shouldn’t struggle to reach it, even if you are planning on taking one of the fantastic Iceland self-drive tours.
Within the spectacular Þjórsárdalur Valley there is another beautiful spot which, even better, is rarely visited by tourists and locals alike.
Similarly to Háifoss, the picturesque valley of Gjáin is filled with a series of stunning small waterfalls, ponds, and incredible volcanic structures – as if made to measure for the photographers among you.
This location is a little off-the-beaten path, and requires around a 90-minute hike from the historical farm of Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng.
You can reach it by car, but it will require you to drive along some of Iceland’s more rugged F-roads which will mean you’ll need to rent a 4×4 vehicle.
This setting was used showcased in episode 5 of season 4, as part of the arduous journey shared between Arya and the Hound.
Most recognisably this is the location where Arya uses her time to train with her sword – she spares a small bit of time for preparation after having argued with the Hound all day – nowadays we’d call that a long journey with the kids!
11. Þórsmörk & Stakkholtsgjá
Þórsmörk is a famous mountain ridge in Iceland named after the Norse God, Þór (or Thor).
Found in the south of Iceland between the glaciers of Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, Þórsmörk is usually depicted with the tall mountain ridge between the rivers Krossá, Þröngá, and Markarfljót.
However, nowadays when tour guides and travellers refer to taking an adventure to Þórsmörk, they also mean the wider region between Þórsmörk and the famous glacier, Eyjafjallajökull – try pronouncing the latter!
When it comes to Game of Thrones, it’s specifically the 100m canyon of Stakkholtsgjá Canyon within Þórsmörk featured in episode 6 of season 7 where Jon Snow and his Wight Walker hunting team manage to capture one of the infamous villains.
After capture, there are further scenes in this episode showing the characters trudging across the snowy Þórsmörk tundra.
Again, if you’re wanting to check out this location for yourself, it’s worth spending at least one full day of your travels to fully explore this rugged and untouched region of Iceland.
You’ll need a 4×4 car to reach it, and some parts of the journey include a series of dramatic river crossings which can be especially daunting if you’ve never done this before.
If you’re feeling a little unsure or uneasy about the journey there are tour buses available and Iceland tailor-made tours you can check out to include everything you want to see.
If you have got this far into an article about Iceland and you haven’t seen about 45,627,876 pictures of Skogafoss I will be incredibly surprised.
This thunderous 60m waterfall is one of Iceland’s most visited attractions, and is found along Iceland’s South Coast, next to the charming town of Skogar.
Whether you want to get right up close and personal to this waterfall, get a perspective from the top, or spend hours working on that perfect long exposure, it’s a magnificent stop off for every Iceland adventure.
You can easily reach Skogafoss with around a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Reykjavik, or alternatively you can take advantage of one of the fantastic Iceland South Coast tours.
In the first episode of season 8, the waterfall is featured in a scene where Jon and Daenerys (before she goes crazy) ride their dragons through the gorge and land on a crisp winters day at the base of the waterfall.
For the eagle-eyed of you who’ve been to Skogafoss before, you’ll also notice that the Game of Thrones team gave the waterfall an extra cascading layer.
Icelanders and travel enthusiasts aren’t quite sure why the CGI team did this as the waterfall is pretty spectacular on it’s own. However, you now have the right to re-watch this scene and point your finger and growl just like I do!
9. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
As one of the most iconic locations you’ll see in Iceland, the famous black sand beach with the neighbouring 2 tall basalt columns, claimed to be the result of two petrified trolls from Icelandic folklore, is one of the most photogenic settings in the country.
It’s particularly beautiful to either watch a sunset over the nearby Dyrhólaey to the west, or to visit in the twilight and evening hours during winter to watch some beautiful Northern Lights displays.
However, when you visit be sure to watch your step, as the waves here are incredibly powerful and surprising. The infamous sleeper waves, which you will see on various warning signs at this location, have tragically taken the lives of some unsuspecting travellers in the past – stay away from the waves folks!
In Game of Thrones, Reynisfjara is featured in Season 7 as the filming location for Eastwatch-by-the-sea.
For those of you still jogging your memories, Eastwatch-by-the-sea is where the wall across the north of Westeros ends. This is the location you may remember better as the scene where Jon Snow and his team land their boat before heading north.
8. Höfðabrekkuheiði & Mýrdalsjökull Glacier
Not too far from Reynisfjara black sand beach, and just north of the charming village of Vik, is the lesser-known hiking area of Höfðabrekkuheiði.
The region was used for the wintry landscape shots of the kingdom of Westeros north of the wall. It’s the location of the famous Frostfang mountain range.
If you’re planning on spending an extra night or two in Vik, then I’d highly suggest dusting off your hiking boots and spending a couple of hours exploring this lesser-visited location in Iceland.
To reach Höfðabrekkuheiði drive east from Vik for just over 5km before turning left onto Kerlingardalsvegur – the journey should only take around 30 minutes depending on weather conditions.
Lastly, nearby is the equally distinct and fascinating Mýrdalsjökull glacier. This glacier was included in the filming of season 2 in the episode where Sam finds the dragon glass.
If you’re keen to explore a glacier (why wouldn’t you be? You’re in Iceland!) make sure to consider a Katla Ice cave tour, an amazing Iceland glacier hiking tour, or even an adrenaline-pumping Iceland snowmobile tour – I personally suggest all three!
And, what makes Mýrdalsjökull activities that extra exciting is that the glacier sits on top of Iceland’s largest active volcano, Katla.
Don’t worry, your guides will make sure you stay safe – but what better way to have an authentic outdoors experience of the land of fire and Ice!
7. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
What Game of Thrones fan can think of Iceland without dragons? I thought so, none of you!
Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but besides our grumpy partners in the evenings, sadly we don’t have any mythical dragons flying above our heads in Iceland either.
This spectacular canyon found along Iceland’s South Coast just before the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, along the easily navigable route 206, featured the incredible flight of Jon and Daenerys on their dragons in Season 8 (before reaching Skogafoss).
For the photographers among you, this is a truly epic location you could spend hours at. With a rugged canyon, rich flora, and the most artistic of perspectives, you simply can’t come away from here without a great shot.
However, please be aware that sometimes this region is closed to protect the nature. There are some well-maintained paths that will guide you along the canyon which need to be observed so all travellers visiting fully respect the surrounding natural environment.
Svínafellsjökull is one of the stunning glacier tongues that spirals out of the mighty Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.
In season 2, this was the filming location where Jon Snow and a couple of other members of the Night’s Watch chased down Ygritte, with her eventual capture – she then proceeded to escape from Jon’s clutches a few episodes later (I mean…spoiler!)
As cool as it looks to run through a glacier, in reality most of the filming took place much closer to the road, predominantly for safety reasons.
Glaciers don’t look it, but they are constantly moving, crumbling, and groaning as they slowly carve their way through the mountainside.
If you’re wanting to get a more intimate experience of Svínafellsjökull, be sure to check out some of the bucket list Iceland glacier hiking tours available.
Perhaps the most romantic scene in Game of Thrones (and let’s be honest, there weren’t many!) was filmed at the famous Grjótagjá hot spring, found in the Mývatn region of North Iceland.
The scene involves both Jon and Ygritte better acquainting themselves with each other in season 2.
The hot spring itself is very easy to find. You can simply type in the location on Google Maps. It’s situated on private land and the owners also own a nearby hotel which is good for a stay in the region.
Be warned that the road to reach the hot spring can be quite bumpy. However, by the time you’ve reached this far in Iceland these kinds of roads will become second-nature.
Local Icelanders for centuries used to visit and bathe in Grjótagjá. However, due to irregular changes in temperature following more recent volcanic activity, means the water is regularly too hot for these purposes at present, and it is prohibited to bathe in the cave itself.
In my experience of visiting, to get close to the water, it requires a series of careful steps over some boulders, and it’s also very dark. Perhaps it’s just me but I always find Grjótagjá a little bit creepy!
Photo: Wikimedia. CC. Gestur Pálsson
Around a 10-minute drive from Grjótagjá hot spring is the bizarre lava fortress of Dimmuborgir (translates to ‘Dark Fortress’)
There are various hikes you can take through this landscape which take you past the most incredulous of lava formations that are considered bizarrely enough to resemble castle walls and turrets. However, these rock formations are actually completely natural resulting from the active volcanism in the region.
It is even believed that early Icelanders considered Dimmuborgir to be one of the entrances to hell due to the strange unexplained lava structures.
I tend to take the above statement with a pinch of salt, as there are a series of other locations early Icelanders believed were an entrance to hell such as Hekla volcano which you can see easily from the views of the Panorama Glass Lodge.
Dimmuborgir was featured in season 3 as Mance Rayder’s camp of ‘free folk’ (Wildlings).
This will be hard to imagine if you’re planning on visiting during the summer months but, as with all of Iceland, the landscape is completely different in the winter months (when this was filmed).
It’s incredible what a layer of snow, a crisp winter’s air and a magical night can do to an environment – this just gives you the excuse to visit Iceland in both seasons!
There are a rife number of Iceland winter packages you can check out or Iceland winter self-drive tours for those of you keen to explore the country at your own pace.
If you’ve got this far into Iceland and you haven’t got a strong whiff of sulphur, then your senses are about to get a wake up call with a visit to Hverir.
This Mars-like landscape is filled with bubbling mud pots and huge steam vents fuelled by the volcanic activity beneath them. If you’re visiting Iceland in winter, there’s nothing more incredible than the snow-crisped layer on top of the volcanic orange and blue colours beneath them (I think you can tell I’m a bit of a winter fanatic!)
This location was featured in the opening scenes of season 3 where Sam Tarly appears to fight his way through a thick blizzard.
In actual fact, the snow in shot made out to be a blizzard is the steam from one of the powerful vents at Hverir (east of Lake Mývatn).
If you enjoy your stop at Hverir and are heading east, I really suggest you also check out Krafla crater situated just a 10-minute drive off of route 1.
Photo: Wikimedia. CC. Debivort
Höfði is a small rocky area of lava a short drive away from Dimmuborgir. There are a variety of paths you can take on this small outcrop on the edge of Lake Mývatn – you can get a panorama view after a climb to the top, or some wonderful perspectives of the lake at the northern edge.
In episode 5 of season 3, Höfði was featured as one of the filming locations for Mance Rayder’s wilding camp.
As you take a short hike in this location, you might be reminded of the scenery before Jon Snow has a confrontation with Orell regarding the defensive aptitude of the Night’s Watch – particularly when you check out the fantastic lava structures.
You don’t need too much time to explore Höfði, but it’s well worth a stop on your journey to enjoy another wonderful walk in the Lake Mývatn region.
Kirkjufell translates directly to ‘Church Mountain’ and can be found just outside of the town of Grundarfjörður on the Northern side of the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
Due to its unique positioning away from the adjacent mountain range, and the spectacular waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss, Kirkjufell has long held the title of the most photographed mountain in Iceland.
However, let’s be honest, most of you reading this blog will know this mountain for another reason – the mountain shaped like an arrowhead prominently displayed alongside the menacing Wight Walkers.
Although the mountain was featured in small glimpses throughout season 6, it wasn’t until episode 6 of season 7 when Jon Snow and his Wight Walker hunting team search for Kirkjufell, following the vision of The Hound.
This feature in the hit HBO series has taken the popularity of this mountain to the next level, with many flocking travellers placing a visit to the mountain in prime position on their Iceland bucket list before arriving. It’s around a 2 hour 30 minute drive from Reykjavik to reach or you can join one of fantastic Snaefellsnes tours.
I personally hold a fond memory of this mountain having travelled up from Reykjavik for the night when the conditions were absolutely perfect for an epic Northern Lights display. I have never seen so many stars before – I was able to capture the lights, the mountain, the milky way and the dancing Aurora above – it was epic.
If you want to see a short time lapse I produced of Kirkjufell then you can check it out here.
Map of Iceland Game of Thrones Locations
Whether you are planning a trip to Iceland in the aim of reliving some of the epic scenes from Game of Thrones, humouring your partner while you plan each day, or are simply curious about Iceland’s starring debut in a recent global favourite, I hope this guide filled you with excitement and ideas for your upcoming trip.
Regardless of if you’re a Game of Thrones geek or not, the locations listed include some of the best things to see and do in Iceland.
So, whether you’re heading north of the wall on your next trip over to our shores, or you simply want to explore some magical places, I can assure you you’re in for a treat.