Iceland is one of the hottest destinations right now, and it’s even hotter for Game of Thrones fans. Learn where to find the best Iceland Game of Thrones filming locations with a tour led by a form GoT actor. OK, he was more of an extra. But he’s still alive, which is more than we can say for most of the Got actors!
Iceland for Game of Thrones Fans (Beware: Spoilers Ahead)
DISCLAIMER: ALL SORTS OF GAME OF THRONES SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!!! (But also, where have you been and why are you trying to go on a Game of Thrones tour if you aren’t 100% caught up to the most recent & highly anticipated Game of Thrones season???)
OK, sorry had to get that off my chest. Now, cue HBO’s Game of Thrones Theme Song. To a hardcore Game of Thrones fan, like myself and the person who made a five-hour extended version of the opening credit song, this the greatest score of all time. It hypes you up for every single GoT episode because you know when you hear that song It. Is. ON.
So I highly encourage you to click play on the above link while you read about my pilgrimage to visit the real life places where Jon Snow, aka Kit Harington, stepped foot. Watch out, Ygritte. I’m coming for your man.
Iceland for Game of Thrones Fangirls
Both my mom & my sister are just as big fangirls of the show as I am, if not more so. My sister has read all five books, so she’s got me beaten by two. And my mom, well, she’s mostly just obsessed with Jason Momoa (RIP Khal Drogo). Naturally, when we planned our trip to Iceland, a Game of Thrones tour was on the top of our list, even above the Northern Lights.
We booked the day tour through Grayline, which included three different Iceland Game of Thrones filming locations plus a bonus Icelandic horse farm, pick up and drop off from our accommodations in Reykjavik, all led by the most dedicated tour guide in Iceland, Theo – fully dressed like a member of the Night’s Watch defending the wall. We found him extremely entertaining. He’s been an extra as a wildling, a guard standing watch at the Eyrie, and possibly a white walker (I can’t remember if he told us this, you should ask him) in several different scenes. Therefore, on the lengthy bus rides between locations, he offered lots of juicy behind-the-scenes info that alone would be worth the little less than 100 euros we paid per person.
TravelingMom Tip: Be forewarned: This tour, much like the show itself, is definitely not kid-friendly. Theo is fascinated by vikings and used curse words, gory references and, erm, crude jokes about as often as Tyrion Lannister does.
Tiny Icelandic Horses
The first stop on the tour was a complete surprise to me, and was the most hands-on part. We visited an Laxxnes horse farm to see the tiny horses that were used in Season 4 of the show, as the Hound and Arya Stark travel to the Vale. Because Iceland is so secluded, Icelandic horses have never been exposed viruses from the mainland of Europe, series producers were not allowed to bring outside horses over.
Many earlier scenes were shot in Ireland with ginormous horses, so when production moved over to Iceland, the producers were faced with a bit of a challenge. Rory McCann, who plays the Hound, is 6-foot, 5-inches tall and the average Icelandic horse stands at about four feet. They’re still considered horses, and get very offended if you call them ponies. You get to be up close and personal with them, pet and feed them as much hay as you please.
TravelingMom Tip: Pack some hand sanitizer and some sort of perfume or spray for after you leave. This is a very…pungent experience.
Game of Thrones In Real Life
The next stop was Mosfellsdalur valley near the south coast of Iceland to see Thorufoss (þórufoss) waterfall. In Season 4, Episode 6 “The Laws of Gods and Men” of the TV series, a little goatherder boy is seen sitting on the edge of a cliff looking out at this waterfall, which is set near Meereen in the show. Next thing you know, Drogon, one of Daenerys’ three baby dragons, rises ominously and roasts himself some goat for dinner. Despite the terrifying scene that was shot here, this was my favorite filming location to visit because it was so absolutely peaceful and gorgeous.
From there, we were off to some filming locations for Westeros, located along the aptly named Golden Circle route in Iceland. Öxarárfoss Trail in Thingvellir National Park is a huge rocky ravine used in several different scenes throughout the show. In season 4, episode 1 “Two Swords” a scene set north of the wall, you can catch a quick glimpse of our wonderful tour guide himself, Theo. He will proudly show you the photo of him standing as an extra guard while you’re there.
Another scene shot here occurs in season 4, episode 8 “The Mountain & the Viper” as the Hound & Arya march up this trail to the Bloody Gate (which is CGIed in), only to find out that Arya’s aunt, Lysa, has already died.
Winter is Here
Last but certainly not least, we traveled to Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, a recreation of an old viking village that worked perfectly as the scene of a small town in the north of Westeros. You might remember the character, Olly, a young boy who is the only survivor from the scene where wildlings attack his village in Season 4, Episode 3 “Breaker of Chains.” You can even see the waterfall in the distance where Ygritte stood to shoot her first arrow.
TravelingMom Tip: This stop is all the way out in the Icelandic countryside and was colder than the Night King (ding, dong the king is dead!) For real, Winter is ALWAYS in Iceland.
More Spots to Find GoT in Iceland
As I was writing this, I realized there was a common theme for the filming locations we visited – three out of four of them were scenes where Theo himself was an extra. Very cheeky, Theo. There are so many other Game of Thrones locations in Iceland the tour does not include but are definitely worth a visit:
Grjótagjá Cave in Lake Myvatn
This is the place where things got hot and steamy between Jon Snow & Ygritte, and it wasn’t because of the hot springs! (Season 3, Episode 5 “Kissed by Fire”)
The Black Sand Beaches of Vik and the Other-Worldly Dyrhólaey Rock Formations
These are the set for Eastwatch-by-the-sea, the castle that protects the farthest east side of the Wall.
The most photographed mountain in Iceland, located in the Snaefellsnes peninsula, appears as Arrowhead Mountain beyond the Wall in several scenes.
An outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull glacier, this is the filming location for much of the beyond-the-wall scenes from seasons 2 and 3.
A geothermal spot near Lake Myvatn, Hverir can be seen in the beginning of season 3, when Samwell Tarly is wandering through an impenetrable blizzard. That’s actually steam coming from the bubbling mud flats.
The Lava Fields of Dimmuborgir
These serve as the campground for Mance Rayder and his wildling crew in season 3.
As you can see, Game of Thrones producers went above and beyond when they realized how creative they could be with Iceland’s various landscapes. If you’re a hardcore GoT fan and a savvy traveler, make your own itinerary and self-drive. If you’re a softcore GoT fan and you just like to be driven around while learning fun facts, definitely go with the tour.