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Epic Game of Thrones Tour in Northern Ireland

Game of Thrones

Nerd alert folks, I’m an absolutely massive Game of Thrones fan! I lost several weekends smashing through the first 3 seasons after becoming addicted to it after the first couple of episodes. So when my birthday was coming up this year, my boyfriend began planning a trip to Belfast and found a Game of Thrones Tour. Top boyfriend points scored there!

There are different companies that you can go with that cover pretty much cover the same route but we went with McCombs Coach Travel, one of the first companies to start doing Game of Thrones Tours near Belfast.

On the tour we travelled along a large portion of the Causeway Coastal Route through the coastal town of Ballycastle, the native home of Lady Catelyn Stark and Varys and made a brief stop at Carnlough Harbour to grab some photo opportunities and a bite to eat.

Northern Irish Coast

Some of the views on the way up to our first stop: The Caves of Cushendun (Melisandre’s Cave).

First stop: Caves of Cushendun

The Caves at Cushendun were formed over a period of 400 million years and their unique formation is a product of some rather extreme weather conditions over the years. It’s an interesting place and seems so remote you do wonder how anyone found it in the first place!

In season 2 the caves were the location where Melisandre (aka the red woman) gave birth to the shadow assassin after being brought ashore by Davos Seaworthy (Stannis Baratheon’s right hand man). Our tour guide was unable to show the part of the episode in which the cave was featured due to copyright but for any die hard Game of Thrones fan, it was a hard moment to forget and you certainly recognised the location when you were there!

Melisandres Cave Entrance

Melisandres Cave Game of Thrones

Second stop: Larrybane Quarry

Next we were onto the 19th Century Limestone Quarry, Larrybane where in season 2 Renly Baratheon swears to Lady Stark that he will avenge Ned’s death, but ultimately meets his end at the hands of the shadow assassin conjured up in the Cushendun Caves by the red woman. But otherwise just spectacular views!

Me outside Renlys Camp

Heading into the scene of Renly’s camp

Renly's Camp

The camp as it was in Game of Thrones

Sword Fighting at Renlys Camp Game of Thrones

Fighting to become ‘King’ Renly’s new guard (of course!)

Larrybane Quarry.jpeg

At the edge of the waters of Moyle and looking out onto ‘Sheep Island’

Third stop: Ballintoy Harbour

Our third stop was Ballintoy Harbour where Theon Greyjoy arrives back in the Iron Islands via Pyke Harbour and where he meets his sister Yara. In the 19th century the harbour’s primary use was for the shipping of sett stones at which time a small rail track was used for transporting the stones and limestone to the quayside. A lasting testament to this part of the harbour’s history is the lime kiln that stands to this day.

From the moment we arrived it was instantly recognisable and our tour guide showed us around at different points of the harbour where scenes from Games of Thrones were filmed.

Iron Islands Game of Thrones

Ballintoy Harbour or as we know it Pyke Harbour in the Iron Islands

The harbour mainly features in season 2, episode 3: “What is dead may never die” when Theon arrives back in the Iron Islands and the scene of his ‘baptism’ to reinstate him as an iron born after his return.

Theon Greyjoy Baptism Game of Thrones

Theon Greyjoy’s ‘baptism’

Arya goes to Braavos Game of Thrones

Arya Stark heads to Braavos at the end of season 4

The harbour also doubled up at the end of season 4 in episode 10: “The children” when Arya jumps on a boat bound for Braavos to seek ‘the faceless man’.

Stanos Beach

Standing at the back of Ballintoy Harbour in front of the beaches that were used in scenes for Stannis Barathian’s storyline

Fourth stop: Giant’s Causeway

Although Giant’s Causeway didn’t appear in Game of Thrones our tour guide explained that we couldn’t come this far down the Northern Ireland coast without visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Site and if you ever get chance to visit you’ll know why! Surrounded by the wild North Atlantic Ocean and a landscape of dramatic cliffs for centuries, the Giant’s Causeway has inspired artists and stirred scientific debate of how it was formed. You can read more about my experience at the Giant’s Causeway right here.

Giant's Causeway Game of Thrones Tour

Some sneak pics from Giant’s Causeway

Final Stop: The Dark Hedges

Possibly the most recognisable of all the locations in Game of Thrones, the short scene where Arya Stark makes her escape down the King’s Road in season 2.

This beautiful avenue of beech trees was planted by the Stuart family in the 18th century. It was intended as a compelling landscape feature to impress visitors as they approached the entrance to their home, Gracehill House. Two centuries later the Stuart family have moved out but the trees remain a magnificent sight and have become one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland.

Dark Hedges Game of Thrones

I have to say this was one of the best tours I’ve ever been on, not only did we get to peek behind the curtain of the Game of Thrones series but we visited such beautiful areas around Belfast that we may not have visited had we not gone on the tour. At only £35 per person it is a day out worth having, whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or not you’ll love this tour!

Now it’s off to Dubrovnik and Iceland to check out the other sites!

Mel x

About the author

Hi! I'm Mel a full-time Marketeer and part-time adventurer. I’m a British travel blogger who loves nothing more than immersing myself in different cultures and exploring new places. My goal is to inspire all of you office dwellers to follow your travel dreams whilst still working your 9-5.