A Guide to Game of Thrones Filming Locations in Iceland: Unveiling the Epic Landscapes

CEO Tam DT
Are you a Game of Thrones fan planning a trip to Iceland? If so, get ready for an incredible adventure! Many of the fantasy locations featured in HBO's acclaimed TV series were actually filmed in...

Are you a Game of Thrones fan planning a trip to Iceland? If so, get ready for an incredible adventure! Many of the fantasy locations featured in HBO's acclaimed TV series were actually filmed in Iceland. From the snowy landscapes beyond the wall to the stunning waterfalls and black sand beaches, Iceland served as the backdrop for some of the show's most iconic scenes.

In this guide, we will take you on a journey through some of the best Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland. We'll provide you with all the information you need to find and reach each location, as well as a brief overview of the scenes filmed there. But beware, there might be spoilers if you haven't seen all the seasons yet!

A World of Filming Locations

Game of Thrones has been filmed in multiple real-world locations worldwide, including Iceland, the British Isles, Malta, Spain, Croatia, and Italy. In fact, over 40 different places have been used throughout the show. The production was mainly headquartered at the Titanic Studios in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which is conveniently located next to the Titanic Museum. Northern Ireland itself boasts famous filming locations, such as the Dark Hedges, which are a must-visit for fans. Girona in Spain is another well-known filming spot.

Iceland: The Land Beyond the Wall

Starting from season 2, Iceland became the main filming location for scenes set north of the wall. The breathtaking landscapes of Iceland appeared in every season of Game of Thrones after season 1. However, it's important to note that although season 1 featured scenes north of the wall, they were not actually filmed in Iceland. Instead, artificial snow was used at a quarry in Northern Ireland.

Apart from the scenes north of the wall, some other Seven Kingdoms locations were also filmed in Iceland. So, let's dive into the Icelandic filming locations that brought the world of Game of Thrones to life.

Getting to the Filming Locations

While access to some locations is relatively easy, with them being just off the main ring road and in popular tourist spots, others may require more effort. Locations filmed high on glaciers, or those accessible only via "F" roads (which are closed in winter and require a 4x4 vehicle), may pose a challenge. In each section, we'll provide you with an overview of the ease of access and whether a special vehicle is necessary.

Now, let's embark on a journey through the Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland, starting from Reykjavik and following an anti-clockwise direction that aligns with the Iceland Ring Road itinerary.

Hengilssvæðið

Located to the south of Thingvellir, Hengilssvæðið, or Hengill mountain, is a volcanic mountain that offers captivating hiking opportunities. Although access can be challenging depending on the time of year and road conditions, it's worth the effort. This area was featured in episode 10 of Season 4 when Brienne of Tarth and the Hound have a fierce showdown, resulting in Arya and the Hound parting ways. The fight scenes were filmed at various locations around Hengil mountain, providing a familiar backdrop for fans. While you're in the area, don't miss the chance to visit Reykjadalur, where you can relax in a hot spring-fed river.

Þórufoss

If you want to experience the enchantment of a fearsome dragon swooping across a landscape, head to Þórufoss. This stunning waterfall, just a short drive from Iceland's famous Golden Circle, was the setting for a memorable scene in Season 4. Here, Drogon enjoys a goat snack, much to the goat herder's dismay. To reach Þórufoss, simply take road 48 from the Golden Circle and drive for approximately five minutes. A small parking area is available nearby.

Thingvellir National Park

Located in the Golden Circle region, Thingvellir National Park served as the backdrop for several Game of Thrones scenes. Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site, known for its cultural and geographical significance. One of the most recognizable filming locations is the canyon near Oxararfoss waterfall, which was used as the location of the Bloody Gate. This gate guards the western edge of the Vale of Arryn and appears in Season 4. Additionally, the area around this canyon was used for a scene featuring Ygritte, Tormund, and the cannibal Thenn Styr. Take the path from the parking area down to Oxararfoss to discover the stunning canyon.

Þjórsárdalur Valley

Þjórsárdalur Valley, a vast area in Iceland, offers a range of highlights, including the majestic Haifoss waterfall. However, for Game of Thrones fans, the main draw here is Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng. This reconstructed Viking-era longhouse and farm served as Olly's village in Season 4, where wildlings, including Ygritte and Tormund, attack the village, resulting in the tragic loss of lives. The village recreation is open from June to August, and it's easily accessible from Route 32. Gjáin, another filming location in Thjorsardalur Valley, is also worth a visit for its picturesque beauty.

Gjáin (Þjórsárdalur Valley)

Considered a hidden gem in the south of Iceland, Gjáin is a small valley surrounded by a lava-covered wilderness. This oasis-like spot, featured in Season 4, offers a magical setting where Arya and the Hound take a break from their journey. Arya even finds the opportunity to train with her sword in this tranquil valley. While access to Gjáin is limited to a four-wheel-drive-only F-road, the effort is well worth it. Explore the lush valley, waterfalls, streams, and unique rock formations. Consider taking a tour that includes a stop at Gjáin, as it is an optional location in some itineraries.

Þórsmörk & Stakkholtsgjá

For a taste of the breathtaking wintry landscapes beyond the wall, head to Þórsmörk and Stakkholtsgjá. In Season 7, Jon Snow and his team capture a wight in Stakkholtsgjá Canyon, a mesmerizing 100-meter-deep canyon in the Þórsmörk region. The scenes of their snow-covered trek were filmed in Þórsmörk, meaning "Valley of Thor." It's important to note that other sites mention Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, but there is no evidence to support this information. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon was used for the dragon flight scene in Season 8. Getting to Þórsmörk requires a challenging drive on a four-wheel-drive-only road with river crossings. If you prefer not to drive, taking a dedicated bus to Þórsmörk is a recommended option.

Skogafoss

One of Iceland's most famous waterfalls, Skogafoss, made an appearance in Season 8 of Game of Thrones. When Jon and Daenerys ride the dragons together for the first time, they land next to a set of magnificent ice-coated waterfalls. Skogafoss served as the basis for the central waterfall in this shot, although certain elements were added digitally. Explore this iconic location, located off the ring road, and marvel at the stunning beauty of Skogafoss.

Reynisfjara Beach, near Vik

Reynisfjara, the striking black sand beach near the town of Vik, was chosen as the filming location for Eastwatch-by-the-sea in Season 7. Eastwatch-by-the-sea is where Jon Snow and his team land their boat before venturing north, marking the end of the wall across the north of Westeros. Visit this unique black sand beach, which is also famous for its basalt columns. Just be cautious of the powerful waves that can appear suddenly.

Höfðabrekkuheiði & Mýrdalsjökull Glacier

Höfðabrekkuheiði, near the town of Vik, and the majestic Mýrdalsjökull glacier played pivotal roles in Game of Thrones. Höfðabrekkuheiði, used to depict wintry Westeros landscapes, is home to the Frostfang mountain range. Mýrdalsjökull glacier appears as the Fist of the First Men, where Sam finds dragon glass in Season 2. To reach Höfðabrekkuheiði hiking area, drive for around half an hour from Vik. A road trip to Mýrdalsjökull glacier is possible with a variety of tours, such as super jeep tours or ice cave tours. Please note that glaciers can be dangerous, and it is recommended to join a tour rather than attempting to access the glacier on your own.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Discover the incredible Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a photographer's dream location. This awe-inspiring canyon served as the backdrop for the dragon flight scene in the first episode of Season 8. After flying down the canyon, Jon and Daenerys land at Skogafoss. Note that Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is sometimes closed to protect the delicate wildlife, so check its accessibility before visiting. Stay on the marked paths to preserve the area.

Svínafellsjökull

Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue, located near Iceland's Ring Road, is a popular glacier for visitors. In Season 2, Jon Snow and the Night Watch capture Ygritte near this glacier. Additionally, the area was used for the epic battle between Jon Snow's group and the army of the dead, including the capture of a dragon by the Night King in Season 7. Access to the glacier is easy, with a short drive from the Ring Road to a parking area, followed by a walk to a viewing area. Remember that hiking on glaciers can be extremely dangerous unless you have the necessary expertise and equipment.

Grjótagjá

Grjótagjá, a volcanic cave in the Lake Myvatn region, features a geothermally heated pool. While bathing is no longer permitted due to changes in water temperature, this cave holds significant Game of Thrones history. It is where Jon Snow and Ygritte consummate their relationship in the show. Although only a small part of the scene was filmed here due to steam fogging up the cameras, visiting this unique cave is still worthwhile. Please respect the rules and avoid leaving any rubbish behind. Grjótagjá is easy to find, with a small parking area right next to the cave.

Dimmuborgir

A short drive from Grjótagjá, Dimmuborgir offers a surreal lava landscape dotted with caves and unique rock formations. This area served as Mance Rayder's camp for the wildlings in Season 3, filmed during Iceland's winter. It was also the filming location for the White Walker attack on Sam Tarly and Lord Commander Mormont, as well as Ygritte stealing Jon Snow's sword in Season 3, episode 5. Take the opportunity to explore the hiking trails throughout the area and admire the natural wonders. Entry to Dimmuborgir is free, and there's an on-site cafe and toilets available for a fee.

Hverir

In Season 3, Sam Tarly battles his way through what appears to be a thick blizzard. The dense "snow" is actually steam rising from geothermal vents in Hverir, near Lake Mývatn. Standing amidst clouds of steam, visitors can imagine themselves bravely trudging through the blizzard. Just be cautious as the steam can be hot, and expect a sulfurous smell.

Höfði

Höfði, located on the edge of Lake Myvatn, offers a picturesque walk through lava outcrops. In Season 3, episode 5, Höfði was one of the filming locations for Mance Rayder's wildling camp. This spot provided wide shots of the scenery before Jon Snow's confrontation with Orell regarding the Night's Watch's defensive capabilities. Easily accessible with marked trails, Höfði is approximately a five to ten-minute walk from the parking area.

Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell, one of Iceland's most recognizable landmarks, played a significant role in Game of Thrones. In Season 7, Jon Snow and his team search for a mountain resembling an arrowhead, following The Hound's vision. Kirkjufell perfectly fit the description, making it a star in the show. Located on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, Kirkjufell offers stunning views and can be seen from Kirkjufellsfoss, a small waterfall with parking available nearby.

Explore the Game of Thrones Filming Locations

To help you visualize these incredible locations, we've created a map of all the Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland. You can find it on Google Maps.

How to Reach the Filming Locations

Now that you know all the Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland, you're probably wondering how to get to them. Many of these locations are easily accessible on a self-drive tour, such as the Iceland Ring Road itinerary. However, keep in mind that these locations are spread out across the country. Alternatively, you can choose which locations interest you the most and explore those areas more extensively. If you prefer not to drive, there are guided tours available that visit specific filming locations.

Take a Game of Thrones Tour

For the ultimate Game of Thrones experience in Iceland, we recommend taking a dedicated tour of the filming locations. These tours often provide additional information, video clips, or printouts of the key scenes shot at each location. There are various options available, from day trips to multi-day tours. Here are some highlights:

  • Full-day tour from Reykjavik that covers many of the southern Iceland filming locations, including Þingvellir National Park and the Viking lodge site.
  • Five-day three-tour bundle that includes almost all the Game of Thrones locations in Iceland, along with return flights to Akureyri and a trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
  • Six-day tour of the filming locations in southern Iceland, including the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
  • Two-day super-jeep tour that focuses on the filming locations around Þjórsárdalur Valley, including Gjáin and Þjóðveldisbærinn.
  • Glacier hike and ice cave tour that takes you to Svínafellsjökull Glacier.
  • Þórsmörk and Stakkholtsgjá Canyon tour.
  • Ten-day self-drive tour that covers most of the Game of Thrones filming locations in Iceland.

These are just a few examples, but they should give you a good starting point for planning your Game of Thrones adventure.

Further Reading on Iceland

Of course, there's more to Iceland than just Game of Thrones filming locations. If you want to explore the country further, we've written comprehensive guides to help you plan the perfect trip. Here are a few of them:

  • A guide to planning a trip to Iceland, covering everything from transportation to accommodation.
  • A guide to Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Ireland.
  • Itineraries for different durations, including a stopover itinerary, a 5-day itinerary, and a 7-day itinerary for winter in Iceland.
  • Tips for packing for Iceland in winter.
  • Guides to driving in Iceland and driving in Iceland in winter.
  • Recommendations for guided tours and day trips from Reykjavik.
  • Tips for visiting Iceland on a budget.
  • Guides to popular sights and attractions, such as waterfalls, puffin spotting, the Golden Circle, the Iceland Plane Crash, the Blue Lagoon, and photography spots.

Now you're ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the stunning landscapes of Iceland and discover the magic of Game of Thrones in person. Whether you choose to visit all the filming locations or focus on your favorites, Iceland offers a truly immersive experience for fans. If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to leave a comment below. Happy exploring!

Game of Thrones Locations Iceland Map

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