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Dark Hedges Kingsroad Northern Ireland
Photograph: Tourism Northern Ireland / Aidan Monaghan

Four places in Northern Ireland every ‘Game of Thrones’ fan must visit

From the eerie Dark Hedges to the brand-new studio tour experience, here’s where to see Westeros at its most magical

Sophie Dickinson
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Sophie Dickinson
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Ah, Game of Thrones. There was a time when you couldn’t escape the twisty, expansive, sex-filled fantasy world, and the scheming, ambitious characters who lived there. No matter what you thought of the final season, fans have consequently mourned the end of the show for years. And for good reason: it was really bloody good.

A real highlight, of course, was the spectacular worldbuilding of George R R Martin. From the unforgiving Kingsroad to the mysterious Winterfell forest, it all looked pretty astonishing on screen, too. But where exactly was the series shot? Well, much of the action in fact took place in Northern Ireland, one of the four nations that make up the UK, and now many of the IRL filming locations can actually be visited by the public.

From the expansive official studio tour to the eerie Dark Hedges and the spooky Cushendun Caves, here’s how to see Westeros at its most magical – without having to dig out that boxset.

Four places in Northern Ireland every ‘Game of Thrones’ fan should visit

This peaceful seaside spot in County Antrim doesn’t seem the sort of place a traumatic, HBO-devised scene would take place. And yet it very much is. Melisandre gives birth to the terrifying shadow baby at Cushendun Caves, and they later played host to Jaime Lannister and Euron Greyjoy’s pivotal battle in season eight. The caves’ eerie history isn’t confined to fiction, either: in 1567, the Irish king Shane O’Neill was brutally decapitated by his enemies here, and now his headless, vengeful ghost is believed to haunt the coastline.

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Some of the Dark Hedges were torn asunder in 2016, but innovative local GoT fans came to the rescue. The beech wood has since been fashioned into intricate doors, each located near a filming site. Highlights include door two, resplendent in House of Bolton and House Greyjoy symbols, and door four, which features an detailed portrait of a Targaryen dragon. You can check out the full route here

This is the big draw for GoT heads. More than £24 million has been spent developing this hoard of jewels, maps, swords and battle armour, all housed in Linen Studios, where a lot of the series was filmed. Here you can peer at the delicate braiding on Sansa’s wedding dress, measure yourself up against a colossal dragon’s skull and wander through the Great Hall of Winterfell. Most impressive of all, though, might be the Iron Throne itself.

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