Unspoiled landscapes peppered with an evocative blend of waterfalls, volcanoes, lagoons, and glaciers… Iceland is a filmmaker’s paradise. Having provided atmospheric backdrops for movies including Star Wars, Batman Begins, and Interstellar, the Land of Fire and Ice really is quite the Hollywood A-Lister.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that when tasked with creating the mythical, frozen Kingdom of the North, makers of the Game of Thrones (GoT) series selected Iceland as a key filming location. Fast-forward a few years, and Iceland has become a must-see destination for avid GoT fans keen to trace the footsteps of John Snow and Co. through a series of stunning landscapes.
So, if adding a Game of Thrones flavor to your Iceland experience is your cup of tea (or shot of Brennivin*), we have some helpful tips to share for planning a self-drive tour that will unearth the very best filming locations.
*Brennivin is the signature spirit of Iceland. This potent, flavored schnapps, best served chilled in a small shot glass, is the perfect antidote to the chilly temperatures found ‘Beyond the Wall.’ Skal!
Iceland: A perfect Game of Thrones setting
With significant Game of Thrones plotlines demanding a setting for the Wall (a colossal fortification that divides the snowy Kingdom of the North from the frozen realm of the wildlings that lies Beyond the Wall) – Iceland was an obvious choice.
Across the entire series, Iceland is home to numerous iconic GoT locations, including the Eyrie, Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, the Bloody Gate, and the cascading waterfalls above which dragons Rhaegal and Drogon take flight.
Iceland’s natural features and wild locations are well-suited to creating spectacular on-screen vistas. But Iceland is much more than a blank landscape. It is a place rich in culture and steeped in mythology, folklore, and the supernatural. Iceland is perhaps somewhere wildings, White Walkers, and Crows would likely call home – a place where George RR Martin’s vivid imagination truly comes to life.
Self-drive: The best way to explore
Many GoT fans opt to take a self-drive tour. This gives freedom to combine some of Iceland’s best tourist attractions while cherry-picking their favorite filming locations. A self-drive holiday also offers the flexibility to tour at your own pace and to spend more time at sights that matter most to you.
Many of the GoT filming locations listed below are relatively easy to access from the main Iceland Ring Road and are close to well-known tourist spots. However, some are not so accessible, notably those high on glaciers or located on ‘F’ roads, typically closed in winter or needing a 4×4 vehicle.
Before finalizing your tour, please seek our advice on traveling safely. We can offer guidance on planning for driving in all seasons, the best routes, vehicle types, and itinerary planning, drawing on our extensive knowledge of Iceland, its roads, and weather conditions.
Revealed: Must-see Game of Thrones locations
Starting in Reykjavík, following the main Iceland Ring Road in an anti-clockwise direction, we’ve listed our top filming locations.
Heading out from Reykjavík, the first Game of Thrones hot spot is Hengill Mountain (Hengilssvæðið). This large volcanic mountain is a popular hiking spot and was the setting for a blood-thirsty fight between Brienne of Tarth and The Hound in Season 4.
A 5-minute drive from the famous Golden Circle route (via gravel roads) is Thorufoss (Þórufoss) waterfall. Above this waterfall, Drogon blazed fire from the sky, roasting some rather unlucky goats to satiate his dragon-sized appetite.
Thingvellir National Park
At this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you’ll find a canyon near Oxararfoss waterfall, which is the location for the Bloody Gate – a defensive fort on the western edge of the Vale of Arryn. In Season 4, Littlefinger and Sansa pass this way, followed by The Hound and Arya on their quest to reach the House of Arryn.
Thjorsardalur (Þjórsárdalur) Valley
This expansive area is home to the Commonwealth Farm, a reproduction Viking longhouse and farm used in Season 4 to depict a village raided by wildlings. Close by, you’ll find Gjáin, a tiny valley with small waterfalls, tranquil ponds, and delicate volcanic structures, where Arya and The Hound enjoyed vital sword training in Season 4.
Located in Thorsmork (Þórsmörk), also known as the valley of Thor, is an impressive 100-meter-deep canyon. In Season 7, this is where Jon Snow finally captures a White Walker in Episode 6.
Skogafoss waterfall is easily accessed from the Golden Circle route and is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. This (plus some clever CGI effects) was the setting for a romantic moment between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen (and their dragons)!
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
This beach and the impressive Reynidrangar Basalt Sea Stacks provided the backdrop for Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, a castle located at the Wall’s eastern end, where it drops into the Shivering Sea.
This incredible glacier provided the location for The First of the First Men.
It’s also where Samwell Tarley finds Dragon Glass in Season 2. Close by, the Hofdabrekka (Höfðabrekkuheiði) hiking area was used in Game of Thrones to depict the colossal, frozen landscapes of Northern Westeros.
This stunning canyon provided the epic shooting location for the first dragon flight shared by Jon and Daenerys in Season 8, Episode 1.
Part of Skaftafell National Park, this glacier is known as the ‘Hollywood Glacier’ due to numerous blockbuster appearances. In Game of Thrones, this location first appears in Season 2 to depict the icy landscapes found Beyond the Wall.
This volcanically formed cave includes a hot geothermic pool, making it the perfect location for a ‘steamy’ love scene between Jon Snow and his first love, Ygritte.
Lake Mývatn Area
This other-worldly geothermic area provided several Game of Thrones filming locations. Sulfur springs and boiling mud pits at Hverir provided a swirling blizzard for Samwell Tarley to trek through in the opening scenes of Season 3.
At Dimmuborgir (the Black Fortress), lava caves – formed approximately 2300 years ago – are host to vile trolls (according to Icelandic folklore). However, this did not deter Mance Rayder, Leader of the Free Folk, who made camp here in Season 3.
The third and final highlight in this area is Höfði on the east shore of Lake Mývatn, where Jon Snow confronts Orell to prove his ability to join the Night’s Watch.
Kirkjufell (Church) Mountain
Just past the picturesque harbor of Grundarfjörður looms the distinctive Kirkjufell Mountain, described by The Hound as the ‘mountain-like-an-arrowhead.’ In Season 6, this location is where the Children of the Forest create the first White Walker; it’s also the icy backdrop for Jon Snow’s venture North to fight the Army of the Dead.
Another reminder: some of these locations will look different from how they appear in Game of Thrones if you visit at a different time of year. For example, the snow may have melted!
As you can see, with so many Game of Thrones locations to choose from in Iceland – the only problem is fitting everything into one trip!
Once again, we can’t stress enough the importance of seeking advice when planning a self-drive adventure in Iceland. Some locations described here are off the beaten track and may not be accessible at certain times.
Remember, the team at Geysir is here to discuss ideas for your trip, recommend the best vehicle to rent, and provide helpful guidance to guarantee you have a safe, memorable, and unique Iceland experience!
Keep reading our blog for more travel tips and ideas for planning your visit to this astonishing Land of Fire and Ice.Back