13 Game of Thrones-Themed Tours You Can Take Around the World

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

If you lived in the world of Game of Thrones, chances are you'd be killed by either a dragon or a White Walker ... or maybe just by a plain old beheading. Luckily for all of you Thrones fans who are fond of being not-dead, plenty of travel companies offer guided tours that will let you feel like you’re inside the world of the HBO juggernaut, minus all the danger that the characters face.

Below are 13 great guided tours that you can take of Game of Thrones filming locations around the world. Note: You'll want to book before the final season premieres on April 14 to get ahead of the rush.

1. Brendan’s Road to Winterfell // Northern Ireland

An aerial view of Ballintoy Harbor
Ballintoy Harbor in Northern Ireland served as a filming location for several Iron Island scenes.
iStock.com/Slongy

Brendan Vacations offers a customizable tour through key Game of Thrones locations in Northern Ireland. The seven-day tour is on the pricier side—$4200 per person—but it’s worth it if you want to really geek out. In addition to sites of general historical interest, like museums and cathedrals, you’ll get to visit multiple Thrones filming locations, like the 18th-century mansion Castle Ward, the grounds of which were used extensively for Winterfell location shooting. The Stark kids frolicked there (relatively) happy and free of care early in season 1; later, Robb Stark’s army camped there. The tour will also take you to Ballintoy Harbor, which served as the filming location for several of the Iron Island scenes. It was at Ballintoy that Theon Greyjoy returned to the home he’d been taken from as a hostage by the Starks and re-met his sister Yara. (It was all downhill from there for poor Theon, but we hope your vacation will end on a brighter note.)

Book tickets on Brendan Vacations from $4200.

2. Game of Thrones Walking Tour of Dubrovnik // Croatia

An aerial view of Dubrovnik from the sea
Blackwater Bay’s real-life counterpart outside of Old Town Dubrovnik
iStock.com/NanoStockk

Put on your comfy shoes for this three-hour walking tour of Dubrovnik, Croatia, the filming location for many of Game of Thrones’s King’s Landing scenes. You can climb the city walls near Lovrijenac Fortress and look out at the sea—if the view looks familiar, that’s because it served as the location for Westeros’s Blackwater Bay, the site of season 2's unforgettable Battle of the Blackwater.

An upgrade to the tour will also get you a visit to the Trsteno Arboretum, which is often used as the filming location for King’s Landing's palace gardens. (Visit and let the spirit of Olenna Tyrell flow through you.)

Book tickets on Viator from $69.

3. Belfast Winterfell Trek // Northern Ireland

Castle Ward's exterior
Castle Ward in Northern Ireland was used as a filming location for Winterfell.
Amanda Slater, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

On this daylong tour of Castle Ward (a.k.a. Winterfell) in Northern Ireland, you can see where the late King in the North was born, was crowned, and was murdered. A further stop at Tollymore Forest Park in Newcastle lets you see where the Starks first found their direwolf pups and where the Night’s Watch first found the White Walkers. Guides who worked as extras on Game of Thrones are on hand to break down the visual effects that transformed the real-life environs of Northern Ireland into Westeros. Plus, the tour is designed to be immersive, so Stark banners, cloaks, and swords are available for guests to use throughout the day.

Book tickets on TripAdvisor from $66.

4. Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour From Reykjavik // Iceland

An aerial view of snow in Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park
iStock.com/mantaphoto

Watch out for White Walkers on this eight-hour-long tour of Game of Thrones landmarks around Reykjavik, Iceland. Sites include Thingvellir National Park, which stands in for some of the show’s North-of-the-Wall content. (Don’t worry—there are no zombie bears.) You'll get to see Almannagjá Gorge in Thingvellir, which served as the shooting location for the Eyrie’s Bloody Gate—the site of Arya Stark’s season 4 giggle fit upon finding out yet another one of her relatives had died. Another stop on the itinerary is Thjorsárdalur Valley, site of the Wildling massacre of Olly’s village in season 4. (Olly, you’ll remember, gets his revenge.)

Book tickets on Viator from $110.

5. Seville and Osuna Guided Game of Thrones Tour // Spain

An interior courtyard within the Alcazar of Seville
The Alcazar of Seville served as the location for Prince Doran Martell’s castle and its surrounding gardens.
iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

Among avid fans, Game of Thrones’s Dorne plotline was … well, let’s just say, not the most popular. But that doesn’t make Seville, Spain, where many of the Dorne scenes were shot, any less beautiful. The key site of this tour is the Alcázar of Seville, the palace that served as the shooting location for Prince Doran Martell’s castle and its surrounding gardens. On the bloodier side of things, this tour also includes an optional trip by train to the Spanish town of Osuna, where the Meereen fighting pit scenes were filmed.

Book tickets on Viator from $69.

6. The Narrow Sea Boat Voyage // Northern Ireland

A tall stone tower
Audley’s Castle—located on the grounds of Castle Ward—was used as the basis for one of The Twins, where the Red Wedding took place. (The second tower was CGI.)
iStock.com/moosh

Have a little Greyjoy blood in you? Then you may lean towards Winterfell Tours’ Narrow Sea Boat Voyage. Lasting approximately 90 minutes, the private boat tour takes you past the shores of Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough. You'll sail past Audley's Castle—which served as one of The Twins—located along the shore on the grounds of Castle Ward. You’ll also get a view of the filming locations for House Bolton’s Dreadfort Castle, Hoster Tully’s Viking-inspired funeral pyre, and more.

Book tickets with Winterfell Tours from $522 for a private tour of up to 10 people.

7. Game of Thrones Tour in Split // Croatia

Tourists wander around outside Diocletian's Palace.
You’ll recognize Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia from Game of Thrones Meereen scenes.
iStock.com/majaiva

If you need more Meereen content, take a 3.5-hour guided tour of Split, Croatia, where the mountain fortress of Klis was a filming location for the city conquered by Daenerys. After the fortress, the next stop on the walking tour is Diocletian’s Palace, built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century, which has also been used as a Meereen shooting location. It’s also the site of Daenerys’s throne room as well as where she keeps her dragons locked up so they can't eat anybody they shouldn’t.

Book tickets on Viator from $78.

8. Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour // Northern Ireland

The Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland
The Dark Hedges stood in for King’s Road in Game of Thrones.
iStock.com/DieterMeyrl

Brienne of Tarth fans, step up. The Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour from Irish Tour Tickets will take you to Larrybane Quarry, where viewers were first introduced to the fan-favorite knight in season 2. Other stops on this daylong trip include the Cushenden Caves, where Melisandre gave birth to the shadow baby that killed Renly; Dunlunce Castle, used as House Greyjoy; and the picturesque Dark Hedges, which stand in for the Kingsroad. Another stop is Carnlough Harbor, which stood in for Braavos in season 6—it’s where Arya Stark just narrowly avoided getting stabbed to death by the Waif.

Book tickets on Expedia from $51.

9. Game of Thrones Filming Locations Tour // Malta

Mdina, Malta
Mdina, Malta is where the final goodbye between Ned and Catelyn Stark was filmed.
iStock.com/Zheka-Boss

Along with Dubrovnik, Croatia, the island of Malta was a filming location for many of the King’s Landing scenes in Game of Thrones. Stops on this tour include the city of Mdina, site of Ned and Catelyn’s final farewell, along with the season 1 fight between Jaime Lannister and Ned Stark that ended in the latter’s capture. You’ll see Malta’s Mtahleb Cliffs, which stood in for the Shadow Cliffs, the location of Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and the birth of Daenerys's dragons. And you’ll see St. Dominic’s Convent in Rabat, Malta, which served as one of the locations for the Red Keep, the castle that contains the Iron Throne.

Book tickets on Viator from $67.

10. Archery Movie Set Experience // Northern Ireland

An archer aims an arrow at a target.
iStock.com/South_agency

Ah, season 1, episode 1 … when the Stark children were practicing their archery instead of living under the constant threat of murder. (OK, there was still a little threat of murder.) At Castle Ward, Winterfell Tours offers the Archery Set Movie Experience, where Game of Thrones fans can practice their archery in the "Winterfell" courtyard. Both visitors and instructors—some of whom trained members of the cast—get costumes to wear.

A bundle deal gets you the Winterfell Cycle Tour (where you’ll see, among other places, the tower from which Jaime Lannister pushed Bran) and a meet and greet with the Northern Inuit dogs who played direwolves Summer and Grey Wind.

Book tickets with Winterfell Tours from $39.

11. Game of Thrones Tour in Girona // Spain

The exterior of a Spanish monastery
Sant Pere de Galligants, a monastery in Girona, Spain, stood in for Oldtown’s Citadel.
iStock.com/JackF

Girona, Spain, is yet another city that’s served as an ersatz King’s Landing over Game of Thrones’s run. Explore Catalunya’s tour takes you through the medieval town, home to the monastery Sant Pere de Galligants, the real-life stand-in for Oldtown’s Citadel. The tour also features the Plaza del Jurats, site of a memorable season 6 scene where Arya watched a theatrical version of her family’s troubles. Many of season 6's Braavos market and training scenes (when Arya was learning to be a master assassin) were filmed here, as were scenes surrounding King’s Landing’s Sept of Baelor—also known as the Girona Cathedral.

Book tickets on Viator from $113.

12. GoT to Escape // Northern Ireland

The keyhole of an antique lock
iStock.com/MuamerO

Say you’re in Northern Ireland and you’ve already seen all the Game of Thrones filming locations. Or maybe you’re just looking for something a little different. GoT to Escape in Belfast boasts three Game of Thrones-inspired escape rooms and one mystery room. Your mission? Save King’s Landing. Each room takes an hour to complete and is designed for between two and six players. (The website notes that you don’t actually need any special knowledge of Game of Thrones to participate, so feel free to drag your non-fan friends and family members along.)

Book tickets on GoT to Escape from $53.

13. Westeros and Beyond // Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and Croatia

An aerial view of Old Town Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik, Croatia
iStock.com/stocklapse

Or maybe you just want to do everything. STA Travel offers multi-stop trips geared toward younger travelers and students (though they sell flights to people of all ages, their website notes that “some of our airfare is available just to full-time students, [t]eachers at accredited schools, and youth travelers under the age of 26”). If the price is right, you can start in New York City and travel across the world to several of the key cities where Game of Thrones is filmed—Reykjavik, Dublin, Barcelona, and Dubrovnik. Once there, STA provides day tours like the ones mentioned above.

Contact STA Travel for booking information.

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The Isle of Sark Needs a New Dairy Farmer, But You'll Have to Bring Your Own Cows

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images
Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

If you've ever dreamed of moving to a secluded island to become a farmer, the Isle of Sark is giving you the opportunity. Sark, located in England's Channel Islands, is seeking a dairy farmer to supply milk to the island's population of 500. The only catch is that job candidates must be ready to move there with their own herd of 25 to 35 cows, Atlas Obscura reports.

Sark is a 3-mile long, mile-and-a-half wide island with green pastures, rocky cliffs, and no cars or street lamps. The only way to get there is by boat or one of the ferries that leaves from the nearby Jersey and Guernsey islands.

The last time the island had a dairy farmer was 2017. That year, farmer Christopher Nightingale shut down his business due to issues with costs and land instability. The Isle of Sark held onto feudalism long after the rest of Europe abandoned it, and though the practice technically ended in 2008, it hasn't died completely. Sometimes this works to the community's advantage, like when Nazis invaded in 1940, but it also means that farmers must lease their land for short periods rather than own it.

If you're willing to trade your right to own property for idyllic island living, Sark's dairy farmer gig maybe the perfect fit for you. The island is looking for someone, or a couple, with lots of dairy farming experience, and a herd of Jersey or Guernsey cows, which are native to the Channel Islands. You can reach out to Caragh Couldridge at info@caraghchocolates.com for information on how to apply.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Finland's New Tourism Campaign Wants to Show You Why It's the Happiest Country in the World

Visit Finland
Visit Finland

Finland has been named the happiest country on Earth for the second year in a row, according to the United Nations World Happiness Report for 2019. Recent government and health care reform issues notwithstanding, the Nordic nation has a lot to be pleased about, including a high GDP, strong school system, and long life spans.

Finns are eager to share the keys to their contentedness with the rest of the world. That’s why the country’s travel promotion organization, Visit Finland, is hosting a contest to bring international guests to Finland for a three-day tour this summer.

Dubbed “Rent a Finn,” the initiative will set guests up with a local host family in Helsinki, Lapland, Lakeland, or another part of the country. One guest will stay with Linda and Niko, a couple who live with their chihuahua, Helmi, on a Finnish island in the Baltic Sea. Another will stay with Esko, the mayor of Rovaniemi, which bills itself as “the hometown of Santa Claus.”

These “Happiness Guides” will help visitors connect to nature—one of the ways that Finns relieve stress. To apply, just film a short video introducing yourself and explaining your connection to nature and why you want to visit Finland. You can apply as an individual or as a group with friends or family. Then fill out an online application, upload your video, and submit it before the April 21 deadline.

Eight applicants (plus their friends and family) will be selected for the trip, with the cost of travel and accommodation covered. Guests who want to extend their stay are welcome to do so, but it would be at their own expense.

According to Visit Finland, there have been four times as many applicants from the U.S. than any other country. This isn’t entirely surprising, considering that the U.S. ranked 19th in the World Happiness Report—down five spots from 2017.

You don’t necessarily have to travel to Finland to improve your outlook on life, though. Here are 23 science-backed ways to feel happier without boarding a plane.

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