Following the premiere of its fourth season, Game of Thrones is as popular as ever, giving the show's filming locations a prime opportunity to boost tourism. After hosting the cast and crew of the fantasy series, Croatia, Iceland and Northern Ireland are taking advantage of the hype to promote their tourist attractions.
The fourth season of Game of Thrones (GOT) is finally on the air, and fans aren't the only ones celebrating. Tourism agencies in Croatia, where parts of the show have been filmed since season two, are seizing the opportunity to attract visitors to some of the sites seen on the small screen. The walled city of Dubrovnik, for example, stands in for King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms. Fans of the show can also visit Split, where several action scenes were filmed.
Viator has even created travel packages that allow visitors to follow in the footsteps of the characters created by George R.R. Martin, author of the "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels.
Fans can take a four-hour guided tour of Dubrovnik (from €51) and even explore shooting locations throughout the region on a four-day expedition (from €230). The latter tour includes a visit to the impressive Fort Lovrijenac, built 37 meters above the sea.
Tour operators in Northern Ireland, one of the main shooting locations for the HBO series since its first season, are also enjoying the extra attention. Antrim, Londonberry and Down are among the counties that have served as the backdrop for GOT's distinctive fantasy world.
The Caves of Cushendun, located in a small coastal village, set the scene for the scene in which Lady Melisandre gives birth to a mysterious shadow.
A site known as the Dark Hedges, with its curving beech trees, stands in for the dangerous King's Road in the series. Shillanavogy Valley is the site of the show's Dothraki Camp.
The country's tourist board is going out of its way to attract GOT fans, even offering a guide of must-see locations on its website. From June 11 to 15, Belfast is even hosting a free "Game of Thrones" exhibition, where attendees can get an up-close look at the show's costumes and weapons.
Iceland, where the northern scenes of the show were filmed, is also becoming a tourist hot spot. The country's Official Film Board website quotes HBO Producer Janet Graham Borba: "For the Far Northern locations of 'Game of Thrones,' we wanted something shatteringly beautiful, barren and brutal. In Iceland, we found all of that, as well as a highly professional production crew."
The "Game of Thrones" shooting locations are found primarily in the north. Fans can visit Gooafoss, the site of one of Iceland's most spectacular waterfalls, or Dimmuborgir, a region known for its stunning volcanic caves and rock formations. There is also the famous Thingvellir National Park, a site of great historic, cultural and geological significance to Icelanders. Popular with tourists, the region is also the site where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe meet.