Walk in the footsteps of your favorite Game of Thrones characters and visit the filming locations in Iceland.
Game of Thrones is back on our TV screens and as we hurtle towards the conclusion of our adventures in Westeros, I'm sadly back to watching one episode every week instead of one season every day. I tried to be strong and go for a whole week without GoT in my life but I failed miserably and ended up reading fan theories, watching hours of YouTube videos about it and I also booked a spot on the Game of Thrones sightseeing tour.
We set off at a very reasonable 10am (in case anyone also wants to stay up until 3am researching Stark family secrets the night before the tour) and right from the start, our guide Theo got us all right into the atmosphere! He was certainly dressed for the part, wearing his costume and cape, carrying his sword and he was also a fountain of knowledge thanks to his love for the books and the tv series. His masters degree in viking warfare and having been an extra in four different seasons of the show!
I may be a huge nerd and GoT fanboy
Before I go further, I should point out a couple of things. Firstly, I may be a huge nerd and GoT fanboy, but I went on this tour with someone who had never seen a single episode or read a single page of the books, and he really enjoyed it too! Secondly, I know that I should be used to Icelandic weather by now, but it was horrendous! We got battered by strong winds and heavy rain right from the first time we stepped out of the bus so I didn't get enough time to explore each stop as much as i would have liked to. I can't complain too much: we all had warm clothing on and it wasn't enough to stop us seeing these phenomenal filming locations!
Horses are Game of Thrones stars
Our first stop was Laxnes horse farm. This was just a quick stop so we could meet some celebrities. Yes, some of these horses are Game of Thrones stars! We had a short wander around the stables, spoke with the owners of the place and then hopped back into the bus to start seeing the sights.
Thor's waterfall - a scene from Meereen
The second stop we made was Þórufoss (Thor's waterfall), a beautiful waterfall in a canyon. The most surprising thing about this stop was the fact that the scene they filmed here was a scene from Meereen which is supposed to be a desert land far off in the East. As I looked around at the deep green moss and more importantly, the torrential downpour going on, I had to marvel at the wonders of behind-the-scenes movie magic. If it wasn't for Theo holding up a laminated still of the scene while pointing out the ridges in the mountain, I simply would not have believed that this scene could have been filmed where we were standing.
Something I loved about this tour was the fact that there were no tourists in the spots we went to. Partly due to the weather, but mainly because these filming locations aren't popular tourist spots like the Golden Circle. They are however, in the same area as the Golden Circle, meaning that we only had a 45 minute drive out to Laxnes horse farm followed by more short drives between the other locations. And of course these bus rides were all very entertaining thanks to Theo's commentary, his behind-the-scenes stories from having been on set and his overall positive attitude helping us forget that we were all soaked!
The Bloody Gate - the entrance to the Eyrie
Just before heading to our third stop in Þingvellir national park, we pulled into a cafe and got a coffee while we listened to more stories about the location we were about to see. Theo explained that while we were going to one of the three main stops on the Golden Circle, we would be visiting a lesser seen part of the park; again, staying away from the crowds. This was the location of the Bloody Gate, the narrow canyon path the leads to the entrance to the Eyrie.
I don't want to spoil anything for anyone wishing to go on this tour themselves, but Theo absolutely bombarded us with puns while talking about one of the scenes. I counted 22 in a row and he managed to get a few laughs out of each and every one of us. A lot of them made us shake our heads and sigh (as the best/worst puns do) but he got there eventually!
We headed through the Bloody Gate canyon which led us to Öxarárfoss waterfall which was not used in any Game of Thrones episodes, but was stunning to see nonetheless. This is a waterfall I've visited 2 or 3 times already but due to the heavy rain, it was double its usual size. The wooden boardwalk was half-submerged and the water was rushing past like i've never seen before!
The Viking Farmstead - Stöng
After a short stop at a roadside café for lunch, we carried on to our next stop: Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng, the viking farmstead. In real life this is a reconstruction of a viking-era farmhouse; in the show it is a northern village that is attacked by wildlings. Once again, Theo showed us laminated still shots of the scenes and pointed out that movie magic was at work again and 2 or 3 extra huts had been added to make the area look like a village rather than just 2 buildings with turf roofs.
He ended the stop with a demonstration of how to stab, punch or knee someone "safely". A few of us got involved in his demonstrations and had a lot of fun, as well as getting some great pictures!
Because we had enough time left, Theo took us off to another waterfall nearby: a double waterfall called Hjálparfoss. I couldn't resist the beautiful backdrop and we managed to get another picture of us trying out a movie sword fight.
On the drive back to Reykjavik, the rain cleared up (better late than never?) and Theo made plenty of suggestions for places to eat and drink in the city centre. I didn't need any suggestions, but headed off for a pint anyway.
Reykjavik Iceland’s remote location in the north Atlantic makes it nearly equidistant from London and New York City. Yet, it’s austere volcanic terrain, dramatic waterfalls and sky-blue glaciers make it totally unlike either of those locations.