Game of Thrones Shooting Locations in Iceland
Winter is finally here, which also means that the epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is coming to a close. Over the course of the award-winning TV series, Iceland has enjoyed an integral role as a filming location thanks to its fantasy-like landscapes and epic glaciers. With the final season on the horizon, and Iceland once again set to make an appearance, here are the most popular locations across the country where Game of Thrones has been shot over the past 8 years.
The Glaciers - North of the Wall
The wall in the show is what separates Westeros from the icy tundra in the north, home to the wildlings and the show’s long-running antagonists, the White Walkers. Iceland’s enormous ice-caps and intense winter conditions were the reasons the makers of the TV series chose the country as a shooting location, who wanted to inject a touch of realism into the episodes for any scenes that took place north of the wall. Iceland certainly does that, and since the second season, the glaciers and the canyons that cut through their tongues have constantly hosted film crews battling the intense conditions to get the shots for their show.
On the tops of the glaciers is often where you’ll encounter Iceland’s wildest conditions, with howling winds, freezing temperatures and storms. Shooting any number of scenes in this location means that the production crew really thought it would be worth the trouble, and it definitely was – as is any visit to the glaciers yourself. Remember that you do need an official guide to do anything on the glaciers, but luckily there are plenty of tour operators who will gladly take you up onto the ice caps for whatever you choose to do.
Scenes where the Night’s Watch arrive at the Fist of the First Men in season 2 were shot on this glacier along the south coast. Like a lot of the ice caps in Iceland, Mýrdalsjökull has a brooding volcano underneath its calm exterior; Katla is one of Iceland’s most dangerous. The best way to visit this glacier on a camping trip is to make your way to the south coast, where there are a number of tour operators who run activities up on the glacier. Hiking, ice climbing, snowmobiling and more are all available.
Also, worth mentioning in this article is the amazing campsite at the base of the glacier called Þakgil. As it’s a little bit off the ring road, it’s a campsite that enjoys less numbers of visitors. The surrounding hills are brimming with trails, some of which give you excellent views over the glacier. To get to this campsite, 5km east of Vik if you turn off route 1 onto a road tracking north, and follow it to the end.
Svínafellsjökull has starred in many Game of Thrones scenes, and many other movies as well - it might just be the first location in the country that caught the attention of location scouts and production crews. Known for its jagged ridges of ice coloured electric blue, it’s also one of Iceland’s most photogenic ice caps. Technically a smaller part of the biggest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, if you’re driving towards the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon then you’ll be driving past this shooting location.
After you pass Skaftafell National Park (the closest campsite in the area) you’ll eventually see a small road with a sign towards Svínafellsjökull, taking you up to a viewpoint over the awesome glacier tongue.
Þingvellir – Scenes in Westeros
Close to Reykjavik is Þingvellir National Park, more well known as one of the stops along the Golden Circle route. The National Park is cut in half by the two tectonic plates that run underneath Iceland, and is a historic site thanks to the location being where Iceland’s first Parliament met to discuss the laws of the country. It’s one of the busiest places in Iceland, but also the scenery here proved too tempting for the Game of Thrones crew to pass up, filming a few scenes in the area.
The Bloody Gate
The main attraction of Þingvellir is being able to walk between the two tectonic plates that have created a kind of ravine. This location was used as the entrance to the Bloody Gate, where Sansa and Arya’s aunt lives in the Eyrie. You can see both Sansa and Littlefinger as well as Arya and the Hound walking through here in the series.
Brianne of Tarth vs. The Hound
In the now famous scene where Brianne of Tarth faces off against The Hound in a bid to rescue Arya Stark, another location in Þingvellir was used. At the south of the lake there is a geothermal powerplant called Nesjavellir, the surrounding hills setting the scene for the impressive battle between two of the best warriors in the Game of Thrones universe.
Lake Mývatn – Home of the Wildlings
Lake Mývatn in the north of the country is a beautiful location to spend a day or two exploring. The fourth largest lake in Iceland is a hotspot for birdlife during the long summer days, and is a diverse area full of both geological and volcanic attractions. It’s also the sight of a few important scenes in the Game of Thrones series.
Jon and Ygritte’s Secret Tryst
By far the most popular and well-known Game of Thrones shooting location at Lake Mývatn is the Grjótagjá hot spring cave, where Jon Snow and Ygritte famously had their secret tryst. Although swimming here is banned, you are still able to climb down into the cave to explore this incredibly unique shooting location that lies directly beneath the two tectonic plates.
Mance Rayder’s Wildling Army
Also found around Lake Mývatn is the Dimmuborgir lava field. This ancient natural attraction is unlike any other lava field in Iceland, as the structures soar above you making it feel as if you’re walking through the streets of a deserted city. This lava field was chosen as the location of Mance Rayder’s camp of Wildlings north of the wall.
Reynisfjara – East Watch by the Sea
Iceland’s most famous black sand beach just outside of Vik has attracted a lot of attention with film and TV crews over the years, in turn drawing hundreds of tourists to its sandy shores to see the dramatic area. Beware of the waves here, as large ones can unsuspectingly crash into the shore and sweep people who are too close off their feet and into the sea, where dangerous currents await. In the TV show, the location coupled with the nearby sea arch, providing amazing views over the south coast, acts as the location for Eastwatch by the Sea. You can see Jon Snow meeting Daenerys Targaryen here and forging their first alliance.
Kirkjufell – The Arrow Headed Mountain
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a fantastic place to see the varied landscapes of Iceland. With black and white sand beaches, a glacier, lava fields and waterfalls, and all so accessible from Reykjavik, it’s very easy to spend 2-3 days exploring the Peninsula both in summer and winter. Commonly known as Iceland’s most photographed mountain, Kirkjufell on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is one of the easiest of all these locations to get to. In the show, it’s the iconic ‘Mountain Shaped Like an Arrowhead’ from both Bran’s vision when he sees the Children of the Forest creating the first White Walker and also in season 7 when Jon Snow leads his band of heroes north of the wall.